September 24, 2021

Nintendo Direct (09/19): Weird is Good?

Last nights Nintendo Direct was… odd.

Whether you liked it or not depended largely on your taste for the oddball. After all, a Deadly Premonition SEQUEL was something none of us expected, and yet the cult classic not only is getting a modern-day follow up, it’s also been ported to the Switch and was shadow-dropped during the show. It’s definitely not a game for everyone; it’s very quirky and oddball, but in some respects that’s part of its charm and I know I was thrilled to see it make such a triumphant return.

Then there was another Wii U port – Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore. Again, this isn’t something that everyone is going to like or even enjoy; it’s a pretty far-out little JRPG, but it definitely has its fans and with new characters and new music, the people who do love it are in for a treat.

Personally, I think the Direct was confidently put together to show that whilst there are clearly big-name titles and brands coming to the Switch – Doom Eternal, Witcher 3, Link’s Awakening and more – that Nintendo hasn’t forgotten that one of the strongest selling points for many more battle-hardened gamers is the oddball, the quirky and the downright weird

I mean… this is still weird.

Which is why you saw a Sans costume for Smash Ultimate. It’s why we all saw Doom 64 make its return (though personally, I think playing the fan remake Brutal Doom 64 is a much better experience for newer players). It’s why Return of the Obra Dinn is landing on the Switch, and it’s why Nintendo were able to showcase Super Kirby Clash alongside everything else. It’s also why GameFreak have been allowed to do Little Town Hero; an odd but pleasant little RPG which is their first new IP in years.

All of this was, of course, alongside things that Nintendo knew people were interested in already. Animal Crossing: New Horizons feels like a stripped down Harvest Moon but I know people who think that’s a very good thing. Animal Crossing has never truly been my jam, but I do like Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons (and considering there are TWO Story of Seasons games coming in October, I’m a little puzzled why they weren’t in the Direct). Link’s Awakening HD continues to look amazing, and I’m still baffled that it has been 26 years. I feel old right now.

Nintendo even pushed things that would give more stability to their platform long-term.

The addition of SNES Games to the Switch Online infrastructure – at no additional cost, at that – spoke volumes to how Nintendo is going to support the system. More than that, the SNES Online stuff comes fully featured with the Rewind function and consists of many really solid, classic SNES titles like A Link To The Past, Demon’s Crest, Yoshi’s Island, Super Metroid and Breath of Fire. Personally, I think less than £20 a year for access to a list of SNES games is worth the cash alone but like many others, I do hope Nintendo pushes into the Nintendo 64 stuff sooner rather than later.

Come on, Plok!

We also were surprised after seeing Terry Bogard (from Fatal Fury) that Smash Ultimate will be getting MORE DLC Characters down the road. The response to Terry was mixed; he’s not exactly super well-known, its true, yet promising more DLC characters allowed people to feel more that Smash Ultimate can and will get some more quirky, oddball and lesser-known fighters and that there’s no pressure for every single one to be some kind of Earth-shattering major score from a big corporate IP.

I still think it should have been Mai Shurinai though, as she is both better known in the gaming sphere and it would have been nice to see Bayonetta run up against some stiff competition in the melons department.

This was alongside safer, or more understandable fodder. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is considered a fantastic game and it further posits the Switch as a multiplayer haven. Pokémon Sword/Shield got a few more details, just enough to keep the curiosity going (and yes, we Brits do have a thing for Curry and yes, sorry world, Sausage Curry is a thing here… though it tends to be more of a student dish). Tetris 99 is getting even more content, daily challenges and a ton of new skins and considering it remains one of the years standouts, that’s a really good thing. Vampyr and The Sunken City are coming sooner than I thought, and they look decent and I do think the mid-tier AA gaming sphere is a better fit for the more modestly-powered Switch.

Though sometimes, you do have to wonder…

All in all, it was a good Direct. It showed Nintendo being comfortable enough to have all these oddball reveals, and the confidence to have them front-and-centre. There is a slight lack of 2020 reveals, though I’m guessing that will be more for a December Direct, and not everything fell exactly right. But there’s an odd beauty in the chaos, with the gentle reassurance that despite all these massive IP’s and the focus of the gaming world upon it at the turn of a new generation that… yes, Nintendo is prepared to take a handful of risks now and then, and they are just as important as the content that Nintendo knows will sell two million copies or more.

Oh, and Overwatch was there to reaffirm that yes, companies like Blizzard are taking the Switch seriously now.

If you didn’t like the weird stuff – I get it. I know this will be one of the more divisive Direct Presentations out there purely because of the quantity of odd reveals. But at least keep in mind, Nintendo is at its best when it is weird and odd and kooky. As much as it feels like it was always a sure-fire thing, the Switch itself was considered an odd and kooky system when it dropped back in March 2017. It was not destined to be this insane cultural phenomenon, that took work and it was built on the back of slightly odd, quirky and strange video games.

For me, it’s reassuring to see despite the success, Nintendo hasn’t turned its back on that.


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