Around this time last year, Nintendo was gearing up for the release of the now widely-popular “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” game for their Switch console, which fans of the series and casual players alike clamored for amidst the ennui of quarantine. On Feb. 17, in the video game company’s first full-length Nintendo Direct presentation in over a year, they revealed the next developments in the popular Mario franchise in time for the closing of the Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary celebration, along with news about other fan-favorite games. More than 30 games were announced for the Nintendo Switch family of systems. However, Nintendo was quite sparing with information for new “Legend of Zelda” content, despite the franchise’s 35th anniversary on Feb. 21. The Pokémon Company quickly followed up with Pokémon Presents, announcing exciting news of their own for the 25th anniversary of the pocket monsters hitting the market and a series of in-game events.
Nintendo has actually been celebrating its most recognizable franchise since Sept. 3 of last year with the release of a special Nintendo Direct that featured a montage of the series’ most prolific games and what to look for in the coming months. To cap off the event ending on March 31, the company announced in the February presentation the debut of “Mario Golf: Super Rush” for the Switch on June 25, featuring an RPG-inspired single-player story mode and multiplayer options. Nintendo will be pulling the special edition games and merchandise for the anniversary celebration from its shops at the end of the month, such as “Super Mario 3D All-Stars” and “Super Mario Bros. Game & Watch.” There was also a commemorative update for “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” players that added Mario costumes and items to the game.
On the other hand, there has been little fanfare for “Legend of Zelda” — which has been around for as long as the red-clad plumber — but fans hold out for a celebration as elaborate as Mario’s, starting off with the HD remaster of “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword,” originally released for the Wii in 2011. The new trailer featured in the Nintendo Direct shared July 16, 2021 as its release date, as well news of a button mode for handheld play — this option will be sure to please fans unable to take part in the original game’s extensive motion control play. The presentation also announced a $20 expansion pass for “Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity” adding new characters, weapons, stages and character vignettes for the Switch game that came out last November.
The social media accounts for The Pokémon Company teased fans in February with the possibility of a return to the Sinnoh region. Fans got confirmation of what they wanted and more in the Feb. 26 video presentation. Remakes of the beloved 2006 Nintendo DS “Pokémon Diamond” and “Pokémon Pearl” are dropping in late 2021, remastered as “Pokémon Brilliant Diamond” and “Pokémon Shining Pearl”; just in time for the original games’ 15th anniversary. Unlike the impressive stylistic realism of the latest generation in the main series, “Pokémon Sword” and “Pokémon Shield,” the Sinnoh remakes will feature an updated chibi style to keep with the feel of the originals. However, in accordance with the newer games, “Brilliant Diamond” and “Shining Pearl” have been updated to include “player-friendly conveniences” that have streamlined recent generations in the series. Both games are available for pre-order now through Best Buy.
“Trainers caught their first Pokémon in 1996 and began an adventure that has lasted 25 years,” Tsunekazu Ishihara, president and CEO of The Pokémon Company, said in the video. “We hope that fans of all ages will enjoy creating new memories while exploring the Sinnoh region in these new games.”
And that’s not all The Pokémon Company had to share — not only will players get to revisit Sinnoh through the remakes, but they will also get to explore the region through “Pokémon Legends: Arceus,” coming out in 2022. The action RPG adventure games follows in the open world style of “Breath of the Wild” in old Sinnoh — so no cities or towns we may be familiar with from the core games, but much of the vast nature characteristic of the dynamic setting. Exciting details revealed through the trailer and official website are the “ancient-looking” Pokéballs, described as made out of wood and operated with some form of a steam engine; a new, organic method of catching Pokémon; and a mix of starter Pokémon Cyndaquil, Rowlet and Oshawott from different generations and other regions. Fans hope for a rich immersion in the setting and lore of the region and universe itself.
Pokémon Presents also shared more information about “New Pokémon Snap,” which was previously announced, but will be officially available on April 30, 2021 for the Switch. Players “will take on the role of a budding Pokémon photographer in the Lental region” to work on an ecological survey to photograph the creatures in nature.
Other announcements from the Nintendo Direct included “Xenoblade Chronicles 2” Pyra and Mythra to be available as downloadable characters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in March; “Splatoon 3” coming out next year; and “Miitopia,” a customizable adventure with your own Mii characters coming out on May 21. Check out Nintendo’s featured page for the February video presentation for the full lineup of game news and trailers.