Holidaying in Hyrule
Hi everyone, and welcome to my Nintendo news roundup blog for December.
The holiday season is a time of cheer. It is also, as any gamer will tell you, a time of new consoles and AAA games. I can clearly remember my own Nintendo Christmases. I was given an N64 bundled with Goldeneye in 1998, and then got gifted Majora’s Mask in 2000, although I couldn’t play it as I didn’t have the necessary Expansion Pack. There’ll be no fighting over 4MB memory expansions this year. There will, though, be fighting across Hyrule as we enter the season of the great calamity in the Zelda universe.
Maybe this and the rest of the month’s news from the big ‘N’ will help you decide what to write on your present list to Saint ‘N’, Father Christmas himself.
Currently playing: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Currently hyped for: Zelda’s 35th Anniversary year
The Ghosts of Games Past
Mario was Jumpman, to begin with. Then, in 1985, he jumped up to superstardom in the game Super Mario Bros., released on the NES home console. This year, Nintendo has been celebrating the 35th anniversary of that mushroom-powered leap with a whole raft of releases. The most recent is the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. system, which became available for a limited time from 13th November.
This small handheld console is a tribute not just to the Italian plumber but also the original Game & Watch systems. I, myself, am old enough to have owned the multi-screen Game & Watch system Donkey Kong II, from 1983, and so have a real fondness for these machines. The new handheld features Super Mario Bros. itself. It also comes with the original sequel to that game, Super Mario Bros 2. This is not the game released under this name outside of Japan, but the game more commonly known as The Lost Levels. The novelty factor associated with this has been lessened now that it’s available to play through the Nintendo Switch Online – Nintendo Entertainment System app. However, it remains a good pick. The system also includes Ball, a game with little more than historical value now.
If like me, you are a gamer who dreams of a virtual white Christmas then you’ll be interested in taking a fresh look at Pokémon Sword and Shield. These games’ second new area was made available through the Expansion Pass on 22nd October. Since then, players have been able to open their play windows onto snowy views of the Crown Tundra. (The first new area in the DLC was the Isle of Armour).
Those with their own islands, of armour or otherwise, in Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be able to enjoy a white Christmas in-game thanks to the new winter updates (which were released 19th November). Nintendo has announced that, amongst other things, trees will be decorated with lights and snow will gently fall. There will, additionally, be new holidays added in-game, including ‘Toy Day’ – featuring Santa himself – on 24th December. Let’s hope your villagers have been good this year!
I am, I fear, too old ever to be part of the Pokémon generation, and so I will not myself be visiting the Crown Tundra. Nor, I’ll admit, have I played Animal Crossing: New Horizons (I realise I am of an increasingly small number in this regard, the game has sold well over 22 million units since March). For me, Nintendo winters will always look like Cool, Cool Mountain in Super Mario 64, now available again in the omnibus collection for Nintendo Switch, Super Mario 3D All-Stars.
Seasons of Calamity
It may be the season of goodwill here on Earth, but this Christmas is the season of the great calamity in Hyrule. The release of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity on 20th November allowed gamers to witness for the first time the resurgence of the evil Ganon. Spoiler: he does not wish for joy to all Hylians, Zora, Gorons, Rito or Gerudo. This game, Nintendo’s big holiday title, is the latest in Koei Tecmo’s ‘Warriors’ games and also an in-canon prequel to the 2017 first-party masterpiece, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Here, players control Link, Zelda herself, the four champions and others in their fight against the ultimate evil. The story here, the lore, will be Christmas gift enough for many Zelda fans… the frantic gameplay is, though, more than just an added bonus.
Finally, the end of the year means it’s time for the end of year lists and awards. The most influential amongst these is The Game Awards, which will take place on 10th December. Whilst Nintendo has had a relatively quiet year, several of its releases have received nominations here. Paper Mario: The Origami King and Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit received nominations in the Best Family Game category. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was also nominated in this category. More importantly, it is also in the running for Game of the Year (last won by Nintendo for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in 2017).
That’s it for this month’s Nintendo News, and also for this year. I’m excited to see what games and hardware Nintendo has in store for us in 2021. It is, after all, the 35th anniversary year for both Zelda and Metroid. Join me next month for our next roundup, and happy holidays.
What are your Nintendo holiday memories? What game is your Nintendo game of the year? Let us know over on social media, @zatugames.