The return of the Nintendo Direct: A doozy or a delight?

Monday, February 22, 2021 - 11:40am

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Nintendo

After a year of Mini and Partner Nintendo Directs, Feb. 17, 2021, marked the return of the general Direct. The first full Direct in a year and a half left the gaming community with mixed emotions. There was an enormous amount of hype surrounding the Direct, which was simultaneously a blessing and a curse for Nintendo. As of Feb. 19, the Direct has 1.6 million views on YouTube. It also has 15,000 dislikes. 

Given the long stretch of time since the previous Direct and the massive effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the video game industry, many fans (myself included) hoped that the Direct would finally be packed with big announcements. While there were a couple of notable reveals, like “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD,” “Mario Golf: Super Rush” and “Splatoon 3,” many fans were left disappointed.

Many were expecting more information on the wildly anticipated “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” sequel and a rumored Legend of Zelda 3D collection in celebration of Zelda’s 35th anniversary. The announcement of a remaster of one of the more polarizing titles of the Zelda series seemed to pale in comparison to the idea of either a new game or collection. There was also hope for updates on “Metroid Prime 4” and “Bayonetta 3,” as well as reveals of new Donkey Kong and Mario Kart games. 

Unfortunately, none of these dreams came to fruition.

The reaction the Direct received is not uncommon. Every time a Direct is announced, there is a lot of negativity resulting from expectations that are rarely grounded in fact. Nonetheless, video game fans still have every right to be disappointed. The amount of remasters and ports was significant, but the lack of new first-party games was certainly a bummer. However, fans need to remember that while having hope is good, having unreasonable expectations can set them up for disappointment. This is especially important to keep in mind during a time when the industry has had to quickly adapt to a new work-from-home environment, resulting in the delay of many games. Expectations seem to remain similar to those pre-pandemic, which are simply unfeasible to meet.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this Direct was intended to showcase games coming in the first half of 2021. There were some exceptions to this, like “Splatoon 3” and “Project Triangle Strategy,” but Nintendo stayed true to that statement for the most part. If history is anything to look to, there will likely be another Direct showcasing for the second half of 2021. 

In 2020, Nintendo broke tradition and announced big releases on Twitter, and both the company and fans seemed to be content with this. While this could very well continue in 2021, another Direct around June or September would be consistent with Nintendo’s former pattern. Also, considering that many big titles get announced for a holiday release, Nintendo could be holding off on larger announcements until later this year. 

Despite the negativity surrounding the presentation, there are a handful of games that stood out to me. I never got to play “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword,” so I will be counting down the days until the remaster’s July 16 release. I’m especially excited for “Mario Golf: Super Rush,” because I am a complete sucker for goofy sports games. I’m also looking forward to the “Famicom Detective Club” remakes, the “World’s End Club” port and “No More Heroes 3.” With the variety of games presented, even disgruntled fans are likely to find something that catches their eye.

Trust me, Nintendo fans, I feel your disappointment. I want more Metroid, Legend of Zelda and Donkey Kong, too. I also feel that, as fans, we should have more empathy for those in the gaming industry. Last year was a difficult one for all of us. Everyone has had to adjust at their own pace. Game developers were no exception. 

Next time a Nintendo Direct rolls around, I hope to see not only bigger announcements but also more positivity in the gaming community.

Daily Arts Contributor Harper Klotz can be reached at hkklotz@umich.edu


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