February’s Nintendo Direct unveiled plenty of new games set to release from now until Summer. There were plenty of obvious highlights but also a few lesser appreciated titles. What was shown adds on to the already great year ahead, while elevating it to one that shouldn’t be missed.

Nintendo Direct Confirms Stellar 2019

Heading into the stream, we already knew about the existence of Luigi’s Mansion 3, Animal Crossing, Bayonetta 3, and Pokémon Gen 8These titles alone were able to sell Switch owners on a good year ahead, but none of them had release dates or gameplay footage shown. With the news of Metroid Prime 4’s delay, many assumed that, at least, a handful of these titles would be shown off a bit during the Direct. Also, Nintendo, lately, has had exclusive releases that launched almost monthly, so what else could drop between now and Fall?

Kicking off the Direct was Mario Maker 2, a sequel to the Wii U level-designing game that lets players craft their own Mario experiences. With new additions such as slopes and designs from Super Mario 3D World, June can’t come soon enough. Next, we got a deeper look into Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 and a look at BoxBoy + BoxGirl, the next installment in the series from the 3DS. These were nice announcements, especially the BoxBoy one but it wasn’t something to go wild for, yet.

Nintendo Direct Confirms Stellar 2019

The Direct truly began to shine once Dragon Quest XI S: Definitive Edition was shown off in detail. This is vastly different from the PlayStation 4 version, due to new stories, music, and a retro approach seen from the 3DS Japanese variant. On top of this, Dragon Quest Builders 2 looks to deliver a great experience. Rumors of a Dragon Quest character coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate look like they might end up being true.

It was really nice to see Nintendo continue to support previous releases with content updates. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Smash Ultimate, and Starlink: Battle for Atlas are poised to see new updates and DLC in the coming year. Captain Toad’s stood out a bit more simply because it proves that Nintendo is able to provide extra gameplay for titles seen on the Wii U.

The best part of a Direct is always what’s available to download immediately after, and this was no exception. Demos for Yoshi’s Crafted World and Daemon X Machinaa free pre-order for Toby Fox’s DeltaRune, and Square Enix’s Final Fantasy IX could be downloaded right away, but that wasn’t the highlight. What was one of the most surprising shocks was Tetris 99a free-to-play online Battle Royale game for Nintendo Switch Online. Not only does it make the paid online subscription more enticing, but it is also incredibly fun. We’ll share our thoughts on it in more detail soon!

Nintendo Direct Confirms Stellar 2019

A deep dive into Fire Emblem: Three Houses showed off a slew of new features that make it look like a bit similar to a Harry Potter title. As a professor, you’re able to take control of one of three houses within the academy to lead it to victory. On top of this, bonds between characters can be formed, new skills can be taught to students, and the traditional turn-based gameplay returns with a more polished design. This is shaping up to be one of the best in the series and shouldn’t be missed by fans.

The two biggest announcements came, of course, at the very end of the stream. Platinum Games showed off not Bayonetta 3, but something brand new. Astral Chain is an upcoming action game directed by Takahisa Taura (Nier: Automataand supervised by the legendary Hideki Kamiya (Devil May Cry/Bayonetta). Players can take control as a futuristic police officer as they have to fight off an incoming invasion. A description of the game follows:

“In the Ark, a multi-cultural city in the near future, disaster strikes when gates to another dimension suddenly appear! Dangerous creatures begin to emerge, attacking the people and polluting the land, and normal police forces are unable to compete with them. To stand up against these threats, a brand new, special police unit known as Neuron is formed.”

Astral Chain looks fantastic and stole the show, for the time being. It launches August 30, so the wait won’t be too long to get our hands on it.

Finally, the kicker was the remake to 1993’s Link’s Awakening. This game looks absolutely gorgeous in a new engine and with its simplistic art style. A bit of the gameplay was shown off and it looks better than before. Nintendo’s upcoming remake may just dethrone Resident Evil 2 as the best remake released this year. It’s a top-down 2D experience similar to A Link Between Worlds, so those wanting a more traditional Zelda can look forward to this. A specific release date was not announced, except that it will launch later this year.

Although we didn’t get any information on Animal Crossing or Luigi’s Mansion 3, this was a fantastic way to start the year. Clearly, the games that weren’t shown are not ready to be shown, so it shouldn’t bother anybody on why these games didn’t make an appearance. This Direct not only proved that 2019 will be a great year for first and second party games, but there is also support from third-party publishers coming soon such as Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Mortal Kombat 11, Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered, and Dead by Daylight. If you don’t own a Nintendo Switch now, this is definitely the year to do so.