With the holiday season and the OLED Switch model looming overhead, a fresh Nintendo Direct has arrived to build our hype. What were the biggest bombshells?
Another quarter, another Nintendo Direct—and another great showing from the House That Mario Built. The biggest season of the year for the gaming industry is upon us, and Nintendo certainly served up some teases that will justify putting a Switch under the tree.
Here are our top picks for the biggest announcements of the September 2021 Nintendo Direct:
5) Chocobo GP
Final Fantasy is mostly known for its epic tales of high fantasy meshed with science fiction elements, its apocalyptic stakes, and brooding protagonists—so you would be forgiven if you’d never heard of Chocobo Racing for PlayStation. Before Crash Team Racing and most of the Mario Kart series, then-Squaresoft released an adorable kart-racing game featuring the chicken-like mascot and other cutesy familiar faces, like a Moogle, White Mage, Black Mage, and so on. Even Cloud and Squall were unlockable, and Aya Brea from Parasite Eve?
The original may have had a mediocre reception, but Mario Kart 8 has sat comfortably atop the Switch’s sales chart for too long. Chocobo GP could give it a run for its money with a full-fledged story mode and bracket-style tournaments supporting up to 64 players. Plus it has Vivi from Final Fantasy IX and an adorably angry chibi-Gilgamesh—what else could you want?
4) Animal Crossing New Horizons and Super Smash Bros Ultimate
It was easy to speculate that we might see updates on either or both of these juggernauts—which we did get, in a way. Nintendo announced standalone Direct presentations for each to discuss big upcoming additions. Next month we’ll get to hear more about the next wave of content for Animal Crossing New Horizons, which will add the long-awaited Brewster and his café, the Roost, in November. (A new wave of Amiibo cards, Series 5, which will also be detailed at a later date.)
Similarly, Masahiro Sakurai will present the last DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros Ultimate on October 5, in what will be the final presentation of the game. Fans continue to hope that another Fighters Pass will follow, but Sakurai and Nintendo have been adamant that this next fighter will be the last content released for the 2018 game.
It was a bit of a tease to use the big Nintendo Direct stage just to announce additional streams, but at least it seems that ACNH fans will get some of the new content they’ve been eagerly awaiting.
3) Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis Games for Switch Online
Switch Online hasn’t exactly lived up to the pedigree of Nintendo’s previous Virtual Consoles. Instead of charging players per game as they did on Wii, 3DS, and Wii U, membership to Switch Online includes free access to a cross-section of NES and SNES games. This will soon expand to include Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games for those who upgrade to a new membership tier, officially dubbed Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack.
As with the existing libraries, these games will include up to 4-player local and online multiplayer, and special retro-style controllers will be available for purchase directly from Nintendo. The starting lineups shown on Nintendo Direct include the typical fare like Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Ecco the Dolphin—and already Majora’s Mask and Banjo Kazooie have been announced for a later date.
Pricing details will follow before the “Expansion Pack” goes live in late October.
2) Castlevania Advance Collection
It’s been a poorly-kept secret for some time, but Konami officially announced the Castlevania Advance Collection during this month’s Nintendo Direct. Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, Aria of Sorrow, and the SNES title Dracula X are included for $24.99 CAD—which, honestly, I would have paid for Aria of Sorrow alone.
This era was a big one for the Castlevania franchise, which led to a long string of amazing games on the Nintendo DS. If you’re a fan of the “Metroidvania” genre, a lot of its roots can be found here in this collection, which should be perfect for newcomers and old fans alike.
1) Bayonetta 3
Diehard fans have been losing faith, but just as Nintendo restored hope for Metroid fans at E3 with the announcement of Metroid Dread—which still looked amazing in this week’s new footage—so too did this week’s Nintendo Direct bring gifts to those dying for more Bayonetta 3 insights. Cracking wise about being “fashionably late,” the Umbra Witch returned with a full-fledged gameplay trailer.
PlatinumGames appears to be pulling out all the stops with the new instalment, packed with all the reality-bending, monster-summoning, guns-blasting action that fans expect. Bayonetta will be directly controlling demons—and apparently using them to surf down buildings in one sequence that could put Doctor Strange‘s skyscraper-warping to shame. It’s been four years since the exclusive was announced, and fortunately we won’t have to wait much longer, as Bayonetta 3 is on course for release sometime in 2022.
(Of course, these announcements are all games, and don’t touch on the fact that Chris Pratt is playing Mario. Obviously that’s a sign that we are living in one of the crazier timelines, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around this strange new reality we find ourselves in.)
As usual, Nintendo Direct gave us a lot to chew on—and we haven’t even mentioned the new 3D Kirby game yet. What was the biggest bombshell of the show for you?