While 2022 has barely begun, Nintendo fans are about to be eating well with Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Even past that though, there is already a compelling list of other confirmed Nintendo Switch exclusive games. From franchise reinventions to long-awaited sequels, the platform is poised to have arguably one of its best years yet.
It seems like we have a truly worthy challenger to 2017, a year that had a boatload of incredible Nintendo Switch exclusives. However, even though every game on this list is exciting, they don’t all reach the same degree of hype. So, let’s break down the currently-confirmed titles on a master quest to determine which upcoming game is the biggest and most anticipated.
We’ll be comparing these games via many factors including the ambition of each game, its value in the ecosystem, and the prestige of its series. Just because a game scores low doesn’t mean that it’s anything short of compelling… but not every game is Breath of the Wild 2.
Rune Factory 5
Of the known 2022 Nintendo Switch exclusives, Rune Factory 5 is perhaps the least enticing. Not only is Rune Factory a fairly niche series, but Rune Factory 5 isn’t technically a new game. The title actually released in Japan last year, but its North American and European releases are scheduled for March of 2022.
Nonetheless, the Rune Factory series is one of great repute, building upon its series of origin, Story of Seasons, by fusing RPG elements into the farming elements that made Story of Seasons so revered. After all, that franchise itself carried the torch of the iconic Harvest Moon franchise. Interested players can check out a bit of Rune Factory action on Switch already, as Rune Factory 4 Special released on the platform back in 2019.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
The follow-up to 2017’s Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle looks like an improvement over the original. Dynamic combat, better environments, and new characters are taking this subseries to the next level. Still, it looks very iterative. For fans of Mario + Rabbids, this seems like a slam dunk. For everyone else, this appears like a better albeit similar version of what already exists.
Regardless, Ubisoft’s first Mario outing was fairly polished. By applying the lessons learned from that game and integrating the new ideas displayed by the trailer, Sparks of Hope could truly expand the formula in a meaningful way. Only time will tell whether the game will appeal to its predecessor’s skeptics.
Until the next Mario Kart graces Nintendo Switch, racing fans can enjoy Chocobo GP when it launches in March. For those who are unfamiliar, Chocobo GP is both a sequel to PS1’s Chocobo Racing and a spin-off from Final Fantasy.
This seems to be quite the feature-rich package too, with plenty of single and multiplayer content. There is even a full campaign and an online suite including a 64 player competitive mode.
The fact that Chocobo GP is so far down the list is more a commentary on the strength of the year than on any weaknesses that the game itself has. It looks very compelling. Even non-FF fans should keep this one on their radar.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp
Reviving Advance Wars, the classic Intelligent Systems strategy RPG from the GBA era is an enticing proposition. Nintendo SRPGs have become much more popular in a post-Fire Emblem Awakening world, and so it was time to give FE’s sister series another try. Furthermore, Re-Boot Camp marks an exciting partnership between Nintendo and WayForward.
Together, these teams will be remaking the first two Advance Wars games from the ground up. With any luck, this release will popularize an oft-overlooked Nintendo classic. Considering that the game was slated for a 2021 release before getting delayed, we hopefully won’t need to wait much longer for Re-Boot Camp.
In a year with two compelling ‘3s’ hitting Switch, Bayonetta is just eked out by its competition. Nonetheless, this character action title from PlatinumGames is one of the platform’s critical releases. We’ve known about Bayonetta 3 for, coincidentally, just over three years now.
The Nintendo community has been impatiently awaiting this title since its announcement. Considering that 2014’s Bayonetta 2 is widely regarded as one of the finest action games of all time, Bayonetta 3 has big shoes to fill. The game will likely be excellent given developer Team Little Angels’ track record, but Platinum has spread itself thin overall. Hopefully, Bayonetta 3 will hone its already-excellent style and bring the series the level of polish and scope that it has always deserved.
Saddled with a name as awkward as Square Enix’s previous HD-2D outing, Octopath Traveler, Triangle Strategy is poised to be another RPG darling despite its clumsy name. Obviously, the art style is drawing many people’s eye. Beyond the aesthetics, Triangle Strategy is gaining headway due to its obvious Final Fantasy Tactics inspiration.
Clearly, strategy RPGs are en vogue on Switch in 2022. With any luck, Triangle Strategy will prove to be a worthy addition to its genre. While there was some criticism levied toward its 2021 Switch demo, Square Enix has openly accepted feedback.
If this title receives the love it so clearly deserves, it could be another dynamite Square Enix Nintendo exclusive… until it inevitably gets ported elsewhere, that is.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Finally, one of Nintendo’s longest-running series is getting the overhaul it deserves. Kirby has been around for decades at this point. In that time though, his main series has grown very little. The time of the 2D Kirby platformer has passed, and the excitement around Forgotten Land is a testament to that. This is a fully-fledged 3D platformer that appears to be placing traditional Kirby gameplay in the context of a Super Mario 3D World-like framework.
The game looks like a remarkable reinvention. Not only are there finally 3D environments, but there’s also a more engaged hub world too. Forgotten Land looks like the Kirby formula brought to its natural conclusion, and that’s something to celebrate.
The Pink Puffball has been long overdue for a win of this magnitude. This is certainly one of the most ambitious and needed releases of the Switch era.
Too many people underestimate the power of Splatoon. What began as a quirky new IP on Wii U in 2015 has quickly morphed into a juggernaut. In Japan, Splatoon is easily considered an s-tier IP. Inkings are used all throughout Nintendo’s marketing there.
That’s for good reason. Not only is Splatoon’s third-person shooting a delightful subversion of genre tropes, but the world of Splatoon is also one of the richest and most creative in Nintendo’s entire catalog.
Splatoon 3’s pull is going to be huge. Its predecessor sold over twelve million copies, positioning the next game to easily surpass that figure. While this is a bold claim, twenty million copies sold for Splatoon 3 doesn’t seem that outrageous. As long as the game is a meaningful expansion of the IP, as it looks to be (particularly in terms of its campaign), this will no doubt be a 2022 favorite.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2
For many, this is a shoo-in for their most anticipated Nintendo Switch exclusive of 2022. That’s for good reason. Breath of the Wild is one of the most remarkable games of all time. It’s certainly one of Nintendo’s crowning achievements, and the sequel promises to be more of that.
Breath of the Wild’s sequel is taking the Majora’s Mask route by working within the same engine of its predecessor. As a result, it’s unlikely that BOTW2 will be nearly as groundbreaking as that original 2017 game. Still, if it’s able to reach that same bar of quality, then Nintendo has a real Game of the Year contender on its hands once more. Even the safest Zelda sequel will be one of the industry’s defining 2022 releases.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
When the largest multimedia franchise on the planet speaks, you listen. And Pokémon talks a lot. The franchise is annualized to the Nth degree, and as a result, it’s beginning to lose its luster in the eyes of its dedicated fanbase. Sales-wise, Pokémon is doing astronomically well. But, creativity was no doubt lacking. Legends: Arceus is addressing that.
Given the incredibly positive pre-release reviews, the most imminent Switch title is likely to be its biggest this year. Legends is something of an action-RPG, an absolute reinvention of core franchise tenets. This is the Pokémon game that we’ve all wanted since Red and Blue. It seems like Game Freak has delivered.
Overall, The big N has established an incredible slate of Nintendo Switch exclusive games. That’s remarkable for several reasons, principally because it’s only January. Even if no more titles were announced for 2022, then it would already be a banner year.
But, this company is nothing if not full of surprises. Given that there is definitely another game or two (or five) up Nintendo’s sleeve, this could perhaps be the best year of the company’s run as a gaming platform. We’ll be sure to update this kust with each new announcement. Fingers crossed for F-Zero!
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