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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.