UPDATE: While Nintendo was vague about the North American release plans of 3DS crossover RPG, Etrian Mystery Dungeon, Atlus USA followed up to give a solid release date of April 7th for the game after this Direct. They also confirmed the price at the usual $39.99 USD, and that pre-order and first-run copies of Etrian Mystery Dungeon will come bundled with a soundtrack CD.

Original report follows:

 

Nintendo came storming out of the gates of 2015 with a deluge of press for its first Nintendo Direct of the year, including several all-new surprise game announcements. There was even a long-awaited hardware release finalized, after plenty of press out of a successful launch in Japan and Australia.

This was an especially massive Nintendo Direct with a colossal amount of news for both Wii U and 3DS owners. As such, if you missed the broadcast, or just want a handy recap of the highlights, we’ve got all of the news that you need to know out of the January 2015 Nintendo Direct.

Let’s get started!

FIRE EMBLEM SHINES AGAIN!

Kicking off this Nintendo Direct was one of Nintendo’s reliable surprise announcements, that being an all-new Fire Emblem game for Nintendo 3DS! We still didn’t hear hide nor hair from the mysterious Wii U crossover project, Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem, but it would appear that Fire Emblem: Awakening, the series’ most successful and well-received game to date on any platform, indeed wasn’t this beloved strategy RPG series’ last hurrah!

The untitled new game, simply informally referred to as, “The latest in the Fire Emblem series” at this point, appears to be built around a refined version of the game engine from Fire Emblem: Awakening, sporting a similar presentation and combat style, and will share a character designer with Fire Emblem: Awakening as well. The new game is once again being developed by Intelligent Systems, as with all previous games in the series. There were no story details or precise gameplay details mentioned, though the game promises to feature more detailed player choice than ever before, with a plot penned by manga writer, Shin Kibayashi, a big name in Japanese printed pages.

Fire Emblem Next - Promo Art

The new Fire Emblem game has no release window yet, which is understandable, given that it doesn’t even have a title at this point. Considering that Intelligent Systems is still hard at work on finishing up March 3DS release, Code Name S.T.E.A.M., and the advertised gameplay footage sported entirely Japanese text, it’s probable that we won’t see this new game in North America before 2016 unfortunately. Nonetheless, it looks sharp, and any continued direction from the excellent Fire Emblem: Awakening is a great thing!

PUZZLES AND KOOPAS, OH MY!

Nintendo next brought up two joint 3DS projects set in the Puzzle & Dragons series, which has especially exploded in Japan. These are Puzzle & Dragons Z, and perhaps better still, Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition, a game that was rumoured to be in development already. In a similar style to games like Puzzle Quest, which have already proven to be big hits on mobile devices especially, players match three or more coloured tiles on the bottom screen, with RPG-style damage being done to enemies, depending on how well they can create combos and chains in the allotted time.

Puzzle & Dragons Z will mark the first time that the mobile series’ 3DS spin-off is being localized for North America, after already being hugely successful in Japan. Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition however is an all-new game that follows the same idea, though obviously incorporates Mario characters, with Mario embarking on yet another quest to rescue a kidnapped Princess Peach from Bowser. Players will traverse levels in traditional Mario fashion, complete with a Super Mario Bros. 3-style map, and undertake the same strategy/RPG blend of Puzzle & Dragons combat against familiar Mario enemies like Goombas and Koopa Troopas. Said enemies can also be recruited into your own party if you play well, and leveled up as you progress.

PaD SMB - Gameplay

Best of all with these two games is that they’ll be bundled together in one package for North American 3DS owners! Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition will be sold as a single retail package, and is scheduled for launch in May 2015.

POKEMON RUNS FREE!

On the note of Nintendo 3DS games that are treading steadily closer to mobile game territory, Nintendo introduced a bona fide Candy Crush Saga clone in Pokemon Shuffle, and yes, it’s free-to-play. Another match-three puzzler for the 3DS, Pokemon Shuffle is free to download and play from the 3DS eShop, tasking players with clearing enough Pokemon from the bottom screen to do a requisite amount of damage to a wild Pokemon on the 3D Screen. If you fail to drain the wild Pokemon’s health in the required number of moves, you lose.

You can build up your Pokemon and make them more effective by leveling them up, and as with the mainline Pokemon games, each Pokemon has a type to consider. You can also Mega Evolve certain Pokemon to clear legions of Pokemon from the Touch Screen at once. Battling costs Hearts, which the player has five of to start, and when the Hearts run out, you’ll have to wait for them to replenish before you can battle again. You can however spend Gems to unlock items that replenish your Hearts early, which can be attained through natural gameplay, or, you guessed it, through real-world money via microtransactions.

Pokemon Shuffle - Gameplay

Yes, it’s Candy Crush Saga for your 3DS/2DS, with the faces of Pokemon substituted for candy.

Be that as it may, Pokemon Shuffle comes to the 3DS eShop in February.

WII U STOPS HOLDING ITS WII!

It’s been a long time coming, but finally, Nintendo has added digital copies of Wii games to the Wii U eShop! Strangely, GameCube games and Nintendo 64 games haven’t yet come to the Wii U eShop, but the fact that we can now purchase Wii games to download directly to Wii U if we missed them during the previous generation, and play them directly from the Wii U menu without going into Wii Mode, is great cause for excitement!

Super Mario Galaxy 2 will be leading the charge of digital Wii releases, with the game going live immediately after the broadcast, along with a ‘Throwback Sale’ that will discount both Virtual Console and eShop games on 3DS and Wii U over the next three weeks, in celebration of Nintendo’s history. Certain Wii titles that support the Wii Classic Controller will also be playable with the Wii U Gamepad when downloaded on Wii U as well. Punch Out!! for Wii and Metroid Prime Trilogy will follow as the next two digital Wii releases for Wii U,  on January 22nd and January 29th respectively, with Metroid Prime Trilogy being especially cause for celebration, since physical copies of that game have become very scarce, and often hard to track down without paying absurdly high prices to re-sellers. Best of all, these debuting three Wii releases will be half price for the first week after their release on Wii U!

Wii Downloads - Logos

Naturally, Nintendo plans to add more Wii games to the Wii U eShop after these three releases as well. Looks like those of us trying to catch up on the Wii games we missed since the advent of Wii U no longer have to dig through so many used game bins and shelves hoping to track down what we want at Gamestop, and that’s fantastic!

KIRBY DIPS IN COMPANY’S INK!

With things shifting to the Nintendo Treehouse, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse for Wii U was brought up next, the long awaited follow-up to 2005 DS hit, Kirby: Canvas Curse. As with that game, players must use the Wii U Gamepad stylus to draw paths for a perpetually ball-shaped Kirby, with a limited supply of rainbow ink that allows him to get through treacherous stages, and attain hidden treasure chests that can award collectibles like plasticine figurines, and songs from the game’s soundtrack. Players must manage their diminishing ink carefully, lest they inadvertently lead Kirby to his doom by drawing too much!

As teased earlier, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse will also boast compatibility with Nintendo’s Amiibo figures. Once per day, select Kirby-related Amiibo can be scanned with the NFC reader on the Wii U Gamepad, which will give the player temporary benefits that can help empower Kirby during gameplay. Scanning a Kirby Amiibo (the only one of the compatible three currently available in stores) will allow the player infinite use of Kirby’s Star Dash ability, without having to collect 100 Stars as per usual. Scanning a King Dedede Amiibo (set to be released in February with Wave 3 of the Super Smash Bros. Amiibo collection) will give Kirby a Dedede hat and increase his health from four to six bars. Lastly, scanning a Meta Knight Amiibo (also set to be released in February as part of Wave 3 of the Super Smash Bros. Amiibo collection) will give Kirby Meta Knight’s mask, and increase his dash speed, allowing players to more easily mow through weaker enemies. Don’t forget however that unlike Kirby and King Dedede, which will be available at all stores that carry Amiibo (hopefully), Meta Knight is retailer-specific, and can only be purchased at Best Buy!

Kirby RC - Gameplay

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is still on track for a release on February 20th of this year, exclusively on Wii U, which will coincide with the release month of Wave 3 of the Super Smash Bros. Amiibo set, adding eleven new Amiibo to the collection. Along with King Dedede and the Best Buy-exclusive Meta Knight, Wave 3 will also feature Sheik (The Legend of Zelda), Toon Link (The Legend of Zelda), Bowser (Mario), Sonic (Sonic the Hedgehog), Mega Man (Mega Man), and Ike (Fire Emblem) at all major retailers that carry Amiibo (hopefully), as well as retailer-specific Amiibo that include the Target-exclusive Rosalina & Luma (Mario), the Gamestop-exclusive Shulk (Xenoblade Chronicles) and the Toys ‘R’ Us-exclusive Lucario (Pokemon).

MARIO JUMPS ON AMIIBO!

Nintendo immediately followed up the reminder of the Wave 3 releases for the Super Smash Bros. Amiibo collection with the announcement of Wave 4, which has been given a Spring 2015 release window. This fourth wave will comprise Robin (Fire Emblem), Lucina (Fire Emblem), Pac-Man (Pac-Man), Wario (Wario), Ness (Earthbound), and Charizard (Pokemon).

This announcement was followed up by the confirmation that Super Smash Bros. will not be the only Amiibo collection. A Super Mario Amiibo collection has been announced, and was given a specific launch date of March 20th. This collection will include new Amiibo variations of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Bowser, and, one new Amiibo that is not part of the Super Smash Bros. set, Toad. The set will launch alongside another major Wii U release for the first half of 2015, Mario Party 10. Fortunately, characters with different Amiibo variations in the Super Smash Bros. set and Super Mario set (so, all of them except Toad) will function exactly the same, no matter which Amiibo variant you scan. A Mario Amiibo is a Mario Amiibo for example, regardless of which set it’s from.

MP10 - Gameplay

As for Mario Party 10, which will include a traditional Party Mode along with the previously-detailed Bowser Party Mode, a third mode was revealed called Amiibo Party, which naturally makes use of the Mario series Amiibo, incorporating the Amiibo figures of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Bowser, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Rosalina & Luma, and Wario. Amiibo Party has players scan their preferred Amiibo to play on a special board themed around that character, with unique events, such as Mario’s boards having Sumo Shrooms that make players grow, or Luigi’s board having Poltergusts that suck up Coins and Stars from players. Players can also bring tokens to Amiibo Party games that may give them trump cards to employ as they compete with their rivals.

While the Super Smash Bros. variants of each Mario series Amiibo will work just fine in Mario Party 10, a word of caution for those planning on using them after using them in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U already; Amiibo data for Super Smash Bros. will have to be erased to use the Amiibo for Mario Party 10, thus resetting your Amiibo back to level 1 in Super Smash Bros. Exercise caution if you wish to have your Amiibo collection multi-task!

MP10 - Party Modes

Mario Party 10 arrives on Wii U on March 20th. The game will be sold both at retail and digitally via the Wii U eShop, as per usual, though be advised that a retail bundle at select stores will be available that includes a copy of the game with a Super Mario variant of Mario Amiibo packaged within it.

CAPTAIN TOAD TRIES TO FIND HIMSELF!

Puzzled at how Amiibo would be incorporated into a game as straightforward as Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker from this past December? Well, we now have our answer! The Toad Amiibo from the Super Mario set will be the one Amiibo that is able to be scanned with the Wii U Gamepad when playing Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. This will generate a hidden Pixel Toad in each of the game’s stages, though the reward for finding each of them is currently unclear.

CT - Gameplay

A free Wii U update for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker will add the interactivity with the Toad Amiibo on March 20th, the same day that the Super Mario set of Amiibo launches.

SPLATOON MAKES A MESS OF PARTIES!

Yet another highly anticipated Wii U blockbuster was brought up next, that being third-person shooter, Splatoon. It was revealed that the game’s single-player Story Mode and fast-paced 4×4 competitive online multiplayer will be brought together by a central hub area that players’ avatars can freely wander around in.

Splatoon’s hub will bring together players around the world, who can interact in the main plaza area by using Miiverse. Inklings, the player characters, will also have custom weapons and apparel that can be purchased with in-game money earned by playing the multiplayer mode. You can change the clothes and gear of your Inkling at any time within the game’s plaza, with a choice of three weapons able to be brought into multiplayer sessions. These include your main weapon, a sub-weapon, and a special weapon, with the main weapon used as your key means of dispatching enemies, your sub-weapon used to create diversions and defenses, and your special weapon able to be charged up for huge damage in select situations.

Splatoon - Gameplay

Apparel isn’t just cosmetic either! Certain arrangements of clothes, shoes, hats, etc.. will have an effect on your Inkling’s strength and speed, adding to the strategy that players will need to consider before playing in the online multiplayer suite. Since different players will respond to different styles, players can presumably focus on their appearance rather than their strategy, if they so choose. Players can also view the apparel of other Inklings in the plaza, to help get inspired for how they want to deck out their own Inkling.

Lastly, Splatoon was given a more specific launch window. It will come to retail and the Wii U eShop in May 2015.

YOUNG LINK AND TINGLE TAP MAJORA’S MAGIC!

After the interlude with the upcoming Splatoon, it was back to Wii U games that are already available, with Hyrule Warriors next on the docket. A new DLC pack is on the way, inspired by one of the series’ most beloved titles, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, in celebration of its soon-releasing 3DS remake, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D.

The Majora’s Mask Pack will include a newly-playable Tingle, who can inflate his balloon to attack, as well as use other eccentric techniques like a kiss of death, his fairy magic dance, and, as his mainstay weapon, a large wallet full of Rupees! Young Link will also be a new character available from the DLC, who can wield the Kokiri Sword from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and whose special attack allows him to temporarily put on the Fierce Deity’s Mask, allowing him to use extra powerful and unstoppable sword and magic techniques! The pack will also come with an all-new adventure map, and three all-new costumes.

Hyrule Warriors - DLC

The Majora’s Mask Pack will be available to download in-game using Nintendo eShop funds, as with the prior packs, and will go live for download on February 5th.

XENOBLADE CHRONICLES X CROSSES OFF THE TOUR!

Next was an all-new trailer for upcoming Wii U RPG, Xenoblade Chronicles X, which was dedicated to showing off new environments from throughout the game’s setting of Mira, the alien planet that your protagonist crash-lands on after Earth is attacked by aliens. These environments include huge and sprawling landscapes such as beaches, jungles, plains, and more.

It’s a trailer that is mostly devoid of dialogue (and the dialogue is spoken in Japanese to boot), but it’s a gorgeous preview that simply demands to be seen, if for no other reason than to witness what could very well be the most beautiful game to come to Wii U yet!

XCX - Gameplay

The game still has a vague 2015 release window, and Nintendo urges fans to stay tuned for more information soon. Given that the spoken dialogue is still in Japanese, and the first half of the year is already pretty crowded with Nintendo releases, it’s likely that we won’t see Xenoblade Chronicles X until the Fall. Still, the massive production values behind the game are sure to make it worth the wait!

MARIO AND DONKEY KONG ARE COUNTING STARS!

The new Mario vs. Donkey Kong game headed to the Wii U eShop that was announced at E3 2014 was brought up next, and the game now has an official title; Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars!

As the title suggests, players can enjoy an all-new mechanic in the game’s returning level editor, along with the same developer-made level designs that every recent Mario vs. Donkey Kong game has delivered with aplomb! Now however, the level editor takes center stage, with players able to ‘tip’ players Stars that are earned from playing the game’s main levels well, to help level designers they like access more assets, which cost Stars to earn. It’s a very creative new way to reward and incentivize ingenuity in the custom level editor, turning a bonus feature into a better core focal point of the game.

MvDK TS - Gameplay

The best part was yet to come however, with the announcement of a 3DS eShop port of Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars to launch alongside the Wii U eShop version. The true highlight came soon after, with the confirmation that both games would launch for $19.99, and downloading one would net you the opposite version for free.

Yes, you read that right. Nintendo has finally adopted cross-buy between certain digital games coming to both 3DS and Wii U, after PlayStation has offered this incentive between their current consoles and handheld for years now! So far, Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars is the only known game that supports cross-buy for Nintendo platforms, but thanks to Miiverse, players will not only be able to play the game on both their Wii U and 3DS, but also share level designs between both versions at will!

MvDK TS - Cross Buy Art

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars will come to the Wii U eShop and 3DS eShop on March 5th.

BANDAI NAMCO IS TREASURING TEAM-UPS!

Apparently, Pokemon Shuffle is not the only free-to-play game headed to a Nintendo platform. Bandai Namco will also be contributing a free-to-play offering, code-named Project Treasure, some time in the future. The game will be a Wii U-exclusive 4-player co-op action game, which is also only playable online. Bandai Namco was very light on details, and couldn’t divulge a name or release window for the game, but they will have more news soon.

Well, people were hoping for more third-party support on Wii U. Now they have some of it!

NINTENDO INDIES QUESTED, TESTED AND RE-ELECTED!

Next up was the obligatory roster of independent Nintendo games, or ‘Nindies’, and it was fantastic to see Nintendo detail the games individually in this case, rather than just having a sizzle reel with little to no context between games.

First shown was Elliot Quest, a platformer in development for the Wii U eShop. The game feels reminiscent of cult NES hit, Kid Icarus, featuring an open-world environment that players can leap through, along with dungeons that are filled with enemies and hazards, in a quest to rid protagonist, Elliot of his immortality. Elliot Quest contains a slew of abilities and spells, and also features sixteen unique bosses to slay. The game has a February 2015 release window, and is being developed by PlayEveryWare.

Elliot Quest - Gameplay

Next shown was Blek, an independent puzzle game also planned for the Wii U eShop, which has already won several pre-release awards, and has even been showcased in museums. This meditative game has players using the stylus to direct a line around subsequent dots, navigating around larger shapes, among other sets of rules that incorporate simple geometry and spatial navigation. This game also has a February 2015 release window, and is in development from BROKEN RULES & kunabi brother. Yes, apparently that weird capitalization discrepancy is intentional.

Third up is an especially anticipated Nindie from Atlus and Edon Industries, Citizens of Earth, which has shown up before in Nintendo’s Nindie sizzle reels and indie coverage. Planned for release on both the 3DS eShop and Wii U eShop, Citizens of Earth has players take control of the vice-president of the entire planet, rallying eccentric party members to discover the mystery of why the whole planet has gone berserk immediately after his election. The game is designed as a classic-style Japanese RPG that seems to borrow several cues from Nintendo’s cult Super NES classic, Earthbound, namely its cartoonish graphics and tongue-in-cheek RPG combat. It can be played as both a casual adventure, or a full-blown RPG experience. Citizens of Earth also has a release date already set, for January 20th.

Citizens of Earth - Gameplay

Next is Gunman Clive 2, the previously confirmed follow-up to 3DS eShop hit, Gunman Clive. Once again set for the 3DS eShop by Horberg Productions, Gunman Clive 2 features the same challenging platforming and gunplay mechanics, once again returning players to the worst of the treacherous Old West. The game features four playable characters this time, all with diverse capabilities, new bosses and stages, and, even a few additional colours too. The game is set for release this January.

Finally, the remaining second, third and fourth episodes of Moon Chronicles, the 3DS eShop revamp of cult hit DS first-person shooter, Moon, are finally set to debut. The additional episodes will feature the same great gameplay, with new stages and challenges, and will be downloadable within the first episode of Moon Chronicles, which has been available to purchase on the 3DS eShop since last May. The remaining episodes are expected to release this January, both individually, or at a lump discounted rate via a Season Pass.

Moon Chronicles - Gameplay

As usual, there’s plenty of great indie games to look forward to on both 3DS and Wii U. Whether you appreciate eccentric RPG’s, hardcore run-and-gun platformers or pensive puzzlers, you’ll be covered over the remaining Winter weeks!

SEGA’S ARCADE EXPLORES NEW DIMENSIONS!

Moving on from the slew of indie game showcases, Nintendo revealed that more 3D remasters of classic Sega titles are on the way to the 3DS eShop, following on from the handful of Genesis offerings to come before. This time, arcade ports of famous Sega offerings from both the Sega Genesis and Sega Master System eras are featured, including the first and second Fantasy Zone games, After Burner IIOut Run, and Thunder Blade. The games will be sporadically released on the 3DS eShop throughout Q1 2015, namely January, February and March.

After Burner II - Gameplay

The new 3D ports promise not only a 3D presentation on top of the arcade-perfect ports, but also visual and audio cues that echo the original arcade games’ technical elements to a tee. Considering Sega’s dire straits lately, it will certainly be appealing to go back to simpler times!

ETRIA’S ON THE CRAWL!

Spotlighted next was Etrian Mystery Dungeon, a crossover between the Etrian Odyssey and Mystery Dungeon brands of dungeon-crawler RPG’s. Set to be localized for North America, Etrian Mystery Dungeon combines the party creation system of Etrian Odyssey with the unpredictable and exciting action-RPG exploration of Mystery Dungeon. Not much other information was given beyond confirmation that the crossover is being localized for the West, but for fans of either or especially both series, that’s great news! Etrian Mystery Dungeon will come to 3DS in Spring 2015.

THE STORY OF SEASONS SHALL BE SHARED WITH THE WORLD!

Another brief mention was given to Story of Seasons, the Harvest Moon sequel in disguise that will reunite fans with the same charming and addictive farming and social sim gameplay. For the first time, the game will take the series online, with players able to connect with other players across the world, as well as accrue new and exotic strains of animals from an all-new safari area. The game is set for March 2015, and will apparently only be available for purchase from the 3DS eShop in the West, despite being a full retail game in its native Japan.

THE AMERICAS DIG UP FOSSIL FIGHTERS’ NEW FRONTIER!

Right before the big hardware announcement that everyone was waiting for, focus shifted on the long overdue localization of Red Entertainment’s third Fossil Fighters game, Fossil Fighters: Frontier, the latest in the Pokemon-esque dinosaur collecting and battling series. The game is finally due for localization in the West, despite being available in Japan since February 2014, and will feature a fully 3D world with online play, and the ability to collect all sorts of fossils, to revive into the series’ trademark Vivosaurs. Players can not only battle within the game world, but also against each other in up to 2-vs.-2 Vivosaur combat online, or 3-vs.-3 combat via local wi-fi. Up to three friends can also team up online to explore and find fossils together. Lastly, the game will feature an all-new Vivosaur Stadium, where players can enter tournaments to see how their team stacks up against the world.

Fossil Fighters: Frontier comes to 3DS in North America on March 20th, both at retail and digitally via the 3DS eShop.

THERE’S A NEW 3DS XL IN TOWN!

As much as this Nintendo Direct was packed with great game announcements, what people were really hoping for was word on potential release plans for the previously-announced ‘New’ 3DS handhelds, which came to Japan and Australia late last year, and were being offered to select people as ‘Ambassador handhelds’ in Europe as of this year. Well, Nintendo didn’t disappoint, as we finally got an official announcement of a New 3DS release in Canada and the U.S., and it’s not far off! The New 3DS XL will come to North America on February 13th of this year.

Yes, just the New 3DS XL. Apparently, the smaller, launch model-esque New 3DS model is not coming to North America at all, or at least isn’t planned to right now, despite the fact that both models are readily available to buy in Japan and Australia, and both will be offered in Europe. This also means that the custom New 3DS faceplates that the New 3DS XL oddly doesn’t support won’t be offered at all in North America either by the look of things. Too bad.

N3DS XL - Hardware

Regardless, the New 3DS XL is still a mighty impressive machine, and Nintendo didn’t waste time talking it up! The handheld’s increased processing power was shown, which vastly speeds up the otherwise lengthy load times of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS as an example compared to the normal 3DS XL and prior 3DS/2DS models. The added power will also be available to developers to make better-performing games that may not be playable on classic 3DS/2DS models, and more on that in a second.

The handheld’s more stabilized face-tracking 3D was also displayed, along with its new ZL and ZR shoulder buttons, second C-stick (which replaces the Circle Pad Pro accessory from the launch model 3DS), and its all-new built-in NFC functionality, which allows it to make use of the Amiibo figures that were previously only useable on Wii U. The handheld will also boast an improved and more flexible online browser, and the ability to download games from the 3DS eShop far faster. While the more colourful red, yellow, blue and green will still be added to the formerly monochromatic X, Y, B and A face buttons, only the letters will be coloured in the case of the New 3DS XL, rather than the outer portion of the face buttons that dont include the letters. Lastly, the New 3DS XL will boast a slightly improved battery life, compared to the normal 3DS XL, and particularly the launch model 3DS. The brightness of the screen will also automatically adjust itself, according to lighting conditions, in an effort to avoid expending unnecessary battery life.

For launch, the handheld will be offered in both a red and black standard variation. There will also be a limited edition The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask-themed gold New 3DS XL, though it doesn’t come with the game that inspired it. A New 3DS XL bundle with a game will be available however, with a specialized Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate bundle being offered that does include a pre-installed digital copy of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, within a special Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate-branded New 3DS XL. The Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate bundle will only be sold at Gamestop/EB Games, with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate also launching as a standalone game at both retail and the 3DS eShop, on February 13th. A demo for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is also coming to the 3DS eShop soon, along with a new Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate panel for Puzzle Swap, and aims to coax newcomers who haven’t tried the series before.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate - Hardware

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D is now set to launch alongside the New 3DS XL as well, on February 13th. Oddly, if you pre-order 3DS strategy game, Code Name S.T.E.A.M. at Gamestop/EB Games, you’ll also receive a limited edition The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask pin. It’s rather strange, but worth considering if you’re a Legend of Zelda fan.

Next outlined was how the super-stable new face-tracking 3D holds up perfectly from all angles on New 3DS XL, even during frenetic and flashy 3DS titles like Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, though it’s unclear if the technology will accomodate multiple people viewing the display with the 3D Slider switched up. Regardless, the new C-stick allows the camera to be freely rotated in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, Code Name S.T.E.A.M. and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, and allows you to perform Smash Attacks with ease as an example in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, along with freely supporting the Circle Pad Pro functions of games like Resident Evil: Revelations, Steel Diver: Sub Wars, Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.

The handheld will be packaged with a 4GB Micro SD card, with Nintendo confirming that the New 3DS XL now requires Micro SD cards, rather than the standard SD cards that are useable in the previous 3DS/2DS models. Nintendo will apparently provide a solution for existing 3DS/2DS owners to transfer save data and other important system info from their current 3DS/2DS model if they plan to upgrade to the New 3DS XL, soon. Be advised as well that the New 3DS XL will not come packaged with an AC adapter, as Nintendo wishes to avoid charging people extra money for a power cord that they likely already own, as the same one has been used for DSi, DSi XL, 3DS, 3DS XL, and 2DS. AC adapters will need to be bought separately for people jumping from, say, only owning a PlayStation Vita to now owning a New 3DS XL.

While not mentioned in this Direct, those looking to save some money on a New 3DS XL purchase can also trade in a regular 3DS XL model, or a PlayStation Vita, for $100 in store credit towards their New 3DS XL purchase at Gamestop/EB Games.

N3DS XL - Majora's Mask

Amiibo were subsequently detailed for New Nintendo 3DS XL, with a free game update in February adding the ability for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS to interact with them, creating and sharing the same custom Amiibo fighters and gear that can already be enjoyed in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, this time on the go! Code Name S.T.E.A.M. will also support Amiibo functionality when played on a New 3DS XL, allowing players to scan the Fire Emblem Amiibo figures to add those respective Fire Emblem characters to their squad, though best keep them alive! In true Fire Emblem tradition, if they fall, they need to be scanned again after a battle is finished to re-add them to your team. Regardless, this means that Marth, and the upcoming Ike, Robin and Lucina Amiibo will be useable in Code Name S.T.E.A.M. Nintendo also assures fans that those who were unable to get ahold of the increasingly rare (and costly!) Marth Amiibo from its very limited Wave 1 stock last November can look forward to more stock of the Marth Amiibo being shipped to the Americas later this year.

Code Name S.T.E.A.M. itself was also given an exact release date of March 13th, playable on any model of 3DS/2DS, but with enhanced features on New 3DS XL.

Code Name STEAM - Gameplay

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+ was next demonstrated, a revamp of the 2011 3DS flight sim, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy, with the upgraded edition being confirmed to be releasing in North America this Direct, once again with new features that can only be utilized on the New 3DS XL. The addition of ZL and ZR shoulder buttons, as well as the C-stick, gives players lots of enhanced control flexibility that is exclusive to playing the game on New 3DS XL, though it will be supported on 3DS, 3DS XL and 2DS as well. The New 3DS XL will also exclusively allow players to scan themselves new aircraft skins using certain compatible Amiibo figures, including Fox, Link, Mario and Bowser. The game will launch alongside the New 3DS XL, on February 13th, at both retail and digitally via the 3DS eShop.

Of all the game features said to be exclusively available on New 3DS XL, only one game was revealed that is completely exclusive to New 3DS XL, period, and won’t even work on 3DS, 3DS XL or 2DS. This game is Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, a New 3DS XL port of highly celebrated Wii RPG, Xenoblade Chronicles. The game will add a full 3D presentation to the visuals, and allow players to view maps and character stats on the Touch Screen, as well as include an exclusive bonus mode where players can admire the game’s 3D models. The port is being handled by Monster Games, the same developer behind another Wii-to-3DS port, 2013’s Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D has a launch window of April 2015.

XC3D - Gameplay

Next, an all-new 3DS eShop game is the latest to be taking advantage of New 3DS XL, using the second C-stick to add new control flexibility to a fast-paced, cover-based third-person shooter called Ironfall: Invasion, though the game is still playable on 3DS, 3DS XL and 2DS. The game comes from just three people at a studio called V.D. Dev, and supports six players in combat both via local wi-fi and online, as well as a single-player campaign, both of which run at a full 60fps clip! The game is set to come exclusively to the 3DS eShop in February.

There’s obviously plenty to look forward to with New 3DS XL, but it’s likely that many are simply happy that we finally know when it’s coming out in the West!

CONCLUSION

Obviously, this was an excellent Nintendo Direct that was packed with no shortage of awesome surprises and announcements. Yes, there were some games that were MIA, namely Mario Maker and Yoshi’s Woolly World, and there was also nothing said of the massively anticipated new Legend of Zelda game that is coming to Wii U this year, but it’s difficult to care when this Direct provided us with so much amazing content to chew on, particularly with the New 3DS XL finalizing its Western launch plans at long last!

All that’s left to be said is, it’s looking like 2015 is going to be one mighty fine year for Nintendo! As usual, keep revisiting Eggplante for all of your Nintendo Direct news and updates.

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