By Chris Zuver, A and E Editor
On September 13, Nintendo released its online presentational video, Nintendo Direct, announcing several new games, updates, and accessories planned to release in the coming months. Fans hopes were riding high, hoping to hear more about third party games, details on the previously announced “Metroid Prime 4,” and info on the soon-to-be-released “Super Mario Odyssey.”
While some of these hopes were not met, the overall collective of announcements from the Big N were more than satisfactory. The Direct, hosted by Deputy General Manager, Yoshiaki Koizumi, began with announcements for Nintendo’s portable 3DS console.
Starting off, Nintendo appealed to one of their strongest customer bases: the Pokemon fans. “Pokemon Ultra Sun” and “Pokemon Ultra Moon,” will be the second installment in the seventh generation of the series. They will be similar to the original Sun and Moon, but will feature alternate storylines, new Pokemon to catch. The two games will launch on November 17.
Kirby fans will be happy as well. “Kirby Battle Royale” will release on January 19 of next year. The game will feature several multi-player mini games as well as a single player story mode. Additionally, in celebration of the franchise’s 25th anniversary, Nintendo is holding a poll for fans favorite copy ability at kirby.nintendocom/poll.
One of my personal favorite series from Nintendo has always been the Mario Party games and that is mostly because of the addictive minigames that it’s known for. Well, apparently either Nintendo read my mind or others think like me, because at the Direct, they announced “Mario Party: The Top 100,” which will include—you guessed it—the top 100 ranked mini games from the extensive series. It launches on November 10.
While there was ultimately no talk of “Metroid Prime 4,” we did see a release date for “Metroid: Samus Returns,” which is a remake of the GameBoy classic, “Metroid II: Return of Samus.” The game released on Friday, September 15.
As for third party games, there was no short supply on the 3DS. RPG fans will have plenty to work with in the near future. Developer Atlus announced that in early 2018, they will be releasing “Alliance Alive,” “Shin Megami Tensi Strange Journey Redux,” “Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology,” and “Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth,” on the 3DS. And while those titles are about a memorable as a trigonometry lecture, all of the aforementioned games look visually pleasing and appealing to traditional RPG fans and will certainly provide hours of gameplay.
Speaking of third party games, Mojang will finally release “Minecraft” for Nintendo’s handheld. Other titles mentioned include “Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney,” release date in November, and “Fire Emblem Warriors,” release date October 20.
Now, as for the Switch, which has become the company’s star console, outpacing the 3DS in sales, there were some tremendous announcements made.
First off, let’s talk about third party games. The long-awaited Nintendo edition of Bethesda’s “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” was given a release date of November 17. The Switch version will feature items from “Zelda: Breath of the Wild” such as the champion tunic, Hylian shield, and master sword. All of these can be unlocked from using certain Zelda Amiibos or you can find them somewhere in the vast world of the game.
Bethesda also announced that they would be releasing both of the latest installments of two legendary first-person shooter series: “Doom” and “Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.” These two titles, along with Skyrim, may prove to be strong unit shifters for the Switch.
Speaking of first-person shooters, “Morphie’s Law,” a title by imprint Cosmoscope, was announced. In it, you play as armed robots who are in a fire fight. When your avatar shoots another, whichever body part is struck will shrink, while your avatars same body part will grow. The goal is to have the largest player by the end of the round. The game will release this winter.
As for sports fans, they will have a variety of titles including “NBA 2K18,” eShop September 15 and retail September 18 release date, “WWE 2K18,” no release date set, and “FIFA 18,” release date September 29.
A Square Enix title appeared in the announcements as well. The tentatively-titled RPG “Project Octopath Traveler” was explored more in-depth since its announcement at E3 earlier this year. The game will give you the option of playing as one of eight characters and features 16-bit era graphics and a visual style that the developers refer to as “HD-2D.” A demo was released on the Nintendo Switch eShop on the day of the announcement and the full game will be out sometime in 2018.
Another RPG, “Xenoblade Chronicles 2” will be out on December 1. The massive RPG/adventure looks visually stunning with a large world and deep story line. Along-side the base copy of the game, there will also be a special edition including a CD of the soundtrack, a metal game case, and a 220-page hardbound art book.
Another strong and successful title, “Pokken Tournament DX,” the Pokemon-Tekken crossover, will come to the Switch on September 22. There’s also a demo available for download right now. Fan-favorite “Splatoon 2” will also be having some downloadable updates soon, including new weapons and levels.
Another noteworthy mention was Nintendo’s announcement of its “Arcade Archives” program. The throwback program will have strong appeal to retro gamers as Nintendo will be unveiling classic games from their arcade era in the coming months. Games announced include “Vs. Super Mario Bros.,” “Vs. Balloon Fight,” “Vs. Ice Climber,” and the previously Japanese exclusive “Vs. Clu Clu Land.” The series will start with a release of “Mario Bros.” on September 27.
And as for Mario, there was one more announcement that fans knew was coming. Of course, Nintendo waited until the end to address the elephant in the room – or maybe I should say dinosaur, if the E3 trailer was indicative of anything. “Super Mario Odyssey” was discussed in much more detail this time around. Mario’s animated cap is named Cappy, who he teams up with on a mission to stop his arch-nemesis Bowser from marrying Princess Peach. The game will take place in several sandbox levels, meaning there will be a ridiculous amount of exploring to be done.
As Mario travels from locale-to-locale, he will man his airship, The Odysses, to travel in an adventure that spans the globe. The airship is powered by objects called Power Moons, which Mario will need to collect to move to the next area. This concept seems reminiscent of the Power Star system in “Super Mario 64” and the Shine system in “Super Mario Sunshine.”
There will also be plenty of minigames where you can even compete with others across the world online for high scores. Mario will also be able to buy different outfits, some harken back to a game from the series’ past, such as the apron and hat from “Mario Paint” or the white outfit from “Dr. Mario.” And also, to satisfy the millennial in you, Mario can take selfies and even apply filters over the photos, which can be shared online. The game was given a release date of October 27.
So, just one year ago, critics were uncertain of Nintendo’s future. Now, the future seems nothing if not decided. Through amounting a considerable amount of third party support, coupled with strong titles from the home base, Nintendo has shown that they’re not going anywhere but forward and upward.