Player 2 Versus Nintendo Direct February 2023
Nintendo Direct returns! The first since September 2022 has delivered a swathe of new, old, indie, and AAA titles, and there’s a lot for fans of the Nintendo Switch to salivate over. Having poured through the Direct themselves, Player 2 editors, Paul and Jess share their thoughts on everything that Nintendo had to show in this 40 minute fun-fest
Jess: The Pikmin games straddle this really awkward line between terrifying and wholesome, which is what makes them so appealing. I never finished the previous Pikmin games (because it stresses me out too much when my little guys die) but I’m so ready to jump into this one. And now there’s a dog friend?! Oatchi looks like he’s going to switch up the gameplay a lot, especially in the way he can transport Pikmin across water. Also, I already love Ice Pikmin. What a good dancer.
Paul: I’m crazy about Pikmin, and so Pikmin 4, especially now that it has a confirmed release date, now rockets up my list of most anticipated games of 2023. We see all of the classic Pikmin, but additions like the Ice Pikmin and our adoreable puppy companion Oatchi are bound to change up the balancing act that I’d mastered with Pikmin 3, and the prospective challenges of that have me falling over myself at the chance to dive in. Bring on July!
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 - Expansion Pass: Volume 3
Jess: I haven’t played any of the Xenoblade games, but I’m thrilled for those who have been looking forward to this. Masha’s a babe, and these challenge battles look like fun!
Paul: I’m still so far behind on Xenoblade and so I’ve still not yet started Xenoblade Chronicles 3 yet, but the constant stream of post-launch content is bound to be hitting the mark with fans. Rarely a Direct goes by without us learning more about one of the games, and so I’m incredibly excited to get to this third title one of these days.
Samba de Amigo: Party Central
Jess: I’m going to have nightmares about this monkey. I’m glad there’s going to be another rhythm game on the Switch, and I’m glad it’s something a little different, but I never want to see this monkey’s face again.
Paul: Stephen knows a lot about this IP, and honestly it’s not really my thing, so sadly, Samba de Amigo: Party Central was one of the few misses for me in this direct.
Jess: In theory, this looks like a lot of fun. Design outfits (and then choose your look using what seems to essentially be the Animal Crossing wardrobe?) and show them off to the world. I’d like to see a little more diversity in body shape and hair types etc, but of course this was only a brief look. There seems to be a solid amount of customisation available for each item of clothing, so for those that are keen, this should be a bit of fun to play around with!
Paul: One of the few other misses for me was Fashion Dreamer. The game definitely has a place, and will have a huge audience, but I’m not amongst that crowd. It does look pretty content rich though!
Dead Cells: Return To Castlevania
Jess: We got our first look at this at The Game Awards – it looked good then, and it still looks good now. Despite knowing very little about Castlevania, the Dead Cells enthusiast in me is intrigued by this one.
Paul: Every time I see this I get another stern reminder that I’m a fool for not having started Dead Cells yet. It’s installed on my PS5 and so Nintendo have done me another huge favour here by giving me that push to play it.
Jess: I see they’ve said the words “narrative puzzle adventure”, so obviously I’m in. The Tron aesthetic will never stop being cool for me, and I’m ready to do some detective work in this neon wonderland.
Paul: Every Bithell Games… game is a winner, and despite my relative disinterest in the Tron IP, I’m certainly fascinated by what the game is promising its players.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Jess: Ghost Trick!! I loved this game on the DS, and I’m thrilled to see it coming back with a vengeance. A sequel would be better, but I’ll take a remaster – there were some really innovative mechanics showcased in the original, so I’m hoping they stay smooth in this updated version.
Paul: I never played Ghost Trick in the past, however I was always intrigued by it, and so this might actually be the opportunity I need to get into it. Unlike Jess I’m happy we’re getting a remaster – it’s my chance to get a foot in the door, and then I can dive into a sequel when they seemingly, inevitably announce it.
Jess: More detective games!! I’m so ready for the detective game era to begin. I can’t really work out whether these cops are real cops and whether or not they’re actually upholding the law, because they’re giving some real vigilante energy, but I’m here for it either way.
Paul: I’ve not been huge on Detective games previously, but the tone of Deca Police has really grabbed my interest. There’s absolutely some oddities that tend to put me off, but they’ve been seemingly delivered (based on the trailer) in such a way that they’ve not pushed me away as many other games do. I’m in I think
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon
Jess: This game makes me wish I’d spent more time with the Bayonetta series. It’s a gorgeous art style, and it brings a sense of whimsy that the core games obviously don’t quite have. It’s like spooky Alice in Wonderland Bayonetta? Which is all good news to me.
Paul: The knife is being further twisted on Hellena Taylor with Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, but if we can set that controversy to the side for a moment, the game looks excellent. The visual style is superb and I’m all about the gameplay that they’re putting forward. Keen to give it a go next month!
Splatoon 3 Expansion Pass
Jess: I wish I was a person who played games online so that I could enjoy Splatoon, but I’m just not. I do appreciate the way it seems to transcend age, though, capturing such a broad audience. And the way the ‘Side Order’ part of this expansion pass was introduced, whatever it ends up being, was gorgeous. Nintendo are really nailing the ‘fun art styles’ portion of this Nintendo Direct.
Paul: Splatoon 3 is pretty damn cool. I’ve had a great time with the game up until this point, however, with the 2023 slate being what it is, on Nintendo Switch, letalone factoring in other platforms as well, means that I don’t think I’ll be able to find the time to come back to this one when the DLC starts dropping. It does look pretty great however.
Disney’s Illusion Island
Jess: I’m not usually a platformer person, but I am a Disney person, and the art style of this one has me interested. I like the idea of couch co-op, it gives it a very Rayman Origins feel. This might be one I check out with my housemates!
Paul: Disney’s Illusion Island impressed when it first emerged, and the fact that it is coming from the same team responsible for the pretty awesome Battletoads remake, paired with this new showing means that I’m quite excited for the game’s launch this July.
Fire Emblem Engage Expansion Pass
Jess: Is it time for me to get into Fire Emblem? It feels like maybe it’s finally time.
Paul: Fire Emblem Engage IS SO GOOD! It was so hard to bite my tongue and not say anything for weeks before the game came out, but now I just want to climb to the top of the highest mountain and shout about the good word. This is DLC that I’ll absolutely be making time for as it continues to roll out. From new Emblems to the Fell Xenologue chapter has me super hyped for the coming waves of content.
Harmony: The Fall Of Reverie
Jess: This seems like it might be very much my bullshit. It’s obviously beautiful, and again it said those magic words “narrative adventure”, so I’m very open to falling in love with this game.
Paul: Mechanically, Harmony: The Fall Of Reverie has me interested, however tonally I’m a little more unsure about it. I think that its just one of those games that I’m going to need to see more of before I can make a definitive call on the game either way.
Octopath Traveler II
Jess: I missed the first Octopath Traveler, but the arrival of the second one has me remembering that I really need to move it up the list, especially after playing Live a Live last year and enjoying it so much!
Paul: I’m all in on Octopath Traveler II. The original is still one of my favourite games on the platform, and I cannot wait to see what Square-Enix has in store with this new entry. The game’s visuals continue to sing, and I just wish that there were a way that I could have it my hands right now! Come on Square-Enix, do us a solid and release it early! What could possibly go wrong?!
We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie
Jess: Unlike Paul, I love the Katamari games. They’re so weird. Like, just absolutely chaotic in the best possible way. I would play Katamari all day every day and be happy for the rest of my life.
Paul: The Katamari games just do not vibe with me whatsoever, so I couldn’t have been any less interested when this one emerged. Moving right along to one of the real GOTY contenders of 2023!
Sea Of Stars
Jess: Okay, okay Paul, I’ll play Sea of Stars. You (and this trailer) have finally convinced me.
Paul: *cue heavenly choir music* Sea Of Stars finally has a release date! For far too long I’ve been pleading with people to play Sea Of Stars, but thankfully you’ll all have a chance to go hands on with the game because a demo is coming to the Switch now, ahead of its multi-platform launch in August! Please, play Sea Of Stars! *End shilling*
Jess: I feel like this is going to be one of those games that I look at and say “it isn’t for me” and then I try it on a whim and end up playing it for ten hours straight. There is just absolutely no way of knowing until it’s here.
Paul: There is definitely some multiplayer madness to be found with this one, and I think I can see myself at the very least taking it for a spin. As is the case with most multiplayer titles though, the question remains, “Can Omega Strikers actually keep me hooked”, and at face value, I’m not sure that there is enough to keep me engaged in any kind of long-term way.
Etrian Odyssey Origins Collection
Jess: I’ve genuinely never heard of the Etrian Odyssey series, but the idea of building your own map from exploration does intrigue me. I don’t trust myself to make an accurate map, so it might be a terrible idea for me to give it a try, but the character designs and lack of spiders enemies might be enough to push me over the edge with this one. Like Paul said though – it’s about finding the time during an absolutely stacked release month.
Paul: The Etrian Odyssey games have long been a juicy temptation to me from afar, but it’s an IP that I’ve just never been able to find the time to engage with. This collection certainly presents me with the best possible way to try the franchise out, but, with that, said, can I find the time amongst the enormous slate of high-quality new releases coming in June alone. Diablo IV and Final Fantasy XVI say no.
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-boot Camp
Jess: I never played Advance Wars, but I sure did play a lot of games inspired by the series, so it feels like maybe I should take a look at where it all began.
Paul: When Nintendo had first delayed Advance Wars 1+2: Re-boot Camp due to the Ukraine/Russia war, I had been a bit skeptical of the decision, given that I wasn’t of the mind that the war would end soon, and sure enough, the war still rages, but the financials at Nintendo now dictate that the game needs to come out. Setting that aside though, this is a classic remake that I’m really keen to dive in to
Kirby’s Return To Dreamland Deluxe
Jess: Kirby, my weird little love! Kirby and the Forgotten Land was one of my favourite games of last year, bursting into my heart and taking hold as a weird light in the darkness. 2022 was a bad year for me, but Kirby was so, so good. It’s very smart of Nintendo to latch onto the success of the little puffball’s big 3D adventure and release (and expand on!) the older games, and I plan to reap the benefits.
Paul: Kirby’s Return To Dreamland Deluxe comes at a time where Kirby fever has finally, after decades hit a high point, and so Nintendo is wisely dipping into the classics well as they draw this one out. It’s only a couple of weeks away, and every time it surfaces I’m excited to see the little pink blob. See you soon Kirby!
Gameboy + Gameboy Advance Coming to Nintendo Switch Online
Jess: This is a big one. Something clicked in my brain as soon as it heard those sweet Game Boy sound chip tunes, and I was right back to being a kid trying to secretly play Pokemon under the covers at night without a backlit screen (it was a real challenge). There are so many great titles mixed in here, and I can’t wait to see what else they add to the roster. I spent a lot of time playing Wario Land 2, so it feels right that I should jump into Wario Land 3 all these years later. Realistically, I’ll probably just play Tetris for hours on end, but I’m excited to see how the roster expands. The Pokemon card game is fine, but Pokemon Pinball when?!
Paul: Amongst so many highlights in this Direct, the announcement of Gameboy and Gameboy Advance games coming to the Nintendo Switch Online service might be the highlight. Nintendo did an excellent job of plucking out some of the very best games across both platforms to launch with, but the slate of games that are launching in the coming weeks and months is looking pretty cool too. Give me The Minish Cap now dammit!
Metroid Prime Remastered
Jess: Metroid is another series that I’ve just missed entirely, but have always been intrigued by. There’s no denying that Samus is a badass, so it feels like I should give her series some love. Maybe there are too many bug-like enemies for me to stick with it, but it feels like I should at least try – particularly now that one of the biggest titles is available!
Paul: There had been rumblings about this leading up to the Direct but after years and years of disappointment around the sub-franchise, I’d almost begun to believe that Metroid Prime would never resurface, and yet, the stealth-drop of the show was a monster one. Metroid Prime Remastered, is, unbelievably, out now!
Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE
Jess: MORE. DETECTIVE. GAMES. This is great. I’m always a little skeptical of Spike Chunsoft, mostly because of some of the questionable choices they made in the Danganronpa series, but I’m also a fan of their mechanics. So I guess I’m really just hoping for all of the good, none of the terrible that the company is known for in this latest title.
Paul: So clearly detective games were the theme of this Nintendo Direct, much like the farming sims dominating in September 2022, and a bit like the farming sim showcase, not all of the detective games on show struck a chord. RAIN CODE was one of those that the vibe simply didn’t click with me. For now, this one is a pass
Baten Kaitos I & II Remastered
Jess: Another series that I don’t know a whole lot about. Card-based battle systems don’t tend to grab me, so I’m not sure this series is going to be one I’ll get into, but it looks like a solid remaster!
Paul: I’ve been very public in my stance that I’m not big on card-combat, but every now and then there are exceptions – Baten Kaitos was among those group of exceptions. Now, that said, it has been a long while, so I can’t really explain what it was about Baten Kaitos back in the day, perhaps it was the fact that I was a teen with a lot more time than I have now, but the history alone is enough to ensure that I’ll give this pair of remasters another look
Fantasy Life: The Girl Who Steals Time
Jess: I’m interested! I want to know more about how these mechanics are going to work, but it’s certainly cute, and I’m always down for a good town/island restoration game.
Paul: There’s a lot of people with a lot of love for Fantasy Life, and while I missed the initial wave, I’m certainly keen to try and catch this one, so bring on Fantasy Life: The Girl Who Steals Time. Also, what makes this girl steal time? Who is she? How does she do it? Colour me intrigued
Professor Layton and the New World of Steam
Jess: This is it. This is the most exciting reveal of the day for me. I LOVE the Professor Layton series, and have been hoping for a new game for years. I thought this day would never come. I need to immediately know more, so that I know when I’ll get to put my thinking cap back on! (Jokes, it’s always on, I’m ready at any given moment to jump into a puzzle game).
Paul: I mentioned earlier that some detective games clicked, while others didn’t, but Professor Layton and the New World of Steam clicked harder than them all. This new title feels like it has been in the making forever, so it was really nice to finally see Level-5 wheel the IP out once again. The puzzles are always great, while the tone has historically hit the mark – can’t see any reason why this one would be a miss
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Wave 4
Jess: Every time they release a new wave I do make a point to spend a bit of time playing Mario Kart again, giving the new tracks some love and revisiting some old favourites. I appreciate the sporadic excuse to get back into it. Also, welcome lowkey trans icon Birdo!
Paul: It was odd that Wave 4 of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s DLC didn’t come with a fairly imminent release date, unlike each of the three prior waves, but it was nice to see what they had in store either way. Now can you just launch it so that I can dive in?!
Jess: Blanc is so close now! I can’t wait. I’m also interested in the style of Have a Nice Death, and it’s always exciting to see updates to Disney Dreamlight Valley. Nintendo have a truly packed slate this year, I’m already overwhelmed.
Paul: A couple of titles in here that I’m particularly interested in, those being both Have A Nice Death, and Blanc. Gearbox Publishing dominated this section and it’s good to see that the house of Borderlands is using its mountains of riches to support truly excellent games in a publishing capcacity. Can’t wait for both.
The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom
Jess: Ahh, the big one. My most anticipated title of 2023. So far it looks like Breath of the Wild, but now with a weird hovering tractor tile, some extra body horror, and chaos caused by the blood moon. I just want this game to come out already, because every second waiting is torture. Please be good, Tears of the Kingdom. Please.
Paul: I mean, everything about Tears Of The Kingdom is looking great, however, I have been extremely public in my distaste for The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, and that was due to the stamina, weapon degradation and lack of traditional dungeons. Sadly this trailer, despite being tonally brilliant, isn’t answering any of my questions. I think I just need to wait for a deep dive gameplay trailer and perhaps with that I can be in a position to make an informed call on Tears Of the Kingdom. Please Nintendo, please get back on course with this one!
Jess: Wow, that was just all fire. There were hardly any low points for me, and some huge reveals like Layton and Ghost Trick that I didn’t see coming (plus Metroid, which I know has people excited). I can’t wait to jump into all the Game Boy/Game Boy Colour games that are on offer, and I’m really psyched for what is apparently going to be the year of the detective game if this Nintendo Direct is anything to go by. I’m also deeply overwhelmed by the number of games coming out between April and July, but it feels like having too many exciting games to play is maybe not the world’s worst problem to have.
Paul: For the very small number of down moments in this showcase, there were countless more high points. From Pikmin 4, to GB/GBA emulation, Metroid Prime, Octopath Traveler, and of course, the GOTY contender – Sea Of Stars, this Nintendo Direct hit the mark for me time and time again. Of course, we still don’t know much about Q3/Q4 beyond Pikmin 4 arriving in July, so we should all be salivating at the prospect of what is to come later as well, but for now we’re eating well!