Nintendo Switch in 2017 was one of my favorite console years ever. Breath of the Wild is possibly my favorite game of all time, and Mario Odyssey was a tremendous achievement, the crowning jewel in gaming's most storied franchise. I had a great time with Fast RMX, played a host of great Neo Geo ports, and loved the hell out of both Kingdom Battle and Mario Kart 8. There were some misses in there (I didn't like Arms, and Splatoon 2 didn't capture me), but overall I loved my Switch in 2017 and hoped the system would only get better in 2018.
Nintendo's output in 2018 has fallen into basically two camps: Wii U ports and disappointments. There's nothing wrong with bringing the likes of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze to the Switch, of course, since those were good games that were stuck on a system nobody bought. But it's hard to get excited about 4 year old games, even if they are Bayonetta 2 and Hyrule Warriors. Nintendo didn't sell me a Wii U in 2014 with that lineup (2014 was clearly the best year for the Wii U) and reheating it for 2018 doesn't make me any more excited.
Meanwhile Nintendo's fresh offerings have been anemic. Kirby: Star Allies was a mediocre game by any standards, not just Nintendo's. Mario Tennis: Aces is fine but hardly an exciting title, and it's worth noting that Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash was a bare bones title that showed that Nintendo was already moving on from Wii U in 2015. Super Mario Party is apparently just okay, though it has no appeal for me.
Of course Super Smash Bros. Ultimate looms over everything as possible redemption, but it's just one game and while I'll play it, it's not something I'm personally excited for, even though I know millions will be. One great game does not a great year make, though, and the Wii U had Smash too.
There are, of course, a lot of ports on the Switch, and people will say that's what makes it worth buying. It is able to run console quality games in a handheld format, which is a wonderful selling point. It has Dark Souls and Wolfenstein II, and Doom. And it has replaced the PS VIta as the best place to play indies, which run flawlessly and can be played on TV or handheld mode without missing a beat. But while those are admirable traits for a handheld they're not what you need in a console, which is what Nintendo sold this thing as. They said it was a console that you could play handheld but it's really a handheld that plugs into a TV.
Meanwhile I wonder what Nintendo's development teams are actually up to. Maybe they're about to unleash a torrent of great software in 2019 and 2020 that will take the Switch to heights that Nintendo hasn't enjoyed since the SNES. It doesn't feel like it though. The only major releases I'm aware of coming internally are Metroid Prime 4 and a new Pokemon, and those are not even internal Nintendo projects. Yoshi's Crafted World looks cool, but after Kirby I'm not dying for another 2-D platformer. Maybe they're all working on Smash, which looks like it's going to be a truly massive game. Either way, you'd think consolidating development onto one platform would mean a larger number of games for that platform and we're just not seeing it. Instead we're getting the Wii U trickle without the smaller 3DS style titles. It's the same old Nintendo song of a few big releases a year supported by some other stuff. The big new release for January 2019 is a full price port of New Super Mario Bros. Wii U. Not even a new game in that series. Not even Super Mario 3-D World.
Meanwhile with no Virtual console and a $20 online service that provides access to a few NES games, most of which are either games that have been released a thousand times before or aren't fun to play in 2018, Nintendo isn't even leveraging its past to prop up an anemic present. There are already rumors of a new, more powerful, Switch hitting in 2019, but I don't want to buy a new system, I want games for the system I already bought.
Despite a mediocre year I still like the Switch as a platform. It's cool to have a high-powered handheld, and the system has a lot of versatility in the ways it can be played. Not every year can be a high watermark like 2017, and every system has down years, but the Switch is about to enter its prime and I hope Nintendo has more up its sleeve than it currently appears to me. The Switch still has a lot of potential, let's see if it can regain its momentum.