What started out slowly showed by the end that you write Nintendo off at your peril. Even if some of its news could have been predicted without a Nintendo Direct.
Ever since Nintendo introduced its Nintendo Direct webcasts last year, I’ve pondered a few times if there’s ever really a need for them to do an E3 press conference. Of course, it’s fleeting and of course it needs to have a presser for the biggest trade show in the industry. But Direct has been home to some E3-worthy announcements in the past year. You only have to look at the recent Pokemon X&Y Direct or the Directs held in September to announce the Wii U release dates worldwide (Albeit, it was accompanied by a US press conference) as some recent examples.
Today was one of those Directs.
Solely focusing on Wii U for this Direct, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata started proceedings slowly enough by beginning with Miiverse, Wii U’s social network. Iwata said verified Miiverse account would start appearing. This is similar to the verified accounts you’d see on Twitter, but with game developers or Nintendo staff. Iwata added that Miiverse would be browseable via smartphones from spring, but a dedicated app was also in the works. No date was given for the app.
Slowly, but surely, Nintendo is starting to recognise other devices. And it needs to in the pursuit to keep up with modern times. Even if it includes an enemy that Iwata took aim at two years ago during a GDC keynote.
After that, two major system updates were announced for both Spring and Summer respectively. Wii U’s Virtual Console service was also announced as coming after the Spring system update. NES and SNES titles were confirmed. VC games are “being newly developer for Wii U” according to Iwata. VC games on Wii U will have Miiverse support and access to play off the TV with the GamePad. Iwata added it was “planning to add other platforms” to the service, including Game Boy Advance.
Staying with Miiverse, Iwata detailed how Miiverse users could take screenshots of Pikmin 3 using the Wii U Gamepad and shared in Miiverse. Wii Fit U’s Miiverse support was also detailed.
“You want to touch me?”
Then came the good stuff: the games. Before, though, Iwata touched upon the lack of Wii U games for January and February.
“I apologise to those supporting Wii U about the lack of new titles from Nintendo in January and February. But please understand, we will have new titles to offer from March onwards.”
A line-up of games due for spring was then detailed by Iwata, including Game & Wario; Wii Fit U; Pikmin 3′ Lego City: Undercover and The Wonderful 101, which had new footage shown for the first time in a while of the Platinum Games superhero game.
But the other – and arguably, more anticipated – game to come from Platinum for Wii U also got a brief run out. Bayonetta 2, which got a surprising announce for the system in September, got a behind-the-scenes video of Platinum’s ongoing development with the game.
Bare bones footage was shown, but the witch herself showed off what appeared to be a new suit by the end. Notice her pistols are now blue, not red as it was in the first game. By the time the credits rolled on it, we had the slimmest of in-game footage when an enemy came running. Iwata said it was still too early to “discuss details about the game yet.” He noted development was going well, though.
It goes without saying, but I am all the excite for Bayonetta 2. More stuff soon, please.
Afterwards, Iwata confirmed Super Smash Bros Wii U and 3DS would finally be unveiled at E3. But the pre-E3 announcing of announcement nukes didn’t stop there. A new 3D Mario and a Mario Kart Wii U will also be announced in Los Angeles in June, and will also be playable on the showfloor.
Iwata then proceeded to announce a new party game from the makers of Wii Party. That’ll release this summer.
Then the nukes started falling for real. A new Yoshi game, Yarn Yoshi, is being made from the team that made Kirby’s Epic Yarn for Wii. First footage was shown and seemed to show a 2.5D perspective. The last main Yoshi game was Yoshi’s Story for Nintendo 64 in 1998.
This was followed up by an announcement that actually (falsely) stopped my heart for a moment. It was from Atlas. Was this to be the day Persona 5 was announced? And would it come to Wii U? Nope and no (for the moment). Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem was announced as a collaboration between Atlas and Nintendo with a teaser shown afterwards.
Before it was out, Iwata dropped the bomb. The very first details of The Legend of Zelda for Wii U would be discussed on the broadcast. Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma proceeded to give details on the next Zelda game for Wii U.
No actual visuals were seen of the game were seen. And Aonuma said he would “have to wait” before he talked about it “in detail”, he instead gave his insight on the theme the next game will take. He said the new mission statement for the next game was simple: “Rethink the conventions of Zelda.” By that statement, Aonuma added he meant things like players finishing “in a certain order” dungeons.
“We want to set aside these ‘conventions,’ get back to basics to create a newborn Zelda so players today can enjoy the real essence of the franchise,” he said.
And then the megaton. Aonuma showed off the first screens of a HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.
“After the Zelda team showed the Wii U Zelda demo that we called the Zelda HD Experience at E3 2011,” said Aonuma, “we continued to experiment with converting past Zelda art styles into HD as we continued to consider graphical styles for the new game, but in fact felt as if it had been transformed into something entirely new.
“The reason I wanted to show you these pictures today is because our new Zelda title looks like it’s going to take some time to complete. So I wanted to report that while you’re waiting for that game to release, we intend to offer you The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, reborn on Wii U, to play in the meantime.”
Obviously, no date was given for the completely new Zelda on Wii U, but the HD remake of Wind Waker will be released this autumn.
One final unveil was saved for last. Monolithsoft, the studio behind Xenoblade Chronicles on Wii, showed its brand new game. Tetsuya Takahashi will be back onboard for the game as executive director. A title wasn’t given, but a red X closed the trailer out. The game seemed to indicate an online element of some sort and that mechs were involved. ZoE and Versus XIII-like vibes, man. It looked brilliant. No date was given.
This may not have been on par with an E3 press conference due to a lack of footage of the next 3D Mario, Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros or Zelda. But it did feel very close to as such. And the level of interaction from Satoru Iwata, the CEO of one of the biggest brands in the world, in these Directs is something most companies should very much aspire to. And it definitely deserves a lot of respect, regardless of whether or not you’re a Nintendo fan. But Nintendo also needed a big win. It had to. And it got it.
It now sets up what will be the most exciting E3 seen for years. Next-gen machines and games from Sony and Microsoft, next-gen games from third-parties and the unveil of the next Mario 3D, Mario Kart and Smash Bros for Wii U plus more.
June’s going to be a lot hotter than you think.