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Notes from Today's Nintendo Direct

Mario Maker gets a new curation tool, Starfox Zero gets a new release date, and Cloud gets an invite to the Smash Brothers tournament.

Earlier this week, I'd sort of written off today's Nintendo Direct.

I was curious to see what these corporate communiques might look like in the post-Iwata era (turns out that it looks like Reggie Fils-Aime and Bill Trinen), but I didn't anticipate much of anything. I expected a run down of recent releases and a few upcoming games and maybe some surprise DLC. In reality, well, I wasn't exactly wrong in terms of what type of stuff they'd show off, but I was definitely wrong about the quantity.

Today's Nintendo Direct was packed with stuff. In fact, it felt a little... not desperate, but definitely determined to show us that there is still a lot of life left in the Wii U and 3DS. And no, there was no news on the company's mobile initiatives nor on the NX. It's honestly too much to catalog fully, so here are some highlights.

Zelda Stuff: "She looks familiar... doesn't she?"

Everyone's favorite version of Link!
Everyone's favorite version of Link!

Twilight Princess HD + Wolf Link Amiibo (Wii U, March 4, 2016): I wasn't the biggest fan of Twilight Princess when it came out. Coming off of Wind Waker, which had made such a novel (and pretty) shift in tone and visual design, Twilight Princess just didn't grab me. Maybe this HD remake will have a better chance, but I can't help but think how much I'm more interested in whatever the next new Zelda title will be.

Hyrule Warriors Legends (3DS, March 25, 2016): This is the 3DS re-release of Hyrule Warriors is bringing in some new characters, like Skullkid from Majora's Mask, King of Hyrule from Wind Waker, and... Linkle? Who seems to a female version of Link? Linkle initially appeared in an art book for Hyrule Warriors, so maybe her appearance isn't a complete surprise. Either way, she has a dope cloak and pretty good hair and some crossbows. There was definitely something careful, almost tentative, about the way they announced her. It definitely feels like they're testing the water with her, but after years of fans asking for a female variant on Link, I'm definitely hyped to see how this gets implemented.

Tri-Force Heroes is also getting free map and costume DLC on December 2. I haven't had a chance to play this yet, so let me know if this seemed exciting to any of you!

Pokemon News: Only the Angstiest of Pokemon

Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon (November 20, 3DS) - You'll be able to play as any one of 20 Pokemon (and meet all 700+ other Pokemon) in the latest edition of this long running series. I'm a huge fan of Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer, but the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games never really clicked for me.

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Pokemon Picross (Early December, 3DS): Another "Free to Start" Nintendo game. Yes, it's Picross but with Pokemon. The twist is that the the Pokemon that you reveal provide special abilities to help you clear puzzles and reveal hidden information.

Pokken Tournament: This Pokemon fighting game is being developed by a partnership between the Pokemon Company and Bandai-Namco. It's definitely weird seeing Pokemon stringing combos together. It's even weirder seeing a super angsty "Shadow Mewtwo" being possessed by an anime lady? I think? I think that's what was happening? I'm not... really sure.

Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow (February 27, 3DS eShop): Nintendo is re-releasing the first generation Pokemon games on the 3DS eShop early next year, and they're letting players use the 3DS local wireless to connect, battle, and trade Pokemon.

Game Updates: Mario Maker, Splatoon, Smash Bros.

Super Mario Maker: Bill Trinen reminded viewers of the recent game updates, but the real story here is that Nintendo plans to roll out a new level browser website in December. The new "level portal" was described as having "more robust" search options, including being able to sort by level tags. While I'd love for this new level search to be in game, players will only be able to access it via a web browser. Sort of a bummer, but it's such a necessary improvement that I'll deal with it.

Splatoon: Nintendo announced that we're going to keep seeing new content for Splatoon through January, including new stages and equipment. Both of the levels they debuted (Museum d'Alfonsio and Mahi-Mahi Resort) look like complex levels built for high-skill players. Is Splatoon eSports? I... I think Splatoon is eSports.


Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS: Final Fantasy VII's Cloud Strife is joining Super Smash Bros on Wii U and 3DS, and he's bringing a Midgar stage with him. Cloud has Omnislash, which is really all he needs, right? The new stage looks pretty wild--throughout the fight, FFVII summons show up to wreck shop. Nintendo didn't give a date, but did say that there would be a Smash Bros. Broadcast in December, so I'm guessing we'll see more there.

A Few More Things

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash (November 20, Wii U): I literally forgot that this game was coming out, but it looks pretty good? There's a jump shot now that you can use to intercept incoming shots. Ultra smashes are like super jump shots which feel like super shots from mario super strikers or super smash attacks from SSM. Also there's mega mushrooms I guess. They spent some time on I'm hopeful that this has a better career/campaign mode than last year's Mario Golf World Tour.

Xenoblade Chronicles X (December 8, Wii U): On one hand, it's another hundred-hour long open-world RPG in a year filled with them. On the other, it has customizable mechs in it. So. You know, I'm excited to check it out. The stranger part of this announcement is that there are "four free high-speed data loading packs" now available for players buying physical copies of the game. It's basically a pre-load for a physical game, which... seems weird to me. I'm not opposed to it, just a little surprised. Are the on-disc loading times so rotten that they want people to manually cache parts of it to a hard drive? Guess we'll find out pretty soon.

Star Fox Zero (April 22, Wii U): I just don't know about this one. I've been cautiously optimistic about this new Starfox ever since it was announced, but this trailer really doubled down on the stuff that has people worried. It provided an overview of the game's many different vehicles, but I've basically heard nothing but mixed things about everything except the Arwing mode. And then this trailer emphasized the importance of keeping an eye on both the Wii U gamepad and the tv screen, which is the other design choice I've seen criticized by people who've played the game. So... I don't know. Oh, also, also: They described Star Fox as a group of mercenaries and I somehow never really understood that. What do you think their rates are like? Could Andross just buy them out? He should look into that.

There was even more stuff on show in the full Nintendo Direct, so make sure to check it out for yourself if you're interested on the latest from games like Animal Crossing: amiibo festival and Fire Emblem Fates. Oh, also Mother 3 is coming to the Wii U Virtual Console... but that was only mentioned on the Japanese version of this event.