I gotta say that I am satisfied. Before the usual hate starts to pile up over what we didn’t see, allow me to gush a little over what we did.
This Nintendo Direct was touted as featuring 3DS and WiiU content going into the New Year. Featured right out of the gate was a confirmation of my own idea, that Nintendo might need another Zelda to tide itself through the next year. Hyrule Warriors (not final title) is a collaboration with Tecmo Koei and the Dynasty Warriors franchise, done over in Legend of Zelda characters. Link’s art style has clearly been redone, complete with billowing cape and new face, but mixed into the enemy variety are the colorful bokoblins from Skyward Sword and King Dodongo, who was absent the Wii title but may well be recycled from The Ocarina of Time 3D remake. This is a spin off, and the mechanics look to favour Dynasty Warriors over-the-top minion flinging action over puzzles and silly characters, but it looks to be exactly what Nintendo may need to buy itself time for Zelda WiiU, which they’ve so much as said this is not. It was an excellent segment, as it commanded attention immediately, prominently pushed a game which happily skews towards the older edges of teen/younger edges of mature ratings, and contradicts the idea that Nintendo has no third party support left all in one fell stroke! Great start Nintendo, but what impressed me was how Mr. Iwata and Mr. Fils-Aime kept up the rhythm!
A regular favorite with this audience, Kirby returns with Kirby Triple Deluxe. Little new was announced, but I spotted a few new ideas mixing through the main campaign. Kirby comes with two extra modes, the already declared King Dedede’s Drum Dash rhythm game set to classic music, and The Strongest Power, a mode that makes the common ground with Smash Bros. pretty obvious. More impressive is the unabashed scene stealing that pulls stage concepts from memorable moments in Kirby’s franchise history, up to and including the return of Lololo and Lalala, Dedede interfering in the wrestling match stage (is he going to start throwing eggs again? 0.0), and the potential for still more.
Chibi Robo! I thought we might never see you again! Skip’s diminutive robot helper returns; Nintendo is clearly worried about profitability though, as his is a dedicated eShop game. Chibi now takes over the 3DS camera and photographs real world objects to upload into his delightful fantasy world, which he then employs in his silly world to solve puzzles, satisfy the needs of his toy-box friends, and advance the plot. I admit that parts of Mr. Iwata’s explanations were a little lost to me, but this game is already out in Japan, and I genuinely figured we might not see it! Chibi Robo is coming to America (and Canada) soon, and anything that I can do to raise awareness of the little helper is worthwhile, in my humble opinion! With Park Patrol DS sitting on my shelf, I think that there might be cause for a retro-review in the near future!
Yoshi’s New Island for 3DS gets a launch window as well. Takashi Tezuka is reprising the Director’s chair, which looks to be great for fans of the original on SNES. Little new is revealed, other than the mechanics look to follow the original, the giant egg power is confirmed, and baby Mario makes his return. The art style is certainly appealing. I kind of wish I could know more, Nintendo, but if you are trying to sell it to me on the basis of the game’s pedigree, then you are off to a great start! Given how little there is to reveal, I expect this one will slip the launch window, and appear sometime late in the year.
We got some new details for Pokébank and PokéTransporter, but most of this is a repeat. 30 Day Free trial is confirmed.
Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze hits the WiiU February 21st, with four playable characters, and new powers, including a move that clears the screen of enemies when 100 bananas are collected. A great looking, long anticipated game. But ….? But …. The game comes out close to Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs on WiiU! Yeah, my dislike of DKCR is likely to decide this contest against Retro Studios.
Apparently Europe got a hint of Phoenix Wright vs. Professor Layton, and a launch date of March 28th. I might be mad, but I’m still hedging on the last Ace Attorney, and a lot of Professor Layton games. I can’t hide it, I’m feeling series fatigue, for both of them! *Sigh*
Reggie made a good natured effort to explain the SP drink DLC in Bravely Default: Flying Fairy. Does this represent the pressure mounting on Nintendo to open up to new forms of monetization? It certainly seems as though Square-Enix is showing remarkable (and uncommon these days) restraint.
More news for Sonic fans! If you’ve already beaten the WiiU version, new DLC content arrives shortly, completely reworking Sonic into a Yarn Yoshi teaser. The game is still in the spirit of Sonic; see the first game where Sonic is charged with rescuing woodland animals, well now replace those with bouncing eggs and Sonic is still Sonic! The Yarn environment looks to have the same handcrafted appeal that complemented the reveal of Yarn Yoshi at E3. This stands as a strange compromise for SEGA and Nintendo; is SEGA now advertising Nintendo games, or is Nintendo lending more mascots to promote SEGA games? Either way, the WiiU version of Sonic: Lost World is looking more and more palatable while we wait for Yarn Yoshi. No other details were revealed for Yarn Yoshi.
Another game is revealed for Wii Sports: Club! Golf will launch shortly, and includes new features such as showing the club head position on the WiiU Gamepad. Another round of free trials for all of the sports is available.
NES Remix is a compilation of classic NES games, presented in the original sprite art but with new twists to the gameplay. Examples given including Link (from Zelda 1), complete with utter inability to jump, climbing the scaffolding to challenge Donkey Kong, or Excite Bike running in the dark, with only a flood light to warn of incoming hazards. Ton of questions remain, like: Super Phillip Central lists the price at $14.99. Is there a chance for DLC to augment it later? It is apparently available today, so I suspect we will get some reviews for it sooner rather than later. It is a great opportunity for Nintendo to capitalize on its older franchises. Now I only have to decide if it would be worth $15 to get a package of content including Urban Champion…
Mr. Sakurai may want to Kirb his enthusiasm for the new Smash Bros reveal. I like the idea of Rosalina joining Smash Bros, no problems there. Her move set is clever, using Luma in a complex dance of attacks and fades that’s likely to make her a favorite among Princess brawlers. Trouble is, the reveal focused on go-karts! So is Kirby in Mario Kart 8? He might be, as the ensuring Mario Kart 8 video certainly never showed Boo or the rest of the Bad Guy karters. With the lower half of his body inside of a go kart, Kirby would be effectively a pink recolor of Boo anyway, but impressions (and unintended promises) should always be kept in check. Also, I know that this is macabre, but it would be a fun addition to Mario Kart if you could wipe out and face plant as Kirby does in the video. Excite Bike style, anyway, I don’t think anyone wants MK8 to be too grotesque!
The Year of Luigi continues with Dr. Luigi. Okay, so I was feeling like Luigi needed some extra screen time, but now it just feels like he is copying his brother looking for accolades. Dr. Luigi changes the standard classic by injecting two pills at one time, almost like what most games do as an additional mode! 8p Dr. Luigi introduces a few new elements, including the Brain Age version of Dr. Mario, but it kind of feels like the Year of Luigi should just end on a high(er) note. Probably time to call it Luigi! You’ll get another chance when the Nintendo calendar rolls over again in 30 or so years! Disclaimer: Just because I am ribbing Luigi here doesn’t mean that I see no value in it, nor does it represent any sort of disinterest in purchasing the game. It’s Dr. Mario reskined with Luigi and with Brain Age’s version, man!
Also important to the Year of Luigi is the plastic figurine on offer at Club Nintendo. You guys can’t see it, but I’m drooling, and not able to get it. Anyone with 1500 coins to burn can have a nice looking diorama sent to their door, but I guess that I’ll have to settle for that Majora’s Mask original soundtrack that I have ordered as a platinum member. If you’ve been saving up, you are unlikely to ever see anything rarer than this!
All and all, I enjoyed this Nintendo Direct, as it showcased a lot of games coming soon. The WiiU already has a great line up from 2013 to catch up on, and with this, it is shaping up to have some clever new games to show off compared to its rivals.
Before more angry voices beat me to the punch, I do have a couple of fears, notably for apps (ironically) that showcase the value of the WiiU in the tablet market, and for inspiring more third party developers to not pull up stakes on the WiiU just yet.
This Nintendo Direct represents a great move forward in a well trodden direction, for good or for ill.