No other company does online presentations quite like Nintendo.
Ever since former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime infamously conducted the first Nintendo Direct in 2012, they’ve been a staple of the company’s identity, and they can be incredibly hype-inducing — Twitter explodes with wild predictions before every presentation. However, presumably due to the pandemic, we didn’t see a proper Nintendo direct in 2020. The last one was in September of 2019, with Nintendo seemingly moving to a model of small mini-directs and simply dropping reveal trailers on social media, but those things just weren’t as exciting as a proper Direct, and I was beginning to think they were a thing of the past.
However, on Tuesday of last week we got the glorious news: there would be a 50-minute-long Nintendo direct in two days focusing on “current titles such as Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, and games coming to Switch in the first half of 2021.”
My heart skipped a beat. There hadn’t been a direct in almost 600 days, and the Nintendo fan base was hungry for news on Breath of the Wild 2, Metroid Prime 4, Bayonetta 3, or something out of left field that never could have been expected. However, I believe I set my expectations a bit too high…
Here are some of my thoughts on what was covered.
Mythra and Pyra revealed as DLC for Super Smash Brothers Ultimate
The direct opened with Rex from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 overlooking the night sky. At first I had no idea what this could be. Xenoblade had already gotten a healthy dose of DLC, but Nintendo loves to fake us out in their Smash character reveals, and soon enough Mythra turned around with a Smash envelope in her hands, signifying she was joining the playable roster.
Along with Mythra, Pyra will act as a companion character, and it seems players will have the option to switch freely between the two in battle.
As a competitive Smash player, character announcements are one of my most anticipated moments of any direct. However, while I’m happy to see more female representation, I think most people write off Pyra and Mythra as another set of anime swordsmen, and the Smash roster is already oversaturated with them. That said, the pair look to have a unique moveset and I’m eager to try them out when they’re released in March.
Ports, Ports, and More Ports
As with all Directs, Nintendo announced many ports from other consoles, but here are my most notable picks:
Fall Guys, one of my favorite goofy platforming party games, is coming to Switch this summer. I think Fall Guys will feel at home on the platform, as audiences have been clamoring for a port ever since its PC and PS4 release last year.
Two Famicom Detective Club games will be making their way to the West for the first time in May. I love the trend of localizing previously Japan-only titles — apart from these, the original Fire Emblem was brought stateside last year. Perhaps Mother 3 will be next?? (LOL.)
Outer Wilds, a fan favorite outer space exploration title, will be joining the Switch lineup this summer. While I am happy Nintendo fans will get to play this one, I am curious how well it will run on the Switch’s comparatively underpowered hardware.
Legend of Mana is a beloved Playstation RPG, and it’s getting an HD remaster for the Switch. Nintendo’s relationship with Square Enix has certainly blossomed since the debacle with Final Fantasy VII in the ’90s, and I’m happy Square is now sharing their lush library of RPGs.
Miitopia was a small 3DS game where players could use their customizable avatars in a turn-based RPG adventure. Based on the trailer this looks more like a full remake rather than a mere port, and I am quite excited to have an online co-op RPG to play with friends.
Mario Golf Super Rush Arrives June 25th
I loved Mario Golf for GameCube. It was so fun to see Mario, Bowser, and Peach casually golfing together and ignoring the fact Bowser has been trying to kidnap the princess for years. There was a Mario Golf title for the 3DS, but no home console entry since 2003, so you can imagine how excited I was when Mario appeared on screen with a golf club.
This game looks fantastic – not only in its classic golf mechanics, but also in its innovations. Speed golf looks to be a chaotic mode where players run around the course after hitting the ball to see who can get their ball in the hole first. Also, Wario in his golfing attire might be the single most important image from this direct.
Project Triangle Strategy Arrives in 2022
When this trailer started, based on its beautiful art style and combination of 2D and 3D sprites, I thought it was a sequel to Octopath Traveler. However, as it progressed, it became apparent combat was of the tactical variety instead of turn-based. Despite its clumsy name, Project Triangle Strategy (working title) looks to be a fantastic tactical RPG. A free demo is available now!
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Expansion Pack
Age of Calamity was one of my favorite titles of 2020 (you can check out my review here!) and I’m quite happy it’s getting the DLC love it deserves. There will be three separate waves of content including new costumes, missions, and characters. Based on the reveal graphic, I’m assuming those fighters will be Robbie and Purah. I just hope there will be some worthwhile story content instead of more casual missions. And please, God, no more Korok seeds.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD lands in July
2021 marks the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda franchise. So when Eiji Aonuma, Producer of the Zelda Series appeared on screen, I thought, “Here we go – Breath of the Wild 2 news or a 3D Zelda Switch collection.” Instead, Aonuma announced Skyward Sword, the Wii’s signature Zelda title, would be getting a Switch port.
This is a little frustrating, but not unexpected. Contrary to many Zelda fans, I think Skyward Sword is a fantastic game. Yes, it’s very linear and the Wii’s motion controls didn’t always work great, but the story and characters are some of the best in the series. It also paved the groundwork for many Breath of the Wild mechanics.
As the only 3D Zelda to not yet receive an HD remaster I can understand why it’s coming to Switch, but is Skyward Sword really the 3D adventure Nintendo wants to follow up with after Breath of the Wild? Why not Wind Waker? It’s far more open, has aged gracefully, and already has an incarnation on the Wii U that would be easy to bring to Switch.
Hopefully we will get more Zelda news soon, but this port seems a bit underwhelming as a celebration of Zelda’s 35th anniversary. But hey, at least those limited edition joycons look fantastic.
Splatoon 3 arriving in 2022
The last announcement of any Direct is always the biggest and most exciting piece of news. My heart was pounding as the final trailer started with a shockingly lifelike post-apocalyptic world. The camera then zoomed in on an inkling, signaling the announcement of… a new Splatoon game.
It was a bit disappointing and slightly confusing. Splatoon is a great title, but with so many more hotly-anticipated projects in the works like Breath of the Wild 2 and Metroid Prime 4, Splatoon 3 just wasn’t the climatic announcement most fans, including myself, were hoping for.
Not only that, but Splatoon 2 was already developed exclusively for Switch not too long ago. Unless there are some completely new mechanics or story, I don’t see why we would need another installment already.
Overall, this Direct was underwhelming, but that’s probably my fault. Of course after a year and a half hiatus I wanted more Zelda news, a different Smash character, or a new Banjo-Kazooie game (hey, I can dream) but I was met with a far more realistic and typical set of Nintendo announcements. The pandemic has affected all of us — and that includes game developers — but Nintendo seems to be getting back into gear. And hey, Nintendo bringing back Directs and creating more quality games is really all I can ask for.
— Alex Prakken