Spring and Summer Nintendo Direct Offers Some Nice Surprises, But Also Highlights Some Missteps

Spring and Summer Nintendo Direct Offers Some Nice Surprises, But Also Highlights Some Missteps

Being able to buy SNES games on the New Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console is cool -- but it should have been an option ages ago.

The March 3 Nintendo Direct is done. Nintendo's feed has gone dark, fans are still chattering like birds on a wire on Twitch and Twitter, and we have a better idea of what we can expect to see on the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U when the spring and summer months arrive. "Games to sweat by," basically.

Several of the predictions I made about the Direct yesterday proved true, including a much more polished-looking Star Fox Zero. Kat went hands-on with the game last week, so be sure to read her in-depth impressions of Fox's flight. Star Fox Zero arrives on April 22.

Another bit of Wii U news involves some pretty cool updates for Super Mario Maker, like key-locked doors. You can hide keys in levels themselves, but you can also give them to enemies, thus preventing players from advancing until the foe is killed and the key is retrieved. So Super Mario Maker basically lets you add un-skippable boss fights now, if that's your jam.

Use the boost to get thru.

We also saw more of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, a pop RPG packed with Fire Emblem references. It's an odd-looking title, though everyone is dressed in very sharp clothes. Look for it on June 24.

You also might be interested in Lost Reavers, a free-to-play online co-op game from Bandai Namco. An open beta starts on April 14, and the full version comes to Wii U on April 28.

The biggest Wii U news outside of Star Fox Zero is probably Paper Mario: Color Splash, which is coming later this year. I'm happy, but wary: The last pure-bred Paper Mario game, Paper Mario: Sticker Star for the Nintendo 3DS, had its story neutered. It still plays OK, but the loss of character is a tragic disappointment given how genuinely funny and engaging 2004's Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is. But Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam is a return to form for Mario's affable RPG adventures, so let's hope for the best.

The Wii U is hanging in there, but it's the Nintendo 3DS that paraded the most surprised on the Nintendo Direct. We saw footage for Kirby: Planet Robobot, a new 2D Kirby title that sees the pink puff use "Robobot Armor" against the mechanic invaders that are mechanizing his home. If this doesn't strike you as the coolest premise ever for a Kirby game, I'm not sure what to tell you. Look for it on June 10.

America's "Badass Kirby" goes global.

Speaking of joy and happiness, Rhythm Heaven Megamix is on its way this spring. The Rhythm Heaven titles are some of the jolliest, most toe-tapping rhythm games in the genre. Rhythm Heaven Megamix offers 70 classics from previous games, including the Game Boy Advance release that never came to North America, and 30 new songs are included as well. It'll be good to see Sweaty Wrestler Dude again.

Monster Hunter Generations (Monster Hunter X in Japan) is also coming, which serves to demonstrate the franchise is rapidly gaining popularity in the West. If you're still unsure of what the hype is all about here and abroad, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is on sale at the Nintendo 3DS eShop for $19.99. Worth it!

We were also introduced to Pocket Card Jockey, a Solitaire-powered horse-racing and breeding game from Game Freak. I'm genuinely interested in this, seeing as how infrequently horse racing games come to the West from Japan.

"Run, you stupid horse! I got my last ten bucks on you -- No, don't come over here!"

Nintendo dedicated a significant portion of the Direct to show us Metroid Prime: Federation Force. No doubt the company is still scalded from the heat lobbed at it when the game premiered at E3 2015. Federation Force's mix of combat and cooperative puzzle-solving honestly looks to be a lot of fun. Hopefully Nintendo will rectify issues that marred another one of its cooperative multi-player games, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes. We need steady connections and far meatier options for local multi-player, Nintendo.

Finally, one of the Direct's biggies: SNES Virtual Console titles are now available for download on the New Nintendo 3DS. Right now, you can grab Super Mario World, F-Zero and Pilotwings. On March 24, Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario Kart and EarthBound are coming. April 14 gets The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid and Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest.

Unfortunately, at this juncture it looks like you have to buy the games at full price ($7.99 USD each) regardless of whether or not you already own them on the Wii or Wii U Virtual Console. Boo.

Sure, being able to play SNES games on the bus or in bed is highly appealing, but still. Boo.

Because you need to buy Mario World for the 50th time (Note: Not sarcasm)

Nintendo's refusal to unify our Virtual Console purchases isn't the real shame of this announcement, however. New Nintendo 3DS owners should have been able to access the SNES Virtual Console from the minute the handheld launched over a year ago. The New Nintendo 3DS is a powerful little workhorse, but it hasn't been flying off the shelves because despite its higher price tag, it hasn't offered much above the Nintendo 3DS or XL.

Access to a portable SNES library, though? That's a solid reason for a New Nintendo 3DS purchase, and it might've provided some much-needed interest when the system launched. So the news about SNES games on the New Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console isn't bad so much as it's just way, way overdue.

Overall, this particular Nintendo Direct proved entertaining and satisfying -- pretty much what expected from it. Nintendo enthusiasts will have a lot to chew on this spring and summer. Just don't forget to play outside once in a while, or mom will get mad.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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