Last week’s Nintendo Direct presentation wasn’t as Earth-shattering as the fans had hoped it would be. You could practically feel the electricity pouring from the internet in hopes that Nintendo would lay out what would be yet another defining year in the console’s lifetime.
And yet, the Direct presentation felt more like a warm-up. Nintendo even called it a “mini” presentation knowing full well that it wouldn’t meet the expectations.
No games rose to the challenge of meeting Super Mario Odyssey’s or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s levels of excitement, and safe, predictable remasters instead flooded the gates. A Mario tennis game, a release date for Kirby, a few third-party releases here and there, some Super Mario Odyssey and Mario + Rabbids DLC. Whatever… the lack of Virtual Console and follow-up to its two heavy hitters from 2017 made it an almost forgettable show.
Four major remasters are stealing the headlines as we speak, so we’ll go ahead and talk about them today. Two come from Nintendo, one comes from FromSoftware, and a surprising addition from Square Enix closed out a solid line-up of games that should keep Nintendo fans occupied until the next masterpiece is delivered to them.
Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze
First up is a title that not a lot of people played the first time around. Hopefully, now that the Switch is already larger than the Wii U ever was, more people will take this chance to jump into the marvelous fun that is Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze.
This excellent and challenging platformer is every bit as impressive as the original games from the classic Super Nintendo series, only now it comes loaded with hilarious self-referential humor. Developer Retro Studios takes plenty of jabs and liberties at the quirks of the older games, and it backs up their wit with pitch-perfect gameplay in the process.
Donkey Kong and his crew of simians have never felt so smooth, and their HD representations are as faithful to the original sprites as possible.
Furthermore, unlike the original Donkey Kong Returns on the Wii, this one doesn’t come bogged down with motion controls. Manual buttons are a must for such challenging game, and the lack of the Wii-mote’s influence cemented this game as the ideal modern day Donkey Kong experience.
I think most that played this agree that Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze should have been a much larger success the first time around. Again, the Switch should see to that.
If we’re being honest here, the reason we’re seeing Nintendo throw such bold support behind remasters is because of the success of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The game launched with an attachment rate of OVER 100 percent, and retailers around the world expressed shock at its performance. In 2018, it’s all so obvious, but last April, the Switch hadn’t yet proved itself on the market.
Now, we have these two games, and while the niche appeal of Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze is a bit of an odd choice to follow up Mario Kart 8 with, Hyrule Warriors is not. This “musou” style game was a huge success for Nintendo on the Wii U, and it pushed Nintendo into accepting offers from third-party developers to fill in the gaps between its own games.
I think we can thank Hyrule Warriors for Mario + Rabbids if nothing else.
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition brings the whole experience together. All of the content from the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS games will be crammed onto a cart and pumped out with performance that the game has not yet seen.
However, I’ve never been shy about not being a fan of this game. I find it shallow and unfulfilling, no matter how much it claims to be paying homage to the series’ history. Of these three remasters, this is the one I expect I will totally overlook. If mindless, hack ‘n’ slash is something you’re looking for though, Fire Emblem Warriors is a superior game anyway, providing lots of RPG meat to chew on, something that Hyrule Warriors lacks.
Get that instead.
Dark Souls Remastered
I think even my grandmother knew this was going to be announced. Secrets were meant to be guessed, not kept I suppose.
Regardless, this is the class of the bunch and easily the game we’re most excited to see appear on the Nintendo Switch. Dark Souls stands in a small crowd of genius games that helped define the last ten years of our past time. It caught the world off guard, at least those that didn’t play Demon’s Souls, with its brutal-yet-fair challenge, finely tuned design, branching pathways, and crushing atmosphere.
Furthermore, if the Switch can handle Skyrim’s massive kingdom, I doubt it will have much trouble rendering the winding halls and dark depths of Dark Soul’s digital hell.
The doubts I have are not with the performance of the game, but rather, in how I’ll play it. Using the Switch, I’ve primarily stuck to handheld mode since I bought the console. However, I think the placement of the analog stick and buttons, as well as the smaller screen, might make this version of Dark Souls play awkwardly. And if I just end up playing this on a television, I might as well stick to the PlayStation 3 version. I have no problems with how that runs, and remasters alone aren’t enough to get me to buy.
I’ll snatch this up depending on how well it makes the jump to being a handheld hit. If not, this classic forever has a spot on my PlayStation 3 shelf.
The World Ends With You – Final Mix
Okay Square Enix… this isn’t quite what I had in mind when I said that old games needed support. I was thinking more along the lines of a port of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, but this is fine for now.
The World Ends With You, or TWEWY as adoring fans pronounce it, was a cult-hit from the days of the Nintendo DS. I can still remember seeing the reveal for the first time and thinking that the game would never stand a chance at being localized in North America. This was back in about 2007 when AAA overswept the Japanese market, and not many publishers were willing to send their niche games out to die.
This was also at a time when Square Enix wasn’t really dabbling in original ideas and had fallen out of favor with this holdover fan from the original PSOne days, back when Square was at the height of its experimental phase.
I bought the game in Japan on my first trip to the country, but to my surprise, within a year, Square Enix decided to localilize it! The World Ends With You, a goofy little handheld RPG from the creators of Kingdom Hearts, not only launched, in North America but it was met with enthusiasm across the board equal to my own.
Whatever it was, TWEWY found its market. The touch screen combat surprised a lot of longtime, hardcore RPG enthusiasts, and even its seemingly trite story about how fashion should dominate our lives delivered a resonating tone that churned out a few memorable characters. Indeed, the gaming world was shocked when it started taking home awards during awards season, and the game proved even better on iPhone and iPad with the single screen fixing the original’s dual-screen combat issues.
Surprise, surprise, it’s hard to keep track of two different battles at once.
This cult-classic RPG was a game I loved the first time I played it but never thought I would revisit. Now, the Nintendo Switch has given me all the reason in the world to do so.
Don’t think this lets you off the hook though, Square Enix. I still want my Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy XII fix on the Switch.
How do we feel?
The appearance of remasters on the Switch can mean a lot of things, or of course, it could mean nothing. This is the time of year that publishers like to take it easy and recoup after a busy holiday, and while nobody really seemed to have THAT busy of a holiday season in 2017, Nintendo still wants to let its newfound success simmer before striking it big again. I love Kirby, but the pink puff is no Mario or Link. He can’t sell consoles all by himself.
My guess is that four remasters aren’t a sign that Nintendo is planning to slow down production of new games. Wait until March or April for Nintendo to knock your socks off again. However, if Dark Souls is a success, we might see more third-party publishers attempting to capitalize on similar success.
How do we feel about the remasters though? Shouldn’t the Switch be getting original games?
Well, I can’t whine and say otherwise. From the moment I saw it, I’ve hyped and touted the Switch as the perfect console to play all of my classic favorites on, and while the last ten years isn’t exactly the time frame I had in mind, slightly older games can and will find just as much of a home on the portable console as the NES and SNES classics do. Hold out for new games, but in the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with a nice stroll down memory lane.
It’s pretty much all I do these days, anyway.