Following the general sales failure that was the Wii U, few could see the success of the Nintendo Switch coming. However, Nintendo proved all the doubters wrong with an impressive year of critically-acclaimed exclusives, well-received ports, and record-breaking hardware sales. After such a strong debut, many were wondering if Nintendo could keep the Switch's momentum going into the new year, but until recently, the console's 2018 has been a big question mark.
That all changed thanks to a recent mini Nintendo Direct presentation, where the Big N showcased some of the biggest Nintendo Switch titles releasing in the first half of the year. While some of those games were surprising third-party releases, like Dark Souls Remastered, many were first-party exclusives that can only be played on the Nintendo Switch.
Here are the most exciting Nintendo Switch exclusives of 2018 (so far):
Kirby's Return to Dream Land's 4-player co-op mode was well-received by fans, and Nintendo is reviving the concept for Kirby's next adventure, Kirby Star Allies on the Switch. Kirby Star Allies has an even bigger focus on cooperative multiplayer, with players able to combine copy abilities in clever ways to take out enemies and overcome obstacles in the game. Kirby Star Allies has looked impressive so far, and luckily fans won't have to wait long to see if it lives up to expectations.
Kirby Star Allies will release on March 16, 2018.
One of the surprise game announcements during the January mini Nintendo Direct was Mario Tennis Aces. Boasting surprisingly sharp visuals, boss battles, and a robust story mode, Mario Tennis Aces is potentially the most fully-featured entry in the Mario Tennis franchise to date. If the game is also able to deliver fun local and online multiplayer options, then it may very well be one of the Switch's surprise hits when it releases later this year.
Mario Tennis Aces is due for release in Q1 of 2018.
The upcoming Pokemon RPG on the Switch marks the first time that Game Freak has developed a main series Pokemon game for a Nintendo home console. And while the game could very well slip into 2019, there is plenty of evidence that suggests Nintendo is doing its best to make sure it launches for the Switch by the end of the year. In fact, a recent survey held by Nintendo of Europe straight up asked fans which upcoming Switch games they planned on buying over the course of the next year, and the new Pokemon RPG happened to be one of the options.
Pokemon will be available in late 2018 or 2019.
A throwback to old-school RPGs with a unique art style, Project Octopath Traveler from Square Enix is one game Nintendo Switch retro gamers will want to keep their eyes on this year. But even though Project Octopath Traveler pays homage to RPGs of yesteryear, that doesn't mean it isn't trying any new and ambitious ideas. For example, each party member can interact with NPCs in unique ways, with one character able to challenge them to a fight and another able to recruit them for summoning in later battles. Anyone that wants to see what Project Octopath Traveler is all about should consider checking out the free demo that is available on the Nintendo Switch eShop right now.
Project Octopath Traveler will launch in 2018.
Kirby Star Allies isn't the only big Nintendo Switch platformer on the horizon. The developers of Kirby's Epic Yarn and Yoshi's Woolly World are bringing Mario's dinosaur companion to the Switch in a game currently only known as Yoshi. Yoshi will employ a unique cardboard cutout art style, and will support two-player co-op when it releases later this year.
Yoshi will launch in 2018.
If all of these games launch in 2018 as expected, then Nintendo may very well meet its goal of selling 20 million Switch units this year. However, there are possibly even more Switch exclusives that could be on deck for release this upcoming holiday season that could really put 2018 over the top.
For example, we know that Metroid Prime 4 is in the works for the Switch, but we aren't quite sure how far along it is in development. Rumors have pointed to Bandai Namco assisting in its development, and if true, it could see the game potentially launch by the end of the year.
There's also Bayonetta 3 to consider. Reggie Fils-Aime appeared at The Game Awards 2017 to announce that the first two Bayonetta games would be making their way to the Switch, and in the process, he also confirmed that Bayonetta 3 is in development for the console as well.
And if Bayonetta 3 and Metroid Prime 4 slip into 2019, it shouldn't be a big deal. After all, the Switch has plenty of potentially great exclusive games in development, so fans have a lot to look forward to over the next year.