On August 7th, 2013, Nintendo hosted yet another Nintendo Direct video. For this Direct, Nintendo decided to focus on both Wii U and 3DS software simultaneously, offering new information on upcoming titles while also announcing the localization of games that are hotly being anticipated by fans.
This is a full recap of the presentation. The complete video itself will be posted in this article later today.
Third party platformers take the stage
Nintendo decided to start off the Nintendo Direct by showcasing Sonic: Lost World, a brand new Sonic platforming game that is being developed by Sega with exclusivity on Nintendo platforms. Brand new footage and details about the game were revealed during the Nintendo Direct.
Sonic: Lost World will feature brand new abilities for Sonic, including the ability to run along walls, shifting gameplay perspective on the fly in the process. There are other new abilities as well, and players will able to more directly control Sonic this time around. This is good news for me, as I always felt the other Sonic games were far too passive at points, with just a bunch of stuff happening on the screen. Albeit, it was often cool stuff, but having a bit more control over the on-screen action is definitely going to be a major plus for the Sonic franchise.
Sonic will be exploring a wide variety of themed levels in typical platformer fashion. Surprisingly, Dr. Robotnik is not the primary antagonist in this game, but rather it is a group of villains known as the Deadly Six.
Despite being a completely original Sonic adventure, the “Color” abilities from Sonic Colors make their return, including some new abilities. Sonic is able to turn himself into a golden rocket as well as into a red bird. These abilities promise to change up the core platforming quite considerably.
In addition, a 3DS version of Sonic: Lost World is in development as well. While I am not a fan of the same game being released on two vastly different platforms (results in a quality drop for both versions in most cases), it is neat how the Wii U version of Lost World and the 3DS version will communicate with each other.
Players can create vehicles in the 3DS version of the game at Tails’s workshop. After creating these vehicles, they can be spent to the Wii U version of the game. Their purpose is to help Sonic on his adventure during the 2D side-scrolling levels, and better yet, they can be directly controlled by a second player.
Sonic: Lost World is releasing on October 22nd with a simultaneous release on Wii U and 3DS. However, there’s another major third party platformer coming to Nintendo systems over a month before that, and that game is Rayman Legends, the former Wii U exclusive, which is now releasing on September 3rd.
Despite also being available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 now, the Wii U version of Rayman Legends looks to be, by far, the best version of the game. All versions of the game, however, feature a wide variety of excellent gameplay features. For example, Legends features five different game worlds to explore, and players can access all the levels from Rayman Origins as they complete the game. Various mini-game stages will be available, plus there will be online challenges.
The Wii U version is different in a number of ways. For one, the game is much more visually impressive on Wii U than it is on PS3 and Xbox 360 thanks to the beefed up horsepower available on Wii U when compared to the seventh generation consoles. Furthermore, the Wii U version also features unique costumes that allow players to dress up the Rayman characters as Mario and Luigi.
I’m most excited about the GamePad controls for the Wii U version of Rayman Legends, however. I’ve played the demo for Rayman Legends on Wii U at GameStop almost a year ago now, and I can attest to how much more entertaining the game is with the GamePad. The GamePad is also going to allow people playing the Wii U version to have up to five players playing simultaneously in co-op as opposed to only four that the other versions of the game offer.
More Wii U stuff
Because Wii U needs more stuff. Nintendo revealed an Art Academy game coming to Wii U during their last Nintendo Direct, or maybe the E3 one, and during the latest Nintendo Direct, they shared more information about this upcoming niche title.
The game is now known as Art Academy: Sketchpad as opposed to just Art Academy on Wii U. Super Smash Bros. should take note of how to have a proper title. At any rate, Art Academy: Sketchpad is releasing on eShop in just a couple of days on August 9th, and new features about the game were revealed.
In this Art Academy, players will be able to share their creations on Miiverse and upload them to the Internet. Plus, a brand new Miiverse community is being created to focus on Art Academy: Sketchpad. The Miiverse community is going to launch shortly after the release of the game in a couple of days.
In addition, Nintendo announced that another Art Academy game is in development. No more details beyond that were given, but expect it to be a full-fledged release in the series, possibly through retail, and it will feature more in depth artistic lessons to help players become better artists. More details will be revealed in the future.
Oh yeah, and unless you’re a Wii U owner that has been living under a rock, didn’t you know that Pikmin 3 came out last weekend? The game has been a critical success and is now the highest rated Wii U exclusive game available to date.
One of the least talked about features in Pikmin 3 is the ability to snap photos of the game and then send those photos to Miiverse. Nintendo wanted to stress this feature in the latest Nintendo Direct, and they also announced a Pikmin 3 caption contest, using fan-made photos from the game, that will be taking place on Facebook.
Mario and Luigi are so dreamy…
A high profile 3DS release is just right around the corner on August 11th in the form of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. While it has already been released in Japan, North American gamers have not yet had a chance to get their hands on this highly anticipated new entry in the Mario & Luigi RPG series.
In this entry, Mario and Luigi can each have two badges equipped at one time. The abilities of badges can be paired together to create new abilities. Badge effects can also be stored in the inventory and traded out for other ones. When the badge meter is filled during battle, whichever badge was specifically used last will offer Mario and Luigi benefits based on what that badge is, such as restoring 100 HP, which was the example used in the Nintendo Direct presentation segment focusing on this game.
Gear is also seeing a bigger focus in this entry. This time around, gear can be upgraded to improve its stats. Achievement-like Challenges are also in the game, and completing these Challenges nets players the rarest and most powerful gear.
Other changes are coming to the Mario & Luigi franchise as well. In order to pay tribute to the platforming roots of the Mario franchise, this game will feature more platforming-style challenges and features than in previous games to go along with the traditional turn-based RPG gameplay. Also, if you die, optional hint blocks appear that offer strategy on how to get through the next section of enemies, and there will also be an easy mode available for novice players.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team will be available this Sunday on August 11th, with a simultaneous 3DS eShop and retail release planned.
Gotta catch all 18 of them
Y’know, I still can’t believe Nintendo isn’t pumping out a full-fledged Pokemon RPG on Wii U to try to turn around the Wii U’s currently dire financial situation and poor sales. It seems like the most obvious answer to get Wii U systems flying off of the shelves. Well, there is Pokemon coming to Wii U in some form, and while it may not be a traditional RPG, Pokemon Rumble U does look like a good bit of fun.
Pokemon Rumble U is strictly an action game in which players use toy Pokemon to fight off waves of other toy Pokemon. In this game, defeated Pokemon can be befriended and join the players’ roster of fighters. There are 70 stages in the game, all 649 currently existing Pokemon are available to choose from, and hundreds of moves can be taught to all of the Pokemon. Want another number? Pokemon Rumble U support 4-player local co-op.
In case you didn’t know, Pokemon Rumble U is known mostly for being similar to the Skylanders series in that toys can be placed on the NFC portion of the GamePad to add those toys to the game. The difference is that Pokemon Rumble U doesn’t require players to purchase the toys in order to enjoy the game to its full potential.
Pokemon Rumble U will have 18 collectible figures that have special abilities and statistics. They are only going to be available through GameStop stores, but they are not required to fully complete the game. Pokemon Rumble U releases exclusively as a Wii U eShop title on August 29th.
Since the release of the original Wii, Nintendo has been very proud of its Virtual Console service, in which it re-releases classic titles from its older systems. Some new Virtual Console releases were announced during the Nintendo Direct, both for Wii U and 3DS.
Nintendo is even starting to release incredibly obscure games on the Virtual Console. In fact, one of the rarest cartridges of all time is being released on VC, despite only being created for the purpose of a gaming carnival in 1992 in Japan for the Famicom. The game is roughly called Summer Carnival Mecha 92 and it will be available August 22nd through the 3DS Virtual Console.
While it’s already been available on 3DS for some time, the Wii U is getting the original NES version of Donkey Kong on August 15th. 3DS is getting Tecmo Bowl as well as Wario Land 3, the latter of which has a VC release date of August 29th.
Nintendo is also bringing one of its beloved classics to the eighth generation in the form of Super Mario Bros. 3. No solid release date was given, but expect Super Mario Bros. 3 to be available through Wii U and 3DS Virtual Console services by the end of 2013.
The “Nintendo Treehouse” segment of the Direct ended with a surprise that hardcore Nintendo fans in North America should be very happy about. But before I get to that, the third entry in the current Professor Layton trilogy now has a release window.
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is releasing exclusively on Nintendo 3DS in 2014. However, that wasn’t the big news. Just as the Nintendo Treehouse segment was going to end, the host was interrupted by an “Objection!” as he forgot to announce the very exciting localization of a joint project between Level-5, Nintendo, and Capcom.
That’s right, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney now has a confirmed release window for North America at some point in 2014, probably after the release of Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy. Layton vs. Ace Attorney will look to combine the puzzle solving gameplay of the Layton franchise with the court room antics of the Ace Attorney series of games.
It’s a Zelda kind of day
Despite Shigeru Miyamoto saying that we would learn more about the Zelda game on Wii U “soon”, today wasn’t that day. Instead, we got juicy updates on two already announced Zelda games. Firstly, they focused on The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds that is releasing on 3DS at some point in November.
A Link Between Worlds will feature two Triforce items for the first time in the series history, with the “Shadow Triforce” existing in a world separate from Hyrule. This new world will offer brand new landscapes and a different atmosphere than the typical Hyrule. Despite this, the Hyrule that Link explores in A Link Between Worlds is identical to the SNES game A Link to the Past.
This is true, but A Link Between Worlds isn’t going to feel like a retread of A Link to the Past by any stretch of the imagination. The core gameplay, the dungeons, and the puzzles within the dungeons are entirely brand new when compared to A Link to the Past. Plus, there’s the brand new mechanic that has been talked about a lot in regards to A Link Between Worlds that allows Link to traverse walls in the form of a 2D image.
A Link Between Worlds is different in other ways that may actually disappoint fans. Nintendo has been calling A Link Between Worlds a direct sequel to A Link to the Past, so everyone assumed it was the same Link. However, this game is set “far into the future” from A Link to the Past and features a different Link than the one in the original game. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds releases this November on 3DS, but no solid release date was given during the Nintendo Direct.
The other Zelda title talked about was The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. Wind Waker HD’s improvements over the original game have only been vaguely discussed at this point by Nintendo except for the obvious graphical upgrades. We now know that there will be brand new characters and even new locations to explore as well that will “surprise” people that played the original release. Plus, players will be able to change the direction of the wind after performing the wind baton motions, which should make sailing much easier than before, and a lot more entertaining as well.
I thought it was interesting how much Nintendo focused on the overall lore surrounding the series of games starring this version of Link, or “Toon Link”, as it were. They mentioned how the Wind Waker story takes place before the events of Phantom Hourglass and focuses on Link meeting Tetra for the first time. Does this mean we are going to see future Zelda games with these characters returning? Only time can tell. In the meantime, gamers can look forward to returning to Wind Waker this October when it launches for Wii U.
Year of Luigi continues…
In almost every Nintendo Direct released this year, Nintendo has been adamant about making sure everyone knows that 2013 is the “Year of Luigi” to them. Numerous games featuring Luigi in both starring and supporting roles have been released this year already with more on the way.
For example, the 3DS exclusive Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon released months ago in the spring. New Super Luigi U DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U released on the eShop last month, with a retail release due for this month. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team releases this Sunday for 3DS, and Super Mario 3D World for Wii U comes out in December, also featuring Luigi.
While Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Super Smash Bros. for 3DS aren’t releasing until 2014, Nintendo wanted to continue celebrating the Year of Luigi by announcing that he will be featured in both games when they release next year. Luigi has been in every Super Smash Bros. games so far, and while his inclusion was assumed, it’s nice to have another official confirmation for the eighth gen Smash Bros. roster.
A little thing called Animal Crossing
Animal Crossing: New Leaf has taken the industry by storm, resulting in well over 1 million 3DS units shipping in a single quarter this year. The game has been hugely successful, and because of that, it received a lot of focus during this Nintendo Direct, despite already being available for purchase on 3DS.
Using the various Nintendo Zone locations around the world, Animal Crossing players can start collecting new exclusive items from the post office after visiting these locations from August 11th to “late September”. The first item that will be available starting August 11th is the Pumpkin Pie. You can check for Nintendo Zone locations near your area on Nintendo.com.
Nintendo also announced the launch of a brand new Animal Crossing community on Miiverse, which is available now. In addition, an Animal Crossing themed plaza is also available, though it will only be live through the end of 2013.
Using the Animal Crossing plaza, players can import images from their 3DS New Leaf game and share them with the Animal Crossing Miiverse community. Items can be earned in the plaza and then sent to your 3DS game.
See you Friday
Nintendo closed the Nintendo Direct by announcing the date of their next one, which will focus exclusively on The Wonderful 101 from Platinum Games. The Wonderful 101 will release next month as a Wii U exclusive. That Nintendo Direct will take place on Friday, August 9th at 7AM Pacific Time. See you then!