Following yesterday’s delay of Redfall and Starfield, Microsoft’s two big blockbusters for the year, the release slate for the back half of 2022 might seem especially barren. Pop quiz: Have you been paying attention to the Switch?pointed out back in February
So far, Nintendo has had a pretty rockin’ year. It started 2022 off with Pokémon Legends: Arceus, a Pokémon spin-off that’s so popular it’s competing toe-to-toe with freakin’ Elden Ring in terms of sales. In February, Square Enix released Triangle Strategy, a deliciously stylish tactics game, exclusively on Switch. March saw the release of Nintendo’s own Kirby and the Forgotten Land, which Kotaku has already deemed one of the best games of the year. That was followed, in April, by Switch Sports, a revival of perhaps the biggest single trend to dominate modern gaming (coughs in Wii Sports).
The streak continues next month, too, with the release of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, a musou game about teenagers who like to punch dragons, and Mario Strikers: Battle League, which will be the first game in two years to actually make soccer look cool. Sorry, Captain Tsubasa, but most of your friends are dorks.
Six hot-ticket exclusives is typically a hefty enough lineup to anchor a major platform for the year, but the Switch has even more in store for 2022. The role-playing game Xenoblade Chronicles 3, initially planned for September, had its release date moved up to July 29 — an infinitesimally rare occurrence that suggests the game is in pretty solid shape. Splatoon 3, perhaps the sunniest take on a post-apocalyptic future, follows on September 9. (In terms of smaller-scale games, the “HD-2D” Live a Live remake is planned for July as well.)
There are also a number of major games slated for 2022 that don’t yet have inked release dates. Ubisoft recently promised the tactics crossover event Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope by the end of the publisher’s fiscal year, scheduled to conclude next April. (Sparks of Hope was previously given a 2022 release date.) Platinum’s Bayonetta 3 is gonna set social media aflame if it indeed makes its planned 2022 window. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet versions, also planned for 2022, don’t have solid release dates either. Historically, though, mainline Pokémon games come out in November. With Starfield out of the way, there’s nothing occupying the traditionally most coveted release slot. If Pokémon comes out that month, you better bet it’ll be the biggest game of the holiday season.
The ever-shifting release calendar is both expected and totally understandable, as developers come to terms with downstream effects of, y’know, working in a freakin’ pandemic. Most major games this year, from those already out (Horizon Forbidden West, Elden Ring) to those forthcoming (God of War Ragnarök, Gotham Knights, Marvel’s Midnight Suns) have been hit by some sort of delay.
Nintendo, too, is no stranger to such delays, having recently pushed whatever we’re calling the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild into 2023. So, yeah, any one of the company’s forthcoming games could get pushed back; those without inked release dates are even less of a sure bet. But if these pieces fall into place as planned, it’s my Switch — not my Xbox or PS5 — that’s gonna get the most playtime in 2022.