Nintendo just wrapped up their latest Nintendo Direct live-stream, offering a fresh look at some previously-announced titles, as well as a few brand new announcements. The focus of the webcast this time around centered on the 3DS, so any of the games mentioned are either 3DS exclusive or multiplatform and available for the Wii/Wii U in some variation. Here are the highlights and some details about everything that was discussed:
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team– Satoru Iwata began the event by discussing the next entry in the Mario & Luigi series. The story starts with Princess Peach being pulled into Luigi’s dream world, where a brand new adventure begins. The game will feature new partner team attacks during classic turned-based battle, as well as special abilities that make use of the 3DS touch screen to execute. Players will use the bottom screen to affect Luigi’s dreams by poking/manipulating his sleeping face, which will in turn be used to solve puzzles and clear obstacles. For example, players will tickle Luigi’s nose to make him sneeze, creating a gust of wind in the dream world to clear debris blocking the path. The game won’t take place entirely in the dream world though, as players will have to go between the real world and dream world to solve puzzles, enlist the aid of Mario, and ultimately save Peach. No firm release date was given for Dream Team.
Mario Golf: World Tour– Featuring Mario and Co.’s return to the green, World Tour adds new online features including uploading scores to leaderboards. Additionally, the new sports tile makes use of the 3DS’s popular “community” feature, which will allow gamers to connect and play with “like-minded” players with similar interests and skill levels. Even better, online play now extends to anyone across the world, with the ability to create your own tournament with specific rules. (i.e. Every player must play as Luigi) World Tour was not given a specific release date, but Iwata mentioned to expect the title sometime Summer 2013.
Mario Party (Working Title)- A brand new entry in the Mario Party universe is coming exclusively to the 3DS. Iwata pointed out one of the new features would be stage-specific effects and playstyles. One particular example was a stage that included the objective of collecting “boosts”, a nitro-boost jet added to the back of the character’s vehicles to jump forward a great number of spaces in a single turn; that potentially could be used as a last-minute gambit to achieve victory. Another stage included using Bullet Bills to boost forward an extra number of spaces or attack opponents and move them to a faraway space. Additionally, new mini games will offer a variety of playstyles: From puzzles and reflex tests, to racing and skill tests. No official title was given, but the all-new Mario Party will be releasing Winter 2013.
New Super Luigi U– Iwata considers New Super Luigi U to be a massive update to New Super Mario Bros. U, changing all currently-available stages to experience a new adventure as Luigi. Iwata further stated that it’s basically like a brand new game. This time around, players will have access to Luigi’s various skills and quirks, like his unique high jumps which can be utilized to reach higher locations Mario was unable to get to. Unfortunately for Luigi, as is his trademark style, it’s harder for him to slow down and stop after dashing, so navigating the world will actually feel different when playing as Luigi. Finally, Luigi only has 100 seconds to clear some stages. These uniquely designed mini-levels take less time to complete, but there are a far-greater number of obstacles. Iwata mentioned the purpose of this design choice was to give players a level that featured numerous ways to dodge and overcome obstacles with high-replay value. New Super Luigi U will be available for download as an update to New Super Mario Bros. U this Summer.
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D– A remake of the Wii version, designed specifically for the 3DS, DKCR3D ensures that depth plays a factor in the game, not just typical left-to-right sidescrolling. In remaking the game, the developers designed a new engine to enhance gameplay mechanics and was designed specifically for the 3DS to achieve optimal game balance. There is a new feature called “New Mode”, an entirely new gameplay mode where difficulty is adjusted in so that people can play further in a shorter “portable” time frame. Iwata mentioned that since portable players usually play in shorter durations than the typical console play session, this allows them to get more out of the experience. In this mode, DK and Diddy can take up to five hits from enemies and there are more power-up items available per stage, as opposed to the three-hit life system of the Wii version. Green Balloons and Crash Guard power-ups are among the items scattered around the stages.
Iwata further explained that “New Mode” is also for those new to DK (obviously named game mode is obvious) or those who want a more laid back experience without too much difficulty. For those who played through the Wii experience and were unsure if the 3DS remake had anything to offer, Iwata announced some new content coming exclusively to the 3DS version. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D adds 8 new levels in a new world that opens up after the main game is completed. Co-op play is also included in this version, allowing for simultaneous play as both DK and Diddy via local wireless collection. The game will be available May 24, both in-store and as an eShop download.
Yoshi’s Island– That’s right, a brand new Yoshi’s Island adventure is coming to 3DS. Yoshi’s Island originally released in 1995 and was followed up with a DS sequel in 2006. Now, at long last, a third installment will arrive on 3DS. This new entry retains series mechanics such as Yoshi’s egg roll, ground pound, and ability to toss eggs. Of course, he’ll be carrying around Baby Mario for much of the adventure as well. Being designed exclusively for 3DS, the game uses 3DS features to enhance the experience as well, although specific examples were not referenced. A release date was not given for the currently untitled three-quel, but Iwata mentioned that more info will arrive soon. (Which I’d wager means we’ll hear more at E3.)
Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move– A unique twist on a classic formula, Minis on the Move tasks players with placing different tiles on a flat board to guide their mini characters to the goal. Whie doing so using the touch screen below, players will notice that the upper screen displays obstacles and traps in 3D, so players will have to be aware of both screens to guide the minis to safety in their attempt to reach the goal. Iwata notes that this new title includes the word “and” as opposed to “Vs.”, although nothing was specifically mentioned as to what that means for the new direction of the series. Perhaps Donkey Kong has teamed up with Mario to tackle an all-new rival.
To add to the difficulty, a limited number of tiles are available to be placed as maps increase in size, adding an extra layer of stategy to the experience. Minis on the Move features over 180 different new stages across four different worlds, so the experience should last for a while. Additionally, as per usual with the series, user-created stages can be uploaded/downloaded via online services for a limitless variety of new challenges. New mini-games will also be included that make use of both screens and add more gameplay variety than just puzzle-solving. Mario and Donkey Kong releases May 9, exclusively on the eShop.
Wii U Spring System Update– Offering more details about the Spring Update releasing for the Wii U next week, Iwata mentioned the following: The update is designed to improve loading times when switching between software or exiting back to the home screen. It will also add new features, such as the ability to transfer data between USB sources. Another new feature allows for software to be installed from discs directly to the hard drive. A new startup feature lets players choose to go directly to the home menu by holding down B while the system boots up, as opposed to starting the game directly. Keeping up with the next generation of consoles, the Wii U will also support the ability to download and install software even when the system is off.
The biggest news concerning the Spring Update is that the Virtual Console will be available next week (specifically, the day after the update goes live.) Some virtual console launch titles include: Kirby, Balloon Fight, and Punch Out!, among others. Virtual Console games available on the Wii U will also support play directly from the Gamepad.
Another new service going live after the update is the Wii Panorama View, for which a demo will be available next week. The feature is used as a virtual sightseeing tour (more fleshed out than the currently-supported Google Street U.) It offers in-depth video tours of many locations, which Iwata said could be purchased for $2 each. These video tours seem more like documentary-style videos that offer a lot of information about the locations as well.
Pikmin 3– Some new details were shed about to upcoming installment in the Pikmin series. Primarily, the “reveal” of a new Pikmin type: Flying Pikmin. These “Winged Pikmin” as they are called, can carry items in the air, and provide a variety of new gample mechanics during both puzzle-solving and item retrieval. Iwata said to expect even more info just before Pikmin 3 launches; which, as Nintendo just revealed on Twitter this morning, will be August 4.
Earthbound: Jumping back to some Virtual Console News, Iwata discussed mega-cult-classic Earthbound, mentioning that he was a game programmer for the project 20 years ago. While Mother II, as it’s known in the land of the rising sun, was released as a virtual console title in available only in Japan. But fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief, because Earthbound will be available in NA and EU by the end of this year. No specific release date was given (did you really think it would be that easy?) but more information is coming soon.
After Iwata was finished with his announcements, Bill Trinin from the Nintendo Treehouse came on to make a couple more of his own. He discussed a couple of previously-shown mini-games from the Game and Wario title coming to Wii U later this year. First was the Pirates mini-game, where players must use the Gamepad as a second screen and scan the television to find and block arrows being shot from a pirate ship. What makes this game unique on the Wii U is that the TV screen only displays the ship, so the experience only comes to life when looking around with the Gamepad.
The second mini-game is simply titled, Gamer. In this game, players will have to complete the on-screen objectives while simultaneously keeping an eye out for the gamer’s mother, who, and I’m not kidding, will come into the characters bedroom and get angry because he’s playing games past his bed time. To prevent this unique variation of a game over, players will use the gamepad to check around the actual real-world room while also completing the other objectives. Game and Wario will be available on June 23 both through the eShop and in stores.
Monster Hunter Ultimate (Wii U and 3DS)- There wasn’t much new explained here, just an update on the progress of the game. Trinin mentioned the recent software update that launched, enabling gamepad-only play and also to allow NA and EU players to join into worldwide matches, regardless of region.
Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins– In this prequel to the Wii version of Lego City Undercover, players get to see series-protagonist Chase working his first case as a rookie cop. Chase will have to do grunt work (such as delivering donuts) before working his way up to more traditional police work. A wide array of missions and sandbox play remains. The Chase Begins releases on April 21 in store and via eShop.
Animal Crossing: A New leaf– In addition to confirming the June 9 release date, Trinin also revealed that there will be a 3DS XL bundle for $219.99 at launch, which includes a predownloaded copy of New Leaf.
Virtual Console News– Offering a bit more about titles coming to the Virtual Console, Trinin announced rereleases of The Legend of Zelda games, Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. Originally released back on 2001, and developed by Capcom, the games were interconnected and needed to be linked to unlock new events; even offering a final showdown and exclusive ending for finishing both games. The Oracle titles will be available on May 30.
Bravely Default (Square Enix)- A previously Japan-only RPG where players can choose to skip their battle turn in exchange for a more powerful attack next battle phase. Some features of the game include multiple endings for replay value. No specific date was given, but it will be released sometime in 2014.
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy- Releasing sometime in 2014, Azran Legacy concludes Layton’s second trilogy of games. There are more than 500 new puzzles and a brand-new storyline that wraps up the second round of Layton titles.
Level 5 will be bringing the “Guild” series to the eShop. Titles like The Starship Damrey, a suspenseful adventure with no tutorials or goals, and Bugs Vs. Tanks (developed by Inafune, the creator of Mega Man), where players control a shrunken WWII tank and fight off swarms of insects.
The final Level 5 game announced for virtual console was Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale. With a title that’s right on the nose, this is about a young boy named Sota, who lives in a Tokyo town where monsters from 70’s Japan TV shows come to life every Friday.
Shin Megami Tensei IV– The big news here is that Atlus will be releasing SMTIV for 3DS. Additionally the first wave of shipped retail copies will include a soundtrack and mini guide. Fans don’t have long to wait, as the game arrives on July 16.
Finally, Reggie “my body is ready” Fils-Aime came on to make a special Legend of Zelda announcement. He began by saying that A Link to the Past originally released in 1992. Now, twenty years later, a new game will take place in the same game world. Designed to reinvigorate the 2D world using height and volume with the 3DS display, depth will reportedly play a factor in puzzle solving. The game is entirely new, and features a new story. One of the new features mentioned was that Link can become a drawing on the wall to access new areas, offering a new perspective and more puzzle mechanics. The unnamed Legend of Zelda title will release Holiday 2013. A video teaser is currently available now to download in the eShop.
Alright, that’s the entire breakdown of today’s Nintendo Direct. What do you guys think of this news? Are you excited for a new Legend of Zelda? Who would seriously consider purchasing a Wii U just for the chance to play Earthbound? Share your thoughts in the comments below.