Today’s Nintendo Direct livestream gave those with sky-high but long-deferred Zelda hopes just enough to stay excited: ominous tones, real gameplay footage, a tease at a playable Zelda, and a definitive May 12 release date and pre-order offer. And, not for nothing, a $70 price tag.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was announced in mid-2019, given a May 2023 release date, and had most of its details held back until today. At the end of Nintendo’s regular showcase, Nintendo loosened the leash a bit on the Breath of the Wild sequel. Speaking over footage of dark, misty, eternally beset Hyrule, archvillain Ganon speaks in his best after-school-cartoon-villain mode: “Rise, rise, my servants. Sweep over Hyrule. Eliminate this kingdom and her allies. Leave no survivors!”
In the quick-cut moments that follow, you can see familiar elements, like Sheikah technology, the blood moon, hang-gliding, and horse-riding. But there’s also rail-riding, blimp floating, a four-wheeler, a quad copter-like glider, the Hyrule equivalent of a rocket launcher, a high-tech glove, and, again, a real release date. Toward the end, Zelda’s voice says, “Link, lend me your power,” offering a loose but still real hint that the princess could be playable in this title.
The $70 price tag might surprise some people, but only if they haven’t been watching closely. Triple-A game development has been due for a return to the $70 mark for a while now. Tears of the Kingdom is the only game to hit that mark, with other new games and remasters ranging in price at $60 or below. But it’s another major game publisher asking for that price, which may become a trend.
Few things could compare in size to that announcement, but the availability of classic Game Boy games on the Switch certainly stacks up. Starting today, subscribers to Nintendo Online can play a number of the uber-classic handheld’s games: Mario Land 2: The 6 Golden Coins, Kirby’s Dream Land, Tetris, Zelda: Link’s Awakening, and more. Those who shell out for Online + Expansion Pack get access to Game Boy Advance titles, including Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap, and Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 (a collection of original levels for that title). More games were teased in the trailer, including Advance titles like Metroid Fusion and F-Zero: Maximum Velocity.
Nintendo’s intent to offer Game Boy titles was tipped in early 2022, when emulators seemingly made by Nintendo leaked online. Many of the games teased in today’s Nintendo Direct appeared in those dumped files. Various files and dates in the emulators suggest that their development began as far back as 2018, with major work accomplished by 2020.
The other major blast from the past showing up today was Metroid Prime Remastered. The groundbreaking first-person Metroid, originally released in 2002 on GameCube, is available today for $40. Along with the souped-up graphics and portable convenience, this version allows for modern dual-stick controls, with one to look and one to move.
Many of the titles displayed were DLC or expansion passes for existing games. Among the more notable premieres and updates from today’s Direct are:
- Pikmin 4 got a more thorough run-through, with the dome-headed protagonist tossing their primary-colored followers at both backyard and intergalactic obstacles. “A dog-like creature was spotted. What will it show us?” the Direct host asked afterward. You can find out on July 21.
- Samba de Amigo: Party Central, a new game in the occasional Sega series that will let us shake our Joy-Cons like maracas. You can also shake with a friend to rate your compatibility, or as a “Love Checker.” There’s a global online competition mode, too. Available summer 2023.
- Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania brings Richter and Alucard Belmont into Dead Cells, where they were always going to be a perfect fit in the stylish, tough side-scrolling roguelike. It arrives March 6, with pre-orders starting today.
- Tron: Identity, a visual novel set in the more modern Tron aesthetic, arrives later this year.
- Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon takes the gun-battling witch (formerly known as Cereza) and her demon-possessed stuffed toy back to their adolescence ascendance. Available March 17, with pre-orders available now.
- A Splatoon expansion pass in two “waves,” with one bringing back Inkopolis from the original game, and a “Side Order” second wave, shown only as a squid kid staring at a whited-out realm.
- Disney Illusion Island is an intriguingly animated platformer, with Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, and Goofy each having Super Mario Bros 2-esque unique skills, with local co-op for up to four players. July 28.
- Octopath Traveler 2 is available as a demo today, showing off the first few hours of JRPG gameplay. The full release is February 24.
- Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp finally brings turn-by-turn invasion and defense tactics, so we can slowly decimate friends in local or online gameplay. Available in April for $60, pre-order available now.
- We Love Katamari REROLL+ Royal Reverie arrives sometime this year, adding modern graphics and an improved UI to the trippy 2005 roll-up-everything game.
- Kirby’s Return to DreamLand Deluxe adds a bunch of new abilities, new gameplay modes, and more brightly colored stuff than I can describe here. It lands, gently, on February 24.
Listing image by Nintendo