Nintendo Direct, April 17: What’s new?

Photo: DR

Nintendo, known for its handheld (Nintendo 3DS) and home video game consoles (Wii U) has been organizing the Nintendo Direct for some time now. Hidden behind this TV sales worthy name, there is a whole wave of announcements regarding Nintendo’s future games. The previous one, which took place in February, was rather rich in information. The Kyoto firm, now two months away from the E3 (an event considered to be the most important in the video game industry), will certainly keep some in reserve, or maybe not.

Let’s go back two months. Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo and frequent presenter of the Nintendo Direct events, is keeping us up to date. Luigi, Mario’s brother, will finally be allowed a little more attention than he used to. Just a few days before the release of the outstanding Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (AKA Luigi’s Mansion 2), all this is only fair (for those who are interested).

Last week, the red carpet was still rolling out, and Luigi was still entitled to receive the honors, although Mario was never far behind.

Safe bets

The advantage of characters like Mario and Luigi is that they can be adapted to many different genres without any problems. The first to have the honor to be presented is Mario and Luigi: Dream Team Bros. Scheduled for July 12, it will have the same format as the previous episodes, i.e. Mario and Luigi can be played at the same time in the same adventure game. There are two things worth considering: first of all, the graphic design, which gave the impression of having a design similar to that of the last Kirby games released for handheld consoles. The second thing relates to the game mechanics, always more inventive than the others, and possible thanks to the involvement of the two brothers. Even though previous episodes have already made this possible, we’re looking forward to new possible innovations.

Mario and Luigi have already found themselves playing tennis on the Nintendo 3DS. It was last year, on the disappointing (in terms of content) Mario Tennis Open. For next summer, they have decided to replace their rackets with clubs for the Mario Golf: World Tour. Although the announcement is nothing new, a few minutes were taken to present the online features, reclaiming the community system, seen on Mario Kart 7, with the addition of a ranking system, in order to be able to compete with other players via your own score.

And since they have more than one trick up their sleeve at Nintendo, the first images of the next Mario Party intended for the Nintendo 3DS were also presented. Even if I remain skeptical about the benefits of a party game for handheld consoles (the value of this type of game being to play with several people in a living room for example), there will still be 7 boards with specific game rules for each one. 81 new mini-games have also been announced. The beginning of the low blows foreseen for the 2013/2014 winter.

RPG, my love

As you read these lines, it is likely that Fire Emblem is already released, and it seems that Nintendo 3DS is ready to host many great RPGs (AKA Role Playing Games) in the upcoming months.

Even if it only emerged late in the presentation, how can we ignore the fact that Square Enix’s Bravely Default is coming out here. Released in Japan in 2012, it is expected to be released here exceptionally in 2013. Exceptionally, because it happens one year before its release in the United States, and it is often the Europeans who are considered as the last wheel of the wagon.

The expected release in Europe of Shin Megami Tensei 4 will also delight the experts of the genre. The Atlus RPG is one of the most eagerly anticipated games on Nintendo’s handheld console. Hopefully we can enjoy the same collector’s edition as the one planned for the United States.

Second fiddles that aren’t really second

This half hour of information was very interesting, especially considering the freshness of the information itself. If you look at the news feeds covering video games, not a day goes by without (often well-founded) new rumors coming to light. As far as Nintendo is concerned, the information given during the Nintendo Direct sessions has rarely been revealed before. This is exactly why the announcement of a new episode of the Yoshi’s Island series on 3DS will thrill many fans, even if the formula is far from being revolutionary. Nevertheless, its artistic direction makes it almost essential, all the more so as the content will undoubtedly develop further, based on the previous episodes.

On May 24th, we’ll be able to get our hands on Donkey Kong Country 3DS, a handheld version of the Wii episode released in 2010. Even if the high difficulty may have put some people off, this handheld version will deliver the game as a whole, adapted to the fact that one plays for a shorter time on handheld consoles, with more “favorable” playing conditions (extra lives, room for error) while leaving the game available to everyone in the original difficulty conditions. As a fan of the Donkey Kong Country episodes from the Super NES era, I don’t think I will be disappointed with this next installment. The final verdict will be given in a month.

We are not going to forget (obviously) the next episode of the Professor Layton saga. With the subtitle “The Azran Legacy”, it should conclude the story started with “The Last Specter”. No date has yet been announced, but it is safe to say that it should be released by the end of 2013.

Keeping the best for last?

While the presentation was advancing a lot for the year 2013 on Nintendo’s handheld console, the final announcement will not fail to make people react. It features an elf well known to many players: Link. If this name alone doesn’t ring any bells, Zelda’s name should. The first images unveil a new part of The Legend of Zelda saga, which will take place in the universe of A Link to the Past, a well-known episode for the owners of a Super Nintendo. However, the reactions seemed, at first, discombobulated, with regard to the graphic style of the game. For those who want to play Zelda before this new episode, the wait won’t be too long since two Game Boy Color episodes will soon be available on the 3DS E-shop: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons.

In a few words:

  • Even if the conference was mainly about the Nintendo 3DS, some announcements were made for the Wii U. An initial review of the next New Super Luigi U without any real new developments since the last Nintendo Direct. A new flying Pikmin was presented in a video revealing its abilities. The presentation of a new application: Panorama View, a more elaborate equivalent to Google Maps, featuring videos. While some people rightfully yawned at that moment, it was quite the opposite when the announcement of the arrival of the iconic Earthbound RPG on the Wii U E-shop was made. Requested by many players, we had to wait until 2013 to see this series arrive to Europe.
  • Animal Crossing was part of the program, with a more detailed presentation of the game expected on June 14th. The design of a Nintendo 3DS was also presented on this occasion.
  • On the 3DS E-shop side, three new games bearing the Level 5 logo (Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven) were revealed. We’ re talking about The Starship Damrey, Bugs Vs Tanks and Attack of the Friday Monsters (which seems to be the most interesting of the 3). Nintendo will also offer a new episode of the Mario Vs Donkey Kong series, with the possibility to create custom puzzles and stages. It is scheduled for May 9th.

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