News: Nintendo Direct Rundown

Nintendo’s Direct

This past week saw the first full length Nintendo Direct in over 500 days. There have been Nintendo Direct Mini presentations during this intervening period, yet this is the first full length one in quite some time. One suspects that people may have been expecting a little too much from this Direct, as, despite being packed to bursting with delightful announcements, literally everyone on the internet seems to have found a reason to be unhappy about it. Sure, people expecting a Breath of the Wild 2 release date may have reason to be dissatisfied – though this obviously could not happen specifically due to the announcement of a certain very special Wii port. Even if Breath of the Wild 2 is releasing this year, which seems likely due to it being a Zelda anniversary year (Christmas release?), it still will not be announced until after July. There was also an absence of Metroid Prime 4 information, yet anyone expecting any word on this is quite insane. The game is years away.

Is Matsuno involved?
Project Triangle Strategy is like a love letter to Final Fantasy Tactics fans.

The biggest stand-out announcement of the Direct was that the Octopath Traveller team are back, and this time they are bringing us a 2D-HD spiritual successor to Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre that for the time being is titled Project Triangle Strategy. The ‘triangle’ the game’s title is referencing is the fact that in-game decisions can be made along three philosophical vectors: morality, freedom, and utility. The player’s philosophical choices will determine which characters will choose to fight alongside them. This can prove to be very impactful, as the larger story junctures of the game will require that the player’s army vote on a particular course of action, and so if the player disproportionately recruits units from one particular philosophy then that will go a long way to determining the outcome to votes. That said, apparently the player will also be able to discover and present information to their units in order to sway their votes, and so the player likely is not locked into certain outcomes through the units they recruit.

Project Triangle Strategy‘s biggest departure from the Final Fantasy Tactics mould is probably the fact that the game will feature free-roaming exploration sections, replete with rotatable camera and several different diagatilt zoom magnifications. During these sections players will be able to talk to NPCs, do their shopping, and hunt down treasure and information. Depending on how meaningfully this is implemented, this stands to elevate Project Triangle Strategy above many of its genre contemporaries.

Important story decisions will be put to a vote.
The colour palette of the game is far more attractive than Octopath Traveller.

No word yet on whether Yasumi Matsuno has had anything to do with this project, but it seems unlikely. That being said, in recent years he has been hired to design a bunch of quests for Final Fantasy XIV, so his relationship with Square Enix does seem to have been suitably mended to the point where his involvement is not out of the question. Regardless, on first inspection Project Triangle Strategy‘s writing certainly seems to be in line with the sort of thing that Matsuno would write – so the game seems very promising on that front. The game’s music is being handled by Akira Senju, who is the anime composer responsible for scoring Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. There is currently a substantial demo available for the game, and Square Enix will be conducting a player survey in order to fine-tune elements of the game before release. The game will release in 2022, and it seems like it may be an even more impressive effort than Octopath Traveller.

In other Square Enix news a port of Legend of Mana has been announced, and it has been given the full Saga Frontier treatment with HD upscaled backgrounds and a remastered soundtrack. For the uninitiated, Legend of Mana is where the series started to turn bad, or if not bad then at least weird. The game sees the player collect objects which must be laid on a board in order to create new locations – and there are apparently optimal and extremely suboptimal ways of laying the pieces, which sounds like the opposite of fun. Legend of Mana will be releasing on June 24, and speaking of Saga Frontier, that game will be releasing on April 15.

The final big announcement of the Direct, and the reason that a Breath of the Wild 2 announcement was impossible, was Skyward Sword HD. This one has the TDT staff very excited on account of it being the first time (after a decade since release) that the game will be able to be played using physical controls – meaning that it will be the first time that this author will be able to play past its opening section, on account of the motion controls being borderline unusable. The game always had an extremely compelling art style, and the single best track of any Zelda OST – yet its positive elements always remained at arm’s length on account of its unusable control scheme – well no more! Link’s sword attacks will now be mapped to the Switch’s right analogue stick. The game will release on July 16, after which we may finally get some new information about Breath of the Wild 2.

At long last I can actually play the game!
The long rumoured Skyward Sword HD is finally a reality!

In terms of other first party Nintendo content there was some good and some bad. Mario Golf Super Rush looks pretty damn fun, and restores the RPG inspired story mode that has not been seen since its earlier entries. The game will also feature an online ‘speed golf’ mode, which looks unique to say the least. Players just hit the ball and run! The game will release on June 25. Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir and Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind are very, very obviously remakes of Famicom games, as their titles would suggest. The Famicom Detective Club games are visual novel adventure games, and the scenes look A LOT more animated than other games in this genre. The games look good, and will be releasing on May 14.

And Switch is just the platform for it!
Mario Golf Super Rush looks to return the series to its glory days.

In terms of the bad, one is only mentioning Miitopia and Splatoon 3 because they are Nintendo games, because other than that arbitrary detail they look extremely forgettable. Miitopia is a 3DS HD port of a babby’s first RPG starring the Mii avatars of the player and their friends list, while Splatoon 3 takes that series in an extremely ugly direction. Apparently Nintendo thinks that post apocalyptic settings have not been overplayed, because in Splatoon 3 everything looks brown, dirty, and all fucked up. The existing Splatoon aesthetic is extremely colourful and attractive, so it is absolutely mystifying why Nintendo has chosen to deliberately make the next game in the series look awful. Miitopia will release on May 21, while Splatoon 3 will release in 2022.

Because who wouldn't want Fallout in their colourful Nintendo property?!
Splatoon 3 looks extremely ugly!

Finally, there are a bunch of smaller sundry announcements. Xenoblade Chronicles 2‘s Pyra and Mythra will join the Smash roster some time in March. Fall Guys is coming to Switch six months too late this Summer. Monster Hunter Rise is releasing on March 26. No More Heroes 3 will release on August 27. Too Kyo Games (staffed by former Danganronpa staff), and publisher NIS will be releasing World’s End Club on May 28. The game looks to be a visual novel crossed with a sidescrolling action game, and focuses on the mystery of a group of teenagers who find themselves in a vacant and decaying Tokyo, inhabited by monsters. It looks pretty good. Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection will include Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, and will release on June 10. Finally, Neon White is a fast paced first person card-based action game. It looks very interesting, but if the execution is lacking then it could be terrible. It will release this Winter.

This Direct may not have given every person every last thing on their wishlist, but is it fair or even rational to expect more than this? There have been Nintendo Directs that people have lauded where the announcements were not as good as this. Maybe Nintendo should just take it as a compliment that their platform has become so dominent that people expect the heaven and earth from it, so when they are merely given the moon they become upset. As it stands, for this author, this Direct is probably the best one we have had since the first year of the Switch’s life, and probably not one that will soon be bested.

18 comments

  1. Even more than the aesthetic of Splatoon 3 (which may end up being a misleading element of the trailer), I’m annoyed that two of this series is going to exist on one console. Just support Splatoon 2 better until a new console! The game feels well-populated now. I still play it relatively often and I never have problems getting matches whether I’m playing solo, doubles, or with a team of four, so forcing people to spend $80 for a bow weapon and the ability to have better control over their initial spawn points is more than a bit annoying.

    I was very excited about the detective games until I learned that they will be priced at $55 CAD *a piece*. I’ll be firmly waiting for a significant sale for those and will play my Ace Attorney collection until then whenever I want to scratch that itch.

    Great to hear that SS:HD is getting a physical control option (not to mention making use of the control scheme you imagined on the podcast some months ago!), but the motion controls are far from *checks notes* unusable. I beat the game for the third time this year and didn’t have a single moment when a missed swipe was anything but my fault. I’ve heard similar opinions to yours from many people and it seems to me that after years of waggle people (reasonably, to be fair) didn’t think there was anything substantial to Skyward Sword’s motion control design and so also never bothered to actually learn how to improve at the controls (you admit yourself to barely spending any time with the game!) Anyway, despite the motion controls being extremely well-implemented, the argument to not like them or to not want to ever use them has always been fair and so it is only a good thing to be given the option to opt out.

    I was ready to roll my eyes at the alternate game modes for Mario Golf, but speed golf looks like a blast. Sign me up.

    Thanks for the spirited write-up as always!

  2. I mean you literally have to recalibrate the controls every ten minutes to remind Wii motion Plus which direction the screen is, but I guess that is *checks bizzaro world dictionary* usable.

  3. Pressing a single button which takes a fraction of a second (and is also useful if you want to intentionally recalibrate based off of a changing sitting position, etc) every ten minutes isn’t very frequent (or inconvenient) in my books, but that also was certainly not the frequency I encountered after I became familiar and more adept with the controls.

    My dissent is based on my experience of three full playthroughs over the course of a decade. I also agreed with you and said positive things in greater quantity which I wrote just as earnestly! I hope that wasn’t lost in my comment about the quality of Skyward Sword’s motion controls.

  4. You are certainly not the only gamer who has ever persevered with broken controls.

    I also agreed with you and said positive things in greater quantity which I wrote just as earnestly! I hope that wasn’t lost in my comment about the quality of Skyward Sword’s motion controls.

    Not at all, points of agreement just don’t require much of a response.

  5. No matter how much you don’t like them, the controls aren’t broken. I actually don’t particularly like them either, but they are simply not broken. A decade-old memory of a few hours of gameplay simply isn’t enough to construct a reasonable argument. Your stubbornness on this confuses me. This isn’t an ideological debate or a matter of preference like the matter of sexual appeal in video games on which I’m happy to disagree and am grateful for an alternate view.

    If you simply don’t respect my opinion or experience with the game then I can accept that, but I would at least appreciate you telling me that directly.

    And I think points of agreement are a good opportunity to try and connect in a positive way, which I am interested in doing with you.

  6. The controls are broken – and even the developers knew this, which is why they created a dedicated recalibration button so that users could fix them every ten minutes.

  7. The recalibration button is for human movement rather than for actual calibration. The game doesn’t rely on pointer controls *at all* (with the sole inexplicable exception of once before the game starts, perhaps for the misguided reason of giving the player a “default”, which I think is counter-productive). The controls mimic pointer controls, but actually use motion to simulate pointer controls which allows for a flexible and controllable scheme that allows for the player to sit or stand however they like and change it at any time – like when playing any other game. Choosing where you want the Wiimote to think the TV screen exists in virtual space is superior to sensor bar input because it is flexible, dynamic, and unrestricted by physical blockages between you and the sensor bar. It’s more abstract, sure, and the game does a very poor job explaining that that’s how it actually works, yes, but that’s broken communication, not broken controls. Taking a second to feel out how the controls in a game work is always good practice and just because the controls were unfamiliar or frustrating to you makes no difference to their actual functionality. It’s a valid reason to not play a game and to posit that it’s not a good game, but that’s something different.

    Pressing a single direction button on the d-pad (again, this takes a literal fraction of a second) is absolutely no different than a button to re-centre the camera behind the player. Do you argue that an entire game’s control scheme is broken if it offers that option and you find yourself using it?

    I think Skyward Sword feels unfocused and poorly paced. Although it’s one of my favourite 3D Zelda games, I also think it’s one of the weakest. I have no issues talking about what doesn’t work in that game. A lot doesn’t work. The controls work.

    In this specific pedantic matter, you simply do not have the facts.

  8. The fact that the devs created a dedicated recalibration button (rather than sticking recalibration somewhere in the options menu) is a tacit acknowledgement of the problems that people have interacting with the control scheme. It probably didn’t get implemented until they started QA testing, and realised that the controls kept breaking.

    A manual recalibration button sure is better than nothing, but it means that the controls have to start going wonky each time before the user will think to use it – which hardly makes for a solid experience.

  9. That’s a fair theory, but I don’t think it’s consistent with the way the controls were designed as I described above.

    A major reason for why I say that is that there *is* a recalibration option in the options menu. That’s for when the controls actually go wonky and it involves putting the controller face down on a flat surface for a moment. I describe this whole issue as a communication issue because during my first playthrough I was always recalibrating in that options menu, thinking that the controls were off. But during my playthrough this year, I never calibrated it with that option beyond the initial mandatory instance when the game launches and I also had by far my most in-control playthrough. My theory is that the dev team felt like it would be easier to pretend to the user that the game used pointer controls and needed to point to the player’s physical TV instead of a malleable virtual one to alleviate confusion, but I think this ultimately caused more confusion. I think your opinion of the controls is common and with good reason; I think it reflects a major failing of the game, but once a player figures out how the controls were actually designed and that the dedicated “this is where I want the controller to think the centre of the screen is” button really is functionally extremely similar to a camera reset button in order to deal with the controller operating in a 3D virtual space, then it becomes clear that the game does a very poor job communicating how to think about its motion controls and therefore how to command them, but that the controls themselves function very smoothly.

    That being said, I ultimately do agree with you that what exists hardly makes for a solid experience. I’m very glad that Skyward Sword was an anomaly and didn’t become the new standard for Zelda controls.

  10. I would calibrate my controls, and then ten minutes later the game would think that the centre of my screen was off to the side. It was like my screen was coated with Teflon, and my Wiimote just could not stick to it – and this is despite the Wii having a sensor bar to theoretically inform it of the location of my television, and despite the game requiring the purchase of Wii Motion Plus. This control scheme may have been fine in theory if it was deployed on hardware that was capable of facilitating it – and it may indeed work fine on the Switch (I haven’t bothered to check out how capable the Switch’s motion capabilities are) – but on the Wii this control scheme was broken, and required constant band-aid fixes by the player.

    I don’t know how you managed to get it so that you didn’t need to recalibrate… Maybe the feng shuei of my room is wrong, and all the bad spiritual energy was blocking the positive chi of the Wiimote?

  11. My point is that the controls intentionally do *not* make use of the sensor bar and that choice is to the great benefit to the control scheme… in a vacuum. But what the game (and I) do poorly, is explain that fact. The game makes the choice of tricking the player into thinking that it *does* use the sensor bar and that you should be using your actual TV as a reference point. But when the player does that, well, you describe the experience perfectly. I understand that it would have been a lot more difficult and abstract to explain to the player how the controls actually work, but based on the average experience, I still think it would have been the more wise choice.

    So to be clear, I pressed the “this is where I want the controller to think the centre of the screen is” button all the time, but never had to go into the options to actually recalibrate once I understood how the motion actually functioned.

  12. Maybe the controls would be less broken if they actually used the sensor bar then? Just to remind the game of the location of the screen.

  13. I don’t think so. Using a malleable virtual screen location makes motion controls way more flexible and accurate. That’s what I’ve been trying to say. The way the controls actually work are a relief after experiencing the limitations of pointer controls in game after game. To summarize: the controls are not broken, the way they’re communicated to work is broken.

    Anyway, try them out again with this in mind sometime and then we can talk again. Your take is based off old and (justifiably) inaccurate information.

  14. If what you say about the game not using the sensor bar is true, then what seems to be going on is that the player manually calibrates the screen location with the calibration button, but then as soon as they move even slightly from their original position the calibration goes wonky because the game can’t tell that they have shifted their posture, at which point they need to recalibrate in order to inform the game of their new location in relation to the screen. That sounds very broken to me. Who wants to recalibrate the game each time you move in your seat?

    You could probably ensure that the controls remain accurate if you put a table in front of you, and then mark a spot on which you will rest your elbow, so that the location of the Wiimote won’t shift over time – but who wants to jump through that many hoops just to play a game?

  15. I maintain that it’s as much recalibrating the game as adjusting a game’s camera. It’s just a necessity for 3D space. But maybe it’s just me because I’ll often play claw on the PS4 just to manually be in control of the camera at all times. I don’t have to press the button every time I shift in my seat in Skyward, but I do whenever I make a major adjustment or sometimes I would press it depending on the item I was using because I preferred a different angle of attack. It became as second nature as resetting the camera to behind the player and just as useful, that’s why I defend it.

    Although, to reiterate, I’m just defending that they’re not broken. I still think it’s overall a suboptimal scheme for a Zelda game and I’ll take traditional controls any day given the choice. I also think the controls are a valid reason to have never given the game a proper chance, I just think they’re very well designed and often misunderstood.

  16. Actually, sorry for the double post, but my favourite set-up is actually Breath of the Wild which is more like Splatoon in which the buttons and joysticks comprise the vast majority of input, but motion can be used for fine-tuning aim for those sweet quick snap headshots. Motion is much better as support and not as the structure.

  17. Double posts are welcome. Make as many posts as you need (within reason).

    I actually don’t mind gyro when it’s used to finesse the physical controls. It can work quite well, and can usually be turned off if it doesn’t.

  18. Thanks!

    And yeah. It took an entire generation of oversteering, but I’m glad that motion has settled into its current state of complimenting traditional input.

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