A typical Nintendo Direct always manages to see me swinging wildly between extremes of emotion. I’m either as hyped and ready to pop as a well shaken bottle of champagne, or I’m utterly disinterested in the Nth instalment of some long running JRPG series that is neigh indistinguishable from the two announcements either side of it.
I came into this Direct primarily hoping there would be any utterance of what the new Pokemon game for Switch could be. Unfortunately, after watching the whole thing, there wasn’t a pocket monster to be seen. That doesn’t mean I was unhappy with Nintendo’s offerings in their latest direct broadcast though. I’m not going to break down everything mentioned, just the things that compelled me to actually started writing about them despite myself.
Super Mario Maker 2
They started the broadcast off very strong; with a game many of us had hoped would return on the Switch after proving to be the glorious last gasp of the Wii U. Nintendo went one better than what I was expecting from them though, not just giving us a port of the first game, but a fully fledged sequel.
Mario Maker is arguably the best game to come out for the Wii U during its entire doomed run. Personally though, I think the Wii U had a decent sized collection of fantastic games, but I would struggle to argue with someone who wanted to say Mario Maker was the console’s very best. This sequel makes the intelligent move by keeping the game almost exactly the same, and just adding a lot more to it.
Angry suns, rising water, vertical scrolling, cat bells and… slopes!!!
The one thing I did notice about the brief teaser was that a lot of the tools and design of the stages made in the more modern Mario style seemed to be taking more from the Super Mario 3D world games than the “New Super Mario Bros.” series. Adding a 3rd dimension and making a “Mario 64 Maker” was an idea thrown around a lot online for a sequel. But I’m happy with the direction they’re going. And cannot wait to get my hands on this come June. I just hope the editing tools feel as intuitive as they did on the Wii U game pad.
They did it, the madmen finally went and did it. They made Tetris into a Battle Royale game. Only in the wild ramblings of a parody Twitter account did we ever dream of seeing the Battle Royale genre bump up against games that had no business pitting (nearly) 100 players against one another. Tetris 99 does just that.
Not too long ago, I felt there were no reasons for me to actually sign up for Nintendo’s Online service, even being as cheap as it was. Nintendo are famously pretty sub par when it comes to making online services for their games. Bizarrely making it more complicated than necessary when there was comparable services on other platforms to base their own system on.
Between this and Mario Maker though, they’ve gone and made it impossible for a person to pick up a Switch and now sign up for their online service too.
If this game wasn’t exciting enough as a concept alone, they went and did the thing we all dream of when watching these broadcasts and told us Tetris 99 was already out, and not only that, it was free. I’m eager to see the early impressions of this one, I even wonder if another Tetris game can exist right now considering The Tetris Effect is still relatively recent.
I don’t see why not though, especially when they’re two games catering to two totally different audiences, The Tetris Effect is a focused, single player experience. While Tetris 99 seems to be the exact opposite; an online competitive game without the frills and fancy that made Effect so… effecting.
I wonder how much depth there will end up being to this game though. Keeping a Battle Royale game active is tough, with the high player count needed for every game. And Tetris is a game with a crazy high skill ceiling. I dread to think how badly some people might get trounced by the Tetris masters playing this one. Being free though, I can see it lasting.
Link’s Awakening Remastered
I knew what this was almost as soon as the trailer begin. Link’s Awakening was my first Zelda game, the first one I played and finished. There are some powerful nostalgic ties for me with this game, and that opening introduction to the game was so faithful to the original to such a point that it stirred something within me as soon as I saw those first waves.
This is the surprise announcement that made me forget all about a potential Pokemon reveal.
Right after this game was announced, many of the news outlets were describing it as a game in the style of the recent Link Between Worlds 3DS game. But to me, this looks like something much different. Its connections to Link Between Worlds end in so much as they’re both a game in the top down style that the franchise started with.
Graphically, it looks like something entirely original. On what little we were shown, I already adore the look of this game. Since the days of the SNES, Nintendo have been experimenting with their game’s graphical styles, happy to approach them with a more creative, stylised look. As far back as the original Yoshi’s Island, to Kirby’s Epic Yarn, to Kirby and the Rainbow Curse and Yoshi’s Wooly World.
Hell, even Zelda has has been a franchise that Nintendo weren’t afraid to approach with a totally different style than people had been expecting. Many fans pushed back against Windwaker when that was first revealed, all expecting a more realistic visual style thanks to a tech concept shown before the Gamecube came out. Yet now, it’s a game that feels like it’s aged far better than the other 3D Zelda games.
And like Windwaker, The Link’s Awakening remake has a very distinct visual approach. Everything looks like it was formed from colourful plastics and placed into a diorama, I don’t know if the blur round the edges of the screen is just for the trailer, but it really adds to the look, making it seem like something you’re peering down onto. I’ve already seen a few people taking pops at the choice, but personally I love the way this game looks.
It just makes me all the more excited to eventually try it when it comes out later in the year, and I haven’t even heard that much of the game’s soundtrack yet.
This was actually a pretty packed Nintendo Direct, despite the three games above being the only ones that really resonated with me personally. Nintendo are still a very Japanese driven company at the end of the day, and the slew of samey looking anime games mentioned like Fire Emblem, Astral Chain, Daemon X Machina, Rune Factory and Oninaki all just ran together for me.
I am happy to see a lot of modern, current generation games getting ports for the Switch though, even if I don’t really have much intention to buy them when they’re available on the other platforms. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before, as I have rebought things like Into the Breach and Katamai on the Switch, but the likes of Assassin’s Creed III Remastered and Mortal Kombat don’t seem like games that should be owned on the Switch over PC or one of the more powerful consoles. Unless portability is a big factor.
I could have made this a post about the absence of things in the Direct honestly. Pokemon, Animal Crossing and Metroid are all franchises people would have hoped to hear some word about, but honestly, Mario Maker alone would have been enough for me to walk away from this one happy.
It’s a console selling game in my opinion, and that’s not even taking the Zelda game into account. It’s good to see Nintendo have some strong, must-buy games on the cards for the coming year. After an incredibly strong first year, followed by a pretty quiet 2018, I was kind of worried for 2019. But between these three games and the promised new Pokemon release, I am already a happy chap.