This morning’s Nintendo Direct was a no-nonsense thirty-five minute video detailing a ton of upcoming previously unannounced new games and features for the Wii U console. Without wasting any more time, let’s get to business.
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata briefly discussed a couple new titles in development, including a 3D Super Mario game, plus a new installment of Mario Kart — both to be playable at this year’s E3. Also in development is a brand new Legend of Zelda adventure. A huge surprise was that a second Zelda game is in development, in the form of an HD recreation of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The GameCube game is getting the full HD treatment, and based on the newly released screenshots, it’s turning out to be breathtaking. Iwata stated that the development team is working on tweaks and improvements other than just the visuals, to really improve and enrich the overall experience. Get excited, guys.
Another surprise was the announcement of Yarn Yoshi, a brand new Yoshi adventure developed by the team behind Wii’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn. The game keeps that same great fabric-heavy look while adding beautiful detail thanks to the console’s beefier specs. I’m extremely excited about this adorable new title, though I sort of wish Yoshi was his traditional dino self. But I’m not complaining. I mean, it’s a new Yoshi game!
Iwata mentioned some other big changes coming to the Wii U, including the reveal of the Virtual Console for eShop, plus mentioned two major Wii U OS software updates planned for this spring and summer. The updates will add new features in Miiverse, plus are said to really improve the overall quickness of app-switching and other processes.
This was by far the biggest Nintendo Direct in terms of announcing new content we’ve received. Nintendo delivered the goods on every level, and as a lifelong fan, I have to say how thrilled I am of what’s to come for Wii U. For a full list — and trust me, it’s worth reading — of all the new announcements, continue reading below the break.
- Two Zelda Games: Eiji Aonuma, the producer of The Legend of Zelda series, revealed two entries in the series for Wii U.
- Super Mario is on His Way: The Nintendo EAD Tokyo Software Development team that created the Super Mario Galaxy games for Wii and Super Mario 3D Land for Nintendo 3DS is working on a new 3D Mario action game for Wii U. The game is scheduled to be playable at this year’s E3.
- Buckle Up!: Nintendo is also working on a new installment of the hit Mario Kart franchise. This game is also planned to be playable at E3.
- Yarn Yoshi: The team that created Kirby’s Epic Yarn is hard at work on the first console game to feature Yoshi as the main character since 1998′s Yoshi’s Story for Nintendo 64. Takashi Tezuka, director of Yoshi’s Island and Yoshi’s Story, is supervising the development of the new game, which is set in a fanciful world of yarn and textiles.
- Wii Fit U Communities: New features coming to Wii Fit U include letting players create user communities on Miiverse from within the game. Community members can discuss exercises, BMI or weight changes and other health topics with other players as a way to encourage one another to reach their fitness goals. Similar functionality for other games is also planned.
- Pikmin 3 Photos: The upcoming Pikmin 3 game includes a feature that lets players use the Wii U GamePad as a camera to share the same perspective as Pikmin and take close-up pictures of landscapes and creatures in the game and share them in Miiverse.
- The Party Continues: A new installment in the Wii Party franchise is planned to launch this summer. The game features various play styles, including one that lets both players compete head-to-head using just the GamePad.
- RPG Mashup: Nintendo has begun many collaborations with outside development partners to bring the best franchises and experiences to Wii U. In one such partnership, Nintendo and Atlus are working on a collaboration that features the Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tenseifranchises. A video trailer for the game was shown in the Nintendo Direct.
- A New Game from Monolith Soft: Tetsuya Takahashi and the team at Monolith Soft that worked on Xenoblade for Wii are working on a new game. A video trailer for the game was shown in the Nintendo Direct.
- More on the Way: Iwata shared a new trailer for The Wonderful 101. That game and GAME & WARIO are scheduled to launch in the first half of 2013. Iwata also showed a new video for Bayonetta 2. That game and the new Super Smash Bros. installment are still on the way, but will need more development time before details can be revealed.
- Virtual Console for Wii U: A spring system update will add Virtual Console software to the Nintendo eShop for Wii U. The service will launch right after the spring update and will include a selection of NES and Super NES games, with Game Boy Advance games to be added in the future. The prices for NES and Super NES Virtual Console games for Wii U will be the same as they were for the Virtual Console on Wii. People who have already purchased the Wii version of a certain NES or Super NES Virtual Console game and transferred it to their Wii U console can buy the enhanced Wii U version of the same game for the reduced price of $1 for NES games and $1.50 for Super NES games.
- Classic Games for 30 Cents! To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of the Famicom in Japan (which was known as the NES in the United States), Nintendo is making one NES or Super NES game available each month now through July at the anniversary price of just 30 cents. Each game will be available at that price for 30 days, and the first is the NES game Balloon Fight, which is now available in the Nintendo eShop for Wii U.
Social and System Enhancements
- Miiverse Expands to Smartphones: Starting this spring, people will be able to browse Miiverse from their smartphones. Initially the experience will be browser-based, but Nintendo plans to create a dedicated Miiverse app in the future.
- System Updates: Two major updates are on the way, one in the spring and one in the summer. The updates will introduce a wide range of functionality, such as Virtual Console capabilities and shortening the time it takes users to launch software or return to the menu screen.