May – Nintendo's Online Plans Take Shape
The month of May kicked off with the rather hilarious news that Gamevice – which makes a bolt-on controller for smartphones – wanted sales of the Switch to be blocked in the U.S. because Nintendo's machine apparently infringed its patent. Nintendo, a company which has a good track record in legal tussles, simply said "We have nothing to announce on this topic." Nonetheless, Gamevice did take legal action in the end, although everything has gone a bit quiet on this front since then.
May was also the month in which Nintendo finally shared solid details on its much-delayed Switch Online Service, pointing out that it would include free NES games, cloud saves and (of course) online play. Pricing was also shared, with the big news being that it would be cheaper than the services offered by rivals Sony and Microsoft. Less welcome was the sound of Nintendo driving the final nail into the coffin of the Virtual Console, stating that the service would not be coming to Switch.
Our ears were also blessed with the rumour that a new Star Fox game is in development, but instead of the usual space-based dogfighting, it will have a racing focus. The unconfirmed rumour also states that Retro Studios is involved, but the game wasn't shown off at E3 so we can't be certain it's true – perhaps 2019 will shed some light on this? As if that news wasn't exciting enough already, a second rumour suggested that Retro has another project in the works, too.
Remember Paprium? The side-scrolling fighter from the guys behind the Wii U RPG Pier Solar was supposed to launch ages ago, but is stuck in development hell. We spoke to one of the lead artists on the project in May to try and figure out what the heck is happening with this new Mega Drive title.
On the topic of retro, we covered the amazing Neon Advance, a custom-made console which takes broken DS units and turns them into something special. Oh, and Nintendo applied for a new N64 trademark, which of course sparked rumours that an N64 Classic was in the works. We don't doubt it will come eventually, but it would seem that Nintendo is happy to hold off on that until a later date, what with the NES and SNES Classic Editions continuing to sell in huge numbers.
At the sillier end of the scale, May was the month where someone shaved Mario's face and annoyed the entire internet. We also reported on a coat you could play. Yes, you read that correctly. The month was rounded off nicely with the official announcement of Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu! and Let’s Go Eevee! on Switch, alongside a shiny new Poké Ball Plus.
Game-wise, things really started hotting up with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Ikaruga, Raging Justice, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, Mega Man Legacy Collection 2, The Banner Saga and Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection. Phew!
June - E3 Brings The Thunder
Reports that Nintendo's much-hyped Quality of Life project may be dead contributed to the company's stock dipping in June, despite the fact that nobody really cares about it now that the Switch is here. Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot also made the bold prediction in this month that the next generation of video game consoles would be the last, with new technologies like streaming paving the way for a wider audience of players.
Of course, June is the month of E3, and there was plenty to digest from a Nintendo perspective. It was confirmed that Dragon Ball FighterZ was Switch-bound, as was Fortnite – which was made available during E3 itself. We also got to see the rather lovely Daemon X Machina, too. There was plenty of news about Smash Bros. Ultimate, but less so for Metroid Prime 4. While E3 was short on shocks it did show us plenty of the games we'd be playing in the near future, but that wasn't enough to prevent a predictably negative reaction on the stock market.
More unwelcome news came in the form of fans harassing Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai over the lack of a playable Waluigi, and that naughty-type hackers had managed to get adult images into Super Mario Odyssey. Speaking of hacking, we also reported on the fact that a tool used to play pirated games on Switch consoles comes with – wait for it – an anti-piracy countermeasure to stop people giving it away for free online. Ironic!
Still, if that annoyed you, you could always cheer yourself up with the fact that Atari (or at least the version of Atari that exists today) seems to know very little about its new crowdfunded VCS console. Thankfully, the guys behind the Polymega seem a little more switched-on, although that system has also had its fair share of knocks in 2018.
We also released our first Nintendo Life film in June, focusing on the remarkable gaming career of former Nintendo World Champion Jeff Hansen, who defended his title not only in Japan but also at CES. It's worth a watch, if we do say so ourselves.
The Switch line-up was bolstered by Paladins, Sushi Striker: The Way Of Sushido, Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn, Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion, Hollow Knight, Mario Tennis Aces, Lumines Remastered, The Lost Child, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, giving us plenty of gaming options.
July – The Post-E3 Lull
July was the month in which Nintendo revealed that it had sold almost 20 million Switch consoles since launch, along with over 85 million units of software. Not too shabby.
Crash Bandicoot made quite a splash on Switch, and its strangely barren case inlay also received some (sarcastic) praise. Meanwhile, Switch got its first VR headset, but as is often the case, things aren't what they seem. Oh, and someone found a copy of Mario Kart 64 underneath a shelf at Toys R Us that had been there for years. Now that's breaking news.
Fans of sweaty men in tight shorts pretending to fight one another were disappointed to learn that WWE 2K19 would be skipping Switch, but hopefully, the gorgeous packaging for Sonic Mania Plus made that pain a little easier to take. A comfy chat with Bill Trinen And Nate Bihldorff about Smash Bros. Ultimate was another highlight.
We also spoke to Another World creator Éric Chahi about the game's Switch update, and covered the rather less welcome news that Switch consoles all over the world were starting to crack and break – and that fixing this issue could cost you dearly. Meanwhile, a dusty old SNES racing title rose from the dead this month, with a potential resurrection on the cards. While we're on the topic of retro, you may have missed our in-depth look at the tragic history of the Philips CD-i, most famous for its questionable Zelda games.
In terms of hardware, we reviewed the shiny gold Famicom Classic Edition which launched in Japan, complete with a selection of very Japanese games. It looks great on the shelf, but we couldn't recommend it to anyone who can't speak the language.
July was also significant in that Nintendo finally took action against online sites illegally distributing ROMs. Oh, and we were lucky enough to chat to Panic Button, the studio behind the amazing ports of DOOM, Rocket League and Wolfenstein II on Switch.
Software was in abundance this month, with Inside, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong Adventure, Pocket Rumble, Shining Resonance Refrain, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Octopath Traveler, GALAK-Z: Variant S and Titan Quest all hitting Switch, while Nintendo showed that it hadn't forgotten about 3DS owners with the stunningly enjoyable WarioWare Gold.
August – Smash News Continues to Trickle In
The first big story of August served as a warning to everyone: don't bet against Nintendo. A U.S. trader decided to wager $400 million against the Japanese company by short-selling stock, but was massively out of pocket when Nintendo's share price rose. Gulp.
With the launch of Smash Ultimate creeping ever closer, we began to see more information coming through. Confirmation that Castlevania's Richter and Simon Belmont would be included – as well as Donkey Kong Country villain King K. Rool – found favour with the fan base, at least. While we're on the topic of Donkey Kong, you might want to have a second look at our feature, written by Alex Norton, which focuses on the time he got to meet the massive ape on British TV.
In more Rare-related news, August saw us visit an exhibition at Coventry's Herbert Museum devoted to the British game studio, which, as we're sure you're all aware, was once a second-party outfit making amazing games on Nintendo hardware. We also reported on the news that a Chinese company was ripping off Zelda with its new smartphone game, and telling some outrageous fibs in the process.
It was also reported that Virtual Reality settings had apparently been found in the Switch's code, while the confirmation that DOOM Eternal was coming to the console was rather more official (and perhaps more welcome). Another big third-party announcement in August was that Diablo III was coming to the system.
We finally went hands-on with SNK's Neo Geo Mini, the company's attempt to cash-in on the recent craze for vintage hardware. The verdict? Well, you'll have to consult our review, but if you can't be bothered, then know that the machine is worth a look, but has some serious issues.
Sega fans were tickled pink by the news that Street of Rage 4 was becoming a real thing, thanks to the guys behind the amazing Wonder Boy: Dragon's Trap remake. Switch hasn't been confirmed as a target platform as yet, but if it doesn't come to Nintendo's console, we'll gladly consume all of the hats in the office.
In the wake of Nintendo's legal action against ROM-sharing sites, we mused over what it would mean for the state of video game preservation, which, on several occasions, has had ROM-sharing to thank for preventing many classic titles from being totally lost in the mists of time. It triggered some lively debate and is a topic still worth discussing.
Finally, we answered the call of Pokémon GO players all over the globe by creating a page where Friend Codes could be exchanged – and it ended up being one of the most-visited pages on the site in 2018.
The games kept on coming too, with Salt and Sanctuary, Iconoclasts, Hello Neighbor, Dead Cells, Overcooked 2, Okami HD, Minit, Kero Blaster, Morphies Law, Bad North, Prison Architect: Nintendo Switch Edition, Blade Strangers, The Messenger, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate and Hyper Light Drifter: Special Edition all hitting Switch, much to the dismay of bank balances everywhere.