Nintendo Direct Roundup February 2021

Nintendo returned this week with the first Nintendo Direct proper since September 4th 2019. The hype scale was through the roof and the internet was bursting at the seams with anticipation. Could Nintendo live up to the hype? Unfortunately not, but there were still some good announcements in there which are worth getting excited about.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 characters Pyra and Mythra were announced as the next characters coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Mario Golf: Super Rush was announced, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is coming to Nintendo Switch and Splatoon 3 is in development on course for a 2022 release.

There was a mention of Breath of the Wild 2, but not in the way we wanted. Eiji Aonuma even came out and said there wouldn’t be any news of Breath of the Wild 2 and even apologised. He did say development was going well and there would be more info to share on Breath of the Wild 2 later in the year. The moment Aonuma came onto the screen I think everyone sat up from their seats and thought “Yes, this is it.” Until that point the Direct has been OK to underwhelming… but now Aonuma was here to blow us all out the water. But that moment never came.

Instead, Skyward Sword was announced, this time they have modified the controls to allow us to play with buttons as well as motion controls if we wanted. I was surprised we didn’t hear anything about Twilight Princess and Wind Waker. Nintendo literally has those games ready to go having already ported them to Wii U and you would imagine porting to Nintendo Switch would be relatively straight forward, compared to Skyward Sword which needed significant rework based on the control scheme. The Legend of Zelda’s 35th anniversary is Sunday 21st February 2021 and fans had been hoping for more of a package, instead, it seems to be passing us by with little mention.

Skyward Sword shouldn’t be sniffed at though, as it’s a good game in its own right. It didn’t get a great shot the first time around on the Wii and perhaps another game that was killed by its own hype. Every game that followed Ocarina of Time was always under a huge amount of pressure to be better and that didn’t really happen from a universal point of view until Breath of the Wild. Wind Waker was a fantastic game, although some fans revolted over the graphics. Twilight Princess had fans in tears at the famous E3 trailer and Skyward Sword kind of flopped. There’s plenty of pressure on Breath of the Wild 2 to top one of the best games of all time.

Nintendo tends to have shortened the preview and release cycle for games. Previously the gameplay demos and footage were shown and then fans had to wait years for the release of the game. This has shortened in recent years with Luigi’s Mansion 3, Animal Crossing New Horizons and other recent hits gave shorter preview periods when compared to something like Breath of the Wild 2 and Metroid Prime 4 which were teased years ago and now every direct hype levels shoot up through the roof and come down in a crescendo of anger when Nintendo doesn’t give us what we want. Maybe the Breath of the Wild 2 trailer at 2019’s E3 as a mistake?

Anyways, back to the most recent direct and more exciting news about upcoming releases. Splatoon 3 was announced in a rather surprising announcement. Speculation for Splatoon had gone rather flat since Nintendo announced they were stopping support for number 2. At first, it looked like some kind of expansion or DLC for Splatoon 2, but a sequel makes sense.

Mario Golf: Super Rush was one of the more exciting announcements of the show with Mario and the gang coming back to their golf roots. It’s got motion controls and your Mii can play through a single-player story mode campaign. Mario Golf: Super Rush is coming on 25th June.

Talking of Mario there’s a 35th-anniversary bundle coming to Animal Crossing New Horizons which include clothes, question blocks and warp pipes. Miitopia was also announced which is the next adventure for the former 3DS game coming on 21st May and remakes of Famicom Detective Club titles The Missing Heir and The Girl Who Stands Behind will launch as a bundle on 14th May.

There was a load of 3rd party titles announced too with Fall Guys coming in the Summer and The Outer Wilds coming later on in 2021. The Outer Wilds is an incredible game that was one of 2019’s best titles. Annapurna Interactive announced Neon White in a stylish first-person card battle game with demons in heaven. I was confused, but it looked interesting and Annapurna Interactive always put out great titles.

In one of the more low-key exciting announcements of the night Project Triangle Strategy is an SRPG follow up to Octopath Traveler due out in 2022. This is an HD 2D game once again with 2D pixel art sprites on an isometric 3D environment. It looks very cool and a demo is available on the Nintendo e-shop right now. This looks like it could be a spiritual successor to Final Fantasy Tactics and has a large portion of the internet very excited, I included.

There were some other announcements including Star Wars: Hunters from Zynga (which sounds awful), dodgeball game Knockout City, Apex Legends on March 9th and new gameplay for Monster Hunter Rise which is releasing on 26th March.

For me, the Nintendo Direct was probably a 6/10. I’m happy to see Skyward Sword coming to Nintendo Switch and hopefully, that one will find it’s the audience. It’s a slow burner for sure with some of the best dungeons in the whole Zelda series, but there’s also barriers in there which are going to frustrate. If Breath of the Wild was your first and only Zelda experience then Skyward Sword may be a hard pill to swallow. I’m disappointed we haven’t seen anything for the 35th Zelda Anniversary yet. Hopefully, something will be coming later on in the year, although I very much doubt Breath of the Wild 2 is coming to Nintendo Switch this year. 2022 or 2023 may be more realistic now.

I’m excited about Project Triangle Strategy and Mario Golf. I’ll be jumping into Mario Golf for sure and I’ve already downloaded the demo Project Triangle Strategy. It’s good to see Outer Wilds coming to Nintendo Switch, hopefully, that’ll find a new audience and it’s a fantastic game you have to play. A very cool concept where you’re in a 22 min time loop trying to figure out why the sun is exploding and you have a space sandbox to explore and gather clues.