You have to hand it to Nintendo; it knows how to keep people interested.
Today's Nintendo Direct, which promised information on new 3DS and Wii U games through the spring of next year, was no exception. Many were seeing this as Nintendo's last chance to impress the public with Wii U before the year's end; others were hoping for something completely new and unexpected.
Did it succeed? Well, you can judge for yourself -- here's the presentation itself, with a round-up beneath for those too busy to watch 33 minutes of Iwata-san being Iwata-san.
Nintendo opened with a bombshell: something completely new and unexpected for Wii U. It's a Zelda game, but not as you know it -- it's a collaboration with Tecmo Koei called Hyrule Warriors -- and you may be able to work out what kind of game it is from that information alone.
Did you guess that it was a take on the long-running Warriors series starring Zelda characters and monsters? If so, take a cookie -- that's exactly what it is, and it looks fantastic, with Link taking on hordes of enemies and huge bosses with spectacular special effects and comedically exaggerated physics models as the bodies go flying.
Hyrule Warriors -- the name may change before release -- will come to Wii U at an as-yet unannounced point in 2014.
Kirby Triple Deluxe
There's a new Kirby game coming to 3DS -- and, in keeping with Nintendo tradition, it looks like it might actually make good use of the system's glasses-free 3D capabilities.
A side-scrolling platformer at heart, Kirby Triple Deluxe sees everyone's favorite pink blob running from left to right, but also in and out of the screen. Enemies will attack on both the 2D and 3D plane, and in order to progress you'll have to think in three dimensions, hopping back and forth between the "layers" as you go.
Kirby has a few new tricks up his sleeve -- he has 20 copy abilities in total to draw on, including 4 new ones, plus a new supermove that can be used at certain points in each level. This move sees Kirby upgrading his "inhale" power to hurricane-like proportions, frequently drastically altering the level geometry in the process.
There are two additional modes of play in the game, too: Kirby Fighters is a Smash Bros. style four-player platform fighting game where you use ten of Kirby's copy abilities to choose from, while Dedede's Drum Dash is a rhythm game in which you press buttons in sync with one of several familiar Kirby tunes to jump, avoid obstacles and collect coins.
Yoshi's New Island
Yoshi's New Island is the work of Takashi Tezuka, creative director of the Super NES original. He's working alongside Nintendo's internal EAD team to bring us a new game with a gorgeous pencil-sketch art style and traditional Yoshi's Island gameplay. It'll be available in the spring of next year both at retail and on the eShop.
Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder
In Chibi Robo, you lead a four-inch tall robot in a quest to collect objects from around you. You'll collect "silhouettes" which you'll then need to photograph using the 3DS camera -- successfully doing so will bring them into the game. There are also numerous minigames, largely based around helping out various weird and wonderful characters who show up over the course of the game.
It'll feature community-based events, challenging players to showcase their creativity on a common theme, and potentially earn new outfits for Chibi-Robo in the game.
Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder is coming to 3DS via the eShop on January 9 -- there'll be a free demo version available too.
Pokémon Bank/Poké Transporter
We've already seen how both Pokémon Bank and its companion app Poké Transporter work; Iwata mostly reiterated the things we already knew and confirmed that the release date for both would be December 27. There'll be a 30-day free trial version available until January 31, and if you access Pokémon Bank by September 30 of next year, you'll get a free Celebi Pokémon to add to your team. And yes, you can still get this gift if you use the free trial.
Reggie explained a few details about Bravely Default's "Sleep Points" system, whereby keeping your 3DS in sleep mode for eight non-consecutive hours will award you with up to a total of three points that can be spent on the "Bravely Second" mechanic -- effectively a means of interrupting the normal flow of battle and sneaking in an extra turn. You can also purchase sleep points through microtransactions -- though with a limit of three on hand at any one time, they're more an "in case of emergency" option rather than something to be relied upon, and having played a fair bit of the game already, they're really not at all necessary.
Bravely Default will be available from February 7, and a demo will be available from next month. The demo will include a side story that isn't in the main game, and certain things will transfer into the main game.
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
The long-awaited crossover between two of the best series on Nintendo handhelds is coming to Europe on March 28. There was, unfortunately, no mention of it in the North American Nintendo Direct -- but it's looking great.
Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze
We saw a bit more footage from Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, including how Cranky Kong, the new playable character, handles. It seems Cranky will use his cane to perform various actions the others aren't capable of, such as bouncing on it like a pogo stick.
We also saw how Donkey Kong and his friends can use a special move when they collect 100 bananas, acting something like a "smart bomb" that eliminates all enemies on the screen and turns them into items.
Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze will be available from February 21 of next year at retail and on the Wii U eShop.
Sonic Lost World
Sonic's latest adventure will be getting two Wii U-exclusive pieces of free DLC, starting today. The first, available for free from today, is based on Yoshi's Island, and sees Sonic hopping around, collecting coins, bouncing on Shy Guys' heads and jumping into pipes. If an '80s gamer could see this bizarre sight, their head would probably explode.
The second piece of DLC will be available early next year. Iwata didn't have anything to show, but dropped a rather unsubtle hint that it will probably be Zelda-related.
Wii Sports Club
Following the successful launch of Tennis and Bowling -- and the distribution of the game to Wii U systems via SpotPass -- Wii Sports Club has now introduced Golf to the mix. In addition to the 9-hole course from the Wii original, there's a brand new course based on the Japan-only Famicom game Golf: U.S. Course, originally worked on by Iwata more than 25 years ago.
GamePad and MotionPlus support allows you to see the lie of your ball on the GamePad, and apply draw and fade to your shots simply through motion control.
A 24-hour free trial of Wii Sports Club is now available -- even if you already took advantage of the trial period when Tennis and Bowling launched.
NES Remix is a new downloadable game for Wii U featuring scenes from 16 different NES games including Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Balloon Fight and numerous others. There are two types of level: ones where the base mechanics have been altered to feel completely new -- things like racing Excitebike in the dark, or playing Donkey Kong as Link -- and the original versions of the stages with additional challenges and achievements added. The game has full MiiVerse support for bragging about your accomplishments, and it's available from today.
Dr. Luigi is an expanded version of Dr. Mario that, as well as including the original game's gameplay with online multiplayer, also incorporates new modes with L-shaped pieces and an adjustable difficulty level that caters to all abilities.
The new multiplayer mode offers an interesting twist, too -- rather than large combos causing you to drop things on your opponent, you instead shuffle the colors in their upcoming next piece, which can throw a real problem in their direction.
Super Smash Bros.
We saw a little footage of the new Smash Bros. with particular regard to the newly introduced characters of Rosalina and Luna from Super Mario Galaxy. The two will come as a single playable set, much like the Ice Climbers play in previous versions.
Mario Kart 8
Finally, having teased it with the Smash Bros. trailer, the Nintendo Direct ended with a look at the upcoming new Mario Kart, which will be available in the spring of next year.
We saw a few tracks from the game, including an airport level where you race both indoors and outdoors, a chocolatey level, a lava level with bones and flaming death all around, and a temple-like level with rolling traps and Thwomps everywhere.
Motorcycles will return alongside karts, and there'll also be a new buggy-type kart available to race in, too. All vehicles will have an anti-gravity system allowing them to race up walls and on ceilings -- when this happens, their wheels will turn sideways like the Back to the Future DeLorean. They'll also have a hang-glider for floating gently back down to earth.
What did you think of the Nintendo Direct? Enough here to make you interested in a Wii U and/or 3DS if you weren't already?