The highly anticipated January Direct for Nintendo has finally arrived, this time in the form of a fifteen minute, ‘mini’ presentation. It was completely unexpected, appearing without notification: a clear response to the desperate, crying fans. While the event itself was particularly short, the content was packed to the brim with remasters, ports, a few new titles with release dates and tons of surprises – even if they did raise a handful of questions about Nintendo’s plans in 2018.
One of their biggest announcements came with the release of both Hyrule Warriors and Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze for Nintendo Switch later in the year, both without an official date. Originating from the Wii U, these ports bolster the Switch’s second year line-up and give a completely new experience to those who didn’t own the previous home console. This is a fantastic offering of content, even if you have played it, because of the portable capabilities the Switch has. It brings a fresh perspective to an older title and allows those who want to play it to purchase it. Those who aren’t interested by the prospect don’t have to purchase it, so this was a great business move – although an announcement of a new title in development for Donkey Kong would have cemented the feelings towards this reveal.
A large portion of this direct highlighted Nintendo’s sudden push towards DLC content, most likely due to the recent success of Breath of the Wild’s ‘Champion’s Ballad’. Pokken Tournament continues to add more characters, support characters and outfits for trainer customisation, keeping the base game enjoyable and all the more competitive. Aegislash and Blastoise will deepen the strategy of the game and maintain its audience’s activity, giving players a reason to continue playing and improving. After that, Donkey Kong was revealed as a character for Mario and Rabbids: Kingdom Battle DLC, which was surprisingly entertaining to see. It wasn’t a gameplay trailer, but it was appealing nonetheless. Finally, the free content, Mario Odyssey will be receiving a hide and seek style balloon mini game, as well as three new outfits. While it may have value to some and it is a free update coming in February, it doesn’t provide much sustenance for warranting plenty more hours. Sure, the primary game experience provides tens of hours, but this update could have been much, much more. Whether or not Mario Odyssey receives an expansive update, that remains to be seen.
Nintendo did outline a few first party titles that were brand new, including Mario Tennis Aces and the already announced Kirby Star Allies. The latter was dated for a March 16th release, putting it aproximately two weeks after the Switch’s official first year anniversary. Mario Tennis was a sensationally colourful and aesthetically gorgeous game, while also reinforcing a solid single player campaign. It looks everything a good Mario Tennis game should be, so hopefully future directs will show more information on the mechanics and general gameplay ahead of release. Kirby Star Allies looked like a fun experience with lots of potential, bleeding charm and humour onto the screen. Both of these titles look relatively strong releases to further develop the Switch’s still rather mysterious second year.
Now, Nintendo’s concluding reveal: Dark Souls Remastered. This had been speculated for months, so the reveal itself wasn’t as impressive as it may have initially seem. But, upon further reflection, this is actually an incredibly great achievement. Being able to play Dark Souls on a portable system is a testimont to how far mobile technology has come. To those wanting darker, more challenging games for their library, there aren’t many better than this. The trailer itself was very short and didn’t show any form of gameplay, making for something to look forward to in eager anticipation for the future.
A few smaller announcements were made, including a demo of Dragon Quest Builders, a release date for Payday 2, a NIS America new title and a remastered version of The World Ends With You. All of this points to more content, and therefore a wider range of audiences being catered for. Nintendo are accomodating for every possible audience they could ever need at this moment in time, and these titles solidify that.
While this direct disappointed the hearts of those awaiting a lengthy direct, it answered some very crucial questions while also adding to the enigma and excitement for the coming months to build upon. As we draw closer to the Switch’s first year anniversary, it is becoming more and more apparent that Nintendo is readying themselves. They’re preparing all they can possibly muster, but it will require patience and acknowledgment. This was a ‘mini’ direct, and anyone who thought otherwise was only going to be disheartened. If this is a small presentation, just think what they have in their arsenal come their larger events. This reiterates the fact that Nintendo has a lot of different avenues and approaches they could take, it’s just a case of gradually placing us in the situation and revealing the shocks and surprises on the biggest of stages. Whether you agree with the porting scenario or not, the addition of such quality games – that, granted, didn’t sell particularly well on their previous system – only benefits the Nintendo Switch’s library. You may have wanted to see a new title revealed for a beloved franchise, but you have to appreciate that it takes a lengthy time to create something from the ground works. Be patient, Nintendo knows exactly what they’re doing. This year is already off to an interesting, content heavy start and I’m sure that will continue to progress as the months pass.