Update: January came and went with the announcement of Pokémon Sword and Shield DLC in a dedicated Pokémon Direct and news that Byleth from Fire Emblem: Three Houses was Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's Challenger #5. That's all well and good, but we're still waiting for 2020's first proper Nintendo Direct. With that in mind we've updated our expectations from last month with a few extra thoughts about what we expect from 2020's first Nintendo Direct...
We're well into 2020 now and after gorging ourselves on the very best games of 2019 at the end of last year, our appetite for new games is steadily returning. Of course, Nintendo announcements come in video-based packages direct to us (and you), and the whispers have been going around since the ball dropped for 2020. When is the first Nintendo Direct of 2020? That is the question!
Will there be a Nintendo Direct in February 2020?
Well, looking back to last year, Nintendo kept us on tenterhooks throughout January until mid-February when it dropped a real whopper of a Direct before following it up at the end of the month with a Pokémon Direct devoted solely to the reveal of Pokémon Sword and Shield. Looking at past years, Nintendo has generally waited until February to make big announcements (the New Nintendo 3DS reveal and first Switch Direct being notable exceptions).
There's no guarantee that they'll follow suit in 2020, but with Animal Crossing: New Horizons coming in March, we're expecting an announcement of a Nintendo Direct broadcast sooner rather than later.
So, let's take a look at our predictions for the first Nintendo Direct of 2020, whenever it may be...
Nintendo Direct 2020 Predictions
New first-party announcements, obviously
Despite the 'known knowns' like Animal Crossing, and the 'known unknowns' like Metroid Prime 4, Nintendo does like to keep us on our toes with a total surprise. As fun as a huge new IP or new Splatoon would be, a new smaller scale game would be equally welcome. The Stretchers was an unexpected little treat last year, for example, and with this year's first-party release schedule looking a little light, Switch surely has some tasty treats to fill the gaps in the calendar.
Looking back, 2019's schedule looked similarly sparse this time last year, so there's no reason to think Nintendo hasn't got some aces up its sleeve in 2020. Then, of course, there'll be the ports...
A Wii U port or two
As they're wont to do, rumours have sprung up of Wii U ports planned for Switch in 2020, including something that sounds like Pikmin. No need to call in Columbo to come to the conclusion that we'll be seeing more treasures plundered from the good ship Wii U - Nintendo will obviously be looking to plug holes in its release schedule with choice 'Deluxe' ports from its previous console, as it has successfully done since the very beginning with Switch.
We asked you which Wii U titles you'd like to see join their brethren on Switch, and the results were certainly interesting. For our money, Super Mario 3D World and Xenoblade Chronicles X would be very welcome, although we wouldn't turn our noses up at the Zeldas, either. With The Wonderful 101: Remastered definitely Switch-bound following its hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, the more Wii U ports the merrier if you ask us.
Except, perhaps, Devil's Third. That can stay right where it is.
... and some choice third-party ports
After the total home run that is Witcher 3 on Switch, there are plenty of commentators with egg on their faces as they chew on mouthfuls of their own headgear. When it comes to third-party ports on Nintendo's console, it would seem that anything is possible given the appropriate resources, time and talent. Games that we thought could never scale to Switch's mobile chipset suddenly look plausible and only a fool would categorically state that 'Game X will never come to Switch'.
Rather than pin our hopes on Red Dead 2 or Cyberpunk 2077, though, it might be more fruitful to look to the past. In addition to brand new big hitters like DOOM Eternal, studios like Feral Interactive are bringing excellent ports like Alien: Isolation and GRID Autosport to Switch. These great games might have been around for a few years, but they still show what can be done on the handheld with some know-how and elbow grease. We'd jump at the chance to revisit classics from the Wii U era that skipped Nintendo platforms, provided they got a similar level of care and attention on Switch.
Bayonetta 3 news
While The Wonderful 101 may be grabbing all PlatinumGames' headlines at the moment, it's been a while since we've heard from the developer's Umbra Witch and finding out more about her third game is one of the things we're most looking forward to in 2020. E3 2019 feels like the most natural fit for the showboater to reveal more about Bayonetta 3, but we'd expect to see a trailer in any upcoming Nintendo Direct presentation.
The development studio has spoken of 'big things' ahead in 2020, and we're ready to be wowed. We played (and loved) Astral Chain, but there's always room in our book for Bayonetta's brand of swagger and we're eager to catch up with her soon. There are still three more stars to discover on Platinum's teaser site.
A new Sonic game
The blue hedgehog has been quiet for a suspiciously long time in the realm of video games, although we've seen plenty of news concerning his upcoming silver screen debut. We're just days away from Sonic's Valentine's Day movie debut, so we doubt that there'll be a specific movie tie-in game (unless its a mobile title). It seems impossible that Sega would let 2020 pass without Mobius' favourite son popping up on Switch and other consoles, though. After all, we were promised a new game in 2020 at the very start of April last year...
A deluge of Animal Crossing: New Horizons details
Animal Crossing: New Horizons was delayed last year and unfortunately slipped into 2020, although in hindsight this was probably a good thing, and not just so that the developers had the time to finish the game without grinding themselves into the ground. 2019 was so jam-packed with new games that we struggled to play many of them. If the all-consuming Animal Crossing had been thrown in there too, we'd have likely missed out on a whole lot more besides.
We already know quite a bit about Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and we're trying our hardest to stop ourselves buying the adorable Animal Crossing-themed Switch being released alongside the game, but there's going to be plenty more to come over the next couple of months before its 20th March release date. We wouldn't be surprised if New Horizons gets its own dedicated mini Direct, either. The first-party schedule might look a little barren at the moment, but if Nintendo wants to keep April and May free of juicy new releases, we're absolutely fine with that. It would at least give us some space for our island getaway trip and time to catch up with our BFFs. Bring it on.
The return of a dormant franchise
Last year we looked at dormant franchises we'd like Nintendo to bring back, and now that we've seen a Switch entry in most of Nintendo's big name series, it's the perfect time to bring back the 'B-tier'. Longtime readers will be aware of various Nintendo Life staff members' F-Zero fanaticism, but there are plenty of other games which would really fire up hardcore fans and also appeal to the broader audience Switch now enjoys. We can't help imagining how incredible a new Wave Race could look on Switch. How about something smaller like Pushmo? Where's the long-rumoured Pikmin 4? Or Picross, perhaps?
That last one's a joke; Picross is the least dormant series on the planet. There hasn't been one for at least a month, though, so expect another imminently.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Challenger #6 news
The fifth and final DLC fighter (for the first Challenger Pack) was revealed to be Byleth and the Fire Emblem: Three Houses protagonist dropped on Switch on 28th January. The character got a rather mixed, muted reception - arguably due to the fact that Smash Bros. already has a sizeable roster of characters from Nintendo's SRPG series. In fact, the most exciting news for the majority of fans was the announcement of a further six DLC fighters to come over the next two years.
To be honest, it's probably a bit too soon, but for Smash fans who were underwhelmed by Challenger #5, a fresh reveal could once more fan the flames of fandom. With six more slots, there's still hope yet for Waluigi enthusiasts, and Rayman, Sora and Waluigi currently top our poll for the fighters you'd most like to see in Smash. Personally, we think Waluigi would make the perfect final DLC fighter before Sakurai drops the mic and retires.
That is until Nintendo locks him in an iron lung and puts him to work on Super Duper Smash Bros. Ultimater. Poor guy.
With Retro Studios knee-deep in development on Metroid Prime 4, obviously we'd love to see a little gameplay tease or something more than a temporary logo. On the other hand, any material produced for a Direct would take likely somebody away from developing the game itself, and by all accounts there's still a long way to go, so probably best not to disturb the team while it's got its nose to the grindstone.
If Nintendo wanted to throw Metroid fans a bone, though, there's an easy win just sitting there in the form of Metroid Prime Trilogy HD. We want it, you want it, everybody wants it. Chop chop, Nintendo.
So, that’s what we’re expecting, although when it comes to Nintendo it's usually best to expect the unexpected. Mother 4? Virtual Boy Classic Mini? A Labo tea set with fully functional teapot and biscuit dispenser? Let us know below when you expect to see the first Nintendo Direct of 2020 and exactly what you'd like it to contain below...