Nintendo has a vendetta. They are clearly pulling out every stop to silence naysayers with extreme prejudice! After already delivering a landmark Wii U-oriented Nintendo Direct and an equally landmark 3DS-oriented Nintendo Direct in previous months so far this year, Nintendo decided they weren’t quite done hammering home an aggressive torrent of hot new game announcements! Thus, April has seen another landmark Nintendo Direct presentation, again focused mostly on 3DS. Twenty games were discussed, seven of those were announced for the first time, and there was even a little bit of Wii U info thrown in for good measure. Bear in mind as well: this is before Nintendo’s E3 presentation too, where they consistently have various surprises up their sleeves, often being the most reliable of The Big Three for unveiling new titles. Great Ganondorf’s Ghost, that’s loads of Nintendo love to look forward to!
Even with the looming threat of Sony’s PlayStation 4 this holiday season, and likely a next-gen Xbox from Microsoft to go with it (you know, if they ever decide to actually announce the damn thing!), Nintendo’s got 3DS owners in particular more than covered for the remainder of 2013, and the early portion of 2014 by the look of things! For your convenience, here’s a highlight reel of anything you may want to know about Nintendo’s upcoming release slate, if you missed the presentation, or just want a handy recap of the biggest news:
THE YEAR OF LUIGI CONTINUES!… WITH LOTS OF MARIO ANNOUNCEMENTS!
It may be the so-called ‘Year of Luigi‘, but it looks like Mario has gotten envious and is trying to steal the spotlight back! Luigi sympathizers at least got a release window for New Super Mario Bros. U’s upcoming Luigi-centric DLC expansion, New Super Luigi U, which is apparently going to be made available this Summer on the Wii U eShop. The Luigi-centric 3DS RPG, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, was given a firm release date of August 11th as well, with new gameplay details revealing the new methods of exploration and the return of the familiar battle system from preceding entries on the Game Boy Advance and DS.
Beyond that though, Mario hogged a hefty amount of attention, with a release window and added details given for Mario Golf: World Tour, headed to the 3DS sometime this Summer apparently. The game will feature a dedicated online community, just like Mario Kart 7, and will even come with tournament variants! Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move was also detailed at length, and it seems poised to be the most massive and impressive 3DS eShop game yet by the look of things! It will be exclusively available to download off of the 3DS eShop on May 9th.
Lastly, one of the all-new 3DS announcements was also a new Mario Party game for 3DS, currently without a finalized title. The game will yet again attempt to bring the Mario Party formula to a handheld, only this one appears to be doing it with a reasonable degree of success this time! The design of the Nintendo 64, GameCube and Wii entries finally appears to be replicated without compromise, with varied game boards that have their own unique rules, as well as a staggering 81 confirmed minigames that up to four simultaneous players can enjoy together! If online play is involved, this could be the handheld Mario Party everyone has been waiting for! The game is planned for the vague ‘Winter’ release window, leaving it unclear as to whether it’s coming out late this year or early next year. This is perhaps to give Nintendo a bit of wiggle room if the game doesn’t come together as quickly as hoped, especially given the hefty release slate the Big N has already prepared for this holiday season!
OLD PLATFORMER FORMULAS ARE GIVEN NEW LIFE!
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D was finally given some coverage leading up to its rapidly-approaching May 24th release date, and it’s certainly not going to be a lazy port of its Wii counterpart! The game will feature an entirely new play mode that will lower the original Wii game’s ruthless difficulty level, giving players additional health and support items, and will even feature an entirely new world available after completing the game! Nintendo also promises to take considerable advantage of the 3DS’s 3D effects in the game, and considering all of the depth and dynamic environmental play that was already featured in the Wii original, we can bet that the game’s visuals will feel even more at home on 3DS!
Even more exciting however is the announcement of a new Yoshi’s Island game for 3DS! While details were scarce, the sharp visuals were shown, modernizing the art style pioneered in the original Super NES game, and Yoshi’s familiar moveset and play mechanics appear to be retained for this new third adventure. There was no release window or 3DS-specific features detailed, but just the knowledge that a new Yoshi’s Island sequel is on the way is more than enough to get us excited! It’s likely that Nintendo will be speaking more about this one at E3 this year.
NOTHING SAYS LOVE LIKE A LITTLE ROLE-PLAYING!
If you’re an RPG fan with a 3DS, you already have plenty of reasons to be excited! Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is already looking to be one of this Summer’s top game releases, and the blockbuster release of Pokemon X Version and Pokemon Y Version in October needs no elaboration. But wait, according to Nintendo Direct, there’s more!
Atlus has already treated RPG gamers with 3DS’s well so far this year, between the superb Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan, and the overdue localization of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner – Soul Hackers, which only recently became available to North Americans on 3DS, after the original PlayStation release was left in Japan. Just as they took over your Spring, Atlus has also got designs on your Summer, as Nintendo re-affirmed that the mainline Shin Megami Tensei IV is coming to 3DS in North America, now with a specific release date of July 16th! First-run copies will come bearing gifts for your purchase as well, between a soundtrack CD, strategy and design booklet, and a collectible slip case. Atlus is great for including these little goodies in their first-run packages, and it’s great to see that Shin Megami Tensei IV won’t be breaking tradition!
Of course, you can rarely speak of Japanese RPG’s without Square Enix being brought up, and there was one nugget of news from the Square Enix catalogue, but what a tantalizing nugget it was! Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, an RPG on the 3DS that the Japanese have been enjoying for months now, is coming to North America and Europe, published by Nintendo themselves! The game is planned for release before the end of the year for Europeans, but North Americans will have to wait until 2014. Better late than never, we suppose, especially since the fact that the game is being localized at all is wonderful news!
Oh, and on a slight Wii U tangent, cult classic Super NES RPG, Earthbound is coming to the Wii U’s Virtual Console sometime this year. Perhaps Nintendo is toying with the idea of finally localizing the Japan-exclusive NES prequel and Game Boy Advance sequel? Well, be sure to spam Miiverse with petitions and download at least five copies of Earthbound for yourself when it arrives, so Nintendo knows that you’re interested. That’s what dummy accounts are for. Yes, the main reason why this release is happening is because enough people pestered Nintendo for it on Miiverse, which Nintendo even admitted during the presentation. It’s mighty assuring to know that the Big N is indeed using Miiverse as a valuable community feedback tool!
WII U’S FIRST BIG UPDATE IS ROLLING OUT, AND IT’S BRINGING CLASSIC GAMES WITH IT!
Even though the presentaion was 3DS-centric, a few bits of Wii U news did manage to sneak out beyond Earthbound coming to the Wii U Virtual Console (reminder: download Earthbound). The biggest of these was that the pivotal Spring update for the console is due next week, drastically speeding up load times when returning to the Home Menu and switching active software. The update also adds in the ability for the Wii U to automatically download and install both subsequent updates and authorized software downloads, even while the console is turned off, and allows Wii U owners to move game data between USB drives, a feature we’re a bit surprised wasn’t built into the console right at launch! Lastly, the update will allow players to go right into Wii Mode simply by holding the B button upon startup. That should certainly speed up the process for those of us still trying to get through our Wii backlogs, particularly if you’ve picked up the belated releases of the Operation Rainfall titles!
The biggest and best addition however is that this update will finally properly launch the Wii U’s Virtual Console service. The Famicom 30th anniversary celebration has already delivered a few Wii U Virtual Console titles at the temporary price of thirty cents, but this Nintendo Direct confirmed even more games outside of the promotion, including Super Mario Bros. 2, Excitebike, Super Mario World, Kirby Super Star, and Ice Climber. It’s also been re-affirmed that Nintendo plans to bring Game Boy Advance games to the service eventually, while also announcing that Nintendo 64 games are planned to be included as well. Looks like we can enjoy Super Mario 64 on our Wii U Gamepads after all! Hopefully a GameCube catalogue isn’t too far behind!
Back on the note of games, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate’s Wii U edition was confirmed to get an update allowing players to jump into each other’s online sessions, as well as Capcom-endorsed informational videos on Nintendo’s YouTube channel, which help with strategies and player tips. Game & Wario was given some added play details, specifically how it utilizes the Wii U Gamepad and television interacting with one another during the minigames, a la Nintendo Land, and was confirmed for release on June 23rd. Pikmin 3 was also discussed, albeit only to draw back the veil on the new Flying Pikmin strain that players can work with. Unfortunately, this was also met with some bad news that the game was pushed back a couple of months from its intended Q2 release window. Fortunately, we now have a solid release date of August 4th!
JUST SO THERE’S NO DOUBT…
Nintendo cleared up a few unclear details on some upcoming 3DS projects in passing. The sixth Professor Layton game has been officially titled Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy outside of Japan, but actually won’t be releasing until 2014, making 2013 the first year without a Professor Layton release since the first game was localized! Looks like it means more time to enjoy those DLC puzzles in Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask for fans! Level-5 also teased three more 3DS eShop games; An open-ended, virtually feedback-less adventure game, The Starship Damrey, a strategy game from Mega Man creator, Keiji Inafune, Bugs vs. Tanks, a self-explanatory premise of a tank platoon being shrunken down to fight bugs, and lastly, Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale, simply confirmed to be a celebration of 1970’s live-action shows in Japanese media (think: Power Rangers). These three reveals comprised three of the seven new game announcements.
While they were at it, Nintendo revealed that the upcoming Animal Crossing: New Leaf will ship with its own 3DS XL bundle at a price of $219.99 in June, reminded 3DS owners that LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins was launching for 3DS next week, and that it’s NOT a port of LEGO City Undercover for the Wii U, being its own game with its own prequel storyline, and best of all, Nintendo confirmed two high-profile 3DS Virtual Console releases; The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, two Game Boy Color classics that will be re-released for 3DS owners on the 3DS eShop, May 30th. Their inter-connectivity and password system will remain intact for the Virtual Console release as well!
AND SPEAKING OF ZELDA…
So, if you’re counting new game announcements, we’ve got a new Mario Party game for 3DS, a new Yoshi’s Island game for 3DS, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy for 3DS, and the three 3DS eShop games being contributed by Level-5. We said seven announcements, so you may think we’re missing one. No, we’re just saving the best for last!
Nintendo of America president, Reggie Fils-Aime snuck in right at the end of the presentation to drop one hell of a bombshell for Nintendo fans. That 3DS Legend of Zelda game that Nintendo teased in various interviews? Well, it’s actually a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the Super NES, tentatively titled The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 2 (though we imagine that won’t be the final title), and it’s coming out for the Holiday 2013 season!! That means we get a 3D sequel to A Link to the Past and an HD remake of The Wind Waker within weeks of each other. That should certainly appease those itching for a return to Hyrule!
As expected, details are scarce, and Nintendo no doubt wants to save most of this rabidly-anticipated info on A Link to the Past 2 for their E3 keynote, but what Reggie was inclined to reveal was the game’s graphics, which take liberal advantage of the 3DS’s 3D capabilities, on top of just looking breathtaking. He also revealed one new mechanic, allowing Link to become a drawing on the wall and move on flat surfaces to get around obstructions and reach out-of-the-way areas. Frankly, you had us at ‘A Link to the Past sequel’, Reggie!
TAKE IT ALL IN…
Even with this torrential downpour of superb Nintendo announcements, there were still some disappointing omissions. This is the second 3DS-centric Nintendo Direct for 2013 where Nintendo didn’t say a word about Pokemon X Version and Pokemon Y Version, which seems downright baffling at this point, considering that they’re releasing worldwide in October. Perhaps Nintendo is saving all of their Pokemon info for E3 though. While it was a longshot, it does also sting a bit that Nintendo didn’t have anything to say about the upcoming fourth Super Smash Bros. title, planned for both 3DS and Wii U, nor did they acknowledge the incredible fan demand for a 3DS remake of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, which still doesn’t appear to be happening. Beloved brands like F-Zero, Star Fox and worst of all, Metroid appear to be remaining dormant for now, with that oft-rumoured Metroid Dread game still appearing to be vapourware. The complete lack of information on when Miiverse is headed to 3DS was also a big let-down.
Still, this is just an indication of how many cards Nintendo still has left to play for E3 and beyond, and speaking of E3, Nintendo has said that they have even more planned to announce for their E3 keynote, especially for Wii U! We’re already being spoiled with a colossal lineup of Nintendo goodness, and yet, there’s even more ahead! Nintendo seems hell-bent on proving that, if you’re a Nintendo enthusiast that doesn’t own a 3DS yet especially, you’re not just missing out, you’re out of your mind! The initial drought of 3DS games back during the handheld’s 2011 launch seems like such a distant memory now, and it looks like the Wii U will soon start following suit!
Another thing you can count on? We here at Eggplante will providing all of the hottest coverage on these upcoming Nintendo blockbusters and more, so be sure to keep your browsers coming back!