Nintendo’s big September Direct arrived out of nowhere and ambushed fans with an avalanche of new information about upcoming games–and even some brand-new game reveals that took many insiders by surprise. The hype train for the Direct had many people speculating that Nintendo would unveil Switch remakes for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess.
Instead, we got several brand-new game announcements–and they were better than many fans could have expected. The Direct included reveals of new titles like Octopath Traveler II, Fire Emblem Engage, and even the long-awaited Pikmin 4. Moreover, they even gave fans a release date for the sequel to Breath of the Wild and revealed its actual title.
Today, we’re breaking down the biggest announcements from the September Direct to get you hyped for all of the upcoming releases in the Nintendo pipeline. Switch owners, hold onto your hats: you’ve got a ton of awesome games coming up in the next twelve months. Oh, and an unusually large number of farming simulators. Seriously, what’s up with all these farming simulators?
Fire Emblem Engage
The first new mainline Fire Emblem game since 2019’s Three Houses is finally on the way. Engage, coming out on January 20, 2023, will star a brand-new cast of characters capable of summoning the spirits of past warriors. These warriors, called “Emblems,” act as echoes of the main characters of prior Fire Emblem characters, like the iconic March or the stoic Sigurd.
Players will control a Divine Dragon Aelar, who can use the titular Fire Emblem rings to summon and command the echo-like Emblem spirits. Engage features a bright, distinctive graphical style that is a dramatic departure from the more realistic look seen in Three Houses. This rolls all the way into Aelar’s design, with his bright red-and-blue accents over a stark white outfit.
The game appears to have a more traditional gameplay experience in line with the GBA Fire Emblem games like Sacred Stones. Fans are excited to get back into the tactical turn-based world of Fire Emblem, especially with returning characters like Marth headlining the affair.
Octopath Traveler II
The follow-up to the gorgeous HD2D RPG Octopath Traveler was revealed during the Direct. Square Enix’s eye-catching pixel art graphics make the game pleasing to look at, and the stellar music creates a truly engrossing experience. If you enjoyed the first game, Octopath Traveler II promises to bring you more eight-character old-school RPG gameplay. It will take place in the same world as the first game, but further in time and with more advanced technology.
The new entry will feature a brand-new cast of eight characters, each with its own unique class abilities and combat capabilities. Like the original, it’ll include random encounters, turn-based battles, and tactical gameplay centered around maximizing your eight playable characters.
The stunning-looking new game won’t be a Switch exclusive like its predecessor started out as, though. It’ll also launch for the PlayStation and on Steam on February 24, 2023. If you’re taking notes, you can tell it’s going to be a busy first half of the year for Nintendo’s hybrid system.
Finally, at long last, after years of waiting, Nintendo has announced the fourth game in the Pikmin series. Not before trolling the entire audience with a lengthy trailer for the Pikmin-themed mobile game, Pikmin Bloom, though. Shigeru Miyamoto, the series director, appeared on-screen to introduce audiences to the returning series. Bizarrely, Miyamoto launched into a surprisingly in-depth discussion of the finer points of Bloom, which is itself a Pokemon Go clone.
After that groan-inducing fake-out, the Direct pivoted to the upcoming Pikmin 4, a game that Miyamoto said was “almost finished” back in 2015. It’s likely that Miyamoto was either far too optimistic about the game’s timetable, or the version that was nearly complete seven years ago was thrown out and restarted from scratch.
The game has a loose release date of 2023 now, and it’s unclear which features will be returning. However, what is certain is that the announcement of a sequel is welcome news for fans. The previous entry, Pikmin 3, first hit the Wii U system all the way back in 2013. While ten years is a long time to wait for a new entry, Pikmin fans certainly have it better than Metroid fans, who had to wait a full 20 years before Metroid Dread continued the main storyline!
Kirby’s Return to Dreamland
Kirby’s having a great year. Earlier this year, Nintendo released Kirby and the Forgotten Land, a 3D platformer starring the cute puffball. Forgotten Land is one of the best Kirby games ever made and a treat for longtime fans who have been longing for a more in-depth experience. In late summer, the free-to-play Kirby’s Dream Buffet was released on the Nintendo Switch eShop. That cutesy rolling-based game is a blast, even though it doesn’t have much in the way of cosmetic customization.
Now, the pink puffball is starring in yet another game–Kirby’s Return to Dreamland. While this game is a port of a Wii title of the same name, it looks like a fantastic modernization of the previously standard-definition outing. Unlike Forgotten Land, Return to Dreamland is a 2D platformer that plays like classic Kirby games–like its namesake, Nightmare in Dreamland.
The new version of the game for the Switch will include new features like four-player co-op multiplayer and a series of new minigames. Fans of the series will have plenty to sink their teeth into when the game releases on February 24, 2023.
Nintendo 64 Online
Nintendo fans are about to get a huge slew of fantastic N64 games as the company rolls out more titles for its Nintendo Switch Online service. During the Direct, Nintendo unveiled plans to put the first three Mario Party titles on the service–a huge win for longtime fans of the classic board game series. Moreover, the N64 Online versions of the games will feature online play, breathing new life into these older titles.
Additionally, Nintendo will upload both Pokemon Stadium games to the service later this year or early in 2023. Likewise, these classic titles will have online multiplayer, allowing players to get into cinematic Pokemon battles with opponents around the world. This also means that players will be able to use the online service to play the fan-favorite minigames found in both Stadium titles.
Finally, Nintendo was able to secure the rights to upload the cult classic GoldenEye: 007 to the N64 Online service. This marks the first time the legendary first-person action game has appeared on a Nintendo system since the original game’s release. And, once more, the addition of online multiplayer is enough to excite many fans of the original game.
DLC Updates for Several Games
The smaller headlines that were notable in the Direct mostly revolved around DLC updates for existing games. For instance, Mario Strikers: Battle League will receive a free update, including a new stadium and two new players. The first, Diddy Kong, will play as an aggressive mid-fielder. The second, Pauline, will be a strong physical bruiser who can move quickly and tackle opponents.
Another free update is also coming for Nintendo Switch Sports. The new update will introduce a new sport, golf, to the game’s roster. This returning sport was one of the most often-requested minigames from the original Wii Sports, so fans are excited to see several holes from that game returning.
Finally, the company announced a new hero for Xenoblade Chronicles 3. The new update, available to players with the expansion pass, will include a new character named Ino. Ino resembles the artificial blades from the second Xenoblade game and even has a separate menu for upgrades, much like Poppy, the artificial blade party member in Xenoblade 2.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Perhaps the biggest headline from the Direct was the announcement of the name and release date for the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The highly-anticipated open-world action RPG will release on May 12, 2023, and will be titled The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. The new trailer showcased the ways Link might be able to travel between the new sky realm and the lower Hyrule kingdom.
In one scene, Link can be seen jumping onto a rock hanging from an impossibly long chair. Link appears to use the Sheikah Slate to reverse time and retract the chain back into the realm of the clouds. In another, he plummets from a shrine high in the clouds and lands on some kind of Sheikah-created glider that can transport him safely to the ground. Some fans have expressed confusion about how long the game has taken to develop.
It seems to be reusing many of the assets from Breath of the Wild, but it’s still taken six years to go through development. Perhaps the game is much more ambitious in scope and scale than fans initially thought. After all, doubling the size of the game map, introducing new enemy varieties, and hopefully overhauling the weapon durability system could take quite a bit of development time.