The Nintendo Switch, Nintendo’s best-selling home console to date, was first released across most regions worldwide five years ago on March 3, 2017.
The Switch managed to revolutionize handheld gaming with its hybrid handheld-home console approach, allowing players to truly take a full home console experience with them on-the-go for the first time ever.
Nearly three million console units were shipped in its first month, exceeding Nintendo's initial projection of two million, and within a year of release achieved over 14 million units sold worldwide, outselling total lifetime sales of the Wii U.
As of December 2021, the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite had sold nearly 104 million units worldwide, making it Nintendo's best-selling home console, as well as the fifth best-selling game console of all time.
The Nintendo Switch has now outsold the Wii.— Nintendo Switch News (@NinSwitchIntel) February 3, 2022
It has sold 103.54 million units as of December 31, 2021. pic.twitter.com/E3U1lBEFK4
As we celebrate the game-changing console’s fifth birthday, let’s take a look back at five of the most memorable and exclusive Switch games that have made an impact with gamers across the globe.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild launched alongside the Switch and has been highly praised by critics as one of the greatest games of all time.
In Breath of the Wild, players control Link, who awakens from a hundred-year slumber to defeat Calamity Ganon and restore the kingdom of Hyrule.
Breath of the Wild received critical acclaim for its open-ended gameplay and attention to detail.The game won several game of the year awards. By 2021 it had sold over 27 million copies, making it one of the best-selling video games of all time.
A spin-off, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, was released in 2020, while a sequel (the 20th installment in The Legend of Zelda series) is slated to be released on the Switch sometime in 2022.
Super Mario Odyssey (2017)
Nintendo wouldn’t be Nintendo without Mario.
Super Mario Odyssey is a massive, globe-trotting 3D adventure platform game that follows Mario and new ally Cappy (a sentient hat that allows Mario to control other characters and objects) as they journey across various kingdoms to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser’s wedding plans.
Odyssey has been cited as one of the best games in the Mario series, with particular praise towards its inventiveness and originality. The game won several awards and sold nearly 23 million copies by December 2021, making it one of the best-selling Switch games and the fastest-selling game in the series.
Pokemon Sword and Shield (2019)
Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield are role-playing games with adventure elements where the player controls a young trainer who goes on a quest to catch and train creatures known as Pokémon and win battles against other trainers.
The main objective of the games is to dethrone the Pokémon League Champion, Leon, in a tournament that various other Gym Leaders and rivals also take part in, whilst dealing with Team Yell and a nefarious conspiracy within the League.
By December 2021, Sword and Shield had sold close to 24 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the fastest-selling games on the Nintendo Switch.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020)
As the world entered the pandemic era, the social simulation game Animal Crossing: New Horizons became a breakout hit and much-needed respite among many Switch owners amid the prolonged lockdowns.
In New Horizons, the player controls a character who moves to a deserted island after purchasing a getaway package from Tom Nook, playing the game in a nonlinear fashion and developing the island as they choose. Players can gather and craft items, customize the island, and develop it into a community of anthropomorphic animals.
The game was a major commercial success, selling over 37.62 million copies worldwide and breaking the console game record for most digital units sold in a single month, with its release right in time for global stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moving beyond just a game for entertainment, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was utilized for social interactions such as birthdays, weddings, graduations, and other social events alongside political campaigning and virtual protests. The game also spawned fan creations, such as a trading website, a talk show, and other comics and merchandise
Metroid Dread (2021)
The action-adventure game Metroid Dread released in October 2021 offers another solid entry into the legendary franchise that has been around for 35 years.
Set after the events of 2002’s Metroid Fusion, players control bounty hunter Samus Aran (first introduced in Nintendo Entertainment System's 1986 game Metroid) as she investigates the source of a mysterious transmission on the planet ZDR. The game retains the classic side-scrolling gameplay of previous 2D Metroid games and incorporates stealth elements.
Metroid Dread received positive reviews on release and won the award for Best Action/Adventure Game at The 2021 Game Awards. While it’s only been available for about five months, since its launch Metroid Dread has sold over 2.74 million copies, making it the second-bestselling Metroid game behind Metroid Prime.
According to Nintendo, the Switch console is just in the “middle of its life cycle” and the momentum going into 2022 is good.
Last year, Nintendo maintained that the Switch had another four years or so left in it, and that it had no plans for new hardware beyond the marginally upgraded Switch OLED.