Nintendo Switch exclusives to look forward to in 2021
Nintendo’s biggest selling point is always their brand. If you want to play Nintendo games, you have to buy a Nintendo console. It’s no surprise, then, that the Switch has far more exclusives than any other console on the market, even the recently released PS5 and Xbox Series X. It’s exclusives that will keep Nintendo competitive with the big boys, even though the Switch is comparatively underpowered to consoles that came out a generation ago.
And Nintendo has to compete. After a year of delays and a fairly negative fan response to recent actions including shutting down competitive scenes for their games, fan projects, and even the official sale of their 35th anniversary Mario titles, Nintendo has to win back the goodwill of their fan base with some major hits in 2021.
What could those hits be? Let’s take a look.
Axiom Verge 2
Axiom Verge is a fantastic example of how the indiesphere can breathe new life into a genre. It’s one of the most unique metroidvanias in existence, with every single ability operating in a significantly different way from its Metroid inspiration.
Axiom Verge was built with the goal to mimic a Nintendo game. Axiom Verge 2, a Switch exclusive, is upping the bit count to 16, and that’s pretty exciting. In the same way that Super Metroid evolved and enhanced the gameplay of the original Metroid, Axiom Verge 2 is looking to make its world bigger, more dangerous, and fill it with even more unique items and weapons. That’s saying something considering the original was already pretty big for an 8-bit mimicry. While Nintendo may not be planning a new Metroid any time soon, Axiom Verge 2 will scratch that Metroid itch and then some.
Axiom Verge 2 was originally slated to come out in the fall of 2020 but was delayed due to COVID. It will now come out in the first half of 2021.
Bravely Default II
Nintendo tends to appeal to “classic” franchises, and Bravely Default II, is essentially the classic version of Final Fantasy. While the mainline Final Fantasy titles have become more open world and action-based, Bravely Default retains the classic, turn-based, job-based, fantasy RPG formula that made early Final Fantasies so addicting.
Bravely Default II will introduce us to new heroes, new jobs, and a new setting from the first two installments in the franchise. It’s also being developed with a heavy focus on fan feedback. This is definitely going to be one of the biggest RPGs of 2021. The classic formula caught on for a reason.
Bravely Default II will release worldwide on February 26, 2021.
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny
This is an awkward one. NIS’s classic strategy franchise is going to be a Switch exclusive… in America. In Japan, it also came out on the Playstation so whether or not it belongs on this list is a bit of a grey area. Still, no one does strategy RPGs like Disgaea, and there is a lot to look forward to in this new installment. The new quality of life features make grinding a breeze, a new resurrection system will tie into a plot about reincarnation and a zombie protagonist, and the franchise has finally upgraded from sprite art to full cel-shaded polygonal graphics. It’s all tied together with the quirky anime storytelling that Disgaea is known for, and an absurd level cap of 99,999,999.
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny will release on January 28th in Japan and in the Summer of 2021 worldwide.
Ghosts n’ Goblins: Resurrection
Heading back to the classics, Ghosts n’ Goblins hasn’t had a mainline console installment since Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts on the SNES in 1991. It’s had a couple of spin-offs on portable and mobile platforms, but it’s been largely ignored by Capcom in favor of titles with more AAA appeal like Resident Evil and Street Fighter.
Yet, here we are in 2021 with a brand new Ghosts n’ Goblins title coming out for the Switch. It’s got everything the classics have from multiple weapons, magic, armor sets, and a protagonist in boxer shorts. It’s also looking to be super hard, punishing players with that old-school difficulty that NES/SNES masochists know and love. The graphics are also worth noting, as they use full 3D models yet look hand-painted on the screen. Capcom could be considering this graphical style for some of their other titles that originated in the 8 and 16-bit era, like Street Fighter.
Ghosts n’ Goblins: Resurrection will release on February 25, 2021.
Monster Hunter Rise
The Switch never got Monster Hunter World the latest hit in the Monster Hunter franchise. Instead, it’s going to get Rise, a spin-off with a few new interesting mechanics. It too is an open-world game, as opposed to the zoned instance design of previous titles. However, Rise’s world focuses on verticality, allowing you to ambush monsters by worming your way through caves and cliffs, and giving players access to a grappling hook that will let them swing around monsters like they were a character from Attack on Titan.
Also, DOGS! Rise will allow you to fight with a Palico (cat) and Palimute (dog) companion. You can fight with both in single-player and with your companion of choice in four-player multiplayer.
Monster Hunter Rise will release on March 26, 2021.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Another cool aspect of Monster Hunter Rise is that it will have some sort of cross-game compatibility with Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin. If you aren’t familiar with the Stories sub-line of the Monster Hunter franchise, it basically takes the gameplay you know and love from the Monster Hunter series and adapts it for a more standard, narrative-focused RPG. We haven’t heard much about this title, but we know it’s being developed in parallel with Rise and should release in the third quarter of 2021.
No More Heroes III
Whenever anyone said that the Wii was for little kids, someone would point to No More Heroes, the game about an otaku who bought a lightsaber off eBay accidentally killed one of the world’s most powerful assassins, and now has to work his way off the leaderboard with a combination of attitude, pro-wrestling moves, and embarrassing anime t-shirts. This time around, an alien called FU has decided to grant people superpowers and then use his superhero army to dominate the earth. Luckily, Travis Touchdown is ready to save the world from this legion of super-powered beings… or at the very least save his local video rental store.
No More Heroes III will release in 2021, though a concrete release date has not yet been given.
Shin Megami Tensei V
There hasn’t been a mainline Shin Megami Tensei game on consoles since Nocturne released for the Playstation 2. Nintendo is going to change all that with Shin Megami Tensei V. The progenitor of Persona, SMT is its darker, more screwed up older brother. These games start with the apocalypse and end with you reforging the world in your own image like a god… but at what price.
Unfortunately, we don’t know much more about this title than the trailer above has to show. It’s slated for an early 2021 release date, though, so hopefully, we will find out more soon.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town
The original developers of Harvest Moon are here with a brand new farming sim which, quite honestly seems to be taking a lot of cues from Stardew Valley. You know you have made it big when the developers of the game you took inspiration from, take inspiration from you. This is a 25th-anniversary celebration game, which sees you abandoning your old life to start a new farm in the wilderness, and maybe get into a little romance along the way. You already know if you are the type of person who will dumb hundreds of hours into a game like this, and luckily you won’t have to wait long. Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is slated to release on March 23, 2021.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Finally, we have Nintendo’s last big celebration of Mario’s 35th anniversary. Everything old is new again, and by that we mean the release of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury pretty much brings every major Wii U title over to the Switch. This was a much-beloved title that married 2D and 3D Mario in interesting ways. While we likely won’t see a lot of the interesting Wii U gamepad specific gimmicks in this Switch interpretation, we are getting a small graphical facelift, access to extra characters like Rosalina immediately, online play, and a brand new campaign called Bowser’s Fury. You’ll be able to re-live this fantastic chapter of Mario’s life on February 12, 2021.
And now a look at some of the legendary lost exclusives…
Nintendo has promised big this generation, and that has created an awkward situation where they have confirmed the development on several big name titles yet haven’t spoken about any of them for a while. All of these titles are supposedly coming “soon” but there is no guarantee we will see them in 2021… or ever really. Still, if you want to keep your hopes up, we might see these titles in the coming year.
Breath of the Wild 2
We haven’t heard anything about this title since it was announced in 2019. Nintendo is obviously still working on it. They would be insane to not capitalize on a success like Breath of the Wild. However, we have no idea if it will come out in 2021, or even in this console generation!
New Pokémon Snap
One of last year’s surprise announcements around virtual E3 time was the announcement of a new Pokémon Snap coming to the Switch. While the trailer we saw seemed to show a game long in development, we still haven’t heard anything about a release date, which makes it seem like this won’t necessarily come out this year.
We ended off last year with a statement from Bayonetta director Hideki Kamiya that Bayonetta 3 is, in fact, still in development and on the way. That being said, we haven’t seen anything other than a splash screen of the title since 2017.
Metroid Prime 4
Speaking of games that only gave us a splash screen back in 2017, Metroid Prime 4 has been in development hell for a while, even being restarted from scratch at one point. Is 2021 the year we finally get to see the return of Samus?
What Switch exclusives are you excited for this year? Let us know in the comments.