Nintendo Directs are now major events in the gaming industry. Though they may not have the same press coverage and fanfare as E3 or PSX, they do create speculation and hype throughout the online community whenever they’re announced, spurred by the passion of the Big N’s incredibly large and loyal fanbase. That being said, with every passing Direct, no matter how low expectations are or how well Nintendo manages the hype, there are always disappointed fans. It’s been quite a while since the last Direct, so rumors of a February one have long been circulating, and with that, supposed “leaks”. There were talks of Pikmin 4, Super Mario Maker 2, the Metro Prime Trilogy, and Animal Crossing, the last of which was at the top of most fans’ wish list. Unfortunately, only one would come to fruition.
Nintendo started out the Direct guns blazing, showing a trailer for Super Mario Maker 2, a title that many Switch owners called for given the perfect playstyle of the console along with the acclaimed success of the first entry. The Direct then launched into its traditional reel of Nintendo Switch headlines, which are lightning rounds of upcoming titles with brief narrative descriptions. Some highlights include:
- Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, the first exclusive Marvel title to come to the Nintendo Switch, and offers multiplayer action.
- An upcoming Spring Version 3.0 update for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, as well as Joker’s DLC release date narrowed down to “before April”. Captain Toad Treasure Tracker is also getting a slew of updates, including a free one as well as a paid, 18-challenge DLC.
- Igarashi’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, long been in development, is now confirmed for a summer launch on the Switch.
The headlines then gave way to a bigger announcement, the arrival of the highly acclaimed JRPG Dragon Quest XI S on the Nintendo Switch, with this port being a definitive version of the base game that launched in Japan back in 2018. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age will release this Fall for the Nintendo Switch. Popular RPG and village simulation game Rune Factory 4 was also revealed, along with an update on the ongoing development of Rune Factory 5.
In the new IP front, Square Enix and the team behind I Am Setsuna and Lost Spear announced their new project, an action RPG based upon a “soul” system titled Oninaki. Meanwhile, a slew of ports like Tetris 99, Delta Rune, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Assassin’s Creed III Remastered, and Dead by Daylight were also included in the headlines.
Nintendo also made sure to give quick updates to already announced titles such as Yoshi’s Crafted World and Daemon X Machina, introducing some new mechanics for each and reminding gamers of their impending release dates. As this is a Fire Emblem direct, Nintendo spent a significant part of the presentation going into the lore, gameplay mechanics, and general overview of the newest entry, Three Houses. For the full details, check out the video below:
For the bigger announcements, Platinum Games, the developers behind Bayonetta and 2017 smash hit Nier: Automata, released a cinematic trailer for their brand-new IP, Astral Chain. The combat system is reminiscent of their past projects, with a futuristic setting that involves sci-fi elements as well as monsters, all tied up in a JRPG aesthetic style. The Big N also name dropped Bayonetta 3, letting gamers know that the title is still in development.
And lastly, perhaps the most significant announcement of the afternoon, and in traditional Nintendo fashion saved for last, was the reveal of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake. The reimagined version of the 1993 Gameboy classic shows off a new art style, replacing sprites with 3D models that are almost akin to Yoshi’s Crafted World in texture, soft and clay-like, but adorable nonetheless. The game will be released sometime in 2019.
Though this Direct lacked the heavy hitters that most fans were looking for, Nintendo did a solid job in balancing surprise reveals along with much-needed updates on their 2019 lineup. For a better look at games further along in the year, gamers might have to hold out until this year’s E3.