Nintendo Directs are online presentations produced by Nintendo where news about upcoming video games, events, and other things concerning the company are relayed directly to its fanbase. They began on October 21, 2011, with only Japan and North America receiving the presentations before expanding to other regions. Worldwide directs were presented by CEO Satoru Iwata until his death in 2015, after which other Nintendo executives such as Yoshiaki Koizumi and Shinya Takahashi would take up the role. Meanwhile, regional directs are generally hosted by that branch's CCO or marketing head.
Nintendo Directs are known for not being publicly announced too far in advance, with announcements that one will be aired usually coming no more than two days prior, resulting in both a lot of predicting when the next one will happen and a concentrated two-day burst of hype when one is announced. Traditionally, the only exception to this are the ones done for the yearly Electronic Entertainment Expo, thanks to Nintendo always maintaining a "Tuesday at 09:00 Pacific Time" slot just before the opening of the trade show.
- General Directs: Cover a wide variety of games and topics, lasting from thirty minutes up to an hour. On occasion, extra focus is given to one or two major upcoming titles. Currently, Nintendo can be expected to have at least three of these a year, each of which mainly focus on announcing content for the subsequent four-to-six months. note There are also shorter "Mini" variants that can run for as little as ten minutes.
- Specialized Directs: Focus on a specific title or franchise. The most frequent examples of this are the Pokémon Directs held by The Pokémon Company, with that franchise near-exclusively having major gaming announcements delivered in this format (until 2020, when TPC branched out into Pokémon Presents and expanded to add content not related to the mainline games (outside of the franchise's animated show)), and Super Smash Bros., with new fighters and gameplay features for each new title getting extensively detailed by longtime game producer Masahiro Sakurai.
- Indie Worldnote : Focus on upcoming titles made by small, independent developers. Similar are Partner Showcases, which share news on third-party games in general.
- Nintendo Direct E3note : Since 2013, Nintendo has forgone the usual E3 stage press conference format in favor of having a Nintendo Direct in conjunction with Nintendo Treehouse Live; a three-day showcase of recently announced titles hosted by members of Nintendo of America's localization team, with in-depth gameplay footage, interviews with developers, and an extra announcement or two. Since 2015, Nintendo's E3 events have usually included at least one gaming tournament as well.
The show can be viewed on the Nintendo eShop, YouTube, Twitch, and the official Nintendo website. An extensive list of every Nintendo Direct ever can be seen over here.
Microsoft and Sony would create their own equivalents in the following years: Inside Xbox starting in 2018 and State of Play in 2019, respectively. Larger software publishers would also follow the trend, with Ubisoft (Ubisoft Forward) and Square Enix (Square Enix Presents) debuting their variants in 2020.
Bringing the following examples directly to you:
- Art Shift:
- Done occasionally to promote certain games, such as Iwata having a "paper border" when presenting Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and a LEGO Iwata showing off LEGO City Undercover.
- Perhaps most notable with Tomodachi Life, which prominently features Mii versions of Nintendo executives, and even opens with a Mii version of Bill Trinen.
- The E3 2014 and 2015 Directs also engaged in this, with the former having animated sequences by the guys behind Robot Chicken, and the latter having Muppet versions of Iwata, Miyamoto, and Reggie in place of live action appearances.
- Ascended Meme: The second Doug Bowser was announced as Reggie Fils-aime's replacement as President of Nintendo of America, the Internet began pointing out that Bowser had the same name as Mario's nemesis. Later, during the E3 2019 Direct (the first where Bowser was presenting), he's introduced by having the King of Koopas appear before Doug Bowser arrives, complaining about a "mix-up".Yoshiaki Koizumi: Are you related?Doug Bowser: No, but we get that a lot.
- Bilingual Dialogue: When Yoshiaki Koizumi introduced Doug Bowser, Koizumi spoke Japanese while Bowser spoke English, yet the two carried on a brief conversation just fine.
- "Directly to you" as part of the introduction.
- "Directly" itself became a word associated with the Directs thanks to Satoru Iwata, along with a Memetic Hand Gesture of extending both hands forward while tilting the hands upright, palms parallel to each other.
- "Please take a look" when introducing the reveal trailer for a major new Nintendo-published game.
- "Please understand" was used by Satoru Iwata at the end of apologies for product delays and issues
- "But before we go", or some variation thereof, referring to the final (often internet-breaking) announcement of the Direct.
- "Directly to you" as part of the introduction.
- Dream Within a Dream: At the end of the Tomodachi Life Direct Bill dreams that he is standing at a pier when a giant Reggie head rises from the sea. He is then awoken by Reggie, only to be awoken again this time by a production-crew member who tells him that he passed out.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The first few general Nintendo Directs were plain, with just Reggie, Shibata, or Iwata explaining a game or product against a white background. Most of them also differ from region to region. It wasn't until roughly midway, around the E3 2013 Direct, that had a more unified look with beats of lively presentation that is more similar to the tone of modern Nintendo Directs.
- Five-Second Foreshadowing: Announcements for "headline" titles are preceded by a short introduction that often uses wordplay alluding to the game that's about to be shown (e.g., "A Classic Comes Alive" for Live A Live).
- Foreshadowing: This is common when Super Smash Bros. is involved, due to the Massive Multiplayer Crossover nature of the games allowing for hints for future content. For example, the August 2018 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct used the Animal Crossing-based Smashville and Luigi's Mansion stages to highlight the new "stage morph" feature. The following September 2018 Direct was bookended by announcements for new installments in both series.
- Formula-Breaking Episode: There have been a few times that the Nintendo Direct format is used to promote non-video game Nintendo projects; the December 2020 Direct about the new Super Nintendo World zone at Universal Studios Japan, and the October 2022, November 2022 and March 2023 Directs focused on The Super Mario Bros. Movie from Illumination.
- Large Ham: The Super Smash Bros. for Wii U 50-Fact Extravaganza is hosted by the game's announcer who is just as hammy as in Smash.
- Lost in Translation: Occasionally, the jokes made in the videos don't translate well, and have to make use of a translator's note in order to explain the joke to the Japanese or English audience.
- The E3 2019 video had a mistaken identity skit that didn't quite translate into Japanese, as it's based on the fact that the president of Nintendo of America, Doug Bowser, shares his name with the Super Mario villain. Bowser's Japanese name is King Koopa, so this joke was lost without a translator's note.
- One Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct has Masahiro Sakurai joke that putting Kazuya Mishima into the game was a Mission from God. The joke requires you to be familiar with Japanese kanji, or at least know that one of the kanji that spells out "Nintendo" can be translated into "heaven."
- Memetic Hand Gesture:
- Putting both of your hands at the sides of your face and pointing outward with them when saying the phrase "directly to you" was this during the Wii and Nintendo 3DS/Wii U eras.
- Raising a hand to snap your fingers to introduce a new game or change focus, emulating the Nintendo Switch "click".
- Retool: The April 2017 saw the debut of a "headline-centric" presentation format that delivers information in a more fast-paced, trailer-focused manner; in sharp contrast to prior Directs, which would spend time after each every trailer both discussing what they just showed and building up what we're about to see, as well as on long comedy skits. Red and white also became the predominant color scheme over blue and white.
- Running Gag:
- People staring at fruits and vegetables. It started with Iwata staring at a bunch of bananas in the E3 2012 showcase, later that year Bill Trinen stared at a tangerine in the same way, and yet again with LEGO Iwata holding a carrot.
- Bill stealing Reggie's Donuts.