‘Skyward Sword’ isn’t the Zelda remaster everyone wanted, but who cares when we have ‘Mario Golf’

Toad in a little golfing outfit > Twilight Princess HD

As per usual, expectations ran wild through the week as we approached the first Nintendo Direct of 2021, the first standard showcase since September 2019. A lot of the hype centred around the fact that 2021 marks 35 years of The Legend Of Zelda.

2020 marked the 35th anniversary of Super Mario, and we received a suite of remakes of some of the plumber’s finest 3D games, which I reviewed and loved. Based on this, many fans were expecting a similar collection of classic 3D Zelda games, on top of all the typical cries for Metroid news and everything else that Nintendo could possibly make, bundled into 50 terse minutes of trailers.

Instead, we learned that the Nintendo Wii’s The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword was coming to the Nintendo Switch in July and that we’d be hearing more about Breath Of The Wild 2 later in the year. In reading the room, I can see that it’s not exactly what people were expecting, but I think we’re all forgetting a few things. First, Nintendo didn’t announce its 35th anniversary Mario games as part of a Nintendo Direct. They arrived as part of a special anniversary showcase which dropped out of nowhere.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Credit: Nintendo

Give it time! Some journalists are saying that Twilight Princess and Wind Waker could be on their way to the Switch later this year, regardless of yesterday’s showcase.

Second, I’m sure these expectations come from a good place, but we’re also still in the midst of a global pandemic. As such, Nintendo will likely have a lot on its plate internally, shuffling around development schedules and spinning several plates.

And listen, I get it, if I had it my way, we’d have a modern remake of the obscure GameCube title Doshin The Giant, but we can’t always get what we want. Skyward Sword isn’t my personal favourite – it’s one of the more divisive Zelda adventures – but like many of its franchise familiars, it’s still a fun game and deserves to be brought up to date.

Even though The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD was missing in action, that still couldn’t break my spirit, because hallelujah, Mario Golf Super Rush exists. I must have watched the trailer several times by now, spotting oddities like Toad in golf attire and Donkey Kong in the buff. Any game that dares to put Wario in checkered pantaloons and a cowboy hat immediately deserves your attention.

Mario Golf Super Rush
Mario Golf Super Rush. Credit: Camelot

It’s being made by Camelot Software Planning, architects of excellent Mushroom Kingdom sports games like 2003’s Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour and 2018’s Mario Tennis Aces, which turned typical court rallies into a back-and-forth fighting game, complete with special character abilities. It’s an absolute blast in local co-op, and even online if you’ve got the stomach to take on the pros. I was so impressed by Aces – particularly in its unnecessary but deeply appreciated single-player mode – that Super Rush has quickly become one of my most anticipated games of the year. There aren’t many bad sports games based on the Mario property!

It looks like it’s had more time in the oven than Aces too. The single-player story mode seems fully-fledged, starring your Mii as a rookie who has to build their way to the top, leveling up their attributes. Mario Golf Super Rush also seems to be embracing some wacky ideas too, which is always great to see. I love the idea of Speed Golf, where Mario must race Bowser, Peach and the gang to his ball after lamping it up the fairway, cranking up the intensity and turning the dull parts of a typical nine holes into an exciting combat-adjacent race.

Ultimately, we have to consider the stopping power of a motion-controlled first-party golf game on the Nintendo Switch also. We all remember how much fun Wii Sports Golf was, don’t we!

The show then went out with a bang by revealing Splatoon 3, another entry in the squid-shooter series. As a die-hard fan of Jet Set Radio, I don’t know why I’ve avoided this franchise for so long, but this seems like a great place to start. While the upturned Eiffel Tower evoked Yoko Taro’s NieR, Splatoon 3 still retains its cutesy charm, providing a stylish glimpse of a squiddy apocalypse. And who can deny the appeal of ‘Little Buddy’, the new nameless amphibian sidekick who must be protected at all costs.

Overall, I think it’s a very good time to be a Nintendo fan in 2021. Fans may not have gotten the specific Zelda remake that they wanted, but this was still a confident show of Nintendo’s upcoming pipeline, as it juggles a pandemic while delivering experimental, imaginative games and hordes of clever indies to a growing platform. Expectations for Nintendo Direct’s are always impossibly high, but I don’t think I’ve ever watched one where there wasn’t something fresh to get excited about. Get me to the green, caddy!

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