In recent memory, Nintendo never reveals their full year as of January 1.
I felt a major sense of deja vu recently. "Nintendo has nothing for this year!" "Switch is going to be barren after May." "We only know of five games Nintendo's bringing to Switch!" "When's new hardware?"
Those kinds of sentiments fill the Nintendo discourse every time the calendar changes years. There's mass panic about what Nintendo has on tap as people fret that only a few games are known. In the case of 2023, we have four games known with release dates dotting the first five months of the year. Fire Emblem Engage hits on January 20, Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe launches on February 24, Bayonetta Origins on March 17, and the big one - The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom set for May 12. Outside of that, Pikmin 4 is a nebulous 2023. That's it confirmed for 2023. Beyond that, we just have hopes for Metroid Prime 4 and Advance Wars on Nintendo's ledger.
But here's the thing: this kind of knowledge has been the norm for basically every year of the Switch. Technically at the start 2017, we didn't know of any Switch games beyond Breath of the Wild, though by the time we hit Nintendo's full-throated reveal in mid-January 2017, we had a good handle of what 2017 was set to be. But beyond the debut year of the console, we start off every year knowing the specifics of the couple of months ahead with many surprises looming over the course of Nintendo Directs throughout the year.
Going back to 2018, we entered the year knowing only about the near future: Dragon Quest Builders, Bayonetta 1 and 2, and Kirby Star Allies. Those games all came out before the end of March. We also knew about Octopath Traveler. That was it. Labo, launching April of that year, was unknown to start the year. The spring releases of Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and Mario Tennis Aces were all revealed in a Direct Mini later in January. I guess technically we knew Sushi Striker was a game, but it wasn't until later in 2018 that it was revealed to get a Switch version in addition to the 3DS version announced in 2017. As of that moment to start 2018, we did not know of the holiday releases of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokémon Let's Go.
2019 was a similar story, with only a smattering of games known to kick off the year. New Super Mario Bros. U and Yoshi's Crafted World were both known. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 and Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which wouldn't hit until the summer, were also both known. Luigi's Mansion 3 was revealed in a Nintendo Direct the previous fall. But beyond that? Folks we didn't know about Super Mario Maker 2 to start off 2019! Note: I tossed in the half point because technically the games that would become Pokémon Sword and Shield were announced alongside Pokémon Let's Go in 2018, but the games themselves weren't officially revealed and named until 2019.
2020 was a high watermark for mystery (or a low watermark for knowledge?) in terms of Nintendo's year-long lineup, and this was before the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered the course of the year. To start 2020, here's what we knew: Tokyo Mirage Sessions and Animal Crossing: New Horizons would be out in the first few months and Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition would be out sometime later. That's it. We didn't even know about Pokémon Mystery Dungeon - a March 2020 release - until after 2020 began. Paper Mario: The Origami King, Super Mario 3D All-Stars, Mario Kart Live, Pikmin 3 Deluxe, and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity all were mysteries to start 2020., though all of them eventually released that year (and Super Mario 3D All-Stars unreleased in 2021).
Like 2020 the year before, 2021 also had minimal knowledge going into the year, though in this case it was probably because of the pandemic that we had less specific details about the year ahead. The trio of games known as 2021 started were Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury, Bravely Default 2, and New Pokémon Snap. We didn't know the Famicom Detective Club remakes were coming west yet. We did not know of Skyward Sword HD or WarioWare: Get It Together or Metroid Dread or Mario Party Superstars. We still had plenty of time not knowing what Nintendo's holiday lineup would be.
2022 should hopefully be more fresh in your mind, but even to me I was surprised that, for example, we kicked off the year not knowing that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 would come out in July. We didn't know Nintendo Switch Sports (an April release) was a thing. Live A Live was still just a little-known Super Famicom game 12 months ago. We knew about Pokémon Legends Arceus, Triangle Strategy, and Kirby and the Forgotten Land. We also knew about Splatoon 3 and Bayonetta 3.
That takes us to 2023, where we don't know a ton about what will happen as the years wear on for Nintendo. Maybe Advance Wars 1+2: Reboot Camp finally comes out. Maybe F-Zero makes some return (Captain Falcon Yakuza let's go!). Perhaps Metroid Prime shows signs of life. What's that Mario fella up to? I'd play a Mario Odyssey follow-up, for sure.
All of this is to say that it's January 6, 2023 right now. We have a long year ahead of us that is set to kick off with Fire Emblem, Kirby, Bayonetta, and Zelda. Beyond that, we'll probably have more clarity within the next few weeks. And then more clarity by the middle of the year. And then finally more clarity with some more surprises to close the year. Nintendo keeps things close to the chest. Just hang out and enjoy the ride. Keep calm and game on. Stop worrying about tentpole releases after Zelda and just let whatever floats your boat wash over you. And if you're not into Fire Emblem or Zelda or Kirby, then I don't know, check out an indie game or play an old game. Enjoy yourself.