Princess Zelda fleeing in The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom

How Was the Final Nintendo Direct for the Switch THAT Strong?

In the four decades of history surrounding home gaming consoles, there’s a couple of unspoken rules we’ve gotten used to. One is that the year before the next generation console comes out is a sleeper, but in 2024, Nintendo seems to be taking a different approach entirely.

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Normally, maybe one solid mid-level game comes out, but things usually seem eerily quiet ahead of the “big bang” a new console will create. Sometimes, companies will even use this weird period to bury duds in the annals of time. We know the successor to the Switch will be announced within the next year, because Nintendo has told us so directly, so that means the June 2024 Nintendo Direct was, in all likelihood, the last Nintendo Direct exclusively focused on the Switch.

You’d expect that to mean there were a couple “okay” announcements to keep Switch owners engaged, and we’d call it a day. But this Direct wasn’t just good; popular online consensus is holding it was one of the best Nintendo Directs ever.

Wait … why was it so good?

Normally, you expect a Nintendo Direct to have one or two trailers that create some buzz. A peak Nintendo Direct might have three big trailers. The June 2024 Direct had … like … at least four.

A brand new Legend of Zelda game came seemingly out of nowhere, wielding the number one, impossible wishlist item of all Zelda fans: a playable Zelda. We got a new Mario and Luigi game, meaning that—alongside the remakes of Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door—Nintendo has completely revitalized all their Mario RPG series. Not content to merely show off the first trailer for the highly-anticipated HD-2D remake of Dragon Quest III, one of the most beloved JPRGs ever made, Square Enix also announced that I and II will follow suit with releases in 2025.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2, one of the most beloved fighting games ever, is coming as a package deal. A new collection of Ace Attorney games is coming. A cross between Hello Kitty and Animal Crossing, bearing the exact same name as a South Park joke, is coming. It was so packed that I keep forgetting they announced the remaster of Donkey Kong Country Returns.

And to top it all off, Metroid Prime 4—a game that was announced almost exactly seven years ago but has been stuck in development hell ever since—got its first trailer and 2025 release window. For those seven years, wanting a trailer for Metroid Prime 4 has essentially be a memeable wish. But this Direct was so good that it delivered on that, too.

Why the strength of this Direct matters

The June 2024 Nintendo Direct was not a showcase for a “dying” system. This is a showcase for a console—and a company—that is alive and thriving, which comes at a very stark contrast with Nintendo’s competitors in the AAA gaming sphere.

The yearly E3 gaming event is sadly dead, and so this Direct took place where Nintendo’s E3 showcase would’ve been. PlayStation and Xbox both aired similar presentations within the past three weeks. The PlayStation State of Play was pretty much a big hunk of nothing, minus a very delightful-looking Astro Bot game. The Xbox showcase fared significantly better, with a big Doom announcement, the first trailer for Dragon Age: The Veilgaurd, and the resurgence of the Perfect Dark reboot.

But both companies are also going through a rough time. However good the Xbox showcase was, it had a dark shadow looming over it: just a few weeks prior, Xbox had just gutted several studios. Among them was Tango Gameworks, who created last year’s runaway hit Hi-Fi Rush. In February, Sony announced that the PlayStation 5 was entering “the latter stage of its life cycle” and that there would be no new releases from any major PlayStation franchise before April 2025.

The PS5 isn’t even four years old. The Switch turned seven in March—which is ancient, by console standards. And yet, tell me which one you think is having a healthier life cycle?

There could be any number of reasons for this, but it seems to revolve around how the gaming world in 2024 is plagued by major layoff after major layoff. Major companies like Microsoft/Xbox keep buying up studios, only to destroy them in the name of budget cuts months later. It’s grim.

Nintendo is a welcome contrast. When in the 2010s, following the disappointing launch of the Wii U, Nintendo needed to make budget cuts, the CEO took the hit from his salary instead. “If we reduce the number of employees for better short-term financial results, employee morale will decrease,” Satoru Iwata said at the time. “I sincerely doubt employees who fear that they may be laid off will be able to develop software titles that could impress people around the world.”

Of course, Iwata was right. And that correct projection paid off in today’s Direct.

If Nintendo’s thriving so much now, it makes you excited for what the successor to the Switch could possibly have in store.

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Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.