Nintendo Direct – 18/4/13 Report

After two months of being rather quiet, Nintendo held yet another one of their Nintendo Direct broadcasts – dedicated mostly to more 3DS announcements, yet with some good nuggets of news for WiiU owners. Last time, Nintendo head Satoru Iwata declared 2013 to be the Year of Luigi, announcing Mario Golf: World Tour, Mario & Luigi Dream Team Bros, the New Super Luigi DLC for New Super Mario Bros U and in non-Luigi news, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. This time? Just as many big announcements.

In fact, lets get to those first. Nintendo announced two big ‘sequels’ hitting the 3DS later this year: a new Yoshi’s Island game and a new Zelda game in, and this is using Nintendo’s definition here, the style of Link to the Past. And sure enough – they look just that, like a new Yoshi’s Island and LTTP game. No proper details were announced about them, except a vague 2013 date, and we were given some video to boot. Though I suspect we’ll learn more at E3 or a future Nintendo Direct.

Otherwise, the rest of the Nintendo Direct was Iwata giving us firmer details on games that were announced on the last broadcast. Mario Golf will feature the Communities concept that was introduced in Mario Kart 7; going even further by allowing creators to set specific rules – like Luigi-only, short courses only etc. Mario & Luigi Dream Team Bros was detailed in more depth, and shows some of the 3DS specific functionality that’ll affect the game. New Super Luigi was shown off, and confirmed again that all the levels in NSMBU have been redesigned to work with Luigi’s higher jumping skills…and that every level has a 100 second time limit.

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D was also confirmed to have a new difficulty mode that makes it “easier” for portable gaming, by increasing the number of hits Donkey and Diddy can take before losing a life, as well as new items (such as portable DK barrels or balloons that activate upon missing a jump). Though don’t fret – the original balance of the game is there, should you want to play like that. Though in both versions, it looks like the motion controls have been dropped, which may make it a bit more comfortable for people.

Nintendo also confirmed that quite a few anticipated 3DS titles will be released in Europe later this year – including Square’s Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, and Atlus’s Shin Megami Tensei IV. Not to mention that the final game of the Professor Layton prequel arc, Professor Layton & The Azran Legacies, will also see an English release. Nintendo also announced a new Mario Party game, but I don’t have to explain that one much. That’ll also be hitting this year.

Finally, and arguably the biggest news from the broadcast was that Nintendo will be releasing SNES cult classic RPG Earthbound onto the Virtual Console for both America…and for the first time Europe/Australia, later this year.

Overall, it was another solid showing from Nintendo. Granted, most of it was just following up on games that were already previously announced, but those details were handy to have. And that Earthbound news more than makes up for the sorta disappointing Zelda news (I was hoping for a Majora’s Mask port). Otherwise, I wonder this – just what on earth do Nintendo have to show at E3 after all this? Aside from Smash Bros anyway…