It was a weird year for Nintendo Switch owners. While the year started off strong with Animal Crossing: New Horizons in March, the well quickly dried up when it came to first-party games. Paper Mario: The Origami King and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity offered some much-needed relief, but 2020 ended up feeling like the Switch’s lightest year yet. That’s perfectly understandable considering the state of game development during the COVID-19 pandemic, of course.
Luckily, 2021 is on the horizon. While the state of the world likely isn’t changing anytime soon, there are a lot of games coming to Nintendo’s console. It’s going to be an especially notable year for RPGs, with series like Bravely Default and Monster Hunter grabbing the spotlight during the year’s first half. We’re not holding our breath for games like Metroid Prime 4 or the mysterious Zelda sequel to arrive for the holidays next year, but we have put together a list of our most anticipated games that are scheduled to launch this year.
The tale of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game has been a long one. Released back in 2010, the retro beat-em-up was a hit with fans, offering some classic arcade-style multiplayer action. The game was suddenly delisted from all retailers in 2014, effectively making it impossible to buy. Six years later, Ubisoft is finally re-releasing the game on modern consoles. The expanded edition is an especially great fit for the Nintendo Switch, as it’s the kind of local multiplayer game that’s perfect for passing a Joy-Con to a friend.
For those who haven’t played them, Io Interactive’s previous two Hitman games are both hidden gems from the last generation. The stealth games are essentially elaborate puzzle games where players need to find clever ways to assassinate enemies. Hitman 3 takes that to new extremes with more locations and wackier scenarios, like a Knives Out-style whodunit mission. The game’s developer is about to have a major breakout moment, as it’s working on the next 007 game, so Hitman 3 seems like a perfect way to get familiarized with the studio. The game will work via a cloud version on Nintendo Switch, which sounds dicey, but the idea is certainly enticing nonetheless.
For JRPG fans who are missing the world of Persona 5, there’s exciting news in store next year. Persona 5 Strikers is a Dynasty Warriors-style spinoff (in the vein of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity) starring the beloved RPGs colorful cast of characters. Despite featuring much different hack-and-slash gameplay, it’ll expand the story of Persona 5 even more and deliver additional music to fawn over. Dynasty Warrior-type games are having a bit of a moment right now, and this could very well keep the Musou momentum up if it’s as fun as it looks.
The Switch may not have massive hits coming next year, but RPG fanatics will have a lot to dig into. Chief among next year’s big slate of Switch RPGs is Bravely Default 2. The original game was a hit on the Nintendo 3DS with its unique combat and job systems. While it’s a niche franchise, the much-anticipated sequel is an exciting prospect for those who want a longtailed game to sink their teeth into. Those who are curious about it can try a free demo on the eShop today.
Announced at the 2020 Game Awards, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is a remake of the classic SNES game. Those who have played the original know that Ghosts ‘n Goblins is a fun, brutal platformer that’s often overlooked when people discuss the SNES’ classic library. The remake is a welcome surprise, modernizing the original with a totally new art style that looks positively vibrant.
The Monster Hunter franchise is about to reach the mainstream with Paul W.S. Anderson’s film adaptation. While that movie might not necessarily have a positive effect on the brand, it’ll draw more eyes to the next game, Monster Hunter Rise. The Nintendo Switch exclusive brings everything fans have come to expect from the series at this point: Big weapons and even bigger monsters. Considering how massive a success Monster Hunter World was, Rise could be a major addition to the Switch’s library.
The latest installment in the No More Heroes series has been a long time coming. While the Switch got a sort of spinoff last year, No More Heroes 3 is a proper sequel to the Wii cult classics. Created by eclectic video game personality Suda51, No More Heroes 3 continues the story of Travis Touchdown as he looks to hack and slash his way through an army of aliens. From the bits we’ve seen so far, the game looks as wild as anything we’ve come to expect from the franchise, which is a very good sign.
The Shin Megami Tensei series is a deep cut that’s beloved by some of the most hardcore RPG fans out there. While it’s easy to write something like this off as a niche release, there’s reason to believe Shin Megami Tensei V could make a big impact in 2021. Developed by Atlus, the series has led to several spinoffs during its life span. Chief among those is Persona, which is enjoying a huge breakout moment right now thanks to Persona 5’s sustained popularity. With audiences hungry for that style of RPG, Shin Megami Tensei V could be the moment Atlus needs to catapult the series to mainstream success.
Part of the Nintendo Switch’s appeal is that it’s home to such a wide variety of games, big and small. While there are plenty of big games on this list, indies are as fundamental to the Switch’s success. Case in point: Skatebird. The upcoming title is a skateboarding game starring a little bird — and it looks charming beyond belief. We’ve previously seen games like Untitled Goose Game find passionate audiences on the Switch, and something as cute and out there as Skatebird seems like a perfect fit for those fans.
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