Nintendo had a stacked year in console exclusives, offering compelling sequels to beloved franchises, redefining company classics, and even bringing back a beloved concept from the Wii era. Yes, 2022 proves that Nintendo Switch is still a compelling console for its ability to play some of the best exclusives on the go. But as the games themselves continue to evolve, huge titles seemingly suffer from the outdated hardware. While the company’s portfolio of games has been solid, many have also had some performance disasters.
As the end of the year inches closer, we’re taking a look at each of the three major console manufacturers and analyzing how they fared in 2022, along with what we’re expecting to see from them next year. You can check out the state of PlayStation and state of Xbox articles for an in-depth look at the other companies.
State of Nintendo exclusives
Nintendo’s 2022 has been a strong one. We opened up the year with Pokémon Legends: Arceus, a game that is still praised today for positioning the franchise toward an upward trajectory of success. It received a considerable degree of acclaim from both fans and critics, and everywhere I went, I’d hear players talk about how it’s the most fun they had in a Pokémon game in years.
But that wasn’t the only Pokémon game to launch in 2022/ Nintendo capped the year off with Pokémon: Scarlet and Violet, a game that didn’t receive anywhere near as much acclaim. It’s plagued by a series of performance issues, and although I’ve heard many say the game itself is plenty of fun, it’s apparently an unfinished mess.
At the very least, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is one of the shining stars of the year for Nintendo. The company has essentially swooped up one of its most iconic characters, Kirby, and thrown them into a full 3D game for the first time. The result was incredibly successful with many claiming it is the best game Kirby has ever seen.
And this Summer, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 launched to astounding acclaim. It earned a Game of the Year nomination at The Game Awards , and it was beloved in a way we had not seen since the original Xenoblade Chronicles. It is praised as a masterful JRPG in its storytelling and worldbuilding, completely shocking those who were disappointed by Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
Nintendo Switch Sports came out of nowhere, bringing us back to the good ol’ days of the Wii. It received less-than-great reception though, mostly due to its high price for a game lacking variability, but critics still had quite a bit of fun with it. Wii Sports had the benefit of being packed in with the Wii console itself, which is an appropriate method of release for how it was often played. But at the very least, Nintendo Switch Sports launched at $39.99, which was a good call from Nintendo after 1-2-Switch came out at full price back in 2017.
Splatoon 3 is an iteration upon what people already loved about the first two games, but it still received high praise regardless for its intense, but joyous player vs player action. And Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope did a great job evolving upon its predecessor with its more open environments and unique new battle mechanics.
Bayonetta 3 also launched in October to high marks. Some were disappointed by its lackluster visual elements and underwhelming narrative, but it was widely praised for its invigorating combo-based hack-n-slash battles. Other Nintendo Switch games that we got this year include Triangle Strategy, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, Harvestella, and Mario Strikers: Battle League. To summarize,Nintendo’s year has been pretty eventful insofar as exclusive games go.
State of Nintendo services
While Nintendo launched its Online Expansion Pack last year, it has had quite a few compelling additions throughout the last 12 months. Most importantly, we’ve been seeing frequent updates to Mario Kart 8 with 24 new tracks introduced into the mix completely free for those subscribed to the service so far. Best of all, there are 24 more tracks yet to come, essentially doubling the number of race tracks available in-game. Nintendo Switch Online also offered the Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion as a free DLC this year (even though it came out several years ago). although it came out several years ago.
Nintendo 64 Online games that have been added this year include Banjo-Kazooie, Mario Golf, Kirby 64, F-Zero X, Pokémon Puzzle, Pokémon Snap, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Wave Race 64. We also know Mario Party, Mario Party 2, and Pilotwings 64 are set to launch this year. 1080 Snowboarding, Excitebike 64, GoldenEye 007, Mario Party 3, Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Stadium 2 are set to come to the service sometime next year as well.
Sega Genesis Online games that launched this year include Alien Soldier, Alisia Dragoon, Beyond Oasis, Comix Zone, Earthworm Jim, Light Crusader, Mega Man: The Wily Wars, Shining Force II, Sonic Spinball, Space Harrier II, Super Fantasy Zone, Target Earth and Zero Wing.
But what’s coming in 2023?
With such an eventful year for Nintendo, is it possible that 2023 will be lighter for the company? Well, regardless of the release density, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is huge. Without a doubt, the long awaited sequel to Breath of the Wild will be the biggest game of 2023 for Nintendo: It might just be the biggest game of the year in general.
Fire Emblem Engage was recently revealed and it’s set to launch next year. We last got a proper Fire Emblem in 2019, so fans are incredibly excited to jump back into this tactical RPG series. Pikmin 4 is also set to launch sometime next year. However, the game seems so early in production, I have a feeling it won’t make its launch date. I’m more than willing to eat those words, though.
Octopath Traveler 2 is set to launch on February 24, 2023, which will certainly satisfy the group of people obsessed with classic-styled JRPGs. But what else can we expect? It’s hard to imagine Metroid Prime 4 will launch next year, but people have been waiting for a long time, so I imagine there will be plenty of fans loudly proclaiming how upset they are that it was last shown in 2017.
It might be time for Mario to rear his glorious head around the corner in 2023. After all, Super Mario Odyssey launched in 2017, and by next year, it’ll have been six years since we got a proper, fully-fledged title out of him (assuming you don’t count Bowser’s Fury). I wouldn’t be shocked if Nintendo went for Super Mario Odyssey 2, but perhaps it’s time for another new iteration on the series.
That would be unprecedented, as every new mainline Mario game is coupled with new hardware. Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64, Super Mario Sunshine for GameCube, Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 for Wii, and Super Mario Odyssey for Switch. It would be shocking if a whole new evolution of Super Mario made its way to Switch as well, unless 2023 is the year Nintendo blindsides us with a new console announcement.
Nintendo’s 2022 line-up was beyond impressive. While the company’s greatest this year haven’t hit as hard as Zelda or Mario could, or even matched up to the hype brought from PlayStation’s God of War: Ragnarok, it’s hard to deny that the company offered tons of quality games this year.
Sure, not all of them were critical hits, but at the very least, Bayonetta 3, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, Triangle Strategy, Pokémon Legends: Arceus and Kirby and the Forgotten Land are praised as some of the best games of the year. Hopefully the company can keep this up in 2023.
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Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Momo finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Momo is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.