New Mario, New Zelda, New Everything At Nintendo Direct

Nintendo’s Nintendo Direct online press conferences have ranged from quick and concise to a little loopy to full-on weird, but this morning’s iteration proved to be one of the more exciting in recent memory. And I say “recent” meaning of what I can remember because these things are just all over the place and I can’t keep track of what’s real and what’s some strange fever dream any longer.

Compared to their E3 press event, though, this seemed like a totally different company running the show. Seriously, any single one of these announcements trumped the entirety of Nintendo’s E3 press conference. Anyways, here are the highlights from today’s Iwata party. Get ready, because there’s a lot.

Wii U’s Virtual Console

Along with a system update that hopes to improve software and menu performance, the Wii U will be getting its own Virtual Console this spring with a smattering of NES and SNES titles redeveloped just for the new console. Iwata confirmed that Wii U VC titles will cost the same as they did on the Wii and will be able to be played on the GamePad and access Miiverse. If you already purchased a VC title on the Wii, you will have to buy it again but at a reduced price (NES for $1 and SNES for $1.50). Also, Game Boy Advance games are in the works.

And as part of the 30th anniversary of the Famicom, you’ll get a chance to buy a new release each month at $0.30 each up through July. Here are the games:

  • Balloon Fight (January)
  • F-Zero (February)
  • Punch Out! Featuring Mr. Dream (March)
  • Kirby’s Adventure (April)
  • Super Metroid (May)
  • Yoshi (June)
  • Donkey Kong (July)

Miiverse Updates

In addition to the launch of the Virtual Console for the Wii U, Nintendo also plans to release a Miiverse app for smartphones sometime this spring. It will only allow you to browse the Wii U’s Miiverse at first, but they hope to add more functionality later. Additionally, this will start out browser-based and move to native later.

The expanded functionality will also apply to Miiverse itself as Nintendo plans to update their social platform throughout the year. This includes additional communities in each game, user-created communities, usability tweaks, and filtering, but game-specific updates will be included. The examples shown were Pikmin 3 and Wii Fit U, the latter of which allows closed-off communities for personal fitness discussions and the former allowing for the GamePad to snap in-game pictures like a camera and share them on Miiverse.

Yoshi and Yarn

From the folks that brought the interminably charming Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Yarn Yoshi is another craft-themed game but featuring that familiar green dinosaur instead of a pink vacuum ball (man, video games are weird). Famed designer Takashi Tezuka will be “deeply involved” with the project. He says, “We will use the Wii U graphics and hardware capabilities to show how attractive a Yoshi game can be.” From what was shown, it looks a whole lot like Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and that’s totally fine with me.

If you were wondering what Tezuka had done before this, just look at his Wikipedia page. Know his name. It’s a big deal.

Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem

The upcoming Fire Emblem: Awakening is pretty fantastic, which is not surprising that every other Fire Emblem game has also been pretty good. Shin Megami Tensei is also a severely high quality—if sprawling—series, what with the reissue of Persona 4 making the rounds and rightfully blowing minds. So this crossover of Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem with Atlus and Intelligent Systems is a big deal.

Also, Marth!

Iwata also let slip the fact that “many more partners” are working on similar collaborations. Nothing else was specifically announced, but we hope to know more soon.

Mario and Party Things

You’ll have to wait for E3 for more information, but Nintendo has promised a new 3D action Mario game from the same team that made Super Mario Galaxy, new Mario Kart game, and a new Super Smash Bros. game all for the Wii U.

Also, there is a party game in the works that seems an awful lot like Mario Party but is actually from the Wii Party people. Every minigame along the board game landscape will feature the GamePad and possibly some Wii Remotes. The Twister-inspired bit we saw this morning featured the GamePad and three Wii Remotes and looked actually like a ton of fun. All those hands!

New Xeno Game (Probably)

So how many of you loved Xenoblade Chronicles? Not many. But how many of you actually played Xenoblade Chronicles? Oh, would you look at that: same hands. That’s because despite critical acclaim and a solid Japanese and UK showing, Xenoblade Chronicles fuddled its way to lackluster US sales due to localization problems.

To fix that, a successor to Xenoblade Chronicles is headed our way on the Wii U from developers and Xeno series overseers Monolith Soft. A trio of big names is leading the charge with Xenoblade Chronicles director Tetsuya Takahashi, Xenogears character designer Kunihiko Tanaka, and Japanese television and film composer Hiroyuki Sawano.

To be totally accurate, though, this hasn’t been announced as a Xeno property, but come on. It’s from Monolith Soft. It looks basically like Xenoblade Chronicles. It has Takahashi leading the way. It’s a safe bet to assume it’s a new Xeno game.

Zelda Stuff

Specifically, two Zelda stuffs. The first is an HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker for the Wii U that will feature improvements to both the gameplay and the graphics. It will be both Miiverse-compatible and rigged for GamePad play. Expect it to make its way to you sometime this fall.

Next is a currently unnamed, new Zelda game for the Wii U. Series producer Eiji Aonuma enumerated the ways that they found the conventions of past Zelda games wanting and how they plan to address the problems. Aonuma says they’re aiming to “get back to the basics,” to address the issue of completing dungeons in a certain order and playing by yourself. These changes were originally planned for Skyward Sword, but the game’s overall structure didn’t allow for it.

New The Wonderful 101 Trailer

Formerly known as Project P-100 from Platinum Games, The Wonderful 101 has been on our radar since E3. This new trailer doesn’t reveal much that we haven’t seen before besides GamePad code cracking and some previously unseen giant robot battles, but hey, new trailers are pretty fun anyways. Plus, I’m generally excited for this game.

Bayonetta 2 and Leather

How Nintendo managed to snag Bayonetta 2 as a Wii U exclusive still boggles my mind, and yet here we are. More of a developer diary than a trailer, this video shows off some of the process behind creating new enemies and locations and updating the look of Bayonetta. Platinum Games is looking to “expand upon the essence of Bayonetta” and give the feeling of “fighting the last boss from the beginning,” and despite the fact that all we’re seeing is people at computers and wireframe animations, Bayonetta 2 looks to be shaping up all right.

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