It’s truly amazing what Nintendo has just pulled off. In 35 minutes, they have finally convinced the world that they have a game plan for Wii U and announced eight new games as well as gave updates on previously announced titles. Although I will have all the announcements today in bullet point form below, there’s no better way to get the news than to watch the Nintendo Direct broadcast yourself. After watching the video or reading the bullet points, be sure to read my editorial on the broadcast at the bottom of this post:
- New firmware updates for Wii U will release in Spring and Summer to make switching between apps within Wii U faster.
- The Wii U Virtual Console will make its way this Spring and will add off-TV play and Miiverse functionality to Virtual Console games.
- At launch, only select NES and SNES games will release as each title has to be updated with the new Wii U features. Game Boy Advance games will come to the Wii U Virtual Console in the future.
- Wii U Virtual Console games will cost about as much as they did on Wii. If you have already downloaded a Virtual Console title on Wii and transferred it over to Wii U, you can get it at a reduced price of $1-$2.
- To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Famicom in Japan, select NES and SNES games will release prior to the Virtual Console at a reduced price of 30 cents. These titles will release once per month and remain at 30 cents for 30 days, then transition to costing as much as a regular Virtual Console game, or less if you already bought it on Wii.
- The first game in the Famicom campaign will be Balloon Fight which releases today on the Wii U eShop.
- Games to follow in the campaign include F-Zero in February, Punch Out! Featuring Mr. Dream in March, Kirby’s Adventure in April, Super Metroid in May, Yoshi in June, and Donkey Kong in July.
- New features to Miiverse will roll out this Spring such as the ability to create private user communities and the possibility of multiple communities for a single game.
- A Miiverse web app for smartphones will arrive this Spring. A native app will be coming later in the year.
- Wii Fit U will utilize private communities in Miiverse.
- In Pikmin 3, you can use the Wii U GamePad as a camera and take screenshots of your Pikmin to post on Miiverse.
- New footage of The Wonderful 101 was revealed. Platinum Games still keeping quiet on details regarding the game.
- Platinum Games also took a moment to talk about Bayonetta 2, which is shaping up nicely, but still early in development.
- A new 3D Mario game for Wii U is being developed by Nintendo’s EAD team in Tokyo (Mario Galaxy series, Super Mario 3D Land).
- Mario Kart for Wii U is also in development.
- The 3D Mario game, Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros. will all be fully revealed at this year’s E3. 3D Mario and Mario Kart will be in playable form.
- A new party game from the creators of Wii Party will release this Summer.
- A new Yoshi game in the style of Kirby’s Epic Yarn is in development for Wii U. Famed Nintendo developer Takashi Tezuka is deeply involved with the game’s development.
- Nintendo has formed a partnership with Atlus to create Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem for Wii U.
- A new The Legend of Zelda game is in development for Wii U. The game’s visual style was inspired by Wind Waker. Nintendo is looking to rethink the basics of the Zelda series and make it non-linear.
- The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD will release this Fall on Wii U. Features a more fine tuned version of the game in beautiful HD, off-TV play, and Miiverse functionality.
- A new JRPG from Monolith Soft was revealed. It looks an awful lot like Xenoblade Chronicles.
Today’s announcements are certainly a lot to digest. Most Wii U early adopters, including myself, were worried about what was happening to this brand new console. There has been a lack of games and a lot of the games already announced keep getting slightly delayed. Beyond the likes of Pikmin 3 and Super Smash Bros., we had no idea what the future for the console held until today.
Because of this and fan reactions, Nintendo knew we were all concerned. The performance of Wii U over the holidays might have also been a sign. Many journalists and gamers were saying that the Wii U was going to flop. Nintendo had the opportunity on its December 5 Nintendo Direct to turn things around, and they disappointed everyone. Desperate times call for desperate measures. If Nintendo wanted to move Wii U systems off the shelves before E3, they needed to make some extraordinary announcements. I’m pretty sure they were saving a lot of what they talked about today for E3, but they didn’t really have a choice. They needed to justify that buying a Wii U now or in the near future ensures a steady stream of games later.
Today alone, Nintendo announced a new 3D Mario, two new Zeldas (one being a remake), Yoshi, Fire Emblem, new Monolith game, and Mario Kart, all for Wii U. They have pretty much laid out their game plan for the Wii U’s life cycle. While games like Mario Kart and 3D Mario will probably release within the next 1.5 years, games like the new Zelda will probably never be heard of again for another three or four years.
And that’s not to say that’s all they have. Retro Studios has yet to announce their Wii U game and Miyamoto’s new IP for Wii U still has yet to be revealed. This Nintendo Direct was probably not the place for new IPs and that was a smart move.
The Virtual Console was also a smart move that they have needed. I think fans will be upset about paying for many games they already own on Wii, but adding a $1 entry fee for Miiverse functionality alone is worth it. It’s hard to understand Miiverse until you actually use the service, but it really is one of the most innovative things about the Wii U and it has plenty of potential to evolve and become even greater over time. Miiverse will also be even bigger when it released on Nintendo 3DS later this year.
Nintendo used today wisely. They went beyond the call by showing us the goods, their biggest games in development. While Sony and Microsoft will most likely come to E3 this year with new consoles, Nintendo has already laid out their trump cards in the form of 3D Mario, Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros. on Wii U and presumably Pokemon X and Pokemon Y on Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo has been able to sell the Wii U on its innovative vision and it has finally has the software necessary to justify that vision.