Can 2013 Save Nintendo?


Nintendo Direct is the regular bi-monthly fixture that Reggie fans rely on to catch a glimpse of their golden idol. And even though Reggie was absent on this occasion, it’s hard to scoff at an appearance from Nintendo’s man-in-charge, Satoru Iwata. Nintendo Direct is a chance to get caught up on all things happening from within Nintendo’s fortress headquarters. Those that adopted their very own Wii U back in November have had little more than the launch range to deal with and by now, must be wondering about what else was in the pipeline.

Things look bright for rivals Microsoft and Sony during the first half of the year, with a slew of promising exclusives and yet Nintendo’s trump card remained unseen. It had been kept quite close, in fact. But, no longer.

As one yet to take the plunge and buy a Wii U, has this edition of Nintendo Direct offered enough hope to push me right off of that fence and into Nintendo‘s loving arms, finally joining the next generation?

“We Apologise…”

If this were an episode of Friends, it’d be “The One with the Apologies.” Fronting up and admitting to one’s mistakes is never easy, but I got the feeling that Iwata knows Nintendo have really wasted its chances by not owning the market through sheer lack of software. Nintendo are alone in ushering in the next generation of consoles, but it’s doing so with a whimper, not a bang. With no new titles slated for the first couple months of the year, Nintendo’s apologies did’t cut the mustard. It’s had time and squandered it.

As admirable as it is for Iwata, the captain of his vessel, to be the man to speak to his legions, that ship of his is taking on water at an alarming rate, so I saw it as an exercise in saving face, as opposed to fan service.

Virtual Console Returns

After the first of Nintendo’s two system updates this year returns Virtual Console. It’s one of the main reasons I still own my original Wii, because there’s nothing quite like the classics, is there?

With a full line-up withheld, Iwata promised that it’ll feature great titles from NES and Super NES, all redeveloped for the Wii U. He even went on to dangle the possibility of GameBoy Advance games in front of us. He’s a temptress, that Iwata.

Prices won’t have changed between generations, with NES games setting you back between five and six dollars and Super NES games costing a touch more, between eight and nine bucks. Though, if you transfer your already-purchased titles over to your new console, you’ll be able to download their updated versions, all the bells and whistles included, from just one dollar (or a buck-fiddy for Super NES titles). Of course that only applies to games available on both the Wii and Wii U consoles.

If you’re a proud Wii U owner, you can go right ahead and preview Virtual Console and its features by grabbing Balloon Fight, which is available for a mere thirty cents as part of Nintendo’s celebrations for Famicom’s 30th anniversary. I’m pretty sure I’ve got canned food that old, but I digress.

Other games in the promotion include:

  • January – Balloon Fight
  • February – F-Zero
  • March – Punch Out! featuring Mr. Dream
  • April – Kirby’s Adventure
  • May – Super Metroid
  • June – Yoshi
  • July – Donkey Kong

Each title will be available for, you know it, thirty days.

Marching Onwards

After Iwata apologised profusely, he assured that March would be the month that the ball would get rolling.

A lot is riding on Bayonetta 2 is satisfy the 'hardcore' audience.

A lot is riding on Bayonetta 2 is satisfy the ‘hardcore’ audience.

One must wonder, though, are Pikmin 3’s shoulders broad enough to carry the company through the rest of the year? Other titles mentioned included Game & Wario, yet another Wii Fit game, Lego City Undercover and a new title from Platinum Games titled The Wonderful 101. The blockbuster appeal isn’t strong here.

Hopefully the Nintendo-exclusive sequel to Bayonetta, the sexy Devil May Cry on bath salts, can creep out the door during the first half of the year. A fleeting glimpse under the hood of Bayonetta 2 in the form of a developer diary indicates that things are coming along quite nicely. “Do you want to touch me?” Bayonetta teased to close the clip. Just name the time, lady. That’s all anyone cares about.

Did Somebody Call A Plumber?

It’s no secret that Mario is the Nintendo’s lifeblood. His brother, Luigi, might be preoccupied vacuuming mansions for some pocket change these days, but the world’s beloved Italian plumber is carrying the weight of Nintendo’s vast riches on his portly shoulders.

The next Super Smash Bros will be featured at E3 2013.

The next Super Smash Bros will be featured at E3 2013.

Super Mario Galaxy, along with its sequel, was an absolute monster hit, becoming a system seller overnight. In the presentation’s most exciting news, Iwata announced with barely controlled glee that the team behind it was returning to churn out a new Mario experience for the Wii U. It’ll be in playable form at E3 this year. Mario Kart and the new Super Smash Bros. will also be in attendance at E3. The banana-peel laden racer will be hands-on, but only expect to see screenshots from Project Sora’s beat ‘em up, which disappointingly all but rules out release this year.

Hey, Listen!

In a double-hit of good news, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma confirmed that not only is there a brand spanking new Legend of Zelda title on the way, but that a GameCube classic was being remade for the new console. That’s right, The Wind Waker is on the way.

The Wind Waker will be out in 2013, but when is Link's first real Wii U adventure coming?

The Wind Waker will be out in 2013, but when is Link’s first real Wii U adventure coming?

It’ll give players the option to play entirely on the GamePad and will feature spruced up graphics and Miiverse integration. However else they’re planning on enhancing the experience is a mystery to us at the moment, but I personally can’t wait to see the franchise’s prettiest outing yet again.

It’s just a shame that Link’s first foray into high-definition is going to be an old adventure. The Wind Waker remake is due this year, with no foreseeable release in sight for Zelda’s next adventure.

And The Rest…

Following the success of the cutest game of all the times, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, we’re seeing another Nintendo mascot sent to the handicraft world: this time, the dinosaur behind Mario’s saddle sores, Yoshi.

It’s being developed under the watchful eye of Takashi Tezuka, the director of Yoshi’s Island and Yoshi’s Story. It’s also going to mark Yoshi’s grand return to the spotlight as the lead – fifteen years is a long time. The game isn’t just going to be big, it’s going to be a wooly mammoth. Yeah, sorry.

From Atlus and Nintendo comes a mash-up that’ll leave role-playing fans positively catatonic, as the Shin-Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem franchises collide. Collaboration projects like this are often well-received, a point clearly known by Iwata as he promised there are other projects like this in the works. Monolith Soft, the guys behind Xenoblade Chronicles, also have a new title in the works.

Wrapping Up

From where I sit, Nintendo appear to be static. It’s in a one horse race, but just running in place. There’s a lot being said and not a whole lot being done just yet. A follow-up to Super Mario Galaxy, Mario Kart and a Zelda remake could help Nintendo get trotting along, but there’s simply not enough software already out the door to buy them time. Surely, Pikmin couldn’t do it alone?

It’s bewildering to think that Nintendo are likely to let a whole year pass before getting its first Super Mario killer app on the shelves, letting Microsoft and Sony lick their lips from the shadows, sniffing an easy kill.

Will I be buying a Wii U on the back of this presentation? No, not yet. But can it save the company’s current precarious situation? Only time shall tell.

So what did you think of Nintendo’s latest Direct web conference? Excited for the future or still sitting on the fence? Do you think that 2013 is the year of the Wii U? Pop down below and let us know!

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