MISHAWAKA – This past Wednesday, Feb. 9, there was a Nintendo Direct.
Despite not having a big Nintendo Direct for quite a while, this recent one surpassed all expectations for me. The biggest news, in my opinion, was the last announcement they made, but I will get to that in due time.
The Direct opened with a trailer for Fire Emblem: Three Heroes. Though it will take place in the same game universe as Fire Emblem: Three Houses, it changes the genre from a quasi-real-time-strategy game into a hack-and-slash Dynasty Warriors game. There were a few shots of cutscenes and gameplay segments from the game, as well as a release date. As far as the story is concerned, there was very little to piece together from this single announcement trailer, but given that it is releasing quite soon – June 24, to be exact – fans can expect to see a bunch more details in the upcoming months.
The next big announcement was the reveal for a new entry in the much-loved Mario Strikers series: Mario Strikers Battle League. These games see Mario and pals head to the pitch for a chaotic 5v5 match of what was, at one point, soccer. Filled with flashy special moves, aggressive tackles, and electrifying boundary walls, the game brings much of the frenetic energy from the previous entry. However, some fans criticize it for its lack of style, calling the animation “soulless.” Whether this is representative of the game in its current state or if the graphic design is set in stone, plenty of people are just excited to have another Mario Strikers game, especially one on the Switch. Mario Strikers Battle League will release on June 10 of 2022.
Following Battle League, there was some footage of Splatoon 3’s Next Wave of its co-op PVE mode, called Salmon Run. The sequence showcased the new bosses, weapons, maps, and even some new moves for the Inklings and Octolings to pull off while fighting wave after wave of Salmonids. Splatoon 3 is set to release sometime in summer of 2022.
Anxious fans of the upcoming Kirby: The Forgotten Land were treated to a trailer of Kirby’s new abilities, as well as footage of more new locales and locals. The ability that seems to have taken the Internet by storm is Kirby’s new “mouthful mode;” a name that really should have gone through at least three focus groups before release. As unsettling as it appears, the ability seems to allow Kirby to almost-swallow several objects around the island – cars, traffic cones, and vending machines were shown – and morph his body around them, mimicking their shape. In the case of a traffic cone, Kirby can aim the pointy end towards cracked walls, pipes, and floors; by inhaling a vending machine, Kirby can spit out cans to damage enemies; and by almost-swallowing a car, Kirby can zoom around fast enough to bash foes out of his way. Kirby: The Forgotten Landreleases on Mar. 25, 2022.
In addition to new game announcements, Nintendo also showed some of the new ports and collection editions that are coming to Switch. No Man’s Sky, Portal Companion Collection, Kingdom Hearts Integrum Masterpiece, and MLB: The Show 22. Several games will also be receiving free updates or paid DLC releases shortly, either standalone or part of Nintendo’s premium online subscription: Metroid: Dread, Triangle Strategy, Earthbound, and Cuphead. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will also be receiving a paid DLC, the Booster Course Pass, featuring 48 classic courses with updated designs and music. Those who are already part of the premium online subscription will receive the Booster Course Pass at no additional cost when the first wave releases on Mar. 18, 2022.
For those that remember the stone-cold classics Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, the Switch will be getting its own sports title: Nintendo Switch Sports. The game features three sports from the previous titles – bowling, tennis, and sword-fighting (now renamed “chambara”) – and three new ones: soccer, badminton, and volleyball. Later down the line, there will be a free update including the golf game as well. Nintendo Switch Sports allows for local multiplayer with friends and family on the same system as well as online multiplayer. Speaking of, from Feb. 18 to Feb. 20, Nintendo will be hosting an online play test that will feature the three old games: tennis, bowling, and chambara; an online membership is required for participation. Following the play test, Nintendo Switch Sports will release on April 29, 2022.
Finally, the last major announcement for the Direct was one very close to my heart: Xenoblade Chronicles 3. I have been a fan of the Xenoblade Chronicles series ever since 2015, after I was introduced to the protagonist of the first game in Smash 4. Then, in 2017, I was incredibly excited to learn that there would be a new game in the series that was not continuing the, at the time, recently made Xenoblade Chronicles X’s story. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is easily my favorite game of the series, closely followed by Xenoblade Chronicles 1 with X not-so-close behind it. That said, the fact that this new game is incorporating gameplay, story, and design elements from both 1 and 2, features a conjoined world from the two games, and has some familiar characters, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is setting itself up to be a slam-dunk for me. The best part for me, though, is that this slam-dunk of a game releases in seven months: Sep. 2022. Though that is not a proper release date, given how extensive these games are to develop, and considering that there has been no more than a five-year gap between entries, I feel fairly confident in saying that this game is unlikely to suffer from delay.
In all, this was a fantastic Nintendo Direct for gamers to sink their teeth into, leaving them hungry for more information on upcoming games or their release dates. I, personally, will be counting down the days to autumn, at which point I will disappear from the face of the planet for a good few hundred hours; it is a JRPG, after all.