Nintendo's "winter 2021" direct-video presentation exploded on Thursday with reveals of serious fan service coming to not only Switch consoles but also movie theaters by the end of next year.
The event's biggest pop-culture announcement was the upcoming Super Mario CGI animation movie, now confirmed to launch in the United States on December 21, 2022. This film, helmed by CG animation house Illumination (Despicable Me), still doesn't have a title or any preview footage. But it does have an English-language cast:
- Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) as Mario
- Anna Taylor-Joy (The Queen's Gambit) as Peach
- Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as Luigi
- Jack Black (Jumanji) as Bowser
- Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele) as Toad
- Kevin-Michael Richardson (Teen Titans) as Kamek
- Fred Armisen (SNL) as Cranky Kong
- Sebastian Maniscalco (The Irishman) as Foreman Spike (from the Wrecking Crew series)
None of Nintendo's other YouTube channels, particularly the Japanese feed, confirmed any voice cast members for the film's likely additional languages. Nintendo did confirm that Charles Martinet (who has voiced Super Mario in games since 1996) will participate in the film, though in exactly what capacity remains to be seen (er, heard). My money's on Waluigi.
In more directly game-related fan service, Nintendo finally confirmed plans to bring N64 games to Nintendo Switch Online's classic console lineup. This will require paying an additional charge on top of NSO's $20/year subscription fee, though Nintendo was not ready to announce the exact price during the Thursday event. Whatever that cost is, it will include nine N64 games at launch and 14 games from the Sega Genesis. Check the first two images in the above gallery for those lists, along with a peek at Nintendo of Japan's nearly identical selection of N64 and Genesis games coming to its version of the service. (If existing NSO subscribers don't pay the extra fee, they can continue accessing the service's libraries of NES and SNES games.)
In fantastic news, any of the games in the collection with four-player modes, particularly Mario Kart 64 and Star Fox 64, will support four-player online connectivity. NSO has previously maxed out with two-player online modes, and we're already curious how the service will scale with two more connected players in each session's mix. Should you wish to play the N64 collection more authentically, paying NSO subscribers will soon be able to buy a Switch-compatible N64 gamepad for $50. Nintendo has not yet confirmed exactly when and how that controller will go on sale. Three-button Genesis controllers for Switch will also go on sale soon, at the same price.
Nintendo took the additional step of confirming six N64 games that will roll out after the service's October launch, though their release dates aren't yet confirmed:
- Zelda: Majora's Mask
- F-Zero X
- Mario Golf
- Pokemon Snap
- Kirby 64
The last one, we should note, is wholly owned by Microsoft, thanks to its acquisition of game studio Rare during the GameCube era. Hence, that business agreement might be a hint of a certain fraught Nintendo-Microsoft license kerfuffle to come to NSO's N64 slate. Though I'm not Golden... er, I mean, holdin' my breath.
Sequels and surprises
Most of the event's other highlights involved either previously announced sequels or brand-new entries in beloved IPs.
After getting a bare-minimum teaser reveal in 2017, the flashy, stylized brawler sequel Bayonetta 3 finally emerged looking like a video game. This sequel, helmed once again by Platinum Games, appears to continue the series' streak of flashy, over-the-top third-person combat, with a mix of up-close melee and long-distance guns. The biggest apparent series addition in this week's trailer comes in the form of wacky supersized monster combat, which sees the game's titular hero transform into a massive, city-stomping beast who fights other classically designed kaiju. For a series like Bayonetta, that ramping-up of intensity seems appropriate.
After leaks that were courtesy of a slip-up at Nintendo of Japan's website earlier on Thursday, Kirby and the Forgotten Land got a proper reveal. The Forgotten World is the pink, puffy mascot's first-ever open-world, fully 3D adventure game. The reveal trailer mostly involves the simple running, jumping, platform-hopping, and enemy-absorbing mechanics seen in prior 2D (and 2.5D) Kirby games, only this time with a few clever 3D twists. One boss battle looked quite epic in comparison to older Kirby games, while one of Kirby's inhaled abilities turned him into a destructive, Katamari-like ball that grabbed anything in his rolling wake. The game is slated to launch on Nintendo Switch in spring 2022.
Arguably, the biggest showcase surprise was Square Enix's Actraiser: Renaissance. The game immediately went on sale on Switch's eShop after its out-of-nowhere announcement. The 1991 Super Nintendo classic—which combined 2D platforming action with sim management of a magical village—has received a complete visual makeover and some additional, brand-new challenge modes. Players also get an option to pick from either the game's original music as rendered on SNES consoles or newly remastered tunes.
The showcase began with a brief tease of Monster Hunter Rise's first paid DLC expansion pack, dubbed Sunbreak. Sunbreak is slated to launch in "Summer 2022." The showcase included a lengthy reveal of next year's Splatoon 3, which mostly involves special abilities being added to the game's standard 4-on-4 versus modes. And it asked viewers to tune in to upcoming Nintendo video events dedicated to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (October 5) and Animal Crossing (November) to learn more about each of those games' next major downloadable updates. Oh, and Square Enix revealed a new kart-racing series dubbed Chocobo GP that incorporates Final Fantasy characters. It feels like a kart-racing clone that should've come out in the late '90s. Better late than never.
For more on those announcements, we've embedded the original presentation below. Or head to Nintendo of Japan's YouTube channel to see region-specific announcements from its version of the event, particularly about the upcoming, Japan-only launch of the RPG Shin Megami Tensei V.
Listing image by Nintendo