For the first time in a long time, Nintendo has gamers excited about their brand again.
The Switch, released in March of last year, has been selling like crazy, and the library of games and DLC is constantly expanding. On Thursday, the company, amidst a bit of social media fun, released a pre-recorded Direct video, which they labeled a “Direct mini.” New games, updates, and DLC are scattered through the first half of the year. Let’s take a look at what we found out.
The World Ends with You: Final Remix
Right out of the gate, Nintendo attempted to make an impact on those watching the Direct mini by announcing a new version of one of the funnest games ever released for the Nintendo DS. Ten years after its original release, The World Ends with You returns with a new control system designed especially for the Switch. The original version relied heavily on the dual-screened configuration of the DS for rhythm-based gameplay. Thus, it’s no surprise that the Switch’s touchscreen will be utilized in the remix. (For those wanting a shake-up, Joy-Con controls are also supported.) Most folks would be satisfied with a simple port, but the Square Enix hit is also boasting a sizable new scenario. New avatars and other items will also be available. No doubt many fans of the original version will consider adding Final Remix to their collection when it releases later this year.
Pokken Tournament DX DLC
Fans of this joint effort between Bandai Namco and The Pokémon Company, rejoice! The Deluxe Battle Pack, a paid DLC, is hitting the Switch version of this fighter in two waves. Wave 1 will include main fighter Aegislash and support fighters Mega Rayquaza and Mimikyu. Wave 2 brings the goods from back in the day, with Blastoise as a new battle Pokémon, along with Mew and Celebi as support. Also sporting new avatars and additional items, the Deluxe Battle Pack is available for purchase now on the Nintendo eShop. Wave 1 will release later this month; Wave 2 will be available in March.
Super Mario Odyssey: Luigi’s Balloon World
Perhaps one of the most interesting bits of info from the Direct mini was news about a new mode coming to Super Mario Odyssey. Made available after completing the main storyline, Balloon World is an online competitive mode that has you…hiding and finding balloons? This sounds simple and borderline unimpressive, but Nintendo’s greatest quality is being able to take odd concepts and make them succeed. Don’t believe me? Do a search for “Nintendogs”, then come back and apologize.
For Balloon World, the rules are just like hide-and-seek. In Hide It mode, you’ll have half a minute to place a balloon in a hard-to-find spot. The harder your balloon is to find, the more points you’ll earn. In Find It mode, locating other players’ balloons as quickly as possible is your objective. Nintendo describes this side of the add-on as objective-based speed running. This is a big nod to a hardcore subculture of gamers. Or maybe it’s just a clever marketing ploy to drum up interest in SMO. When the free update hits next month, you can find out for yourself.
Dark Souls: Remastered
Praise the sun! The end of the Direct mini made a big statement with a simple image. (As we’ve seen before, this technique stirs excitement in the masses.) Upon its release, Dark Souls was a reminder to the current generation of how brutal video games used to be. With a trilogy of games in the series, and spiritual “cousins” in Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne, it’s safe to say that there’s an appetite for this level of difficulty among today’s gamers.
In addition to an HD graphics overhaul, Dark Souls Remastered will be sporting an improved frame rate. (Note: The Switch version sees 1080p, 30fps docked, and 720p, 30fps in handheld mode.) The online mode will also see tweaks. Up to six players will be able to be in the same online game at the same time. Also, the game will abandon peer-to-peer online in favor of dedicated servers. This is probably a smart move to avoid hiccups when playing online. The Remastered edition will also be available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One–no word about cross-platform online play yet. Releases May 25.
Other Direct mini Tidbits
- Kirby Star Allies is on its way, including the new Artist and Spider abilities. You’re able to combine abilities to create new ones. Honestly, I just want to get this so I can use Friend Throw over and over. Out on March 16.
- Dragon Quest Builders demo is out now.
- Hyrule Warriors Ultimate Version will release in the spring. This version will unite the Wii U and 3DS versions, combining all content and DLC from each release.
- Mario Tennis Aces, including a story mode for the first time since the GBA days, will come out in the spring.
- Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA comes out in the summer.
- SNK Heroines will have their own tag-team fighting game. Aiming for a summer release.
- New DLC for Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. DONKEY KONG, suckas!
- DK is also back in Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze with multiple updates. Diddy, Dixie, and Cranky are here, and Funky Kong has his own mode. Releasing in early May.
This Direct mini was interesting in many ways. It was pre-recorded, meaning you could scan the whole video for the highlights instead of having to watch the full thing live. It announced relatively minor updates, DLC, and re-releases instead of new titles, but was still exciting. Because of the mystery and subsequent hype around this broadcast, some may consider the Direct mini underwhelming. Nintendo is on too good of a roll, though, to let these fifteen minutes contain all its secrets for the first six months of the new year. Already, rumors are circulating of a full Direct that might take place later this month. It seems almost certain the Direct mini will be the jab that sets Nintendo fans up for an eventual uppercut. The only question left is when to expect it.