In the past Nintendo has had a few nothing Directs, which made people feel like they had just wasted thirty minutes of their lives just by watching it – this was not one of those directs. People might still feel that way down to personal taste and preference, but in objective terms Nintendo announced a good number of things with broad general appeal.
Of primary interest for TDT readers is the information revealed about Dragon Quest XI S, which will release with new story content for every party member, a brand new orchestral soundtrack, and a 2D pixel graphics mode (taken from the Japan-only 3DS release). Readers will recall that one of the primary criticisms that TDT has made of the Nintendo release of Dragon Quest XI has been that the 3DS version with the beautiful 2D graphics would have been preferable to a Switch version with a bad framerate and watered-down 3D graphics taken from the PS4 release. This obviously goes a long way to address most of our complaints about Nintendo’s choice of which version to localise. Obviously this version lacks the 3DS’s 3D effect, which looks amazing in conjunction with 2D tile-based graphics, but then this is a whole lot better than the nothing we previously thought we were getting.
An NPC with the Wall Street Journal has already reached out to Square Enix to ask whether this additional content will be available to PS4 owners in the form of paid DLC, to which Square Enix indicated that they have yet to decide. This may mean that we will not have to buy a whole other version of the game just to get at those sweet 2D graphics, however when Square Enix has no intention of doing something they tend to give evasive replies like this [while hoping that people forget about it] instead of giving a definitive ‘no’ – so avoid holding your breath while awaiting DLC which may never come. The ball may not even be in Square Enix’s court. Nintendo seems to be the driving force behind the creation of this Switch port, and they are also serving as publisher, putting some heavy duty resources into the game’s marketing, so Square Enix may be contractually prohibited from giving away the unique selling points of the Switch version.
Content starved Nintendonlies were in luck with the announcement of a couple of same day releases. Tetris 99 kind of came out of left-field. When most developers hear that battle royale games are popular they seek to ape an existing formula, but when Nintendo hears this they ask themselves how they can possibly adapt this concept to the least likely game genre imaginable: puzzle games. So the name Tetris 99 pretty much tells prospective players exactly what it is – an online multiplayer version of Tetris, which pits up to 99 players against one another in a battle of endurance. The game is free for all Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. The other game to receive a surprise release was Final Fantasy IX, the second best PS1 Final Fantasy game, and probably the second or third best Final Fantasy overall. The port seems to be adapted from the smartphone just like the PS4 version, and it is generally a pretty good version. Character models are displayed in HD and have been retextured to bring them a little closer to modern standards, and the visual filter used on the game’s blurry 240p backgrounds is among the best one has seen used on a game from this era. The one black mark against this version of the game is that the background music resets after every random battle, so there are a bunch of tracks that players will ever hear all the way through to the end. Final Fantasy VII will release March 26 for the Switch, and if it is based on the PS4 version then its quality will be way worse than that of Final Fantasy IX.
The meat of this Nintendo Direct was really new game announcements, and leading the pack was Super Mario Maker 2, which will be releasing in June of this year. Mario Maker 2 is pretty much just more Mario Maker, but it now lets users create slopes, and adds in graphical assets from Super Mario 3D World for level creation, though levels are still locked to a 2D orientation. On the face of it this looks like an attractive product, but the TDT office speculates that Nintendo will almost certainly require an online subscription to upload and play created levels despite the game not featuring multiplayer.
Probably the biggest announcement for Nintendonlies would have been the surprise announcement of a Switch remake of 1993’s The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening to be released some time this year. The game’s graphics have been redone in a style that looks like the game’s assets have been sculpted out of plasticine, and it gives the game quite an appealing look to it. That being said, as someone who has never played the game, one would be more inclined to just play the GameBoy original with the beautifully stylised monochrome pixel graphics. The allure of the OG grapics are probably lost on anyone younger than an 80s kid though, so younger generations may need the graphical refresh to make the game more palatable.
Tokyo RPG Factory’s follow-up to I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear was announced to be
Onanaki, ahem, that is to say Oninaki. It is not actually an onanism simulator, but rather a throwback JRPG centered around the concept of reincarnation. Tokyo RPG Factory look to be trying a little bit harder with this release by utilising perspective changes during dialogue sequences, but that being said the game features a colour palate that one finds to be rather offputtingly garish. That might just be a case of personal preference though. The premise of the game is as follows:
Reincarnation is the foundation of our way of life. We celebrate the lives we’ve been given, and offer up prayers for the next.
It is grief of death which shackles the living, and causes the dead to stray. Indeed, there is no greater affront to reincarnation.
So do we turn our grief to joy as we send off the dead.
But the souls of those who held back their tears in life still need salvation in death. A duty that falls to the Watchers.
Their task is to guide the wandering souls known as the Lost, and serve as keepers of the Living World and the Beyond.
The Watchers sever the bonds that tie the Lost to this world, and send them on to the next. They navigate the emotions of the living and the dead. They prize life above all else.
This is the story of one Watcher.
Finally, probably the most interesting game announced during the Direct was Astral Chain. The game is an action title set in a dystopian cyberpunk Asian metropolis [presumably Tokyo]. It is being developed by action specialists Platinum Games, with Takahisa Taura [director of Nier Automata] serving as director, and Hideki Kamiya [Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry, Bayonetta] is supervising the project. The game will release on August 30, so it seems like the Switch has a lot of interesting releases clustered in and around the American Summer. This Direct seems to be just what the doctor ordered after 2018 being such a drought year for the Switch, though hopefully Nintendo will have more games to announce during E3 in order to pad out the end of the year.