After a wait that felt like years (and was genuinely over 12 months!), Nintendo announced that on 17th February we would be getting a full Nintendo Direct; not a Partner Showcase or franchise-specific Direct, as filled the news gaps of 2020 amidst COVID-19 disruptions – no, a comprehensive, 50-minute Nintendo Direct! Hopefully this is just one sign of how 2021 is going to return us to the routines we were so used to before the world was turned upside-down. The presentation itself was packed with reveals and updates, so Ashley Harrison and I are here to unpack it all and offer our opinions on how the Nintendo release schedule is shaping up for the year! So, what are we waiting for? Let’s go!
WR: Hi Ash! So, after what has felt like a long, long time, Nintendo has finally put out a full Nintendo Direct. With the knowledge it would be 50 minutes long, we had a lot of reason to be excited – I mean, prior to this we knew barely anything about their release schedule for the year. Therefore, there was inevitably a lot of excitement around this showing, as people started to predict news for games such as the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Personally, I tried to go in with an open mind and reasonable expectations (though, of course secretly hoping for reveals such as Metroid Prime 4). How was your mindset going in?
AH: Yo Will, hope all is good. It seems so long since we’ve done one of these on a full, ‘proper’ Nintendo Direct. According to the news, it’s been about 18 months since the last Direct in this format (rather than a Mini) but with everything that’s happened in the world since then, it seems like it’s been a lot longer than that – albeit for legitimate reasons. As for expectations, I’m a simple man. We’ve mentioned them both multiple times in previous Let’s Chats; my only hopes were for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD and a new Mario Strikers game. Anything else which was of interest to me was simply a bonus in my view.
WR: Yeah, as with Spyro (success!) and Tommy DLC for The Last of Us Part II (we’re waiting), Skyward Sword HD and Mario Strikers are two games we are attempting to will into existence. In the case of this Direct, we did get one of those, and we were oh-so-close to another… As per, before we go through the announcements, how was your overall impression of the Direct? It was quite a long one, so pacing was paramount.
AH: Honestly, there wasn’t too much stuff that actually interested me, so it did kind of drag in my subjective view; but, as an objective view, I would say that the pacing was perfect for what was needed. The only complaint I’d have is that the initial opening scene with Pyra took too long for simply being a Super Smash Bros. reveal, I’d have just opened on the Smash logo and then shown Pyra/Mythra kicking ass. Open strong and fast, really set the tone for the rest of the Direct. In terms of an actual impression of the Direct, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of my favourites purely for a certain announcement we’re definitely gonna spend a while talking about later.
WR: Agreed on a lot of that. In the middle there was a lot of announcements that, if you aren’t into the genre – in particular, the ridiculous amount of exciting JRPGs – then the Direct could get tiring as you wait for the closing crescendo. There was plenty of filler and I do not mean that as a criticism; Nintendo needed to show us a range of games coming to Switch in the first half of 2021, because we previously knew almost nothing. So, y’know, sure, a reveal of DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power is not for everyone (aha!), but there is an audience out there for it. This Direct needed to show us a plentiful release schedule for Switch, and as you say, that is what it did, even if I wasn’t always into every game shown. Also, any Direct that ticks off one of our constant game requests is a good one in my book! You mentioned Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, so let’s start there. Pretty much immediately, I called the opening as a Smash reveal, as I don’t think there is going to be any more DLC for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and from the 2017 release of that game there have been requests for Pyra and/or Rex to join Shulk as Xenoblade Chronicles representatives in Smash. The reveal itself, as you say, was a bit drawn out… Even so, it was full of references for fans of the games, and the utilisation of the Pyra/Mythra duality essentially acts as two characters in one! They seem to be fast and nimble (which suits my playstyle), whilst hitting hard with fire and light attacks – I am excited to test them out! Gotta say, though, showing off the Pyra/Mythra split is a significant mid-game spoiler… So, I hope everyone who planned to play Xenoblade Chronicles 2 already did so!
AH: I had a feeling it was probably a Smash reveal also, mostly for the same reasons as you. We’ve already had a decently sizeable piece of DLC, Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna: The Golden Country (it even got its own physical release!), so it’d be a bit weird to have another announcement this long when the story has already been told. I don’t follow Smash all that much, as I’ve made my dislike for aspects of the game perfectly clear in previous Let’s Chats; so, I’ve not seen the requests for her, although I have seen people pleased that (even though it’s sorta another sword user) it’s not another Fire Emblem character!
WR: Yeah, it did feel as though they should have arrived earlier, closer to the 2017 launch of the base game – this is literally more than three years after that… Still, better late than never! There are only 2 characters left for this Pass now, following on from Min-Min, Steve, Sepiroth, and now Pyra. I wonder if the final two are gonna be blockbuster surprises closer to, say, Joker and Banjo-Kazooie in the first Fighters Pass? Furthermore, do you think this Pass will be the end of the DLC characters?
AH: Personally, I don’t see why it would be. There’s still a huge player base for Smash, and it seems like Nintendo’s next console and/or Smash game is still far away – I don’t see why they wouldn’t keep milking it if people are still willing to buy DLC characters. I’m fully expecting Crash Bandicoot as one of the final two DLC characters for this pass, and I would LOVE to see Neku from The World Ends With You to coincide with the upcoming release of NEO: The World Ends With You.
WR: They might not be my own preferred choice, but I can see Crash Bandicoot appearing; that would additionally satisfy the role of a sort-of-PlayStation character. I guess that as long as the Switch keeps selling, yeah, why would they stop bringing more characters to Ultimate? However, the eleventh character – sixth in this Pass – does have a feeling of finality. I guess we shall see! After this, General Manager of EPD at Nintendo Shinya Takahashi brought us smoothly into the quickfire nature of the Direct. For starters, there was some quite significant third-party announcements, with Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout and Outer Wilds both getting Switch versions this Summer. The former is a chaotic game we both know well, whilst the latter is a game I hear a lot of praise for.
AH: It’s a shame that Fall Guys is basically a dead game now, because otherwise I’d be hyped for that coming to the Switch (and also Xbox, announced after the Direct). I didn’t play any of the latest season, so I’ve missed out on all of the new mini-games. We need to go back and retrospectively add the new games to our rankings haha! Also, I get confused between The Outer Worlds and Outer Wilds because of how similar they sound, and how similar their logos look. Outer Wilds is the Majora’s Mask-esque mechanic one right? Where you’ve got a set amount of time and then it all resets? It’s a great premise, and I do mean to get around to playing it on Xbox Series X at some point.
WR: Yeah I have completely dropped off of Fall Guys now – I enjoyed my time with it, but am now focused on other games. Though, it is fun to imagine the Nintendo-specific outfits they could include, from franchises such as Mario, Kirby, and Metroid. Indeed, the Outer Wilds/Worlds names are so similar that I, too, have often gotten them mixed up; Wilds is the 22-minutes, No Man’s Sky-style-perspective exploration one you repeat and play in different ways. Now that it is going to be on Switch, maybe it is finally time to see why there is such hype around it. Fast-paced reveals such as these continued throughout the Direct; next up was a pair of Famicom Detective Club visual novel games, The Missing Heir and The Girl Who Stands Behind on May 14th, and the reveal of ANOTHER Koei Tecmo Warriors game, Samurai Warriors 5 (another Summer release). Other than the Hyrule Warriors series, I have gotta say these fly over my head. There are just so many!
AH: Before now I had not heard of that pair of Famicom Detective Club games, given their Japan-only Famicom Disc System release before I was even born – but I’m absolutely sold on them right away; I’m a huge fan of murder-mystery novel games, so they’re right up my street. The set of two games is £49.99 on the eShop right now, so I might wait a bit until the price comes down first, but I’ve just wishlisted it to remind me. One the Warriors series, I’m with you, Hyrule Warriors is the only one I’ve played, and whilst I enjoyed it, it didn’t make me want to rush out and buy any of the others – I should probably get around to playing Age of Calamity at some point too…
WR: Same, I still need to finish Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, it is high on the to-do list! Yeah, those visual novels do look to be well-crafted adventures; that price is indeed steep, if I buy them I would similarly wait for a discount. Following this was the first of the many, many JRPGs that were talked about: the reveal of a newly-remastered version of Legend of Mana. This is a situation where I am confident it is going to be a proficient update, but with so many JRPGs being showcased (and it being a time-consuming genre), I find myself prioritising which I commit to, and Legend of Mana is one that may fall by the wayside. Still, I appreciate that Square Enix are paying such caring attention to their back catalogue.
AH: There were SO may JRPGs either announced or shown off further at this Direct, and I appreciate every single one of them. Legend of Mana‘s predecessor, Secret of Mana, is another I’m going to have to play before going through Legend of Mana. There’s just so many quality JRPGs available on Switch now that it’s almost impossible to keep up with and play them all! It’s another I’ll get around to playing at some point, but am not in a rush for.
WR: Nintendo Switch is an incredible platform for JRPGs right now. One of my takeaways from the overall Direct was the sheer quality and quantity of games from the genre both already on Switch and on the way; if you are a JRPG fan, you might never run out of games to play! Before we get to the rest of those, though, first is Monster Hunter Rise, which predictably got decent air time as a Switch exclusive releasing on March 26th. We got a better look at some of the new monsters and how they connect to the story – which, shock, is a village being threatened by monsters. Nevertheless, seeing more of the gameplay was welcome, and the idea of defending a settlement from an onslaught of monsters is a fun one. I am actually not sure how much experience you have with Monster Hunter?
AH: On 3DS I played a tiny bit of 4 Ultimate, but it just wasn’t my kind of game honestly, so I’m going to give Rise a miss. In my opinion, it just takes too long to kill monsters, and I’ve not got that amount of time to invest into a single game.
WR: It’s definitely not for everyone. My main playtime was in 3 and 3 Ultimate on Wii/Wii U, and I rarely had friends on the same console to play with. So, the main reason I would get Rise is if I had a group to play with this time, and I am not sure whether that is going to be the case, going by the general reaction to the trailers from my friends. Therefore, am in a similar boat to you; it seems fun, but I don’t have the level of excitement/time to put into it. I will say that those new Joy-Cons and Pro Controller are nice! Though, y’know, I preferred another Joy-Con design that was announced later…
AH: I’m so surprised we haven’t seen more Special Edition variations for the Switch and its accessories. It seems like the 3DS got a new model variant with every game release, but I don’t think there’s that many variants of the Switch, is there?
WR: Yeah, it’s a bit confusing why they don’t do more. There are lots of different colour match-ups for Joy-Cons, but relatively few custom designs with bespoke artwork. Only a handful of Pro Controller designs have been released, too, and the new designs that do launch tend to sell out very quickly… I am glad I got myself an Xenoblade Chronicles 2 one. The Pro Controller is my favourite way to play on Switch, and has also been useful with drift creeping in on my Joy-Cons… I really should send them in to be fixed. OK, so the next game… Well… It was so close, wasn’t it? We so nearly ticked off another box on the Let’s Chat Bingo card…
AH: In my case, I’ve now repaired Joy-Con drift on 3 different sets of Joy-Cons; if you can’t be bothered waiting for the Nintendo turn-around time, it’s super easy to do yourself. Oh man, do we have to talk about the next game? It was so damn close, but unfortunately no cigar.
WR: Oh, really? I may have to ask you more about that after we finish this Let’s Chat, then! Yeah… It was a Mario sports game, but not the one we were after. Sure, Mario Golf has a following of players that are probably excited for the reveal of the latest entry, Mario Golf: Super Rush, and it seems to have some thought put into it with new competitive mechanics in between stages breaking up the gameplay. But… It isn’t Mario Strikers, is it?
AH: Yeah, it’s the wrong Mario sports game, and I’ve just got no interest in it. I genuinely can’t think of any game I’d rather play less than a golf game to be honest with you.
WR: Switch has a Kart, a Tennis, a Golf… C’mon, Nintendo. We’re waiting for Strikers, and you even acquired developers Next Level Games… But I guess one tick off the bingo card is enough for each Let’s Chat!
AH: I guess it’d be too greedy to ask for two ticks on the bingo, especially given the one that we did get. But come on, Nintendo, you’ve given us basically every sport except the best one on Switch!
WR: The next group of announcements was Tales from the Borderlands (March 24th), Capcom Arcade Stadium (Out Now!), and, er, Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse (March 16th). Of these, I am going to shine a spotlight on the former, a hilarious Telltale Games adventure from 2014 that I highly recommend (I’m actually surprised it took this long to arrive on Switch!). I have little investment in the other two. In a similar vein to Square Enix renewing their JRPGs, it is fun to see Capcom playing with their back library, but for Stubbs the Zombie, I feel as though I am missing a joke or something? It looked… bad. Those graphics were very dated.
AH: It’s a remake of the 2005 Xbox version, and I’m with you, the graphics still look like they’re straight out of 2005. That game did not look good whatsoever. I’m sure it’ll have its niche market, but I’m definitely not a part of that. As for Tales from the Borderlands, it’s a case of having played too many Telltale Games already honestly, and their core engine doesn’t really lend itself to playing multiple of their games. Although, more Troy Baker in any game is a great thing haha!
WR: Not just Troy Baker; you got Laura Bailey in there too! It really is fantastic, and one of the few games that is genuinely funny, so if you get time I would suggest trying it. Speaking of humour, No More Heroes 3 is another one with its own unique sense of it. This may be quite a significant exclusive for Switch, as it has a committed cult following who I imagine are marking that August 27th date down in their diary. The close-quarters action seems frenetic and the intermittent tasks remain bizarre, back to the fare of the first two games!
AH: No fanbase seems as willing to do virtual chores as Nintendo’s. What with Animal Crossing being basically all chores, and now the chores in No More Heroes 3, it’s crazy! Although, at the same time, that trailer really didn’t sell me on the game for that same reason – it didn’t show anywhere near enough of the action for my liking.
WR: Hahaha, good point! I still remember pitching my Dad on why I needed Animal Crossing: Wild World on DS so I could have the fun of paying off my mortgage, and his bewildered response… Yeah, you’re right, it was more No More Heroes without appearing particularly innovative, which might lead to a struggle attracting new players. That’s in contrast to the game that followed it, Neon White, which appears to be a fusion of the card-based combat of, say, Slay the Spire, and the fast-paced parkour of, for example, Mirror’s Edge. It’s a fun idea that, if (if!) pulled off well, could be awesome… We’ll find out when it releases in Winter this year!
AH: Neon White looks great, but for my personal tastes it just seems like it’s got so much stuff going on at once that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate properly to progress through. Give me something slow instead of this fast-paced stuff, I’m too old for that haha. I have no idea what Slay the Spire is, though, so I was looking at it as a combination of Mirror’s Edge and SteamWorld Quest. It’s another one of those “I’m sure this’ll review well, but it’s just not my cup of tea” kinds of games, I think.
WR: Card games traditionally and inherently suit a slower pace, so I am intrigued to see how this opposite approach works out. Could well be a mess, but let’s see! Slay the Spire is a card-game roguelike that is easy to sink tens of hours into, aha; if you like card games then I recommend it. Your SteamWorld Quest comparison works too, though. Right, which was next -checks notes- ah, the next game is perhaps the most exciting reveal of all, a clear Game of the Year frontrunner: DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power (June 4th)! I am, of course, joking. This part of the Direct is very much focused on younger audiences, as it then led into Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville Complete Edition (whew, that is a name) and Miitopia.
AH: The first two I can brush over because let’s face it, we’re definitely not the target demographic for it, but Miitopia for Switch is definitely a reveal I was very surprised at. I don’t really remember it being particularly “viral” on the 3DS (as opposed to stuff like Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Mario Kart 7, etc. which still have people playing online to this day), so the fact that it’s being remade for the Switch is insane to me.
WR: That was a game that had a brief moment of intense social media presence, but quickly fell away from that popularity into the background. Yet, it did get a stage in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate themed around it! As with Monster Hunter, if a bunch of friends got into it I could envisage being fun to mess around in, but there does not seem to be the same level of deep experience that, for comparison, an Animal Crossing offers. Miitopia also reminds me of the 3DS StreetPass days – it was always sad to me that those features were lost as Switch took over the handheld focus. Talking of Animal Crossing, the Direct announced new content for it in the form of Mario 35th Anniversary items that are coming soon. As the resident Animal Crossing expert, did you like this reveal?
AH: I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself an expert haha, I’ve only invested hundreds of hours into the games… Shit, I’m not helping my case, am I? We knew from a previous Animal Crossing update video that Mario items were coming (honestly I expected a return of general Nintendo items, with the fortune cookies making a comeback) so it’s not a “huge” reveal. However, the fact that you can now have two Warp Pipes to warp you to different points of your island? Game changer, man. I’m very much interested to see how other people incorporate them into their islands and stea- I mean, draw inspiration from their ideas.
WR: Haha, don’t deny it, you’re an Animal Crossing expert. I’ve seen those impressive spreadsheets of yours, y’know! Yeah, it appears to be an expansion on the Nintendo items you usually get in Animal Crossing. Warp pipes are a creative new way to travel around, though just imagine the sorts of complicated islands people could make if there was not a limit of 2? That would potentially be the start of some sort of Animal Crossing technological revolution, aha!
AH: Maybe in a future update we’ll get the capability to have more than one set of warp pipes. I’m now imagining an Among Us inspired island if we were to get multiple pipes… That’d be a pretty great island idea if you ask me!
WR: Oooh, that sounds like utter and brilliant chaos. Another game that should be to your tastes is Project Triangle Strategy, the successor to Octopath Traveler that shares the stunning HD-2D art style, JRPG stylings, and ridiculous name. The main thing this did is remind me to get back to Octopath Traveler, cos wow, the art direction of these games is amazing.
AH: Between the terraforming ability and the warp pipes, there’s some crazy ideas possible… Project Triangle Strategy though, sign me right up for that! Octopath Traveler is one of my favourite games on the Switch, regardless of genre, so I’m absolutely up for a sequel ASAP. I really, really hope that Triangle Strategy doesn’t end up being the final name, although with Square Enix, you really can’t tell. That company has the stupidest game naming conventions I’ve ever seen.
WR: Don’t hold your breath for a name overhaul… I guess the Square Enix naming conventions are, um, charming? Let’s say that. Going by Octopath Traveler, I expect the final name upon the 2022 release to be Triangle Strategy. For the publisher of the NieR series, this is actually one of their more reasonable names haha! You played quite a bit of Octopath, so which of the new changes and features for Triangle Strategy stood out? This game, despite familiar art direction, is quite different in several ways – take the story, which revolves around Norzelia, a continent containing three nations fighting over limited resources. It is a set-up with plenty of potential for engaging storylines as your party of four attempts to save the Kingdom.
AH: The whole battle system is completely new compared to Octopath Traveler, given the genre change. Whereas Octopath Traveler was your standard turn-based JRPG, this is instead a tactical action RPG, with a battle system more similar to Advance Wars than Octopath. It seems like whilst it’s obviously built on the same engine as Octopath Traveler and will likely contain numerous references to it, this is a completely different game rather than just a straight sequel. I’m quite looking forward to the different elevations of terrain in battle and seeing how they affect the game; the option to have, say, an Archer on the top layer of terrain and a Swordsman on the middle/bottom layer of terrain, but both attacking the same enemy, seems like it’s going to produce some very interesting battles. I’m especially excited to see how it’s worked into the boss battles which are, let’s be honest, always the best part of an RPG.
WR: I like that they’re not just repeating all the same systems, they’re instead pushing it in multiple areas to keep it fresh. At least the 2022 release date gives me a lot of time to finish the first game, too! Are you going to play the demo?
AH: Yes, last night I downloaded the demo when it went live, and I left my Switch in Sleep Mode to download it, but apparently my Switch died so it’s on charge right now. I’ll play the demo once I have battery life haha!
WR: Right, so the next few are a mixed bunch: STAR WARS: Hunters didn’t reveal much other than it is a competitive free-to-play online game of some sort launching in 2021, and I get the feeling it won’t be a game that tailors to either of us. Then was a game that is branded so much like Fortnite that I am surprised it is getting away with it, Knockout City (coming May 21st). It seems to be a sort of dodgeball battle royale with a perspective that reminded me of Spellbreak. Seriously, though, the similarity to Fortnite is ridiculous. It’s as though they weren’t even attempting to hide the inspiration/copying (take your pick).
AH: Wait… You’re genuinely telling me that wasn’t a Fortnite expansion and was instead a completely new game?
WR: Yep. I really thought it was Fortnite until they showed gameplay. The use of yellow/purple graphics along with that cartoonish art style was so close to Fortnite.
AH: Well, that’s a lawsuit waiting to happen for sure.
WR: Did World’s End Club, the anime-esque side-scrolling adventure do anything for you?
AH: Yes, holy shit yes it does. Anything Spike Chunsoft develops, I’m instantly interested in. I would make a case of the Danganronpa series being some of the greatest video games of all time, and the Zero Escape series is (mostly) incredible too. They also made the greatest wrestling game series of all time (the Fire Pro series) so hearing that it was Spike Chunsoft sold me on World’s End Club right away. Even though it’s a while away (May 28th), I’m hyped for whenever we next get news on it.
WR: The visuals reminded me a lot of the sorts of games you just mentioned, so I had a feeling it would be to your liking! As you say, we don’t know that much about it yet, but it definitely has that stylish anime vibe to it. Next up was an announcement of a physical release for Hades, which means I am inevitably gonna be buying it a second time! Maybe this is the motivation you needed to finally dive in? It’s an incredible game, and the bonus of an art book is sweet too. I’m actually surprised the special edition is not more extravagant and expensive, as I think there was an audience out there who would have paid extra for more goodies going by the goodwill it has.
AH: I’m fairly sure I’ve mentioned this to you before, but I’m an absolute sucker for an art book. Thus far, I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of them, and I don’t see myself ever stopping to be honest with you. So, couple that with the fact I’ve heard so much good stuff about Hades but still haven’t gotten around to playing it, and it’s almost a guarantee I’m definitely gonna pick this one up.
WR: Yes Ash! I am really eager to hear your thoughts on Hades, I hope you do pick it up and enjoy it. We’re getting close to the ending announcements, but first a few others to clear up. Another Koei Tecmo release, NINJA GAIDEN: Master Collection, does what it says on the tin, bringing back three classic NINJA GAIDEN games to Switch to bolster the retro library even further on June 10th. As with lots of these collections, I appreciate them but just struggle to find the time to accommodate them into my gaming with so much else out there. That then led into the announcement of an Expansion Pass for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which adds characters, costumes, and challenges in two separate waves. It costs £19.99 and the waves hit in June and November with access to purchase bonuses on May 28th. This was another reminder that I have not finished the game yet… I need to get on that!
AH: For me, the Expansion Pass is definitely going to need something special to justify its price point. In my opinion, £19.99 is a lot of money for what was shown off, especially when you have much more substantial DLC (and also full games!) releasing for the same price or less elsewhere. Although, if Ghirahim from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is playable like he is in the first Hyrule Warriors game (even if it makes no sense whatsoever), I might be swayed.
WR: With the Tecmo Koei Warriors games, I think the nonsensical character inclusions are fine; that sort of fanservice and references are part of the appeal, right? Now let’s see which is next… Oh, ANOTHER JRPG, Bravely Default II! Bizarrely, the Direct announced that the trailer would be available to view somewhere else, but still – with the February 26th release soon approaching, it seems to be shaping up well, building on the systems that were received so well in the original. To me, the game appeared to be much more polished in this Direct. The overworld and character models are nicely defined, with a palpable sense of depth. Ash, how are you going to fit in playing all of these JRPGs, haha?
AH: I… don’t have a clue. This is definitely going to be a case of prioritizing which I want to play first and working around that, potentially forgetting some, but Bravely Default II (it’s the third Bravely game dammit, Square!) is definitely going to be first in line. For Bravely Second, I was lucky enough to get a review code back when I actually used to write, and even despite having zero knowledge of its predecessor, it instantly drew me in. It seems a little redundant to say “it’s the closest thing to a turn-based Final Fantasy we were going to get on 3DS” but honestly that was my way of thinking, and it thoroughly lived up to those expectations. Bravely Default II looks to me more of the same, and despite the fact it’s released in just a couple of days, we still really don’t know all too much about it. However, the old adage goes “don’t fix what’s not broken”, and the Bravely series definitely isn’t broken, so I’m completely fine with just having more of the same. Bring on the 26th if you ask me!
WR: With so many exciting JRPGs launching, I’m actually sort of sad that I know I’m not going to find the time to play all of them… This section of the Direct was very Ash-friendly, eh? In our last Let’s Chat you also brought up Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Resurrection, and that was shown just after Bravely Default II in the Direct. Right, so when does that release… Oh, February 25th, so y’know, you get one whole day to play it before Bravely Default II is out, aha!
AH: It’s weird having a decent section of games that appeal to me in a Direct, usually there’s just one or two and I’m not really interested in the rest, but this one had a whole chunk of games! Though you bring up a good point there, Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Resurrection is out only a single day before Bravely Default II, so I guess I’m going to be switching between those in the time after release. See if I can do what Troy Baker & Nolan North couldn’t, and finish Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Resurrection haha!
WR: You’re gonna be BUSY! Oh, and then, if you’re somehow lacking in split-path, Square Enix JRPGs, there is also SaGa Frontier: Remastered. Eight paths sounds familiar, huh? That is April 15th… Square Enix, blimey, how many JRPGs do ya wanna release? It is actually genuinely ridiculous.
AH: There’s just way too many haha. SaGa Frontier is definitely one that’s going to be skipped as a result, sadly.
WR: Also, the final quickfire bit of news was in relation to Apex Legends coming to Switch. This is a game I have played a lot on other platforms, and whilst it is great to see it on Switch too (EA finally showing support!), I doubt it is going to run as well as on PS4/Series S, so I doubt I shall play on Switch. If you are searching for a battle royale though, and Switch is your only platform, then this is a fantastic one. The fluid traversal and fresh ideas (e.g. bringing respawns into battle royale) make it perhaps my favourite battle royale out there. OK, now that is covered, we’re finally here. The reveal we have been building to, and waiting for…
AH: This was very much a YEAH BOIIIIIIIIIII moment.
WR: So, The Legend of Zelda Producer Eiji Aonuma appears, and immediately gets onto the topic of the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. In a moment I found to be quite amusing, Aonuma-san essentially announces that there is nothing to announce! Incredible. It was revealed, though, that there is “More information planned for later this year” – and with that, I am quite confident that the game is not going to release this year.
AH: Yeah, unfortunately it seems like we’re not going to get a brand new The Legend of Zelda game for the series’ 35th Anniversary, even though I’m assuming that it was very much planned to (side note: hey, look at that, on the day we’re writing this it’s actually the 35th Anniversary!). In my opinion, however, we’re getting something much better instead for the 35th Anniversary, and boom, it’s one to tick off the Let’s Chat Bingo card!
WR: See, some of the games we constantly ask for in Let’s Chat actually happen! As with how The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD acted as effective ways for fans to fill their time in the wait for Breath of the Wild, Skyward Sword is getting a HD remaster on July 16th this year as we wait for the next new mainline game! It happened, after years of us hoping for it; and wow, does it look pretty.
AH: Oh my God, doesn’t it look gorgeous or what? It almost feels like I’m doing the original Wii version a disservice by saying that, because considering the Wii wasn’t that powerful of a console, it also looked incredible on there – but seeing Skyloft in full HD, with crisper, cleaner textures is just insane to me. On multiple occasions I have gone on record as saying Skyward Sword is the best Zelda game of all time, having the best world design, dungeon design, and character designs, so this is absolutely a Day One buy for me. Plus, do you know what this means, Will? GROOSE. IN. H F’N D! [After finishing writing the Let’s Chat, Ash realised he forgot to mention the iconic and adorable Kikwi of Skyward Sword. At his request, the following text has been added: “Just write some shit about the Kikwi in HD that sounds like me”].
WR: Skyward Sword is not my favourite The Legend of Zelda game (that is Twilight Princess), but it is a phenomenal entry into the franchise that is severely underrated. Oh, I am so pumped to play it again in HD, nearly a decade after the launch of the Wii version in November 2011. That artistic, impressionist direction is so vivid and striking in HD, without the blurred edges compromising it, and the draw distance could be refined too. It really does look stunning from the footage shown in the Direct – they have evidently spent considerable time and effort to optimise the game for Switch. Another example of that is the approach to the 1:1 motion controls so intrinsic to Skyward Sword: you can either play with motion controls as in the original game (through the Joy-Cons) or without them (by instead angling the second analogue stick when deliberate direction is required). This choice is welcome and should hopefully satisfy all parties. Do you think you will play with motion controls or without?
AH: Normally I play my Switch handheld, purely because my set-up doesn’t allow for another HDMI connection, however I think I’m definitely going to have to unplug my PlayStation 4 and play Skyward Sword HD on my monitor using motion controls. I was one of the very few that didn’t have a problem with the motion controls in the original Wii release, so honestly I was always likely to just stick with them. Having the stick controls for Handheld mode and Switch Lite users is a great idea though, hopefully it’ll make people release Skyward Sword is so much better than people gave it credit for nearly 10 years ago.
WR: Yep, I agree, I thought the motion was implemented really well, with the only issues being an occasional recalibration of the Wii Remote – which was very quick to do, too. I may play in both configurations, and then decide which is working best for me, but I expect myself to stay with the motion controls. Hopefully new and returning players enjoy Skyward Sword and there is a lot of conversation about why it is a magnificent experience, from the powerful story to the ingenious dungeon design. July 16th is really not that far away, either! Those Skyward Sword Joy-Cons, too, are beautiful. Definitely getting those as my second ever pair!
AH: I better be able to get a pair of those, without scalpers getting there before me. Same as you, I only own one pair (well, technically two as I have two Switches), so this’ll definitely be my main set from July 16th onwards. I’m genuinely surprised at the lack of a “Special Edition” bundle with both the game and pair of Joy-Cons, I thought that’d be a given when the Joy-Cons were shown, but nope, apparently not. If you see pre-orders anywhere, please do let me know!
WR: Where is the Groose Edition Switch?
AH: Come on, Nintendo, don’t be wimps! GIVE US GROOSE! A random thought I’ve just had though, I genuinely don’t think I could play handheld honestly. With the sword controls being tied to the right analogue stick, but with camera controls in basically all modern games also being tied to the right stick, I’d probably end up trying to move the camera only to do sword slashes too many times.
WR: Hmm, perhaps the jury is out on how well the non-motion route will work in practice. I feel as though we are both going to default to the original motion avenue. Seriously, though, I am so excited just to see that world in HD. It looks SO good.
AH: Genuinely, July 16th cannot come soon enough. I’m so ready to throw all of my money at Nintendo.
WR: I would totally have spent the extra for a Special Edition, aha! Maybe a Gold Switch and/or controllers, similar to the Gold Wiimote they released for the Wii edition, would have been neat… Ah, well. Anything else to add on Skyward Sword HD for now? Other than, y’know, play it.
AH: Even the standard Wii version came with a 25th Anniversary Special Orchestra CD as far as I know (I own the special edition which came with said Wiimote), so I’m really surprised there isn’t something extra for this release too. A Special Edition including the game, Joy-Cons, and an art book? I’d be all over that even more than I already am with just the game and Joy-Cons.
WR: Yeah, it did! I actually went to that concert, which included a cameo from Zelda Williams! So cool. Right, so that was not quite the last reveal of this Direct; instead, the closing reveal was a trailer for Splatoon 3! I wondered when this would show up, with post-game content for Splatoon 2 drying up and the team clearly working away on something else. The third entry in the series seems to have a post-apocalyptic, dusty, almost Fallout-esque atmosphere to immediately differentiate it from the previous two games. I am sure that it is going to be very successful, especially in Japan, where the series is even more popular than it is in the West. This being their final reveal shows, to me, the confidence they have in the series.
AH: I’m genuinely so jealous! When those concerts happened, I would’ve been, what, 14 I think, and living halfway up the country from London; I simply just couldn’t afford to go. Honestly, I’ve never been sold on Splatoon, even after playing it it’s really just not my game. Like you say though, for that to close instead of Zelda is crazy to me, they must have serious faith in it.
WR: Back in the Wii U days I played a bit of the first game, but I never got the sequel on Switch. I really admire it for finding a non-violent, creative, and distinctly fresh take on the third-person shooter, but it just doesn’t hold my attention – also, the cartoon art style is not quite to my tastes. As with other service-style games such as Destiny and Overwatch, I wonder how they are going to justify the need for a new game instead of an update to the previous game – whilst there was a new tone, the gameplay appeared to be not that far removed from before. There is, admittedly, plenty of time to show more, with a provisional 2022 date. With that, we arrive at the end of the Direct! Overall thoughts? As we said at the start, it was packed full of games that covered a lot of bases.
AH: With how JRPG heavy it was, as well as the Skyward Sword HD reveal, it is definitely one of my favourite Directs. Honestly though, more than anything, it was just nice to have a proper Direct back. If we’re ranking it on a scale of 1-10, I’d probably score it an 8; plenty of stuff that interested me, but a few pacing issues at the beginning of the Direct for my liking. Also STILL no new Mario Strikers game, so it drops another point for that.
WR: I’d say a 7.5 for me. The majority of it wasn’t spectacular in terms of game reveals, but there was a lot in there to fill out the previously-sparse release schedule, and we got some nice reveals at the start and end with Smash, Zelda, & Splatoon. Furthermore, if you’re into JRPGs, then wow, Switch is the console for you. I am glad that Directs seem to be “back”. You think they’ll be more frequent again now, with the world (hopefully) on the way out of the COVID-19 situation?
AH: Yeah, hopefully. The absence over the past year can definitely be forgiven, but I do think that now we’ll soon be back into the swing of regular Nintendo Directs again. Although, saying that, I’m expecting something for the Pokémon 25th Anniversary (so many Anniversaries!) on the 27th of this month. Following that, I’m not really expecting another until E3 time, which I’m sure Nintendo would’ve done either way.
WR: True, it would not be surprising if we soon heard of a Pokémon Direct for this month. Then, around June, perhaps a Direct where we discover more details on games such as the sequel to Breath of the Wild and maybe even Metroid? Please? Until that time though, I think this did a good job at filling the release slate to keep Switch owners more than busy! Especially you, going by this discussion…
AH: Gotta announce those Generation 4 remakes somewhere, and when better than on the actual 25th Anniversary? Metroid is also 25 this year, so I definitely expect to see something from Prime 4 before the end of the year, and maybe even a HD release of Metroid Prime Trilogy to tide us over? It was an almost perfect Direct for me, just needed Mario Strikers. Come on, Nintendo!
WR: I don’t even need to ask whether you agree that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD was the best reveal – so I won’t, aha! As well as that, I was also going to ask whether you were set for the rest of the first half of this year, but again, yeah, I think we know that answer… Your problem is going to be fitting them all in! In which case, we’ll end it here. This 50 minute Direct was a really packed one, and I am excited for future announcements. Only 5 months until Skyward Sword HD, get hyped!
AH: So many games to play, so little time to play them. Future Directs really are going to have a lot to do to live up to this one. But yeah, it’s been fun to get back into this! In a bit, Will!
WR: See ya!
Whew, that Nintendo Direct gave us a lot to discuss! You can let us know your own thoughts in the comments, too; it would be great to hear your personal standout announcements! If you would like to read more Let’s Chat, then you can go here to read previous articles. Have an incredible day!