Nintendo will be rolling out numerous Nintendo Direct video conferences leading up to E3, in wake of their decision to opt out of a major publisher briefing like year’s past. Today marks the first in a series of pre-show events to spotlight some upcoming 3DS and Wii U projects that will be rolling out this year. Here’s a comprehensive (I hope) breakdown of what was discussed this morning:
Mr. Satoru Iwata kicked things off by mentioning that a separate Nintendo Direct will focus on E3 announcements and new games, so today’s live-stream focused more on previously announced titles, with a surprise or two thrown in for good measure.
An all new Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympics for the Wii U kicked off the show. It was announced that the next title in the Mario & Sonic series will take place in Sochi, an area of southern Russia known for being relatively warm compared to the rest of Russia. Coming soon to Wii U, the next installment features enhanced HD graphics. Environmental effects such as snow realistically react to onscreen situations. Some of the sports shown during gameplay footage included snowboarding, curling, and ice hockey. The new Mario & Sonic also offers a mode where Olympic Games can be played in Sonic or Mario-themed stages. These areas are significant because they allow for a more fantasy-based experience, where characters can pull off stunts and tricks not possible in the main game. This new mode also includes original events that combine sports in ways outside of the normal parameters of Olympic competition; such as a marathon that merges snowboarding, skiing and bobsledding. Some games, such as curling, will use the Gamepad for exclusive functionality. In this case, the player can use the Gamepad to more precisely control a character’s actions in order to achieve a higher score.
Nintendo also announced a worldwide partnership with SEGA for the Sonic franchise. The first announcement was that a new Sonic game, titled Sonic: Lost World, will be coming exclusively to the 3DS and Wii U. Lost World will be an action-adventure platformer, but that was the only detail provided. Iwata promised we would hear more about the game before E3, so be sure to tune in to the next Nintendo Direct.
Additionally, retro SEGA titles are coming to Virtual Console. Some of the games shown included Tails Adventure and Shining Force II, but many other Game Gear titles are also coming soon.
Iwata then handed the proceedings over to JC, a member of the Nintendo Treehouse. He opened with some information pertaining to The Legend of Zelda: Oracle games coming to 3DS and Virtual Console. While Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages are both standalone titles, when played together these games offer a unique adventure only possible by combining the games; such as a different final boss and true ending. The games will be available for download at a cost of $5.99 each, but Nintendo will be running a special when they first launch. For the first three weeks after release, both games will run a cost of $4.99 each. Not the greatest discount in the world, but it’s better than nothing.
Next up was some more information about the recently released Mario Vs Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move. Nintendo focused on user-created content this time around, hoping that player-created puzzles will keep the game fresh for a long time to come. A gameplay trailer highlighted the game’s level editor where players can create unique layouts by choosing different tile types to place across the grid. Once the stage is complete, the “Share Online” feature makes it immediately available for download worldwide. Players can search for new stages using four different search methods: The option to search for random levels, the most popular levels overall (as rated by a 3-heart system,) stages created by friends, or simply the top stages of the week.
Keeping the focus on the 3DS, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D took the spotlight. The revamped version of the Wii title features 8 new levels to unlock accessible by playing either “New Mode” or “Original Mode.” New Mode was discussed in a previous Nintendo Direct, and makes the game more accessible to players who find the original version a bit too difficult. Each of the 8 new levels are based on a level from the original game worlds, so there’s 1 stage represented per world. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D releases on May 24.
Focus soon shifted to discuss Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which comes out June 9. Gameplay videos shown by the Nintendo Direct localization team discussed how players can connect in New Leaf. Since the online features are hardware based, players need only to set a time for when players can visit the town and the gates will unlock at that specified time. Friends can then access the town at the desired time and date. Additionally, more behind the scenes videos and interviews will be shown on Nintendo’s YouTube channel leading up to the release of New Leaf, so check there often to hear about the new features the game includes.
Game & Wario is an anticipated upcoming title that sees Mario’s bitter rival return to consoles. Players won’t have long to wait, as the game launches on June 23 at a slightly reduced price of $39.99. Many of the mini-games shown off were experiences that most effectively utilize the Gamepad. In fact, some puzzles and multiplayer mini-games only use the Gamepad, even though they may support up to five players; so players will have to take turns during these strategy-based mini-games. For fans of previous WarioWare titles, they’ll instantly recognize the Ninja Twins as they return with a new puzzle game called PatchWork. PatchWork tests pattern recognition by using the Gamepad’s touchscreen to place overlapping puzzle pieces in the perfect order to complete recognizable images such as Mario’s face. In other games, the Gamepad will offer a unique perspective to avoid traps and pitfalls that can’t be seen onscreen. In the example shown during gameplay footage, the Gamepad offered a top-down look while the TV displayed a straight-on perspective, so certain false platforms could only be seen by looking down at the Gamepad.
After discussing Game & Wario, Iwata returned with some more news. The first was a reminder that Resident Evil: Revelations is coming to Wii U on May 21. The console version adds a new difficulty mode called “Inferno” that changes the layout of monsters and item placement, thus offering some replay value for veterans of the 3DS version. New characters Hank and Rachel are playable for the first time in Raid Mode, Revelations’ online multiplayer experience similar to Horde Mode. Wii U specific controls for the Gamepad include: Using the Gamepad as a second screen to display the map and change items on the fly. This allows players to send all of the display information to the second screen, allowing for a clutter-free experience on the TV screen. Revelations will support Gamepad-only play for those who want to have the pants scared off them from the comfort of their bed away from the TV. For a more traditional console experience, the Pro controller is also supported. Information about Revelations concluded with a note that the demo is available to try now through the eShop.
The next announcement detailed new info about New Super Luigi U, the downloadable add-on for New Super Mario Bros. U. Since Mario is not in the game, the multiplayer contains new character choices. Friends can select either a blue or yellow toad, in addition to a brand new playable character: Nabbit. Nabbit (pronounced Nah-bee) is the character that stole items from Toad’s home in the original New Super Mario Bros. U, resulting in players having to chase the little troublemaker. This time around, however, Nabbit is a playable character and has unique abilities. His speed and jump skills are the same as the toads, but he is unique in that he is totally invulnerable. The trade-off here is that, while Nabbit can’t take damage, he also won’t gain any benefits when absorbing power-ups. No fire flower for you, Nabbit. Iwata stressed that the game overhauls the original Mario Bros. U experience completely, so the 82 updated courses means it’s a completely new experience. For those who don’t own New Super Mario Bros. U, Nintendo announced an official standalone version of New Super Luigi U that doesn’t require the previous game. Folks can either download New Super Luigi U as an add-on to their pre-existing game for $19.99 on June 20, or otherwise wait for a retail packaged release coming on August 25 for $29.99.
During a brief mention of The Wonderful 101, Nintendo revealed the game has a release date of Sept 15. The Wonderful 101 the latest game from Platinum Games. While not much is known about the title at this time, it’s said the game will revolve around players controlling a large group of heroes to fend off an alien attack.
The last bit of information detailed some intriguing new plot points for Pikmin 3. The first of which was the announcement that Olimar will not be the main character; in fact, he won’t be in the main adventure at all. Instead, the new protagonists are named Alph, Brittany, and their captain Charlie. The story focuses on the three brave heroes as they attempt to save their world by bringing back food, since evidently there’s a major food shortage on their home planet. Their specific mission is to collect fruit with the goal of extracting seeds to bring back and grow. However, because the fruit found on the other planets is larger than the team initially expects, they need the pikmin to help deliver it to the ship. Once collected, fruit can be converted into juice and used as food for the player after the seeds are extracted. This is essential because if the team doesn’t have enough food, they can’t explore anymore. This replaces the traditional method of having a limited amount of days to explore the world, so there’s no need to worry about a game-over due to time constraints. As usual, the world must be explored during the day, since it’s too dangerous to be out at night.
Some interesting new mechanics were also detailed. Players can now replay the current day or revert to an earlier section of the game, for those unhappy with the current play session or want to more efficiently complete tasks. Also, the Gamepad will double as a handy information terminal called KopPad. The KopPad shows the area players are currently exploring through a display on the screen, including where the three hero characters and pikmin are on the map. The details of an area can also be seen with a tap of the Gamepad screen, which will force the onscreen TV action to switch to the selected area of interest. This will make it easier to hop back and forth when checking up on groups of pikmin split into teams. On top of that, after tapping a character or group of Pikmin they can be directed to a specific location automatically, offering a more tactical style of play.
The final new feature announced is that the previously completed “day” can be reviewed from the Gamepad; so players can fast-forward or rewind to see when they were most efficient or review the day’s adventure to see where things went wrong. Of course, Pikmin 3 will also work with the pro controller, improving upon the control scheme used with the Wiimote/nunchuk from previous games available on the original Wii. While there weren’t any details given about the challenge or multiplayer modes, Iwata mentioned this will be addressed in another Nintendo Direct.
Reggie Fils-Aime closed out this week’s stream with an important announcement. After mentioning that this year’s E3 will focus on software and games, considering their next-gen console is already out, he stated that Nintendo wants the audience to be as involved as the folks getting hands-on previews on the show floor. To that end, Nintendo has partnered with Best Buy to give U.S. and Canada gamers the chance to experience unreleased games at select Best Buy locations during the week of E3. No other details were given, but the list of games and stores supporting this partnership will be announced soon.
That’s going to wrap up this week’s Nintendo Direct. More updates on upcoming and unannounced titles will be revealed in the coming weeks leading up to E3; including an all new Super Smash Bros., HD Zelda, and a new 3D Mario title, so stay tuned right here at IGXPro for all the latest Nintendo announcements. To keep up with the latest news, be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or give us the ‘ol +1 on Google+.