Last Thursday, Nintendo upheld a tradition spanning back to 2012 and live-streamed a Nintendo Direct presentation to show off its upcoming titles for both the 2023 holiday season as well as the beginning of 2024.
Although fan expectations may have been lowered as the speculation surrounding an unconfirmed new console continues to grow, Nintendo still had a fairly impressive software lineup to hold fans over until it's presumably ready to share details surrounding its new platform.
"Mario vs. Donkey Kong"
As the first reveal of the showcase, Nintendo announced the next title in the somewhat controversial "Mario vs. Donkey Kong" series, a remake of its first entry, aptly titled "Mario vs. Donkey Kong."
Many have been feeling fatigued by the puzzle spinoff series' oversaturation — with IGN's Brendan Graeber saying how the game "is great, but its lack of new ideas isn't" in regard to his 2015 "Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars Review." It seems Nintendo is attempting to revitalize the series by returning to the first game with updated visuals, as well as new gameplay modes, such as local cooperative multiplayer.
Fan reception to the reveal seems to be mixed. Some are hopeful that Nintendo will utilize the opportunity to build on the tired "Mario vs. Donkey Kong" gameplay formula, while others are markedly disappointed. Notable Nintendo leaker Pyoro teased a new game featuring Donkey Kong for the presentation, but many were expecting a title more resembling the "Donkey Kong Country" titles.
The game is set to release on Feb. 16, 2024.
"Spy x Anya: Operation Memories"
In a bizarre move, "Katamari Damacy" and "Pac-Man" developers Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. revealed the production of a strange life simulation-esque licensed game for the beloved "Spy x Family" manga series titled "Spy x Anya: Operation Memories."
Although the trailer was somewhat vague, the game seems to have players take the role of the Forger’s daughter, Anya, who is tasked with creating a "photo-diary of memories" for school.
Some have compared the game to the "Persona" series for its balance of student life and recreation. As a fan of both "Persona" and "Spy x Family," I'm not entirely sure how Bandai Namco intends to turn this into an entertaining game concept. Still, I'm sure the developer has something worked out to keep audiences interested.
The game is set to release sometime in 2024.
For the first time in approximately 20 years, fans of the long-forgotten "F-Zero" franchise were finally treated to a new entry in the form of "F-Zero 99," an online battle royale-styled racing game, where players are put in a race with 99 opponents. The goal? To complete three laps as quickly as possible, all while managing their vehicle's health bar.
The game was announced as a free-to-play title, exclusive to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, and garnered a split reaction when revealed. Much like "Mario vs. Donkey Kong," this was another title teased by Pyoro, but under the assumption that it would be either a remake of a previous "F-Zero" game or an entirely new mainline title rather than a spinoff.
The game is available to download now, as it was released shortly after the showcase's conclusion.
"Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door"
To finish, Nintendo revealed a remake of the beloved 2004 Gamecube RPG, "Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door."
This was significant, as longtime fans of the beloved series were left largely disappointed by its more recent entries. Many believed the game more closely resembled the mainline Mario titles in that there was a clear retraction in the depth of the gameplay and story — presumably in an effort to make the game appeal to a wider audience.
But by announcing a remake of "Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door," fans have been left somewhat hopeful for a more traditional return for the series, seeing the remake as a test for Nintendo to gauge consumer interest in a more traditional game version.
Coinciding with its 20th year anniversary, the game is set to release next year.
As always, the Nintendo Direct offers fans a chance to get a sneak peek into a new year of Nintendo. Of course, there's never going to be a year where Nintendo makes all of its fans equally happy with the announcements. I, for one, am excited for all of the game releases, but the next question on fans' minds is whether it'll live up to fan expectations.