We’re officially on “new console watch.” Reports from credible publications like Eurogamer say that Nintendo secretly showed developers its next system behind closed doors at this year’s Gamescom. While it’s only a rumor, it’s a realistic one. We’re six years into the Nintendo Switch’s lifespan and even the longest-running consoles turn over at eight. If Nintendo’s next system is one or two years away, it’s time to start lining up support from third-party developers.
We’ve speculated on features we’d want in a new system before, but the reality of a new platform has me asking another question: What games would you launch with something like this? The Nintendo Switch’s launch day was crucial to its long-term success thanks to a bonafide classic in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. While the rest of its launch lineup wasn’t as impressive, Nintendo capitalized fairly quickly with titles like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2. If Nintendo’s going to push Switch owners over to a new system, it’ll have to roll out the big guns.
While Nintendo’s next console may realistically only launch with one or two major exclusives, that hasn’t stopped me from putting together my dream “day one” list. From some very likely Nintendo sequels to third-party ports that could showcase a new system’s power, I’d be happy to see any of these games usher in a new era of Nintendo hardware.
Super Mario Odyssey 2
In just a few weeks, we’re getting the next 2D Mario game in the form of Super Mario Wonder. Based on what we’ve played so far, it’s a delightful evolution of Nintendo’s best formula. While I’m sure that’ll entertain me, it’s the next 3D Mario game that I’m really looking forward to. Super Mario Odyssey was an important game for the Nintendo Switch in 2017, proving that Nintendo was committed to bringing its A-game to the system beyond an all-time great Zelda game. It has a chance to make that statement again on its next system by leading with the plumber’s next adventure.
The Super Mario Odyssey formula was a winning one and I’d be happy to see it repeated for a proper sequel. But what’s fun about 3D Mario games is that Nintendo always finds a way to take the series in an unexpected new direction. It’s a philosophy that’s given us classics like Super Mario Galaxy and left-field swings like Super Mario Sunshine, a personal favorite. Hopefully, Nintendo keeps that formula up and finds a new approach to Mario that takes advantage of its next system’s technical upgrade.
Mario Kart 9
At this point, Mario Kart 9 seems like the most realistic possible option for a Switch 2 launch game. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best-selling Switch game by a mile and it wasn’t even a new game. The Wii U game’s life truly began on Switch, as Nintendo turned a simple port into a six-year platform that it could keep investing in. Long-tailed DLC support found Nintendo coming as close as we’ve ever seen to creating a long-tailed live-service game.
While that’s impressive, the trick isn’t likely to work again on another platform. It’s time for an upgrade. If positioned as a launch game, Mario Kart 9 has the potential to be another sales behemoth that anchors the new system’s entire lifespan. With proper DLC support, it could easily become the game every Switch 2 owner needs to have in their library. Even if it’s not a day-one game, I’d be shocked if it didn’t hit the system within six months of release.
Metroid Prime 4
Very early in the Switch’s lifespan, Nintendo was perhaps a little too eager to tease what games would hit the platform. Titles like Bayonetta 3 wouldn’t actually hit the platform until five years later. The worst offender, though, was Metroid Prime 4. Originally unveiled with a simple logo reveal, the project ran into trouble when Nintendo decided to restart development on it under Retro Studios. Video games take a long time to develop, so it was a costly setback which explains why we haven’t seen anything about it since.
At this point, Metroid Prime 4 makes more sense as a cross-gen title that’s playable on both Switch and its successor, much like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The series has earned some new fans in the Switch’s lifetime thanks to the excellent Metroid Dread and a fantastic Metroid Prime remaster, so there’s a lot of momentum to capitalize on. A surprise launch announcement would feel like a cathartic payoff for patient fans and instill confidence in players that Switch 2 won’t just focus on Mario and Zelda.
Any console launch needs a few third-party standouts to help sweeten the pot. It’ll be crucial that Nintendo leans on its strongest partners to show that external developers are ready to develop for the console. The best ally it could have in its corner come next console launch is Bayonetta 3 developer PlatinumGames — and it just so happens that the company might have a project in the works that could be a perfect fit.
Last year, rumors indicated that the studio might be working on a sequel to its 2019 Switch title Astral Chain. While the leak should be taken with a grain of salt, it’s a believable rumor. The action game was beloved by fans and critics alike, so it seems likely that PlatinumGames would want to capitalize with a sequel. If it can deliver that on day one, it’ll be a perfect option for Nintendo’s more hardcore audience who are hungry for a fast-paced action game.
Baldur’s Gate 3
When the Switch was announced, Nintendo nestled a big third-party announcement into the show: Yes, Skyrim was coming to the system. It was a bit of a meme moment, but an important one. It showed that the Switch was a more technically capable console that could handle a massive Bethesda game. Granted, The Elder Scrolls game was six years old at that point, so it wasn’t the most impressive feat in hindsight. But Nintendo could repeat that magic moment with another landmark RPG: Baldur’s Gate 3.
Larian’s enormous CRPG is making waves right now and is on its way to being considered one of the all-time greats of its genre. Even if a Nintendo version comes out one year after the PC game’s launch, it’ll still be the kind of high-profile third-party game that gets players excited. Not only that, but it would be the perfect game to flex how much more powerful Nintendo’s new system is. It’s not a pipe dream either: Larian’s Divinity: Original Sin 2 is available on Switch, so the developer has a history of getting its big titles working on Nintendo’s limited hardware. If it can pull that off, the presumably portable Switch 2 could become the definitive way to experience it.
GameCube games on Switch Online
I’ll cheat a little bit here because this entry includes a whole bunch of games. The Switch has become a haven for retro titles thanks to Switch Online. There, subscribers can play a batch of games from the NES, SNES, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Sega Genesis, and even Nintendo 64. That’s all exciting, but there’s one key console that’s missing: GameCube.
The GameCube was home to some of Nintendo’s most important games, from Super Smash Bros. Melee to Animal Crossing. A select few of those titles came to Switch in the form of ports and remasters, but many of them are still lost in space. If Nintendo really wanted to add an extra value proposition to both its new console and its online plan, bringing along a batch of GameCube classics would be an excellent move. I know I’d re-up my subscription if it meant having an easy way to play Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door or bring Mario Kart: Double Dash online.