The most recent Nintendo Direct was focused on the 3DS, but they managed to squeeze in a little bit of Wii U news as well. There’s a lot to cover, and I’ll get to that in a minute, but the major takeaways from it are: Animal Crossing-branded 3DS XL, a new Zelda game, and EarthBound. Yeah, you heard me right. EarthBound. Now everybody can stop their bitching and I can finally see what all the fuss is about!
I’ll give you the full rundown after the jump!
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata opened the video flanked by both Mario and Luigi, so even though he offered up new information on the “Year of Luigi” games, Mario is totally trying to steal his brother’s spotlight. They opened with more footage of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, which continues to look really good. The Mario & Luigi series is great, and it looks like this one is going to make some very clever use of the 3D and touch screen. It’ll be out August 11 in stores and the eShop.
Then they moved on to Mario Golf World Tour, but it was too early for them to reveal much in the way of details aside from some of the online features. You’ll be able to make it a real “world tour” by playing online with people across the globe. And you’ll use the communities feature to find the right people to play against and set rules so you’re playing the game how you want. That’ll be out this summer.
Then they segued into a new Mario Party game for the 3DS that will be out this winter with seven different game boards, each with its own set of rules, and 81 new mini-games, some of which use AR cards, so it’s nice to know those weren’t forgotten. Oddly, there was no mention of multiplayer for this title, which is the one that really needs it. (But I have faith Nintendo isn’t going to screw up Mario Party multiplayer… I mean, come on!)
Next, Iwata tossed a tiny little bone in the direction of the Wii U by mentioning Luigi’s DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U that turns it into New Super Luigi U by redesigning all of the levels and featuring Luigi on his own. There will be 82 updated stages, and some stages will start with just 100 second on the clock for an added challenge. You can give it a go sometime this summer.
Then back to the 3DS for the Donkey King Country Returns 3D remake, which uses the 3D to great effect as you move in and out of the backgrounds and foregrounds in the level. They also said they optimized the game for portable playing, but the New Mode sounds like they just made the game easier, with more health and power-up items. Of course, you can also go with Original Mode to play the game as it was originally intended. There is an entirely new world with eight new levels, but it’ll only be available after you’ve beaten the main game first. Oh, and there will be local co-op where one person plays Donkey Kong and the other plays Diddy Kong. Look for that on May 24.
Then there was just the briefest tease of a new Yoshi’s Island game, but all you really got was some pretty game footage. They really just wanted to tease this one. We’ll get more information in the next Nintendo Direct, I’m sure.
After that was the download game Mario & Donkey King: Minis on the Move, which will be available in the eShop on May 9. There are over 180 stages to test your puzzle-solving abilities. And if that’s not enough, you can also create your own, and download stages created by players around the world.
Next, they shifted focus to the Wii U for a while, but they started off by just talking about the spring system update. This update will basically make the system behave the way it probably should have out of the box, with shorter loading times between menus and the ability to download in the background, including downloading system updates while the console is asleep. You know, like the way the 3DS has been doing? Although I have to admit I liked the addition of the ability to hold down B during startup to have the system boot directly into the Wii mode. They’re also offering a free demo of the Wii U Panorama View next week, which is the thing where you can watch videos on the GamePad while turning 360 degrees to see everything like you’re in the middle of it all. But it sounded like they were going to charge $2 for each video, which I can’t imagine anyone paying. Next, Iwata teased a new type of Pikmin in the upcoming Pikmin 3, a flying one with wings that can carry things through the air. They did finally announce a release date for Pikmin 3, which is August 4.
But after mentioning that they were planning to get GBA and N64 games onto the Virtual Console which is launching shortly after the system update, Iwata dropped the bomb heard around the Internet. Yes, the Virtual Console will be getting EarthBound in North America and Europe. It was an anniversary game over in Japan, but now we get it, too! Unfortunately, they said it would be released by the end of the year, so who knows when the hell that’s going to be! I want to see what all the fuss is about!
Then it was off to the Nintendo Treehouse to talk about the creative uses for the GamePad that Game & Wario will have. And the helpful videos for newbies to the Monster Hunter franchise that are up on YouTube. And the LEGO City Undercover prequel The Chase Begins that’s coming out on August 21. But my heart nearly burst with joy when they announced that the Animal Crossing-branded 3DS XL would be headed to North America to launch on June 9 with Animal Crossing: New Leaf pre-installed on it. Unfortunately, my heart sank just a bit when they announced that it would retail for $219.99. Ouch.
Moving on, they showed some footage of The Legend of Zelda games Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Sages that were coming to the eShop. Then some really quite stunning footage of Bravely Default with mentions that you’d be able to skip your turn to do more damage next time, and how it’ll include AR functions, multiple endings and other unique features. But you’ll have to wait until 2014 for that. Also out next year will be Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, which will conclude the second trilogy.
Then came a trio of Level-5 titles that will be coming to the North American eShop. Bugs Vs. Tanks is from Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune where you control a shrunken-down tank that must do battle with now-giant-sized bugs. Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale has you playing a boy living in a town where the giant monsters from ’70s Japanese TV come to life every Friday. It sounds crazy, but looks intriguing. But the really interesting title is The Starship Damrey, which puts you in the middle of a derelict spaceship with no instructions or tutorial. You must explore the surroundings and figure out what’s going on and what you need to do. It will either be totally awesome or extremely frustrating.
And Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei 4 will continue the trend of offering amazing fan service with every single copy of the initial run of the game being a limited edition featuring a strategy and design book and a soundtrack of SMT music. Every copy will be a collector’s edition. That’ll be out on June 16 if you want to mark your calendars.
Then they let Reggie drop the big 3DS bomb as the grand finale with a brand new Legend of Zelda game set in the world of the classic A Link To The Past. It’s still an overhead view, but with the 3D giving it extra depth and factoring into the dungeon layouts as you drop down into the screen or jump up out of it. Plus, Link can now turn into a drawing and move along walls to solve puzzles and explore new areas. It’s a very cool effect, and a great addition to what otherwise could’ve been a 3D rehash of A Link To The Past. Of course, this game may be set in the same world, but it’ll have a whole new storyline and dungeons. I found it interesting that they never once referred to it as a sequel… If you’re curious, direct your 3DS over to the eShop and check out the 3D trailer for it! But we’ll have to wait until this holiday season to play it.
So there you have it. I’ve embedded the video below in case you wanted to see the whole thing for yourself or just check out footage of a particular game or two. Personally, I’m thrilled by this new Zelda game, and looking forward to seeing why EarthBound is such a big deal (I was SEGA at the time, not Nintendo). And naturally, that Animal Crossing 3DS XL was basically made for me.
What’s got you excited?