Trailers are a marketing tool for gaming companies and there’s no denying that. Yet, they still serve valuable purposes. Be it introducing us to a game for the first time, showing off new features, or building hype, great trailers are informative and generate buzz. A good trailer can raise expectations for a game or even make it look better than it actually ends up being. Conversely, poor trailers can undersell a game that could be stronger than it appears. For one reason or another, game trailers can have a huge impact on the expectations surrounding a new release, and Nintendo is acutely aware of this. Here are just some of the best Nintendo trailers that I think the company has used to surprise and delight its gamers over the years.
Super Mario Odyssey reveal trailer
At the Nintendo Switch information event back in 2017, Nintendo had a lot to prove. Wii U had been a disappointment, and many were hesitant about the prospects of a new Nintendo console that was trying out another new concept. During this Japan-only event, Nintendo knew exactly how to put the fans at ease — with the reveal of a brand new 3D Super Mario game in Super Mario Odyssey. The slow pan over New Donk City was a clever misdirect as eagle-eyed fans might’ve guessed that it was a new Donkey Kong title. A few seconds later, Mario jumped out of a manhole and began to explore New Donk City as an open-world looking sandbox, the likes of which the series hadn’t seen in a while.
Following this up with glimpses at the various worlds, enemies, and new platforming possibilities enabled by Cappy was everything that Super Mario fans could have hoped for. After the trailer, Yoshiaki Koizumi even referred to the game as a spiritual successor to 3D sandbox Super Mario games like Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario 64. If there were ever a way to please Super Mario fans and get people excited about a new Nintendo system, this was it. Fans had been waiting a long time for the next 3D Super Mario game, and the reveal trailer for Super Mario Odyssey did not disappoint.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild launch trailer
Precious little was known about the story of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild before this trailer was shown to cap off the Switch reveal event. We had seen extensive looks at gameplay thanks to the Zelda-focused E3 that Nintendo did the year prior, but little was known about the characters and premise. In a span of just a few short minutes, the launch trailer for Breath of the Wild demonstrated quick but tantalizing teases at various environments, enemies, and mechanics that the game had waiting in store for players. In fact, the trailer was one bombshell after another for Zelda fans. Rich environments and a brand new music track were followed by the series’s first foray into proper voice acting.
Hearing what we presumed to be Zelda and an older figure describe the state of Hyrule, timed to those now-iconic piano notes, was something that would send a chill down any Zelda fan’s spine. But the trailer didn’t stop there. The reveal of both the champions and Zelda herself in cutscenes emphasized a deeper story, and timing the latest rendition of the classic Zelda theme to an emotionally distraught Zelda and sweeping action shots was a masterstroke of editing. For any other trailer, I could’ve stopped there, but Nintendo had one last surprise for us. Breath of the Wild’s launch date was confirmed to be day and date with the Switch itself. If the main purpose of a trailer is to build hype and anticipation for a game, then this trailer achieved it in spades.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Banjo-Kazooie reveal trailer
Even amongst the wildest of dreamers, few thought that Banjo and Kazooie could ever come to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. So when this trailer debuted at the tail end of Nintendo’s 2019 E3 presentation, it was not only a surprise double dipping of Smash announcements (following the Hero reveal) that day but also a demonstration of how far Microsoft and Nintendo’s cooperation could go. In a great touch, the trailer builds on a prior reveal for King K. Rool. Both trailers open with quick looks at famous Nintendo villains before cutting to the Donkey Kong family in their treehouse. Smash fans that were paying attention might have noticed that King K. Rool’s inclusion in the treehouse was the first sign pointing towards a reunion of Rare characters.
Seeing the famous Jiggy collectible bounce across the screen was as good as confirmation that Banjo and Kazooie were about to reveal themselves, despite an ensuing fake-out with Duck Hunt. By the time Banjo and Kazooie genuinely appear, the viewer is likely feeling as ecstatic as Donkey Kong and crew.
As a trailer, it plays on fan nostalgia beautifully, and the reverence shown to the Nintendo 64 classic afterward was the icing on the cake of this announcement. From the updated look and classic attacks, to the inclusion of Spiral Mountain and a nod to the final boss of the game, this trailer was a dream come true for fans of the bear and bird that had been holding out hope to see them on a Nintendo console again.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess reveal trailer
Timing can be important for a trailer, and in the case of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, it was everything. Off the heels of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, many Zelda fans were disappointed with the cell-shaded direction that the series had taken and wanted a return to a more grounded and gritty Zelda. In simpler terms, fans wanted a true spiritual successor to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Lo and behold, at E3 2004, that was exactly what Nintendo presented — and the reaction was exactly as you would imagine it.
Shots of new mysterious environments and unfamiliar but haunting music paint a dark picture that is soon displaced by the sight of an adult Link galloping on horseback towards his foes. The reveal of a new Zelda game on its own would usually be cause for celebration, but in the case of Twilight Princess, it was a perfect concoction of what fans were hoping for. A darker tone along with a variety of new creative locations and a tease of the impressive Fyrus boss fight were enough to set our minds ablaze with the possibilities this game could bring. And as if to drop the mic on this trailer, its final shot of Link stylishly sheathing the Master Sword is mirrored by none other than Shigeru Miyamoto appearing on stage with his own shield and sword.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl reveal trailer
At this point in time, the Super Smash Bros. series had already built itself a strong fan base. For both new and returning players alike, the reveal of Super Smash Bros. Brawl made a strong case for giving it a chance on Wii. Opening with a familiar scene, the trailer immediately shows fans some of the classic Smash characters mid-battle. It’s not a moment too soon that the characters are then transformed into their new look to demonstrate the graphical upgrade and how each fighter will be better realized than ever. (Although, in a great touch, Kirby doesn’t change.)
New Smash attacks from Mario and Link take over the screen before the action switches to different fights going on that introduce new fan-pleasing characters like Pit and Meta Knight. Wario appropriately brings his potty humor to the Smash series for the first time, and in a reveal that no one could’ve seen coming, the trailer ends with a codec call to reveal Solid Snake is joining the fight. Be it the graphical upgrade, new character reveals, or Masahiro Sakurai’s use of comedy, there couldn’t have been a better way to introduce Super Smash Bros. Brawl to the world than through this trailer.
What are some of your favorite Nintendo trailers?