Nintendo Direct highlights: N64 Online in October, Super Mario 2022 film cast

Ars Technica - Thu Sep 23 23:46

*snap of fingers* —

Also featured: Bayonetta 3's gameplay debut, Kirby's first open-world 3D adventure.

  • Get ready for the Super Mario film, hitting theaters in a little over one year.

  • International release dates have not yet been confirmed, but Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto was on hand to clarify the North American launch date.

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  • Instead of footage, we get the cast. Will Pratt use his normal speaking voice? Imitate the classic video game version perfected by Charles Martinet? Imitate Bob Hoskins? All this and more will be answered in about a year.

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  • Will Princess Peach get a British accent in the film and thus establish new canon? Or will Taylor-Joy adopt an American accent?

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  • My expectations about this film skyrocketed as soon as I saw this casting choice. Oh, they're going for it.

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  • Black's voice work in Double Fine games like Psychonauts 2 is a reminder of how much fire he puts into his roles. I love this choice.

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  • Fingers crossed that Key's version of Toad gets silly with it.

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  • Hopefully by December 2022, Rogen's cannabis company can launch a tie-in smoking device like the Donkey Bong.

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  • These are actors.

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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.

  • Pay an additional fee on top of the $20/mo. Nintendo Switch Online subscription service, and you can access a library of classic N64 and Sega Genesis games. Which ones? Keep clicking.

  • You get nine games from the N64, including Sin & Punishment, which never got a US release on the N64 (and is thus untranslated but still perfectly playable in its native Japanese language).

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  • Fourteen games from the Sega Genesis. All of these are their Western releases.

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  • Notice that this version of Super Mario 64 closely resembles its original N64 version. That differs from the slightly upscaled version we got in last year's Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection.

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  • Four-player modes that work both offline and online? Now we're talking.

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  • Ecco on your Switch? In October, it will be a reality.

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  • Get ready for blue shell madness.

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  • There's something about hearing that original theme music that always gets me.

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  • But wait—there's more! New controllers for both these classic consoles are coming that will connect directly with your Nintendo Switch in wireless mode.

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  • Exactly when and how we can buy these remains unclear as of press time. This, by the way, is the offer for American customers...

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  • ... while Japanese NSO members will be able to buy this six-button pad. The same three-button, six-button divide between the Pacific hit the Sega Genesis Mini a few years ago, and I still don't quite get Sega's problem here.

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  • Get yen and a Japanese NSO membership, and you can eventually buy the six-button option.

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  • Japan's initial slate of N64 games does not include Dr. Mario 64, since that one never launched overseas. Unlike in the US, Japanese NSO members will also get access to two games in the Custom Robo series in the future.

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  • The Japanese selection of Sega games, all branded under its native "Mega Drive" name. They're nearly identical, with the biggest exception being that Puyo Puyo is here instead of its Americanized version, Dr. Robotnik.

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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
  • Banjo-Kazooie

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.

  • I'm totally down for monster-a-monster combat in Bayonetta 3, coming to Nintendo Switch sometime in 2022.

  • Previously announced, it's now finally looking like a video game.

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  • She's back.

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  • And she's even more colorful.

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  • Blurry hand-to-hand combat.

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  • Slightly clearer footage of Bayonetta taking control of a massive monster and fighting other massive monsters.

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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.

  • Kirby romps around his first-ever open-world adventure in Kirby and the Forgotten Land, arriving on Switch in Spring 2022.

  • Run any direction in these colorful worlds.

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  • As ever, inhale enemies to steal their powers.

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  • In full 3D, this spiky-ball ability turns Kirby into a Katamari who can grab anything it rolls over. Nice.

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  • That's a big boss. How to defeat it?

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  • Absorbing and using the "sword" ability, complete with a Link-styled hat, is a good option.

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  • Followed by chirping birdie pals.

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  • Danger awaits in this cave. Though I'm sure it's very, very cute danger.

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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.

  • Actraiser: Renaissance was not on my Nintendo Direct bingo card.

  • Alternate between side-scrolling action and top-down simulation modes.

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  • Completely redone visuals in both modes.

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  • Things get dark and hectic in this later-game sim moment.

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  • A hint of a brand-new challenge mode battle.

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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.

Nintendo Direct, September 2021.

Listing image by Nintendo