This latest Nintendo Direct showcased several bits of important information regarding Nintendo’s Holiday 2013 slate of games, for both Wii U and 3DS. Some games received more coverage than others (in fact, most games were rushed through in passing), but it was almost entirely good news, and capped itself with one at least decent announcement of an all-new game that should get fans excited.

As usual, in case you missed today’s Nintendo Direct, or just want a recap of the highlights, we’ve rounded up the facts and announcements you need to know here at Eggplante!

MARIO SEES A WHOLE NEW 3D WORLD!

Super Mario 3D World - Gameplay 1This Direct began with an awesome new trailer for one of this Fall’s most anticipated Wii U titles, Super Mario 3D World. The trailer showcased numerous elements of the excellent-looking level design, as well as some all-new power-ups, including cherries that duplicate your character, and cannon blocks that fire cannonballs at enemies when they get stuck on your character’s head.

The trailer also confirmed that Bowser is indeed the villain of the game, except he’s snatched some sort of fairy figure this time, rather than Princess Peach, who now numbers among the four playable characters. This kidnapping plot yet again seems to be all the story in the game, but that’s likely all that players will need.

From there, the trailer showed small touches like the ability to freely run around the World Map, something you couldn’t do in Super Mario 3D Land, leap through rings that award bonus coins, get ? blocks stuck on your head that award more coins as you jump, run and fall, and even get tricked by fake level-end flagpoles in the Boo stages. Yikes!

We strongly advise that you view this trailer for yourself, because no written description could possibly do it justice! The game looks like tons of fun, and perhaps the best Wii U exclusive that the console will have seen to date when it arrives! The release date was re-affirmed for November 22nd after the trailer on that note, so we won’t have too long to wait either!

WII U GETS THE PARTY STARTED!

Wii Party U - Gameplay 1Wii Party U finally got some more press, as the new House Party mode was shown off, complete with some all-new very clever minigames. Nintendo showed off Water Runners, which has players scoop water from a stream on the Wii U Gamepad and try to steadily dump it into jugs without spilling by keeping a Wii Remote Plus steady, Dance With Mii, which has players try to keep time with music by moving in a circle around the Gamepad while holding Wii Remote Plus’s, and Button Smashers, a Twister-style minigame that has players pressing buttons on the Gamepad and several Wii Remote Plus’s in order.

Wii Party U promises eight different minigames in its House Party mode, along with helpings of other board games and minigames in the various other modes. It will be coming to Wii U on October 25th. There will also be a retail package that comes bundled with a stand for the Wii U Gamepad, which will help balance it for minigames that have two players using just one Gamepad. It doesn’t seem essential, but it’s a nice incentive for those who want to buy the game at retail instead of just downloading it from the Wii U eShop.

DK ISLAND IS NOW EXPECTING A LATE WINTER…

Donkey Kong Country- Tropical Freeze - Gameplay 1The only mite of bad news in this Direct came from Nintendo having to admit that they would be delaying Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Originally slated to be the Wii U’s big December offering this year, Nintendo has now claimed that they would like to take more time to polish it up, forcing it to miss its originally planned 2013 release.

Thankfully, the delay isn’t long, as Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze will now be releasing in February 2014, unfortunately tossing it right in the middle of loads of other high-profile video game blockbusters releasing that same month on competing platforms. Still, at least it’s just a couple of added months’ wait, and Wii U owners will likely be busy with Super Mario 3D World leading up to that point anyhow.

THE SOCHI 2014 WINTER OLYMPICS ARE INVITING ALL NATIONS!

Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014  Olympic Winter Games - Gameplay 1Next up was Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, still only slated to come to Wii U, with no 3DS port in sight. The main announcement for this title came with the confirmation that it will feature online play, finally allowing players to compete in Winter Olympic events worldwide! Ski Cross, Snowboard Cross and Speed Skating were all confirmed to be online-capable events, along with the previously confirmed Winter Sports Champion Race event from a previous Nintendo Direct. This combines skiing, ice skating, bobsledding and snowboarding, if you weren’t already aware.

Players can elect to play with either those on their Wii U Friends List, or against random online players from across the world. This seems mundane, but a cool twist is that winning events will earn medals for your home nation. These will be posted to a worldwide leaderboard, showcasing which countries have the best online rankings in this game. It’s a very cool idea that adds an increased layer of authenticity to the virtual Olympics experience, even after the real 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics would conclude next year.

The game will be the first that Nintendo is actually publishing this time around, rather than Sega like previous titles, and will arrive exclusively on Wii U on November 15th. A specific retail bundle will also come with a blue Wii Remote Plus, making multiplayer sessions a bit easier for those who are short on necessary Wii controllers.

It may seem like faint praise, but this could be the best Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games title yet, so if you’re a fan of these games, definitely don’t miss this one!

Oh, and on one last tiny note, Nintendo capped off this announcement by confirming that Sonic will again be a playable fighter on the rosters of both Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS! Maybe you saw it coming, but we’re excited all the same!

PIKMIN 3 HAS NEW MISSIONS FOR ITS CAPTAINS!

WiiU_Pikmin3_scrn14_E3Focus shifted to a game that’s already been available to Wii U owners for a couple of months now, that being Pikmin 3. Nintendo confirmed that the game will be receiving a system update, which will now allow Mission Mode players to see the top worldwide score of any given mission on the leaderboard. They also gave a brief explanation of what makes Mission Mode appealing, for those who have not yet tried it.

More importantly however is the confirmation that Pikmin 3 will in fact start incorporating paid DLC for Mission Mode in the near future! This will allow Nintendo to add new missions that keep the replayability of Pikmin 3 going, starting with a sample DLC mission added for free to any Pikmin 3 player that downloads the leaderboard update. Downloading this update is necessary to access the DLC, so don’t forget to do it if you’ve already purchased a Wii U, hooked it up to the internet, and already bought Pikmin 3!

Nintendo will begin the paid DLC initiative with a new batch of ‘Collect Treasure’ missions, which are available now for $1.99. They followed this up by announcing that new paid DLC missions will be gradually released over the next little while.

If you felt that you exhausted Pikmin 3 already, now is a great time to start amassing the little critters again! It looks like you still have plenty of work ahead of you if you want to be the best Pikmin leader around!

ETRIAN ODYSSEY UNTOLD TELLS A NEW STORY!

Etrian Odyssey Untold- The Millennium Girl - Limited EditionIt was time to talk about third-party releases, as Nintendo’s American branch took over to talk about what Nintendo’s partners are cooking up for both 3DS and Wii U. This starts with Atlus’s Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl, a 3DS remake of the original Etrian Odyssey game for DS.

The remake will include a new Story Mode with pre-made characters that explore a new portion of the world, unseen in the original game, as well as a Classic Mode that revives the series’ usual dungeon-crawling gameplay, albeit with the modern conventions of this year’s latest Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan. It sounds like the perfect mix of old and new for Etrian Odyssey fans, and fans of dungeon-crawling RPG’s in general!

Longtime fans of Atlus will also know to expect a premium first-run package, and Nintendo affirmed that this would continue to be the case with Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl. Those who purchase a first-run copy at retail will also receive a music CD and art book detailing character sketches and comic designs from the game. Not a bad deal!

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl was then re-affirmed to be launching, well, today, on October 1st! So, in case you needed that last nudge off of the fence, Atlus has sweetened the pot for you. Thus, why not re-live, or perhaps experience for the first time, one of the DS catalogue’s most underrated hits, hm?

JUST DANCE ON THE WORLD STAGE!

Just Dance 2014 - Gameplay 1Ubisoft’s Just Dance 2014 was the next topic of discussion, which will be released for both Wii and Wii U. The Wii U version appeared to be the main point of discussion however, as it will incorporate unique Gamepad functionality in its Party Master Mode, only being featured in the Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One editions of the game. Party Master Mode allows players to change up dance tunes, rules and medleys using the Wii U Gamepad. The Xbox builds incorporate Xbox SmartGlass for the same result, for those curious.

The competitive online World Stage Mode was also brought up again, showing how players can dance against each other online. On-Stage Mode was also discussed, having one person be a lead dancer, while the others perform as back-up dancers. The package seems especially well-suited to Wii U, even if the Wii version will still incorporate the increased customization of the Just Sweat workout routines. The Wii version will be missing the Karaoke Mode on Wii U and the other versions however.

Just Dance 2014 releases for both Wii and Wii U on October 8th.

SKYLANDERS DOES THE MONSTER MASH!

Skylanders Swap Force - Gameplay 1Once again, a new batch of Skylanders monsters is coming to Wii, Wii U and 3DS, via Skylanders: Swap Force, only this time, more combinations than ever are possible! Just as the title suggests, players can swap out the top and bottom halves of their Skylanders characters, which can allow for up to two-hundred combinations in-game.

Surprisingly, the 3DS version of Skylanders: Swap Force was given more attention than its Wii U counterpart here. The 3DS version will feature its own adventure, complete with several exclusive characters, and even adds in an all-new feature that allows players to upload their Skylanders designs for use later, giving the 3DS build increased portability compared to previous editions.

There was limited press given to the game, but Skylanders: Swap Force is imminently releasing anyway, with the 3DS, Wii and Wii U editions all coming on October 13th.

MARVEL SUPER HEROES KICK SOME BRICK!

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes - Gameplay 1LEGO Marvel Super Heroes was up next, demonstrating new gameplay mechanics between characters, and showing off familiar locations from the Marvel Universe done in LEGO form, including the X-Mansion, Asteroid M and Asgard.

Neither the 3DS nor Wii U versions were touched upon for long, beyond the confirmation that over a hundred playable characters would apparently be featured. The apparent DS version of the game wasn’t even mentioned at all. The 3DS subtitle, Universe in Peril was also not really elaborated upon, beyond Nintendo claiming that the 3DS version will include exclusive challenges and modes not present in its console siblings, including the Wii U version.

Regardless, the game releases for 3DS and Wii U at least on October 22nd. It’s presumed that the DS version will arrive at the same time, but Nintendo didn’t seem to pay any attention to it. Hopefully you’ve upgraded to a 3DS by this point, in that case!

BATMAN’S GOT THE TOUCH AT BLACKGATE!

Batman- Arkham Origins - Blackgate - 3DS Box ArtAs far as limited press went however, it was never as disappointing as when Nintendo entirely skimmed over Batman: Arkham Origins – Blackgate, which arrives on 3DS alongside Batman: Arkham Origins on Wii U. The brief snippet showed off a bit of gameplay, including the 2.5D combat and exploration, and also claimed that Batman could “scrub” crime scenes using the Touch Screen on the 3DS. Beyond that, nothing was said about the story or exactly how it ties into Batman: Arkham Origins, which felt like a frustrating missed opportunity.

Beyond that, almost nothing was said about one of the marquee third-party 3DS games of the Fall quarter, which was a bit baffling. Still, you can see for yourself how Batman: Arkham Origins – Blackgate turned out when it comes to 3DS on October 25th. Batman: Arkham Origins arrives on Wii U that same day, as mentioned, and if you didn’t hear already, it will be discounted to a $50 price on Nintendo’s console. This is to compensate for the missing online multiplayer mode in the Wii U edition, which will be available in the competing PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC builds.

SONIC BRINGING A LOT OF TECH TO HIS LOST WORLD!

Sonic- Lost World - Gameplay 1Thankfully, perhaps because Nintendo is publishing it themselves, Sonic: Lost World got a more extensive array of attention from the company’s American arm.

Both the 3DS and Wii U editions were detailed at decent length, with off-TV play and exclusive colour powers that utilize the tilt and touch sensors of the Wii U Gamepad being confirmed for the Wii U edition, along with the ability to boost and share in-game items via Miiverse. Likewise, the 3DS edition will feature the first fully-realized three-dimensional levels in a portable Sonic the Hedgehog game, and Nintendo reminded players that gadgets they build on 3DS can be freely transferred back and forth with the Wii U edition. The 3DS version will also feature unique stages and powers that won’t be available on Wii U.

Nintendo also reminded players that early purchasers of the Wii U edition can get their hands on the Deadly Six Bonus Edition of Sonic: Lost World, which includes an exclusive level adding in boss fights against “enormous” foes. It’s a good incentive to pick up an early retail build if you’re leaning more towards the console build, or even if you plan to pick up both, which Nintendo seems to advise is viable, given that the game is a noticeably distinct experience on both 3DS and Wii U.

Sonic: Lost World appears to have suffered a slight bump, as it was moved back a week from its original October 22nd release plan, to October 29th. Still, just one extra week is nothing in terms of waiting, especially given that Sonic: Lost World looks to be the best three-dimensional Sonic the Hedgehog game yet if it lives up to its promise!

ASSASSIN’S CREED IV STILL MARKING OCTOBER RELEASE IN NORTH AMERICA!

Assassin's Creed IV- Black Flag - GameplayDespite some claims and confusion regarding the Wii U version of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag being apparently delayed into November, Nintendo seems to have clarified that this delay only applies to EUROPE in this Direct. In North America, the game is still on track to release alongside its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 siblings at the end of this month.

Beyond that, Nintendo only re-affirmed the identity of the game’s protagonist, pirate captain/assassin combo, Edward Kenway, and claimed that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag would present the largest and most detailed setting in the series to date. They didn’t say much else. The naval combat introduced in last year’s Assassin’s Creed III is also apparently being “enhanced”, though Nintendo unfortunately didn’t elaborate. They did imply some exclusive Gamepad functionality in the Wii U edition of the game by saying so however.

Regardless, mark your calendars again if necessary, because it seems that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is still set to comfortably release on October 29th until Nintendo claims otherwise, at least, if you live in North America.

PHOENIX WRIGHT PLANS TRIAL DATE!

Phoenix Wright- Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies - GameplayAfter a long wait, Nintendo took this Direct to finally cement when fans could play the next Ace Attorney game! After touching on the new release briefly, including the now fully 3D-rendered trials and investigations and the new Mood Matrix that lets you gauge witness emotions during cross-examinations, Nintendo finally put a date on the promising courtroom adventure game. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is releasing exclusively on the 3DS eShop on October 24th.

If those couple of weeks are going to be a tough wait for you, Nintendo sweetened the pot with the announcement that a demo for the game is now live on the 3DS eShop, allowing you to sample the new mechanics early. No objections from us, as we’re quite excited to return to the courtroom with Mr. Wright again!

NINTENDO LOVES INDIES, AND SO SHOULD YOU!

Inevitably, the topic of indie games came up again. Rather than specifically addressing indie titles however, Nintendo instead confirmed their presence at the Indiecade Festival. They will be showing off indie releases for both 3DS and Wii U, for the remainder of 2013 and beyond.

Perhaps this is a chance for Nintendo to add even more indies to their catalogue? Given that anticipated indie offerings like ShovelKnight and 1,001 Spikes in their corner, one can only hope that the Big N allows yet more indies to find a home on their digital channels following Indiecade!

NINTENDO GOES DEEPER INTO THE ZONE!

StreetPass Mii PlazaTiny micro-announcements seemed to be quite commonplace throughout this Direct, and they continued with a nice bonus for Animal Crossing: New Leaf players. The Direct offered a QR Code that, when scanned, would allow players to sew Link’s Outset Island shirt from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, which Nintendo reminded was coming to retail this Friday, October 4th.

It’s a nice new fashion option for those who have gotten use out of their sewing machine! Nintendo also confirmed that new Nintendo Zone items would include a Fedora Chair on October 1st, and a Sushi Platter on October 15th. They further bolstered this news by announcing that Nintendo Zone would be upgraded to give you the StreetPass information of the last six visitors, instead of just one. This should make the StreetPass games on the 3DS easier and more enjoyable to play!

Nintendo closed off this announcement by confirming that Nintendo Zone bonuses would be arriving throughout October and November for Kid Icarus: Uprising, Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 as well. They also suggested that you add a 2DS to your gaming collection if you have yet to join the 3DS family, reminding viewers that the revised handheld will launch on October 12th, alongside Pokemon X and Pokemon Y. This is the only time that Pokemon X and Pokemon Y were mentioned for the entire presentation too. Sorry, Pokemon fans.

BRAVELY DEFAULT RPG CONVENTION ENCHANTS 3DS!

Bravely Default - Trailer FootageEven with the sorely missed presence of Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, 3DS-owning RPG fans were at least treated to another highly anticipated game showcase in this Direct beyond Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl, that of course being Square Enix’s Bravely Default! A spiritual successor to Square Enix’s recent DS releases in the Final Fantasy catalogue, Bravely Default showcases retro-inspired RPG mechanics with familiar Final Fantasy character design styles and spells.

An awesome new trailer showed off the four main characters of the game, including some of their English voiceovers, and affirmed that North American players can get their hands on Bravely Default in the first quarter of 2014. The game has been available in Japan since late 2012, and will be releasing in Europe early, before 2013 has concluded. Still, there’s now a light at the end of the tunnel for North American RPG fans! Given that Bravely Default looks to be one of the best 3DS RPG’s yet, we’re confident that the added wait will be well worth it!

A LINK BETWEEN WORLDS CASTS OFF THE DUNGEON CHAINS!

The Legend of Zelda- A Link Between Worlds - Gameplay 1The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was shown when things went back to Nintendo CEO, Satoru Iwata. Iwata elaborated on a mysterious Miiverse screenshot shown during the previous coverage, which showcased all of Link’s familiar tools in a shop run by a suspiciously Nabbit-resembling character. Iwata clarified that the character is actually named Ravio, and has nothing to do with Nabbit, but that since the Mario and Legend of Zelda developers work on the same floor at the Nintendo offices, it’s likely that they compared character notes somewhere along the line. Fair enough.

Anyway, Iwata explained that an unwritten rule in Legend of Zelda games involves players finding all of the major new items in dungeons, and then using that item to solve most of the puzzles and beat the boss. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is bucking convention however, featuring a new design direction that should provide a fun challenge and more rewarding game design, specifically, throwing out this rule.

What this means is that players can either rent or purchase items from Ravio, and, past a certain point in the story, they will be able to take on the worlds’ dungeons in any order they choose! This means that they’ll need to be aware of which items to bring to which locations, likely having to put more thought into both puzzles and boss encounters. We have to say that this new design choice sounds brilliant, and should make for one of the most compelling and memorable Legend of Zelda games yet!

Beyond that, new characters were shown, including Zelda’s new design, and even a Queen Zora-type character. There was also a character named Hilda shown, who appears to have a connection to the game’s two linked worlds, and is perhaps a parallel world counterpart to the main world’s Zelda. *Insert Sabrina the Teenage Witch joke here*

Despite the revised gameplay style, the story of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds still appears to be quite detailed and interesting. We’ll see how well it does justice to the legacy of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past when the game comes to 3DS on November 22nd!

AND ONE LAST FEAST FOR 3DS…

Kirby 3DS - GameplayOnly one all-new game announcement was featured in this Direct, but it should be a happy one for fans who have missed the presence of a certain pink puffball in recent years. Yes, Kirby is finally making his proper platforming debut on the 3DS, with an all-new game that is currently without a title. A brief snippet of footage was shown, detailing some very colourful graphics, along with both familiar and new abilities for Kirby, including a new ‘Horn’ ability that doesn’t appear to have been featured in prior games.

Regardless, Nintendo quickly stopped the footage, claiming that more information on the game would be revealed soon, but that it will release on 3DS sometime in 2014. Just knowing that more Kirby is on the way should give fans another exciting title to look forward to next year however!

IN CONCLUSION…

It’s easy to get the impression that Nintendo was stretched a little thin here. This Direct was filled with micro-sized announcements, and it felt like Nintendo couldn’t fit in everything they wanted to talk about, and had to rush through what they did want to talk about. Even huge blockbuster offerings like Super Mario 3D World seemed to have a hurried pace throughout the presentation, with only The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games and Wii Party U given a larger amount of coverage, along with the Pikmin 3 DLC we suppose. At least that new trailer for Super Mario 3D World looked fantastic!

In any case, omissions like Pokemon X and Pokemon Y were a bummer, even if they did receive their own Direct, though it was merely just to announce the Pokemon Bank feature. It was also a bit disappointing to hear that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze suffered a delay that moved it from a bare month to a very crowded month, but perhaps it will give the Wii U a high-profile offering in a month where most gamers will be paying more attention to games unavailable on Nintendo platforms, like inFamous: Second Son, Thief, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.

While 2014 was touched on in passing, including the announcement of the new Kirby platformer and some much appreciated coverage of Bravely Default, it was also a bit of a let-down that there were no nuggets to share on just about all of next year’s high-profile Nintendo exclusives confirmed so far. No news on Mario Kart 8? Bayonetta 2? Yoshi’s New Island? Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy? We suppose not. Perhaps next Direct.

Eggplante will continue to provide you coverage on future Nintendo Direct presentations, but for now, ready your Holiday wish lists, Nintendo fans! It’s going to be a good one this year!

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