On this day, September 13, 2022, a 42-minute Nintendo Direct took place. Nintendo Directs are always a big deal for Nintendo fans. The company uses this format to announce their biggest surprises, as well as a lot of small surprises that underwhelm fans hoping for a big one. Here’s the lowdown.
The September Nintendo Direct opened with every Nintendo fan’s favorite series: Fire Emblem. The trailer revealed the first gameplay of “the toothpaste man,” called so by fans due to his red-and-blue toothpaste-stripe hair color first seen in leaked screenshots. It seems those leaks were the real deal. The game is called Fire Emblem Engage, releasing 1/20/23. It looks like traditional Fire Emblem tactical warfare, with a special mechanic: The heroes can perform a fusion dance with old characters from the series to borrow their powers.
Next was a round of headlines:
- It Takes Two. First released last year, this co-op platformer is coming to Switch on November 4th. The game centers around a feuding husband and wife who turn into dolls instead of going to therapy.
- Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse. First released on the Wii in 2008, the game is coming to Switch in 2023 for the first time in English. Fatal Frame is an old-school horror series about fighting ghosts with an exorcising camera, like a spooky Pokemon Snap.
- Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Expansion Pass Volume 2. Features Ino, a new robogirl hero with an incredibly shrill voice. Also adds Challenge Battles, which are probably battles that are especially challenging. Launches October 13th, with two more Volumes to come.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake. This was a known thing, but it now has a release window of 2023. The trailer boasts seven worlds, over 30 costumes, and the original voice cast. SpongeBob platformers seem to have been doing well lately.
- Fitness Boxing Fist of the North Star. Kenshiro and friends lead a fitness program as they pummel enemies. Honestly not a bad crossover, as long as players maintain the proper form. Punching at Fist of the North Star speeds is inadvisable without some stretching and warm-ups first.
- OddBallers. Looks like a wacky multiplayer brawler in the vein of Gang Beasts. Launches early next year.
- Tunic. This clearly Zelda-inspired game looks beautiful and got rave reviews when it released on Xbox in March. The Switch seems like a natural home for it, but it did look like the framerates weren’t as good as they’re supposed to be.
- Front Mission Remakes. We knew about the first and second games, but there was some more info about new content coming to the stylish re-imagining, as well as confirmation of a remake of the thrid game as well.
- Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life. This appears to be a remake of the Gamecube game of the same subtitle, then called Harvest Moon. It releases Summer 2023, twenty years after its original form. It’s always nice to see old classics reborn like this, if done well.
Next on the September Nintendo Direct schedule, they announced the first Splatfest for Splatoon 3. These are contests in which players choose a team, then earn points over a series of intense battles. This time, the teams are based on the question “what would you take to a deserted island”: Gear, Grub, or Fun. It’s not likely that anyone who chooses “Fun” will automatically die in battle, as they would on the deserted island, but it would be fitting. The Splatfest will run from the 23rd to the 25th of this month.
Then, a major announcement: Octopath Traveler 2. The original Octopath, released on Switch in 2018, was a big beautiful HD-2D RPG, but it had a couple flaws. Although the eight new characters have the same classes as the cast of the first game, the setting is dramatically different. It went from a fairly standard medieval setting to a more modern one, including both samurai and cowboys – a major upgrade. A sequel to such a massive game is an ambitious undertaking, and it will be interesting to see how it turns out. Releases 2/24/23.
The second round of September Nintendo Direct headlines:
- Fae Farm. It feels like these farming sims are becoming more common recently. Everyone just wants to abandon modern society and grow crops. Anyway, this is one of those, but it’s multiplayer and you have fairy powers. Releases Spring 2023.
- Theatrhythm: Final Bar Line. A musical romp through all the Final Fantasies. Those chibi versions of the heroes look pretty weird, though. It releases 2/16/23, and it’ll get DLC tracks from other big Square games as well: SaGa, NieR, Octopath Traveler, even Live A Live!
- Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope. We knew about this, so there’s not much to say. The trailer has a little extra footage and info. Game releases October 20. It’s odd they didn’t mention the recently announced post-launch Rayman DLC – for some people, that would be the selling point.
- Rune Factory 3 Special. Originally for DS in 2008, now on Switch. Features include farming and transforming into a furry. The voice-over man adds, “Plus, a brand new mode has been added to help you enjoy more quality time with your in-game spouse.” The odds of hardcore sex scenes being added to Nintendo games are low… but never zero.
- A new Rune Factory “series” is also teased. See what I mean about those farming sims?
Next, a round of N64 titles added to the maybe-slightly-overpriced Nintendo Switch Online Plus.
- Pilotwings 64
- Mario Party 1, 2, and 3
- Pokemon Stadium 1 and 2
- 1080 Snowboarding
- Excitebike 64
- Goldeneye 007
Holy crap, Goldeneye. That’s a big one: a well-loved multiplayer shooter that required Nintendo to get the license for James Bond’s license (to kill). They’re adding online gameplay as well. All these games are planned to launch over the next several months.
Some more titles from the September Nintendo Direct:
- Various Daylife. “Perform over 100 types of daily tasks to build character.” This is somehow even more depressing than the farming sim rush, but at a glance it looks like a decent RPG. Releases today!
- Factorio. The definitive engineering sim on Switch is a moderately big deal. Check reviews before buying, though: sometimes Switch ports have weird performance issues. Launches October 28th.
- Ib. Another port, a “horror exploration game”. Looks very indie, which is a good thing. Releases Spring 2023.
- A free update to Mario Strikers: Battle League. New characters Pauline (finally) and Diddy Kong, and a new stadium. This game got a lot of flak at launch because of its light roster, so hopefully this will make up for it a little.
- Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key. The niche Atelier series seems to be doing well on Switch, if this new title is any indication. Launches 2/24/23.
- Two tracks announced for Wave 3 of the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass: Merry Mountain from Mario Kart Tour, and Peach Gardens from Mario Kart DS. Nothing as important as Waluigi Pinball from Wave 2, but it’s nice to know what’s coming up. Available this holiday.
- A free update to Switch Sports. It’s golf, featuring courses from the ever-popular Wii Sports series. Includes something called “Survival Golf” which is an online mode that eliminates the worst-performing golfers. Where we puttin’, boys? Releasing Holiday 2022, delayed a little from its initial announcement.
Suddenly, a special guest arrives: Miyamoto! He talked about the Mario Movie and Super Nintendo Land, but that’s meatspace stuff so I zoned out.
“I’d like to talk a little bit about Pikmin,” he says. Wait, what!?
False alarm: he just wanted to explain how the mobile game Pikmin Bloom works. I guess no one is playing it and it’s making him sad.
False false alarm! He just officially announced Pikmin 4, releasing next year! No gameplay yet, but this will have to do for now… but it’s worth remembering that the last time Miyamoto said Pikmin 4 was almost finished was seven years ago.
Last round of game announcements in the September Nintendo Direct:
- Just Dance 2023. I assume these games are alright, because they keep getting made. Releases November 22.
- Harvestella. You guessed it: a farming sim. Less relaxing than the usual farming sims, though, thanks to the “season of death.” We knew about this one, but here’s a little more footage and a demo, releasing today.
- Bayonetta 3. A short update confirming the game’s release on October 28th, with a new trailer on Nintendo’s YouTube channel.
- Master Detective Archives: Raincode. From the brilliant (?) minds behind anime murder mystery series, Danganronpa. It seems to continue Danganronpa’s theme of “Phoenix Wright but the mechanics are ridiculous”: the player is seen making logical deductions in the form of a mental minecart ride. Releases Spring 2023.
- Resident Evil: Cloud Version. The modern Resident Evil series – Seven, Eight, Remake 2 and Remake 3 – is sort of coming to Switch. We’ve heard conflicting reports on the quality of the Kingdom Hearts cloud versions, so take caution before buying. It “releases” October 28, and there’s a free demo if you want to test it now.
- Sifu. Martial-arts brawler where you age when you lose. Originally released in February, now releasing on Switch today. Well-liked, and worth a look if the port’s okay.
- Crisis Core: Reunion. A remake of the colorful FFVII spinoff Crisis Core. You can be dead sure that this game will have essential plot details for anyone who wants to understand the story of the various upcoming FFVII remakes. Releases December 13.
- Radiant Silvergun. Here’s a throwback – this one is a Treasure arcade game from 1998. Launching today.
- Endless Dungeon. A multiplatform roguelike, releasing next year.
- Tales of Symphonia Remastered. It’s old – Gamecube-era – but some still claim it’s the best in the Tales Of series. From the trailer, it looks exactly like I remember it. Meaning, it looks like Gamecube graphics. If you can stomach that much, there’s a well-loved, massive action RPG behind it. Releases early 2023.
Then, a quick sizzle reel of games:
- Life is Strange: Arcadia Bay Collection. Releasing September 27, 2022.
- Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered. Releasing December 1, 2022.
- LEGO Bricktales. Fall 2022.
- Disney Speedstorm. 2022.
- Fall Guys Season 2. Launching September 15, 2022.
Next to last, they announced Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, another Wii game ported to Switch. It first launched in 2011, a solid if basic entry in the series. The Deluxe version will have better multiplayer and a little extra content.
The very last announcement in the September Nintendo Direct is a long-awaited update to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2. It was a short trailer with a little new footage, and an official subtitle reveal: Tears of the Kingdom. Its official release date is now May 12, 2023. There wasn’t much actual gameplay in the trailer to analyze, although I did see a neat glider platform, but the game theorists will be along with their five-hour analyses by tomorrow. Let’s hear it for those guys!