My 5 Favourite Announcements from the Nintendo Direct! (08/02/23)

This week, Nintendo did what Nintendo does best; suddenly drop the news of an imminent Nintendo Direct. It was announced on Tuesday and then shown on Wednesday, and was roughly 40 minutes long – which gave Nintendo plenty of time to showcase a smorgasbord of exciting games. Maybe they realised it was #LoveYourBacklog month and thought they’d give us even more to play… !

Either way, a Nintendo Direct is always incredibly exciting. Whereas before I’ve done posts discussing the entirety of a Direct, this time I thought I’d do something a little different, and write up a more specific rundown of the five announcements I was especially thrilled about. If you’ve seen the Direct, you can probably predict at least one or two of these! If you haven’t, well then… Treat yourself with the video link below (FYI, the streams starts at around the 26 minute mark).

Before I get into my list, I would like to add a couple of honourable mentions. Firstly, Octopath Traveler II looks superb, but I’m holding off on that until I play the first game (which, of course, still sits on my backlog). Then there was the announcement of Professor Layton and the New World of Steam, featuring the return of the Professor himself in the lead role! This brought back fond memories of my time with the trilogy on Nintendo DS. However, we got no gameplay footage and barely any info at all, so it’s hard to make much of a judgement on it yet.

Right then, it’s time for the list!

#5: Metroid Prime Remastered

After years of hopes and rumours for HD remakes of the Metroid Prime games, we’ve finally got it! Well, sort of. The trailer for Metroid Prime Remastered shows off the new gorgeous visuals, but I can’t help feeling a little underwhelmed that it’s just the first game. Considering that we got a Metroid Prime Trilogy on Wii, it feels like a backwards step – even if it’s selling for a reduced £34.99. These reservations are why Prime Remastered isn’t higher on this list.

Despite that, the trailer certainly brings back fond memories of the game that took Samus into the first-person 3D space. For example, seeing the Phendrana Drifts in HD is beautiful, and the boss fights look even more vivid than before. It’s going to be hard to resist playing through the game again, and most of all, it’s nice to see such an iconic game get this restoration treatment. If you’ve never played Metroid Prime, I highly recommend it. It nails a unique balance of exploration, loneliness, atmosphere, and action – and there’s clearly never been a better time to jump in.

The timing of this announcement also brings some questions to my mind. Firstly, will we get Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption as HD remasters too? Plus, does the release of Prime Remastered indicate Nintendo is gearing up to finally show Metroid Prime 4 to the world later this year… ?

#4: Game Boy & Game Boy Advance Games on Switch

Oh Nintendo, you know how to draw me back in. The waves of NES, SNES, and N64 games hadn’t made me feel the pull to upgrade my Switch Online membership to the £34.99 Expansion Pack they offer, but the new inclusion of Game Boy and (especially) Game Boy Advance games is set to change that.

The landscape proportions of the Game Boy Advance screen fit snugly onto the handheld screen of the Switch, and make games such as The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (which I’ve never finished) incredibly accessible. With the likes of Golden Sun, Fire Emblem, and Metroid Fusion planned, Nintendo have compelled me to give them even more of my money and get the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack.

Hopefully they add Pokémon games like Ruby and Sapphire to the service too, and if you’d like some deep cuts, then let’s get the Spyro games Season of Ice and Season of Fire on there! Make it happen, Nintendo.

#3: Sea of Stars

So far I’ve talked about the nostalgic remakes Nintendo is offering, but there were also plenty of exciting new games being shown off in the Direct. One such game is Sea of Stars from Sabotage Studio, developers of the critically-acclaimed The Messenger. Their new game is a turn-based RPG, with stunning pixel-art graphics that reminds me of the art style of CrossCode, which is a brilliant modern RPG I just finished a month or so ago.

Sea of Stars had previously been announced, but this Direct is the first time it’s caught my attention. It wasn’t all rehashed news though, as we got a release date of August 29th 2023, and the unveiling of a new demo that I’m going to be checking out on my Switch. I’m hoping the demo confirms my excitement for the full game, as everything in the trailer appealed to me. It’s even got music from guest composer Yasunori Mitsuda, who worked on Chrono Trigger!

I’ve got a really good gut feeling about Sea of Stars, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the vibrant and detailed world. The turn-based combat might be the make-or-break factor; I’m hoping it’s as fast-paced and varied as it appears in the short trailer within the Direct. Time will tell!

#2: Harmony: The Fall of Reverie

Developed by DONTNOD of Life is Strange fame? A soundtrack by Lena Raine of Celeste fame? Oh hello, Harmony: Fall of Reverie, it’s very nice to meet you and I will certainly be boarding the hype train.

This beautifully animated, story-driven adventure has definitively captured my attention with its official reveal in the Nintendo Direct. It’s set in the fictional location of Reverie, which sits alongside our world as the homeplace of Deities (named Aspirations). However, a mega-corporation upsets this balance and threatens humanity. To combat this, the main character Polly uses her clairvoyant abilities to travel between worlds, see the future, and then decide the best course of action.

DONTNOD have experience with emotional stories and also the implementation of time-related gameplay mechanics, such as how Max could rewind time in Life is Strange. According to the trailer, later in the game Polly will choose one of the six Aspirations to ally with, and this will also affect the destiny of your story – and it additionally seems ideal for repeat playthroughs.

I’m fully on board for this game, and there isn’t even too long to wait, as it releases in June this year!

#1: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

C’mon, what else did you expect at the top spot? A new trailer for Tears of the Kingdom closed out the Nintendo Direct, giving us more glimpses at the sequel to Breath of the Wild whilst still staying vague on plot details. I love how secretive Nintendo is being; I really hope they stay restrained with the pre-release material up until launch, as it’s so exciting to theorize about what is going on.

Also, before I go any further, I’m 99% sure that Matt Mercer does the voiceover early in the trailer. This seems to be Ganondorf talking, and after hours upon hours of watching Critical Role, it’d be a delight if it really is Matt Mercer. Whilst this is happening, we see some wide shots better showing the damage to Hyrule after whatever transpires between Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom. It seems like much of the land has been blighted by growths and new enemies, with the Blood Moon permeating the sky.

Going by the little snippets of cutscenes we’ve seen so far, it looks like the opening to Tears of the Kingdom is going to be very intense, with something causing the return of Ganondorf and violent changes to the topography of Hyrule, in particular Hyrule Castle. The new shots of the red Malice billowing out of Ganondorf towards Link, and then Link diving after a falling Zelda, are very powerful and give me goosebumps.

Furthermore, the identity of the Goddess-like figure who appears to give Link his new magic-infused arm is hidden, which makes me think that’s a big plot point. I really hope it’s Midna from Twilight Princess; there’s a lot of potential clues going on here, whether it be the Tear collection, the Twilight-esque green energy, the spooky music at the end of the trailer, or the reference to Twilight Princess in Breath of the Wild. I’m aware my fandom for Twilight Princess makes me biased, but I do think it’s possible!

It wasn’t just new story details, as we also got more footage of the new gameplay features in Tears of the Kingdom. A big emphasis in the trailers so far has been new forms of transport, whether it be on land or in the new expanded skies of Hyrule. Even existing moves like the shield-ride have new uses, such as grinding along metal surfaces. Every time I see the sky sections, I wonder just how much has been hidden up there. The sense of height is going to be spectacular to experience as we transition between land and air.

My personal theory is that Nintendo is keeping some seismic secrets from us about Tears of the Kingdom. I seriously doubt that after such a long development time, we’re just going to be playing in an altered version of the same map from Breath of the Wild. Additionally, after all the foreshadowing about playing as Zelda, I don’t think we’re going to be Link 100% of the time. I’d personally be disappointed if Zelda gets sidelined again straight after Breath of the Wild, and this feels like the right moment to shake up the formula and allow us to play as the Princess, even if it’s only for portions of the game.

As well as this, there must be so much more to the skies of Hyrule than the relatively few floating platforms we’re seeing. Tears of the Kingdom is likely going to have at least some form of dungeons, and we’re yet to get much clue of where these will be. My wild prediction is that Zelda will be stuck under Hyrule in a more cavernous map whilst Link is above it, and they have to interact with the environment to help each other progress.

Either way, I’m confident that Tears of the Kingdom is going to be something really special when we finally find out what’s going on in Hyrule, and having the Gerudo form of Ganondorf is going to lend a terrifying tone that I am extremely excited about. Bring on May 12th!

There we have it – my five highlights from the Nintendo Direct. I think this was a very strong presentation from Nintendo that shows the Switch to be in great health. I’d love to know your own thoughts on the Direct; leave me a comment telling me your own personal highlight of the Direct, and maybe even give me your own wild theory for what’s going on in Tears of the Kingdom!

I’ll be back next week with another post. Until then, stay safe and healthy everyone!

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