After an extraordinary first year on the market, which saw it smash sales expectations and play host to some amazing games, the Nintendo Switch could have endured a torrid sophomore slump in 2018. However, that wasn't the case and the console's commercial success was maintained for the majority of the year, and while the blistering first-out output arguably slowed somewhat, we still had more than enough amazing games to savour on the unique hybrid system.
Join us as we take a look back over the past twelve months, recounting the highs, lows and bits in the middle that were Nintendo's 2018.
January – A Bold Beginning
2017 may have shocked pretty much everyone – including Nintendo itself – but that didn't stop the Kyoto veteran from kicking off the year with a bold prediction; president Tatsumi Kimishima stated that the company expected to shift a whopping 20 million Switch consoles in 2018. Given that the console was breaking all kinds of sales records – including beating the PlayStation 2 for the title of most year-one sales in Japan and becoming the fastest-selling console in U.S. history – the prediction didn't seem all that outlandish.
While some were concerned that the Switch would struggle when it came to software thanks to Nintendo's policy of 'front-loading' the system's first year on sale with amazing games, news that the legendary Dark Souls series was Switch-bound restored some confidence, although the game ended up shipping later than other versions.
Perhaps the biggest news in the month of January was the unveiling of Labo, Nintendo's 'New Way to Play' that involved cardboard model kits which connect to the Switch in interesting ways. We were lucky enough to be one of the few outlets in the UK that were afforded pre-announcement access; we were excited then, but after months of unsuccessfully finding space in the house to store all of these boxy monstrosities, we're slightly less enthused by the whole thing.
In somewhat less global news, we paid a visit to Rare's local video game store in the sleepy British Midlands, which was facing an uncertain future at the dawn of 2018 thanks to the rise of the internet and digital sales. The store had weathered storms in the past but sadly, it would shut later in the year.
We were also gifted with what has to rank as the silliest accessory the Switch – or perhaps any console – has ever seen. While we're on the topic of silliness, check out our review of the first video game 'mockumentary', Going For GoldenEye. It's a hoot!
Big-name releases were rather thin on the ground due to the time of year, but we still had the likes of Celeste, Pokémon Crystal Version, Lost Sphear, Darkest Dungeon, Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King, RXN -Raijin-, Furi, The Escapists 2, Romancing SaGa 2, InnerSpace, Super Meat Boy and Zero Gunner 2 to keep us happy.
February – Warming Up
The month kicked off with the confirmation that Mario would be getting his second shot at silver screen success thanks to the peeps behind Minions – something that wasn't positive news for many people. We were also hit by the news that hackers had discovered an exploit in the Switch hardware which apparently cannot be patched. Naughty.
The same month saw Billy Mitchell's famous Donkey Kong high scores come under scrutiny in a drama that would continue to unfold throughout the year. Mitchell eventually proved he was capable of hitting his previous best later in 2018, but it sadly seems like his name is forever tainted; a sad chapter in the life of a man who has become one of the most famous games players on the planet.
The month had a few juicy rumours, one of which related to the next entry in the Sonic racing series. The word on the grapevine was that the next speed-fest from Sega would focus solely on Sonic and his chums, rather than pulling in all manner of characters from other famous Sega IPs. This proved to be true as Sega would later announce Team Sonic Racing, which sadly would slip into 2019, missing its original launch window. Sticking on the topic of the Blue Blur for one second, we were also tickled by the idea of his creator doing an impression of the late, great Michael Jackson.
In the realm of retro gaming, the big news was the release of the Analogue Super Nt, a FPGA-based clone of the SNES which we can't recommend highly enough. We also took a good, long look at how to get the best picture out of your N64 using an RGB mod.
Releases continued to be relatively thin on the ground; we saw Dragon Quest Builders, Owlboy, SteamWorld Dig 2, Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2 and Payday 2 all hit the console, as well as more than a few eShop releases, but it was clear that the best was yet to come.
March – Smash and Luigi Raise the Temperature
Those of you who are old enough to recall the days of the NES and SNES will no doubt have fond memories of Toys R Us, the toy giant which specialised in video games for what felt like forever. The company collapsed in March, triggering an outpouring of nostalgia. We'll ignore the fact that the firm appears to be on the verge of relaunching and keep those rose-tinted specs firmly in place.
Dodgy hardware also made headlines in March, with the news that some third-party Switch docks had been bricking systems, with Nyko's products coming in for serious criticism. The issue appears to have been related to the latest Switch system update, and caused headaches for those players who lost all of their progress thanks to the fault. Gulp.
Perhaps the biggest reveal of the month – if not the year – was the confirmation that yes, Switch would be getting a Smash sequel later in 2018. We also found that there was life in the 3DS yet, with the welcome news that the GameCube classic Luigi's Mansion would be resurrected for the plucky handheld, giving players the chance to experience it in 3D – which Nintendo wanted back when the title was originally launched, but couldn't achieve.
We also covered a few interesting topics in March, including the tragic tale of the man who helped to co-create Tetris, arguably one of the most significant games in the history of Nintendo thanks to the way in which it effortlessly sold the Game Boy to millions of people all over the world. Elsewhere, the games industry reacted passionately to a showreel issued by The White House on the hot topic of violence in video games.
Oh, and March was also the month in which Luigi's crown jewels became a topic of conversation over the water cooler. Yes, video game journalism is very strange sometimes.
There were a few decent games to get stuck into in March, too. We were gifted with Outlast: Bundle of Terror, Subsurface Circular and Kirby Star Allies on Switch, while Detective Pikachu kept the memory of the 3DS alive.
April – Cardboard Craziness
April kicked off with plenty of jokes, and we joined the party by suggesting that Nintendo had gone cardboard-crazy with its next Labo efforts. Were you one of the few that were fooled? If so, you should feel utterly ashamed of yourself. Tut.
Meanwhile, rumours of new Nintendo hardware were sparked by Shinya Takahashi, and we took the time to speak to professional Smash Bros. players to see what they wanted from the upcoming Switch instalment. You may also remember that Nintendo got a new president in the form of Shuntaro Furukawa. Talk about stepping on board at the right time; in the same week, Nintendo revealed that Switch had sold over 15 million units since launch.
Sega also revealed it was bringing a host of classic games to Switch under the Sega Ages banner, and that it would be creating a Mega Drive Mini console to rival the likes of the NES and SNES Classic Editions. AtGames – which, if we're being honest, does a pretty shoddy line in clone consoles despite having well over a decade of experience – claimed it was helping out before the tweet was deleted and the console delayed until 2019. SNK also got in the act, announcing it was making its own classic system based on the Neo Geo.
At the random end of the scale, F1 fans were overjoyed to learn that the Sonic trophy given to the legendary Ayrton Senna still exists – but they were less pleased to know it had been relegated to a dusty store cupboard at McLaren's HQ. Given the current sorry state of this legendary racing team, you'd think McLaren would want to show off as many past glories as possible. Perhaps even more random was the news that drugs had been found inside NES cartridges. Eek.