When 2017 began, many people had their doubts about the next steps Nintendo was taking into the gaming industry. They had just come off the disastrous Wii U, which sold only 12 million units in its lifetime; and there was wonder about whether or not The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would make its March 3rd release date – and if any corners would have to be cut for the game to be any good.
But those doubts faded away by the time the end of 2017 rolled around, as Nintendo proved its dominance in the gaming world once again. Not only did Zelda live up to – and extend beyond – expectations, but so did Super Mario Odyssey and a handful of other first-party releases, like Splatoon 2 and ARMS. For good measure, the Switch proved to be the company's most popular platform in years, as it's already nearing the Wii U's lifetime sales record within its first year.
This makes 2017 the year of Nintendo, and a few key decisions have led to this moment of dominance. Let's look back at the high points that truly made this a great twelve months for the big N…
The Legend of Zelda Blew Us Away
The game has since been a monumental success for the company, selling over five million copies worldwide and becoming noted as one of this year's biggest games, if not the biggest game. It also redefined how we look at Zelda games, with a stunning open world environment that made it fun to explore with again, especially when it came to the game's unique dungeons.
Nintendo continued its success with neat little add-ons, introducing even more dungeons, playable characters, and even a motorcycle (!) for players to enjoy. Its adventure is over now, as Nintendo is clearly focused on the next one, but, man, what memories Breath of the Wild created. We're still loving it.prevnext
The Rebirth of a (Former) Plumber
2017 was clearly the year of Mario, as we saw not one but two outstanding games that made proper use of the Nintendo Switch, while giving die-hard fans more than enough of a dose from the former plumber.
First up was Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and despite some just seeing it as a port of the Wii U game, it was incredibly well received on the Switch, selling over five million units and garnering a highly popular online audience. What's more, it introduced Splatoon characters into the fold, making them a welcome addition to the racing universe.
Then there was Super Mario Odyssey, which many fans consider the greatest open-world adventure for the hero since his early going days in Super Mario 64. (And, to some extent, maybe even Super Mario Sunshine.) Its gameplay is nothing short of dazzling, and its presentation beautiful. It's still a highly played title today, as players continue to seek out those evasive moons.
And of course, we dare not forget Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, one of this year's key crossover titles. It's just too much fun to miss, and an engaging challenge for strategy fans.
It's too soon to tell what the future holds for Mario, but if it's anything like how this year went, we're thrilled to see where he goes next.prevnext
Hardware That Made A Difference, Even With Limitations
The Nintendo Switch isn't a perfect system. That much can be said. It doesn't have a huge operating online network like Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, as most of its features aren't going to be introduced until next year. Hell, it doesn't even have Netflix.
That said, though, the architectural work that Nintendo put into the system is absolutely stunning. The ability to play games either at home or on the go is a nearly flawless process (save for some games that don't work at home, like Severed), and the control schemes are wide open, depending what players are going for. Motion gaming? Yup. Traditional gaming with a kick-ass controller? Absolutely. On the go play? All yours.
And it's not only practical, but a more viable model than the Wii U. We have a feeling the portable/console feeling is what they were going for with that system, but it wasn't quite right. With the Switch, however, they nail the concept and really bring it home – and that's why we can't get enough of it. Hopefully, it'll expand even further with more services next year. And, yes, fingers crossed for Netflix.prevnext
The Return of Samus Aran
There's no question that Nintendo gave some big love to its franchises this year. Mario, Zelda, Xenoblade Chronicles, Splatoon and even new stuff like ARMS. They all got equal support. But there's nothing like seeing the comeback that Metroid made this year.
After spending years in the doldrums, Nintendo brought Samus Aran back with a vengeance, with not just one new game, but the announcement of another. Metroid: Samus Returns made its debut on the Nintendo 3DS in September and took the world by storm, thanks to the savvy 2D development of MercurySteam (the team behind the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow games). It's easily one of the year's best, and a fine return to form for the series.
Not only that, but Nintendo also confirmed that Samus would make her debut on the Switch soon enough, with the return of the Metroid Prime franchise. We can't wait to see how that adventure goes, if it does manage to release in 2018.
Metroid is back, and, boy, are we loving it.prevnext
Taking Care Of The Devoted Franchise Fans
Not only did Nintendo give franchises some love on the Switch, but it took care of them on other mediums as well.
For instance, on the mobile side of things, both Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing saw a huge resurgence with accompanying mobile games, one that increased social interaction, while at the same time giving players something new to shoot for. Don't be surprised if the company keeps up its mobile model moving into the new year.
Pokemon wasn't forgotten about either. Along with Ultra Moon and Ultra Sun for the Nintendo 3DS, we also saw the re-release of several classic titles, and Pokken Tournament DX saw a much improved port on the Nintendo Switch. Something tells us that Pokemon will become even bigger – and better – in 2018.
So even the "smaller" franchises in Nintendo's library got some love – and they aren't done yet.prevnext
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise
2017 was a genuine year of surprise for Nintendo, as the company unveiled several new things that shocked the world.
Along with its Legend of Zelda DLC and its super-catchy, dance-worthy Super Mario Odyssey theme ("Yessee!"), the company also paired up with Bethesda to show the power of third-party support for the Nintendo Switch. Not only did the system get its long overdue port of Skyrim: Special Edition, but it also got a very entertaining version of the hit shooter Doom, and the promise of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus arriving early next year. More than likely, third party support will be picking up big time for the system, with several titles, like Mega Man 11, already on the way.
But the company also threw fans for a loop with other surprise announcements. Alongside Metroid Prime 4 sending players into dreamland back at E3, Nintendo also confirmed the return of Bayonetta – with a vengeance. Not only are we getting the two-pack of Bayonetta games in February, but also a brand new third adventure, which will be exclusive to the Nintendo Switch.
And something tells us that the company's not done. 2018 should harbor quite a few surprises for the Switch and other systems, including potential announcements of Super Smash Bros., a new Pokemon game, and much, much more.prevnext
A Unique Take On Marketing
Usually, Nintendo is known to cater to fans of a younger age. But that changed big time in 2017. Its initial Nintendo Switch ad pointed more towards millennials, and Nintendo kept up that trend over most of the year, advertising new games with players of all ages enjoying them, instead of just the kiddies.
Not only that, but it showed just how heavily it was into advertising its new model with a trailblazing Super Bowl ad, one that featured Imagine Dragons' "Believer" playing in the background while a player made his way through The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It made an incredible impact, and paved the way for even more savvy advertising to come, like with Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey.
More than likely, Nintendo will keep on this course in 2017. Why shouldn't it?prevnext
Getting More Into The Competition
A few years ago, Nintendo wouldn't have even considered the idea of competitive gaming. Hell, at one point, it was adamantly against Super Smash Bros. being involved in fighting tournaments, until fans ultimately turned the tide in their favor. But 2017 proved to be a much different take.0comments
The company once again brought back the Nintendo World Championships for all to enjoy, with a number of competitions of new games to keep fans entertained. However, it also introduced a new competitive league called Nintendo Vs., with tournaments based around ARMS, Pokken Tournament DX and Splatoon 2. It hasn't seen too much action as of yet, but that could change in 2018, especially with a Smash Bros. announcement right around the corner.
2017 was a terrific comeback year for Nintendo – and it's not done yet.prev