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Nintendo Switch’s launch lineup is secretly great

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Compare it to Nintendo’s previous launches, and it’s booming

The Nintendo Switch in its dock, with the Joy-Con grip. James Bareham/Vox Media

The Nintendo Switch launched with a relatively paltry selection of games right now, but the biggest secret of the system’s first month is how good the game selection has become already.

The console had the fantastic The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ready to go right on launch day and — although one game doesn’t make a launch lineup great — having a truly amazing game in a huge franchise on day one is certainly a big advantage.

If we’re playing the numbers game, though, the Switch already has more games than many older, widely beloved Nintendo consoles enjoyed at this point in their lifespans.

Reddit user ChildofValhalla makes this argument with infographic below that’s spreading across the Nintendo subreddit. It’s an easy way to chart just how many games each system had ready to go on launch day, from 1983’s Nintendo Entertainment System to this month’s Switch release.

The nicest touch is, of course, the appropriate font and background choices for each system. That Nintendo 64 section is an especially nice throwback, with a 90s font that’s particularly on-message.

nintendo switch ChildofValhalla/Reddit

What’s most striking here is the lineup of games under each console. The Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 each had a handful of games available on launch day; the SNES had five games, buoyed by the classic Super Mario World, while the Nintendo 64 was released with three games in Japan. There were only two titles ready for launch day in North America — although, of course, one of those was Super Mario 64.

Having a single game that good is, again, worth a lot of shovelware that often lines the shelves during system launches. We’re not saying Breath of the Wild is as good as Super Mario 64, but we’re also not going to say it’s far off.

By comparison, the Switch had a total of 20 games available in Japan when it launched on March 3. Not all of these games went on sale in other territories that same day — you still need a Japanese account if you want to pick up Puyo Puyo Tetris early — but many of the games have since made it to our region. And besides, the system is region-free! Buying games from Europe or Japan has never been easier, making regional release dates more of an inconvenience than a serious impediment.

Even though the Switch currently has far fewer games than the Wii U or Wii did, as we noted back in January, ChildofValhalla’s table shows that what we did get is at least of way higher quality than many of the Switch’s big sisters. The Wii, for example, might have had The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Wii Sports ready on launch day, but there’s little else to admire in that collection.

And Snipperclips, along with Fast RMX, are under-appreciated games in the Switch’s lineup. The addition of portable Binding of Isaac and World of Goo with local co-op goes a long way to help the system’s library as well.

It’s hard to beat the original NES’ launch library, with games like Duck Hunt, Mario Bros. and Ice Climbers all available at once. But it’s the Nintendo 64’s big-ticket game that we continue to return to most out of all of these — which may go to show that it’s not quantity but quality that matters most.

Luckily, the Nintendo Switch is already showing up with plenty of great games, many of which are sadly being overshadowed by Breath of the Wild. There’s much to complain about when it comes to the Switch, but the game library? It’s “secretly” one of the system’s best features.