Despite a slightly antisocial start time in the UK (11pm), Nintendo has once again graced us with a Direct to share trailers and announcements about their upcoming releases.
This time though, the headline-grabbing news wasn’t about games at all. In fact, stealing the tweets and coverage was the voice casting news for the upcoming Super Mario-themed film, which will bring us Chris Pratt as Mario, Charlie Day as Luigi and Anya Taylor-Joy in 2022.
Of course, we’re dedicated to games first around here, so we’ve got a few thoroughly playable highlights from the show for you. What are yours? Let us know in the comments.
Like Liam, Kirby and the Forgotten Land was my September 2021 Nintendo Direct highlight. There was a time when the Switch first came out where it felt like Nintendo was going all out on rejuvenating it’s biggest franchises. After starting the generation with daring titles like Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey, however, Nintendo quickly settled back into its groove of playing things safe.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land recaptures that initial excitement. The franchise is going full 3D and already looks to have been lavished with far more care and attention than (the admittedly enjoyable) Kirby Star Allies. It’s the next big step for the franchise and I’m 100% here for it.
It was also great to see Platinum Games’ Bayonetta 3 in action several years after its announcement. This closed out the show in the right way, notably giving fans their first glimpse at the game’s enormous kaiju battles. Just when players think that the series can’t get any crazier, the Umbra Witch ups the ante all over again.
Additionally, Nintendo 64 games are finally coming to the Switch Online service - with a big caveat. Accessing them requires subscribing to a new higher tier, so, rather than adding (much needed) value for existing subscribers, Nintendo is putting the squeeze on its most dedicated customers.
While the addition of N64 has been long-begged for by fans, the inclusion of it as an “Expansion pack” (see what you did there Nintendo), rather than a free addition, (like Sam), I found it quite disappointing. Slipping Sega Genesis (or MegaDrive) games into Switch Online as well doesn’t quite tip the balance, despite the draw of playing Streets of Rage 2 for the umpteenth time.
Will Bayonetta 3 be the installment that finally gets me to try the series? Considering I own the original on the 360 at this very moment and still haven’t got to it two generations later, chances are slim. Still, the game looks great, in a rare example of Switch games really feeling like they show off some visual finesse.
Kirby is a character I’ve never had any run-ins with, outside Super Smash Bros. stages, so the potential for an expansive adventure is definitely appealing – given Breath of the Wild 2 still feels such a long way away.
In all there was a fair amount packed in, but not a lot of content which really seems to make the most of the Switch’s form factor. The shining light amongst it all is Splatoon 3, which I really hope gives a tasty singleplayer experience from the off, after it passed me by as DLC last time around.
What was your favourite part from the Direct? Let us know.
After Gamescom brought us the latest from Microsoft and some of the big third-party publishers, this week came Sony’s turn to give us a glimpse at what they’ve been up to with their PlayStation Showcase.
The hour-long event kicked off with a live-action spin on a traditional chess game, some off-beat content it feels like we haven’t really had since the likes of “Flute Guy” at 2018’s E3. Importantly, we heard from many of Playstation Studios’ fleet of first-party studios.
What was your highlight from the show? Let us know in the comments.
Liam | Tchia
While it was cool to see Wolverine getting his own game, the cinematic trailer didn’t really give away anything. I’m not averse to a good cinematic, but the lack of gameplay footage from the other big reveals - namely, Spider-Man 2 and Knights of the Old Republic Remake – was a bit disappointing.
One title that did give us a decent look at some gameplay was Tchia. I’m not sure how I missed the game’s initial reveal, but I’m glad I’ve finally caught up as it looks like a very interesting one.
The bright, colourful visuals look great, and the animal/object ‘soul jump’ ability, which sees you take control of the targeted creature or item, seems like a lot of fun. As a big fan of The Wind Waker, there was a lot to like in the trailer, with Tchia seemingly taking some inspiration from the former (the Deku leaf-like glider, possessing a seagull, etc.)
It was disappointing not to see a solid release date (for some of the other aforementioned titles, too) but at least it means I won’t have to try and get hold of a PS5 until they are (hopefully) more readily available.
Sam | Licensed games
There was a time when licensed games wore a badge of dishonour, mostly being known for pulling the wool over consumers’ eyes. They’d sell themselves on recognizable characters, often to children, then deliver very little in terms of narrative and gameplay. Years of endless cash grabs gave the genre a bad name, but the September PlayStation Showcase did a lot to remedy that.
Licensed games have been steadily increasing in quality, to the point that they now comprise much of Sony’s PS5 exclusive games line-up. Marvel’s Wolverine, Spider-Man 2 and Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic were all highlights of the live stream. Players love these characters and universes, but, rather than approaching with caution, now feel comfortable expressing genuine excitement.
While it isn’t an exclusive, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy also debuted a new trailer. There is a risk of superhero fatigue creeping into gaming, as it already has for some with cinema, but it looks to be righting many of the wrongs perpetrated by Marvel’s Avengers. It would’ve been easy to make the game always online and crammed with microtransactions, though seemingly lessons have been learned.
Microsoft is following suit by bringing Machine Games’ Indiana Jones to Xbox consoles, while Nintendo has leveraged the Marvel Ultimate Alliance brand. With all platform holders using licenses as exclusive system sellers, the turnaround is quite pronounced.
What was your PlayStation Showcase highlight?