Nintendo Direct: Splatoon 3 Headlines Surprises & Updates
As promised yesterday, Nintendo debuted a brand new good old fashioned Nintendo Direct – the first since September of 2019. Because it’s been so long, and also the fact that much of the country is trapped inside thanks to Covid-19 and an arctic vortex that refuses to leave, hopes were riding high on this new 50-minute presentation. Given that Nintendo has so many franchises that could have a sequel or a remake, the hype often went off the rails for many Nintendo fans and so no matter what was announced some were bound to be disappointed.
That being said, I came away pretty satisfied. I thought it was a solid Direct with smatterings of games that interested me and a few nice surprises. The video wasn’t a showstopper by any means, but I imagine for some it was if something like Splatoon 3 was your jam. I enjoy the series, but often find myself dropping it about a month or two after release as it gets old for me. I’m not much of an online competitive player, so once the single player is exhausted and I’ve had my fill of Splatfests, there’s just not much more for me to go back to. So, I’m happy for those of you who love the franchise, but for me it fell a bit flat.
That was also my initial reaction to The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD. While I was watching the trailer I couldn’t help but think it didn’t look that good graphically and as I saw more and more of it I was simply reminded that the game has a lot of bloat and it’s not my favorite in the series by a long shot (or is that a hook shot? ::Crickets::). Going back and watching some reactions online it seems many are happy with the announcement and noticed it was running at 60fps this time around, so that’s cool. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I’ll be suckered into purchasing it again and going through some of the game, but the thrill just isn’t there – at least not yet. I’d much rather have seen a complete remake of something like the original NES Zelda game, which has yet to happen, or even Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Such is the life of a Nintendo fan!
We won’t hear more on the Breath of the Wild sequel until later in the year sometime, which pretty much confirms it’s not making it out in 2021, especially when you look at the timing of the Expansion Pass for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which has its second part arriving in November. Nintendo likes to spread its stuff out, so I think we can safely assume it’s a 2022 title.
Some things I’m genuinely excited for though. Not that I need them, but my eyes became huge saucers at the sight of the special edition Zelda Joy-Con controllers. I must have them! Those come out on July 16, 2021 alongside Skyward Sword HD. I never thought we’d be getting the Famicom Detective Club games, which to me look similar to something like the Phoenix Wright titles, and I’ve always had a mild curiosity about them so those are for sure pick-ups for me.
Also on my must-have list is Mario Golf: Super Rush – the first original Mario Golf game on consoles since 2003! Can you believe it’s been that long? This one looks gorgeous and has some really cool modes, like Speed Golf where everyone can hit the ball at the same time and then run across the course and collect power-ups. Best of all is Story Mode is making a return so you can earn experience points and customize your character’s stats! June 25 can’t come soon enough.
Can I take a moment here (well I’m going to no matter what your answer would have been) and say “Screw you Nintendo!” for making my heart stop for a second when Xenoblade Chronicles 2 popped up at the beginning of the Direct. I’ll admit I figured out that it was simply a Smash character unveil trailer about 5 seconds in, but it made me realize I really would love a new game in the series or even a port of the Wii U Xenoblade Chronicles X. I don’t play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate so I didn’t really care about this portion of the Direct, but it was nice to see some of my favorite RPG characters again!
I’m also really excited for (and let me preface this by praying they change the name of the game before it comes out next year) Project Triangle Strategy. I mean, Square Enix kept Octopath Traveler‘s name, so anything’s possible, but this one needs a name change. Anyway, it’s using the same graphic style that looks like HD 16-bit visuals except this time around the game is a full-on tactical RPG. It sort of looks like a cross between Fire Emblem (without the combat cut-scenes) and Final Fantasy Tactics. The video presentation went into detail about the battles and there are some truly strategic moves to pull of here, and all of it looked right up my alley. This is a must-buy for me when it eventually arrives sometime next year. For now you can go on the eShop and download the demo for free and see if it’s to your liking. Here’s hoping the soundtrack is as good as Octopath!
I’m also mildly intrigued by World’s End Club. It’s being made by the creators of Danganronpa, which I’ve always heard is a great series but haven’t played, and the Zero Escape games, of which 999 was one of my favorite Nintendo DS titles. The concept looks cool and I could see myself losing a lot of time figuring out the twists and turns of the plot. This one is out May 28 so that’s not too far out.
We knew Mario items were coming to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and they showed them off in the Direct. It looks pretty awesome and it appears you can just buy them instead of having to collect some random stuff out of the sky, so that’s a good thing. The most impressive item shown was the warp pipe, which allows you to place two pipes for fast travel across your island. Finally! The free update hits later this month and the items will be up for sale in the game starting on March 1.
So, once again another Nintendo Direct and no mention of anything Metroid. That’s a big disappointment for fans of the series and a missed opportunity. Let’s hope this gets rectified this year once and for all with some new announcements, and hopefully the oft-rumored Metroid Prime Trilogy will actually come out. If you’ve been holding your breath this long, what’s another year?
Interestingly enough there was also no mention of the 35th anniversary of Zelda, despite them announcing Skyward Sword HD. That omission could signal that they have something else planned down the road and want to lean into the anniversary later on in the year, similar to what they did with Super Mario Bros. last September. Or it could also mean they just aren’t planning on acknowledging the event, which to me seems less likely, but hey – Nintendo is hard to predict!
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to watch the Nintendo Direct down below and read the full press release below that for more information. Did this presentation land with you or was it a miss? I thoroughly enjoyed my 50 minutes with it and am super happy to see the return of the format. I hope we don’t have to wait another 1.5 years for the next one!
REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 17, 2021 – In the latest Nintendo Direct presentation, Nintendo showcased more than 30 games coming to the Nintendo Switch family of systems – with many launching by this summer! Headlining the 50-minute presentation was the reveal of Splatoon 3, a new game in the splat-tacular series, coming to Nintendo Switch in 2022.
Other major news in the Nintendo Direct video included the reveal of Pyra/Mythra from the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 game as the latest playable DLC fighters to join the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game – the fourth of six new fighters in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass Vol. 2. Additional Nintendo Switch game announcements include The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, which will feature updated control options from the original version of the game; Mario Golf: Super Rush, the newest installment in the Mario Golf series with new modes and motion controls; and Miitopia, a game starring customizable Mii characters that lets you personalize your own adventure.
The jam-packed Nintendo Direct presentation featured many exciting game reveals, including Project TRIANGLE STRATEGY (working title), a new tactical role-playing game from SQUARE ENIX; Star Wars: Hunters, a free-to-play online multiplayer game set between the events of Star Wars™: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars™: The Force Awakens; Knockout City, a new team-based dodgeball game; Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, which challenges players to claim the crown; DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power, an action game based on the animated TV show; and the physical edition of hit game Hades.
To view the Nintendo Direct video in its entirety, visit https://www.nintendo.com/nintendo-direct/02-17-2021/. Some of the highlights revealed in the video include:
- Splatoon 3: In this new game in the Splatoon series, you’ll leave Inkopolis behind and head to a new region: the Splatlands. Its heart is a new city where battle-savvy Inklings and Octolings gather: Splatsville, also known as the “City of Chaos.” Splatoon 3 introduces various features to the action-shooter series, including weapons such as the bow-weapon, customization options and movement abilities to bring to the returning 4v4 Turf Wars matches. More information about the full-fledged sequel coming to Nintendo Switch in 2022 will be revealed in the future.
- Pyra/Mythra Join Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Originally featured in the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 game as main character Rex’s two-in-one ally, Pyra/Mythra reawaken in March as the newest DLC fighters joining the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game. Pyra/Mythra are part of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass Vol. 2, which also includes DLC fighters Min Min from the ARMS game, Steve & Alex from Minecraft and Sephiroth from the FINAL FANTASY series, along with two yet-to-be-announced fighters. More information about Pyra/Mythra’s move set, as well as their exact release date, will be revealed in the future.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD: Originally released in 2011 for the Wii system, and depicting the earliest story in the series’ timeline – as well as the creation of the Master Sword itself – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword game now arrives on Nintendo Switch with smoother and more intuitive controls, in addition to improved framerate and graphics. In this enhanced version of the game, running at a smooth 60 frames per second, you can choose to play using motion control with the two Joy-Con controllers in a similar way to the original, or use newly added button-only controls to play the game with the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, in handheld mode or using a Nintendo Switch Lite system. A set of themed Joy-Con controllers will also be released alongside the game: the right Joy-Con controller is themed after the Master Sword, while the left features the Hylian Shield motif. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, and the themed Joy-Con, launch separately for Nintendo Switch on July 16.
- Mario Golf: Super Rush: Tee off in the latest installment of the Mario Golf series, coming to Nintendo Switch this year. In the Mario Golf: Super Rush game, enjoy golfing with familiar Mushroom Kingdom characters through a variety of lush, scenic courses. Mario Golf: Super Rush features several local* and online** multiplayer modes, including Speed Golf, which finds players teeing off at the same time and racing to the green. The game also features a Story Mode, starring your Mii character as they interact with Mushroom Kingdom characters, compete in golf challenges and earn experience points to power-up stats. You can even use motion controls by holding the Joy-Con controller as a golf club! The fairway opens for players on June 25. Pre-order today!
- Project TRIANGLE STRATEGY (working title): In this game that continues SQUARE-ENIX’s celebrated legacy of tactical RPGs, battles take place on terrain with different elevations. A character’s attack range is determined by their location and their equipped weapon, so it is imperative to survey the battlefield before acting. Additionally, the decisions made will affect how the story unfolds and which characters will join your cause. Project TRIANGLE STRATEGY (working title) launches exclusively on Nintendo Switch in 2022. A free demo for the game will be available to download in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch … later today!
- Star Wars: Hunters: Star Wars: Hunters™ offers a thrilling take on the galaxy in this squad-based, online multiplayer game. Build a team from a cast of unique and all-new Star Wars™ characters – from daring bounty hunters to heroes of the Rebellion and Imperial stormtroopers. Face off against other squads in arenas based on iconic Star Wars settings. Set between Star Wars™: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars™: The Force Awakens, the free-to-play Star Wars: Hunters launches in 2021.
- MONSTER HUNTER RISE: In the new Rampage story event featured in MONSTER HUNTER RISE, hunters team up to defeat an onslaught of monsters attacking Kamura Village. Players who want to be fully immersed in a MONSTER HUNTER experience can pick up the Nintendo Switch MONSTER HUNTER RISE Deluxe Edition system, which comes bundled with a digital download code for MONSTER HUNTER RISE and Deluxe Kit DLC. This bundle is available alongside the game on March 26. Also available is the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller MONSTER HUNTER RISE Edition, which is adorned with striking art inspired by Magnamalo, the game’s flagship monster.
- Miitopia: Embark on a hilarious adventure with friends, family or anyone you choose, to bring down the face-stealing Dark Lord. In Miitopia, a customizable adventure for Nintendo Switch, create and customize Mii characters of anyone you’d like, and cast them in the fantasy adventure of a lifetime. With expanded customization in Miitopia, including Wigs and Makeup, you can make your Mii characters look more fabulous than ever in this game! Also, you can have a horse as an ally. When you become closer, it’ll lend a hand – er, hoof – in battle. Which Mii characters will you assign as allies … and who will become the evil Dark Lord? The lighthearted romp Miitopia launches for Nintendo Switch on May 21.
- Knockout City: Team up and duke it out with rival Crews in Knockout City™, where epic dodgeball battles settle the score in team-based multiplayer matches. Throw, catch, pass, dodge and tackle your way to dodgeball dominance – it ain’t dodgeball, it’s dodgeBRAWL! Knockout City launches for Nintendo Switch on May 21.
- Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout: Be the last Fall Guy standing! The hit party game finds up to 60 players** running, jumping and shoving their way to victory. Dive into a series of ridiculous challenges and wild obstacle courses with masses of other competitors online, all with the hopes of making the cut and advancing to the next round of mayhem. Shift between competitive free-for-alls and cooperative challenges where everyone on the losing team gets eliminated! Do you have what it takes to claim the crown? Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout launches for Nintendo Switch this summer.
- DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power: Based on the hit Cartoon Network show, play as one of many classic DC superheroines like Batgirl, Supergirl and Wonder Woman as teenagers who must overcome high school all while saving the city. Each of these super heroes has her own set of special abilities, like flight or gadgets, that can be used in battle. As your teenaged alter ego, explore Metropolis, show off your selfies from around the city on your in-game Superstapost account or rebuild a run-down part of the city. DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power soars onto Nintendo Switch on June 4. Pre-order now in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch or on Nintendo.com.
- Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir / Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind: Two Nintendo deep cuts from Japan are coming to the U.S. for the first time, localized with English text and fully modernized for Nintendo Switch. Twists, turns and drama await at every corner in both suspense-filled games. Uncover the deadly truth in Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir and Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind, coming to Nintendo eShop individually – or together for a discount – on May 14. Pre-orders for the games begin today in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch.
- Apex Legends: This free-to-play battle royale features a growing roster of powerful contenders named Legends, strategic combat, cross-platform play and more. To celebrate the game’s legendary launch, all players on Nintendo Switch will receive a new Legendary Pathfinder skin and 30 free levels for the Season 8: Mayhem Battle Pass. Plus, until for the first two weeks after launch, earn Double XP when you play on Nintendo Switch. Fight for fortune, fame and glory when Apex Legends launches for Nintendo Switch on March 9.
- Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville Complete Edition: Ready the Juice Cannons and prepare for battle in Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville Complete Edition – the wackiest shooter yet! Party with up to three friends and goof around in Giddy Park, or dive into some 8v8 multiplayer in Turf Takeover, vanquishing opponents, blasting gnome bombs, bouncing on pink ooze – it’s the most fun you’ll have since sliced bread. Prepare to battle solo or in online** multiplayer in a plant-on-zombie conflict that will take you to the outer edges of Neighborville and back again. Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville Complete Edition launches for Nintendo Switch on March 19. Pre-order now in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch or on Nintendo.com.
- Legend of Mana: The beloved JRPG classic from SQUARE ENIX Legend of Mana is returning with fully remastered HD graphics, rearranged music and additional features. Experience the timeless story of Legend of Mana when it launches for Nintendo Switch on June 24.
- Outer Wilds: In the acclaimed and award-winning Outer Wilds, you are the newest member of Outer Wilds Ventures, a fledgling space program searching for answers in a strange, constantly changing solar system. Pilot a spaceship to visit planets packed with remnants of an extinct advanced civilization across locations that change with the passage of time. Explore and piece together the mystery before the end of the time loop when Outer Wilds launches for Nintendo Switch this summer.
- SAMURAI WARRIORS 5: The latest entry in the SAMURAI WARRIORS series is heading to Nintendo Switch! With revamped character designs and a vibrant, illustrated art style, SAMURAI WARRIORS 5 dives into the Sengoku period and shines its spotlight on Nobunaga Oda and Mitsuhide Akechi. The game slashes its way onto Nintendo Switch this summer.
- World’s End Club: From the creators of the cult classic Danganronpa and Zero Escape series comes a fight for your life … literally! You and 11 others, known as the Go-Getters Club, set off on a captivating journey across Japan, and experience an adventure that blends side-scrolling action with a suspenseful narrative. As you make your way back home to Tokyo, you’ll alternate between working solo and teaming up with the group to overcome challenges and monsters that stand in your way. World’s End Club launches for Nintendo Switch on May 28.
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons + Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary: Items inspired by the 35th anniversary of the Super Mario Bros. game are coming to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Familiar items like the Super Mushroom and the “?” Block can be ordered in the game as furniture items, so you can place them wherever you want. You can even place multiple Warp Pipes on your island and easily travel between them. The new Super Mario Bros. themed items will be available starting on March 1 following the free update to the Animal Crossing: New Horizons game on Feb. 25.
- Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity: Expand your quest to save Hyrule with upcoming downloadable content, as two waves of DLC are coming to the Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Expansion Pass DLC. Newly added characters, stages and more are all on their way, with the first wave coming in June and the second hitting in November. Purchase this Expansion Pass starting today for $19.99 to get both waves of DLC as they are released. You’ll also get an additional in-game weapon and costume for Link as a purchase bonus starting on May 28!
- Ghosts ’n Goblins Resurrection: As the brave knight Arthur, you’ll unleash weapons, magic spells and skills to battle monsters across challenging stages within the Demon Realm. Local co-op play is available for the first time in the series. Help Arthur in his quest with one of three supporting characters: Barry for defense, Kerry for transportation or Archie for bridges. Ghosts ’n Goblins Resurrection launches for Nintendo Switch on Feb. 25. Pre-orders for the game are now available!
- Capcom Arcade Stadium: Dozens of Capcom’s most beloved arcade classics are coming to Nintendo Switch as part of Capcom Arcade Stadium. Rewind gameplay, adjust game speed or difficulty, and select from a variety of display options to relive that sweet arcade goodness. Get 1943 – The Battle of Midway for free, then purchase game packs or the standalone Ghosts ‘n Goblins add-on to build your collection. Prior to the Feb. 25 release of Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, the original Ghosts ‘n Goblins add-on will be available for free in Capcom Arcade Stadium. After that release, the Ghosts ‘n Goblins add-on will be available for individual purchase or as part of the Capcom Arcade Stadium all-in pack. Scratch that nostalgic itch when Capcom Arcade Stadium launches – with local co-op – for Nintendo Switch … later today!
- No More Heroes 3: As the crass, Beam Katana-wielding assassin Travis Touchdown, you’ll fight your way to the top of the Superhero Ranking tournament to save the world. But wait … you’ll also battle aliens?! With a new and improved Death Glove, you’ll have access to a variety of deadly skills that can be customized and upgraded before each match. No More Heroes 3 lands on Nintendo Switch on Aug. 27.
- Neon White: Neon White is a lightning-fast first-person action game about exterminating demons in Heaven. You are White, an assassin hand-picked from Hell to compete with other demon slayers for a chance to live permanently in Heaven. The other assassins seem familiar, though … did you know them in a past life? Neon White, which was developed by the creator of Donut County, launches for Nintendo Switch this winter.
- BRAVELY DEFAULT II: Save the Crystals and the continent of Excillant with the help of four new Heroes of Light! Before purchasing the BRAVELY DEFAULT II game when it launches exclusively for Nintendo Switch on Feb. 26, check out a new trailer for the game later today at https://youtu.be/Hv2Zvj49Y2g. You can also try out a new free demo for BRAVELY DEFAULT II, available now in Nintendo eShop.
- Tales from the Borderlands: Return to the unforgiving world of Pandora in Tales from the Borderlands. The Nintendo Switch version of the game includes all five episodes, filled with classic Borderlands characters and humor. Gangsters, bandit lords and Vault Hunters are just a handful of the obstacles you’ll encounter in this choice-driven, narrative adventure. Embark on a wild ride when Tales from the Borderlands launches on Nintendo Switch on March 24.
- Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse: BRAIIIIINS! In this return of the action game from Aspyr, you’ll build your zombie horde and take revenge on the city by turning humans into your undead allies. Bask in the nostalgic charm of the game’s aesthetics, replenish your bodily arsenal of sputum head, gut grenades and more during your grisly mission. Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse eats its way onto Nintendo Switch on March 16. Pre-order now in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch or on Nintendo.com.
- Hades: The winner of numerous Game of the Year awards, Hades is getting a physical release on Nintendo Switch! This physical version comes with some fun extras, including a PC download code for the Hades Original Soundtrack and a 32-page, full-color character compendium, featuring portraits of the game’s vibrant cast of gods, ghosts and monsters. And let’s not forget the game itself, offering dozens of hours of exhilarating action paired with a compelling story. The physical version of Hades launches on March 19.
- NINJA GAIDEN: Master Collection: Three action-packed entries in the acclaimed NINJA GAIDEN series are coming to Nintendo Switch in NINJA GAIDEN: Master Collection. Wield an arsenal of killer weapons as legendary ninja Ryu Hayabusa, each weapon offering a playstyle with a different set of lethal skills, along with ruthless ninjutsu to swiftly take down enemies. The NINJA GAIDEN: Master Collection comes to Nintendo Switch on June 10.
- SaGa Frontier Remastered: Eight protagonists, eight captivating journeys. In this remastered version of the classic RPG SaGa Frontier, travel through a stunning sci-fi world with any of the protagonists, each with their own goals and stories. With a new playable character, scintillating battles and new events, SaGa Frontier Remastered is an adventure not to be missed. The game launches for Nintendo Switch on April 15.
Remember that Nintendo Switch features parental controls that let adults manage the content their children can access. For more information about other features, visit https://www.nintendo.com/switch/.
** Nintendo Switch Online membership (sold separately) and Nintendo Account required for online features. Not available in all countries. Internet access required for online features. Terms apply. nintendo.com/switch-online
Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published across a wide spectrum of media sites. He’s currently the Editor-In-Chief of Nintendo Times and contributes to Gaming Age.