A week or so ago I posted an article covering my hopes for a Nintendo Direct that was rumored to be coming up sometime in January. At the time, I’d heard the rumors and assumed there was probably some truth to them, but I didn’t think of it as a huge deal. I just figured “hey, there was a Direct last January for the Switch, there’ll probably be one this year too.” It didn’t take long to get caught up in the sheer hype surrounding this rumored Direct. Real leaks and fake leaks all blended together as spectators shared Illuminati-level theories about why Nintendo would have a Direct not just in January, but on January 11th specifically.
The amazing thing about all this is that Nintendo decided to embrace it and fed into the hype. They didn’t do the professional “yes, we would like to confirm the rumors of a Nintendo Direct coming on so-and-so date,” or the even more professional silent response. Instead they posted vague teasers and retweeted old posts out of context, all misdirection and magician’s tricks leading up to them unceremoniously dumping the goofy thing onto the Internet first thing in the morning on a work day. No tangible lead-up. No live event where everyone could react together at the same time to the news. It was perhaps the most appropriate response to the ridiculous level of speculation that the teasing and the leaks had created, but was this turn-of-events enough to curb fan hype into manageable expectations?
Ultimately, I think each fan has to answer that question for themselves. I personally tried to calm myself a little bit, and in retrospect I can see that I was maybe wishing a little too big with my personal expectations I posted previously. Once I acknowledged that a lot of what I wanted might not come to pass, I was able to enjoy the Direct for what it is and get excited about some of the announcements shown. Today, I’m going to go into detail on my thoughts about each announcement, so let’s dive in and see exactly what all the fuss was about!
THE WORLD DIDN’T END WITH YOU THE FIRST TIME, APPARENTLY
The opening announcement of the Nintendo Direct showed that the cult hit The World Ends With You is coming this year to the Nintendo Switch. TWEWY is a game I have always heard about but never played myself. Honestly, the main thing I know about it is that the fandom is absolutely ravenous for a sequel. But now I and all the other folks who never experienced the game on 3DS now have an opportunity to check it out on the Switch. The game comes with added content, which in my view is a great way to bring back the fans who might still own a DS and their original copy of the game. Although I imagine the ability to play TWEWY on the big screen might also be enticing.
My main source of information about TWEWY is my time with the characters in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance. Of course, their stories are told so flimsily and with no real explanation of their goals that my knowledge is pretty thin. Neku, the guy in the center with the headphones, is wrapped up in some kind of game where he has a timer displayed on his hands. He has to win the game somehow, but doesn’t really know what he’s supposed to be doing. Joshua seems to be more in-the-know than the others but he’s more cryptic than a Jedi in an insinuation contest. Together, they must do something to save the day, but that’s not important because darkness and Heartless and 27 different versions of Ansem, dang it!
I might check this game out just to see what all the fuss is about, but based on what little gameplay was shown during the Direct Mini it really doesn’t seem like it is up my alley. I am very excited, though, for the fans of the series who get to see this game make an appearance on a fantastic gaming console. May your hopes for a sequel someday be realized, eager ones.
POKKEN TOURNAMENT GETS A LITERAL POKEY-MON
Personally, I had forgotten about Pokken Tournament, but for those who are still playing the game this seems like a cool announcement. The Direct Mini showed off footage of the new playable combatant Aegislash, as well as revealing that another playable Pokemon would be coming in a second DLC wave, Blastoise. In addition to the two playable characters, four new support Pokemon will be added into the game, as well as customizable gear for your in-game avatar. Assuming the price point is reasonable, this seems like a decent DLC pack that will add some life to the game.
Despite that, I think Pokemon fans were looking for a more exciting announcement today, particularly after E3 when a mainline game was promised for the Switch, but I wasn’t surprised when nothing major popped up for the franchise. Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon just came out, after all, so announcing a brand new game so quickly would take all of the focus off of those titles. I anticipate that we might hear something about this new Pokemon game at E3 2018. Regardless, Pokemon fans will have to sate themselves on Pokken for the time being.
KIRBY GETS REAL FRIENDLY IN KIRBY: STAR ALLIES
The Kirby series occupies a sort of weird place in my life. I don’t actively think of myself as a Kirby fan in the same way I think of myself as a Legend of Zelda fan or a Paper Mario fan. Yet I’ve spent a lot of time playing Kirby games in my life, and I don’t think I’ve ever really been disappointed with one. Whether it was competing in Air Ride’s City Trial or helping my brother find all of the hidden secrets in Return to Dreamland, I have some good memories with this little pink puffball. So why do I always forget about him? Poor Kirby does nothing but show me affection and here I am just rambling about how great Fire Emblem is even though Fates totally screwed me over with the three different versions…
Ahem. Relationship problems aside, I’m quite excited for Star Allies, as it seems to have yet again improved on the Kirby formula. Four player co-op, new copy abilities, combining copy abilities with friends – you probably won’t hear me talk about this game a lot on Adventure Rules, but I am confident it’s going to be good and I’ll probably want to pick it up in March unless something that catches my eye a lot more comes out. Yeesh, there I go again. Sorry, Kirby. You deserve better than me.
Oh yeah, PS, Dragon Quest Builders had a Nintendo Switch demo awkwardly shoved into this part of the Direct. DQ Builders is a minecraft-style game with a little less emphasis on being able to construct whatever you want but a little more emphasis on storytelling. I personally prefer games that tell a story and have a set end goal to work towards, so I feel like this approach to the sandbox construction experience is more up my alley. Since the demo is available now, I’ll probably download it and give it a try myself.
“Ian, didn’t they also announce a Kirby dem-”
STOP POINTING OUT MY FLAWS, OKAY?!
IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN ABOUT FIRE EMBLEM WARRIORS YET
The next game announced as part of the Direct Mini was Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition. Momentary sidebar: can we please just start calling all Nintendo Switch ports of Wii U games the Definitive Edition of that game? I just love the sound of it. It’s so bold and decisive. I hope when Smash Bros is finally ported to Switch, they’ll call that the Definitive Edition too.
Anyway, this game has all the good stuff from both the 3DS and Wii U versions of the game, from the characters to the levels to all the cool stuff you can collect. I personally have not played Hyrule Warriors because I never owned a Wii U, and apparently the 3DS version can barely function even on the New 3DS. However, I enjoyed Dragon Quest Heroes and I feel like this game would entice me for similar reasons – a perfect brainless game experience when I’m tired and just want to chill, all while experiencing massive amounts of nostalgia from seeing the return of many of my favorite characters.
This is one of the games announced during this Direct that I am most excited about. I definitely anticipate getting this, and perhaps the fact that she could play as Link would entice my wife into experiencing this title alongside me in co-op mode!
HEY LOOK, MARIO TENNI- OH MY GOODNESS WHAT IS ON WALUIGI’S HEAD?!?!?!
Listen, there are a few things that the world should never see. Waluigi’s slicked hair is one of those things. Next, they’re gonna show us what a Toad’s head looks like without the mushroom cap. I just pray they never reveal a Shy Guy’s face, or I may have to throw this series aside and never play it again.
In all seriousness, Mario Tennis is now no longer just one part of an amalgamation of Mario Sports titles. Once again the series has broken away to stand on its own, and this time there’s a story mode for added fun. I really enjoyed playing Mario Tennis on Nintendo 64 but the series in my mind has gone downhill since then, and honestly I don’t know that I could really get into another Mario Sports title anyway. I play single player these days a lot more than I used to as a kid, and I don’t see myself wanting to pair up with some random folks online to play tennis. Or really, anything. Couch multiplayer or no multiplayer, that’s my philosophy.
TRYING TO BE EXCITED, TRYING TO BE EXCITED…I GOT NOTHING
When this trailer first started playing on my screen, the first thing I thought of was my buddy Geddy over at Nostalgia Trigger. He’s a big fan of the Ys games (and is the person who taught me that you don’t pronounce it like the word “Wise”), and if you’re interested in this title then I recommend you check out his article about why this series is awesome. I recommend his article not only because Geddy is an excellent blogger and you should be following him, but also because I personally have nothing constructive to say about this game.
When this trailer started playing, I wanted to be interested in what I was seeing. I like to think of myself as an RPG fan and I’d heard good things about Ys. But the more I watched the more I realized that this isn’t the kind of game that gels with me. And that’s totally fine. If everyone liked the same games we’d have a pretty boring hobby. Just like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 at the end of last year, this is a game that I think will be really good for the Switch but just doesn’t appeal to me personally.
THIS IS NOT THE DLC YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
One of the hopes that I spoke of in my original article last week was a wish for Super Mario Odyssey DLC. This game is screaming for more kingdoms to explore – or rather, I’m screaming for them. It seemed like such an obvious thing to hope for, and honestly if my post had been predictions instead of just wishes I still would have left it on there. Instead of new kingdoms to play, what we got is a new game mode called Luigi’s Balloon World.
This game mode is a competitive hidden object game where players hide a balloon somewhere in one of the game’s kingdoms and then look for other players’ balloons. You have a time limit for the hiding and the finding, so understanding the layout of each kingdom is going to be pretty important. By the look of things, you’ll be able to compare your rankings as a hider and a seeker with those of other players around the world. It’s a nifty little idea (though not a game mode that I myself will ever want to try out) and the mode is part of a free update – there’s no cost to play Luigi’s new game.
While I appreciate that players are getting new content, free content, and that this will certainly appeal to some folks, it wasn’t what I wanted to be announced today. Perhaps the Odyssey DLC I’m looking for will come further down the line, but for now I’ll have to settle for the existing kingdoms and running around in a Luigi costume.
UH, SIR, JUST WHAT IS THAT YOU ARE LOOKING AT?
Allow me to take a moment to tell you an anecdote about me watching this Direct. I was pretty excited about it and was tired of not checking Twitter out of fear of spoilers, so I decided to use my lunch break at work to watch it. The data in my office building is super lousy, so I heated up my lunch in the microwave and then took it outside to sit in my car. Now while nothing ended up happening, I was in a state of tension the entire time because I just knew someone was gonna come up to my car, see me staring at my phone, and wonder what the heck I was doing. That anxiety ramped up to 11 when this trailer came on – “oh hey, Boss, didn’t see you there. Oh, this video of scantily-clad animal women ‘tag teaming’ each other? I can explain…”
Luckily, nothing happened and I was able to eat my teriyaki chicken in peace. SNK Heroines is not my kind of fighting game – really, most fighting games are not my kind of fighting game. I understand that for players of the SNK series, there’s probably some appeal here, as you can customize your fighters with different costumes and accessories, and the game seems to have accessible controls and great multiplayer potential (always an important feature in a Switch game). But me, I’ll leave this one alone and hope my wife doesn’t walk into the living room while I have the trailer paused to write this section of the article…
AS IF THERE WASN’T ENOUGH MONKEYING AROUND IN THIS GAME!
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is the title that everyone loved to hate until E3, and then we loved to love it. I count myself foremost in this group and have in the past stated my apologies for being so rough on this game before I saw the concept through to its execution. I ended up grabbing Mario + Rabbids day one and I loved every moment of playing it. So this story DLC came as a pleasant surprise for me, especially since it introduces a new character to the game.
I love this announcement because I know just enough to have a ton of things to speculate about. What will the new story segment be about? Could Wario and Waluigi make appearances since they have Rabbid forms in the game as well? What kind of special abilities will Donkey Kong have to differentiate him from the other characters? Is his weapon really a boomerang? Thinking about the potential answers to these questions will keep me excited for this DLC until it comes out later this year!
WE NOW INTERRUPT THIS NINTENDO DIRECT TO PLAY AN ADVERTISEMENT FOR ANY SONY OR MICROSOFT FANS WHO WANDERED IN BY ACCIDENT
Okay, that statement might be a little unfair. Maybe REALLY unfair. As much as a game like Payday 2 does not appeal to me personally, third party “grown-up” titles like this really are valuable for grabbing a demographic that Nintendo does not necessarily appeal to on a regular basis. A new character and the Switch’s built-in portability might just make this the definitive version of Payday for some players.
That being said, I pretty much ignored this trailer while watching the Direct. Maybe it’s because I work adjacent to the legal system, or maybe it’s the fact that I hear my mother’s voice in my head whenever there’s a gun involved in a game, but these modern “shoot dudes and steal stuff” kind of games like GTA, Saint’s Row, and Payday have no appeal for me. If this is your thing, more power to you. I’ll stick to playing as an Italian dude wearing a hat with eyeballs that can possess stuff and collects moon jewelry.
EA THINKS MAKING A PRETTY GAME ABOUT SINGING IN TUNE WILL MAKE US FORGET ABOUT MICROTRANSACTIONS
Fe is an interesting little title, isn’t it? The visual style has a distinct look and based on the description of the gameplay, it looks like Fe is focused more on cooperation than combat and violence. There’s a magical feel to the trailer and apparently the game is based on Nordic folklore. I’m interested in seeing more about this title, even if it was created by *shudder* EA.
This section of the Direct also showed off Celeste, an indie platformer for every skill level. Whether you want to infinitely dash in slow time or turn up the difficulty to unbeatable levels, Celeste is a game that has something to offer you. I’m not great at platformers and won’t be picking this game up. But if it’s your kind of thing, it’s coming out this month, so out of all the titles announced this is the one you can really sink your teeth in to soon.
*INSERT LET’S GET FUNKY JOKE HERE*
Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze is yet another platformer, albeit one that has rave reviews from a lot of fans. As someone who never owned a Wii U, this is a title that kind of interests me. I’m not an avid DK fan but everyone says such great things about the game that I can’t help but wonder about it. And the addition of Funky Kong seems to make it so that I could beat the game pretty easily if I decided to get it. His surfboard resists spikes, he can hover and double jump, infinitely roll along the ground, and infinitely corkscrew through the water.
THE DARK SOULS OF NINTENDO SWITCH GAMES
Ah yes, the final announcement at last. I saw that this was coming in a Kotaku leak just before the Direct dropped, and honestly I’m kind of glad I did. One of the games I was most looking forward to seeing in the Direct was Fire Emblem Switch. It was high on my hopes, sure, but if those hopes had been predictions I still would have expected to see the game. It has been almost a year since the game was first announced – if it’s going to meet its initial planned release of 2018, there has to be news about it soon, right? This trailer had a very brief introduction before revealing a black screen with orchestral music in the background. If I didn’t already know to expect Dark Souls, for the briefest of moments I would have expected Fire Emblem and then been crazy disappointed when that wasn’t the case.
Even with my mind mentally prepared not to face that disappointment, Dark Souls doesn’t do much for me. Like many titles in this Direct, this is another case of “oh, this game is good for the Switch library, but I’m certainly not getting it.” But despite my own feelings about it, portable Dark Souls is certainly an appealing premise and I think a lot of folks will want to scoop up the Remastered version on Switch.
ON A SCALE OF E3 2015 TO BREATH OF THE WILD…
Ultimately, this Direct Mini only had a couple of things that I was excited to see. While it didn’t appeal strongly to me personally, I think many of these announcements are games that are good for the console as a whole, so I gladly welcome them to the Nintendo family. I’ll probably pick up Hyrule Warriors, Kirby Star Allies, and the DLC for Mario + Rabbids, but overall I think the announcements that I really want to hear are further along in the year.
I’ve talked for quite some time now, so I want to hear from you, adventurers! What was your favorite announcement from the Direct? Your least favorite? Anything you wanted to see that didn’t show up? How did you feel about the hype build-up and then the sudden drop of the video first thing in the morning? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for reading!