Hard to believe it’s already been half a decade. The Nintendo Switch released on March 3rd, 2017, marking its 5th year anniversary after what has already been a success in just about every sense possible — conceptually, commercially, and critically.
After the commercial struggles of the Wii U, the Switch seemed like a gamble at the time — a hybrid console that would merge Nintendo’s long-standing portable and home console designs. The power seemed lacking compared to its competitors and the launch lineup seemed sparse. But after the immediate masterpiece The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild released on launch day, the remainder of 2017 was peppered with releases by the month — whether more modest successes like ARMS or smash hits like Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey. By the end of 2017, it had enough star power to prove itself, and in retrospect, it seems foolish to have doubted the simple appeal of the hybrid approach.
The years since have certainly varied widely in terms of releases, though it’d be erroneous to describe them as rocky — the console seems on a perpetual upward trajectory. Having an aggressive launch year in 2017, the console relied on hype for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to sustain itself in 2018, followed by a 2019 bolstered by largely smaller releases for big franchises like Luigi’s Mansion 3 and the Link’s Awakening remake (and Pokémon Sword & Shield, which generated a bubble of controversy we may never escape). 2020 was the year the world went into lockdown, and the Switch — and specifically Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which conveniently hit shelves right as quarantine began to kick in globally — became a source of relief and escape for many, which continued into 2021 with the likes of Metroid Dread, Monster Hunter Rise, and more. Even now as other headlines sweep the globe, the pandemic continues to rage, and the Switch continues to comfort many.
The Switch has also become a premier console for indies, who already tend not to push system specs to their utmost in the first place and thus benefit holistically from the portability. While the likes of Hollow Knight, Celeste, Hades, and more have all been available on other platforms, the Switch feels like the place where they’ve truly thrived, enabling players to experience all kinds of games from the comfort of their beds — or on the go. They’re definitely a secret weapon in the console’s arsenal, even if occasionally the eShop can be inundated with lower-quality titles.
2022 is shaping up to be another big year, specifically packed with sequels to franchises that already landed on Switch: Splatoon 3, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and even the just-announced Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. While the Switch still lacks in certain bells and whistles compared to previous Nintendo consoles — customization is just getting off the ground, the retro gaming options are lacking compared to Virtual Console, and the Online service in general is bumpy — it has an absolutely killer library, and it’s going to keep growing as it continues chugging into the future.
Happy 5th, Switch. You’ll be sure to be loved for years to come.
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