On May 17th, 2013, Nintendo released their latest Direct announcement. While the previous Nintendo Direct unveiled many new games and big updates on titles for both the Wii U and 3DS, this edition of Nintendo Direct provided much smaller updates, but promised big things for the future.
Right off the bat, Nintendo addressed their decision to step off of the stage at this year’s E3. Satoru Iwata, the host of Nintendo Direct, President and CEO of Nintendo, announced that the next Nintendo Direct would be airing around the time of E3. This bold move will act as Nintendo’s own stage event.
From there, Iwata began to announce new titles and updates for the Wii U and 3DS. First, Iwata revealed details about the next Mario and Sonic for the Wii U, which will be based on the next Winter Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia. Iwata gave a quick geography lesson on Sochi, then proceeded to talk about some of the gameplay features.
He briefly discussed the graphical improvements from the previous Mario and Sonic game, noting the detailed character models. The game also includes new modes of play. One such addition to the olympic games is figure skating. There have also been some overall gameplay additions, such as a mode called dream events, where the player performs in familiar events but with the realism and normal physics removed (think Mario Kart). Mix events are also added, where players can compete in multiple events in one gaming session.
Iwata also talked about intuitive gameplay that has been implemented, thanks to the motion controls and the addition of the Wii U gamepad. For example, curling uses the gamepad to help map out the path of the stone to its target.
He then made the announcement that Nintendo is currently collaborating with Sega on a new Sonic the Hedgehog game, entitled Sonic: Lost World. A piece of concept art of what I believed to be the “lost world”, was briefly shown. No other announcements were made about this particular title, except that it would be exclusive to the Wii U and 3DS.
The Sega-based announcements continued, as Iwata revealed that Sega is planning to release several more Game Gear virtual console titles on the 3DS eShop. Only three titles have been released so far.
While still on the subject of virtual console titles, Iwata announced that The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages will be releasing for 3DS virtual console on the eShop very soon. Both titles were originally released for the Game Boy Color and involved a link system that will also be available to players in the virtual console editions. These titles will initially carry is discounted price of $4.99 each.
The focus was then shifted to Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move, which was released on May 9, 2013. It is the first title in the series to be released on the 3DS. Iwata provided some brief instructions on the level building system in the game. He emphasized that building and sharing online for other players would provide a more in-depth gaming experience.
While on the subject of Donkey Kong and 3DS titles, Iwata spoke about Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D for the 3DS. The title is an enhanced version of the Wii game, which was released back in 2010. The 3DS version adds 8 new levels to the mix. Iwata promises that the added content will provide level mechanics that are new to returning players. The game launched on May 24, 2013.
The next big 3DS release is Animal Crossing: New Leaf. This is the first Animal Crossing game to be released since Animal Crossing: City Folk back in 2008. The game will be released on June 9, 2013. As a companion to the launch, Nintendo has been releasing a video series with details about the latest game. These video guides are available on YouTube and the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS. There is also new Animal Crossing themed content in the Mii Plaza Puzzle Swap and Swapnote.
Returning to the Wii U, more details about Game and Wario have emerged. This includes more examples of the gameplay that players can look forward to. One such game mode is called Island, an obscure game that involves aiming and launching creatures, in an attempt to land them on particular spots of the island. Where they land factors in how points the player earns. Another game, called Patchwork, challenges the player to complete puzzles, placing puzzle pieces onto a board until the correct figure is created. A third game, entitled Kung Fu, has the player guiding the character, Young Cricket, through various training challenges. The player must hop platforms to the intended goal, avoiding any dangers and pitfalls along the way. In addition to the normal perspective on the main screen, the player must use the gamepad, which provides a top-down perspective of the gameplay, revealing any dangers and secrets in each level. Game and Wario has an intended release date of June 23, 2013 and will be priced at $39.99.
Next on the list is the Wii U port of the 3DS game, Resident Evil: Revelations. Among the changes, the Wii U version sports updated graphics and new gameplay options. A new Infernal difficulty has been added and is meant to provide an all-new challenge to veterans of the game. Rachael and the mysterious HUNK have also been added is playable characters in the mission-based Raid Mode. With the use of the gamepad, the dual screen system of the 3DS edition transfers over to the Wii U. The layout has been modified to simplify the map system and item usage. The gamepad also allows the addition of an Off-TV mode, which provides players with the ability to play strictly on their gamepad. The gamepad is also compatible with the Miiverse.
Iwata revealed more information about Luigi-focused New Super Luigi U. The game will initially act as DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U. It will also include a new playable character, Nabbit. The former enemy of the Mario brothers provides new abilities for players and is invulnerable to damage. This means that Rabbit is the perfect character for newcomers to the series. New Super Luigi U will include updated levels, providing a completely new experience. Iwata also announced that a standalone version of the game will be available at retailers on August 26, 2013. The DLC version, which requires a copy of New Super Mario Bros. U to play, will be available on June 20, 2013.
The Wonderful 101 for the Wii U gets a release date of September 15, 2013. No further announcements were made about the game.
Iwata then focused the rest of his address on Pikmin 3 for the Wii U. Revealing more details about the game, Iwata announced that the game would focus on three playable characters: Alph, Brittany, and Charlie. Their home planet is running out of food sources, so the trio embarks on a mission to find other food supplies on alien worlds. After they crash land, they discover the Pikmin and decide to use the little creatures to their advantage. The gamepad becomes new mechanic in the third installment. The screen provides a map of all the explored areas, Pikmin locations, and area details. The pad can also be used to control the Pikmin. The controls resemble that of a real-time strategy game. There are also different control schemes available, so the player can choose the one that suits them best. The controls options cater to newcomers, Pikmin veterans, and many more. The game has intended release date of August 4, 2013.
Iwata close the Direct announcement with more information on Nintendo’s E3 2013 strategy. As mentioned before, Nintendo will not be holding a large-scale press conference at this year’s E3. Instead, they will be providing a more hands-on approach. Nintendo will be focusing on making more game announcements in the next Nintendo Direct, which will air at the same time as the E3 conference. Along with this, Nintendo will reaching out to all players and fans, calling it “E3 for the people”. Partnering with Best Buy, Nintendo will allow to go to select Best Buy retail stores and try out demos of the select titles that will be announced this year.
The next Nintendo Direct will be on June 11, 2013.