Upcoming Nintendo Switch Exclusives We Can't Wait To Play In 2023

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The console wars continue to rage on, splitting the gaming populace between PlayStation and Xbox, with both sides claiming technological superiority. That's before we even consider the console versus PC debate. Meanwhile, Nintendo has managed to find a way to occupy its own little corner of the home gaming market, largely uncontested, with its popular Switch console.

While Sony and Microsoft are busy releasing new consoles to keep gamers enticed, the Nintendo Switch is still going strong nearly six years after it was first released. It doesn't hurt that it's one of the most affordable consoles on the market, and it isn't plagued with the same availability issues as some other consoles. It's also just a really good machine, which seamlessly slips between home console and handheld.

If the 2023 games lineup is any indication, the console still has a lot of life left in it. The coming year promises a veritable buffet of titles, some new, others modern remasters of classic games. While many of those titles will be available on multiple platforms from console to PC, Nintendo has a promising collection of exclusive titles you won't be able to play anywhere else.

Fitness Boxing Fist of the North Star

"Fitness Boxing Fist of the North Star" will be the third installment in the "Fitness Boxing" franchise, following the freshman title in 2018 and the sequel, "Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm and Exercise," in 2020. Both games utilize the Joy-Cons to track a player's punches and dodges. That data is then used to progress the player through the game and track fitness statistics. "Fist of the North Star" marks a transition in the series away from being a conventional exercise game and toward something with a more robust narrative (via Game Rant).

You'll still be punching your way from level to level, but this time you'll be doing so inside the world of the popular anime and manga series, "Fist of the North Star." If there's one area in which Nintendo dominates over its flashier competitors, it's its willingness to innovate with novel gameplay mechanics.

"Fitness Boxing" takes full advantage of the Joy-Cons to subtly disguise an exercise game inside an action-packed ride through a post-apocalyptic world. You'll work your way through armies of low-level enemies and challenging boss fights, and you might accidentally get a little exercise while you're at it. We're fans of anything that makes exercising a little more fun. "Fitness Boxing Fist of the North Star" is slated for release in March 2023.

Fire Emblem Engage

In the distant past, four kingdoms enlisted the help of otherworldly heroes to imprison the deadly Fell Dragon, a monstrous creature threatening the world of Elyos. Now, a thousand years after the great war, the binding is weakening, and the Fell Dragon threatens to awaken and continue its reign of terror over the world. Only you have what it takes to collect the Emblem Rings, enlist the help of the famed heroes of old, and stop the Fell Dragon once and for all.

That's the premise of "Fire Emblem Engage" the upcoming installment in the long-lived "Fire Emblem" franchise. "Engage" continues the story which began in 1990 with the release of the Famicom game "Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light."

That first game wasn't well received but adapted over time to become a beloved franchise in Japan. The series wouldn't make its way to the states until 2001 when a couple of characters were included in the GameCube title "Super Smash Bros. Melee." Their ensuing popularity among American players inspired Nintendo to finally bring the franchise stateside (via Game Informer). "Fire Emblem Engage" will return players to the universe they love with a cast of new characters and some surprise visits from a few familiar faces, according to Nintendo Life. The latest installment in the "Fire Emblem" mythos is slated for release on January 20, 2023.

Metroid Prime 4

The first installment in the "Metroid" series was released in 1986 on the Nintendo Entertainment System and since then, players have followed the adventures of Samus on just about every Nintendo console. That said, being a Metroid fan is sometimes an exercise in delayed gratification.

"Metroid Prime 4" was first announced in 2017, followed by two years of radio silence. Then in 2019, we learned that the game had been tossed in the trash and was being rebuilt from the ground up. Starting over necessarily pushed any potential release date out at least a couple of years. That was three years ago, and we still don't have a lot of concrete information about the game itself or its developmental progress.

At present, the game is already years beyond its initial anticipated release and there's no firm date in sight. However, all signs point toward the game still moving forward. Nintendo has "Metroid Prime 4" listed on a 2022 financial statement, but the release date remains listed as "TBA." It seems the most we can say is that the game is still happening, but not when it might be ready.

All of that said, Amazon currently allows customers to pre-order a copy, with a listed release date of December 31, 2023. It seems likely that date is a placeholder representing a generic and as yet undefined 2023 release date. That has given some fans hope that it might be released in the next year.

Sports Story

"Sports Story" is heavier on the story than it is on the sports. Players navigate an unusual yet quirky RPG which requires mastering golf courses and becoming a tennis champion, right alongside exploring dungeons and fighting monsters. It's a sports game in the same way that "Stardew Valley" is a game about farming. It's technically true but serves more as a backdrop for a more complex and interesting narrative.

You'll embark upon a slow-burn quest to save your little corner of the world from untold evils, and you'll stop for the occasional game of beach volleyball because it's important to maintain a healthy work-life balance. "Sports Story" is technically slated for a December 2022 release, (via Nintendo) but we're already a week into December at the time of this writing and a firm release date has yet to be established, suggesting we may not see it until next year.

Even if "Sports Story" does hit shelves before the ball drops on December 31, we look forward to playing it and enhancing our digital athletic talents in the new year.

Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE

"Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE" is the game to get for the true crime lover in your life. The game puts players in the shoes of Yuma, a detective in training who just so happens to have recently lost their memories. The mystery of how that happened is just one of many unanswered questions.

Players are accompanied by Shinigami, a spirit who is definitely haunting you but also helps you solve the many mysteries you will encounter as you navigate the game world. Those mysteries include but are not limited to the strange and ceaseless rain shrouding the city and the activities of a shady megacorporation.

Along with Master Detectives from all over the world, you'll gather evidence by solving puzzles, finding clues, and taking witness testimonies. That's before entering the shadowy realm of the Mystery Labyrinth, a mystical maze filled with complex puzzles and deadly ghouls. It's like if you were a young Sherlock Holmes with a head injury and it's your first day as a ghostbuster. What's not to love? "Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE" is slated for release sometime in 2023 (via Nintendo).

Pikmin 4

Long-time fans of the "Pikmin" franchise will remember it as a strategy and puzzle game in which you are tasked with protecting, maintaining, and growing your Pikmin army in order to solve puzzles, complete tasks, and defeat enemies.

The franchise received a boost in popularity in recent years thanks to the release of "Pikmin Bloom" a mobile game from Niantic, the same folks who brought us "Pokémon Go." "Pikmin 4 will actually be the sixth installment in the franchise, despite the name. That's because two games have been released since the last proper Pikmin game, the 2017 3DS side-scroller "Hey, Pikmin!" and the aforementioned "Pikmin Bloom."

Details surrounding "Pikmin 4" are scarce, but it will presumably return players to the familiar strategy and puzzle format last seen in 2013's "Pikmin 3." So far, information is limited to a brief teaser showing a lush garden, a park bench, and a few familiar Pikmin characters (via Nintendo Life). For more information, we're just going to have to wait. "Pikmin 4" is slated for release sometime in 2023.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe

Attentive Nintendo fans might recognize this title from their gameplay sessions of yesteryear. "Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe" is a remaster of the 2011 Wii game of the same name (minus the "Deluxe") and reimagines the decade-old game with the benefit of updated console power.

The upcoming release follows the legacy and naming convention of previously remastered games like "New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe" and "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe." The story begins when an alien spaceship crash lands on Kirby's home planet and you have to help find five missing pieces of the damaged ship in order to help your new alien friend get back home (via IGN).

Unlike some more recent "Kirby" games which have adopted a top-down view with relatively open maps, "Dream Land" is a side-scroller. Still, it maintains the most important elements of a Kirby game, most notably Kirby's copy ability. Navigate maps and defeat enemies with up to four players on the same system. What's more, there won't be any fights over who gets to play as the titular character. Everyone can play as Kirby at the same time, each with their own enemy copy abilities. That's in addition to a collection of multiplayer or single-player minigames. For Kirby fans looking to relive a little nostalgia, you too can return to Dream Land on February 24, 2023.

Disney Illusion Island

Nintendo has joined forces with another powerhouse of entertainment, Disney, to deliver a beautifully animated video game adventure starring some of the world's most beloved characters. "Disney Illusion Island" begins with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy arriving on the strange world of Monoth. There, our heroes discover that Monoth is in incredible danger and only Mickey and friends can save the day.

You'll quest through the three biomes of Monoth in search of the three books of knowledge. You can play as any one of the four classic Disney characters or gather some friends to play multi-player co-op with up to all four characters at the same time.

Each character has their own special moves and abilities which you'll unlock as you side-scroll your way through the game's various environments, levels, and challenges. Perhaps most exciting of all, "Disney Illusion Island" features hand-drawn animation, an original Disney score, and authentic voice talents for the characters. Launching the first level is like putting yourself inside a classic Disney cartoon. At the time of this writing, it's not entirely clear when our trip to Illusion Island will begin. "Disney Illusion Island" is slated for release sometime in 2023.

Fae Farm

Cozy games are among the most popular titles these days, thanks in large part to the runaway success of "Animal Crossing: New Horizons." The latest installment in the "Animal Crossing" franchise landed online and on store shelves precisely when much of the world was going into lockdown in the spring of 2020. For many, its gentle aesthetic and casual gameplays was the perfect balm for an otherwise chaotic world. Now, almost three years later, many of us are looking for a new game to scratch the same itch.

"Fae Farm" may be just the game we're looking for. Based on the trailers and available information, "Fae Farm" begins much like "Animal Crossing" or "Stardew Valley," with a focus on farming, crafting, and building relationships with the local townspeople. Later, the game introduces a combat element as players explore the land of Azoria, discover ancient magic, and travel fantastical realms.

Best of all, "Fae Farm" offers solo play as well as local or online multiplayer of up to four players, on the same map. The portal to Astoria, a world of friendship, farming, and fighting, opens in the spring of 2023.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

"The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" was the most anticipated release title when the Nintendo Switch first hit store shelves in March 2017. Almost six years later, "Breath of the Wild remains the crown jewel in the Switch's collection. With that in mind, fans have been waiting with anticipation for the next installment in Nintendo's fabled fantasy franchise.

Most games in "The Legend of Zelda" series remix familiar elements (Link, Zelda, Ganon, and saving the world from darkness) to tell a new story with the same old toys. This time, however, "Tears of the Kingdom" serves as a direct sequel to "Breath of the Wild."

A trailer released September 13 opens on a temple filled with ancient glyphs. Carved into the wall, we see familiar heroes and monsters engaged in combat. Then, a set of massive doors unfurl, and Link sprints through, leaping from a precipice to Descend to Hyrule below. The usual skills of climbing and fighting will be necessary, but you'll also take to the skies aboard massive gliders to explore another dimension of the fabled realm.

Additional details about the game's story or mechanics are in short supply, but it's a Zelda game. We know what we're going to get. And given the franchise's track record, we're fairly confident we're going to love it. Return to Hyrule in "The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom," only on the Nintendo Switch May 12, 2023.