For the past few weeks, the internet has been swarming with rumors about a new Nintendo Direct. Super Smash Bros., Metroid Prime 4, the new Pokemon game for Switch. All these games were “rumored” to be shown off in what was to be an even bigger Direct than what we got at E3 2017. The stage was set, and Nintendo themselves couldn’t help adding to the hype. This morning, Nintendo kicked off the new year by giving us our first concrete look into the upcoming year of games in the form of a Nintendo Direct-Mini. In about 15 minutes, they summed up the first half of 2018. So, was what they announced enough to instill confidence in them, or is Year 2 not going to live up to the lofty expectations set by year 1, or the even loftier expectations set by the internet hype machine? These are my thoughts on the proceedings.
The direct opened up with The World Ends With You Final Remix, a remaster of the original Nintendo DS game that has gathered something of a cult following. I’ve never played the original, personally, but it appears to be a rhythm-based action RPG set in the Shibuya District of Tokyo, which honestly sounds like my cup of tea, and I’ll definitely be checking it out.
From there, they moved on to Pokken Tournament DX, the Wii U port that released last September. They’ll be adding two new DLC packs. Wave 1 will include Aegislash, a literal sword and shield Pokemon, as a new fighter, alongside Mega Rayquaza and Mimikyu as support Pokemon. Wave 2 brings along the OG water starter, Blastoise, as a new fighter, as well as the sprite Pokemon Mew and Celebi as support. Honestly, I never really had any interest in Pokken Tournament, despite being an unabashed, die-hard Pokemon fanboy, due to it being a fighting game, which I tend to suck at. But the addition of DLC does give me hope that we may see additional tracks and characters in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, since Pokken Tournament DX was supposed to be a “Definitive Edition” as well. It’s a stretch, I know, but stranger things have happened.
Kirby’s new game was finally given a proper title, Star Allies, as well as a release date, March 16, 2018. Growing up, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards was among my favorite games on the Nintendo 64, and the gameplay, along with the ability to mix and match abilities (in multiplayer) definitely make this seem like the spiritual successor I never knew I wanted. Star Allies looks to continue the Nintendo trend of amazing, family friendly local multiplayer experiences, and I’m sure you already know my thoughts on that.
Hyrule Warriors on Wii U was a game that I ( and I’m sure many others) pulled the trigger on without knowing much, if anything, about the musou (Dynasty Warriors) genre, simply because it was involved in the Zelda Universe. The game itself had a surprising amount of depth, even if the combat itself could be boiled down to a couple of button-mashing combos. The story itself was pretty good too. The one big drawback was performance. The Wii U couldn’t handle the hundreds of enemies on the screen and chugged in single player, and in multiplayer, the game would lower its resolution and framerate even more, as well as limiting the mount of enemies you could fight. There was the “cool” feature of being able to have one player on the Wii U GamePad, while the other utilized the screen, which will obviously be missing from the Switch version, but I’m sure the increase in performance should at the very least provide a more stable multiplayer experience, albeit in split-screen.
The next game Nintendo served us (don’t pardon the amazing pun, it was intended) was Mario Tennis Aces. I honestly don’t have much to say about this game other than John, JC, (and anyone else who wants to throw their hat into the ring) get ready to catch these rackets when Mario Tennis Aces releases this Spring. Hopefully, this game turns out much better than Nintendo’s previous installment in the franchise, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash on the Wii U. The past year has done nothing but prove that Nintendo is learning from it’s mistakes (except for online matchmaking), though, so I’m cautiously optimistic.
Which brings me to my personal highlight of the show: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. When Retro Studios announced that they were making a sequel to Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii U instead of another Metroid, I, like many others, was disappointed. It seemed like such a wasted opportunity. However, when the game finally released, I bought it out of sheer determination to support every little thing that came out on Wii U and was pleasantly surprised. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. I was thoroughly impressed. DKCTF (as we’ll be referring to it now since it’s way too long of a title) was my favorite game on the Wii U. The platforming required precision and the level design was superb. The added momentum that DK carried only made the platforming even more difficult (and introduced my GamePad to the wall), but that challenge made clearing the stages that much more satisfying. Add some super creative bosses, and you’ve got yourself a great game that absolutely nobody played. A game like this absolutely deserves a second life on the Nintendo Switch, and they even added an “Easy Mode” in the form of Funky Kong and his super overpowered surfboard.
Other announcements included action JRPG Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA, Payday 2, indie darlings Fe and Celeste, DK as DLC in Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle, fighting game SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, and a new asynchronous multiplayer mode in Super Mario Odyssey. These are all announcements that didn’t really pique my interest per se so I have nothing to add on them.
The final announcement of the Direct was Dark Souls Remastered. If DKCTF didn’t make you throw your Switch, don’t worry, From Software has you covered. And due to the portability of the Switch, you can now throw your switch at random strangers on the bus, or even in a plane. All jokes aside, this is actually great news for the system as the Dark Souls community is among the most dedicated in gaming, so this will be sure to please the masses that have been clamoring for this. I won’t be partaking in the torture, since the Souls series has never appealed to me, with the exception of Bloodborne, but I understand the significance of the announcement.
So, with all that said, did the Nintendo Direct-Mini live up to the hype? In my opinion, yes. I believe that most of the ports announced were stranded on the failure of a system that was the Wii U and deserve to be playable on a system with an actual audience. I didn’t allow myself to give into the hype, entered with tempered expectations, and found myself satisfied. The Internet Hype Machine, however, as I’m sure anybody who’s been following this Direct has seen, was super underwhelmed because this wasn’t the big show that Nintendo obviously made it out to be with their weeks of advertising and hype- oh wait, they didn’t actually do any of that. They basically stealth released this Direct and gave some solid announcements. This should serve as a lesson to not let yourself get caught up in hype and create unreasonable expectations, but we all know that the Hype Machine is waiting for the next big thing to blow out of proportion.
With all that said, I look forward to Year 2 of the Little Portable/Home Console Hybrid That Could and the other consoles as well. It may be too early to tell, but I believe that we’re in for another great year of gaming, which can only be good for all of us.