Nintendo is the oldest company remaining in console video gaming. Their library of characters is large and beloved, with great games and software to be found. Even in down years like the Wii U era, Nintendo fans have carried a torch for the Japanese developer. Fortunately, 2021 was anything but a slow year.

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Nintendo had three of their Nintendo Directs this year. These livestreams brought a lot of unexpected announcements, from the Mario Movie to franchise revivals. Nintendo has had controversies this year with the continued technical issue of Joy-Con Drift and the high price point of the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pass. However, there’s still a lot to love from Japan’s oldest developer.


Super Smash Bros. Announcements

Sora Super Smash Bros Ultimate Keyblade Pose

2018’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate finally reached its conclusion this year. The massive fighting roster concludes its second round of DLC with 82 distinct characters available in the game. While there is always potential for more, the developer has stated that this is the end. While some fans are frustrated their favorite characters didn’t make it in, it’s hard to argue against a roster of 82.

The earliest announcement of the year was actually two in one. Pyra and Mythra from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 made it to Smash, filling that game’s absence on the base roster. The expected Bandai-Namco character turned out to be Kazuya Mishima from Tekken, adding another villain to the game. But the most exciting reveal was the one nobody believed: Sora from Kingdom Hearts joined as the final fighter.

A Classic Style Mario Party

Mario Party Superstars No Unlockable Characters Maps

Mario Party‘s modern history has been shaky. While the series has never been reviewed overwhelmingly well by critics, they remain a party staple. But ever since the ninth installment, fans had felt the series was slipping in quality and creativity. They pined for a return to form, and luckily Mario Party Superstars was that return.

The game is a compilation-style title but was received better than the similar Mario Party The Top 100. The series was already on the right track with the recent Super Mario Party, but fans wanted a return to the classic formula. Superstars provides that with classic boards and classic Mario Party minigames to play. But even better is the online play, which works surprisingly well.

Mario Film Cast Reveal

Chris pratt roles Mario the lego movie emmet

While some may hesitate to call this a win, there was a lot of talk about the Mario film casting. The Mario CG animated film is being worked on by Illumination studios and is set to release in late 2022. The film is slightly infamous for its celebrity voice cast pushing Mario veteran voice actors like Charles Martinet to the side. The most infamous, of course, is Chris Pratt, who will be playing Mario despite not being Italian.

Related: 11 Characters Who Should Appear In The Mario Movie

But not all the casting is controversial. The two standout casts are Charlie Day as Luigi and Jack Black as Bowser. This can be attributed to their popular fanbases as comedians, but their energies are pretty well fit for those comedic characters. Fans hope and pray that the remaining cast will be able to match them in the final film.

Splatoon 3 Reveal

Splatoon 3 Post-Apocalyptic Setting

In this year’s February Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced the sequel to one of the Wii U’s hits. It wasn’t Bayonetta 3, it was Splatoon 3. This new title is looking to have a post-apocalyptic aesthetic that combines well with the series’ punk aesthetic. The hub Splatlands was determined by the last Splatfest contest in Splatoon 2, where player competition determined that “chaos” beats “order.”

Every Nintendo game’s saccharine belies darker lore, though. For the fans who enjoy that, the title of Splatoon 3‘s story is called Rise of the Mammalians. This will definitely give the game’s cephalopod protagonists something to use their new weapons on. Splatoon 3 is estimated to release sometime next year.

Metroid Returns To Console

Metroid Dread Fighting Experiment No Z-57

Metroid is a beloved Nintendo franchise, but it wasn’t always successful. Even Metroid Prime 4′s announcement years ago seemed fraught with trouble. One title that famously ran into trouble was Metroid Dread, a 2000’s era sequel to Metroid Fusion, which was canceled. That’s what made it so exciting to see Metroid Dread‘s development and return on consoles as the fifth mainline installment.

Metroid Dread has been a big win. Not only was it nominated for Game of the Year, but it also pushed the series forward in new creative directions. Nintendo B-franchises often get caught up in remakes, but this game finally pushed the timeline forward. It returned Samus, one of gaming’s great heroines, to the center stage.

Kirby Finally Goes 3D

Kirby runs through the lush remains of a forgotten city

Kirby‘s well known for releasing quality games. And while that’s true, there’s still an element of franchise fatigue as it’s stuck to similar gameplay for a long time. When Mario and Link were jumping into 3D, they reinvented their games. But when Kirby did, they recreated their previous formula. That’s what makes Kirby and the Forgotten Land exciting.

The new game coming next year will finally let Kirby run around 3D space. While the games have played with this in spinoffs and side modes, fans have wanted a main game with this approach. Fans are also excited to see an overgrown city in the trailer. Much like Splatoon, the Kirby series also has a darker-than-expected lore fans are excited to learn more about Kirby and his world.

Pokémon Returns To Sinnoh

Dialga and Palkia in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl

Pokémon fans have been waiting for remakes of the Generation 4 games for years now. Ever since Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, fans have been waiting patiently for Sinnoh’s games to return. Well they got a lot more than they asked for. Not only did they get Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, but they also unveiled Sinnoh for the next mainline game.

Related: The 10 Best Cities And Towns In The Sinnoh Region In Pokémon BDSP, Ranked

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the long-awaited mix-up to the Pokémon series. This game promises mix-ups to the formula, a large open world, more real-time battles, and is a prequel. While some fans may be upset that the Gen 4 remakes took a backseat to Legends: Arceus, no one can deny that this looks like a major step forward. It’s set to launch on January 28th, 2022.

Advance Wars Returns

Two men and a girl stand and look in Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp

Nintendo’s been on a roll with revivals this year. Between Metroid Dread and the remakes of the formerly Japanese-only Famicom Detective Club, there’s been a lot of unexpected comebacks. But definitely the most exciting is Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp. Developer Wayforward is making a remake of this often-overlooked Game Boy Advance classic.

Wars is one of Nintendo’s oldest franchises. Its history extends back to the Famicom, but it most definitely was most popular on the Game Boy Advance. These were so popular that even the DS entries kept the Advance branding. Fans are exciting for this lighthearted war strategy sim to find a new audience on Switch.

Animal Crossing’s Major Update

Animal Crossing New Horizons Happy Home Designer DLC

Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a major hit of 2020, selling millions of copies and dominating online discussion. But the lack of updates in late 2020 and early 2021 ended up causing the game to falter. But the Nintendo Direct in September of 2021 ended up announcing a big major update. And that update needed an entire direct to itself.

Previously cut features like Brewster finally appear after months of fans wondering where they were. But it also added quality of life features. And that’s just what’s free; a DLC based on Animal Crossing: Happy Home Paradise was also added. While this announcement was made alongside the unpopular Expansion Pass high price point, it still revived interest in the game for players.

Bayonetta 3 Finally Reappears

Bayonetta 3 Story & Details

At The Game Awards in 2017, Bayonetta 3 was announced. Finally, 2014’s Bayonetta 2 was getting a sequel. Fans were ecstatic, and couldn’t wait to hear more. Yet news on the game didn’t materialize again until September of 2021, nearly four years later.

But finally, four years and multiple releases from developer Platinum later, fans got to see Bayonetta 3. Just seeing it alone would have been enough for fans, but the incorporation of giant summons like from canceled Platinum project Scalebound was a shock. Also, the setting has got fans speculating on its status as a possible prequel. All in all, it seems the wait was worth it for fans of the charismatic witch.

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