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Nintendo Switch games: Pokemon Violet, Pokemon Scarlet, Mario Kart

Nintendo’s big holiday release — two open-world Pokemon games — debuted Nov. 18 and sold more than 10 million copies in three days, making it the fastest-selling launch in company history, according to IGN.

Pokemon: Violet and Pokemon Scarlet (sold separately for $59.99 each) offer open-world, at-your-own-pace gameplay set in the Paldea Region, described as “a vast land filled with lakes, towering peaks, wastelands, small towns and sprawling cities.” The difference in the versions has to do with the available characters and the settings — Violet being more futuristic, and Scarlet being more primitive.

Both games are rated E for mild fantasy violence.

Also, eight new Mario Kart courses will be released Dec. 7 through the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass. This is the third “wave” of 48 race courses that will be released between March 18 and the end of 2023. The new courses are:

  • Tour London Loop.
  • GBA Boo Lake.
  • 3DS Rock Rock Mountain.
  • Wii Maple Treeway.
  • Tour Berlin Byways.
  • DS Peach Gardens.
  • Merry Mountain.
  • 3DS Rainbow Road.

The courses come included with the purchase of a Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership ($49.99 per year for an individual membership and $79.99 per year for a family membership), or can be purchased without the membership for $24.99. The expansion pass also gives access to N64 and SEGA Genesis titles, new content from Animal Crossing: New Horizons and the Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion.

Here’s a look at what else the family-friendly gaming platform has released so far in 2022 and what’s ahead.

Splatoon 3

Released: Sept. 9

Cost: $59.99

Quick review: Splatoon 3 features anthropomorphic squid and octopus characters splatting each other with colorful ink via a wide selection of weapons — including a giant paint roller. It’s set in the “Splatlands,” described as “a sun-scorched desert inhabited by battle-hardened Inklings and Octolings.”

Splatoon 3 is very much character and community driven. Each session begins with updates from hosts Shiver, Frye and Big Man. There’s a robust lobby where players team up with online friends. (Parents should note that the game features in-game purchases and user interaction.)

It’s fast, colorful, fairly easy to pick up but difficult to dominate. Splatoon definitely fits the criteria of a “shooter” and is a good, guilt-free way to let your kids experience this genre without worrying about how they will react to varying degrees of violence and blood in games like Call of Duty or Apex Legends.

Mario Strikers: Battle League

Released: June 10.

Cost: $59.99.

Quick review: There’s the usual lineup of Mario characters — starting with Mario, Luigi, Toad, Peach, Donkey Kong, Bowser, Rosalina, Wario, Waluigi and Yoshi — who knock each other over and put destructive items like banana peels and turtle shells in each other’s path. At its heart, it’s a pass, shoot and score game. Everything else is just decoration and devastation.

Among the decorations? Arena backgrounds resembling different landscapes from the Mario universe and animated “hyper strikes” unique to each character.

Among the devastation? Electric fences that immobilize a player, the same type of destructive items that are found in Mario Kart and slide tackles (the effectiveness of which depend a lot on whether you’re controlling Bowser or Waluigi.)

Players who can successfully avoid collisions, bombs and anything else that can knock characters off their feet will find enough room to share the ball and create scoring opportunities. The real thrill of the game comes through precision passing and shooting.

It’s a simple game in concept, but avoiding all that devastation is quite difficult — especially when playing against more experienced, higher-caliber players.

Nintendo Switch Sports

Released: April 29.

Cost: $39.99.

Quick review: Remember Wii Sports? This is a reboot for the Switch, which features the more compact Joy-Con controllers — a definite upgrade. Switch Sports maintains the simplicity of the original and has a very low barrier to entry. Just about anyone can figure it out. For example, when playing volleyball or tennis, the game will put you in the right position — you just have to execute on the spike or forehand. The number of games is limited to just six (soccer, volleyball, bowling, tennis, badminton and chambara/swordplay). That’s disappointingly low, but is offset a bit by the lower price point. Plus, an update is planned for the fall that will add golf. Volleyball was an unexpected favorite with the groups my family played in, and bowling and badminton seem to have the most replay value. Check out the online bowling mode. It’s one of the game’s better offerings.

Also released in 2022

Major upcoming Nintendo releases for 2023

Here are some of the more notable titles yet to be released:

  • Fire Emblem Engage, Jan. 20
  • Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, Feb. 24
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, May 12
  • Pikmin 4, TBD

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