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What Just Happened? – Nintendo Direct’s Wii U Update

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Well, Nintendo certainly brought the pain today with their latest Nintendo Direct presentation to the North American audience, focusing on the Wii U. Quite a lot was covered, including system news, the Virtual Console, and of course, games. The full press release and Nintendo Direct video are below if you want to check them out.

System Updates

It’s a small thing, but it’s a big thing at the same time. Two system updates are coming in the Spring and Summer. Along with bringing the Virtual Console to the Wii U (as opposed to having to go into Wii mode first), they will also bring the rather overdue benefit of faster game launches and quicker returns to the main menu. That’s one big complaint I would have with the Wii U right now, as those load times are pretty bad, the worst of the three main consoles right now. Nintendo can’t push this out soon enough.

Virtual Console

For fans of playing old school Nintendo games, your days of having to go into Wii Mode to hit up the Virtual Console will soon be over. A proper version will be coming natively to the Wii U. NES and Super NES games will be available at the same prices (with Game Boy Advance support coming), and if you’ve already bought them on the Wii, you can get them on the Wii U version for the nominal price of $1 (NES) and $1.50 (SNES). I would have much preferred free, to be honest, but unfortunately paying for the same game on a new platform is becoming the norm, and these prices are about as good as you’re going to get. I’ve never been a big retro gaming guy myself, but that’s because I don’t have a lot of time to play even today’s games. Still, I like it from the standpoint of being able to show kids the history of video games and what their parents had to play when they were younger.

What I really like is that to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original Famicom (the Family Computer, what the NES was called in Japan), each month a different Virtual Console game will be featured at the promotional price of 30 cents. Yes, 30 cents. First up? Balloon Fight. Which you can get right now on the Wii U eShop. This is pretty aggressive on Nintendo’s part, and the buzz might just be worth it.

In other news, the Miiverse will be getting smartphone integration, with eventual Apps coming. I can take or leave this personally, but Nintendo are simply playing catchup to what Sony and Microsoft are already doing with their smartphone integration capabilities.

Wind Waker HD. Millions of Zelda fans just lost it.

Games

So, we got the bad news first about how there’s nothing coming from Nintendo in January or February for the Wii U. That’s not good. I remember the barren wasteland that was the Wii’s launch and how (in my pre PS3 and Xbox days) I was desperate to find anything to play on my system. I think this might be the business model for shovelware publishers. Anyways, having key games slip from the launch window (which was generous to begin with) is not a good thing. Still, a late and polished game is better than an early game that’s broken and buggy. So while I’m glad they’re taking their time, it also makes it harder to recommend the Wii U to folks when there are limited quality games available so far for it.

Fortunately, Mr. Iwata did his best to make us forget about this bad news with updates on titles in development, and a few new announcements, though some of those announcements were more of the “yeah, even Stevie Wonder saw that coming” variety. Still, there were LOTS of family titles to get excited about. New Wii U Party, Mario Kart, 3D Mario, Smash Bros., and Zelda games are in the works (with a Wind Waker HD remake coming this fall to tide you over until the new Zelda game is ready), and I must say, I’m looking forward to how they’re going to look with the high definition treatment. Again, though, these are staples of the Nintendo portfolio that you knew were going to come out eventually. Maybe the biggest surprise, and the most pleasant at that, at least to me, was the announcement of a Yoshi game from the makers of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, a game I called the best family game ever on the Wii. And yes, it will feature Yoshi in a yarn and textile world. Yes please.

There were other announcements of more core-focused games like Bayonetta 2 (the original was a quirky and perhaps under-appreciated romp, though I wonder how it will fare as a Wii U exclusive), a game from Xenoblade-makers Monolith Soft, and an RPG mashup of the Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei franchises. I’ll leave it to RPG fans to tell you why those are pretty big deals.

All in all, this was a Nintendo Direct with a near E3-level of information in it, even if some of it was of the no-brainer variety. Still, there’s a lot to look forward to, and we’ll be keeping our eyes and ears out for more information on these titles as they become available. In the meantime, have a look at this trailer for The Wonderful 101 from today’s event.

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TWO ZELDA GAMES, MARIO, MARIO KART AND OTHER FAN-FAVOURITE FRANCHISES PLANNED FOR WII U

Nintendo Outlines Its Vision for Wii U, Including Launching Virtual Console and How Miiverse and Second-Screen Gaming Features Will Continue to Evolve

VANCOUVER, BC, Jan. 23, 2013 – Nintendo President Satoru Iwata unleashed Wii U news in an installment of Nintendo Direct today as he outlined Nintendo’s future plans for the console. Iwata revealed how the Wii U launch lineup will be bolstered by a long list of top game franchises headed for the new console. These are games that longtime players and newcomers alike will love to play, and everyone will be experiencing them in new ways, thanks to the integrated second-screen experiences enabled by the Wii U GamePad controller. Iwata also detailed a number of enhancements designed to make the Wii U game experience more social, even if people are not playing in the same room.
“The fun of video games is not only just playing games, but also sharing experiences together with people – even though they live far away, their skill levels are different or their experience does not happen at the same time,” Iwata said. “We want Wii U to be the system that brings everyone together.”
To view the Nintendo Direct in its entirety, visit http://www.nintendo.com/nintendo-direct. The many announcements included:

Game News

  • Two Zelda Games: Eiji Aonuma, the producer of The Legend of Zelda series, revealed two entries in the series for Wii U.
  • Super Mario is on His Way: The Nintendo EAD Tokyo Software Development team that created the Super Mario Galaxy games for Wii and Super Mario 3D Land for Nintendo 3DS is working on a new 3D Mario action game for Wii U. The game is scheduled to be playable at this year’s E3.
  • Buckle Up!: Nintendo is also working on a new installment of the hit Mario Kart franchise. This game is also planned to be playable at E3.
  • Yarn Yoshi: The team that created Kirby’s Epic Yarn is hard at work on the first console game to feature Yoshi as the main character since 1998′s Yoshi’s Story for Nintendo 64. Takashi Tezuka, director of Yoshi’s Island and Yoshi’s Story, is supervising the development of the new game, which is set in a fanciful world of yarn and textiles.
  • Wii Fit U Communities: New features coming to Wii Fit U include letting players create user communities on Miiverse from within the game. Community members can discuss exercises, BMI or weight changes and other health topics with other players as a way to encourage one another to reach their fitness goals. Similar functionality for other games is also planned.
  • Pikmin 3 Photos: The upcoming Pikmin 3 game includes a feature that lets players use the Wii U GamePad as a camera to share the same perspective as Pikmin and take close-up pictures of landscapes and creatures in the game and share them in Miiverse.
  • The Party Continues: A new installment in the Wii Party franchise is planned to launch this summer. The game features various play styles, including one that lets both players compete head-to-head using just the GamePad.
  • RPG Mashup: Nintendo has begun many collaborations with outside development partners to bring the best franchises and experiences to Wii U. In one such partnership, Nintendo and Atlus are working on a collaboration that features the Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei franchises. A video trailer for the game was shown in the Nintendo Direct.
  • A New Game from Monolith Soft: Tetsuya Takahashi and the team at Monolith Soft that worked on Xenoblade for Wii are working on a new game. A video trailer for the game was shown in the Nintendo Direct.
  • More on the Way: Iwata shared a new trailer for The Wonderful 101. That game andGAME & WARIO are scheduled to launch in the first half of 2013. Iwata also showed a new video for Bayonetta 2. That game and the new Super Smash Bros. installment are still on the way, but will need more development time before details can be revealed.

Virtual Console

  • Virtual Console for Wii U: A spring system update will add Virtual Console software to the Nintendo eShop for Wii U. The service will launch right after the spring update and will include a selection of NES and Super NES games, with Game Boy Advance games to be added in the future. The prices for NES and Super NES Virtual Console games for Wii U will be the same as they were for the Virtual Console on Wii. People who have already purchased the Wii version of a certain NES or Super NES Virtual Console game and transferred it to their Wii U console can buy the enhanced Wii U version of the same game for the reduced price of $1 for NES games and $1.50 for Super NES games.
  • Classic Games for 30 Cents!: To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of the Famicom in Japan (which was known as the NES in the United States), Nintendo is making one NES or Super NES game available each month now through July at the anniversary price of just 30 cents. Each game will be available at that price for 30 days, and the first is the NES game Balloon Fight, which is now available in the Nintendo eShop for Wii U.

Social and System Enhancements

  • Miiverse Expands to Smartphones: Starting this spring, people will be able to browse Miiverse from their smartphones. Initially the experience will be browser-based, but Nintendo plans to create a dedicated Miiverse app in the future.
  • System Updates: Two major updates are on the way, one in the spring and one in the summer. The updates will introduce a wide range of functionality, such as Virtual Console capabilities and shortening the time it takes users to launch software or return to the menu screen.

Remember that Wii U features parental controls that let adults manage the content their children can access. For more information about this and other features, visit http://www.nintendo.com/wiiu. Standalone versions of the trailers for The Wonderful 101, Bayonetta 2, the new game from Monolith Soft and the collaboration featuring the Fire Emblemand Shin Megami Tensei franchises can be found at http://www.youtube.com/nintendo.

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Co-founder and Managing Editor of GamerPops, Jeff Peeters is a husband and father of three precious and energetic boys who make every day an adventure. When it's daddy gaming time, he enjoys games in the inFAMOUS, Assassin's Creed, and Uncharted series. Follow him on Twitter @jpeeters.


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