At long last, fans were getting a digital event. Nintendo was going to be the first in 2021 to showcase new content which was specifically stated to be games coming in the first half of 2021. Better yet, it was set to be a 50 minute presentation echoing shades of past E3 directs.
Also, did you know that it was the first major Direct we’ve had since 2019? The was a fact that was hammered home all over, even by Nintendo themselves during the beginning of the presentation. With over 24 hours to sit and think about things, there’s no way that expectations could spiral out of control, right?
Excitement was through the roof for what could be! Fans were so hyped that they managed to get Mario Kart 9 trending on social media even though Nintendo has offered no hints, teases, or indications that another game was on the way.
Hey, it’s the 35th Anniversary of Zelda and wouldn’t you know, the anniversary for the Switch is also coming up! Fan imaginations ran wild. Perhaps Nintendo is preparing to bring a couple of HD ports like Twilight Princess or Wind Waker to the Switch. How cool would it be to see Breath of the Wild 2 come out this spring?
The hype train had now left the station and was fully barreling down the tracks. At this point, there’s no way Nintendo could live up to the hype, right?
Here are four scenarios that fully illustrate the disconnect between the fanbase and what Nintendo actually delivered. While you may have loved at least some of what was shown, it seems like the fanbase as a whole was left a bit disappointed.
What Fans Wanted: Ryu Hyabusa, Dante, Doomguy, another major third party character
What Fans Got: Pyra
Nintendo led off the show with Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which actually was intended to be a surprise announcement that the character Pyra and her counterpart Mythra would be the next DLC character to join Super Smash Bros Ultimate.
This fanbase can be pretty vocal about what they want and from what I’ve seen, a debate quickly broke out online. For many, Pyra seems to be just another name to an already long list of anime
swordsmen swords people sword users. However, she absolutely has a fanbase and there are plenty excited about her being added to the roster. When you consider what fans have been holding out hope for, Pyra is a bit of a letdown.
Right or wrong, most fans were hoping for something a little more flashy and a little more exciting. Regardless, there are still two spots left to fill so let’s wait and see what the rest of 2021 has in store.
What Fans Wanted: Breath of the Wild 2 news…or basically any big Zelda 35th Anniversary news
What Fans Got: Skyward Sword HD
So in terms of Zelda games, Skyward Sword seems to be the one that most divides the fanbase. You either love it or hate it. Originally launching on the Wii, Skyward Sword’s big mechanic was the use of motion controls, which were pretty necessary for most aspects of the game. Enemies and bosses could block attacks if the player didn’t swing the Wiimote a certain way, gameplay and puzzles required using some tool with motion controls, and players could fly to their destinations on the back of Loftwings.
Considering it’s the 35th Anniversary of the Legend of Zelda franchise, people were hoping for a few big announcements. Nintendo even acknowledged that fans were likely there for some BotW2 news, but had nothing to say. While I still believe Nintendo has more planned for Zelda’s 35th and will announce something later this year, this announcement felt kind of lacking and was a bit underwhelming.
What Fans Wanted: A big surprise end of show announcement
What Fans Got: Splatoon 3
Of all the big Nintendo IPs, Splatoon isn’t likely going to move the needle. Sure, it has its fans and it can be fun, but ultimately, it doesn’t look too different from the previous two games. Considering that Nintendo chose to break its rule of only showing games in the first half of 2021, I can’t help but wonder why Nintendo chose to show off Splatoon 3 as its surprise 2022 and “one more thing” game.
Granted, there’s still a ways to go before it launches, but from what they showed off, it doesn’t look TOO much different from the previous two games outside of a new map and a new weapon.
Splatoon is fun, but in my opinion, it’s not a killer app or a major system seller like some of the other games fans have been mentioning. In fact…
What Fans Wanted: News on Metroid Prime 4, Breath of the Wild 2, a new Pokemon, Mario Kart 9, Bayonetta 3
What Fans Got: Well, not any of that…
Expectations were through the roof, especially for many of the reasons I led off with. Nintendo has a number of big name games that have not seen an update in quite some time. For Metroid Prime 4, Breath of the Wild 2, and even Bayonetta 3, I can’t help but wonder if Nintendo regrets showing them off as early as they did. Either way, when you announce a big 50 minute direct, it’s understandable that people would instantly look to these games as being apart of it in some capacity.
I honestly have no idea where Mario Kart 9 came from, but part of me is happy to see it. Believe it or not, we’re coming up on Mario Kart 8‘s 7th anniversary from its original release and the 4th anniversary of its Switch release. People are antsy for a new one and with that much time having elapsed, it makes sense to assume a new one may be around the corner.
As for Pokemon, rumors have been swirling for a few months now regarding a potential Diamond/Pearl remake so again, it’s understandable to have expectations regarding an announcement. What’s more surprising is that Pokemon Snap didn’t get ANY mention considering it’s out early this year.
I don’t want to say the Direct was devoid of big name announcements as there were certainly some, but overall it seems like this was perhaps more lowkey than fans were expecting.
Personally, I feel like many of these smaller announcements could have been put in their own indie or third party showcase direct, something that Nintendo did in 2020. Perhaps this Direct would have worked a little better had Nintendo just released it as a surprise instead of allowing the fanbase to amp up for over 24 hours.
At the end of the day, while I was personally a little underwhelmed by what Nintendo had to say, it’s still early in 2021. COVID is still very much a real thing, likely slowing development way down. I recognize that. Clearly, this isn’t the last time we’ll be hearing from Nintendo. There’s plenty of time for more announcements. I fully expect a dedicated Zelda Direct with tons more announcements, I’m expecting another big Direct closer to the typical E3 date, and the company is also known for dropping smaller presentations out of no where as well.
So while this situation may have been a little disappointing, stay patient. As the old adage goes, good things come to those who wait.