The first Nintendo Direct in almost two years boasted Splatoon 3, Mario Golf: Super Rush, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, and more!
In announcing its first Nintendo Direct in almost a year and a half, Nintendo promised us “roughly 50 minutes of information focussed on available games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and games coming to Nintendo Switch in the first half of 2021”. That’s exactly what we got, but despite making 30 different announcements, the event has left us with more questions than answers about some of Nintendo’s biggest properties — Bayonetta 3, Metroid Prime 4 and the Metroid Prime Trilogy, Pokémon, Silksong and the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel were all completely absent from the event, which left a bitter taste in some mouths.
Despite the notable absentees, there was still a lot of news to digest (pun intended), and there’s plenty to look forward to if you’re a Nintendo fan!
Monster Hunter Rise
Monster Hunter Rise’s appearance at the Nintendo Direct was less of a surprise, but more of a reminder that the title is indeed arriving on Switch later next month. That’s not to say that what was shown doesn’t look promising, as Monster Hunter Rise looks like it’s going to excel on all fronts. The newest trailer also hints that the overall story will extend beyond the monster hunting action.
Alongside a snazzy special edition Switch console and Pro Controller, Monster Hunter Rise is set for release on March 26.
Mario Golf: Super Rush
Nintendo has announced its first Mario Golf release on a home console in 18 years, with Mario Golf: Super Rush slated for release on June 25. Mario Golf: Super Rush will allow players to use either button or motion controls, and the trailer shows off a story mode featuring a player-designed Mii with RPG-like stats and leveling. The highlight, though, is new multiplayer mode Speed Golf, where each player runs between shots in real time — it looks chaotic and intense, which are words rarely applied to golf video games.
No More Heroes III
After being delayed out of its 2020 release last year, No More Heroes III has returned with a brand new showing. The trailer showed that the title is similar to the previous two games in the franchise, mixing beam katana action with Travis’ daily life of performing mundane chores to earn a little cash.
In a cool touch, the game’s various boss fights seem to pay homage to video games as a whole with one switching to a first-person horror perspective, with another featuring a blue RPG overlay akin to Final Fantasy games of yesteryear.
No More Heroes III is set to launch exclusively on Nintendo Switch on August 27.
While we’re used to Nintendo re-releasing Wii U titles on Switch, we’ve seen significantly less of the 3DS library make its way across. That’s set to change, with 2016’s Miitopia set to make its way to Switch in May.
A quirky RPG featuring player-created Mii characters, Miitopia allows players to cast their friends, family and other original characters as the heroes and villains of a fantasy story. It’s got some new customisation features as well: with Miis no longer being as “cross-title” as they were on the 3DS console family, we now have access to a series of brand new wigs, hairstyles, make-up, and more.
The Switch version of Miitopia is currently scheduled for release on May 21, and is available for pre-order now.
Samurai Warriors 5
Koei Tecmo took the opportunity to announce that the latest entry in its Dynasty Warriors sister series, Samurai Warriors, is now in active development for PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One. The publisher promised to give us more information about the game in a livestream event of its own on February 25, but what we do know is that legendary Sengoku period daimyō Oda Nobunaga and his general and eventual assassin, Akechi Mitsuhide, will serve as the main protagonists — and they’re both very loosely based on their real-life counterparts.
We’ll know more about Samurai Warriors 5 in a few days’ time, but for now, the game’s entry on Nintendo’s website has it slated for Summer 2021 (which is Winter here in the Southern Hemisphere).
World’s End Club
Now that it’s coming to the end of its Apple Arcade exclusivity period, publisher IzanagiGames is bringing World’s End Club — a kid-friendly collaboration between the developers of the decidedly not kid-friendly Danganronpa and Zero Escape series — to Nintendo Switch.
World’s End Club is a side-scrolling puzzle game with light platforming and combat elements that tells the story of a group of kids navigating a post-apocalyptic Japan, and it’s set for release on May 28.
Bravely Default II – Final Trailer Reveal
Bravely Default II is coming to Nintendo Switch this week, so Nintendo took the opportunity to release one final teaser trailer that gave us another look at some of the game’s new characters, battles and jobs ahead of the game’s release this Friday, February 26.
For those who want to get a feel for the game in real-time, there’s a demo available on the Switch eShop right now that will give you five hours to play through two of the game’s dungeons. It won’t save your progress when you purchase the full game, but downloading it before Friday will get you 100 My Nintendo Platinum Points.
DC Super Hero Girls Teen Power
In a brief switch in tone, we saw the reveal of DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power, which looks to be a Switch-exclusive based on the popular animated TV show.
Batgirl, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Bumblebee and Zatanna are all here, doing regular teen things like going to school, posting on social media, and shopping, all while being superheroes and keeping Metropolis safe from danger. There looks to be a great suite of customisation options, and Harley Quinn’s brief cameo had us quite excited, but the trailer didn’t show off any hints of a co-op mode which seems like a wasted opportunity.
DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power is due for release on June 4.
Project Triangle Strategy
Square Enix has decided that Octopath Traveller was the first in what it’s calling the HD-2D series, with the next entry currently entitled Project Triangle Strategy — that’s apparently a working title, though it’s worth noting that Octopath Traveller was called Project Octopath Traveller at first, merely dropping the “project” between development and release… Nintendo’s very good at code names.
As you can likely infer, the main connection between the two games is the lush, tilt-shifted pixel-art visual style known as “HD-2D” — it won’t continue Octopath Traveller’s story, nor will it borrow any of its gameplay mechanics. Instead, Project Triangle Strategy is a strategy RPG, with players making story choices themed around choosing integrity, morality or liberty. Your decisions will affect how easy certain actions and interactions with other characters will be. There’s a demo on the eShop right now for those interested, but the final article isn’t due until 2022.
Star Wars Hunters
In a shining example of how not to announce a video game, Zynga — yes, that Zynga, the one that brought Farmville to our Facebook feeds all those years ago — revealed its next title: Star Wars Hunters, a free-to-play third-person arena shooter set between the events of Star Wars: Episode VI and Episode VII. We know absolutely nothing of this game, aside from the fact that it will have… guns. Regardless, it’s set to be released later this year and, since it’s free to play, we’ve got nothing to lose.
One of the highlights of this presentation came from esteemed indie publisher Annapurna Interactive (which never misses, really) and Donut County creator Ben Esposito: Neon White is a “lightning-fast” first-person action title that follows its title character, an assassin “handpicked from Hell to compete with other demon slayers for a chance to live permanently in Heaven.”
Aside from zapping demons in Heaven, players will also be able to collect Soul Cards — which can be used to attack enemies or harness unique movement abilities — and uncover some of Heaven’s mysteries by getting to know the assassins they’re competing against.
Neon White is set to be released on Switch this winter (which is summer here in the Southern Hemisphere). It’s also coming to Windows PC via Steam, where players can add it to their wishlists now.
EA has gotten in on the Nintendo Switch fun, deploying Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit developer Velan Studios to create Knockout City, a team-based multiplayer dodgeball title that’s also coming to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One with full cross-play abilities and enhancements on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S|X.
Knockout City is set to be released on May 21, and although the trailer itself wasn’t the greatest, it does look like a solid party-style game — especially given that it’ll only set you back US$19.99 (roughly AU$25).
Legend of Mana Remaster
Following the recent resurgence of “Secret of Mana love,” 1999’s PlayStation title, Legend of Mana, is set for a remaster on Switch, PS4 and Windows PC via Steam. The remaster features a re-arranged soundtrack by the legendary Yoko Shimomura, alongside remastered HD backgrounds. The remaster also boasts the ability to disable enemy encounters, and a new mini-game, Ring Ring Land.
The Legend of Mana Remaster is set to release June 24.
Capcom Arcade Stadium
Capcom announced and immediately released Capcom Arcade Stadium, a collection of 32 of its classic arcade releases, on Nintendo Switch.
The collection includes 1943: The Battle of Midway out of the “box”, with the rest of the games available to be purchased as downloadable content — Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins is available on its own, while the other games are available in packs of ten: Dawn of the Arcade (1984-1988); Arcade Revolution (1989-1992); and Arcade Evolution (1992-2001). Among the highlights are Commando, Final Fight, Forgotten Worlds, Strider, and various iterations of Street Fighter II (with minor politically-driven graphical alterations).
The collection is available now as a free download, with Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins to cost as a separate free download and each of three accompanying packs coming in at AU$22.95, or as a package at AU$59.95. The collection’s also set for release on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, but with no listed release date.
The latest instalment in Nintendo’s beloved third-person shooter series, Splatoon 3 carries a post-apocalyptic theme inspired by the outcome of Splatoon 2’s final Splatfest event, Chaos vs. Order. The game looks iterative rather than innovative, though it does offer some new weapons — including a “pseudo-bow” — and a variety of new movement techniques. You’ve also got a new, mildly customisable, Salmonid “buddy”, though the trailer wasn’t too clear on where said buddy would come into play.
One of the biggest steps forward in Splatoon 3, however, is the fact that Nintendo won’t force players to choose a gender: everyone can look however they want to look and wear anything they want to wear, rather than being limited by their gender choice.
Splatoon 3 is currently scheduled for release at some point in 2022, so we’re likely to learn a whole lot more about it in the coming year.
NEW CONTENT ANNOUNCEMENTS
Xenoblade Chronicles 2‘s Pyra and Mythra come to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Xenoblade Chronicles has had a presence within the Super Smash Bros. Universe since Shulk made his debut in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U, and now two of the main characters from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 are set to make their debut in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Although they are numbered as separate characters on the game’s official website, Pyra and Mythra — two of the Legendary Blades who grant incredible power to their Driver, Rex — are tied together as a tag-team fighter in the same vein as Zelda and Sheik in Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, able to transform into one another during gameplay. They have similar movesets, albeit with different Special moves that reflect their different elemental powers.
The two forms also have unique Final Smashes, both of which involve Rex — who will also appear in one of Pyra’s taunts — and their Challenger Pack will also include music and a stage from Xenoblade Chronicles 2. For those interested in how Pyra and Mythra might fit into the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate landscape, Ethan has an analysis in the works.
Pyra and Mythra are set to make their debut as part of Challenger Pack 9, which is set to be released in March.
Super Mario content coming to Animal Crossing: New Horizons
As part of Nintendo’s 35th anniversary celebrations for Super Mario, the company is releasing a batch of Super Mario-related Animal Crossing: New Horizons content through a free update.
The content drop will feature Mario, Luigi, Peach and Wario costumes for players to wear, a variety of themed furniture items and functioning Warp Pipes — though these are limited to just one pair per island. No more running from your house to the airport when it’s time to go villager hunting!
Although the update will be available this Thursday, February 25, the Super Mario items will only be available in Nook Shopping from March 1.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD
After series producer Eiji Aonuma apologised for the lack of information about the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel after its announcement in 2019, Nintendo went on to announce a HD remaster of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
Fans have long questioned the practicality of porting a game that relies so heavily on the Wii’s motion controls — a problem that Nintendo has solved by using the right analog stick to replace those controls. This will be your only option if you own a Switch Lite, but those with the regular, Joy-Conned Switches will be pleased to know that they’ll still be able to violently flail around the place for fun. Speaking of Joy-Cons, Nintendo also revealed a limited edition set inspired by the Master Sword and Hylian Shield to accompany the game… and they quickly sold out, only a few hours after they went up for preorder.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD and its controllers are officially due for release on July 16th; the game will set players back full retail price (US$60).
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity expansion pass
Continuing Nintendo’s compensation for the lack of Breath of the Wild sequel news, Aonuma also announced a paid expansion pass for last year’s Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Although Nintendo was quick to gloss over the contents, it did release a graphic detailing everything purchasers will be entitled to.
While the details of the “expanded roster” are more than vague, previous data-mines may suggest that the already existing characters — Purah, Robbie, Astor and Sooga — may become playable.
The Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Expansion Pass is set to release in two waves across 2021 (including a “purchase bonus” arriving on May 28) for AU$30.
- Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja announced the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection, which will include Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, and “most of [their] previously released game modes and DLC costumes.” The collection is set to be released on PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One on June 10.
- Alongside the original version’s release as part of Capcom Arcade Stadium, Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins Resurrection is coming to Switch this Thursday.
- Square Enix is remastering its “beloved 1998 RPG classic”, SaGa Frontier, complete with “improved graphics, additional features and a new main character.” SaGa Frontier Remastered is slated for April 15.
- EA is bringing Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville to Nintendo Switch in Complete Edition form on March 19.
- Supergiant Games is releasing a physical version of its runaway success, Hades — which will come with an art book and a downloadable soundtrack — on March 19.
- Take-Two Interactive is bringing Telltale’s episodic, choice-driven narrative Borderlands adventure, Tales from the Borderlands, to Switch on March 24.
- Stubbs the Zombie makes his way to Nintendo Switch in a re-release of Rebel Without a Pulse. It’s a straight-up port with an updated control scheme, and it’s coming out of Aspyr Media — and also to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One — on March 16.
- Mobius Digital and Annapurna Interactive are bringing their critically-acclaimed action-adventure, Outer Wilds, to Switch in Summer (aka Winter) 2021.
- At long last, Apex Legends is coming to Switch in March.
- Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is also making its way onto Switch, but not until Summer (aka Winter).
- 33 years after they released in Japan, Famicom Detective Club is finally making its way to the West: The Missing Heir and The Girl Who Stands Behind are set to be released on Switch on May 14.
Abir Chowdhury, Ben Szabadics, Cai Holroyd, Eduard Gafton, Ethan Rabbitts and Jake Colosimo contributed to this article.
Also published on Medium.