Nintendo is known for playing to their strengths when E3 rolls around, and 2019 did not disappoint. Staying true to form to the last several conferences, the video game giant gave all of their presentations via Nintendo Direct and Treehouse Live streams. The first two years of the Nintendo Switch’s cycle have proven that the publisher/manufacturer is ready to aim once again to be top dog, and the fact that the Switch has been the number one selling hardware since launch is a testament to that endeavor. We’ve already had several integral, marquee releases for the hybrid platform since its March 2017 launch: Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Mario Party, and most recently Super Smash Brothers Ultimate alongside many other excellent titles. In addition to the games above, this fall will see the release of two brand new games in the Pokémon franchise, Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield.
Kicking off the Nintendo Direct stream was a cinematic trailer that showcased the next DLC fighter to be added to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the Hero from Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age. Along with having alternate costumes that change the Hero into prior Dragon Quest entries’ protagonists, the Hero has a Final Smash Attack reminiscent of Mega Man’s by having several Dragon Quest heroes teaming up for a unified attack. His apparent blend of solid defense via his shield, close range offense through his sword, and mid-range attacks with various magical spells presents the Hero as a more balanced character than the DLC fighters we’ve received thus far, and we’ll find out for sure when he drops later this summer.
Sticking with the Dragon Quest franchise, the storied RPG series’ latest entry in coming to the Nintendo Switch, complete with all new content not present on the initial PlayStation 4 release. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age was a real gem of a game, with its gorgeously rendered open world and crisp, classic combat. The Switch release will come with an expanded storyline that is sure to delve deeper into the lore and individual characters, and more adorable and badass monsters to ride through the plains (and skies) of the game’s huge world. Most interesting is the new feature to travel to past Dragon Quest Worlds with your party in retro SNES fashion!
Yoshiaki Koizumi from Nintendo of Japan then welcomed viewers to their E3 2019 Nintendo Direct and introduced the new head of Nintendo of America, Doug Bowser (that’s an ironically convenient name…). Bowser kicked off the next segment with a closer look at the upcoming Luigi’s Mansion 3. The latest entry in the popular series that follows everyone’s second favorite Koopa-busting plumber has Luigi staying in a giant resort hotel along with his brother Mario, Princess Peach, and more of their Mushroom Kingdom comrades. Naturally, as per the younger brother’s fortune, this hotel a far stone’s throw from a Four Seasons, and soon all manner of ghastly apparitions and phenomenon begin to appear. Luigi must don his new Poltergust G-00 and teach the hotel’s resident ghouls that it really sucks to mess with the Mario Brothers (deal with it). In addition to the upgraded vacuum weapon, Luigi has new abilities that make for some seriously insidious ghost-busting. While in the process of sucking up a ghost, Luigi can rag doll the thing to inflict additional damage. Not only that but while doing so, Luigi can bash other nearby ghosts with the one he has trapped in the Poltergust’s tractor beam to deal damage to them and make them easier to trap as well. Luigi also has a new ability that fires a large suction cup at objects, allowing him to fling and break certain things in the environment such as boxes and furniture as well as has great utility against ghosts that wield shields. Series mad scientist Professor E Gadd has yet another new invention for the green-clad plumber called Gooigi. This Flubber-esque sili-clone of Luigi has unique abilities all his own, including immunity to sharp objects and being able to walk through metal fencing to access areas Luigi otherwise could not (what a grate concept!). If you pass a joy-con controller to a friend, they can take the reigns of Gooigi in two-player couch co-op! Speaking of cooperative play, the new ScareScraper mode pits you and three online friends against ghosts, ghouls, and obstacles as you search the building for missing Toads. Luigi’s Mansion 3 will be out later this year.
The announcement of Netflix reviving the Dark Crystal property in the form of a new series on their platform came as a shock to many, but more so was the announcement of Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics, a strategy RPG title set in the era of the Netflix show with gameplay akin to that of Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem.
This next title blew my mind when it was initially announced a few months ago in another Nintendo Direct stream. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was a wonderful handheld entry in the famous franchise, and I must have played through it a minimum of a dozen times. This remade classic is a beautiful presentation of the original GameBoy title, complete with all of the same dungeons and story but with updated visuals and additional new features. One such addition is the ability to earn various chambers throughout your adventure to arrange your own dungeon to trek through! With this feature, you can set treasure chests, obstacles, enemies, and bosses anywhere you please and conquer them to your Heart Piece’s content! September 20th can’t come quickly enough!
Japanese developer Square Enix is renowned for the countless JRPGs they’ve created. One series which hasn’t seen the limelight in quite some time is the action RPG Mana franchise. Now a brand new entry is getting a worldwide release on the Nintendo Switch early 2020. The animated visuals are a perfect fit on the Switch and should pair nicely with anyone who has other similar titles in their collection such as Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition or Shining Resonance: Refrain. For anyone wanting to dip their toes into the earlier games in the franchise, you can download the Collection of Mana on the Nintendo Switch eShop. The compilation features Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana, and the original Trials of Mana and is available now!
This next title is an absolute favorite of mine, but its presence on the Nintendo Switch has me…skeptical, to say the least. The award-winning epic from CD Projekt Red, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt is one of the most visually impressive games in the genre, and if you were to tell me that it would receive a Switch port I’d have laughed myself right off Roach. Alas, it is, in fact, coming to the Nintendo Switch as The Witcher III: Wild Hunt Complete Edition later this year. I honestly can’t even imagine the potential extra download required for this game, as its size dwarfs that of The Edler Scrolls V: Skyrim which also has a port available on the Switch. The most notable difference with this Switch version is the markedly lower visual quality, to the point where it doesn’t even hold up to the Xbox 360 The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. I imagine that the gameplay remains intact, especially if one uses the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, but otherwise, I’ll stick to playing this game on my Xbox One X.
The Fire Emblem series has a history of storytelling and challenging gameplay. The turn-based strategy JRPG retains a massive following both in and outside of Japan, and its signature perma-death game mechanics is a source of anxiety for gamers worldwide. The series’ first home console entry since Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn on the Nintendo Wii in 2005, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is coming to the Switch in July.
Survival horror is coming to the Nintendo Switch with ports of the original Resident Evil: Origins Collection as well as Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6. The latter two are excellent couch co-op titles so if you’re feeling brave enough, shut off all the lights and attempt to survive the horrors unleashed by the Umbrella Corporation with a friend or spouse!
The Nintendo Wii had few stand-out games that didn’t have Mario or Zelda in the title, but one of the more… interesting ones was No More Heroes. Along with its sequel, No More Heroes 2, these games brought a mature tone and over-the-top gameplay to an otherwise casual family gaming console. Grasshopper Manufacture Productions is bringing Travis Touchdown back into action with all the foul language, and violence fans of the series have come to adore in 2020. Another older franchise looking to make a comeback on the Switch is Contra, a series infamous for its insane difficulty curve. Contra: Rogue Corps, out September 24th, features gameplay that looks quite different from its predecessors, but for anyone looking for the retro challenge the classic entries in the series are now available on the Nintendo Switch eShop as the Contra Collection.
Daemon X Machina was teased in a Nintendo Direct stream earlier this year, and E3 showed us a closer look at the fast-paced mech action game with a brief trailer showing off both gameplay and some cut scenes as well as giving a September 13th release date. The Switch could certainly use more action titles to keep gamers’ interested as one can only handle so many indie titles (regardless of how good they are) before feeling starved for higher-budget content. To state that the next reveal was something out of left field would be a gross understatement. Panzer Dragoon has been a rail shooter series by Sega for many years; however, it’s been quite some time since we last saw the franchise receive a new entry (Panzer Dragoon Orta was released on the original Xbox platform back in 2002 to put that into perspective). This is a game that could find a comfortable new home on Nintendo’s hybrid platform, as the rail shooter game mechanics of flying through the skies on your dragon mount are simplistic enough to suit an on-the-go lifestyle.
One of Nintendo’s earlier Direct streams this year teased a new action RPG called Astral Chain. The game, in which you control an operator who pairs with an other-dimensional summon to battle against all manner of foes, got a hard release date of August 30th of this summer. Additionally, a bit more about the game’s story was teased as well, and it would appear that extended use of these summons has adverse effects on the operator. The game’s action looks very stylish (I’m getting some Devil May Cry/Bayonetta vibes from it, and it’s no wonder as Platinum Games is behind the project) and the cell-shaded anime visual style lends itself well to the Switch’s otherwise relatively limited hardware. A brief tease for a co-op city crawler in the vein of Diablo and other similar dungeon crawlers, Empire of Sin was shown, but apart from the speakeasy musical tones and a few fleeting seconds of gameplay footage, there isn’t much to say about this one just yet.
Speaking of co-operative multiplayer dungeon crawlers, Marvel Ultimate Alliance is a series that has a strong track record with its first two entries early last generation (Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 came out September 15th of 2009), but it’s been nearly a full decade since we last saw a new one. Whether by design or not, coinciding with Disney’s recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox and their amicable relationship with Sony and the rights to the Spider-Man franchise, we are at last getting Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. Subtitled The Black Order, this latest entry will focus on the Avengers, Ghost Rider, various Spider-Verse characters, and a whole host of other Marvel superheroes and heroines defending the universe against Thanos and his dreaded Black Order as they attempt to obtain the Infinity Stones. Not much new gameplay was shown that we hadn’t seen already, but an expansion pass was revealed to be available that will add additional playable characters in the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Marvel Knights. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is coming July 19th.
If the next title, Cadence of Hyrule looks and sounds a lot like a traditional, SNES era Legend of Zelda game, that’s because it very much is – but with a twist! You play as Cadence, Link, or Zelda, and make your way through the world and various dungeons, defeating enemies to the tempo of the music which adds an extra layer of depth to the combat. Part of the Crypt of the Necrodancer series, Cadence of Hyrule is out on the Nintendo Switch eShop June 13th.
A new Olympic year is nearly upon us, and Nintendo fans should know full well what that means: a new Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games is imminent. Tokyo 2020 is the setting for the mascots and their friends and foes, and the collective will sprint, swim, skate, bound, and fence for the gold. Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 will release exclusively for the Nintendo Switch this November.
Animal Crossing fans were largely underwhelmed by the last two releases, Happy Home Designer and Amiibo Festival for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U respectively. So when Nintendo teased new project in the franchise for the Switch earlier this year, fans were hoping to see the series return to form. While the game has been pushed back from its initial 2019 release to March 20th of next year, Animal Crossing: New Horizons seems to be just the ticket that players have been looking for. More developers turning over a New Leaf, and listening to their base is a pleasant sight.
A slew of other titles was shown in rapid succession including Spyro Reignited Trilogy coming September 3rd, Hollow Knight: Silksong, Ni-No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch out September 20th, Minecraft Dungeons next spring, The Elder Scrolls: Blades this fall, My Friend Pedro June 20th, Doom Eternal, The Sinking City this fall, Wolfenstein Youngblood July 26th, Alien Isolation, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles this winter, Dragon Quest Builders 2 July 12th, Stranger Things Season 3 July 4th, Just Dance 2020 November 5th, Catan June 20th, Super Lucky’s Tale this fall, Dauntless later this year, and Super Mario Maker 2 June 28th.
Nintendo ended their E3 2019 Direct stream with a second surprise additional fighter reveal for Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. This character – or, rather, duo – hasn’t set foot on a Nintendo platform in many years, but the return of Banjo and his fine feathered friend, Kazooie was a shock to everyone, but the excitement for this pair is real! Now we just need some cleaned up ports of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooieon the Switch eShop – where you at with this stuff, Nintendo?
I’m not certain I would say that Nintendo brought their A-game with them to their Direct. Many of the titles we saw were revealed in previous streams earlier in the year, and the E3 stream seemed to primarily serve as additional footage for the majority of these games. The two additional fighters for Super Smash Bros. were certainly a welcome surprise, and I’m sure everyone was caught off-guard by the tease at a Breath of the Wild sequel (it’s gonna be a while for that though, make no mistake). If Nintendo truly wanted to wow their audience, they should have given us more details for Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, as well as a greater emphasis on their marquee titles for the Switch; the influx of indies is still great, and I appreciate the effort not to make the same mistake they did with the Wii U with regards to third-party software support, but gamers ultimately buy Nintendo consoles for Nintendo IP. Nintendo gets a C+ from me for this year.