Given Nintendo's recent woes -- not to mention a candid financial report in which the company appeared to at least be considering moving in some new directions -- all eyes were on yesterday's Nintendo Direct, the first of 2014.
Would Iwata and the gang bring something new to the table, or would it be business as usual for the gaming giant? Read on for the highlights -- for the sake of brevity, we'll skip over games that have been seen before that we haven't seen significant new information for -- or watch the whole thing below.
Super Smash Bros.
The main news here was that Punch-Out protagonist Little Mac is coming to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. He was presented in a rather stylish comic book-style intro video, which was followed by some gameplay footage. It looks like he's quite a speedy character for the most part with some powerful moves that require a bit of charging up to use effectively.
Given Little Mac's inherently... fighty nature, it's somewhat surprising he hasn't put in an appearance in Smash Bros. up until now. Still, the new version is rectifying that oversight.
Mario Golf World Tour
It's been a while since a Mario Golf game, so it's a pleasure to see this -- this time on 3DS. During the presentation, Iwata introduced the Castle Club mode, in which you play as a Mii and can customize your golfer with various types of item. You can unlock new content through playing in Castle Club mode, and practice various aspects of your game in special training modes. The various equipment items you can purchase for your Mii allow you to customize the way they play, too.
Steel Diver: Sub Wars
The original Steel Diver wasn't particularly warmly received, but that hasn't stopped Nintendo bringing us another one. This time around, Iwata describes it as a "tactical first-person shooter" that moves at a somewhat slower pace than your typical on-foot shooter due to the fact that you're commanding a big sub rather than a rather more nimble human. Iwata also refers to it as a "contemplative FPS" particularly suited to those who are not typically very good at fast-paced action games.
Sub Wars is available as a free download for 3DS with limited functionality, and can be upgraded to the full version for a one-off fee.
Rusty's Real Deal Baseball
Iwata implied this was something new, but readers with good memories will recall that we reported on this peculiar take on free-to-play some six months ago. The game allows you to purchase various baseball-themed minigames for real money, but there's a twist: you can haggle over the price by offering items or by listening to Rusty's stories. Minigames begin at $4, but negotiation can drop their price significantly.
Rusty's Real Deal Baseball will be available in April.
Pokemon Battle Trozei
Capitalizing on the popularity of games such as Puzzle & Dragons, Pokemon Battle Trozei is a Pokemon-themed match-three game in which you match Pokemon symbols to engage in battle. Through playing, you'll collect Pokemon from the entire series, and in true Pokemon form, each beastie is strong or weak against others depending on their types, so you'll need a wide collection to succeed.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
Coming to 3DS in North America! Yay! In early 2015! Boo.
Weapon Shop de Omasse
The fourth and final title from the Guild01 series, Weapon Shop de Omasse is a new offering from Level-5 in which you, unsurprisingly, run a weapon shop -- specifically of the type found in a typical RPG. The game features rhythm action elements as you assemble characters' weapons, and you can see the characters who come and go in your shop improve as they work their way through their own quests.
It's out on February 20.
This over-the-top soccer RPG from Level-5 has been a long time coming to North America, but it's finally here. Like, right now. As in, you can download it from the eShop if you go grab your 3DS and check right this second.
NES Remix 2
It's no SNES Remix, but we'll take it for now. This time around, the game includes later NES games such as Super Mario Bros. 3, Metroid and Kirby's Adventure. It also features a brand new game called Super Luigi Bros. in which you control Mario's hapless brother as you run from right to left through Super Mario Bros.' levels equipped with Luigi's higher jump.
NES Remix 2 will be available on April 25. In the meantime, the first game is well worth your time.
Game Boy Advance Virtual Console
Just on Wii U for now; they're coming from this April. Games on offer will include Metroid Fusion, Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga, Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi's Island and more. No news on them coming to 3DS as yet.
Mario Kart 8
The new Mario Kart is coming in May, and bringing with it a selection of new characters -- specifically, all seven Koopalings, who are making their first appearance in the series.
Mario Kart for Wii was enormously popular; will the Wii U version convince more people to help pick up the sales figures for the ailing console?
RPG fans have been keen to see more from this Xenoblade Chronicles successor for a while now, and this Direct gave us a better look at how it's actually going to play. In combat, it looks very similar to Xenoblade's MMO-style combat, with a hotbar across the bottom of the screen and control of a single character. Your party has four members instead of three this time around, however -- they're still very talkative, though. Now it's Reyn Time and all that.
A key difference is the fact that you can jump into your mech in mid-combat and continue fighting, rather than the mech sequences being treated as completely separate affairs. Combat looks impressively seamless, much as it was in Xenoblade, so hopefully this will scratch the RPG itch somewhat for Wii U owners.
The presentation ended with a new trailer for Bayonetta 2 which looked spectacular, as usual. Spectacular enough to shift a few Wii U systems? That remains to be seen.