Nintendo Direct Roundup: August 2013

As we wind down the final months of Summer and prepare for the onslaught of Fall and Holiday game releases, Nintendo streamed a Nintendo Direct presentation today, meant to give updates on their many releases arriving before the end of this year, as well as address some fan-requested games for next year.

It was a meaty, but straightforward Direct this time around, with no new game announcements, but plenty of great news for games we already knew about! Not every game on the Big N’s 2013 docket received coverage during the presentation (Pokemon X/Pokemon Y and Super Mario 3D World were the most baffling omissions), but the ones that were shown had several bits of new details dropped that make them all the more worth looking forward to!

Whether you own a 3DS or Wii U (or both), Nintendo’s got a very healthy Q3 and Q4 game lineup to look forward to. Thus, whether you missed the presentation, or just want  a handy recap of the highlights, we’ve got you covered!

Let’s get started!

SONIC’S LOST WORLD IS FOUND AGAIN!

Sonic- Lost World - Wii U Gameplay 1Sonic: Lost World was first up as Nintendo CEO, Satoru Iwata began the presentation, developed by Sega and published by Nintendo. Boy, children of the 90’s still never would have imagined that ever happening!

Iwata continued to hype up the game as one of the most promising Sonic efforts in quite a while. He revealed that players can toggle Sonic’s speed, essentially acting as a difficulty setting, and can now vault over objects and run on walls, inviting a few comparisons to Nintendo’s own highly successful Super Mario Galaxy games on the Wii.

Iwata reminded players that the game is coming to both 3DS and Wii U on October 22nd, also showing video footage that finally confirmed Sonic’s arch-nemesis, Eggman will have a role in the story, though appears to be a victim of the game’s actual villains, The Deadly Six.

Sonic- Lost World - 3DS Gameplay 1The biggest news about Sonic: Lost World however is that it would feature cross-platform communication! Given the history of offerings like Sonic Colors, which Sonic: Lost World takes inspiration from as well (even to the point of bringing back the titular ‘Colour Powers’), it seems probable that the 3DS and Wii U builds of Sonic: Lost World will present two distinct experiences that are both worth owning simultaneously by fans.

How this works is, in the 3DS version, players can build and customize remote-controlled vehicles. They can then upload their vehicle designs to the Wii U version, where their custom vehicle will act as ring-collecting support, much as Tails did in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 way back on the Genesis. It’s not an essential gameplay mechanic, but it does provide a lot more incentive to own both versions of the game if you possess both of Nintendo’s current platforms!

Sonic: Lost World continues to sound more and more like it will continue the positive momentum for the stumbling Sega icon, who was redeemed somewhat in recent years by the well-received Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations. Here’s hoping this game lives up to its promise in October!

LEGENDS COLLIDE!

Rayman Legends - Mario and Luigi Costume GameplayIwata continued by addressing the only retail release mentioned in this Direct that Nintendo would not be publishing themselves; Rayman Legends, coming instead from Ubisoft.

Iwata appears to be unfazed by the game’s unpopular delay and subsequent migration from being a Wii U exclusive, to also arriving on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and PC at the same time. He happily chatted up the anticipated platformer’s Wii U edition as if it was still an exclusive. Clearly, Nintendo still has a lot of faith in the Wii U build of the game!

Detailing many features we already knew, including the incredible stage variation, co-op modes and reminding us that the game is out on September 3rd, Iwata also detailed the handful of features that will be exclusive to the Wii U edition of Rayman Legends. These stand among several consolations for the fan backlash following the Wii U game’s delay out of February to September.

Fans were reminded that only the Wii U version will feature five-player capability, as well as exclusive stage manipulation by the player using the Wii U Gamepad. Lone players can also exclusively enjoy off-TV play on the Gamepad in the Wii U version (duh), and Iwata even confirmed that fan-favourite stages from Rayman Origins will make a return in Rayman Legends. This may also be the case in the other versions too, but obviously, Iwata only confirmed the return of legacy stages in the Wii U build.

Rayman Legends - Mario and Luigi Costume Gameplay 2Best of all however is one all-new announcement that will indeed only be coming to Rayman Legends‘ Wii U edition! On Wii U, players will have the ability to dress up Rayman as Mario, and Globox as Luigi!

These exclusive costumes join the previously-announced Aveline de Grandpe costume from Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation on the PlayStation Vita (you’d think they would have put that as pre-order incentive for the Vita version, eh?), which will be available for playable character, Barbara if players pre-order Rayman Legends for Wii U.

To compare, pre-ordering the PlayStation 3 edition nets an Edward Kenway costume from the upcoming Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, while Xbox 360 edition pre-orders will give Rayman a Sam Fisher costume from Splinter Cell.

It’s been a long, arduous wait for what was frankly one of the key reasons many of us bought a Wii U at launch in the first place! Fortunately, Rayman Legends still appears to consider the Wii U its flagship platform, and the Wii U edition definitely appears to have plenty of key advantages over its Xbox, PlayStation and PC siblings!

Most importantly, the game looks like it’s very much worth the wait; A wait that’s, thankfully, almost over!

NINTENDO URGES MIIVERSE ARTISTS TO GET SKETCHY!

Art Academy- Sketchpad - GameplayIt was said again that an Art Academy game is planned for Wii U, but is still too early in development to adequately show off. Nonetheless, Iwata revealed a set of early companion software called Art Academy: Sketchpad, which comes to the Wii U eShop on August 9th. A Miiverse Community will go live for the software shortly afterward.

Iwata once again encouraged Miiverse artists to download and use the drawing tools to create more beautiful Miiverse art, which the company still loves to see! He promised that the full upcoming Art Academy game in development for Wii U will feature a diverse array of art lessons, but players will need to stay tuned to actually see it.

THE PIKMIN 3 EXPERIENCE BECOMES A SNAP!

Pikmin 3 - Gameplay 1Pikmin 3 is already available for Wii U at both retail, and via the Wii U eShop (we already have a glowing review up for it as well!), as Erik Peterson of the NOA Treehouse reminded us upon the Direct shifting to Nintendo Treehouse for a bit. Apparently, Nintendo is already launching some fun aftermarket support for the game, in the form of a caption contest on Facebook.

First detailing how players can use the Wii U Gamepad to snap photos of their in-game antics (while offering tips as to how to get good photos), Peterson reminded players that they can post their photos on Miiverse as well. He then said that Nintendo will be issuing screenshots of their own on their Facebook page, and fans are asked to give fun and memorable captions to them.

Anyone with a great caption will end up getting their words publicized, with perhaps other prizes to come later. Still, it’s a fun way to keep Pikmin fever going, even after the long-awaited sequel has finally arrived! Get captioning, folks!

DREAMING OF A MORE ACCESSIBLE TEAM!

Mario and Luigi- Dream Team - Gameplay 2Mario & Luigi: Dream Team was up next, which will be coming to 3DS on Sunday, via both retail and the 3DS eShop.

Peterson went into heavy detail about the game’s battle system and mechanics, much moreso than before! He also confirmed that the game will feature an Easy Mode and optional hint prompts, which should help less skilled players better enjoy the experience.

To this end, Peterson also urged those unfamiliar with the series that, while the game is still an RPG, it also combines plenty of action-packed elements from mainline Mario platformers, and those riding the fence should definitely give Mario & Luigi: Dream Team a try for its increased accessibility!

Of course, this isn’t to say that the game is being dumbed down for series veterans that already played through the previous three games on Game Boy Advance and DS!

Mario and Luigi- Dream Team - Gameplay 1Peterson promised a deeper battle system for the game that allows Badges to be blended together for enhanced effects, such as HP boosts and increased damage for enough successfully-timed hits. He also claims that players can add more Gear slots beyond the initial two that they start with, allowing for more defensive equipment to make Mario and Luigi all the more strong in battle. This occurs when players level up to a certain extent, which offers a ‘Rank Up Bonus’, also doubling the benefits by making Badges more effective!

Best of all for more hardcore gamers however is the new announcement that Mario & Luigi: Dream Team features an in-game Achievement system! Dubbed ‘Expert Challenges’, players who accomplish these in-game tasks will receive exclusive rewards for Mario and Luigi, including some of the best Gear in the game for the particularly trying ones!

This definitely sounds like it balances opening the series up to the uninitiated, while also creating a more engaging and challenging experience for hardcore players looking for a test of their capabilities!

Looks like this will definitely be the most crowd-pleasing Mario & Luigi game yet! We’ve just received our review copy, so look forward to our full review of the game by the end of August!

POKEMON RUMBLE SHAKES THE WII U EXPERIENCE UP!

Pokemon Rumble U - Gameplay 1Initially announced in Japan, The Nintendo Treehouse finally detailed some first footage and details for the North American localization of Pokemon Rumble U, which will release exclusively on the Wii U eShop on August 29th.

The game’s key objective of defeating multiple waves of toy pokemon in battle was outlined, as was the revelation that the game will feature seventy stages in total. All 649 pokemon from the original Game Boy titles all the way up to Pokemon Black Version 2/White Version 2 on DS will be featured to boot!

As if that weren’t enough, four players can play in a co-op session together, and Peterson also detailed how the game’s NFC feature will work, even if you may already be aware. Nonetheless, Peterson reminds us that Gamestop will be exclusively selling capsules containing collectible Pokemon Rumble U figurines. These figurines can be scanned by the Wii U Gamepad, unlocking exclusive pokemon toys to use in your game!

Again, this may not be the ambitious Pokemon epic that fans are hoping will come to Wii U at some point, but this still sounds like a pretty enjoyable start, especially if you’ve already enjoyed the prior Pokemon Rumble games on WiiWare and 3DS!

3DS PROMISES CARNIVAL OF VIRTUAL CONSOLE GREATNESS!

Super Mario Bros. 3 - Gameplay 1Shifting gears, Peterson took a moment to address the 3DS Virtual Console lineup, addressing its recent release of ultra-rare Game Boy Color cult hit, Shantae. Unfortunately, no word was given on now-defunct magazine, Nintendo Power’s announcement of Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, which was supposed to come to the 3DS eShop this Summer, but has probably now slipped into the Fall. This is perhaps due to WayForward being enlisted by Capcom to develop imminently-releasing NES remake, DuckTales: Remastered.

Anyway, the point is, the 3DS Virtual Console is getting more love before the end of 2013! Nintendo confirmed that fan-favourite retro sports offering, Tecmo Bowl will be joining the 3DS’s NES catalogue in time for football season this Fall, along with the widely acclaimed Super Mario Bros. 3 before the end of 2013! Super Mario Bros. 3 is also said to be coming to the Wii U Virtual Console around the same time.

Wario Land 3 - Gameplay 1Before the end of the Summer however, Donkey Kong on NES will arrive for the 3DS Virtual Console on August 15th (it was previously only available with its omitted second stage intact as Donkey Kong: Original Edition during a 3DS eShop promotion last year), and it will be joined by the much-requested Game Boy Color hit, Wario Land 3 on August 29th!

Perhaps best to rare game enthusiasts however is that Summer Carnival ’92 will be joining the 3DS Virtual Console’s NES selection, “Soon”, with Peterson claiming that the wait for it, “Wouldn’t be long!”

For those unaware, this was a vertical space shooter exclusively made available during a Famicom promotion festival in 1992. It’s since gone on to become one of the rarest 8-bit games in existence, and now, it will just be one download away for 3DS owners in the near future!

Retro gamers will have plenty to look forward to on 3DS before the year is up, especially since one of the rarest games of all time is now going to be placed right at everyone’s fingertips!

MII PLAZA THINKS PIE IN THE SKY!

Mii Plaza - GameplayPeterson next reminded 3DS owners that select Nintendo Zone locations allow them to StreetPass with the previous visitor, adding more guests to their Mii Plaza. A tie-in promotion with Animal Crossing: New Leaf was also announced.

Throughout August and up to late September, exclusive items will be offered for Animal Crossing: New Leaf players to use in their virtual towns, whenever they visit a Nintendo Zone location. Peterson was coy on what these items may be, but did claim that the first would be a pumpkin pie. Players need only start up the game and visit the Post Office to download these items.

You like pie, right? You probably like StreetPass hits even more, right? Well, what are you waiting for?!

NINTENDO TIPS THEIR HAT TO FAN DEMAND!

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy - Cutscene 1By far the most exciting and unexpected bit of news in this Nintendo Direct was actually for a 3DS game arriving next year; Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy. It will conclude the prequel trilogy of Professor Layton adventures that began with 2011’s Professor Layton and the Last Specter on DS, and continued with 2012’s Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask on 3DS.

The first cutscene and gameplay footage for Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy was shown, with details unfortunately rather scarce beyond this brief snippet of footage. Nintendo thus reminded players that the game would be out sometime in 2014, and that Professor Layton fans should look forward to it.

That seemed to be all, until an intrusion by a familiar meme; “OBJECTION!”

While it initially seemed like a chance to talk about Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, which is coming to the 3DS eShop before the end of this year, Peterson instead did something even more exciting! He confirmed the heavily-requested 3DS crossover title, Phoenix Wright vs. Professor Layton is being localized for Western audiences! Like Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, it will arrive on 3DS sometime in 2014.

Phoenix Wright vs. Professor Layton - Gameplay 1Needless to say, this is outstanding news for North American and European fans of both franchises, who continually pestered both Capcom and Level-5 to localize the game outside of Japan, where it’s currently exclusively available. It seems that one or both has ultimately caved, as they’ve given Nintendo the go-ahead to confirm the game’s release outside of the Land of the Rising Sun!

Chalk up another victory for fan demand in the Nintendo circles! This success follows the successful Operation Rainfall campaign, which authorized North American releases of Wii RPG trio, Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower. Fan petitioning also recently got us a Wii U Virtual Console re-release of Earthbound after so much Miiverse uproar! As usual, Nintendo is all about pleasing its customers!

3DS owners had best pre-order Phoenix Wright vs. Professor Layton as soon as they get the chance! Be sure that Nintendo, Capcom and Level-5 are all fully aware of your incredible appreciation that Western audiences are given a chance to play this game in an official North American and European release at all! It almost didn’t happen!

WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN, AND WHAT’S NEW IS EVEN BETTER FOR ZELDA!

The Legend of Zelda- A Link Between Worlds - Gameplay 1Shifting away from the Nintendo Treehouse, Nintendo CEO, Satoru Iwata once again took charge of the presentation. Predictably, he didn’t waste time talking about the two highly anticipated Legend of Zelda games that are on the Nintendo slate before the end of 2013!

First up was The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on 3DS! Attention was drawn to the title logo, which featured a darker Triforce underneath the familiar golden triangles us fans all recognize. Iwata strongly implied that the existence of a second Triforce will be a big part of the plot in the game, along with the (obvious) confirmation of a play mechanic where Link must travel between two worlds.

Despite the familiar overworld returning from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds will have all-new gameplay, puzzles, dungeons and a new adventure in general. This was all accompanied by new gameplay footage. Viewers were then reminded that the game is releasing on 3DS at both retail and via the 3DS eShop, sometime in November.

The Legend of Zelda- A Link Between Worlds - Promo ArtThe biggest bombshell dropped about the game however, beyond what players could infer from the title logo, was that it actually takes place far in the future, not soon after the events of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, likely placing it between the events of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and the original The Legend of Zelda in the series’ third ‘Theoretical Timeline’, but that’s a whole other discussion.

Bottom line, Iwata confirmed that the Link in A Link Between Worlds is NOT in fact the same Link from A Link to the Past! Nonetheless, it appears that the threat of Ganon’s revival will remain a plot device, following his defeat in A Link to the Past.

Switching gears from there, Iwata then talked about The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, coming to Wii U sometime this October. Strangely, Europeans were given an exact release date of October 4th in their own variation of this Direct, but North Americans weren’t. We were simply told, ‘October’. Still, our release will likely be soon before or soon after PAL territories however, given the release schedule of first-party Wii U games released on the fledgling console so far.

Iwata detailed some of the game’s history as a GameCube favourite from back in 2003, then finally revealed the design tweaks that the adventure will see on Wii U in contrast to its GameCube original, beyond just an HD visual overhaul.

First and most excitingly is that the tedious and ill-received Triforce quest leading up to the climax of the game has been, “Tweaked”, presumably to make it less infuriatingly irritating. This is no doubt great news for fans, as it was the one sore spot in the game’s otherwise stellar adventure!

The Legend of Zelda- The Wind Waker HD - Gameplay 1Iwata confirmed a few other boosts beyond that as well. Players will have the option to increase their sailing speed, should they be among the many players who found the slow and repetitive sailing sections tedious in the GameCube original. Iwata also confirmed that Wind Waker commands will now be issued more quickly on Wii U. In general, the pacing of the Wii U remake seems to be much more agreeable and fun than the original GameCube, making the game all the better!

We were then reminded of merely the October release window, but also that The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is coming to Wii U both via retail, and the Wii U eShop.

Somehow, it seems like Nintendo is genuinely improving on a classic, and genuinely giving a worthy sequel to one of the most beloved Super NES games of all time. Even with no word on the current status of the upcoming and original new Legend of Zelda game in development for Wii U during this Direct (promised to have a formal announcement, “Soon” on a separate occasion), it seems like Zelda fans have plenty to look forward to!

LUIGI GETTING SMASHED WITH THE REST OF THEM!

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS - Luigi GameplaySurprising no one, and in a short, sweet announcement, Iwata showed a handful of screenshots in commemoration of the Year of Luigi, while also reminding players of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon on 3DS, and New Super Luigi U on the Wii U eShop, also coming as a retail Wii U package this month. The screenshots confirm what many of us could have guessed; Luigi will be among the roster of playable characters in both Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS.

Luigi was shown in action in both the Wii U and 3DS games… Well, in action, in screenshots, anyway. Still, it’s nice to see that Nintendo isn’t cutting out an integral fan-favourite character to make room for Birdo or something…

Actually, Birdo would be a good character, Nintendo, if you’re reading this… But not at the cost of Luigi!

ANIMAL CROSSING EXPANDS ITS TERRITORY!

Animal Crossing Plaza LogoThe final announcements of the presentation were all about Animal Crossing, and recent 3DS blockbuster, Animal Crossing: New Leaf by extension.

Iwata reminded Animal Crossing: New Leaf players that they can visit towns from worldwide fans via the Dream Plaza and Tropical Island features.

From there however, Nintendo confirmed an even better community interaction tool; An Animal Crossing series community on Miiverse for Wii U owners! This all but outright confirms that the series will inevitably make the jump to Wii U at some point, though, obviously, Nintendo wants to keep their focus solely on maintaining Animal Crossing: New Leaf for now. Thus, that unannounced, but no doubt in development game is probably years away.

Anyway, not only is a Miiverse community being put together, but also an Animal Crossing Plaza app for Wii U that Nintendo promises to maintain until 2015. A prospective timeline for an Animal Crossing game coming to Wii U? It’s just our speculation, but it’s possible!

Back on topic though, the Animal Crossing Plaza allows players to interact both with other players, and the fan-favourite in-game characters, including K.K. Rider and Isabelle. Players can share information, photographs, post directly to Animal Crossing’s Miiverse community, and can even read threads on the characters that have defined the series. Put simply, it’s the ultimate hangout spot for the Animal Crossing faithful!

As if that weren’t great enough, the Animal Crossing Plaza allows you to scan QR Codes using the Wii U Gamepad, which will unlock exclusive items for your Animal Crossing: New Leaf game. Yet more incentive to make frequent visits to the Plaza!

It’s a bit odd that this Plaza would have such a limited lease on life, but if you’re a series fan that owns a Wii U, especially if you’ve also bought and enjoyed Animal Crossing: New Leaf on your 3DS, be sure to check that out! It’s live as of today!

IN CONCLUSION

The Wonderful 101 - LogoAgain, there were some sad omissions in this Direct. Super Mario 3D World seems like it would have been ripe for some exciting new announcements, but no such luck. Likewise, a cool nugget of info on Pokemon X and Pokemon Y wouldn’t have hurt, nor would some added bits on Mario Party 3DS or Mario Kart 8. Oh well. Maybe Nintendo will come up in a Winter Direct that will inevitably be streamed later.

Fortunately, one high-profile omission, The Wonderful 101, will be receiving its very own Nintendo Direct presentation this Friday, on August 7th. We’ll be back to detail that for you shortly after its stream, so stay tuned!

Even with some disappointing omissions, this was a great Direct for expanding upon games we already knew about. It was meaty, it was interesting, and best of all, it covered its bases, mostly.

Maybe it wasn’t the most novel or surprising Direct ever, but it had plenty of reliable and interesting news that will help the Nintendo faithful look forward to big games coming to both 3DS and Wii U for the remainder of 2013, as promised. You also can’t argue with the confirmation that Phoenix Wright vs. Professor Layton is being localized next year! In our opinion, that was the most unexpected and exciting bit of news, but it wasn’t the only solid announcement by any stretch either!

We’ll see you again on Friday for a rundown of what you need to know out of The Wonderful 101’s own Nintendo Direct presentation. In the meantime, don’t forget that Eggplante has all of your news on Nintendo, Nintendo Direct and all related Nintendo platforms and announcements, as they’re revealed!

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