Few video game companies have nailed their marketing messaging in the modern era more thoroughly than Nintendo, which has transformed its semi-regular Nintendo Direct “press conferences” into the kind of watercooler moments that its rivals would kill to achieve with this level of consistency. Part trailer roll, part announcement platform, and part “ongoing effort to troll people who would like us to finally release Mother 3", the Directs do an amazing job of building hype for upcoming projects, announcing intriguing new ones, and making people who would like Nintendo to release Mother 3 increasingly, hilariously, sad and angry.
That being said, a 40-minute video with more than a dozen titles announced can be a little overwhelming to scan through. So let us break it down for you:
Despite his cutesy appearance—and the generally low difficulty of the games he stars in—HAL’s Kirby has often been a sort of guinea pig for interesting experiments on Nintendo’s hardware. The newest Kirby game, Forgotten Land, doesn’t look especially revolutionary by the standards of the series. But it does seem like a dedicated effort to bring the little pink vore monster into more modern 3D gaming trends. Somewhat blasphemously, it also suggests that there are some things Kirby can’t digest, including wrapping his whole entire mouth around a Volkswagen so that he can drive around with it inside him. Grotesque, but cute.
The original Wii Sports is one of the most potent system-selling pieces of software ever: An intuitive sales pitch for the Wii’s then-novel motion controls that made playing tennis and bowling as easy (and addictive) as making a few simple hand motions. Later installments in the franchise haven’t been quite as earth-shattering, but they’ve all shared the same basic ethos: Simple motion controls combined with well-known sports equals fun.
Nintendo Switch Sports, then, was one of the big reveals of today’s Direct, employing the console’s under-used Joy-Con motion controls to bring back 3 of the series’ most enduring games, and adding in volleyball, badminton, and soccer to boot. Soccer’s the most interesting one out of these, both for not being another fairly simple “rally an object back and forth by shaking your hand” game, and by including the possibility of getting your legs in the mix. (Although it’s disappointing to note that, at present, the leg strap attachment for the Joy-Con is only set to work with a mini-game, instead of actual soccer matches.) Adding in online play only sweetens the pot. (And what the hell is “Survival bowling?” Did these maniacs create Wii Bowling Royale?!)
Of the many very weird, never-officially-translated Japanese role-playing games of the Super Nintendo era, few were weirder than Square’s Live A Live. Spanning across multiple eras of human history, each chapter of the game leaps heavily between genres, from the light comedy of the caveman era up through outright horror in the Alien riff that makes up its far-future campaign. If nothing else, news that the game’s getting a full Western release will raise all sorts of interesting questions about how such a deliberately eclectic title will be treated by modern audiences. (See also Square Enix’s Chrono Cross remaster, also from today’s Direct, which will now come packaged with not-especially-great-but-kind-of-interesting visual novel Radical Dreamers.)
Omega Force’s Warriors games are some of the simplest carbs in all of gaming: Big, bright, loud games that allow you to mow down hundreds of enemies at a time with satisfying powerful attacks. The franchise (which has also partnered with Nintendo in the past for a handful of perfectly fun Zelda games) has dallied with strategy mainstay Fire Emblem before, but the just-showcased Three Hopes has something big going for it: A chance to return to the world of the franchise’s critically acclaimed Three Houses setting. We can’t expect the same level of character growth or hard moral choices as the original game, of course, but getting to mow down thousands of mooks with these characters again is probably worth the price of admission.
Namco’s Klonoa games are classics for a reason, combining sharp platforming action with inventive enemy designs and bright, bold levels. Having both main series games available in a nice-looking remaster is a lovely little bit of historical curation, and a chance to let a new generation of players experience them. Plus, unlike that one-hit kill Metroid Dread mode that was announced today, or that absolutely vicious EarthBound/Mother Beginnings tease, it’s unlikely to make anybody cry. (At least, until that ending…)