The Nintendo Switch Is The Perfect Nostalgia Machine

More than Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo is fueled by nostalgia. They regularly pump out new games, yes, but most of the major ones are based on IPs that have been around since as far back as the ’80s. (For example, there’s the upcoming The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom and Pikmin 4, both of which were noted in our recent Most Anticipated Games Of 2023 guide.)

That’s not a bad thing: Nintendo has been able to keep its beloved but aging franchises fresh by taking classic characters and stories in new directions, or just by honing in on what they’ve always done best.

When scanning the Switch’s roadmap as it appears here in early 2023, there’s a lot of nostalgia set for the new year, too. Let’s take a look at some of the key upcoming titles, starting with…

Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection

The Wonder Boy series was beloved in its day, as the arcade and Sega console games were among the most respected of their kind in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The series has gotten a ton of love decades later on the Nintendo Switch, too. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (a gorgeously executed remake of the third Wonder Boy game) released in 2017 and was followed by two more remakes: Wonder Boy Returns Remix in 2019 and Wonder Boy: Asha In Monster World in 2021.

Now, the story continues: Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection (which was previously released exclusively as a now-sold-out physical edition from Strictly Limited Games) is hitting the eShop on January 26. This is a real completionist’s compilation, featuring 21 total versions of six different Wonder Boy titles. Unlike the dressed-up remakes (which look and play fantastic, no slight here), these are the games’ original versions, making this collection the ultimate Wonder Boy time machine.

Tales Of Symphonia Remastered

The Tales series isn’t quite as old as Wonder Boy, but it too has a rich and admired history. The debut title, Tales Of Phantasia, was released on Japan’s Super Famicom (but never on the North American equivalent, the Super Nintendo) in 1995. The action RPG was eventually ported to Game Boy Advance and around that same time, Tales Of Symphonia hit the GameCube in 2003.

That was 20 years ago, so now, Bandai Namco and Nintendo are giving it a fresh remaster that’s set to drop on February 17. Based on a recently released trailer, the new version of the game is a major graphical improvement that maintains the original GameCube visual charm.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp

The Advance Wars games are among the best the GBA had to offer, which led to something unfortunate but understandable in early 2022. Nintendo had a reissue of the first two games set for a bundled remaster, dubbed Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, set for that April. In March, however, the game was delayed in light of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine (and that was after it was already delayed from an initially planned 2021 release).

Now, this hasn’t been officially announced yet, but evidence indicates it’s finally scheduled to release on February 24. (Update: During the February 8 Nintendo Direct presentation, the game was given a new release date of April 21.) As a reveal trailer from nearly a year ago shows, it’s a beautiful new look at the pixel art GBA originals, with a delightful blend of chibi-style 3D graphics and vibrant character illustrations.

Kirby’s Return To Dream Land Deluxe

Nintendo and HAL Laboratory have taken the Kirby franchise in a number of varying directions over the years, but 2011’s Wii title Kirby’s Return To Dream Land marked the end of a drought: It was the first traditional Kirby side-scrolling platformer for a home console since 2000’s Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards for the Nintendo 64.

Now it’s getting a remake on February 24 and this isn’t entirely a re-hash of the original game: Deluxe introduces the Mecha Ability, which lets Kirby shoot and punch baddies, depending on the range. With 4-player local co-op, it’s set to be a great couch game with friends, especially if you get into all the mini-games included here, too.

Nintendo Switch Online

The most immediately obvious way to go retro on the Switch is with Nintendo Switch Online, which offers a library of playable NES, SNES, N64, and Sega Genesis games to subscribers. It’s about to be good times for N64 fans, too, as 1080 Snowboarding, Excitebike 64, GoldenEye 007, Mario Party 3, Pokémon Stadium, and Pokémon Stadium 2 are set to be added.

Of particular interest here, though, is GoldenEye, since Nintendo is expanding one of the all-time great local multiplayer experiences by bringing it online. The only bad thing about this is so far, all we have for a release window is “soon,” with no confirmed date having yet been announced.

Update: On January 25, Nintendo shared a GoldenEye announcement video and confirmed the game will be added to Nintendo Switch Online on January 27.