Good lord, the hype. Pyra and Mythra are easily my favorite newcomer reveal in Ultimate thus far. As I'm sure you all know, I'm a diehard Xeno/Monolithsoft fan, so seeing any new character from their games was my biggest wish for Ultimate. After Rex missed the boat and got a Mii costume, I assumed that XC2 simply wasn't going to be getting a fighter. Between Rex and Nia's costumes, the existing XC2 songs, and the XC2 spirits already in Ultimate, I figured we wouldn't be getting anything else. I've never been happier to be wrong. So, funny story, I rushed home after work to try and watch the direct, and as soon as I ran to my laptop and loaded the stream, it immediately opened on "Mythra Awakens!" I screamed in pure joy, and I honestly haven't been this excited for a newcomer since Shulk back in the Smash 4 days. Can't believe that was almost seven years ago... Anyway, personal attachment aside, Pyra and Mythra's moveset looks sick. Like Melee and Brawl-era Zelda and Sheik done right. I've been theorizing that, since we've seen so many specials from them, maybe landing normal attacks power up their specials akin to how blades work in XC2? The sky is the limit with them, and trying to dismiss them as another "anime sword user" is just laughable. Now, some are saying that they feel incomplete without Rex being directly playable, and I agree to an extent. However, the pair perfectly represent the core (crystal) elements of XC2 on their own, and I'm sure perfectly recreating the driver mechanic would have been a pain for Sakurai's team to implement into Smash, especially working remotely. Pyra and Mythra are far more marketable than Rex anyway, and you don't even need a driver to represent switching blades if you think about it. His absence is definitely a concession, though a super minor one IMO. I'm just happy they're here. Oh, and the Alrest stage looks nuts. And just think of the music. Counterattack will be in Smash. My life is complete. Jokes aside, here's hoping we get some songs from Xenoblade X, and if were lucky, maaaybe an option for the remastered XC1 tracks from Definitive Edition? I honestly feel guilty asking Sakurai for anything else, because he's already given me what I want. Seriously, Ultimate feels complete to me now. I got my two most wanted modern characters (a Persona rep and a new Xenoblade rep) and two retro picks that kid me never would have dreamed could make it in (Banjo and Sephiroth). There are others I'd like to see (KOS-MOS is bae but she's a longshot), but as far as I'm concerned, whoever Sakurai picks is just icing on the cake. I really can't overstate how happy the start of this direct made me. I'm still feeling it.
... Oh, and I guess some other stuff happened too.
Lmao this game is so dead. It didn't have anywhere near the staying power of something like Among Us. Still, I may check it out, play it on and off for a month or so, and then never touch it again. I think this is what happened to a lot of people.
Mario Golf Super/Sugar/Speed Rush:
Wow, I wasn't expecting a new entry in this series! I haven't played one since Toadstool Tour back on the GCN, but that game was my jam. The dashing mechanic looks fun, and if the story mode is meaty enough, I may give it a shot. I just hope there's a solid selection of courses, with a healthy mix of realistic and crazy Mario-inspired ones.
Project Triangle Strategy:
So Octopath Traveler was probably my GOTY for 2018. Aside from Smash Ultimate (which came out in December) and XC2: Torna (which is an expansion), Octopath captivated me like nothing else that year. The HD 2D artstyle is so gorgeous, and while I'm still waiting for Square to remake FF I-VI, Chrono Trigger, and Xenogears with that engine, I'm intrigued by Project Triangle. The only problem? I'm not the biggest tactical RPG guy. I've played a few Fire Emblem titles, but I just don't have the patience for the genre, I think. Meh. I'm glad this beautiful engine is seeing more use, I just hope this is more of a side project, and isn't the prequel or sequel for Octopath that we're supposed to be getting at some point. Still, I'm curious to see if this does indeed connect to the Octopath universe, and I just downloaded the demo so maybe I'll get more excited for it after I try it out.
No More Heroes 3:
Dang, this game looks gorgeous. I've never played the series, but I've always loved Travis Touchdown as a character. He's absolutely gaming's equivalent of Deadpool, and I still want to see him in Smash someday. Now that the entire trilogy is on Switch, it may be time to add them to my backlog and get to them... Eventually.
Ninja Gaiden Master Collection:
I haven't played a Ninja Gaiden game since the NES original (which really hooked me as a kid), but I'm glad to see this collection finally come to Switch. Maybe I'll check it out if it's on sale someday. And more importantly, this brings Ryu Hayabusa some relevance in terms of Smash speculation. As far as I'm concerned, he's the only remaining NES-era icon left to join, so I'd be pretty hyped to see him get revealed.
Skyward Sword HD:
I have a weirdly nonexistent history with this game. It's the only Zelda game I've never played. There's a lot of reasons for that which I won't get into, but if it's on Switch, maybe it's finally time to take the plunge? I just wished the visuals were touched up a bit more. It doesn't feel nearly as impressive as The WInd Waker's or Twilight Princess' remasters did, and those were on less powerful hardware. Those games have to be coming to Switch soon, right? I'm not usually a graphics snob, but I guess I was just expecting more of an overhaul, especially since Skyward Sword has such a timeless artstyle. It is pretty impressive that they got the motion controls working, though. Like the Link's Awakening remake, I'll probably eventually check this out, but not for full price. Oh, and I'm not at all surprised that we got nothing on BOTW2. That was always going to be an E3 reveal.
If you would have told me 48 hours ago that we'd be seriously discussing this, I would have called you a liar. But again, I'm so glad to have been proven wrong. I really thought Splatoon was a once-per-console series, yet here we are. What a time to be a Nintendo fan. As much as I adored Splatoon 2, it definitely felt a bit too much like Splatoon 1.5 with not quite enough advancements to warrant calling it a true sequel. The story mode was okay, and while I enjoyed Salmon Run as a co-op online romp, it wasn't until the release of Octo Expansion that I really felt like the Splatoon formula was evolving. I was Team Chaos in the final Splatfest, so exploring a post-post apocalyptic Inkling/Octoling world sounds incredible. The Mad Max aesthetic weirdly fits Splatoon like a glove and I'm loving it! The multiplayer mode looks to have some much-needed changes, and my mind is racing with ideas for how both it and the story will be this time around. I could go into speculation, but I think I've rambled long enough in this post. Despite coming out in 2022, Nintendo is giving this title a weird amount of attention, so my hopes are pretty high.
Overall, it was a very solid direct for me. There were quite a few games revealed that don't do much for me, but this one had it where it counted. A dream-come-true Smash reveal and a Splatoon sequel that I was convinced wasn't happening until the next Nintendo console. Despite all the gushing, if I had to grade it, I'd give the direct a solid B+. The opening and closing reveals were straight up God tier, but everything in between wasn't quite enough to lift it to A-level status for me. But when it was good, man it was good. I'm so glad proper directs seems to be making a comeback. Really excited what else 2021 has in store for Nintendo.