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By Namerah S
Hitman 3 headed to Nintendo Switch on January 20
by Namerah Saud Fatmi
IO Interactive announced Hitman 3, the third and final installment in the World of Assassination series, at the PS5 event back in June 2020. At the time, the stealth shooter was set to land on the PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC in January 2021. A few months later in October, a Nintendo Switch announcement followed suit.
So far, the Danish video game developer had only confirmed the exact release date for the Sony and Microsoft consoles and PC. Today IO announced the specific launch date for the Nintendo Switch as well.
Hitman 3 is scheduled to launch on the exact same date, January 20, 2021, across all the aforementioned gaming platforms. The NS release is going to happen through the cloud.
A lot of details about the upcoming Hitman 3 release have been announced so far. In August it was revealed that the game will be an Epic Games Store exclusive and that owners of the title will be able to import their old data and game locations from Steam. In the same month, IO also detailed the game modes for the January 2021 release.
The year ahead: What's next for the Nintendo Switch in 2021
by João Carrasqueira
We're pacing towards the end of the year, and this is usually a time many choose to not only take a look back at what happened in the past 12 months, but also what's ahead for the next 12. Earlier this week, I already went over some of the highlights of Nintendo's 2020 for me, and now, it's time to look ahead at 2021.
Nintendo often holds its cards close to its chest, especially around this time, with many things only being announced after the new year starts. But that doesn't mean we're completely in the dark, and it's also fun to speculate about what might happen that we don't know for sure yet.
If you read my three-year recap article about the Switch back in March, you know I didn't rule out the possibility of a new revision happening in 2020, but obviously, that didn't happen. In hindsight, it may have been too early, but Nintendo also faced some problems with manufacturing new units because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which likely made it harder to kickstart production of a whole new model, especially with the existing one already in pretty high demand.
But in 2021, the timing is much more adequate, and it lines up with Nintendo's past strategies much better. The Nintendo DS, first released in 2004, got a revised model with the same tech specs in 2006. Then, after two more years, in 2008, the Nintendo DSi was released, being the same console at heart, but with major changes like the addition of cameras, an actual operating system, downloadable software, and more. The Nintendo 3DS, which debuted in 2011, also got two major revisions, but with the same general capabilities, by 2013. Then, two years later, we got the New Nintendo 3DS, with a faster CPU, more RAM, improved 3D functionality, new controls, and more.
The Nintendo Switch debuted in 2017, and the Switch Lite was released in 2019, along with a revision of the original model with improved battery life. So far it all lines up fairly well, so there's good reason to believe a bigger revision is coming at some point in 2021, which could help Nintendo maintain its relevance as the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 start to gain momentum after their initial scarcity.
That's not all we have to go on, though, as a couple of reports have hinted at a possible revision. One report in August suggested that a new model with "improved interactivity" and a better display is planned for the first quarter of 2021, and a few weeks later, Bloomberg reported that Nintendo is asking developers to make their games "4K-ready". Now, the chipset in the Switch can technically output 4K resolution, though performance would likely be abysmal for gaming. However, Nvidia's most recent Shield TV, which packs a similar chipset, can upscale video content to 4K with some pretty solid results. An implementation similar to that, potentially paired with a better cooling system, could allow the Switch to output at 4K with decent performance.
We could even go as far as to speculate a potential date, though it may be a bit of a stretch. Monster Hunter Rise is launching on March 26, 2021, and the Monster Hunter franchise has a history (albeit a short one) of launching with some Nintendo hardware. Monster Hunter 3G launched in Japan in 2011 alongside the Circle Pad Pro accessory for the Nintendo 3DS, and in 2015, Monster Hunter 4G launched alongside the New Nintendo 3DS in that region. These titles were designed to make use of that new hardware, which we might very well see again. Plus, that's not all that's happening on the Switch on that day. Square Enix's Balan Wonderworld is launching on the same day, but perhaps most notably, new amiibo figures in the Super Smash Bros. series are launching on March 26. And a new hardware launch right before the end of the fiscal year could really help Nintendo boost that fourth quarter, when sales tend to fall off after the holidays.
As I said at the start, Nintendo likes to keep its secrets that way until the right time, so we don't know too much about the company's plans. However, some games have been confirmed for a 2021 release, both from Nintendo and third-party partners. We'll mostly be focusing on titles exclusive to the Switch, or at least, launch exclusives.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury
Super Mario 3D World was hailed as one of the best Nintendo games on the Wii U, even though it's one of the more generic entries in the series, following the structure of Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS. The game was announced to be coming to the Nintendo Switch during the Super Mario 35th Anniversary Direct back in September.
The biggest change with the Switch release is the addition of "Bowser's Fury", but Nintendo has refrained from sharing anything about that is. We've only got a short cinematic teaser that hints at a much darker tone than the rest of the game. The Switch version also brings another significant addition, which is support for online co-operative multiplayer, whereas the original could only be played with people on the same console. And, apparently, the game moves faster than the Wii U original, as can be seen in this comparison by GameXplain on YouTube.
The game is releasing on February 12, and is currently the earliest major exclusive to release on the Switch in 2021. At least, among the ones with confirmed release dates.
Bravely Default II
Image credit: Nintendo (YouTube) The Bravely Default series, developed by Square Enix, had its start on the Nintendo 3DS in 2012 (in Japan), and it already has a sequel, Bravely Second: End Layer, released in 2015 on the same platform. The third game in the series was announced at The Game Awards 2019, and it was originally slated for a release in 2020, but that ended up not happening.
Bravely Default II is being developed by the same team that made Octopath Traveler, another RPG that was exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, though it came to PC one year later. The game has the player take the role of Seth, one of four Heroes of Light that will band together throughout the game. Like previous games in the series, each of the characters can have a "job", which is done by obtaining the associated Asterisk, an item held by powerful enemies in the game. Jobs change the way characters develop their battling abilities, allowing the player to strategize with each of the playable characters.
Bravely Default II is planned for release on February 26, and a new demo was released on the eShop earlier this week after the developers took feedback from those who played the first demo earlier this year. The team actually shared some of the improvements made to the game following feedback in this video.
Monster Hunter Rise
Nintendo and Capcom unveiled the return of Monster Hunter to Nintendo platforms with Monster Hunter Rise back in October. The title is closer to the traditional monster-hunting formula of the series, rather than a follow-up to Monster Hunter World. The main monster in the game is called Magnamalo, though there are a few new ones, as you'd expect.
There are some new mechanics, such as the Wirebug, which lets players spring up into the air and move around more freely; or Palamutes, new canine partners that players can ride to move more quickly. There are new locations that take advantage of these traversal methods, too.
Monster Hunter Rise launches on Nintendo Switch on March 26, 2021, though it's also said to be coming to PC later in the year according to leaked information from Capcom.
Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster
Atlus announced the HD Remaster of Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne back in July, and it's already out in Japan. However, for those of us in Western markets, the game is slated for a release in the spring of 2021. The RPG originally released in 2003 on the PlayStation 2, so this will be its debut on a Nintendo platform, though the remaster is also releasing on the PlayStation 4. The HD remaster naturally features improved graphics and gameplay, as well as new voiced events.
Shin Megami Tensei V
Image credit: Atlus (YouTube) Yes, there are two games in the Shin Megami Tensei series coming to the Switch in 2021, but unlike the remaster above, Shin Megami Tensei V is a Nintendo Switch exclusive. The game was actually teased all the way back at the Nintendo Switch Presentation in January of 2017, but not much was heard of it until July of this year in a Nintendo Direct.
Not much is known about the game, but it's slated for a simultaneous worldwide release in 2021, with some reports suggesting it may be released in the first quarter of the year.
Monster Hunter Stories 2
Monster Hunter Rise isn't the only game in the series Capcom is bringing to the Nintendo Switch. During the same event, the company also announced Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin, a sequel to the Nintendo 3DS exclusive Monster Hunter Stories. This spin-off game uses a more cartoon-ish cel-shaded style compared to the realistic visuals of the main series, and it has more RPG elements than just action.
The game is slated to release on the Nintendo Switch in the summer of 2021, and just like Monster Hunter Rise, it's also said to be coming to PC.
No More Heroes III
The third entry in the No More Heroes franchise - which had been on hiatus since 2010 - was first announced at E3 2019, with the first proper trailer shown off at The Game Awards later that year. The title was initially slated for a 2020 release, but the launch has been pushed back to a vague 2021 time frame.
The No More Heroes series is focused on hack-and-slash gameplay and it stars Travis Touchdown, a member of an association of highly-trained assassins. The story in the third game revolves around an alien invasion, with Travis taking on the job of saving the world from the impending threat.
Since it was originally planned for this year, it seems likely that it will arrive in the earlier months of 2021, but that has yet to be confirmed.
There are also some indie games making their way to the platform in 2021, like Sports Story, a sequel to the critically-acclaimed Golf Story, or Cyber Shadow, coming from the same publisher as Shovel Knight. And Hitman 3 - Cloud version is said to be coming to the Switch "soon", and since the version on other platforms is coming January 20, it shouldn't be much longer until it arrives.
Unconfirmed release dates
The games above all have release dates or, at the very least, release windows, in 2021. However, there are quite a few Nintendo Switch games announced that don't have set release time frames, so they could arrive in 2021, but we don't know for sure. Since there's no release date, the titles are presented in no particular order below.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel
Nintendo ended its E3 2019 show with a bang, showing off a teaser trailer for a sequel The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, one of the most critically-acclaimed titles in the past few years. The trailer didn't show a ton, but we got to see Link, Zelda, and what appears to be a skeletal Ganondorf. So far that's all we've seen of the game, though series producer Eiji Aonuma commented on the development back in September, saying the team was still working on making the adventure as great as possible.
Development cycles for Zelda games tend to be pretty long, so with two years since the announcement, it's understandable to be skeptical of a release date in 2021. However, it will be the 35th anniversary of the series next year, and this would be a great way to celebrate it. Plus, being a direct sequel should mean that some assets will be taken from the previous game, which should speed up development.
Metroid Prime 4
Image credit: Nintendo (YouTube) Fans of the Metroid series were finally thrown a bone at E3 2017, when Nintendo announced a remake of Metroid II for the NIntendo 3DS, but even more importantly, the company announced the long-awaited return of the Metroid Prime series with Metroid Prime 4. Nothing was shown of the game aside from a temporary logo, and it was only said the game was in development.
In January 2019, Nintendo announced that it had restarted the development project, bringing in Retro Studios, developers of the first three games in the series, to see the project through. We have yet to hear more information about the game, but Retro Studios has consistenly been posting job offerings to help wih the development, and it may just be time for us to see more 2021.
Image credit: Nintendo (YouTube) 2017 truly was the year of promised games for the Switch, and after Metroid Prime 4, Nintendo revealed Bayonetta 3 at The Game Awards that year. Bayonetta isn't exactly a dormant series, but the last new entry was Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U in 2014, and the franchise has an avid fanbase that was certainly happy to get a new entry.
It's been three years, and that initial reveal trailer is still all we've seen of the game. PlatinumGames has released more games in the meantime, like the Switch exclusive Astral Chain, and the remastered version of The Wonderful 101. The team has been asked about Bayonetta 3's development multiple times and we've consistently heard that things are going as planned, so there's reason to believe we may see more of it soon, but only time will tell.
The Pokémon Company announced Pokémon Unite during a dedicated presentation earlier this summer. It's a MOBA (multiplayer online batle arena) game in the same vein as something like League of Legends, and it's being developed by Tencent's TiMi Studios, who recently developed Call of Duty: Mobile. Of course, it features a few characters from the Pokémon franchise, though only 10 are currently known to be in the game.
The game was shown relatively extensively, so it seems likely that a release isn't too far off. Pokémon Unite will also be on mobile devices, and it will be free to start, meaning in-app purchases will be part of its monetization strategy.
New Pokémon Snap
In yet another presentation from The Pokémon Company, fans got another long-awaited announcement this year. Pokémon Snap, one of the more well-known titles of the Nintendo 64, is getting a sequel in the form of New Pokémon Snap on the Nintendo Switch. The Pokémon Company is handing off development of the game to Bandai Namco, and the footage shown during the presentation was pretty impressive, especially if you compare it to the mainline Pokémon games on the Switch.
The goal in New Pokémon Snap is to take the best possible pictures of different Pokémon roaming the area around you. Players navigate through the region through a defined path, and they can use items to lure creatures to capture them. We haven't heard a ton more about the game, but it seemed to be further in development than some of the games on this list, so it's certainly possible we'll hear more in 2021.
Aside from these bigger titles, there are a handful of others that could be coming to Nintendo's hybrid soon. A sequel to Detective Pikachu, a Nintendo 3DS game that inspired the movie of the same name, was announced back in 2018 and hasn't been heard of since. Indie hit Hollow Knight is also set to get a sequel/expansion, Hollow Knight: Silksong, but the development team has also been quiet about it for some time.
And those are all the biggest things in store Nintendo Switch in 2021, as well as some that may or may not make the cut for next year. The hybrid is turning four years old next year, and it certainly has a library to reckon with already, but there may be even more surprises in the future. Of course, we'll be here to cover them.
Are you excited for any of these titles, or are there others you're looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!
Games of 2020: Here are our Nintendo Switch favorites from this year
by João Carrasqueira
It may have felt like a decade, but we're nearing the end of 2020, and that means it's a good time to look back at some of the better experiences we had this year. Specifically, I'd like to take a look at some of the Nintendo Switch games that released in 2020 and that I think are worth buying.
Nintendo had a relatively slow year in 2020, which has worked out pretty well for the company thanks to the success of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. However, while we didn't see any games with the level of impact of Super Mario Odyssey or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there were still a few noteworthy titles out on Nintendo's hybrid this year, and you may have overlooked some of them. The games are listed below in order of release date.
BioShock: The Collection
There's not a lot to say about this one since the game has already been available on other platforms, but BioShock: The Collection is a fantastic experience on the Switch. Containing all three games in the series, all of them with the DLC content each game received post-launch, this collection has a lot to offer, and being able to play anywhere you are is still a great benefit.
BioShock Infinite is arguably the best in the collection, and it's also the most modern, leaving out some gameplay elements that weren't as great in the first two games. Either way, all three of the games features narrative-driven adventures that are highly engrossing and the gameplay loop is also pretty fun and inventive, with an arsenal of weapons and abilities that's constantly growing throughout each adventure.
If, by chance, you haven't played these games yet, you can buy BioShock: The Collection from Target with a hefty discount making it just $19.99 instead of its $49.99 launch price.
Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics (NA)/51 Worldwide Games (EU)
This one needs to be prefaced because I've actually only ever played this game once; however, it's the only game I played that day. This collection contains a ton of board games and other games that are easy to pick up and play at a party. Because of 2020 being what it is, I've only had the chance to play it once at a party, but it was the only game we played all day. Even with just two controllers, taking turns to play in tournament-style competitions was great fun, and it's easy to recommend.
If you have a small gathering at your place for the holidays, this collection is a safe bet if you want to have fun as a group. Or, if you know multiple people with a Switch and you can't be with them, you can play some of the games online during a Zoom party or something and still have some fun. Either way, this is a great title to get in time for the holidays.
You can find the full list of games in this package on its eShop listing, where you can also buy it. It's also on Amazon, but the physical version is currently out of stock.
Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass
This one isn't a game per se, especially because Pokémon Sword and Shield actually released last year. But throughout 2020, Game Freak delivered two expansions, Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra, which add quite a bit to the game and make it that much better. We already considered the base game pretty great, but these expansions take even more steps towards improving the series. Both regions in the expansions behave similarly to the Wild Area with its large open area and full camera control, but while the Wild Area sacrificed beauty and visual variety for its openness, these have more variety to their sceneries and are more beautiful areas to walk around in.
The Isle of Armor expansion was released in the summer, and fitting that time of the year, it has more of a summer theme, with huge coastal areas and forests. The plot elements in this expansion are fairly small, but there are still some things to do, and some creatures are brought back in this region. It's also easily the most beautiful of the open areas across the base game and expansions.
Meanwhile, The Crown Tundra was released in October and it features a region heavily covered in snow. There's slightly less variety to the environments, but the openness is retained, and that shortcoming is made up for with a lot more content than what's found in the Isle of Armor. More Legendary Pokémon are added in this expansion, including the return of most of the existing ones from previous games. The best thing it does, though, is the addition of Dynamax Adventures, series of four Max Raid battles where participants use rental Pokémon to make it all the way through a cave, with a Legendary Pokémon waiting at the end. The use of rental Pokémon forces players to be a lot more careful with their choices and to cooperate more, meaning they're a lot more challenging and engaging than the usual Max Raid battles.
If you already own the base game, the Expansion Pass containing both expansions can be found at Amazon for $29.88 as a digital code. If you haven't yet, you can buy either Pokémon Sword or Pokémon Shield with the Expansion Pass bundled in for $89.99.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars
Of course, a list of the most iconic Nintendo games of the year has to include something from the Mario franchise. But in all honesty, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is an absolutely fantastic package, containing the first mainline 3D games in the series: Super Mario 64 from 1996, Super Mario Sunshine from 2002, and Super Mario Galaxy from 2007.
Super Mario 64 was the game of my childhood, and I knew it inside and out. I completed every single mission in the game in a single weekend, and it was fantastic. The controls have arguably aged a bit, but if you remember the original, everything will click into place quickly. Super Mario Sunshine was a completely new experience for me, and it was much better than I expected, particularly the art design. This game has such a beautiful, vibrant feel to it and it translates beautifully into the higher resolution in this port. This is definitely the buggiest game in the package, though, and it definitely deserved better treatment in the conversion to HD. Finally, Super Mario Galaxy is the best-looking and most epic-feeling game of the three, though I didn't feel quite as engrossed by it, maybe because I played all three games back-to-back.
These are three absolutely stellar games, and Nintendo upscaled the games and improved some of the textures to make the games feel a bit more at home on the Switch. Admittedly, the company could have done a lot more. Super Mario 64 maintained its 4:3 aspect ratio and doesn't upscale to 1080p, and there are definitely arguments to be made about how other similar collections massively improved the original games. Still, all three of these are fantastic games, and having them in a single package is just awesome.
The game is getting a limited release, so it won't be available after March 31, 2021. If you want to experience the history of 3D Mario, you can find Super Mario 3D All-Stars on Amazon, though the physical version will only be in stock on December 26.
Super Mario Bros. 35
Yes, there's another Mario game on this list, but at least this one is free if you have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Super Mario Bros. 35 takes what's arguably the most iconic videogame of all time and turns it into a battle royale-style game with 35 players at the same time.
Instead of running to the flagpole at the end of the level as fast as possible, Super Mario Bros 35. challenges players to keep the countdown timer going as long as possible, and it rewards you for defeating more enemies and collecting power-ups, which grant you time extensions. It beautifully translates the formula of Tetris 99 to the original Super Mario Bros. 35 and it can be incredibly fun and addictive.
Just like Super Mario 3D All-Stars, this game is only available through March 31, 2021, and you can download it for free on the Nintendo eShop if you have a Nintendo Switch Online membership.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Nintendo's partnership with Koei Tecmo on Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is the prime example of something I think Nintendo should do more. It's a game set in the same world as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Nintendo knows that its fans care deeply about that world and its characters. While the company is working on a sequel to that game, Age of Calamity serves more as a prequel to it, telling the story of the Calamity 100 years prior to the events of Breath of the Wild. This game only took a week to become the best-selling title in the Warriors series of all time, so there's no doubt as to what people find appealing in this game - the world, the characters, and the story.
Age of Calamity shares almost nothing with Breath of the Wild in terms of gameplay, being a fast-paced hack-and-slash where the player mows down hordes of enemies, in addition to some much tougher boss fights in-between. But almost every asset Nintendo used in the original Breath of the Wild was loaned to the developers of this game, and every character and everything about this world fit perfectly into the world of that game. That's not to say the game doesn't have its own identity, though, because it puts some twists on what you might expect from a prequel, giving it legs to stand on. While the gameplay style can be a bit repetitive, the setting in this game makes it absolutely worth it if you loved Breath of the Wild.
You can buy Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity on Amazon for $59.99, though the physical version is slated to arrive after Christmas.
Those are all the big retail games that released this year and that we think you should consider picking up if you already have a Switch. Of course, there were other big games this year, like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, or Paper Mario: The Origami King, but we had first-hand experience with the games on this list and we can recommend them.
Did you play any of these games or are you considering buying any of them? Is there a game you'd like to see us cover more extensively? Let us know in the comments!
Nintendo's Joy-Con drift is under investigation by European consumer associations
by João Carrasqueira
Image credit: Nintendo (YouTube) Nintendo's Switch has been a very successful system sales-wise, but ever since it was launched it's been plagued by the infamous Joy-Con "drift" issue. This problem occurs when, for reasons unbeknownst to the player, the analog stick on the Nintendo Switch controllers begins to register movement without any player action. This can lead to characters moving on their own, menu selections changing as the player tries to confirm a selection, and so on.
The problem has persisted for almost four years since the console launched, and now, a group of European consumer associations is calling on users to report any issues they experience with the Nintendo Switch's Joy-Con. The announcement made by the Dutch consumer association, Consumentenbond (via VGC), says that the call is made in conjunction with equivalent organizations in Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, and Slovakia, as well as the European Consumer Organization, BEUC.
The organization states that the consumer associations in Belgium and France have already received close to 1000 complaints, though that number should go up as more countries are involved. Sandra Molenaar, director of Consumentenbond, said the call is being made because the Switch console is potentially not lasting as long as customers would reasonably expect it to, and because repair options are limited and expensive.
Nintendo has already been in trouble due to Joy-Con drift for a while, even having a class action lawsuit filed against the company because of it. As a result, last year, it began repairing Joy-Con drift issues for free in some regions, and based on our experience in Portugal, that's still the case. Of course, even if that's the case everywhere else, it causes inconvenience for users to have to wait for a repair to be finished before using the product.
This also begs the question of why the issue persists after all this time. Developing a long-term solution for the problem would probably cost some money, but it's hard to imagine that the constant stream of free repairs is beneficial to the company's finances. It would make sense for the company to be working on addressing those issues, but it's likely we won't hear about it until the ongoing lawsuits are settled.
Nintendo Switch update adds automatic save data downloads and more
by João Carrasqueira
Nintendo has released a new system update for the Nintendo Switch hybrid console, bringing the system version up to 11.0. This comes nearly eight months since the last major update, and it adds an array of new features to the system.
First off, there's a new Nintendo Switch Online app, listed in the row below your game list. This lets users access information about their Switch Online membership, including how long it's been active, access to exclusive content for members, and information about games that use its features, such as online play or save data cloud.
Speaking of which, another big change here is that save data from the cloud can now be configured to download automatically. If you use multiple Switch systems in tandem, this makes it possible for your progress to remain synced across them. You'll need to enable this feature in Settings -> Data management -> Save Data Cloud.
That's not all, as there's now an option to transfer images and videos from your Switch to a PC or a smart device from the console itself. Until now, the only way this could be done was by saving the content on a microSD card, taking it out of the console, or inserting it into a different device. Now you can transfer files wirelessly to a smartphone, or with a USB cable to a PC. Smartphone transfers are limited to 10 screenshots and one video at a time, but PC transfer have no limits. You can follow these steps to transfer data to your phone wirelessly, or these steps to transfer them to a PC (or phone that supports MTP).
Nintendo has also added the ability to prioritize software downloads, so whenever you're downloading multiple games or updates, you can choose which ones go first.
Finally, the user section of the Switch has a new "Trending with friends" category to see which games are most popular with users on your friends list. There are also new user icons themes after the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. The update is available to download now and should install automatically if you don't do it yourself.