Nintendo ran a Nintendo Direct presentation from 9-10 AM today, which focused exclusively on the Wii U and featured several major announcements for the system. It seems that Nintendo has every intention of tackling some of the major complaints about the system, such as the lack of a system-selling title, slow loading times in the system menus despite having more than enough power, etc.
Here’s just a quick summary of what they announced today.
First off, Nintendo announced two new system updates to cut down those load times and introduce their Virtual Console service to the Wii U. Apparently any games that overlap between the Wii and Wii U stores will be discounted on Wii U for people who got them on the Wii (with NES games being dropped to $1 and SNES games to $1.50). While not all of the games will be available right away, they’re putting focus on their NES and SNES ports and will be introducing Game Boy Advance titles to their Virtual Console line-up. GBA titles were previously only made available on Virtual Console on the 3DS for people in the ambassador program (which consists of everyone who went online with their 3DS before the price cut), which I am in. The Wii U Virtual Console, unlike its 3DS counterpart, will allow for more than one save file. They’ve also announced Miiverse communities.
While the Virtual Console announcement won’t sell systems, especially since they still haven’t announced any Gamecube titles for it, the decrease in loading times is appreciated. I mean, taking so long to load was downright embarrassing. It’s just too bad that this update can’t also allow the Wii U Gamepad to reach my room from the living room (which would result in me using the system a lot more). Yes, that’s a hardware limitation, but it’s a bit annoying when my room isn’t even that far from the Wii U if you were to draw a straight line.
Speaking of the Gamecube, they announced an HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker for this fall. Apparently, this is a result of the development process for their new Zelda title taking really long. They decided on the The Wind Waker while testing their previous art styles with Wii U functionality and opted for this one specifically because the Gamecube’s install base was relatively small compared to all of their other systems. Now the only Zelda games not playable on the 3DS and Wii U are Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons and Four Swords Adventures. The former two might come through Virtual Console eventually but Four Swords Adventures would really benefit from the upcoming multiple GamePad functionality. They’ve also announced that their new Zelda title won’t be as linear as previous instalments instead returning to its routes and allowing you to play the dungeons in any order, and may have multiplayer features.
I appreciate Nintendo giving me the opportunity to play The Wind Waker, as I’ve been meaning to but the game is quite rare at this point. I think the bigger story here, however, is that they’re experimenting with art styles for their next Zelda title. One really has to wonder what it will look like, and how it fits into the timeline. That said, as I have never finished a Zelda game in my life, I can’t possibly feel as happy as most people are about it. Less linearity in games is a very good thing, however, so I have no problem being giddy over a less linear Zelda, and I really enjoyed the multiplayer of Four Swords Adventures, so I am also looking forward to that multiplayer mode.
Nintendo announced Wii U Party, but nobody cares about that. Their next announcement right after the party game was a Yoshi game in similar style to Kirby’s Epic Yarn. I didn’t exactly enjoy Kirby’s Epic Yarn, as it felt nothing like other Kirby titles before it, but Yoshi will probably mesh with it a lot better. Screenshots for it look a lot like previous Yoshi games, such as Yoshi’s Story, and it seems they’ve managed to at least integrate Yoshi’s ability to eat foes into the game, unlike with Kirby. As such, I look forward to it.
Nintendo then followed that up with a heavy-hitter. Out of absolutely nowhere came an announcement for Shin Megami Tensei × Fire Emblem. All we know right now is that it’s in development. While I’ve never played Shin Megami Tensei in my life, keep in mind that ports of titles from the Persona series, a sub-series of Shin Megami Tensei, has become some of, if not the most popular games on the PlayStation Vita. Both series are known for being hard, so let’s see just how much trial and error this game will need.
They also showed a trailer for Monolith Soft’s new game, which was initially planned for last year’s E3, and it appears to be a Xenoblade Chronicles-like title, possibly a sequel, involving riding large, flying mechs that can transform into vehicles. Online co-op is in the game (if you look closely at the 23-second mark, there’s a chat box). Monolith Soft had previously said that they want to become Nintendo’s Bethesda, and they just might be pulling it off.
Nintendo also showed a new trailer for The Wonderful 101 and a development trailer for Bayonetta 2. Bayonetta 2 will apparently be of a very different scale from Bayonetta and will have pacing that feels like you’re fighting the final boss right off the bat. Nintendo also announced, in no uncertain terms, that Bayonetta 2, a new 3D Mario title, Smash Bros. and Mario Kart for Wii U would be shown at E3. Kinda ruins the dull surprise that would follow, but OK.
With Microsoft and Sony gearing up for their new systems for this year’s E3, Nintendo needed to be ready to pull out the big guns and out-do them with the Wii U before they could hit the market. Analysts think that the new systems from them will cost around $400, so the Wii U already undercuts them in price, and can do so even more if Nintendo knocks another $50 off of the price before they come out. Plus, unlike the other systems, the Wii U’s install base has already passed the 1 million mark before this year started, so they have a head start. All they needed was good games, and it appears that they’re ready for the competition. Only time will tell if it’s enough.