2019 may have tested many of us with varying trials and tribulations outside the world of video games, but it’s been a pretty wonderful year for gamers all round, and especially Switch owners. Nintendo’s hybrid handheld has gone from strength to strength, with a huge amount of excellent games, a nice little internal revision that substantially upped battery life and, of course, a portable-only version dubbed the Switch Lite.
Looking back on 2019, we’ve assembled some of our very favourite Nintendo moments from the past year and presented them below. Some were sensational, some shocking, some sad, but all of them warmed the cockles of our hearts and made us glad to be on board the Nintendo Hype Train all year round and not just for E3.
So sit back and join us as we reminisce about the best Nintendo moments of the last twelve months…
Banjo-Kazooie Super Smash Bros. Ultimate E3 2019 reveal
The rumours and speculation surrounding the challengers coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate only increase with every new fighter announcement as they become more and more ‘outlandish’. We don’t mean that they’re left-field picks necessarily; only that in a world where rights, licencing and paperwork govern absolutely every facet of media, it can feel ‘impossible’ that a digital creation owned by one company could possibly appear in the digital creation of another. Some streams can never cross.
The big three video game console companies, in particular, used to feel like implacably separate entities – only an infant would think that Master Chief or Nathan Drake could every appear in Smash! With Microsoft becoming increasingly pally with Nintendo, perhaps we should have predicted the announcement of Banjo and Kazooie as Challenger #3, but somehow the moment a Jiggy bounced across the floor of DK’s jungle treehouse still caught us totally off guard. For fans of the original N64 games, it felt like a dream and it had some of us in Team NL blinking back big (manly, obviously) tears of confusion, excitement and sheer joy.
Frankly, it was all a bit overwhelming. Maybe it was the rush of nostalgia at hearing the Spiral Mountain theme again. Or perhaps it was the enthusiasm of the bear and bird’s erstwhile Rareware stablemates DK, Diddy and King K-Rool whooping and hollering at their arrival that got to us. Or just maybe it was that in these dark, divisive times Sakurai and co. had really made good on their ‘everyone is here’ mantra that warmed the cockles of our hearts. Everyone is here, and everything’s going to be all right. Regardless of the exact reason a couple of us got all emotional, the Banjo-Kazooie Smash reveal (which riffed on the similar King K.Rool reveal trailer) was absolutely spot-on.
If you want an idea of the excitement levels at NL Towers (well, for some of us) at the time of the announcement during the E3 2019 Nintendo Direct, these scenes from the NYC Nintendo Store sum it up pretty perfectly. What a world!
The outpouring of affection when Reggie Fils-Aimé retired
Perhaps we should have seen it coming; after all, everyone wants to go out on top. Following the disappointing Wii U years, the reversal of fortunes that the Switch heralded created the perfect opportunity for Nintendo of America’s president to leave the company with his head held high.
In the time since, it’s been revealed that Reggie had been laying the groundwork for his departure for some time, grooming young Bowser (Doug, that is) for the presidential role and ensuring his legacy would sustain long after the big man had emptied out his desk and left the building.
Reggiephiles may have been distraught to see his body ready to leave NOA’s Redmond offices (indeed, 23,000 of them signed a petitioned to get him a new office chair when his current one was revealed to be a 16-year-old model – and Herman Miller obliged by sending him a brand new Aeron), but ironically not being employed by Nintendo has enabled the exec to open up a little more and display that more casual persona hinted at in the various skits he’s delivered at Nintendo over the years. Every utterance still has that trademark corporate twang but is imbued with sincerity enough to avoid sounding like a cardboard cutout. It’s uncanny.
Immediately following his retirement, he snapped up the enviable @Reggie Twitter handle and has been an entertaining follow since leaving office. He’s made it his mission to inspire young business leaders through lectures and conversation, and fully embraces the love his years at Nintendo have inspired in his followers.
He might not be at Nintendo in any official capacity, but his spirit lives on over at NOA and from his social media feed and general presence in the video gaming sphere (he presented an award at The Game Awards back on 12th December), you’d be forgiven for not realising he’d left the game.
‘Switch Mini’ is real! The Switch Lite is revealed
After months of rumours, speculation, Nvidia chip teardowns, industry analyst chatter and a truckload more rumour and speculation, the ‘Switch Mini’ was indeed revealed to exist in the colourful form of the smaller, cheaper Switch Lite.
Many of the rumours were right on the money regarding price point, form factor and the like, and while the Switch Lite isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, it certainly seems to be working for its target audience. We couldn’t quite believe that Nintendo had taken the ‘switch’ out of the Switch, but then again they took the 3D out of the 3DS quicker than you can say ‘New 2DS XL’ so we really shouldn’t have been surprised.
With a huge library of brilliant games, the Switch Lite is a smart little device if you simply don’t play games on your TV and after such a long period of whispers and hearsay, finally seeing the finished product felt like a huge relief. Now just make one that looks like a Game Boy, Nintendo! Speaking of which…