Nintendo Direct February 2023 Impressions

This post isn't a summary of yesterday's Nintendo Direct showcase. I'm just voicing my opinions on some of the announcements that stood out to me in some way personally.

Fire Emblem and Xenoblade

To be frank I've been feeling a great sense of disillusionment with both of these franchises for a long time now. The announcements regarding them only served to further this feeling. Apparently people really dig excessive self-referential fanservice. Personally, I don't see the point. It just puts me off because it makes the impression that there isn't much substance to the games otherwise.

Etrian Odyssey HD Remaster Pack

Great for everyone that always wanted to play these on the big screen, I suppose. The DS and 3DS releases are still good enough for me. But it's nice to see the franchise isn't dead.

Disney Illusion Island

This one stuck out to me because I really liked Disney platformers back in the early '90s. It looks absolutely horrible. Never mind the cheap flash-style art direction. This game's a great example of why I'm still critical of widescreen and HD as the standard for videogame visuals. If there's obstacles and enemies you can see them from miles away, and if there are none you get to stare at a huge empty map. How is this game to have any surprises and excitement?

Octopath Traveller II

Looks great visually. Although the art direction of this series initially didn't impress me much I have to admit that it has grown on me. However other issues I had with the first game just never did the same. The combat is too formulaic in a boring way, field skills make the game feel bloated and I dearly missed a story properly involving all of the party members. However I don't see the sequel doing things any different so it's not a game I find myself very interested in.

Tales of Symphonia Remaster (again)

My late comment since this was announced in a previous direct. Tales of Symphonia was originally released on Nintendo's Gamecube, had a port with additional features (think of DLC) for the PS2 and was then rereleased in HD on the PS3. The first HD release was already disappointing because it uses the exact same assets they used on the PS2. This new release seems to be no different from that.
Tales of Symphonia is a great game that's been waiting forever for a true remaster with graphics on par with one of the series' later entries. Unfortunately this still isn't that. And since I already own all three previous releases of it, this is another no-buy for me. I wish the game would get the HD treatment it deserves because it's a true classic in my book.

Nintendo Online GB & GBA

I'm only mentioning this because I'm happy that F-Zero and Golden Sun got some kind of honorary mention in this direct. It might be just another emulator running roms, but there's the benefit of accessibility. You can turn on your switch and just play any classic game released on Nintendo Online. No need to digitize your own games or hunt for rom files, no need to look for the right emulators and configure them properly. And most importantly kids that have no idea what a computer even is still get to experience the classics (if they have parents paying for this service).
However that companies are abusing their rights with these services to shut down websites archiving the classics is another side to the story, considering that a) Nintendo Online only serves a small fraction of games that were released on their old consoles and b) The service is bound to shut down one day. It really isn't all roses and sunshine.

Metroid Prime HD Remaster

Although I just complained about the Tales of Sumphonia remaster not featuring new visuals, I now more or less have to make the opposite complaint. I actually always liked the way Metroid Prime looked, and would have loved a pure rerelease in HD for this game. On the other hand the Remaster does look better in some ways than the original. With Metroid Prime there's also the issue that various glitches that were present in the original release greatly enhanced the play experience. All sorts of more or less difficult skips allowed for a huge amount of possible routes to take through the game.
My wish for these releases is for publishers to respect the originals and bundle them with their remasters. Mixed feelings, but this was a nice surprise nonetheless. I just hope it manages to carry the atmosphere of the original despite looking a lot softer in some ways.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

To be honest I was never a big fan of open world games. And it seems Elden Ring was sort of a final nail in the coffin for me when it comes to the genre. Therefore I've never been excited for Tears of the Kingdom in the first place and this latest trailer does little to change my mind. Breath of the Wild had its moments, but all things considered it's a huge time sink with little in return like any other open world game.
Beyond that Tears of the Kingdom appears to be more like an expansion pack for Breath of the Wild rather than being a new game. Visually there seems to be almost no difference between those games. Majora's Mask looked better than Ocarina of Time - on the same hardware just one year of development apart. I always liked Zelda because of its spooky and challenging dungeons, not because I enjoy strolling across a mostly empty map in a vehicle.

My Overall Impression

Expansion Pass, Remaster, Remaster, Expansion Pass, Remaster ...

But then it was self-evident that there wouldn't be any bigs new from Nintendo considering they have Pikmin 4 and the new Zelda game upcoming. I'm sure the announcements of Deca Police and the new Layton game are big news for fans of Level 5 games, so there's that at least. Personally I wasn't blown away, but Nintendo has currently no known games upcoming this fall and winter so there's still a lot of room for big surprises later this year. The hope for a new F-Zero never dies!