We just came off of PAX West and CRX, and immediately Nintendo decides now's the time to drop a twenty-ton direct on all of us! Jeez, give us time to catch our bearings!
Anyway, since this column's basically going to be all Nintendo Direct stuff, let's get right into it…
NINTENDO DIRECT WAS FULL OF SURPRISES, WASN'T IT, ZACH?
Okay, so let's get the biggest “WTF?” moment of Nintendo Direct out of the way first: I don't think anybody was expecting the return of Agent York in Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise.
This is a semi-prequel to the original game, taking place in Boston and New Orleans, as Francis York Morgan and new character Aaliyah Davis work together across a time gap to uncover the secrets of a serial killing case. Beloved director and all-around nice dude Hidetaka Swery is back in the writing and directing chair, meaning we can expect more of that inexplicably charming weirdness that made the first Deadly Premonition so endearing. Interestingly, it looks like the actual development is being headed by Toybox, Yasuhiro Wada (of Harvest Moon fame)’s development company formed after he split from Marvelous. That made me wonder if Swery's old company (and original Deadly Premonition developers) Access Games is still around… but apparently, they just finished work on the Final Fantasy VIII remaster, so they must still be chugging along.
Anyhow, I haven't heard if this is going to be a Switch exclusive or not. I hope it isn't, because a lot of folks have been waiting a very long time for this game, and I want them all to be able to play it!
Finally, we announced "DEADLY PREMONITION 2". I am feeling that "CLEAR AS A CRISP SPRING MORNING". Absolutely, I am Director / Writer for that. See you guys in Boston and Louisiana.#deadlypremonition… https://t.co/sDoZXFQRak— HidetakaSwerySueHERO (@Swery65) September 4, 2019
Oh yeah, the original Deadly Premonition's out on Switch now, too, so you might want to pick that up off of the eShop if the Smash surge has subsided.
SAKURAI ASKS: ARE YOU OK? CAUSE YOU'RE GONNA HAVE A BAD TIME
Yeah, somehow the Smash Ultimate announcements weren't the biggest out-of-nowhere drops this Direct! Though they're certainly the most talked about. In fact, people have been speculating like crazy about Smash character reveals for days.
See, an eagle-eyed individual found a page on the European Nintendo eShop for an upcoming Smash challenger pack with an “SNK Corporation” copyright. Of course, that immediately fueled a furor of rumors, crazy predictions, and old-timers whining about how the young whippersnappers with their Fortnites and Minecrafts don't know their important arcade history.
Anyhow, once the trailer dropped and the Neo-Geo logo appeared onscreen, it became obvious that, yes, this would totally be an SNK character. But who? Cue a parade of very fanservicey fakeouts!
God, Geese falling from the Howard Estate gets me every time. But yes, Fatal Fury's Terry Bogard is joining the ranks of Smash! I was honestly expecting Kyo Kusanagi or Athena, since they haven't guested in any other current games, but it's hard to top Terry's global recognition and all-around charm. Here's hoping he's got his Garou duds as an alt.
We didn't get much gameplay from the trailer, but immediately after the Direct, Sakurai held another one of his “get to know our DLC fighter” sessions where he talked a bit about Banjo-Kazooie (who are out as we speak and crashing Nintendo's servers, I'm sure) and gave a tiny snippet of Terry gameplay.
ICYMI: sakurai showed off a very brief snippet of terry gameplay at the end of his smash presentation. seems like ryo is hanging around too. might just be part of the KOF stage but it's possible he's a trophy or something. pic.twitter.com/lX1BddA0cT— Ian Walker (@iantothemax) September 5, 2019
One thing I noticed was Art of Fighting's Ryo Sakazaki hanging out in the background. Are there going to be random SNK characters chilling in the back like in some of the King of Fighters games? That's the kind of attention detail Sakurai is known for, so probably!
Also, there will be even more DLC after Terry and whoever challenger #5 are get released, ensuring that Sakurai will forever be bombarded with requests for Goku in Smash.
Oh, and there's some new Mii Fighter costumes too. Zero, Proto Man, Team Rocket… Goemon? Whoa, didn't expect that one!
And… wait, SANS? SANS UNDERTALE?
Yes, Sans is in Smash now. Sort of – it's an outfit for the Mii Gunner, so no unique moves. However, it does come with a new arrangement of Megalovania by Toby Fox himself, so… yeah, that's pretty neat!
So, with SNK joining the companies that are onboard with Smash Ultimate, what other major Japanese publishers of historical note have yet to be represented? KOEI-Tecmo's a pretty big one, and currently a lot of rumors are circulating about Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden showing up. Yeah, if I had to pick a character to represent that company, Hayabusa would be a top pick, though I feel like one of the Atelier girls would be a fun choice from a game design perspective. You'd get to mix and make items to use! Come on, that would be fun as hell!
“SUPER NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM NINTENDO SWITCH ONLINE?” THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE GOING WITH? UH, OKAY
It's been rumored for a while that Nintendo was going to expand their vintage console offerings on the Switch, and those rumors were bolstered by designs for a SNES-like controller for Switch that snuck out to the public. Well, rumor no more, folks: We have Super NES games coming to Switch for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers! Twenty of them, in fact!
Boy, uh… this sure is a mix of favorites and obscurities, huh? I mean, yeah, you've got the classics like F-Zero, Yoshi's Island, Super Mario Kart, F-Zero, Link to the Past… and then there's Brawl Brothers, Joe and Mac 2, and strangely, Puyo Puyo 2's Japanese release. Also Stunt Race FX, the worst thing Shigeru Miyamoto was involved in before Wii Music happened. Hope you like your racing with clunky controls and a vomit-inducing framerate!
I can't hate on the list too much, though, as it's got plenty of top-tier Nintendo titles. Demon's Crest is a nice addition, too – it's a game that is loved by everyone who plays it, but rarely gets much of a spotlight. Play that instead of Breath of Fire, which really hasn't aged well.
So, what other games will we see on here? It's been speculated that some companies are reluctant to put games on the Nintendo Online library because they'd rather find ways to reissue these titles (and make money) on their own. In fact, It was announced over on the Japanese Nintendo Direct that Square Enix is going to bring ports of Dragon Quest I, II, and III to Switch that you can buy piecemeal… so if it's something a third party can potentially profit from, you probably won't see it there.
HOLY CRAP, A LOT HAPPENED IN THAT DIRECT
Oh jeez, there's still so much Direct left to talk about. Let's skip Luigi's Mansion 3, Daemon X Machina, Dragon Quest XI S, and Link's Awakening because those games are so, so close to release and we've heard a lot about them already. Let's focus on the surprises… or things that were maybe supposed to be surprises but kinda slipped out early.
Overwatch on Switch wound up leaking due to some licensed merchandise appearing on various websites. Nintendo and Blizzard seem to be pretty cozy with each other: first we got Diablo III's Switch port, and now we have Overwatch, due out in October for the low, low price of forty dollary-doos. It'll allow for things like motion-controlled aiming, which a lot of folks complained about in the original Splatoon, but I found worked really well! Of course, you can play it the old-fashioned way too if you want. What I'm curious about is whether there will be cool Nintendo-related skins for the characters, like how Switch Diablo III got some Zelda-themed gear.
Do you like Kirby? Well, would you like Kirby more if he were FREE? Okay, not exactly FREE, but “Free-to-start” … that distinctly Nintendo term for “free-to-play”. Anyway! Super Kirby Clash is a free download that has you taking your tricked-out Kirbster to multiplayer-centric boss rushes. Lock n’ load, Kirby!
I was wondering what the monetization factor of this game was – my initial reaction was “oh god, are they going to make us gacha for copy abilities?” But it looks like it's currency-based: you use “fragments” to craft the gear you take into battle, which I'm not sure is much better. Anyhow, I've never been much for multiplayer Kirby beyond minigames, so I'm probably skipping this one. If it sounds fun to you, you can actually download it right now!
We've also got more details on GAME FREAK's newest not-Pokémon game, Little Town Hero! What happens when you literally can't leave town and you're being invaded by monsters? If you're the Little Town Hero Axe (no, seriously, his name is Axe and that rules), you wage a war of ideas. No, he doesn't walk up to monsters and scream “DEBATE ME,” but he does use ideas to fight big monsters in one-on-one strategic combat. Oh, and the music's by Toby Fox. Boy, he's awfully busy these days, isn't he?
Trials of Mana is out in April of next year! That's a longer wait than I expected, but I'm glad they're taking the time to give this one polish. We saw a bit more gameplay in the Direct, too, but other than that, there weren't too many Mana-related surprises.
Hey, remember Tokyo Mirage Sessions Hashtag FE? The Shin Megami Tensei/Fire Emblem crossover game? I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't, as it was a late Wii U release that didn't set sales on fire anywhere. I chalk it up to being something that's not really Shin Megami Tensei or Fire Emblem, which killed a lot of initial interest – though folks who did play it seemed to really like it!
Well, Nintendo has judged that #FE is another Wii U game that deserves a second lease on life, as it's coming to Switch as Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore. There's not much information on new stuff in the game yet, but I wonder – since there's not the pressure of “oh god our console is dying he;lp” to get #FE out fast, will Nintendo and Atlus will bother including a dub track this time around? It certainly wouldn't hurt.
Nintendo has been dumping Pokémon Sword and Shield information on us like crazy over the past few weeks, and took time this Direct to show off a few more tidbits about our upcoming journey in Galar. We've got fashion! Hairstyles! Slick looks! And camping! And… uh, curry?
Yes, curry! You share it with your Pokémon, and much joy is had! Just please, please let me skip the stupid manual stick/touchscreen spinning whenever I cook this stuff. Please.
There were also two new Pokémon showcased: Polteageist, a sentient tea spirit (these British stereotypes are getting out of control), and Cramorant, an eternally-hungry flying/water type that can spit its meals out at opponents as a counterattack.
Ah, Animal Crossing! We saw another glimpse of what our future island living experience will be like, and if you ever thought you would escape being Tom Nook's eternal debt-servant, you are so, so very wrong.
Not only does Nook have a special cellphone for you to access important in-game features (which probably involves more contracts), he also runs the hub where you'll need to go to do all of your building and crafting. Basically, you've willingly come to this island where Nook runs the show and your pleasant home-building experience will forever be tainted by knowing that Nook and his family's all-seeing eyes are observing you at all times. But hey, cool cellphone, right?
Finally, Nintendo decided to end this jam-packed Direct with… Xenoblade?
No, not the Xenosaga remaster so many have been hoping for, not a Xenoblade Chronicles X re-release… Xenoblade. Just plain ol’ Xenoblade Chronicles, but now… it's the Definitive Edition!
Mind you, we don't know what the Definitive Edition entails beyond prettied-up graphics, but… damn, Xenoblade was an extremely good-looking Wii game, and this looks even better! I'm a little confused why Nintendo chose this over Xenosaga or Xenoblade Chronicles X, since the original Xenoblade Chronicles already got a reissue on the New 3DS a couple years back. Remember when Nintendo of America wasn't even planning to release this on the Wii? Boy, that sure seems like ages ago, huh?
AND THAT'S NOT ALL, EITHER
Nintendo Direct is a global thing, and the contents of each Direct changes a bit depending on the territory it's intended for. All of the big stuff like Smash reveals and new major franchise games get shown across Japan, North America, Latin America, and Europe, but Japan usually has a few announcements that don't get airtime elsewhere.
One such announcement was a remake of the original duo of Famicom Tantei Club games! These adventure games were originally released on the Famicom Disk System and had a very long-lasting impact on Japanese adventure games for years to come. In fact, the recently released Steins;Gate 8 Bit ADV is a direct callback to games like Famicom Tantei Club!
…Which is probably why MAGES, the folks who developed Steins;Gate 8 Bit ADV, are the ones handling this remake! It's almost like 8 Bit ADV was an audition for this. Will it come Stateside? It's a longshot, but weirder things have happened, like, say… a 22-year-old PSOne game that looked like it would remain Japan-exclusive forever getting a Switch re-release and a translation.
Moon: Remix RPG Adventure is one of those games the most die-hard fans of obscure 32-bit imports would rave about. Developers in Japan and abroad especially love this game: Toby Fox has cited it as one of Undertale’s biggest inspirations. But the language barrier has rendered it mostly inaccessible to English speakers. Thankfully, the fine folks at Onion Games – makers of Black Bird and Dandy Dungeon, two games I've highlighted in this very column – are finally bringing this gem overseas.
Moon is one of those games you don't want to describe too much, because going into it not knowing anything makes the experience that much better. Just, please: If you want to see a game that turns RPG tropes on their head made by a bunch of fresh ex-Squaresoft folks at the height of their creativity, you definitely want to play this.
…am I done? Oh god, I'm finally done! Now I can go back to all the stuff I need to review. When did September get so busy, anyway?
So! What were your favorite announcements from this Nintendo Direct? Post your thoughts over in our lovely forums!