Spring has finally come into view. Monsters have risen, and so too have their hunters in their millions - Monster Hunter Rise has been a huge hit. However, Capcom’s monsters aren’t the only ones to have appeared recently amongst the grass on the Nintendo Switch. In fact, there’s been a whole series of other monsters spotted in the lenses of photographers in the last week. These are more of the pocket variety! In this month’s blog, we here at Zatu identify them and then look to all the other news from Nintendo.
I’m currently playing: Fire Emblem: Three Houses (again)
I’m currently hyped for: Nintendo at E3.
The end of April saw the release of New Pokémon Snap on the Nintendo Switch - a system exclusive. This game is a follow-up to the beloved N64 game Pokémon Snap, originally released in 1999 (a year later in Europe). It finds players visiting areas and taking photos of various Pokémon in the wild! It’s only one of a whole raft of Pokémon games coming in what promises to be a bumper year for Pokémon fans. You’ll remember that all these were trailed in February’s ‘Pokémon Presents’. This new game is developed by Bandai Namco as opposed to Game Freak, and is sure to catch the hearts of Pokémon fans.
Battles are Back!
When Tetris 99 was first released back in February 2019, it caught most people off guard. Here was a classic puzzle game being given the battle royale treatment. And it worked! Then, as part of the Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary celebrations, Nintendo launched Super Mario 35, a battle royale take on the iconic NES platformer. This was, perhaps, less perfectly suited to the new format than the old Gameboy classic, but was still a whole new level of joy to play. It was therefore with some sadness that the community saw that game’s life run out. Nintendo flushed the entire game down a warp pipe at the end of March, removing it from the eShop and taking down the servers.
However, just one week later (on 7th April), a new game appeared - Pac-Man 99. Developed by Bandai Namco but built firmly on the game design and structure of Tetris 99, this new battle royale game is available now to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. I’ve never been a Pac-Man player, but let me tell you this game is a fruit-chomping, ghost avoiding hoot. Each game is quick - especially so, if you’re bad at it like me - and things are never less than frantic.
Indie World 2021
The middle of April saw the arrival of a new Indie World presentation, a kind of Nintendo Direct exclusively for independent games. It may not have featured the games some viewers wanted. Nevertheless, it was to my mind stuffed full of interesting titles that have really piqued my interest. Foremost amongst these are two new games from Annapurna Interactive, the company that’s previously published the brilliant What Remains of Edith Finch amongst others. Their new titles are Last Stop, which is scheduled for release in July this year, and Hindsight, whose graphical style and seeming emphasis on time lost and time regained make it a likely purchase for me. The same could also be said of Cris Tales, a JRPG published by Modus Games that has time-bending mechanics and releases on July 20th.
The Indie World presentation contained loads of other titles that’ll be worth checking out too. There was, for example, Aerial Knight’s Never Yield, a stylish runner game with what seemed to be a very cool soundtrack. This game releases on May 19th, and a demo is already available. Then there’s OlliOlli World from Roll7, a skateboarding action platformer, with a great art style and quirky humour - this is coming this winter. More intriguing was The Longing, a game that unfolds over 400 real-time days. As the trailer had it: ‘Your task is to wait… for 400 days”. The game is out now. Other stand out titles included the rogue-lite Skul: The Hero Slayer and GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon, although this last isn’t releasing until next year. Lastly, Nintendo announced Oxenfree II: Lost Signals, due this year.
The Nintendo Switch itself saw its system updated twice in April. Firstly, system update 12.0.0 was released on 5th April. This was then updated again, to 12.0.1 on the 19th April. These updates haven’t changed much as far as the gaming experience is concerned at the moment, but there has been much speculation about what they have changed and enabled behind the scenes.
Nor was it just the system that’s been updated recently… games have been too. For instance, the indie game Spiritfarer received its ‘Lily’ update on 20th April. This game has been on my list to play since it was first announced.
More surprisingly, we’ve had an update to Super Mario Party! This game was released back in October 2018 and has been hugely successful, selling well over 13 million copies despite generally being a little light on features and content. One thing that has always been mentioned is the lack of online play. Well, this has finally been addressed with the Online Update. This allows a large proportion of the game’s content to be played over the Internet with friends.
Looking ahead to the month to come, there’s a lot coming into view. For instance, Famicom Detective Club is released on 14th May. So too are both Subnautica and Subnautica: Below Zero. Then, on May 21st, the unexpected Switch port of Miitopia is released alongside a new blue edition of the Nintendo Switch Lite handheld system itself. The end of the month also sees the release of World’s End Club. Then, in June Nintendo will release Mario Golf: Super Rush, followed by Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin on 9th July and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD on 16th July. However, this will surely not be all that we have to look forward to...
Nintendo at E3
Nintendo has announced that it will be participating in this year’s digital E3 event. Taking place in June, E3 has been the biggest date in the videogame calendar for years. The event returns in a new guise this year and Nintendo's decision to be involved is exciting. I can still remember some of their classic recent presentations - most notably, in the summer of 2017. Truth be told, I can also still remember some of the less polished presentations too - Wii Music anyone?
So, what will Nintendo have in store for us this year? A year of Zelda anniversary releases? Breath of the Wild 2? Zelda 35 battle royale? Metroid Prime 4? Pikmin 4? A new IP? We’ll have to wait and see.
What games do you hope will be showcased at E3? Join in the conversation over on our social media feeds now.