Nintendo Direct 3/3/2016 – The Key To My Heart

Oh, I think we can all guess what out of this Nintendo Direct most made me happy, but let’s stick to convention and go through the whole thing in order.

First, we start off with Shigeru Miyamoto, who introduces himself as a game developer for Nintendo, in case we just woke up from a coma, I guess. Star Fox Zero is shown first, with comparisons to the gameplay style of Star Fox 64, but with teleporters to make map exploration a bit more interesting. Miyamoto’s text is a bit dry, but it’s interesting to see the video to see some of the gameplay tidbits, like Katt making another run with the Star Fox team (presumably as a full member, like in Star Fox Command), as well as a guaranteed return of the series’ best villain, Wolf O’Donnell (though he wants you to know that playtime is over, so update your memes accordingly). Two-player mode is pilot-gunner – one controls the Arwing, and one controls the guns. I admit, I prefer this style – not enough offline co-op games these days in my opinion. Oh, and the Fox amiibo also unlocks the classic SNES Arwing; one can only hope Falco’s amiibo does something similar.

Interestingly, this isn’t all the Star Fox news we get – Project Guard from a couple years ago is now revealed to be Star Fox Guard, a tower defense style game that inexplicably features Slippy, the least-popular Star Fox team member and his uncle Grippy, who are using cameras to protect a mining operation. Not that spectacular, which might be why it’s being bundled with Star Fox Zero, coming out on April 22.

Next, Bill Trinan announces a balance update for Splatoon – guess the update lifespan is longer than it first seemed. Excellent, since this bodes well for Super Mario Maker‘s potential list of upgrades. Everyone, hold out hope; slopes may still be coming. Especially since the second (!) announced update includes new weapons as well. Most of these updates will be announced on the Splatoon subsite, so those interested will just have to check that out. Still, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, every time Nintendo shows that they’ll keep supporting their games with free online updates, I’m happy.

Next is Mario & Sonic at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Well, if nothing else, it should be cleaner than the real Rio Olympics, and less ruinous for the Brazilian government… but we don’t want to get too much into politics here. What is important is that we apparently get rugby in this edition, which satisfies the long-wondered question – if Bowser and Robotnik get into the scrum together, can we still keep an E rating in the game? In all seriousness, we know what to expect out of this title at this point, so those who are excited, have at it. Though I will say, as a veteran of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, it’s still weird, to this day, to see Mario and Sonic in the same game together. I will never quite get over this.

Next is what we’re all at this site for – to hear me blather. Wait, no; nobody’s here for that. It’s Super Mario Maker time! They announce that 6.2 million courses have been uploaded, and I’ve played at least 4000 of them myself. Clearly, I’ve been slacking. But here’s a new set of elements for us. First, shaking Thwomps turns them into skewers, first seen in Super Mario World. I had almost forgotten about those; great addition. It gives more variety in things descending or ascending to my doom. Even better, though, P-switches will shake into keys – finally, sweet, sweet key action to make puzzles even more in-depth. Heck, this announcement alone has me considering holding off on my next planned level until keys are ready. Plus, shaking doors again after they’re P-doors turns them into key doors. Great on a few levels. One, of course, is that keys are useful. But beyond that, Nintendo isn’t limiting themselves to just two items per slot in build mode. Maybe more power-ups are in the cards. Oh, and enemies can hold keys for proper boss fights, something nearly impossible before (outside certain Clown Car levels). Finally, in a variant of our friend the red coin, you can shake coins to make pink coins that must be collected to get keys. Finally, we get a 100-Mario Challenge Super Expert Mode, for those who think they can get past levels marked Super Expert six times in 100 lives. Too rich for my taste, but I appreciate that they’re catering to the upper echelons of players in addition to the rest of us. March 9 is when this update drops, so for those eager to play with the new elements, less than a week away.

We next switch into one of the odder concepts I’ve been hearing about for a while – Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, the crossover between Fire Emblem and Persona. This makes sense on a gameplay standpoint, sure. Tactical RPG meeting a classic-style RPG with heavy tactical consideration? Not hard at all to see how the playstyles mesh. Setting, though? Especially when they’re pulling from Persona 4: Dancing All Night? I can practically guarantee that this is a game that will confuse people when it comes out, disappear from shelves quickly, then become one of those games that’s such a cult that you’ll see alt palettes referencing it in Fire Emblem characters in future Smash Bros. games for ages. June 24 is when it lands (way sooner than I expected; maybe the fact that they’re sticking to the Japanese voice tracks is helping speed it along), so prepare accordingly.

Next is Lost Reavers, a WiiU game that features a phrase I’m extremely skeptical of – free-to-play. They always say that, but you’re so hobbled unless you shell out. It’s like Pokemon Picross – you could theoretically unlock everything without paying, but it’d literally take about a year’s worth of playing. It sounds neat, like a co-op Tomb Raider with multiple options even in the same level, but with so little being told beyond that a two-week open beta starts on April 14th, I’m more than a bit skeptical of the whole thing. This feels like it has a lot of potential for being a buggy flash in the pan.

Paper Mario: Color Splash is next on the list, where the theme this time is bright colors that Mario can use to his advantage. I like the concept of going wild with colors… but the way the gameplay is demonstrated reminds me an awful lot of Paper Mario Sticker Star, and I might be attacked by pitchforks and torches for even mentioning that game. In particular, I would like to know if the Paint Hammer, Mario’s special tool this time, is customizable by the player – I might have fun if I could make whatever I wanted green. The way it’s presented, though, looks like a generic and less interesting version of the various interaction gimmick mechanics in the last three Mario & Luigi games. We’ll find out later if I’m just being pessimistic.

The Faron League of fighting is the focus of Pokken Tournament, and more detail is shown for the game. In particular, I enjoy that the actual numerical values associated with attacks and health bars are shown (all fighting games use them; they’re just not advertised for various reasons, mostly due to tournament play I suspect). I do appreciate that they give some basic attack style tips for Lucario, Machamp, and Gengar; I suspect that I’ll like switching between Machamps’ throw-heavy stylings and Gengar’s deceptive play. I’ll be at least pondering this on March 18; I’ve had some good times with Tekken in the past, so the style may just suit me.

Of course, we can’t forget what happens tomorrow – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. That said, because they want to hype the behind the scenes videos of that, they just mention that launching tomorrow with the game. I’m actually going to skip this, but only because I’m one of those lucky few that own the Gamecube version of the original. I really don’t have a need for this one, no matter how pretty it is.

My Nintendo is briefly hyped, but nothing new is really said about it. No, really, sign up, pretty please? It’ll be so much more awesome than Club Nintendo, promise. Look, I’ll sign up, sure; not like I’m going to stop using Nintendo products. But seriously, it’d be nice if there was some explanation as to what will make this so much better.

Mini Mario & Friends amiibo Challenge is the next announcement for the WiiU and 3DS. It’s a free download (this time, not as scared, as the up front cost is pretty obviously “Mario-related amiibo”), though as there are only 10 levels per figure, I’m not sure what’s going to really pull folks in to actually keep it around. I do appreciate that each character has its own special abilities, but only 10 levels each? And it only works for 10 amiibo total? Eh, I feel I can pass.

One thing that’s nice for those of us (not me yet, though) with the New 3DS – Super Nintendo Virtual Console titles will start appearing. I do appreciate, among other games, that EarthBound is one of the ones shown as being available (as of March 24th) – Nintendo finally remembers the Mother fandom in the US without being prompted! Okay, it hasn’t gotten us Mother 3 yet, but it’s not unreasonable anymore.

Next, we have Game Freak’s exciting new game, which we assuredly were all waiting for, Poke… wait, Pocket Card Jockey? Driving a race horse forward with a game of solitaire? Look, we’re talking about the team that got started with Mendel Palace (I’m not the only one who played this, right? Hudson Soft released it on the NES), where you flipped floors to fight killer dolls. Nobody should be surprised. Though I am a bit surprised that they actually include a “put them out to stud” mechanic. That’s… uh… interesting.

Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 gets play next. You know, by the former makers of Mega Man games that do get their products out. Anyhow, Gunvolt’s rival is now playable, and the announcement is along with a sale (until June) of the original, which isn’t bad at all. About the only thing keeping me from leaping on board immediately is that my 3DS is almost full. Good thing I’m planning on a New 3DS soon.

They announce that Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation is coming out. Again. Given that they announced this several times before, I’m starting to wonder if they’re just padding at this point. Yes, I’m glad you’re hitting your release dates, but I’ve got reviews to write; get to the new announcements!

Hyrule Warriors Legends is next; this has me excited, as this is my primary reason for jumping onto the New 3DS. The WiiU version was already tons of fun; I can’t wait to give this version a whirl. Now, if you’re like me and have been following the Japanese news on it intently, nothing is new, but they confirmed a season pass for this, as well as the ability to transfer the new characters (Skull Kind! Finally!) to the WiiU version as well. Also, a preorder bonus at GameStop, but I really shouldn’t be editorializing about pre-orders here. That’s a piece enough people have written all about. I do give credit for revealing Medley, from The Legend of Zelda: the Wind Waker, as a free new DLC character for both games, though. I definitely didn’t see that coming.

Next is Disney Art Academy. So far as I can tell, these types of software don’t really help anyone become good at art. That said, something that lets my kid make Mickey and Donald is something that can keep her occupied for hours, and there’s something to be said for that.

More about the new jobs in Bravely Second: End Layer are also shown. I do admit that the wizard, who can customize spells further, sounds intriguing. Also, as someone who inhabits the Internet and thus spends way too much of my time looking at cat pictures, the announced catmancer class is up my alley. But it still comes down to this – do you want a game with a similar battle system to Final Fantasy V in your life? If so, get it. I sure will.

Dragon Quest has been getting more love from Nintendo of late than it has from Square Enix; this might be why it gets such a nice spot in the Direct for Dragon Quest VII‘s remake for the 3DS. The new world maps and models are not bad, but what really appeals to me is the new translation. Trust me, the original PlayStation version had an “all your base” vibe to it. Not good; this will hopefully give it a chance to shine. No specific date is announced yet, but this will hopefully be what classic RPG fans have been waiting for.

One game getting a full announcement is the American version of Monster Hunter Cross, Monster Hunter Generations. I can appreciate the uncluttered concept and that this one apparently gives you tons of room to customize… all that said, the series in general always feels like someone missed the point of Shadow of the Colossus. I’m sure fans will be excited, but it’s not really for me.

We next turn to Metroid Prime Federation Force, and they send out Kensuke Tanabe to explain it. They only vaguely allude to the negative reaction this game has received previously, and they do their best to describe the experience behind all parties as to why this will work. There’s just one problem, Nintendo – the Metroid fanbase at this point is your version of the Fallout fanbase. It will never be happy again. Ever. For better or for worse, embrace that and make the games you want to make. Don’t justify; just make games.

We get more Rhythm Fever with Rhythm Fever Megamix for 3DS; I appreciate that they’re going to cull from all previous entries (including the Japanese-only GBA version). As usual, it feels like a simple but colorful tap-along game with an aesthetic along the lines of WarioWare; it should be a cute diversion here and there.

Finally, we get a new announcement – Kirby: Planet Robobot for the 3DS, which is what happens when you realize that Meta Knight shouldn’t be the only Kirby character that gets to use cool stuff like the machinery on the Halberd. Both Kirby and the robot get copy abilities, which can also be gained via amiibo (some, like Mario, give set abilities). It also comes with an RPG-style multiplayer game, where you take a role, use it to fight bosses, and can level them up, like if Kirby decided to take a break and play Secret of Mana. Finally, this game launches in June with new Kirby amiibo, which means that I’m on the hook to get my kid yet another King Dedede toy. What can I say, we have standards at Chez Footsteps.

In all, a solid Nintendo Direct. Some of it was padding, but almost everything announced got something new attached to the property, whether it was a reveal of new content or a release date (Fire Emblem, though, couldn’t something have been new?). And, of course, new course styles for us, including the prospect of true boss fights. Maybe not the most amazing Direct, but there’s enough that there’s something that should satisfy almost everyone; the only disappointment is nothing new announced about Pokemon Sun and Moon. Still, I’m sure that will come soon; I predict we’ll hear about the starters in less than a month. But until then, signing off and preparing my upcoming stage builds.

About the author

32_Footsteps

30-plus year veteran of the Koopa Wars. The things I've seen, the levels I've played... let me tell you of them.

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