Someone pinch me, I must be dreaming. After a prolonged absence (543 days to be exact) we finally got our first full Nintendo Direct in a long, long time. While there have been one-off special Directs like the Mario 35 event, the odd Smash character reveal and a few Pokémon announcements, we haven’t seen a full general Direct since September 2019! I know that may seem like it was the last time any of us outside in the real world but as I said up top it was a good year and a half ago. The drought was so long, in fact that many of us had completely given up on the idea of Nintendo Directs altogether.
But our prayers were answered, and we got a full 50-minute direct last night. Nintendo generally like to temper expectations in advance of going live and this time was no different. They assured us that everything we would see would be an update to about an existing game, or a game that was due out in the first half of 2021 (it should be noted here that Nintendo uses the April/March fiscal year, so we saw games due out in August). This turned out to be a lie but that just makes it more exciting!
Here’s everything that was announced and discussed at our (hopefully) first Nintendo Direct of 2021.
Super Smash Bros: Ultimate
The first update we were treated to was the announcement of the next DLC fighter in the Smash Bros. Fighters Pass Volume 2, Pyra and Myrtha from Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The introduction was played quite seriously with Rex showing concern over his missing companion. However, the comedy was dialled up when it was revealed that Pyra had ditched him to join the fun. These characters seem like an odd return to form for Smash. It looks like one of their special attacks will allow them to transform into one another, each offering different move sets. This is interesting because, as long-time fans of the series will know, Zelda and Sheik used to have this ability up until Smash Bros 4. Why Pyra and Myrtha were merged into one as opposed to being Echo Fighters I don’t know, but I can’t wait to try them out and see how they fare! There are still 2 characters left to be announced this year so stay tuned to find out who they are.
At long last, Fall Guys is coming to Switch. Launching this summer, I think the chaotic free for all game will be right at home on the little console that can. Fall Guys is perfect for short-burst gaming sessions, which is what the Switch excels at. If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare on a train, in a coffee shop or even chilling at home I can think of no better source of dumb mindless fun and now there’s no better place to play it than on the Switch. Nothing has been said about cross-platform play yet, but there are rumours that the developers will be rolling it out eventually.
The Outer Wilds
One of the best Indie games of 2019 is making its way to the Nintendo side of the street this summer. Developed by the aptly named Mobius Digital, the game centres around a dying galaxy that throws the player into a 22 minute time loop. It’s essentially Sci-Fi Groundhog Day with much higher stakes. Winning a number of awards and focussing on multiple short-loops this will be another perfect game for the Switch’s play-on-the-go niche!
Famicom Detective Club
Ok, I can’t be the only one who’s never heard of these, right? First developed for the Famicom Disc System in 1988 Famicom Tatei Club was a text-based detective game that played out in a similar fashion to modern visual novels or something like Danganronpa. While there was a prequel made, with both games ported to the Gameboy Advance as well as the Virtual Console on the Wii, the series never saw a release outside Japan. That’s about to change with this remake of the originals with new visuals and voice acting. Both games are due out in May and seem like a great time to launch yourself into a mystery novel that you can play!
Samurai Warriors 5
Launching this Summer, the latest addition to the ever-popular hack and slash series will continue the story of the warring Japanese states during the Sengoku period with a focus on historical figures like Nobunaga Oda and Mitsuhide Akeshi. A more historically focussed sister series of Koei Tecmo’s wildly popular Dynasty Warriors this instalment promises enormous “1,000 on 1” battles that have become something of a series trademark, as well as an engaging story and colourful characters. Not much is known about how this may differ from previous entries in the series but there will be more information out later this month!
Legend of Mana
Following the success of the remakes of other entries in the Mana series, the first spin-off game is getting the remaster treatment. This will be the first time Legend of Mana is available in Europe nearly 22 years after it first released in Japan. Considered by some to be one of the best PS1 games of all time, this classic RPG will be sure to keep old fans happy while bringing new players into the fold. Releasing this June, Legends of Mana will be sure to be one of the highlights of the year for anyone who loves an old-school JRPG.
Monster Hunter: Rise
The sixth mainline entry in the much-loved Monster Hunter series (the games are loved, the movie was crap) and the third to release exclusively on a Nintendo console this instalment promises to be one of the biggest and best yet. Ostensibly a game about hunting monsters, this latest version will have a larger overarching plot like its predecessor Monster Hunter World. Due out in March, this game will surely satisfy the craving that many Monster Hunter fans tend to get after a while. Rise will be made all the better for the introduction of new Palamute companions, a canine version of the existing Palico cats. These good boys will be key in Monster Hunter’s addictive combat and will serve as fast transport for the player-controlled Hunter. It has also been confirmed by the “Can You Pet The Dog” Twitter account that your Palamute will copy your character’s emotes. Adorable.
Mario Golf Super Rush
18 years. 18 gruelling years is how long it’s been since there’s been a Mario Golf game on a home console. I remember watching the viral marketing videos week after week for Toadstool Tour back in 2003 and I remember playing the game even more vividly. It makes me sad knowing that those memories are now old enough to drink. Anyway, Mario is back at the clubhouse with a new entry in the series and it looks like the best one yet. Of course, there are the standard golf games with quickplay, versus and story modes, but this time there’s an additional mode called Speed Golf which looks like a cross between a regular golf game and a foot race. Offering a very un-Nintendo-like choice between motion controls and traditional button controls this game is sure to be a hole in one. Polish your shoes and get ready to tee off on the 25th of June!
Tales from the Borderlands
Set between the events of Borderlands 2 and 3, Tales from the Borderlands is a typical Telltale adventure game. Point and click mechanics with a character driven narrative, each of the five episodes reviewed very well when they were first released in 2015. The story revolves around Rhys and Fiona and how they came to meet and how they plan to make off with untold riches from the vaults of Pandora. Originally released over a series of months this version of the game will feature all five episodes in one package so there’ll be no waiting to see what happens next when it launches in March.
Capcom Arcade Stadium
A collection of old-school Capcom arcade games from the late 80s and early 90s with 32 games in total. 1943: The Battle of Midway is free to download, but the other 30 will be split into 3 packs of 10 that cost €15 each, with Ghosts and Goblins being extra as well for €2. The packs can be bundled together at a reduced cost as well, but it seems kinda shady to give us 3 different versions of Street Fighter II and claim it’s 3 different games, don’t you think?
Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse
Stubbs is back in a rerelease of the classic Xbox game from 2005. Take control of Stubbs, a zombie out for revenge against the man who killed him, and desperately trying to reunite with his lost love. Bludgeon your enemies with your body parts, or eat their brains to grow your zombie army, do anything you can to hunt down the man who zombified you in the first place so you can “live” a peaceful life once more. Pick up something green before Paddy’s day this year when Stubbs shambles his way onto the Switch on March 16th.
No More Heroes 3
The long-awaited next instalment in the irreverent franchise from the mind of the legendary Suda51. Set 9 years after NMH 2 we’ll once again be following Travis Touchdown as he takes on a group of extra-terrestrial villains, posing as superheroes. If this game is anything like previous entries in the series, you can expect high-octane action with an abundance of toilet humour as the world-class assassin once again takes up arms against a world-ending threat. The wait for this game will finally be over when it releases this August.
Demons have gotten loose in heaven and it’s up to you to put a stop to their rampage. You play as Neon White, an assassin who has been sent from hell to clean up heaven’s mess. Use Soul Cards to perform devastating attacks against the demons. But try to be quick about it, other assassins are competing to be the best demon slayer there is as well. Delve deeper into the mystery of their identity this winter.
DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power
Based on the TV show of the same name, follow Batgirl, Wonder Woman, and DC’s other heavy hitting heroines as they navigate the greatest challenge any teenager can face, High School. Follow the girls as their hero team defends Metropolis from all manner of villains and evildoers when Teen Power launches on the 4th of June.
Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville
The third spinoff of the PVZ franchise is coming to switch. Take on the role of a plant or a zombie in this fun, wacky third-person shooter based on the much-loved tower defence game. Each plant or zombie has their own unique abilities and roles to play on the team from healing to sneaking behind enemy lines. It’s refreshing to see that, unlike practically every other game published by EA, all cosmetics and unlockables can be obtained through gameplay alone. You can leave your credit card in the safe confines of your wallet! Crazy Dave is waiting to see you off on the 19th of March!
The 3DS classic is getting a port. Team up with all the Miis you’ve ever made or met and set out to put an end to the evil overlord. While it may appear simple, Miitopia adds in some complexity by adding in relationship stats for each pair of characters. These stats will affect how your Miis fare in battle so be sure to make everyone play nice. Get ready to go adventuring on the 21st of May.
Next week, a free update will be available for all Animal Crossing players that will add a variety of Mario themed outfits and furniture to your game. This will likely be the last major event for the 35th anniversary of Mario before the festivities are ended next month. Get the items while you can and have fun Mario-ifying your island!
Project Triangle Strategy
This yet unnamed strategy RPG will be launching in 2022 so it’s still a while away. You will follow Serona, heir to the kingdom of Glenbrook as the Saltiron war rages on between two neighbouring kingdoms. As the game progresses you will be forced to make difficult choices that will test one of three convictions. How these convictions are affected by each decision will shape the course of your game and the decisions of other characters you encounter. This game looks like a blend of Fire Emblem and Octopath Traveller, games that I absolutely love. I can’t wait to find out more info about this one! There’s a demo out now so you can bet I’ve already got it downloading.
Star Wars Hunters
Set between episodes 6 and 7, this free to play arena shooter will promise chaotic fun with a host of new and familiar Star Wars characters. Not much was announced about this game, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted. One warning, however, this smells of a microtransaction magnet so consider yourself warned!
A fresh take on the team-based battle genre. This game seems to combine the art style of Fortnite, the team-based gameplay of most big modern shooters and the real-world rules of Dodgeball. Capture the ball and take out your opponents or use your teammates as a ball! Do anything you can to take out the opposing team. Remember the 5 Ds when Knockout City hits the Switch this May.
World’s End Club
From the makers of Danganronopa comes a side-scrolling action game that sees a group of students’ undersea adventure end abruptly when a cataclysm wipes out much of the surface world. Join a colourful cast of characters as you journey across Japan to find you way home on May 28th.
The winner of multiple Game of the Year awards, Hades is getting a physical release on the Switch. Delve into the Greek underworld to battle alongside ancient heroes and Gods to find your way to Mount Olympus. Along with a copy of the beloved game you’ll receive a limited-edition art book as well as a code to download the game’s phenomenal soundtrack. This was the go-to game for a lot of Twitch streamers last year and for good reason. If you haven’t gotten around to playing it yet, you’ve no excuse not to once it hits store shelves this March.
Ninja Gaiden Master Collection
Famed for its absurd combo menu and unrelenting difficulty, the Ninja Gaiden prequel trilogy is getting a bundled re-release on modern consoles. Follow Ryu Hayabusa as he hunts down the villains who wiped out his clan and his attempts to take back the Black Dragon Blade that was his signature weapon in the original games. While it doesn’t look like there have been many graphical upgrades to the games, they honestly don’t need much touching up. My fond memories of playing them on my Xbox 360 will certainly bump them up the wish list. The trilogy bundle launches on the 10th of June.
Bravely Default II
Confusingly the third game in the Bravely Defuault series, this will be the first one on a home console. The original on 3DS played with the idea of the using the technical attributes of the console itself to affect certain changes in the game. For example, the game will use Streetpass contacts to help build your main village, you also gain SP (points used to help in combat) by leaving the game on while the console is resting. It will be interesting to see if this new iteration uses a similar system, collecting consumables while the console is in rest mode. We’ll find out next week when Bravely Default 2 drops.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection
A reboot of the original run and gun platformer, this game has quite a legacy to live up to. Ghosts ‘n Goblins is generally considered to be one of the hardest video games ever made with punishing enemy placement and insane time limits. Will this newest iteration be just as hard as its predecessor? Or will the addition of companion characters make the game a little easier? Find out next week when Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrected hits the eShop.
SaGa Frontier Remastered
An interesting take on the idea of a remaster. SaGa Frontier originally launched on the Playstation in 1997. It featured standard turn-based RPG mechanics and featured 2D sprites moving and battling in prerendered 3D backgrounds. While this was standard practice in the 90s, the remaster really doubles down on the aesthetic. The result is an utterly unique, interesting looking game that promises to deliver the same multi-path story of the original but with a fresh new visual style. I’ll be excited to try it out when it drops on the 15th of April.
You read that right, the futuristic battle royale phenomenon is coming to Switch on the 9th of March and, as with other versions will be totally free to play. It promises the exact same experience as you’d get on all other platforms and will even be cross-platform ready when it launches. Again, while many of us may have Apex Legends installed on our home consoles already, the promise of taking the battle with you wherever you go is one that many of us definitely won’t be able to pass up.
The Legend of Zelda
Here it is, the penultimate announcement. This one totally surprised me. Unlike most of the internet I didn’t expect anything Zelda related in this direct at all. This year is the 35th anniversary of the franchise so I was expecting (as they kind of confirmed in the direct) that there would be a dedicated Zelda announcement to mark the occasion. While we sadly didn’t get any new information about the Breath of the Wild sequel (which we last saw during E3 2019), we did get a few other nice announcements.
First up, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity will be getting new characters and new battle scenarios as DLC. This is a welcome piece of news as the base game features a plethora of characters that each play in their own distinct way. Honestly, learning how they play and getting good with them is half the fun of the game anyway so more characters to play with are more than welcome.
Next, we got the news that Skyward Sword HD will be making its way to Switch this July. While this is the single most divisive Zelda game with people either loving or hating it, it certainly is the exemplar of “The Zelda Effect”. Personally, I like this game. It’s not a blow-me-away epic like BoTW, nor is it a straightforward dash to the end like Ocarina of Time. It exists as a sort of transition point between the old school and new school Zelda games and many people think it suffers for that (and the fact that you have to do the same boss battle 3 different times). But I still enjoy it and I’ll definitely be picking it up as soon as it launches.
Finally, Aonuma San presented us with a pair of beautiful Zelda themed joycons. The right is modeled after the Master Sword, and the left after the Hylian Shield. Two of the most iconic symbols in gaming, now in the palm of our hands. I’m sure it’ll be tough to get a hold of these once scalpers get a sniff of them, but for collectors and Zelda fans alike these are an absolute must-have.
To take us home, we were given arguably the biggest surprise of the whole show. Splatoon 3 is in development and will be launching some time in 2022. I’m not a huge fan of the series but I know it has a massive following in some circles. I know that this will come with a lot of excitement for a lot of people. Offering new game modes, new weapons, and all new environments this will be sure to please the kid (or the squid) in all of us!