Another month, another Nintendo Direct piping over to you hot and fresh; though some of the past months have been a little empty on interesting news, this time Nintendo decided to talk about games a little more directly, and started with a slate of announcements for the future of the WiiU. Which is pretty helpful, since right now, the system is a little starved for content.
Iwata, in his fancy suits in front of a green screen, began with the MiiVerse and how successful the service has been. With this came some community highlights, where he showed how the MiiVerse has brought people together for shared game experiences, or even sports through services like TiiVii. It ended with an announcement that celebrities and developers can get verified accounts and post YouTube videos straight to Miiverse.
He then acknowledged that there have been a lot of requests for improvements, and there are 2 updates coming in spring and summer. One of the first things he’s announced is that they’re going to be shortening the load time between menus on the WiiU when you’re launching new software, which is good, because it’s atrocious at the moment. You lose 10 seconds just opening up the systems menu, then another when you load back to the main menu. Some snappiness will definitely make the system seem less slapped together!
Coming after the Spring update, Iwata then announced that the Virtual Console is heading to the WiiU, but unfortunately, all of the games aren’t going to be available for the WiiU even if they were on the Wii before. As of the launch, they’re planning to have a select group of NES and SNES titles available, and will eventually be adding Game Boy Advance titles. And no, you can’t just transfer your titles from the Wii Virtual Console. You have to repurchase them! Nintendo will defend this move because they had to completely re-emulate the software, and with the discount prices being $1 for NES and $1.50 for SNES titles, it’s nothing too steep. There are also going to be some special NES games for sale to celebrate the anniversary of the launch of the Famicom—those games are going to be a mere $.30. I’m a little confused though, because he kept talking about it being a “Virtual Console Trial”, and I’m not sure if that means that you don’t actually KEEP the game, or if it’s just supposed to be a trial for the VC by being a cheap introduction. I’ll find out later by buying the first game from the promotion, which is Balloon Fight.
The updates are also going to add a few things to the MiiVerse, including closed communities for games like Wii Fit U, so you can just have people you’re close to in the group and talk to them that way. If you’re familiar with Mario Kart 7’s groups, it’s like that. There are going to be some usability improvements, adding of filtering functions so you can find the best posts, and they’ll even include multiple official channels for some games. Smart phone MiiVerse browsing is coming, first in a browser, but later in an app, allowing you to keep track of all those sick Samus drawings on the go.
Game time! Nintendo says they’ll not be releasing any of their own first party games until March, since they’re serious developers and all, but these delays will serve to totally make the games better! He pays lip service to games like Game and Wario, Wii Fit U, Pikmin 3 and Lego City Undercover before showing a Wonderful 101 trailer, which still looks like the best thing ever. Bayonetta 2 also got a trailer, but there wasn’t much more concrete information about it. They did say the game’s going to be even crazier, somehow, but I don’t actually know if the universe can handle something that’s more insane than the first Bayonetta.
As for new titles from Nintendo, Iwata first announced that the new Smash Bros is totally coming, but they’ll talk about it more at E3. The Nintendo Tokyo studio that did Mario Galaxy is working on a new Mario Title, but that’s also going to be at E3. New Mario Kart? E3! There was information on the new game by the Wii Party developers, which is coming out this summer. You know what? Wii Party was alright, so hopefully this one will be surprising as well.
As for unannounced games, the Kirby’s Epic Yarn team is working on a Yoshi game, bringing a similar craftwork look to everyone’s favorite green dinosaur. It’s even being developed by the Yoshi’s Island and Yoshi’s Story head, if I understand correctly. Get ready to turn into a small child again as you struggle to hold in your “D’AWWWWW”s at the preciousness of the game.
Perhaps most out of left field comes the announcement of Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem. What else is going to go on with it? Good question! But it’s being developed by Atlus, and as with the other games, news will come later. Nintendo’s really working up a lot of collaborations these days, what with Pokemon Conquest coming out last year. But more importantly, when did “X” become the symbol for mash ups?
The show continued with Eiji Aunoma, who’s currently in charge of the Zelda series, coming in to talk about plans for the future of the series. Since they don’t have any concrete screens, he instead talked about plans for the series, like addressing the dungeon structure and even crazy talk like the fact you have to play the game single-player. Multiplayer Zelda has actually worked out OK in the past with Four Swords Adventures, and the Nintendo Land Zelda game was fun, so it could actually be cool. Finally, there’s an announcement for Wind Waker HD on the WiiU, which is totally awesome, and the screenshots looked pretty good, though I hope some of the charm wasn’t lost in translation. Iwata says you’ll be able to play on the GamePad, use MiiVerse, and they’ll even tune up the overall gameplay. This one’s going to be out this fall, and I’m going to snatch it up as soon as I get the chance.
The final trailer showcased a new game by Monolith Software, which, from what I saw of Xenoblade Chronicles (a game I kick myself for not playing), it looks a lot like that, but more HD-ier. If all you wanted on the WiiU was a hardcore JRPG with mechs and sweeping vistas, then you’ll be happy when more details come out.
Overall, it was a pretty good show, with Nintendo reminding you that they’re A) listening to what you want improved about the console and B) still totally developing games. Some people are already raising the point that Nintendo didn’t really talk about too many new franchises, but right now, it seems like they need to be reminding you about why you should get a WiiU, and Nintendo’s franchises have always been the best reason to buy their consoles. New Zelda and Mario? Awesome. But don’t forget that they did announce some new things, like the new Monolith game and Shin Megami Tensei title. Iwata ended by saying there will be a couple of later Nintendo Directs, talking about 3DS games and third-party development, so I’ll be back bright and early on those days, piping that hot Nintendo news right to you.