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Looking back at Nintendo’s modern history, it looks like 2021 is gonna be a great year!

Gamingtodaynews1b - Looking back at Nintendo's modern history, it looks like 2021 is gonna be a great year!

I was looking back at Nintendo's renowned Wii U-era game droughts, and realised that in terms of new game releases 2020 has been the worst year in Nintendo's modern history, together with 2016.

Starting from quantity: in 2020 we had three original titles, of which one (Animal Crossing) was a major hit, one (Paper Mario: The Origami King) was a minor hit, and one (Clubhouse games) was frankly quite pathetic. We also had a decent amount of Wii and Wii U ports, such as Pikmin 3, Xenoblade Chronicles and the 3D Mario All Stars compilation, but I feel like those shouldn't really count as original titles since they're very similar to their original releases. This is an almost unprecedented short amount of original games: 2019 had four (Pokemon Sword/Shield, Luigi's Mansion, Mario Maker and Fire Emblem. And that's not counting Zelda Link's Awakening, which in my opinion is different enough from the original to count as a new game). 2018 had five (Pokemon Let's go, smash bros, Super Mario Party, Mario Tennis and Kirby star allies), and 2017 is well known for being one of Nintendo's best years ever.

Looking back a bit more, the years between 2012 and 2015 were all way better than 2020 for the Wii U (which is surprising, considering that the Wii U was criticised for the continuous droughts of new games, and considering that back then Nintendo was supporting two consoles at the same time while now it's supporting only one). Sure, sometimes the games weren't great (and some were truly bad), but that's a different story: the support the Wii U received in those years exceeded by far what the Switch had in 2020. Those years were also much better in terms of communication: we had at least one or two yearly directs to keep us posted with new releases, and we always had announcements for the far future keeping us excited.


And then we have 2016. Widely regarded as Nintendo's worst year ever with a miserable three original games for the Wii U (Starfox Zero, Mario & Sonic and Color Splash, none of them being very good) and six for the 3DS (Federation Force, Pokemon Sun & Moon, Kirby Planet Robobot, Mario Party Star Rush, Detective Pikachu and, again, Mario & Sonic). In terms of raw numbers this was still way better than 2020 (in terms of game quality it absolutely wasn't), but anyway in hindsight it's clear why 2016 was such a weak year: Nintendo was preparing for 2017, a majestic year which saw some of the best games of all time being released in an incredibly short timespan, and plenty of announcements and directs.

We know that 2020 was a weak year partly due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, which disrupted a lot of Nintendo's original plans. But to be fair, I don't think 2020 would have been that great, even without COVID: we would have probably seen 3D World for the holiday season (another bloody enhanced Wii U port!), maybe Pokemon Snap would have made it (though it's quite a stretch) and possibly Bravely Default 2 (which counts as a Nintendo game in the west :D).

So, my completely speculative prediction is that Nintendo's 2020 was a weak year because they were saving up for an explosive 2021. Considering the increasing rumours about the Nintendo Switch Pro, it might be that Nintendo was saving its most impressive games for this year, for them to be a showcase of the Switch Pro's possibilities. Or, considering 2020 was going to be the launch year for PS5 and Series X and the year of Cyberpunk, maybe Nintendo just didn't want to waste any major releases in a period when the hype around the next gen would have obfuscated them. So my expectations for this year are quite high: I think we're going to see at least two or three of major releases, and at least as many smaller surprise releases during the year. What do you guys think?

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