Nintendo suddenly released a Direct today for the 35th Anniversary of Mario, and, well… there’s exciting announcements and confusing decisions, as is often the case with Nintendo news! Ashley Harrison and I discussed it in the immediate aftermath, so read on for our thoughts. I do mean immediate; as you’ll see, we’re literally finding out updates and getting our orders in as this goes, keeping us on our toes!
William Robinson: Okay, so Ash, I was minding my own business and then Nintendo decided to just out of the blue drop the Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Direct. Where were you when it happened, haha?
Ashley Harrison: Hopefully, like everyone, I was sat on the sofa at home playing Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, completely oblivious to the bombshell Nintendo were about to drop. Thankfully I usually always have Twitter open, so as soon as I saw the Tweet from the verified Nintendo UK account, I quit out of the round instantly and started watching the Direct.
WR: I thought there would be Mario news at some point, but not this sudden or soon! Took me by surprise, so much so that I wasn’t even sure of my expectations going in.
AH: It seems like such a huge announcement to shadow-drop with zero buildup, but thinking about it logically then I guess it makes sense. Thanks to VGC leaking the info months ago about these games coming to Switch as part of a 35th Anniversary Collection, we probably should’ve guessed it’d drop today on the actual 35th Anniversary itself.
WR: It makes sense when you put it that way! Other than a collection, were there any other hopes you had beforehand? You know me, I was hoping for Captain Toad representation, and we got that!
AH: My one big hope was something that was sadly conspicuous in its absence – Super Mario Galaxy 2. Whilst obviously there was no mention of Galaxy 2 being included as part of the leaks, I was really hoping to see it there in some form because in my opinion, it’s the pinnacle of the Mario series as a whole, so I’d love to play through it again in HD.
WR: That’s a point we’re going to get to, be sure of that! As the announcement of the collection was at the end, though, let’s slow down and go through those initial announcements. The first reveal was of Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros., which plays Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, and a Mario version of the Game & Watch Ball game! This is a neat product, even if I reckon I won’t personally be getting it. Out on November 13th, it could be a great Christmas idea.
AH: It’s definitely something I’m going to keep my eye on and see if I can work it into my monthly budget. I’ve never owned a Game & Watch before to be straight up honest with you, so this definitely looks a great one to start with. As you say, there’s 3 games included as well as the fact it also doubles as a clock like all Game & Watch devices do, so really now it just comes down to the price point. It’s a gorgeous looking console too, the colour scheme goes so well together.
WR: I can tell the clock feature is the one swaying you to the purchase there! I have a Zelda Game & Watch, but as I say I may pass on this – depends on the price too, though. I agree the aesthetic is awesome, as a timepiece it is one I can see becoming very rare in the future. Next up was an announcement I am SO happy about; Super Mario 3D World is going to be on Switch on 21st February 2021! Which means more Captain Toad content on Switch! A great day.
AH: Can never have enough clocks that function as something else if you ask me, haha! Imagine someone asking you for the time whilst you’re stood at the bus stop, and rather than pulling out your phone like they’d expect, you pull out that bad boy. Honestly, you’re going to hate me for this, but I’m really not a fan of 3D World. The mesh between the 3D style, but 2D linearity and having a timer to complete the level really put me off both 3D Land and 3D World, so it’s a miss for me. Seeing Captain Toad is cool though!
WR: That’s fine, you’re allowed to be wrong. It isn’t Galaxy level for me, but it’s close, and the Captain Toad levels are fantastic, forming the basis for the solo spin-off Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. Also the jazz soundtrack is immense! It’s nice to have it on Switch, as it felt missing from the group of games that have been crossing over from the Wii U. The added bonus of DLC is intriguing too; there wasn’t much indication about it, but with a name such as Bowser’s Fury, I’m excited! Maybe a DLC of Captain Toad facing off against Bowser? Maybe?
AH: It’s crazy to me just how obsolete of a system now Nintendo have made the Wii U, basically every single one of its top games has been ported to the Switch, and honestly I don’t blame them in the slightest. Think there’s only Xenoblade Chronicles X that needs to make the generational jump and that’s it, Wii U is a completely dead system. I’m interested in what the DLC side-story will be too, even if I’m not actually interested in the game. It seems something of a common trend now across Nintendo remasters that they have new side-stories, haha!
WR: Xenoblade Chronicles X is so great, I really hope it goes to Switch; my favourite Xenoblade game yet. Oh, also, I am hearing that there is online multiplayer for 3D World, a nice bonus!
AH: 3D World has online multiplayer though? That’s actually dope that. Given how integral multiplayer is into the game, it’d be crazy not to in my opinion; genuinely surprised it wasn’t an option in the Wii U version.
WR: Next up was, well, perhaps inevitable; it’s happened, we have a Battle Royale game for Mario now in the form of Super Mario Bros. 35, which reminds me of Tetris 99 in the layout and idea. In this, you are playing Super Mario Bros. on your screen, with the other 34 players pictured around you, and the relative success of each player can impact the others. It’s out on October 1st, in a digital-only format and only for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers – and strangely is disappearing on March 31st 2021?
AH: It’s such a dumb decision that I really can’t understand. It’s such a cool concept for a game, it makes zero sense for it to be available only for like half a year. Can you honestly work your head around it?
WR: No, not really. Unless they at some time announce that it is extended? There are quite a few odd decisions in this Direct, though! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Mario has a Battle Royale… is any series safe?
AH: Honestly I’d much rather play this Battle Royale than most of the others already out there. At least Super Mario Bros. 35 doesn’t just look like a carbon copy of every other Battle Royale available already (shoutout to Fall Guys, that game is cool as hell too) and is based purely on skill more than anything else. If they’re going to extend it though, why announce a set end date? Maybe after Super Mario Bros. 35 is done with the first Mario game come March, it’ll move onto Super Mario Bros. 2?
WR: We were actually going to talk about Fall Guys before this Direct happened (that’s on the way, though)! Yeah, I am confident it is going to be well-made, even if I doubt I’ll play much of it. The following announcement was probably my least favourite of the Direct – Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, 16th October. It’s essentially Augmented Reality (AR) Mario Kart, where you buy the physical toy karts to drive around through your Switch. So, the camera on the toy picks up the environment and makes that the background, with the arches you place around the room forming the track. This got me excited about making our own tracks, but that’s an idea I’d prefer in the traditional Mario Kart framework… I imagine this is going to be clumsy in terms of driving.
-at this point in the conversation, pre-orders for Super Mario 3D All-Stars went live on the Nintendo Official UK Store and we proceed to frantically get our orders in in time-
AH: AR Mario Kart was your least favourite reveal of the Direct? Damn. Honestly it was my favourite behind only the 35th Anniversary collection. It looks genuinely incredible and whilst it’s obviously marketed towards those who have a larger room to be able to play it in properly, I’m 100% sold on the idea of being able to make my own custom tracks and the like from my house! Wonder if I can make my Axolotl tank a tunnel you have to drive through somehow?
WR: Don’t get me wrong, the concept is awesome, and replicating F1 tracks would be great fun, but the actual gameplay in AR just seems it wouldn’t feel as great as other Mario Kart games. Give me Mario Kart Maker please. Also: Ash, the Game & Watch just went up and is £44.99, thoughts on the price? You going for it?
AH: At £44.99, honestly I think I’ll pass, as cool as the device itself is. It’s a steep investment to be able to play 2 games I already own multiple times over, as do I assume most Nintendo fans.
WR: Similar for me; I don’t particularly collect Game & Watch devices, and I need to stop buying stuff… though there is just so much cool stuff in the world to buy! Ah, such a dilemma. Last on Mario Kart: have you planned a house track yet?
AH: Yeah, I need to stop buying stuff too haha, supposed to be moving out by Christmas and I’ve just ordered that, Tony Hawk comes out tomorrow, then there’s Cyberpunk 2077 and Watch Dogs Legion, and Xbox Series X in November. Jeez. As for a house track, I’m not gonna lie, I started brainstorming one as soon as it was revealed. It’s going to be a bit hard though, because the toys definitely look like something my Greyhound would chase around and try to attack for the hell of it…
WR: The next section went through upcoming Mario-themed events from now to the date of March 2021. There’s a new event on September 9th for Mario Kart Tour on mobile, and lots of tempting Mario merchandise (speaking of buying… ) from plushes to T-shirts. Also, a nostalgic course is being added to Super Mario Maker 2, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is getting a Super Mario series online tourney. Oh wait, not done yet (breathes): January 2021 has a Splatfest for inky third-person shooter Splatoon 2 with teams for Super Mushroom and Super Star (Team Mushroom!), AND there are Mario Splatfest T-shirts and keychains. Animal Crossing is going to get Super Mario furniture. Then they went through other products out there; Super Mario Monopoly, Super Mario LEGO, the Super Mario LEGO NES, Super Mario Kinder Joy. BLIMEY. I did it! Which of those stand out for you?
AH: Honestly, it’s the Animal Crossing crossover, and Monopoly for me realistically in terms of what I’d be able to afford. I’d kill for that LEGO NES, but it’s so damn expensive sadly. Honestly, the rest of the stuff I really couldn’t care about.
WR: I just thought I should at least mention it all in passing. There are some merch items I am possibly going to get – the pink T-shirt design is great! Not enough Captain Toad merchandise though. Then, before the final reveal, they informed us that Super Mario All-Stars is releasing on SNES Online today, which is a nice touch, though perhaps overshadowed by the next announcement…
AH: I never got to play the Wii re-release of Super Mario All-Stars when that got released, so I’m actually looking forward to playing it once I’m finished with this article. Honestly any excuse to play Super Mario Bros. 3 is a great one to me, and with the All-Stars version having graphical upgrades and the like over the already-available NES version, that’s as much of an excuse as I need. I do feel sorry for the placement of this within the Direct though, like you said, it was completely over-shadowed by the next collection announcement…
WR: Let’s get to it then: the not-well-kept secret of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, a combination pack of the following 3D Mario games: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 – oh, wait, no, the last one is inexplicably not there. Um, what? Even so, these three games being available together in HD on 18th September is such an awesome announcement, especially given how Nintendo may have been able to make more money selling them separately (as with 3D World). This seems really pro-consumer – except from Galaxy 2 not being there.
AH: I really can’t understand the absence of Mario Galaxy 2, but either way, I’ve gotten my preorder in ready for it to release in a couple of weeks. Very much looking forward to playing through Sunshine and Galaxy again, although I’m interested to see how both actually play. Whilst Super Mario 64 is more of a traditional platformer, Sunshine relied very much upon the GameCube’s analog triggers to operate the FLUDD, and Mario Galaxy obviously has a decent amount of usage of motion controls. The Joy-Con do have gyroscopes built-in, but they’re not anywhere near as responsive as the Wii Remote was, so I’m hoping it’s possible to play the game in handheld mode, which is my preferred method of playing on my Switch. The lack of analog triggers is a huge omission from a gameplay perspective for Sunshine though, so I hope the game isn’t too affected on Switch as a result and Nintendo have found a way to work around this.
WR: I am hearing that co-op play on Galaxy requires Joy-Cons, so if you have a Switch Lite then that may be tricky. It’s a valid point about the triggers; I wonder if there is any compensation for that… I am slightly concerned about whether I have to play Galaxy on the TV for the controls to feel at their best, as flicking the Joy-Con detached in handheld may be awkward. These are concerns, but to focus on the positives, they’re amazing games being brought to HD; I am especially excited to replay Galaxy and Galaxy 2 – oh, no. Yes, I am being salty, but no, I shall not stop. Galaxy 2 exists! It exists… right?
AH: People play local co-op nowadays? That’s news to me, haha. If it requires motion controls though and you only have a Switch Lite anyway… Y I K E S. Galaxy 2 does still exist though, yeah, and it’s still the best Mario game yet. Give us Mario Galaxy 2 on Switch ASAP Nintendo, you cowards!
WR: Why do you imagine it isn’t there? Could it be future DLC? I am baffled.
AH: My only hope is that it isn’t ready to be released and Nintendo didn’t want to miss the 35th Anniversary by delaying the game, so instead it’ll be released next year, either as DLC or a solo physical release. I’ll buy it either way.
WR: Maybe COVID-19 delayed it somehow? Also, with the resolution for Sunshine and Galaxy being 1080p docked instead of 720p handheld, I guess that is going to push us towards playing docked. Ideally it’d work with the Pro Controller.
AH: I really need to get around to investing in a Pro Controller honestly, I really wish Nintendo would bundle them with the console itself. But yeah, I’m definitely thinking it’s a COVID-19 related delay, we’ve seen a lot already this year and I think we’re still gonna see more yet. I hate to be the guy who complains about resolution but I’ll mostly always take the best looking way to play a game. I mean, I bought a 4K monitor solely to play The Last of Us Part II, haha. I just really, really hope all 3 games run at 60FPS more than anything.
WR: The idea of Galaxy in 1080p HD in 60FPS, official from Nintendo, is so exciting! Of the 3, Sunshine is the one I did not finish on GameCube; I enjoyed it, but for some reason never finished the story. Time to amend that! Is Galaxy your most anticipated of the three?
AH: Galaxy is the one I’m most looking forward to playing through once again, yeah, but I don’t know if I’d call it my most anticipated one. That’d go to Sunshine because it’s the only one of the three I haven’t played before, although I have seen a ton of speed runs of the game, so I’m looking forward to being able to play through it for myself for the first time.
WR: It seems we are in a similar position then. I may not actually play much of 64, it is the other two I am most intrigued to go back to. By the way, the listings for the two separate Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit packs (Mario and Luigi) have appeared… they are £99.99 each. Ouch.
AH: A hundred quid each? Nintendo have to be joking right? I wouldn’t for a second even consider paying that much for them. Basically need to spend £200 to be able to use them, then the £200/£280 cost of a Switch. That actually takes the piss.
WR: I repeat: Ouch. Yeah, especially as a gift for younger gamers, that’s a high price barrier. So is the house track idea, well, off track now?
AH: Well, well, WELL off the track now, yeah. Stuff that, way too expensive. Or, to get a Mario joke in there, it’s so far off the track Lakitu just appeared.
WR: Aha! Nice. As a whole, this Direct was great, but I have gotta say that for me, the lack of Galaxy 2 really stings. If Galaxy 2 was included, then this’d be superb, but it just leaves a gap for me. As a presentation of Mario content, though, there’s lots there for us fans.
AH: It’s a Nintendo Direct where I actually want to play every game that was revealed; that’s crazy to me.
WR: I’d like to play them all, and another game not in the Direct…
AH: Hmm, what’s that other game? The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD? Hey, Nintendo, give us that next year, you cowards.
WR: Oh Ash, that’s a whole other debate, haha! Maybe then people can realise they are wrong when they criticise Skyward Sword. At this point, do you reckon we are going to get a non-specific Nintendo Direct this year? Going by recent evidence, it seems as though they are splitting up the announcements.
AH: Next Let’s Chat: Why Skyward Sword is the best Zelda game. Honestly, given everything that’s happened this year, I’d be surprised if we got a general Nintendo Direct in 2020 at all. I honestly think that’s not going to happen until next year, and you know what? I’m okay with that. If only because it gives me an excuse to skip Directs if I know there’s gonna be nothing that interests me.
WR: Woah, not going that far. It’s not Twilight Princess. I reckon maybe one late on, perhaps December, but I can also see the wait being until 2021. We are probably going to get those Mini ones, which are nice updates; with Super Mario 3D All-Stars, though, Nintendo has a safe seller for 2020. To reiterate: this is out on September 18th! 14 days away! As if it is so close!
AH: Honestly that’s the most surprising thing of all of the Direct to me – just how close it is to release. Is this the closest Nintendo have ever announced a major series game before its release? I’d be willing to bet that it is. Might have to take a couple of weeks off work and use up some holiday hours that I’ve been accumulating.
WR: That there sounds as though it could be an awesome plan! Get that Gusty Garden Galaxy going (woah alliteration). I had to remind myself how close it was, usually when I order Nintendo games there are months (or years) to go.
AH: MATE. Gusty Garden Galaxy’s OST. My God. It’s so good. I’m so glad there’s a music player included for all 3 games in 3D All-Stars, I’m gonna be using that feature so much.
WR: Right? I have used the one in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate so much too. The Galaxy games have such amazing music. We’ve been asking for so long, and we’re getting these games! With this and the recent release of Paper Mario: The Origami King back in July, it’s a great year for Mario. I reckon an Odyssey sequel ain’t far off either…
AH: If it isn’t that far off, please change nothing Nintendo, Odyssey was incredible. But please, for the love of all that’s holy, give us more Kingdoms with less Moons in each this time around.
WR: Were there any announcements – other than you-know-which – particularly missing for you from the Direct, or are you satisfied?
AH: I’ve got one that I know you’ll agree with because we’ve spoken about it before. Mario Strikers HD when Nintendo? I’m begging you.
WR: Oh, that’s such a great pick, why that series has been gone for so long… one day, right? Also, can I just say how much Nintendo has power over us with the use of one word: limited. The frantic pre-ordering because of how the stock is restricted for the physical edition of Super Mario 3D All-Stars is ridiculous, and yes I am aware we fell for it too.
AH: I was always going to be a day one buyer of the game, so was always going to pre-order anyway. But for Nintendo to make it purposely limited, even the digital version? It’s absolutely disgusting from Nintendo, and there’s no reason for it. If it were a small, unproven test game that was a limited retail release and left up digitally forever then I’d understand it. However, Mario games are pretty much always in the UK charts in a decent position, no matter how long it’s been since they released. I mean, look at Mario Kart DS/Wii, those were always number 1 on their respective console sales tables, and also held decent positions in the general sales chart. I’d imagine the same happens elsewhere, but I’m not gonna say for certain as I’ve never seen enough data from other regions to back that up. I’m seeing a good amount of people saying the same on social media, but imagine if like Activision or someone pulled this, and not Nintendo. There’d be WAY more uproar than there currently is. Nintendo absolutely need to be called out on this practice.
WR: It’s probably going to end up near Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Mario Odyssey on the best-selling games list. I get the criticism, and Nintendo has done this strategy before. It creates demand, but isn’t the most consumer-friendly way to go about it and actually causes stress from trying to make sure you successfully get your order through. Fear of Missing Out right? The digital restriction is an extra step they’ve taken here that really isn’t necessary or justified.
AH: Six months is a really short time for it to be available, too. I understand why games with licensed soundtracks, etc. get pulled from stores after a while, but even those are up for a decent amount of time before being pulled!
WR: Still, we’re gonna buy and play this game, but bear in mind how we do recognise the issues around the methods of distribution Nintendo is using. As for Mario Kart, I guess we’re gonna have to go to Japan and try those ones you can drive on the road?
AH: Honestly, dream holiday that. I’ve not been go-karting since I was like 10 on holiday in Scarborough, so to do it in actual real life Mario Karts on the road in Japan? Sign me up for that, no questions asked.
WR: That seems a positive, hopeful note to end on. Unless you have any other particular thoughts, we’ll wrap it up there. I was not expecting this drop of news today!
AH: Other than repeating that I want Mario Strikers HD, I’ve nothing more to say. I think we’ve covered everything now.
WR: Then my last note shall be: this was a day of more Captain Toad. Rejoice! See ya, Ash!
AH: In a bit!
There you have it: our reaction to the Direct. You can let us know your thoughts below; do you have any concerns about the way Nintendo is handling these releases? Are you excited to play these updated games? Also, for more from Ashley and I you can go through our other Let’s Chat articles here, including a review of Super Mario Odyssey! Until next time!