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What Happened to ‘Metroid Prime 4’?

This year has been great for gaming so far, but the back half of 2022 is quickly losing its Xbox and PlayStation exlcusives. Thankfully, Nintendo's stacked release calendar is picking up the slack.
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This year is absolutely stacked for gaming. Well, that is, if you own a Nintendo Switch. Microsoft recently announced the delay of two of its most hotly anticipated exclusive titles: the Bethesda developed Starfield and Redfall. These games were expected to land sometime in late 2022 to coincide with the holiday season, but now they’ve been pushed back to sometime in 2023. What happened to Metroid Prime 4?

This isn’t the first time this year has been shaken up in terms of big-name releases. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League isn’t coming out until sometime in 2023, after being slated for a late 2022 release. Halo: Infinite’s co-op campaign isn’t coming out this month like Microsoft had hoped and has been delayed indefinitely. Even Nintendo’s titles aren’t exempt from the seemingly endless delays. The currently-unnamed sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was supposed to come out this year, but now it’s slated for… you guessed it, early in 2023. 

That being said, Nintendo still has a huge 2022 slated. If these release dates hold, it’ll be the Year of the Switch all over again, just like 2017 was. From heavy-hitter third-numbered entries like Bayonetta 3 and Xenoblade Chronicles 3 to long-awaited sequels like Mario Strikers: Battle League and Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, this is a going to be a good year for Switch owners.

Your 2022 Backlog

We’re not even halfway through 2022 and there’s already a huge backlog of Switch games waiting for you from this calendar year. In January, Nintendo released the phenomenal Pokemon Legends: Arceus, introducing players to the first new mechanics in a Pokemon title in over 20 years. In February, Square Enix put out the long-awaited Triangle Strategy, a super-stylish turn-based game in the vein of Fire Emblem and Advance Wars. 

Then, in March, Nintendo kept the hits coming with Kirby and the Forgotten Land, an adorable action-platformer that finally sees the company’s adorable pink puffball adventuring in three dimensions. The game is easily one the best of the year so far, and it’s only the third major Nintendo release of 2022!

If that wasn’t enough, Nintendo hit another home run in April with Nintendo Switch Sports. That title is a masterful return to the charming sports-based action that made 2006’s Wii Sports a global phenomenon, and it’s a welcome addition to the Switch’s growing lineup of multiplayer party games. What’s that, you want more games? Okay, let’s look at everything else the publisher has lined up for 2022 (that we know of).

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes

The next major entry in the Fire Emblem series will hit the Switch in May. It’s a “Musou” style game, which means it’s made in the style of the long-running Dynasty Warriors series. Players will control one of the protagonists from the best-selling Fire Emblem: Three Houses, one of the best games of 2019, as they battle against teeming hordes of enemy soldiers.

Three Hopes promises to tell a remixed version of the story from Three Houses, reframing that game’s protagonist, Byleth, as a villain. The story will follow newcomer Shez, another mercenary who will battle against the seemingly-evil Byleth. The game isn’t a sequel, per se–it seems to take place in an alternate timeline of Three Houses in which Byleth never becomes an instructor at the Garreg Mach Monastery. 

Some fans were displeased with the reveal of Three Hopes, as they were hoping for another turn-based, tactical entry in the series, not an action game in the vein of Fire Emblem Warriors. However, fans interested in a follow-up to Three Houses that don’t mind a change of gameplay are in for a treat.

Mario Strikers: Battle League

It’s been fifteen years since the last Mario Strikers title, which is far too long by my count. Mario Strikers takes soccer and turns everything to eleven. There are superpowers, over-the-top tackles, and copious amounts of lightning. There’s just…so much lightning. 

Mario Strikers: Battle League will hit the Switch in June, and it promises to return players to the chaotic sport of “Strike,” a five-on-five facsimile of soccer. Players will be able to choose between their favorite Mario series characters, like Luigi and Wario, as they create a team of Strikers to compete in ongoing clubs and battle for the championship!

While I’m stoked to see Strikers back for another season, here’s hoping Nintendo doesn’t make us wait another 15 years before the next entry. That’s not enough battle soccer, okay?

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Nintendo announced Xenoblade Chronicles 3 out of the blue this year, initially slating it for a September release. Apparently, the game is coming along so well that it got to be the first video game in history to have its release bumped forward! Okay, so it wasn’t the first game to ever have its release moved up, but it feels like it. The fan-favorite RPG series will return to the Switch on July 29, giving the summer its biggest gaming release.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 promises to continue the storyline from the prior two games in the series. Reader beware: spoilers for the first and second Xenoblade Chronicles titles follow after this!

Xenoblade 2 held the revelation that the first two games took place in parallel universes, and hinted that the two realities overlapped in more ways than players initially expected. Xenoblade 3’s plotline will allegedly show the future of both the Bionis setting from the first game and the world of Alrest from the second outing. Fans are delighted to see the quirky sci-fi RPG series back for another 100+ hour epic.

Splatoon 3

Nintendo has been cranking out Splatoon titles since the series debuted on the Wii U in 2015. The Wii U sold about eight units, so it’s not surprising that Nintendo swiftly pushed the Switch out the door and ported most of the Wii U’s best games to the red-hot hybrid console. Splatoon 2 acted as a half-port, half-sequel of the first game in 2017, introducing a much wider audience to the wacky ink-based combat of its predecessor.

Splatoon 3 is landing on the Switch this September, and the series’ dedicated fanbase is eager to see what the new entry has in store. The new game will include plenty of new options for gear, super moves, and maps! Perhaps the most exciting thing about a new Splatoon game is new Splatfests.

Splatfests are community contests where the game will pit two topics against each other. For instance, an early Splatoon 2 Splatfest asked players to vote on which came first, the chicken or the egg. Then, both teams took to the Turf War game mode and battled it out for a weekend. The team with the most wins at the end of the event is crowned Splatfest champion and rewarded with glory and bragging rights!

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

Pokemon spent a bit over 20 years resting on its laurels. For as visually distinct as Sword and Shield are from Red and Blue, the latest mainline entry in the series is functionally the same game that fans played in 1998 on the Game Boy. Pokemon Legends: Arceus finally broke the series out of its decades-long rut, introducing new gameplay mechanics and a thrilling new gameplay loop for the fan-favorite franchise.

With any luck, the upcoming Pokemon Scarlet and Violet for the Nintendo Switch continue where Legends: Arceus left off. The new duo of mainline games is due out sometime later this year, with most fans expecting it to land on store shelves sometime in November to coincide with the holiday gaming season.

Bayonetta 3

Bayonetta 3 is the polar opposite of Xenoblade Chronicles 3. The game was announced in 2017 with little more than a teaser image, and fans have received precious little information about it in the intervening five (!) years. Xenoblade 3, meanwhile, was announced in 2022 and will be released in July. To add insult to injury, Xenoblade 2 came out the same year Platinum Games announced that Bayo 3 was in development. Ouch.

All ribbing aside, Bayonetta 3 is (allegedly) still slated for a release sometime this year. Platinum could easily delay the game to 2023, but fans are hoping to see the stylish action game grace the Switch sometime during the holiday season. Time will tell if that fantasy becomes reality. 

What About Metroid Prime 4?

Meanwhile, Nintendo has been quiet regarding the hotly-anticipated Metroid Prime 4. They announced the game in 2017 with a teaser image and then scrapped the title in 2019 to start from scratch with Retro Studios at the helm. Retro created the original Metroid Prime trilogy, so this was encouraging for players, even though the sequel’s development starting from scratch meant the game would be delayed indefinitely.

Nintendo still hasn’t announced a release window for the long-gestating project. It’s impossible to say how much longer it might need to be in development: if the studio had to start from scratch in 2019, it could be another two or three years before the game sees the light of day.

In any event, this year will still be massive for Nintendo fans. There are several massive titles hitting the Switch in the next six months, and fans will have to clear their schedules to try to play them all as it is! It might be for the best if Metroid Prime 4 stays quiet until 2023… or later.