A 12 months in the past, the Nintendo Switch seemed like a Hail Mary from a legacy recreation firm that desperately wanted a win. A hybrid machine—half living-room console, half handheld— that turned the Wii U’s kinda-portability into a hit? Well, it may work…possibly.
Now, of course, the Switch appears like an inevitability. It has already outsold the lifetime gross sales of the Wii U, and is on tempo to match up with the runaway, culture-redefining success of the Wii. Nintendo’s newest console was a juggernaut in its first 12 months, largely by turning into exactly what many analysts (together with me) recommended it wanted to be: a system that buoyed a sequence of wonderful first-party titles with a nutritious diet of indie video games and ports. Which raises the query: the place does Nintendo go from right here?
The reply? More video games like Celeste.
Celeste, out this week concurrently on PlayStation four, PC, and the Nintendo Switch, is a retro-styled 2D platformer about climbing mountain ruins. It’s additionally greater than that: it is a lush, heat story of a woman difficult herself and successful. It’s one of the finest feeling, and finest sounding platformers I’ve performed in a very long time, invigorating and intelligent. Each display screen is a small puzzle of acrobatic routing, providing simple and tough paths by way of the setting, permitting the participant to problem herself or simply transfer on.
Celeste is one of these video games that is tough to explain as a result of it simply feels… proper; each half of it really works collectively to offer an expertise that is mild and satisfying. It’s additionally—and that is the vital element to notice for Nintendo’s sake—new. A brand new indie recreation, from Matt Thorson, creator of the wildly profitable Towerfall, launched concurrently on Switch and different platforms.
See, the early technique of the Switch, whereas profitable, has an issue. In courting indies, Nintendo has spent deal of its first 12 months courting yesterday‘s indies. An up to date model of the hit Stardew Valley; an expanded model of retro love letter Shovel Knight. The Switch’s lineup typically has had the air of a superb secondhand retailer, providing some unbelievable finds and fond recollections however nothing new. Don’t get me mistaken, there have been just a few profitable recent titles on the Switch (the lovely Graceful Explosion Machine involves thoughts), however Nintendo’s first 12 months with the Switch has been outlined not simply by ports and indies, however by ports and… indie ports.
Not which you can actually blame Nintendo. The video games they’ve gotten positioned on the Switch are good ones, and so they’re titles that individuals have wished. Porting a recreation to the Switch nonetheless has so much of energy and mystique in it, and even video games which were all over the place like Super Meat Boy have offered higher on the Switch than on another platform outdoors of their preliminary releases. People need these video games on the go. Courting established expertise and getting in style indies concerned in the console exhibits extra savvy in navigating the western indie recreation scene than Nintendo has proven in its total firm historical past.
But if Nintendo desires to really decide to wonderful impartial video games, and really set up the Switch as a house for them, it has to do greater than court docket established expertise. It has to develop new expertise. Going into the second 12 months of the Switch, Nintendo has a chance to embrace the impartial gaming neighborhood in a broader approach than it has in the previous. Otherwise, there is a threat that the Switch may discover itself in a rut, solely ever repeating the successes of different segments of the indie market as an alternative of creating its personal.
Games like Celeste, which Nintendo supported by way of the total final 12 months of its improvement, are a begin. Original, beautiful works from established builders. But Nintendo, with its sources and the rising good will of its viewers, has the likelihood to do much more.