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Switch Sports proves Nintendo’s extreme patience pays off

This week on Patch Notes, some awesome animated movies and TV shows, along with free classic Elder Scrolls

A player prepares to spike a volleyball in Nintendo Switch Sports Image: Nintendo
Chris Plante co-founded Polygon in 2012 and is now editor-in-chief. He co-hosts The Besties, is a board member of the Frida Cinema, and created NYU’s first games journalism course.

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In the mid-2000s, Wii Sports was the biggest game on the planet. If Activision, EA, or Ubisoft had published the minigame collection, we would have a dozen sequels and a reboot by this point — maybe an animated show on Nickelodeon, too. For better or worse, Wii Sports is a Nintendo franchise, so instead, we got one sequel, a remake, and a decade of radio silence.

As a fan of the title, I was disappointed every time Nintendo completed a press conference or Nintendo Direct without mention of motion-controlled bowling. But as an editor who has covered this beat since the days of the Wii, I understood the business logic of it all. Nintendo has so many beloved studios that they could cannibalize each other if every series got the sequels fans felt they deserved.

So, I waited. And I waited. And I waited.

When the publisher announced Nintendo Switch Sports last year, I had all but lost hope. I’d assumed that if Nintendo wanted to leverage the Wii Sports formula, it would have produced another pack-in for the Switch. I was wrong in every way.

As the sales numbers (and empty shelves at my local Target) show, Nintendo didn’t need a pack-in game to sell the Switch. And where Wii Sports helped sell Nintendo Wiis, the Switch’s success has the potential to make Nintendo Switch Sports a colossal hit. Just this year, the Switch passed the Wii in total sales, zipping past 100 million units sold. Which is to say, the potential audience for Nintendo Switch Sports is gargantuan. And should Nintendo Switch Sports do the classic Nintendo game thing, amassing huge sales numbers over multiple years, then the game will keep the Switch relevant as it wades into the golden years of its hardware life cycle.

Once again, Nintendo has proven that patience is a virtue. We saw a similar situation last year with Metroid Dread, a project that had bounced in and out of development since 2005. Whether the publisher waits for the right moment to revive a series, or keeps a project in development hell, the end results are the same: a sustained quality that its peers haven’t matched (and likely never will).

Until recently, the quote “a delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad” was misattributed to Nintendo icon and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. It’s much more likely, however, that the quote was just a common phrase across the games industry, the sort of aphorism that helps creatives push back the accounting team an extra month or two. I prefer the thought that Miyamoto didn’t coin the phrase, because that would mean that every major publisher in the games industry knows this mantra to be true. Only Nintendo has consistently lived by it.

This week on YouTube | Why have the recent crop of science fiction video games all sounded so... rustic? Do they have more in common than just a country-fried soundtrack? Clayton Ashley investigates in this Polygon classic!

Five stories to read

Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul battle in Lego form Image: TT Games/WB Games/Disney/Lucasfilm Games

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is at its best when it veers from the films | “Do I need another Death Star trench run? Is this really pod racing? I know the Gungans’ side of the battle against the droid army is important, but is it a fun level to play? The answer to all of these questions is no, and Lego Star Wars is at its best when it meaningfully departs from the cinematic source material.”

The MCU isn’t built for a show like Moon Knight | Marvel’s house style restricts the emotion and the drama, holding back what should be a daring story for Oscar Isaac.

Unionization continues to gain traction at game studios | This week, BioWare QA workers made moves to unionize, potentially organizing contractors on the Dragon Age and Mass Effect teams. And Activision QA workers at Raven Software won an NLRB ruling, clearing the way for a union vote in April.

Rogue Legacy 2’s Easter egg is a generous nod to an overlooked gem | “FMF Fan” gives players free gold. But what does it mean?

Netflix’s controversial Eurotrash sex franchise goes soft in 365 Days: This Day | Is this the first movie to feature “sex golf”?

Five things to watch

Hibiki and Uta face each other in a dense field of blue and purple bubbles in the anime movie Bubble Image: Netflix

Bubble on Netflix | One day you wake up and there’s a post-apocalyptic sci-fi parkour riff on The Little Mermaid from a director of Attack on Titan waiting to be watched.

10 recent Nicolas Cage movies you should watch | The star of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent has been been putting together one of the strangest and enjoyable filmographies of the past decade.

Undone on Amazon Prime | Season 2 of this amazing animated show asks: Is time travel the best therapy of all?

Barry on HBO Max | The HBO comedy is back to make you laugh — but not too hard.

The 13 Batman movies, ranked | We apologize in advance for the placement of Batman & Robin, an underappreciated disasterpiece of gaudy commercialism. Signed, the management.

Plus, everything new to streaming: The Godfather trilogy returns! And 12 great movies leaving streaming at the end of April.

Three games to play

a scientist in sephonie jumping to another platform. they’re running around a rocky area by the ocean. Image: Analgesic Productions

Sephonie | This 3D platformer was inspired by Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Spyro the Dragon... and Tetris! Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC, Linux, and Mac OS.

The Iron Oath | Polygon Recommends | A mix of Darkest Dungeon, XCOM, and Divinity: Original Sin, this might be the next great turn-based tactics game. Available on Windows PC.

Warframe | Many years into the shooter’s life, its new updates remain consistently bizarre, fun, and compelling. Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC.

Free game of the week

A screenshot from The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall featuring the player wielding a gold sword against a sword-wielding skeleton. Image: Bethesda Softworks

The Elder Scrolls 1 & 2 | Bethesda is shutting down the Launcher and moving its catalog to Steam. To mark the occasion, the publisher has made the first two entries in the Elder Scrolls series free. Now you can play the classic games that cleared a trail for Morrowind and Skyrim without having to wonder if that’s a good use of your cash when you could just buy Skyrim for the umpteenth time. Available on Steam for Windows PC.

The best of the rest

Batman, a green anthropomorphic allosaurus in a Batman costume, leaps across the prehistoric plains in Jurassic League. Image: Daniel Warren Johnson, Juan Gedon/DC Comics