Nintendo Direct - 1/14/2015

Breaking Down the First Nintendo Direct of 2015

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The first Nintendo Direct of 2015 dropped today. It was 47 minutes full of game announcements and release dates for some upcoming titles. While some of the games announced were surprising and exciting, most were lackluster, but they saved the biggest news for the end of the stream, something that Nintendo fans have been waiting a long time to see. But, is it everything they would have hoped? Let’s dig into the latest Nintendo Direct and see what we find!

The Nintendo Direct starts with the latest Fire Emblem title for Nintendo 3DS. I wasn’t expecting a new Fire Emblem so soon after Fire Emblem: Awakening. This new title looks stunning and the battle system looks to be similar to the last, but with new characters adding to the Fire Emblem universe. Also, newcomer to the series, Shin Kibayashi (writer of such mangas as GetBackers, Sherlock Bones, and Psycho Busters), brings a fresh take and new atmosphere to the series. Fire Emblem is a fantastic tactical RPG series and this entry is shaping up to follow that legacy.

Latest Fire Emblem Teaser
Latest Fire Emblem Teaser

Next is the reveal that Puzzle & Dragons Z and Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition will be coming to North America. This series is very popular in Japan with is blending of very light RPG and puzzle elements. It seems like a marriage of Pokemon and Bejeweled, which are both great games so this looks like a very interesting new title to look forward to in May.

Puzzles & Dragons Z
Puzzle & Dragons Z

Pokemon Shuffle is a digital only Nintendo 3DS title coming to the Nintendo eShop. This looks like just the puzzle part of Puzzle & Dragons, but replace the jewels with cute Pokemon heads and the same combo system is used to defeat enemies on the upper screen. Added challenge comes with a limited number of moves allowed per battle. This game doesn’t seem to have much else going for it, and seems less exciting considering it followed the Puzzle & Dragons announcement which does the puzzle elements and more. Pokemon Shuffle hits the eShop in February.

Three original Wii titles have been ported to Wii U as downloadable games. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (available today), Punch-Out!! (January 22nd), and Metroid Prime Trilogy (January 29th). These were pretty great games on the Wii (Punch-Out and Metroid Prime are among my favorites), but even though these will be available at half price for a few days after release, I recommend finding the Wii game discs for these titles for cheaper online or at a retail store.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse for Wii U looks like the sequel (or successor) to Kirby Canvas Curse for the old Nintendo DS. Looks fun, there are in-game figure collectibles which look like they were molded from clay.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse - In Game Figure Collectible
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse – In Game Figure Collectible

Mario Party 10 coming for the Wii U on March 20th. The game has Amiibo support, but if you use an Amiibo you are currently using for Super Smash Bros., you will need to delete your Smash Bros. data from the Amiibo before it will work with Mario Party 10. This goes back to my Amiibo editorial where I discussed the shortcomings of Amiibo and how it was not a well thought out Wii U accessory.

Splatoon will come out for Wii U in May. This team based shooter using paint as its theme looks colorful and fun, but after the demo at E3, all we can hope is they adjusted the controls. Otherwise the gameplay will put people off to what is otherwise a great idea for a fun, all-ages shooter game.

Hyrule Warriors get some DLC in the form of the Majora’s Mask Pack. This DLC pack includes playable new characters Tingle and Young Link from Majora’s Mask and three new costumes. The pack is available on February 5th. Since Hyrule Warriors itself is just Dynasty Warriors with a Zelda skin on it, I’m not the least bit excited for this news. Extending a game that reaps the legacy of a franchise like Zelda is not something to get excited about. I’m still waiting for news about an ACTUAL new Zelda title.

Xenoblade Chronicles X for Wii U has some amazing visuals. The world seems pretty huge and there are tons of odd creatures living in it. The trailer didn’t show any combat, but so far this pretty much looks like Xenoblade is pushing the Wii U in terms of graphics because it looks pretty stunning.

Xenoblade Chronicles X - Teaser Shot
Xenoblade Chronicles X – Teaser Shot

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars will be the first cross -buy title from Nintendo. If you buy one version of the game, you get the other version for free through the Nintendo eShop. I’ll give this one a slow clap because Nintendo finally caught up to 2011 with cross-buy and Mario vs. DK isn’t much to write home about.

Project Treasure got announced from Bandai Namco. No release date or details except that it’s a 4 player co-op game and will be free to play online. Considering Bandai Namco’s trend with overpriced DLC and extras in the past (Ridge Racer, Ace Combat, etc.), I don’t put too much stock in this title having much playability in the free mode unless you open your wallets and shell out some treasure, like dollars.

Elliot’s Quest looks like a indie exclusive for Wii U which drops next month. Reminds me a little of the original Kid Icarus but with more side scrolling gameplay. The teaser was brief so it was hard to tell if it will be a good title or not.

There are a bunch of releases for Wii U and 3DS coming via eShop like Gunman Clive 2, Citizens of Earth, Story of Seasons, Moon Chronicles Episodes 2 – 4, and some Sega Classic games done up in 3D (After Burner 2, Phantasy Zone 1 & 2, and Thunder Blade). Some classics and new stuff to look forward too. I’m impressed with Moon Chronicles and Gunman Clive has a very interesting look to it.

Fossil Fighters Frontier for the Nintendo 3DS drops on March 20th. It has new gameplay features from the previous incarnation. You are now able to drive in your own custom vehicle around the game world and explore with friends online. It is basically Pokemon with a different theme. But, it is dinosaurs you get to battle with so that’s cool.

The biggest news comes in the form of the New Nintendo 3DS XL announcement. The new system, which is already on the market in Japan, offers a faster processor, better 3D screen that tracks if you don’t look at the system head on (called Face Tracking 3D), and a second analog stick called the “C-Stick.”

Nintendo seems to be doubling down on the 3D in the handhelds by fixing the main reason why most people didn’t use the 3D in the first place, which makes the 2DS look like even more of a complete waste of time and money. Also get ready to upgrade if you want to play some of the upcoming 3DS titles, because they’ll only work on this new 3DS system. Also interesting that the North American market is only getting the new 3DS XL right now and not a new 3DS as well, even though it exists in Japan and will be released in Europe.

New Nintendo 3DS XL System
New Nintendo 3DS XL System

Also of note is that Super Smash Bros. for 3DS only gets Amiibo support through the new Nintendo 3DS XL because it has the NFC tech used in the Wii U gamepad. So if you don’t get a new 3DS XL, then you get no Amiibo support which is pretty lame. Couldn’t this have also been done with an accessory for the current 3DS systems if Nintendo supported Amiibo like it claims too?

The end of the new Nintendo 3DS XL announcement comes with the caveat that the system will not be sold with an AC adapter. Nintendo expects you to already use an adapter from an older DS or 3DS system or buy one separately. This is pretty ridiculous since this has an MSRP of $200.00 and they couldn’t kick in an adapter? Also, whenever someone decides to trade one of these into Gamestop or another retailer in the future, they are going to ask for an A/C adapter! This is some FAIL right here, Nintendo.

Codename S.T.E.A.M. is coming out in March and has Amiibo support for the Fire Emblem characters. So if you get this game, and a new 3DS XL, and have any of the Fire Emblem amiibos, you can get those characters in your game. This game comes from the pedigree of Fire Emblem and Advance Wars so it’ll probably be good, and it also has an interesting theme. Overall doesn’t look very exciting. It drops March 13th.

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy Plus is coming out to coincide with the launch of the new Nintendo 3DS XL on February 13th. The game is probably only compatible with the new hardware. Not much else here other than it’s Ace Combat. Hopefully the “plus” doesn’t mean keep inserting dollars to unlock planes and weapons in the game (this is a Bandai-Namco title, after all).

Xenoblade Chronicles is being ported from the Wii to the new Nintendo 3DS XL. This updated version includes a 3D character gallery and uses the second screen as a map and character stats sheet. This is really geared for those who missed out on the Wii version of this game because Nintendo made it a very limited release. I guess that works in their favor so you’ll buy this new version and a new handheld. This one drops sometime in April.

The trailer for IronFall Invasion looks cool. Nice 3rd person view shooter action with potential for 6 player co-op. No release date announced, but it looks interesting.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will get a co-branded new Nintendo 3DS XL bundle with the game. The problem is that it’s a Gamestop exclusive, so that sucks. This also drops on February 13th to coincide with the launch of the new 3DS XL system.

Also launching on February 13th is the updated port of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D. Just like Ocarina of Time, this game gets a graphics and controls overhauls from the Nintendo 64 version as well as some new features. This is pretty much saving the best for last in this Nintendo Direct so I’m pretty excited to see this one. Also, according to Kotaku earlier today, the Majora’s Mask new Nintendo 3DS XL bundle sold out from Gamestop within 15 minutes. That is how powerful the legacy of Zelda is that it will sell a new handheld system mostly to those who currently own the system within minutes! Too bad that kind of mojo hasn’t worked for the Wii U.

Majora's Mask New Nintendo 3DS XL Special Edition System
Majora’s Mask New Nintendo 3DS XL Special Edition System

 

Overall, this Nintendo Direct was pretty heavy with announcements and dates for titles released. The overall roster of titles coming out was lackluster with a few worthy gems in the mix.

The “meat and potatoes” of this update was obviously the new Nintendo 3DS XL launch and the titles coinciding with it. By the way, we covered that this would be launched February 13th before the official announcement. While I will most likely get one for the updated size and features, also support for future titles that won’t work on the current 3DS line, it is questionable why such a heavy revision was necessary to the 3DS family of systems.

A new processor means there is now fragmentation with the game support that will require many current 3DS owners to purchase the new system to be able to play the new games. Another downside is that North America isn’t getting the regular version of the new Nintendo 3DS system. Having the new Nintendo 3DS system available here as well would have provided a cheaper option for current 3DS system owners to upgrade to the new hardware. Instead, they are forced to upgrade to the more expensive option. I think this is either a poor or simply greedy decision on Nintendo’s part by eliminating one SKU from the US market so they can sell the more expensive one as an upgrade path to current owners.

Also the biggest deal right at the end of the video was the reveal of the Majora’s Mask New Nintendo 3DS XL Special Edition. While it seems exciting and worthwhile on the surface, it is severely lacking. First off, in North America it doesn’t come with a download code or physical copy of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. The European version of the same SKU will offer the game as a download. I don’t know if Japan just knows we’re suckers for Zelda and will buy anything with the brand on it so this seems like a very sadistic social experiment.

Majora's Mask New Nintendo 3DS XL Special Edition Box
Majora’s Mask New Nintendo 3DS XL Special Edition Box

With almost every Nintendo Direct that is released, you can find an subtle “fuck you” to the fans mostly in the U.S. markets. From the limited exclusives at Gamestop, to omitting SKU’s of the new system from sale here, to special edition systems NOT being bundled with the game they are branded with, sums up how much Nintendo can insult its North American market while still gladly taking their money. Judging by the Kotaku report that Gamestop sold out of the Majora’s Mask 3DS XL in 15 minutes (also the fact that I wanted one immediately), it looks like we love the abuse.

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Chris Sealy Contributing Writer
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