It’d been a long while since Nintendo had been direct with us. All we’d had was Nintendo being indirect (as I discussed in last month’s blog). However, in February Nintendo decided to be direct with us once more. So it was that on February 17th Nintendo released a new Direct presentation. Not an Indie Direct. Not a Partner Showcase (*shudders*). A full Nintendo Direct – one that was 50 minutes long to boot! I covered this for Zatu – you can read my write up here. Nor was it the only major announcement event this month. We also had a Pokémon Presents presentation, which was streamed on 26th February. In addition, we got a whole slew of announcements and releases throughout the month.
I’ll be direct with you, dear reader… there’s a lot to get through this month. So, as Mario says, ‘Let’s go’.
I’m currently playing: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (still)
I’m currently hyped for: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD
Nintendo Very Direct
The February Direct began with the unveiling of the next DLC character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Pyra and Mythra from Monolithsoft’s huge JRPG Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I’m so pleased that these are the characters that have been chosen. I’m a huge fan of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, having clocked up over 240 hours in the game and its DLC. I think Pyra and Mythra will be a great addition to the Smash roster. They will be a day one download for me.
This Direct also included what I hope will be the first of many Zelda announcements this year – the unveiling of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, which will be released on the Nintendo Switch on 16th July, alongside some specially themed Joy-Cons. The other large first-party announcement was that Splatoon 3 will be coming in 2022. I still really enjoy playing Splatoon 2 despite being terrible at it, so the trailer for this new instalment piqued my interest. Nintendo also announced that Mario Golf: Super Rush will be coming to the hybrid console on 25th June.
Square Enix used the Direct to reveal that they are now working on a new game in the style of Octopath Traveller – specifically, a tactical RPG that is currently going under the working title of Project Triangle Strategy. This is certainly something to look forward to.
The Direct wasn’t the only big video presentation in the last month. On the 26th of February, the Pokémon Company treated us to their Pokémon Presents event. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Pokémon franchise, and this broadcast traded on nostalgia, beginning as it did with a rapid survey of the franchise’s entire history. The nostalgia continued with information about New Pokémon Snap, a follow-up to the original N64 game which is being released on 30th April. It then reached new peaks with the unveiling of the much guessed-at Switch remakes of the gen 4 Pokémon games Diamond and Pearl, now re-christened Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. These are due to be released towards the end of 2021 and are being developed by ILCA and not the usual Pokémon developer Game Freak. They feature a chibi art style and were described as ’faithful remakes’.
The final announcement of the Pokémon Presents event was probably the most exciting. It was for a new game entitled Pokémon Legends Arceus, which is scheduled for an early 2022 release. This looks like it will be an open-world Pokémon game set in the Sinnoh region – which is exactly what so many fans have been demanding. The trailer for this game clearly took its inspiration from the remarkable 2017 trailer for Breath of the Wild, leading some to have jokingly dubbed this new title ‘Pokémon of the Wild’. However, that seems like a stretch at this stage, especially given Game Freak’s track record of non-innovation. Whilst the footage was obviously taken from an early build of the game, the graphics looked a little weak (to my eyes), and there were clear framerate issues that will need to be fixed. File this game under ‘interesting so far’.
More March Newness
The Direct and the Presents… events weren’t the only places we heard about new releases for Nintendo’s system over the last month. We heard about lots of other games too. At the beginning of February, we finally learnt that the hugely popular battle royale game Apex Legends is being released on 9th March. Even better, we learnt that Panic Button has been involved in the port (this is the company that worked on porting Doom 2016, Doom Eternal and Rocket League to the Switch). This is a huge release in all senses – the game is extremely popular and the file size is 25GB! Following the success of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, we also leant that Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time will be released on the Nintendo Switch on 12th March.
Another huge announcement last month was that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 will also be coming to the Switch, although we won’t see it until some point later in the year.
The Nintendo Direct wasn’t the only thing to return in the last month. February also saw the return of Super Mario 3D World, a game originally released in 2013 on the Wii U. This is the latest in a whole raft of Wii U games that Nintendo has ported to its far more popular Switch console. This particular release was especially significant as it came with the addition of Bowser’s Fury, a new side adventure that looks more like Super Mario Odyssey than it does the game to which it is attached. You can read our Zatu review of this game here.
The release of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is probably the last part of the Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary celebrations. Its release was accompanied by the release of a matching Mario-themed special edition Switch console in red with blue accents. This is not the ‘new’ Switch or ‘Switch Pro’ that some are clamouring for, but it is an appealing console.
This new-ish Mario game has now arrived but at the end of March, much Mario goodness will leave us. The end of the 35th-anniversary celebrations is being marked by the removal of a number of items. Nintendo will cease production of both the Super Mario Game & Watch and, more significantly, Super Mario 3D All-Stars. The online battle royale game Super Mario 35 is also going to be removed from the eShop and will cease to be playable after March 31st! Nor is this the only thing leaving us at the end of Nintendo’s fiscal year. The newly localised version of the original Fire Emblem game is also, inexplicably, being delisted from the eShop.
Let’s hope this is Nintendo clearing the decks ready for the 35th anniversaries of The Legend of Zelda and Metroid.
We know all about the Mario and Pokémon anniversaries. We’re hyped for the Zelda and Metroid anniversaries, and what they might have in store. But did you know that February also saw another anniversary? February was the 4th anniversary of Intelligent Systems’ mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes. The event was celebrated in-game – I received a free 5* summon. I don’t play the game often, but this was a small reason to go back to it.
Ending with a New Adventure
February ended with the beginning of two huge new adventures. Square Enix released the Switch exclusive Bravely Default II on 26th February. Then, three days later, Koei Tecmo released the latest in their ‘Atelier’ series of games, Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy on 29th February. Between them, these games represent a significant slice of JRPG goodness and are the kind of game for which the hybrid system is just perfect. I’ve always been interested in the Atelier series, and the reviews for the first ‘Ryza’ game have made me keen to try this sequel.
Much to Come in March
We didn’t know we’d get a Direct in February. We do know that there are a lot of things coming in March. The Direct was really a roadmap for the next few months. We know, for instance, that we’ll be getting the next free update for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which will allow us to add Mario content including warp pipes to our islands. We also know that Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighbourville Complete Edition is being released on 19th March. Most significantly, however, 26th March sees the release of a Switch exclusive that is sure to be a huge hit – Monster Hunter Rise. To accompany it there’ll also be a Monster Hunter special edition Switch console and Pro Controller.
What, for you, were the biggest announcements this last month? The Smash DLC reveal? Splatoon 3? The Diamond and Pearl remakes? Pokémon Legends Arceus? Join in the Nintendo conversation with us over on our social media feeds. Also, let us know what game you’re playing on your Switch right now.