There was bound to be a Nintendo Direct sometime this month, after word of one leaked from an EA marketing email accidentally sent to an apparently-random Redditor. There was plenty of fan anxiety for new installments in the past, which was never a surprise, but the level of frothing here reached ridiculous levels. There was some sarcasm involved, but I became concerned for the mental states of some Nintendo fans. Alternatively, it reached a point where Nintendo of America had to get involved, and made a tweet poking fun at them. Other companies joined in on the fun in the tweets below that one.
Nintendo took a surprisingly different approach to this Direct, though, in how they instead provided a Nintendo Direct Mini. This wasn’t the first Mini installment, but they’re typically used to provide release dates for and detail already-announced games, or for announcing indie games. This one contained several announcements for Switch titles releasing in the first half of this year, including firstand third-party titles, though it was shorter than the usual Direct at under 15 minutes.
The only new game announced by Nintendo themselves was Mario Tennis Aces, the newest installment in the Camelot-developed series. This title will inherit the tennis action and features from previous installments, but will have several new ones to distinguish it. They showed how this won’t be an appetizer like Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash on Wii U, which was criticized for lacking features from installments prior to it despite its lower-than-average price. The Mario characters will have new outfits, but the biggest feature will be the return of an RPG mode, though changes have been made to it. Instead of playing an original character and interacting with other original and familiar NPCs, the footage shows how you’ll play as the Mario characters. It’s a unique take, and hopefully it’s just as entertaining as the modes from previous games. It will release in spring 2018.
The other titles coming from Nintendo are ports of Wii U games. First was Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition, a, well, definitive edition of Hyrule Warriors that will include all the base and DLC content from the Wii U and 3DS versions in one package. It will also include Link and Zelda outfits from Breath of the Wild. This port was more necessary than some are giving it credit for, as plenty of fans have been asking for the previously 3DS-exclusive content to be made available in HD, and they’ll get their wish here when it arrives in the spring.
The other port is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, an updated version of Retro Studios’ second Donkey Kong Country outing that released on Wii U in February 2014. This version will add “Funky Mode,” where Funky Kong will be playable through the game’s levels. He comes with his own abilities, including one where he can walk on spikes thanks to his surfboard, likely breaking the game. The “New Funky Mode” tag in the upper righthand corner of the game’s cover has already become a Photoshop meme, on par with “& Knuckles” and “Featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry™ Series!” Tropical Freeze on Wii U didn’t sell as well as Returns on Wii, so here’s hoping it finds a larger audience with its second chance on the more successful Switch when it arrives on May 4th.
In terms of DLC: Super Mario Odyssey is receiving the “Balloon World” mode, where players can either find balloons within a certain time limit, or hide one for other players to find. It will be a free update, but playing the mode will require finishing the main story. Donkey Kong will arrive as a playable character in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, where he’ll have his own storyline and world to explore. This won’t be free though, as it will require a separate purchase or ownership of the Season Pass.
Pokkén Tournament DX’s Battle Pack content is coming, which will include two waves of Pokémon and new Avatars. The first wave will have Battle Pokémon Aegislash and Support Pokémon Mega Rayquaza and Mimikyu, while the second will have Battle Pokémon Blastoise and a Support Pokémon Set with Mew and Celebi. The first wave will release on January 31st, while the second will come on March 23rd.
Nintendo also dated Kirby Star Allies for Switch for March 16th, the newest in HAL Laboratory’s biannual Kirby platforming series continuing from 3DS. The newest key feature here is Kirby’s “new” Friend Abilities, which involves Kirby mixing two powers together, a slightly adjusted returning feature from Kirby 64. This should help distinguish it from Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot on 3DS, along with, well, the HD graphics.
The Direct also had several semi-surprising third-party announcements, though there was nothing big. The largest among them was Dark Souls Remastered, noteworthy because it will be the first game in the franchise to release on a Nintendo platform, even though it’s also hitting PS4, XB1 and PC. It will include all the content from the original along with the Artorias of the Abyss DLC when it releases on May 25th for $39.99.
Also coming is SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, a 2-on-2 tag team fighter that will star several characters from SNK’s history, which will serve as a spiritual successor to Neo Geo Pocket Color fighter SNK Gals’ Fighters. It’s tough to see much from the preview during the Direct, but it’s enough to show that it will be much different from previous SNK fighters. Thus far, Mai, Athena, Leona, Yuri, and Kula have been confirmed, while others will inevitably join — including a character that resembles a female version of new King of Fighters XIV character Kukri on the concept art. It will release for PS4 in addition to Switch sometime this summer.
The World Ends with You: Final Remix will be released for Switch to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the original game’s western release, in one of the more surprising announcements from the Direct. This iteration will have the enhanced graphics from the mobile version, along with control methods that suit playing with either normal controls or the touchscreen. It will also have the epilogue from the mobile version. Nintendo will publish this when it releases this year, despite it being a Square Enix title.
Another surprising announcement was Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana for Switch, a port of the Falcom action RPG that released on PS4 and Vita last year, and will hit PC at the end of the month. It’s surprising because of how out-of-left-field it is to see a Falcom game on a Nintendo platform. Falcom hasn’t officially released a game for a Nintendo platform since the SNES days, but that trend will be maintained here since Nippon Ichi Software and their western counterparts are handling this port worldwide — even in Japan, where Falcom can publish their own titles. (This isn’t unheard of, as Falcom also wasn’t involved with the “Evolution” Vita ports of the Trails games, among others.) It will release sometime this summer.
Additionally, Payday 2 for Switch will release on February 27th. The only indie games featured on this Direct were Celeste and Fe, which are 3D and 2D action platformers, respectively. The games will release digitally on January 25th and February 16th, respectively.
There were no mind-blowing announcements in this Direct, which explains why it was a “Mini” installment. But this was the best Mini one they’ve done yet. Nintendo will save previews for their upcoming bigger games for a future proper Direct or press event, but in the meantime, it was nice of them to show the Switch’s immediately upcoming software — even if many of them are ports.