Nintendo’s huge announcement of Paper Mario: The Origami King squashed rumors that the company’s development cycle was thrown off by coronavirus. Does this signal something much bigger and hopeful for Nintendo and their fans?
Over the last month, a narrative has been built around Nintendo and their current state of affairs due to state of the world brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Rumors that they are not set up to work properly from home have led to speculation that they will have to delay all, or most, of their projects. This was further fueled by the cancellation of the June Direct, which many suspected meant Nintendo had nothing to show fans.
This narrative had believable evidence, and with Nintendo maintaining their tight-lipped approach to situations like these, fans started to lower their expectations and prepare for another long drought of Nintendo news. Sure, the Xenoblade Chronicles remaster is slated for later this month, but there was no clear image on what Nintendo had planned after that. Nintendo fans were ready to sit back, start up Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and wait an indistinguishable amount of time until Nintendo returns to making games.
Then Nintendo surprised us this morning with their biggest announcement this year. Nintendo revealed Paper Mario: The Origami King, the next installment in the beloved Paper Mario series. Set to release July 17th, this announcement surprised the gaming community, not just by it’s existence, but also with the dark yet colorful tones present in the trailer.
The trailer looked great, showing off a gorgeous art style, a massive and interesting world and cinematics sprinkled throughout — all very impressive. All of this was made better by the release date being just two months away, meaning very little waiting and another game to play while locked in our houses.
But above everything else, this sudden announcement and short release window posed a threat to the narrative about Nintendo’s current state of affairs. Are things at Nintendo really as bad as the pundits say they are?
The fact that there were so few rumors even suggesting a new Paper Mario title suggests that Nintendo may have gotten most of this game done after the lockdown started. Nintendo’s tight-lipped approach to PR makes fans desperate and leads to their secrets leaking out like a boat made out of Swiss cheese. This title, however, never leaked, and caught almost everyone in even the community by surprise.
This suggests that work is still getting done at Nintendo, and significant work at that. But this is not the only sign of Nintendo’s hard work during quarantine.
The Nintendo Switch now has two first party titles slated to come out over the course of the summer, with multiple Switch exclusive releases from third parties and quite a few ports from popular studios like 2K and THQ Nordic. This may not be the Switch’s best three-month span of releases, but it still has games coming to the system to keep the currently skyrocketing number of houses with a Switch entertained.
That is without considering DLC and additional content that Nintendo is releasing for its already released games. Super Smash Brothers Ultimate may be dying quickly due it’s trashy online and toxic culture, but is slated to get a new DLC fighter in July (which Sakurai has said is still on track). Nintendo announced that another Splatfest is coming to Splatoon 2 on May 22nd, the first since July of last year. The Mario Kart 8 Open tournament just finished up, and Tetris 99 has online tournaments almost every other month.
Sure, Nintendo may have cancelled their June direct and maybe some titles are being delayed; but, overall Nintendo seems to be handling themselves well — despite reports claiming that they are not set up to work from home. The calendar may not be flooded with releases, but that just saves more titles and resources for the fall and holiday season, which tend to be more content heavy anyways.
Whether these rumors and speculation are true or not, the Paper Mario announcement serves as an exciting and bright announcement to encourage Nintendo fans across the globe.