It’s no secret that the Wii U has been failing. Many blamed the system’s uncoventional controllers and its bafflingly stupid name, yet the console’s biggest problem was undoubtedly its initial lack of compelling software. After a strong year, Nintendo’s end of year games lineup and E3 conference have helped to change the console’s fortunes – in terms of mind share, at least. Yet after finally gaining some public interest and momentum in their console, all has been strangely quiet from Nintendo recently.
But then came this week’s surprise direct.
With Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata back in the saddle after a period of illness, he took centre stage once again to front the first proper Nintendo Direct in yonks. It was a goodun too, with a focus on games coming to Nintendo platforms throughout the rest of this year and early in the next one.
There was a trailer for Duck Hunt Duo, the final newcomer to Smash Bros, which comprehensively proves that pretty much any Nintendo character can make it into Smash and work.
There was also a bit on the upcoming release of their NFC powered Amiibo figures. While Disney Infinity and Skylanders have dominated the toys to life market, Nintendo wisely decided to make Amiibo compatible with multiple Nintendo titles, making them much better value than their competitors. Outlining how they would work outside of Smash Brothers for Wii U, Nintendo announced that The Link Amiibo unlocks a new Spinner weapon in Hyrule Warriors for example, and there are costumes available to your Mii drivers in Mario Kart 8 depending on the Amiibo of choice that you connect.
Speaking of Mario Kart 8, it was announced that the first of the extremely reasonably priced DLC packs will be launching on 13th November. So in about a week’s time you’ll be racing as Link around the plains of Hyrule, or as Tanooki Mario on the original SNES Rainbow Road. With new vehicle parts as well as eight new tracks and three new characters, it should give the game a shot in the arm in time for the Christmas rush.
There were two other big announcements. Firstly it was revealed that Splatoon, the game we got plenty of hands on time with at EGX and liked very muchly, is to get a single player campaign. Doesn’t sound like much on the surface, but look closer. Not only will you be blasting enemies with your paintgun, but you’ll also be engaging in platforming sections laced with ingenious puzzles, where you have to splatter walls and surfaces with your paint to traverse obstacles and walls. It looks like a bizarre fusion of Mario and Portal. It all means that Nintendo are taking Splatoon very seriously indeed, and boy, does that get us hyped.
Though not quite as nearly as hyped as the confirmation that, after countless hints, teases and riddles, that another of gaming’s great classics is getting a makeover. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D was confirmed for 3DS, and will be hitting early next year. The direct sequel to the almighty Ocarina of Time, there are many who consider this to be the better game, notably darker than its predecessor with an ingenious mechanic which sees you replaying the same three days over and over to prevent the moon from smashing into the Earth in a way that would even make Brian Cox weak at the knees.
A great showing of Xenoblade Chronicles X sealed the deal, and gave us a glimpse into a sprawling RPG epic that looks set to offer a gorgeous and varied multiplayer adventure.
So plenty for Nintendo fans to be getting excited about then. It seems that, after a long and drawn out first couple of years, that things are about to heat up for the Wii U.