Welcome to my monthly Nintendo Newsround for Zatu Games. We have in recent years come to expect a large Nintendo Direct in January. With the holiday season over, these broadcasts have tended to set out the company’s release schedule for the coming months. However, there was no January Direct in 2020, and it turned out to be a year of ‘Nintendo Indirects’. This is not really true. It’s just that Nintendo largely preferred to announce games in ‘Partner Showcases’ rather than in over-hyped quarterly presentations. In some cases, they simply announced a major new game on Twitter – yes, I’m looking at you, Paper Mario: The Origami King.
This trend seems to be continuing in 2021. We didn’t get a full, classic Nintendo Direct in January this year either. We did, though, get lots of exciting information about upcoming games, new content for existing games and even the unveiling of two new limited-edition versions of the Switch. Here’s everything that’s new in the world of Nintendo this month…
I’m currently hyped for: Zelda’s 35th Anniversary year
New Games (sort of)
This spring sees the release of a major new Nintendo Switch exclusive – Monster Hunter Rise. The game’s developer – Capcom – hosted a special digital event for the game on 7th January, in which they showed a load of new footage. They also unveiled a free demo of the game which was available throughout the month (until 31st January 2021). The full game is due to be released on 26th March and is sure to be a huge hit.
5 days after this digital event, on 12th January, Nintendo themselves gave us a new trailer for Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury.
This release is an enhanced port of the Wii U game. It will feature some new content and forms part of the ongoing 35th-anniversary celebrations for the original NES game Super Mario Bros. Inevitably, the focus of the trailer was on the exclusive new content. We were shown a large and seemingly sandbox-style ocean area that, on a first look, appeared closer to Super Mario Odyssey than it did to the original Super Mario 3D World.
This area also seems to nod to the GameCube classic Super Mario Sunshine which, as an old gamer, makes me happy! The trailer’s final moments featured a face-off between a huge Bowser and a large cat Mario. For me, the result of all this was that my hype levels for the game increased dramatically. The game is released on the 12th February and I am now very tempted to give it a go.
New Games Consoles
Nintendo also announced new special edition Nintendo Switch consoles to go with these upcoming games. Firstly, they unveiled a new Mario themed red and blue Switch. This is set to be released on the same day as Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. Then, towards the end of the month they announced a new Switch, and also a new pro controller, themed around Monster Hunter Rise, to be released on that game’s release day (26th March). I’ll admit that even though I’ve recently brightened up my day one Switch with neon green and pink joycons, I’m eyeing both of these special edition consoles enviously.
New Pokémon Snap
I have remarked in previous newsrounds that I am not a member of the Pokémon generation. Personally, I have not played any generation of Pokémon games. I have, though, briefly played Pokémon Snap, which was originally released on Nintendo’s N64 in 1999 in Japan and America (Europe had to wait until the new millennium). We’ve known since last summer that there’s going to be a new Pokémon Snap game for the Nintendo Switch. Well, on the 14th January, we were given a new trailer for this game and were told that it is in fact going to be called… wait for it, New Pokémon Snap! The game will be released worldwide on 30th April 2021.
New Game Content
In addition to hearing about new games, we’ve also been hearing about new additions to existing titles. On the 14th January, new content was released for Puyo Puyo Tetris 2. The 2020 sequel to the original and thoroughly mad mash-up puzzle game. This new content featured new challengers including none other than Sonic the Hedgehog! Puyo Puyo is a Sega game, so it’s actually not so unusual, and there are many other sonic games available on the Nintendo Switch, including the reputedly excellent Sonic Mania. Nevertheless, as a gamer who grew up in the early 90s, seeing the blue Hedgehog running on a Nintendo system is still disorientating!
More exciting for me was the release on 26th January of the Fatal Falls DLC for the smash hit indie game Dead Cells. Fatal Falls is the second paid DLC bundle for the rogue-like Metroidvania game developed by Motion Twin and Evil Empire and features two new mid-run biomes – The Fractured Shrines and The Undying Shores. The DLC also features a new boss in a place called The Mausoleum. I love this game and have recently defeated The Hand of the King for the first time (on 0BC for those who know the game). I can’t wait to get killed in the new biomes!
Also, let’s not forget that Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the big game of the first lockdown, is still getting new content. The most recent of these was a free update on 28th January. There’s to be an in-game ‘Festivale’ on 15th February, and there will another free update coming in March 2021.
The new year has also seen a new event in an older Switch game. The weekend of the 15th-17th January saw a new themed Splatfest. Or, as the game had it, a Super Mario Bros. 35 Anniversary Splatfest Collabaganza. This time it was Super Mushroom vs Super Star. The event encouraged me to pick up the game for the first time in ages. I love Splatoon 2 as much as I am rubbish at it! I fought for Team Super Mushroom, although I’m not sure I really helped the cause. However, as it was Team Super Mushroom that ended up winning the Splatfest overall, I guess I’ll claim it!
In December 2020 we were treated to the Super Nintendo World Direct, hosted by none other than Shigeru Miyamoto himself. He gleefully showed us around this new attraction at Universal Studios Japan. Complete with a mushroom-themed restaurant and Mario Kart ride. Sadly, it has since been announced that the opening of this real-life game world is going to be delayed due to the ongoing pandemic.
New and Upcoming Releases
We may not have had a new direct this month. We do, though, know about a lot of new games coming to the Nintendo Switch soon. I want to end this month’s Nintendo News by highlighting these.
The coming weeks will see the following games released, amongst others…
On 29th January, the JRPG sequel Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy will be released in the UK. This game is developed by Koei Tecmo, whose game Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity was the big holiday Switch title for 2020. Another sequel is being released on 11th February – this time, it’s the indie game Little Nightmares II. As we’ve already noted, the following day sees the release of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury and the special Mario edition Switch console. A week later, on the 19th and 23rd February, Persona 5 Strikers gets released in different editions for the Switch. Then, on the 26th February, Square Enix release Bravely Default II (another much-anticipated sequel). Finally, on the 26th March, Monster Hunter Rise makes its way to Nintendo’s hybrid console.
Are you looking forward to any of these new releases? Or are you still playing your way through the games you got for Christmas? Did you play in the Splatfest? Join the gaming conversation and let us know over on social media – we’d love to hear from you.