When Nintendo surprised everyone with the announcement of a Direct Mini mere hours before it premiered, every rational gaming fan would probably assume it probably wasn't going to be filled with heavy hitters, especially since the Japanese company explicitly stated it was a showcase focusing on third party titles and most importantly, "previously-announced Nintendo Switch games."
On 7/20 we'll debut the first #NintendoDirect Mini: Partner Showcase, a series focused on titles from our development & publishing partners. We'll share a few updates on a small group of previously-announced #NintendoSwitch games. Check out the full video release at 7am PT. pic.twitter.com/GbEbxVL6fD— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) July 20, 2020
Of course, the lack of recent news regarding some of the biggest Nintendo franchises and the promise of an eventful Direct by the end of July skewed expectations with fans of franchises such as Zelda, Mario, and Metroid, clinging to the hope the company would pull an ace up their sleeve. As usual, it did not happen.
Now I hear you say, "how bad can it be?" Surely, it's a small but vocal minority. Well, as of the time of writing, the Nintendo Mini Direct has 68,000 dislikes and counting.
This is far from the first time Nintendo fans have set themselves up for obvious frustration. When The Pokémon Company revealed Pokémon Unite, a MOBA utilising the billion-dollar franchise, fans bombarded the video with almost 200,000 dislikes for the most ludicrous of reasons: somehow they convinced themselves that seeing plushies from Gen 2 monsters behind CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara during the presentation meant a Let's Go Johto! remake was in the works.
Many fans and even industry analysts claimed that the Direct Mini already seemed very lacklustre even with no expectation set and that Nintendo could've easily held off on showing a video presentation, I heavily disagree.
For an eight-minute presentation (for Western markets, as the Japanese crammed a few more exclusive titles for their region), having a trailer for Shin Megami Tensei V was worth the small investment of time. Even better, knowing it will have a simultaneous worldwide release puts a smile on the face of Atlus' fans that have had to deal with dreadful delays between the Asian and Western releases of their games. We haven't forgotten about Persona 5 Scramble, Atlus.
SMTV releasing worldwide simultaneously is a bigger deal than what fans give credit. (Credit: Atlus/Nintendo)
Nintendo doesn't really own fans an explanation as to why they're deciding to sprinkle their gaming content across multiple Mini Directs. I'm not saying people should let them off the hook when the company doesn't show a product up to the standards it's known for (i.e Pokémon Sword and Shield), but let's be real: not every year is going to be a slam-dunk.
This mentality of senseless and impossible to reach hype also stems from Nintendo's track record during the Switch era. Since the release of the revolutionary console, every year for Nintendo has been filled with strong titles that propelled the Switch to a level of success the company desperately needed after the Wii U fiasco — 2017 had Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, 2018 saw Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee dominate sales charts, 2019 continued the trend with Luigi's Mansion 3 and Super Mario Maker 2. In 2020 we've had Animal Crossing: New Horizons and... yeah, tjat's it pretty much.
But as I said, it's okay, with a global pandemic impacting pretty much every industry in the world, Nintendo most likely has had to scale back on their release schedule for the year. On top of this, keep in mind long-awaited titles like Metroid Prime 4 had to scrap years of development and start from scratch this past 2019.
It’ll be interesting to see if Nintendo does, in fact, have an ace up their sleeve, but remember, if you find yourself hovering over that dislike button when the next Nintendo Direct rolls around, chances are, you’re the one to blame, not them.