Nintendo held its first Direct streaming show of the year on Wednesday night (10pm GMT), and as usual the wish list was long and ambitious.
Would we get a Breath of the Wild 2 release date? News on Metroid Prime 4? The entirety of the GBA back catalogue on Nintendo Switch Online from today? Mario Kart 9? Well, the answer to all four of those questions was sadly no, but it was anything but an underwhelming showing from the House of Mario.
Ahead of the livestream Nintendo confirmed that it would mainly feature games slated for release on Switch in the first half of 2022, with already-announced games such as Kirby and the Forgotten Land and Splatoon 3 set to show off new footage. But Ninty had a few surprises up its sleeve, too.
Read on for the biggest announcements from the February Nintendo Direct.
1) Nintendo Switch Sports
It has somehow been nearly 16 years since the sensation that was Wii Sports had everyone from your infant cousin to your grandma playing virtual tennis in the living room, and while Nintendo no longer focuses so much on motion controls, the Switch really deserves its own Sports title. And now it’s getting one.
Launching April 29, Nintendo Switch Sports is Wii Sports for a new generation. Using the console’s Joy-Cons (it looks as though Switch Lite owners are going to miss out on this one) you’ll be able to play six sports, including football, volleyball and old favourites like tennis and bowling. Golf will be added as a free update in the Autumn.
2) Mario Strikers: Battle League Football
Nintendo Switch Sports wasn’t the only sports game Ninty announced this week. Taking the company’s favoured June first-party release slot this year is Mario Strikers: Battle League Football, a very long overdue new entry in the Mario Strikers series, last seen on the Wii all the way back in 2007.
Mario Strikers: Battle League Football continues the series’ chaotic take on the beautiful game. The rules are ostensibly the same as those of the game we know and love, but in these 5-a-side football matches unleashing a Hyper Strike – attained by grabbing an orb that occasionally appears on the pitch – gets you two goals in one. Customisable gear not only allows you to have Toad and the gang looking the part, but what you equip your team with will also affect their on-pitch stats. With up to eight-player local multiplayer and the online Strikers Club tournament, Mario Strikers: Battle League Football should see you through a real football-less summer. It kicks off on June 10.
3) Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Booster Course Pass
No, it’s not Mario Kart 9, the all-new Mario Kart game we’ve been daydreaming about since the Switch first launched. But Nintendo is giving us the next best thing very soon indeed. Arriving in six waves to be released periodically between March and the end of 2023, the Booster Course Pass is made up of 48 remastered tracks from previous Mario Kart titles that will be made available as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC.
Eight tracks will be included in each batch, with the first dropping on March 18, and they’ll all be playable locally and online. Interestingly, you’ll be able to access the Booster Course Pass in two ways. £22.49 will get you the whole lot, but if you sign up to Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack, the N64 and Sega Mega Drive add-on service that Nintendo launched last year, you’ll get it as part of that, too.
4) Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Nintendo closed the Direct livestream with the announcement of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, which is coming to Switch in September. A new entry in the critically acclaimed RPG series has been rumoured for ages, and now it’s official.
Set in the hostile world of Aionios, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 will connect up Xenoblade Chronicles and its sequel, so if you want to be up to speed before launch you’ll need to get playing. Luckily both games are available on Switch so very easy to track down.
5) Everything else
Nintendo crammed a lot into its first Direct presentation of the year, and rather than go through every single game one by one, we thought we’d round up the rest of the news here. Deep breath…
The upcoming Kirby and the Forgotten Land got a new trailer which saw the pink ball of fun sucking up a whole damn car. This game looks as bonkers as it’s adorable, and we’re looking forward to getting our hands on it next month. Splatoon 3 was also shown off, and we got a look at the co-op mode, Salmon Run Next Wave. The multiplayer ink shooter is due to launch this summer. Before that we’re getting Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, which finally has a release date of April 8.
A game announcement that took us by surprise was No Man’s Sky, the wildly ambitious space exploration game that will soon have a home on Switch, too. The port is set to arrive in the summer.
Fire Emblem’s action-heavy spin-off Warriors series is getting a new game in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, set in the same time period as Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
And finally, the Switch is getting a whole load of remastered games and resurfaced classics, including the already announced Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection on February 17, as well as fresh reveals like the superb Portal games and 2008’s Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (April 20). Old-school RPG fans can look forward to re-releases like Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition and Live A Live, and the legendary turn-based RPG Earthbound (plus prequel Earthbound Origins) has been added to Nintendo Switch Online. Phew.
You can also watch the full live stream here: