A yr in the past, the Nintendo Swap appeared like a Hail Mary from a legacy sport 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? Nicely, it may work…possibly.
Now, in fact, the Swap seems 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 yr, largely by changing into exactly what many analysts (together with me) urged 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? Extra video games like Celeste.
Celeste, out this week concurrently on PlayStation four, PC, and the Nintendo Swap, is a retro-styled 2D platformer about climbing mountain ruins. It is also greater than that: it is a lush, heat story of a woman difficult herself and successful. It is the most effective feeling, and greatest sounding platformers I’ve performed in a very long time, invigorating and intelligent. Every display screen is a small puzzle of acrobatic routing, providing straightforward and troublesome paths by means of the setting, permitting the participant to problem herself or simply transfer on.
Celeste is a kind of video games that is troublesome to explain as a result of it simply feels… proper; each a part of it really works collectively to supply an expertise that is mild and satisfying. It is also—and that is the essential element to notice for Nintendo’s sake—new. A brand new indie sport, from Matt Thorson, creator of the wildly profitable Towerfall, launched concurrently on Swap and different platforms.
See, the early technique of the Swap, whereas profitable, has an issue. In courting indies, Nintendo has spent a great deal of its first yr courting yesterday‘s indies. An up to date model of the hit Stardew Valley; an expanded model of retro love letter Shovel Knight. The Swap’s lineup typically has had the air of a superb secondhand retailer, providing some unbelievable finds and fond recollections however nothing new. Do not get me fallacious, there have been a couple of profitable contemporary titles on the Swap (the gorgeous Sleek Explosion Machine involves thoughts), however Nintendo’s first yr with the Swap 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 Swap are good ones, and so they’re titles that folks have wished. Porting a sport to the Swap nonetheless has a variety of energy and mystique in it, and even video games which have been in all places like Tremendous Meat Boy have bought higher on the Swap than on another platform exterior of their preliminary releases. Individuals need these video games on the go. Courting established expertise and getting standard indies concerned within the console exhibits extra savvy in navigating the western indie sport scene than Nintendo has proven in its whole firm historical past.
But when Nintendo needs to actually decide to glorious impartial video games, and actually set up the Swap as a house for them, it has to do greater than courtroom established expertise. It has to develop new expertise. Going into the second yr of the Swap, Nintendo has a possibility to embrace the impartial gaming group in a broader method than it has prior to now. In any other case, there is a danger that the Swap may discover itself in a rut, solely ever repeating the successes of different segments of the indie market as an alternative of making its personal.
Video games like Celeste, which Nintendo supported by means of the whole final yr of its improvement, are a begin. Unique, beautiful works from established builders. However Nintendo, with its sources and the rising good will of its viewers, has the possibility to do much more.