Soapbox features enable our individual writers and contributors to voice their opinions on hot topics and random stuff they've been chewing over. Today, Gavin glances at some hot 2022 takes and instantly transforms into that confuddled John C. Reilly gif...
As a Nintendo-focused site, we're naturally going to be more Nintendo-positive than, you know, other websites. We're staffed with Nintendo enthusiasts, and as fans with a long history of covering and enjoying the company's output, Nintendo games and hardware are going to resonate with us. That doesn't stop us being disappointed or downright angry on occasion when it comes to some of the platform holder's more perplexing choices — often the missteps wind us up all the more! — but just as you'd expect PlayStation and Xbox sites to be enthusiastic about Sony and Microsoft's #content, here we like us some Switch games. Crazy, huh?
And there have been so many over the past year! We've managed to review well over 300 of them in 2022 and there are plenty more great-looking ones we had to pass over, unfortunately. To me, it felt like a packed year of wall-to-wall belters, so I was a little confused to see headlines such as 'Without Pokémon, 2022 Would Have Been A Sad Year For Switch' and 'Fails of 2022: the Nintendo Switch really showed its age' when the end-of-year recaps started popping up across the gaming web in December.
That's not to say the premise of articles like those above isn't understandable, and plenty of other commentators shared similar sentiments. Sure, Pokémon Legends: Arceus and Scarlet and Violet were the big hitters, and yes, the hardware is getting long in the tooth — we are approaching the end of its sixth full year on store shelves, after all. However, as much as it might be the most obvious thing in the world to see Nintendo Life 'defending the honour' of a Nintendo console, those arguments feel odd to me given the brilliant games we've all enjoyed in 2022.
Let's, for a moment, remove Pokémon from the equation. That leaves a first-party slate that includes Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Splatoon 3, Nintendo Switch Sports, and Mario Strikers: Battle League. Nintendo also published Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, Bayonetta 3, and the Square Enix-developed Triangle Strategy and Live A Live. Say what you like about individual games in that lineup — and bin the latter ones which weren't developed in-house if you like — but that is an eclectic bunch of software stuffed to the brim with quality. And that's totally ignoring all the third-party-published games, of which there were many. At the time of writing, Scarlet and Violet didn't even make the top 50 in our reader-ranked Best Switch Games Of 2022 list.
No, 2022 didn't bring a brand new Mario or Zelda, but with Tears of the Kingdom needing a little more time in the oven, it was Pokémon's turn to prop up Nintendo's release schedule with the year's tentpoles. To say the year was a disappointment if you don't like Pokémon is like saying PS5 would have had a downer if not for Sony’s big exclusives. 'Without Horizon And God Of War, 2022 Would Have Been Sad For PS5.' Erm, yes? Is it time for another Last of Us re-release yet? And did Microsoft release anything in 2022!? 'Without Game Pass, 2022 Would Have Been A Boo Boo For Xbox.'
Perhaps it’s just me. With young kids soaking up my free time like a couple of cute, incredibly expensive super sponges, I'm not gaming 24/7 like I used to, and Switch suits my lifestyle to a tee. 200 hours of Elden Ring, the most obvious jewel in 2022's crown that Switch gamers were denied, simply isn't an option at the moment.
I also absolutely understand that for anyone who had already bought and played elsewhere the excellent ports Switch received — the Persona 5s (finally!), the NieR: Automatas, the No Man’s Skys, and the like — pickings were a little slimmer. But I would still argue that the sheer variety of games that came to Switch in 2022, old and new alike, exclusive and otherwise, was sensational. There was just an absolute trove of titles to enjoy. There's nothing wrong with only playing your preferred genre or buying a system just to play a specific series like, say, Call of Duty or FIFA (in which case Switch is definitely not the console for you!), but I struggle to understand how anyone who loves video games could call last year a disappointing one for the system. Even if we nuked the Pokémons for argument's sake.
On the count of the Switch showing its age, that's been an issue since 2017. From almost the very beginning we've seen calls for updated hardware with a bit more power to run bigger games better. Yes, it would be great to see more titles hitting frame rate and resolution targets more regularly, and new hardware is surely on the horizon over the next year or so, but as a platform matures, developers get correspondingly better at squeezing the very best from it, and that was certainly in evidence in 2022. We're seeing calls from devs for Microsoft to stop hamstringing the more powerful consoles by making support for the lower-specced Xbox Series S mandatory, so it feels odd to single out Switch when its limitations are so well-documented and 30fps caps have begun appearing for big-name games on PS5 and Xbox (looking at you, Gotham Knights). And so many Switch games — against the odds, as ever — performed excellently!
Apologies if this comes across as 'ranty', but it just honestly perplexed me to see gamers and YouTubers labelling 2022 a dud for Switch owners. Imagine 'Only Three Marvel Movies Came Out, What A Terrible Year For Cinema’ as a headline. Same energy! Every month brought a fresh wave of must-plays for me. I'm not going to trot out comparisons with The Lean Wii U Years™ or the convenience of handheld play or the pricing of first-party titles versus the competition because none of that is really relevant. In terms of quality games that launched in 2022, pound for pound, I'd argue that Switch easily held its own against PS5 and Xbox.
With Nintendo likely having shifted internal resources and attention to its next console and prioritising a first-party software release schedule to echo the once-a-month cadence that stood Switch in such good stead in its launch year, the likelihood is that 2023 could be a similarly 'quiet' year, with Zelda: TOTK doing the heavy lifting for the current system. I'll be looking forward to new hardware reveals along with every other Nintendo fan out there, but we shouldn't let the lack of hot 'Switch Pro' or 'Switch 2' announcements or the delay of a much-anticipated game cast a shadow on what was a really excellent year.
Will we be seeing similar 'Without Zelda...' headlines in December, then? Probably. Here's hoping 2023 turns out to be as wonderfully disappointing on Switch as 2022.
What do you think? Was 2022 a sad year saved only by Pokémon? Let Gavin know if he should lay off the crazy pills by voting in the poll below and leaving a comment if the fancy takes you.
And be sure to have a Happy New Year, too!