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April 1st Nintendo Direct Analysis – More of a Long Advertisement than a Presentation
There is something that is instantly enjoyable about kicking back and tuning in for a Nintendo Direct, especially if you happen to be a dedicated fan of the company. It’s like watching a mini-E3 conference, streamed directly to your living room. And while the anticipation for one of these semi-annual installments perhaps doesn’t quite match the hype of the giant spectacle that is E3, it is hard not to be at least a bit excited and interested in what Nintendo has up their sleeve. The company always seems to surprise one way or another (sometimes ironically by their complete lack of surprises), and so we get drawn in by the unpredictability of their Nintendo Direct broadcast.
Well, unfortunately the April 1st installment of this presentation event didn’t particularly live up to the standard set by some of their previous showings. Though there were a few mildly interesting announcements and some neat new footage displayed from various titles, overall it fell a bit flat, and seemed to come across as more of a massive amiibo, accessory, and DLC advertisement, rather than an entertaining spectacle.
If you’d like to take a look at the entire show for yourself, you can do so here.
Touching on the somewhat notable highlights of the show; one semi-cool announcement was the mention of a sort of online submission form for Smash Brothers on Wii U, that would enable users to input their ideas for additional characters for the game that could be used as future DLC packs. This was supplemented by the mention of some additional new add-ons for Smash Brothers; the largest of which was the announcement of Lucas, who will be coming in June. This would be more neat if it weren’t for the fact that Lucas was already present in Brawl, but still…
Nintendo also fleshed out some more details regarding three of their major Wii U titles that will be arriving later this year – Mario Maker (in September), Splatoon (May 29th), and Yoshi’s Wooly World (this fall).
Mario Maker is certainly shaping up to be a solid looking title, which seems to lean heavily on user generated content. One interesting aspect that was revealed is the ability to save your masterfully-crafted stages online for others to enjoy; and even more importantly, you can similarly download the stages posted from fellow Mario Maker players as well, which should bring the replay value of this one through the roof. This seems like it can make for quite a unique and fun Mario experience, though it remains to be seen just how detailed the actual building mechanics will be, and how well the stage crafting will actually translate to enjoyable platforming gameplay.
Some more Splatoon details were brushed upon as well. Aside from the already known single player campaign and the 8 player online battles, there were two new modes mentioned – an online ranked battle mode (which will come with its own set of rules), and the “battle dojo”, which will take advantage of the gamepad. In this splitscreen (dualscreen?) mode, one player will use the gamepad, while the other gets the luxury of the TV screen. This definitely looks like one of the more interesting titles to come from Nintendo in 2015, though there wasn’t much shown with this one that we didn’t already know about.
The same goes for Yoshi’s Wooly World. While it does look like it is shaping up to be a great platformer, and bears some resemblance of Yoshi’s Island, which is encouraging, there was nothing groundbreaking to be seen here. The only real new detail to be unveiled regarding this game was the New Super Mario Brothers-esque “mellow mode,” which will overpower your hero and allow you to breeze through the game with much greater ease.
Some other minor announcements included the newly-added N64 and DS support for the Wii U virtual console, coupled with a handful of titles that launched on the marketplace shortly after the show, which included Super Mario 64 and Yoshi’s Island DS. And although Nintendo had alluded to the possibility of having DS games on the Wii U in the past, it was nice to finally see these announcements manifest into tangible (well, digital anyway) games.
There was also more information provided on Mario Kart 8’s upcoming Animal Crossing DLC, which will, not surprisingly, come with Animal Crossing themed stages, characters, and karts. One surprise announcement was the addition of 200cc mode, which should up the ante a significant amount, and breathe a bit of new life into an older Wii U title. This will be released on April 23rd, and will come for the price of – on the house. This is all well and good, but how about an entirely new racing game, Nintendo? An F-zero for Wii U perhaps?
Outside of these main showings, a slew of Wii U and 3DS eshop titles was shown as well, which included:
Octodad: Deadliest Catch, Don’t Starve – Giant Edition, Never Alone, Ninja Pizza Girl, Adventures of Pip, Life of Pixel, Swords & Soldiers 2, and many more.
Little is known about most of these quirky games outside the brief snippets from the broadcast, but at least some of them look to be quite interesting (I’m looking at you Octodad and Life of Pixel). More information on these titles can be found here.
And the rest of the show? Well, far less interesting. It was essentially amiibos, amiibos, and more amiibos (even amiibo cards!), with a side order of DLC thrown in for good measure.
The newly announced “Amiibo Tap: Nintendo’s Greatest Bits” could have been a cool feature, as you can load up portions of classic Nintendo games by touching an amiibo onto your gamepad; acting as a sort of action figure-shaped cartridge. However, it appears to be quite limiting and stripped down, as you will only get to play a small portion of a random game not of your choosing, and you can only play through said game within a given time limit. Strange, to say the least…
On the whole, this presentation seemed to bear more resemblance to an overdrawn advertisement for Nintendo’s action figures and DLC packs, than a true video game showcase. The few portions of the broadcast that did show off some great looking software, primarily presented games that were already known about to some degree. Some of the eshop titles look intriguing, but most were barely mentioned, and the majority only came with brief clips of footage.
While it would be foolish to assume these live streams should approach the level of a major trade show like E3 in terms of content, one would think that there would at least be a few more interesting tidbits to show off for a presentation such as this, considering Nintendo only presents these a handful of times per year. In a nutshell, while there were a few interesting reveals for Nintendo fans to eat up, many past Directs have provided far more to feast upon. Until then, it appears as though we’ll have to wait for E3 in June to get the major announcements from Nintendo – perhaps even some mention of the NX or more juicy information regarding the company’s new mobile service.