SwitchRPG Retrospective: A Postmortem Review from a Staff Member
This endeavor may come across as somewhat tone-deaf, considering the fact that I have “left” this site twice prior to the publishing of this article. I once tried to depart for the sake of my mental health, until I realized that obsessively reviewing a particular genre of game on a particular platform was kind of my schtick. The second time, however, was due to the site’s shuttering. Yes, this has happened before, but at that point, it was on much more uncertain terms. Based on the comments from our site directors, this looks like it is to be the true end of SwitchRPG. My last ode can be found here, in case you don’t want to go digging.
Enough of the sentimental drama. We’re here to celebrate SwitchRPG! To truly give this incredible resource its proper due as it passes into the realm of internet history. So, let’s break this potentially-lengthy article into easily-digestible pieces for ease of access and enjoyment, shall we?
2018: From Humble Beginnings
With its first article, a review of the hotly-debated Lost Sphear, published February 27th, 2018, SwitchRPG was born in earnest. At the time of the site’s inception, its purpose was multifaceted: there was an aim to create a database of RPGs on the Nintendo Switch, though that would quickly be integrated into the ambitious (and sadly short-lived) Switchlist Mobile App. There was also a podcast, a Discord community, and a number of unique forms of content. Some articles were simply a set of lovely wallpapers, while others were ambitious Discord-hosted AMAs with independent developers.
Of course, our site director started off strong with a set of opinion-based articles and his staple OST-focused articles, which would eventually take on the title of “Bard Banter.” We also quickly began to bump up against the age-old quandary of reviewing games based on their listed price– can you believe I picked up The Lost Child for five bucks when it was originally listed at fifty? We published one of our most-viewed and -commented articles in the site’s history: Project Final Fantasy 6: The Remake We Deserve. As the site staff grew, the site served as host for some heavy subject material: from an increasingly-souring perspective of Tokyo RPG Factory to the literary merit of video games as a medium, and how one should approach reviewing roguelike (or roguelite) titles. Hey, that last one is from me!
In retrospect, I ended up joining the staff pretty early in the site’s lifespan, though I can’t earnestly claim to be one of the OG’s. When approached to write for the site, I was humbled and simultaneously thrilled. This was my chance to write about the genre that I loved on a platform that would reach many more audience members than my own blog. I took to the task with a critical eye and plenty of opinions, which weren’t always appreciated by some. The gift of more exposure means the likelihood of being more harshly critiqued, but as you can see, I turned out relatively fine. In any case, 2018 managed to be an ambitious year in a number of respects, culminating in our first SwitchRPG awards. For posterity’s sake, I’ve included our first selections below:
Diablo III: Eternal Collection (Review)
Octopath Traveler (Review)
Xenoblade Chronicles II (Winner)
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (Review)
2019: With Great Content, Comes…
We began to pick up steam in earnest in 2019 as more RPGs landed on the Switch from veteran publishers and independent developers alike. At the same time, there were many articles that were focused on wish fulfilment, some of which absolutely come true, like our site director’s call for Game Boy RPGs on the Nintendo Switch, while others, like my own sprawling retrospective series on Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, would not be particularly clairvoyant. Oh, speaking of, this was the year the greatest game of all time was released. As well as a Switch port of the other one.
It really is a wonderful thing to reflect on even the past five years of this site. The budding love affair between our site director and the Atelier Games is one that occurred in 2019. We reflected on the impact and the community that games offered. Games like Decay of Logos and YIIK: A Postmodern RPG, and a smattering of other future favorites were always on our radar, which makes their eventual release and reception all the more bittersweet. And we, as a staff, often developed curated articles that played to our eclectic, adventurous tastes. And holy cow, did we review a lot of games. This resulted in an expansion to our staff and coverage of some of the Switch’s strongest releases. 2019 was a particularly controversial year, however, which can be seen in our SwitchRPG Awards:
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age (Review)
Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Winner)
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (Review)
Pokémon Sword and Shield (Review)
2020: The Year the Earth Stood Still
As it turns out, a site has a great opporunity to grow when the entire world is shut indoors. Although this year started with my first- and maybe last- PAX East attendance, that was right before the entire world had to shut down due to COVID-19. We stepped up to the plate with a few articles looking to address the world’s chronically indoor state, if only as a means to keep the world connected in some way. This year had some ambitious content from our writers, including narrative style approaches to game releases, imports of Japanese titles that never received English releases, games where players can make their own content, and pleas to avoid remaking games that are already perfect.
We also helped one another stay sane with the Party Chat, which was an article style where we shared some early thoughts on new releases among the various staff in the hopes of starting a larger conversation. Sometimes, things got a little spicy. In a year where all we could do was stay away from one another, however, our Discord community arranged co-op sessions, chatted about new releases, and generally kept one another sane- a great example of how a close-knit community can support one another through their passions.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition (Review)
Bug Fables (Review)
Hades (Winner) (Review)
2021: Over the Hill
In the scope of the site, we’re now past the halfway point, which is a bit of a tough pill to swallow. As a staff, we reflected on four years of SwitchRPG in our own series of articles, which is another great way to look at what all of our former staff members considered as some of their favorite titles. We launched into 2021 with some comprehensive coverage of particular titles and series, and had some pretty strong reactions to The Pokemon Company’s 2021/2022 lineup. We also lamented the lack of Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters on the Switch- something Square Enix only now seems to be remedying. Our writers contributed some great thoughts on RPG tropes as well as other genres, which was a bit off-brand, but hey, we also covered Zelda games here, and everyone knows those aren’t RPGs.
And then… we left. For a brief period from September to November 2021, we had something of a hiatus, and re-evaluated our content output. Honestly, as the Pandemic started to ratchet down and our lives returned to normal, it was a bit unrealistic to keep at the pace we had previously maintained. Unfortunately, the SwitchRPG Podcast would be retired at a very respectable 100 episodes, and in the meantime, I may or may not have started my own podcast (shhh, don’t tell anyone about the subtle plug). In any case, as we started the content machine back up again, we came together to comment on the long-awaited release of Shin Megami Tensei V. We finished out the year with a bit of a different take on our SwitchRPG Awards: this time, five staff members came together to craft full lists of their favorite titles, but these were the games we selected as the cream of the crop.
Ben: Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & The Secret Fairy (Review)
Evan: Shin Megami Tensei V
Rich: Death’s Door (Review)
Gio: Diablo 2: Resurrected (Review)
Kierra: Dodgeball Academia
2022: A Legendary Year
In all honesty, I hope that I can still look back at 2022 in ten years with as much appreciation as I have right now. I do believe that 2022 was one of my favorite years for RPGs on the Nintendo Switch, a sentiment that might not be shared by all. We started the year with some anticipatory chatter and followed up with the release and reception of Pokemon Legends Arceus. We returned to previous wells of content in a particular article convention, and then a literal convention, as one of our staff finally returned to PAX East.
As the year progressed, we continued to share some unique content, such as our Something Classic developer interview, a buyer’s guide for Black Friday 2022, and even some great starter’s guides to classic titles finally making their debut on Switch, but it’s pretty clear that our output had started to diminish, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There were still plenty of reviews submitted this year, which you can take a look at in our archives, where we comment on everything from the major retail releases like Pokemon Legends, Mario + Rabbids, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, as well as many, excellent independent titles in-between.
Ben: Persona 5 Royal
Evan: Pokemon Scarlet (Review)
Rich: Persona 5 Royal
Kierra: Xenoblade Chronicles 3 (Review)
Community Winner: Xenoblade Chronicles 3
2023: The End
Which brings us to now. March 24, 2023, as I write this last section of an article I intend to be my last piece of published content for SwitchRPG. I’m going to push out a few more reviews and call it quits, but I think I had to make sure this came first.
I have stated this many times before, but for the longest time, I didn’t even really know I liked RPGs. I owned and played games like Pokemon Red, Dragon Warrior Monsters, and Paper Mario, and I knew that I liked them. But I didn’t really identify them as RPGs until I was made aware of the existence of Operation Rainfall over a decade ago. I devoured games like Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower back when they finally came to the West. Yet, having lived through the libraries of the Wii and Wii U, I didn’t have high hopes for Nintendo consoles being stacked with RPGs, even if I owned a Nintendo DS and 3DS. Even if the Switch was successful and had a huge library, I thought, what were the odds I’d be able to play them all, let alone a sizable portion?
I don’t know if I can rightly state the impact that writing for this site has had on me. Maybe my words will come across as disingenuous to some of you who have frequented, participated in discussions, read reviews, listened to podcasts, or watched our videos. The Pandemic and the lifespan of the Switch haven’t been the easiest, but I always had these games, and this topic, to write about and discuss. SwitchRPG gave me a sense of purpose and joy in a very tumultuous time, when I wasn’t even sure if my words were worth reading. I still don’t know if these words will be remembered or even considered significant. If any of you do feel that way, thank you. That means so much to me.
And it means so much to us, that you stopped by the site. This is an excellent time capsule of a deluge of Switch releases from 2018 to 2023, and we talk about a number of topics that matter in the scope of the genre and the medium, as a whole. You can always come back here, and enjoy, and who knows? Maybe we’ll meet again, in another time, on another site.