Due to a major personal setback late last year, I’ve had a hard time getting enthusiastic about the games of 2017. Titles I’d previously anticipated for years, like Mass Effect: Andromeda, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Prey have come and gone without me so much as batting an eye in their direction; I finished Resident Evil 7, but Persona 5, the sequel to my second favorite RPG of all time, has so far held my attention for no more than 20 hours. It’s no doubt a symptom of the ennui I’ve suffered as I try to put my life back together, but still, for a person who’s spent his life loving this medium, it’s been difficult to come to grips with my lack of engagement with games this year.
Meanwhile, Nintendo has been quietly having its best year ever, and if you’re a fan of this site, you probably have them to thank for its continued existence. The 3DS started the year off phenomenally with the impossibly good Dragon Quest VIII and followed that with an excellent port of Yoshi’s Woolly World (technically a downgrade from the Wii U version, but the kind of game I find best suited to handheld play). One month after that, Nintendo launched the Switch alongside The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (one of the best games I’ve ever played), then followed that up with an enhanced port of Mario Kart 8, which was hands down my most-played Wii U game thanks to the sheer joy it brought my friends and family, and will likely to continue that trend on Switch.
And then, in May, the company released Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia on the 3DS, and just when I thought the system had finally lost its hold on me, I’ve found myself once again unable to put it down again.
Tomorrow, the Switch gets first-person boxing phenomenom Arms; next week, the 3DS will see Ever Oasis, an action RPG from the producer of Secret of Mana and the development team behind Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora’s Mask 3D. And it doesn’t stop: next month brings Splatoon 2 and Hey! Pikmin; August gives us Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, a Mario-themed XCOM-style strategy game I never knew I always wanted until this week. A new 2D Metroid comes out in September, and a new 3D Mario in October.
Nobody outside of Nintendo knows exactly what the company has planned beyond its end of year releases of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Skyrim, but after the company debuted Metroid Prime 4, plus new Kirby, Yoshi, and Pokémon games for Switch (release dates all TBD, but very likely to be 2018 for most), I doubt it’s “taking a break.” The amount of must-play titles the company debuted or demoed at E3 shows that it’s serious about making up for the software droughts its player base experienced during the dwindling days of the Wii U, while its continued commitment to the 3DS – my favorite handheld of all time – shows that it understands both the fondness its fans have for the aging handheld, and the difficulty many consumers are have finding a Switch in store. I know a lot of players who just jumped back onto the Nintendo bandwagon because of Switch are frustrated by the amount of 3DS releases the company has planned for this year and beyond, but personally, I don’t ever want to see it die. I’ve been through a lot with my 3DS, and if I can hang onto that feeling just a little bit longer, I will.
Regardless of the platform it releases its games on, I can say this much for Nintendo: the company’s E3 showing has me excited about video games again… more so than I can ever remember being. If it can pass that feeling along to even a fraction of its newly expanded player base, the company’s got a very bright future ahead of it.