A Slew of Announcements from Today's Nintendo Direct

It’s been a pretty great day for Nintendo fans.

The rumor mill has been churning out bits and pieces of evidence for hardware and software launch dates recently, and earlier this week it reached it’s maximum threshold. Flyers, retail intranet SKUs, web store postings, and old-fashioned forum posts have been hinting that the North American launch date for games like Majora’s Mask, hardware like the New 3DS, New 3DS XL, and Amiibo accessories were all but announced and essentially set in stone.

Fire Emblem (new title)
Available: No Announcement

Nintendo scheduled a video feed conference (Nintendo Direct) for this morning. Sataru Iwata opened the video feed by showing off a new entry in the Fire Emblem series for the 3DS. Former (and famed) character designer Kozaki Yusuke returns to bring stunningly gorgeous characters back for the new iteration, but the story will be written by Shin Kibayashi - a Japanese author known for his work in manga and screenplay. Player choices are said to play an even larger role in the new game, which features an aesthetic that combines eastern/Japanese feudal warriors and  western/European fantasy units.

Puzzles and Dragons Z/Super Mario Edition 
Available: May, 2015

We are then treated to a trailer for two upcoming titles in the Puzzles and Dragons series - a jewel-matching game with monster RPG elements. One title, Puzzles and Dragons Z, looks to be exactly that. The other, Puzzle and Dragons - Super Mario Edition, combines the idea behind ‘Z’, but includes characters from the Mario franchise. Having played Puzzles and Dragons on iOS pretty extensively, I can say that this will definitely be a worthwhile title for pick-up-and-play... but unless the new exploration element of the game is pretty well fleshed out I don’t see it being worth a $40 price tag... even if they are both included on the same cart.

A similarly puzzle-based RPG title featuring Pokemon characters will be free on the eShop in February as well.

 

Iwata returns again to usher in some Wii-U news. While there aren’t many announced yet - we (finally) will be able to procure Wii titles on our Wii-U which do NOT require us to operate in “Wii Hardware Mode”. Titles that are compatible with the Wii’s Classic Controller will be playable on the Wii-U Gamepad alone.

Games announced so far: Super Mario Galaxy 2 (available today), Punch Out!! (January 22), and Metroid Prime Trilogy (January 29). These titles will be available for half price during the first week following their release.

 

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
Available February 20, 2015

After announcing the classic games Iwata bid us farewell and introduces Bill Trinen, Director of Product Marketing for Nintendo of North America. Bill jumps directly into some Kirby and the Rainbow Curse gameplay. The rainbow ink mechanic used to assist in traversing levels looks like a lot of fun, and collecting trophies is a sure-fire way to add replayability to any Nintendo title.

Trinen also told us a little bit about the Amiibo functionality in the new Kirby title, where Kirby, King Dedede, and Meta Knight will used once per day to power up Kirby (with each figure giving Kirby a new power).

 

Available: Spring 2015
In other Amiibo news - another wave of Smash-compatible figures were announced today (which include Robin, Lucina, Pac Man, Wario, Ness, and Charizard).

New Amiibo / Mario Party 10
Available March 20, 2015

There will also be a new series of Amiibo launching on March 20th in the Super Mario line. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Bowser, and (FINALLY) Toad. These figures will launch alongside Mario Party 10. The figures which are also in Smash will be compatible with both games, however you will have to erase your data from your Smash version in order to use a figure with Mario Party 10. There are no concrete reasons for this given during the Direct today, but hopefully we’ll get an explanation soon.

Mario Party 10 has three different modes, Traditional, Bowser mode, and Amiibo mode. Amiibo mode allows you to use your Amiibo as your game piece and each character has a special trait and can be customized in-game for strategic advantage. The game will work with 9 Amiibo - Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Yoshi, Bowser, Rosalina and Luma, Donkey Kong, and Wario. There will be special editions available in retail outlets.

The Toad Amiibo will be able to function with Captain Toad Treasure Tracker as well.

Splatoon!
Available: May, 2015

After the Amiibo announcements Trinen walked us through some neat gameplay and information for one of my most anticipated games on the Wii-U: Splatoon!

 

He showed off a central hub which connects all of the game modes together. It is populated with characters (called Inklings) from the MiiVerse, making this seem like a family-friendly and decidedly cuter version of the late Playstation Home. From the Hub you are able to access the online multiplayer mode. In this mode each player is equipped with their own weapons and outfits, which are purchased in-game at the Hub, allowing you to customize your Inkling as you choose while you are in the Hub Plaza. Three weapons can be equipped at once (One main, one sub weapon, and one special weapon). You can also customize your Inkling’s stats by changing outfit options, meaning that the game will have a unique experience depending on the build that you choose. You can also inspect other players in the plaza.

Majora’s Mask Pack for Hyrule Warriors
Available: Feb 5
Tingle is in Hyrule Warriors! A much-beloved and/or hated character in the Zelda franchise, Tingle brings all of his weirdness to Hyrule Warriors. Using balloons, Rupee sacks, dances, and seductively-blown kisses, Tingle tears through hordes of monsters in the video in a seriously disturbing way.

Also coming to Hyrule Warriors - Young Link! He’ll use the Kokiri sword and the Fierce Diety mask to transform and destroy monsters with ease.

The pack also comes with a new adventure mode map and three new costumes.

Xenoblade Chronicles X
Available: 2015

Xenoblade Chronicles X received a trailer that consisted of a narrated scene and some footage of characters running around in various biomes. The game itself looks stunning, but I can’t help but think that the typical JRPG HUD will take away a lot of the cinematic feel shown in the trailer.


Mario vs. Donkey Kong Tipping Stars
Available: March 5
Mario vs. Donkey Kong Tipping Stars received some information as well. The level creation system was shown, but with a new “Tipping” mechanic which allows you to give stars to players who design a level that you enjoy. Think of it as upvoting a level in-game.

The big news here is that this is also going to be Nintendo’s first cross-buy title. Whichever title you buy from the eShop will also include a download code for the other version of the game, which is available on the Wii-U and the Nintendo 3DS.


Announcements from Third-Party Developers:

Project Treasure
Available: Not Announced

Bandai Namco announced (via a scary man in sunglasses) a free to play downloadable title called “Project Treasure” which seems to be some kind of cooperative four-player title that’s exclusive to the Wii-U where players work together to disarm traps, defeat enemies, and claim treasure. There isn’t much more information to be had yet, but I’m definitely excited to see what this game is.

Elliot Quest
Available: February 2015

Elliot Quest is an eShop action platformer. It looks like fun for those who enjoy that type of thing.

Blek
Available: February 2015

Blek - a weird-ass game about lines and circles.

Citizens of Earth
Available Jan 20 2015

JRPG “Citizens of Earth” is being developed by ATLUS and puts the player in the role of the Vice-President of Earth who wakes up after being elected and has to take a party of players around the world in order to save it from all kinds of weird happenings. It’s very reminiscent of old-school JRPGs with strange stories and I can’t help but feel a sense of Earthbound-ish humor.

Gunman Clive 2
Available: January

Gunman Clive is getting a sequel on the eShop. The game will feature four characters, more bosses, and more levels.

Moon Chronicles (Eps. 2, 3, 4)
Available: January 2015
The Sci-Fi FPS will release the entire season of stories for the 3DS this month. The episodes will be available separately, as a package, or as a Season Pass.

Etrian Mystery Dungeon
Available: Spring 2015

ATLUS will be giving us another entry in the “Etrian” series, whose previous iteration was well received on the Nintendo DS. Etrian Mystery Dungeon will allow you to create your own party and take them on quests through “nearly infinite dungeons”, as in the Mystery Dungeon series.

Story of Seasons
Available: March 2015

Story of Seasons! This is a new title in what would be the Harvest Moon series if it hadn’t been acquired and re-branded.

This game will, like it’s spiritual predecessors, be a farming/life/dating sim in the charming fashion that only the Harvest Moon series could deliver. Online multiplayer will be available for the first time, as will exotic animals like elephants, penguins, etc.

This series is very near and dear to me and is a guilty pleasure for many gamers. I can’t wait to get my hands on this iteration.

 

Fossil Fighters Frontier

Available: March 20 2015
Fossil Fighters Frontier will be coming to the 3DS, which is a title that combines vehicular world exploration and a pokemon-stadium-style dinosaur combat system where you can battle other players both casually and in a tournament setting.


Once the slew of third-party titles were announced Trinen gave way to Reggie Fils Aime, who delivered some great news to those of us in North America.

New Nintendo 3DS XL: Available: February 13 2015


The New Nintendo 3DS XL is coming to North America! The New 3DS (the smaller of the two), however, is not announced for North America at this time.The New 3DS Xl has the same screen size as the current XL model. That is to say, it’s a great size and should fit in most adult hands with relative comfort.

Changes coming with the New 3DS XL:
- Will play all DS/3DS titles and new exclusive titles as well

 

- New analog nub (C-Stick) will eliminate the need for a Circle Pad Pro. This will make controlling certain games much easier and will be compatible with all previous CPP games.

I love the idea of this, as it means that my 3DS is now truly pocket-worthy since I’ll no longer need to lug around a Circle Pad Pro LL (which is only available in Japan anyway) in order to play Monster Hunter.

- The 3D feature of the system has been enhanced with new face-tracking cameras which will allow for wider viewing angles. This has been reported to eliminate most of the “ghosting” that players experience if the system happens to shift slightly during gameplay.

Personally, this is one of the biggest deals here. The 3D feature on the previous iterations is only barely passable. In some games it’s very well executed, but the strangely specific viewing angle and distance means that the immersion is broken very easily and can, at it’s worse, induce headaches in record time. Owners of the New 3DS systems have reported that the new 3D is infinitely better and worth having enabled at all times.

- Amiibo and NFC support will be built directly into the system with no need for an adapter (seriously - WHERE IS THE ADAPTER ANNOUNCEMENT??).

 

- Increased CPU and network speeds are another outstanding addition, as navigating the eShop and minimzing games has traditionally been painful at best (and as games have increased in complexity the lag time has increased to excruciating levels).

The new CPU is much faster in the New 3DS XL and users have reported an upswing in their quality of life, especially in the eShop and when minimizing resource-heavy games like Smash.

- There are also two new shoulder buttons on the new systems, which the Direct completely glazed over (though, in all honesty, they’re awkward in their placement anyway)

- The system does not come with an AC adapter, which is a really terrible idea. Former/Previous AC adapters will work with the New 3DS.

- This system will also have a longer battery life than previous models.

- The memory unit will be switched from an SD card a Micro SD card.

- Special editions of the New 3DS XL have been announced:

A Majora’s Mask edition for $199.99 (The same price as the normal New 3DS XL. Game not included)

A Majora’s Mask edition for $199.99 (The same price as the normal New 3DS XL. Game not included)

A Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate bundle for $229.99, which includes the game.

A Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate bundle for $229.99, which includes the game.

What a day. I've left a few things out in order to make room for some things that I found to be a bit more important, but if you want to catch the entire Nintendo Direct video you can view it below (with timestamps).

Thanks for reading, I can't wait to hunt monsters, shoot ink, farm crops, and final smash all of you!

- Alex Hirsch