The first Nintendo Direct has been and gone, and it was a big one. We learned that the New 3DS models will release over here on February 13th, we got fresh looks at a number of titles including Splatoon, Xenoblade Chronicles X and 3D, and Mario Party 10, Nintendo dished the dirt on a new wave of Amiibo figures coming later this year, and then let rip with a fat handheld lineup culminating in some seriously pretty special edition hardware bundles.
Here's what we made of the presentation...
I'm finding it quite hard to sit still right now, such is my excitement. That Nintendo Direct did exactly what I wanted: it answered some of my biggest questions about the Wii U and 3DS. I was worried after going hands-on with Splatoon that it might not have the longevity to make a great impression, but Nintendo swept that concern aside with this video. The game looks brilliant, the customisation absolutely spot-on. None of that depth had been exhibited mid-way through last year, but the variety in weapons and devices, and the numerous ways to add your own flavour to the game should really serve to shake things up. I can't wait to play it again this year in any case.
I'm so glad I bought a Wii U.
Then there was Xenoblade Chronicles X, which looks heart-stoppingly expansive, and breathtakingly beautiful. I'm stoked for the 3D remake that's coming this year, the original game was one of the finest JRPGs of last-gen on any platform, but the sequel looks deeply impressive too. The high-concept setup to that trailer was perfect, and although most of the showing was just characters running around, I found it difficult not to be drawn in by the lush, varied locales, and the captivatingly enormous beasts that populated them. I want, nay need, this game in my life.
I was impressed by Nintendo further embracing cross-buy strategies with Mario vs Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars, along with the Play Create Share mentality that game exudes. Now that the New 3DS will come with a C-stick and dual bumper inputs, hopefully we see more titles releasing across both platforms for a single price. I love the partnership with GungHo too for Puzzle & Dragons Z and the Mario Edition. Match-3 meets Pokemon? Sign me the hell up!
But my biggest questions surrounded the 3DS. In drafts I currently have an article about falling out of love with handheld gaming, and my 3DS has been gathering dust these past few months. Not for much longer, methinks.
The barrage of 3DS titles was cracking, the variety much needed. The double whammy for strategy fans in a new Fire Emblem and Codename S.T.E.A.M. made me do a little jig, and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate looks ace. Speaking of Ace, I can't wait to take to the skies in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy +, although some of those Amiibo-unlocked planes look awful. Bowser's was okay, but Link's just looked like someone had dropped several pots of Dulux on an aircraft and not bothered to clean it up.
And then there was that Majora's Mask New 3DS XL. I'd been eyeing up the bigness of the XL, but I liked the customisation coolness of the standard version. Looks and personality vs comfort. Thankfully the Zelda XL has them both, and it will be mine.
Nintendo just won 2015. In January.
Okay, I'll cop to hyperbole, but it's difficult to overstate just how impressive today's Nintendo Direct really was and how brilliantly it managed to cement my excitement about the upcoming 3DS and Wii U lineup while revealing more games to boot. Starting with new 3DS Fire Emblem was a sure-fire way to grab my attention, and it was only uphill from there, fleshing out Splatoon into a a well-rounded shooter with strong progression and customisation to compliment its innovative gameplay. May is often a slow month, but with Splatoon and Project STEAM hitting shelves, we've got summer sorted.
It's great to see Nintendo fully embracing cross-play with Mario vs Donkey Kong on 3DS and Wii U, not to mention the new features that Amiibos will bring to existing games such as Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, but in all honesty my heart is still racing after getting another long look at Xenoblade Chronicles X. Topping the best JRPG of recent years will take some doing, but it's clear that the massive open world is even more expansive in terms of scale and scope, more beautiful to behold and explore, not to mention a cool fusion of colourful sci-fi and dirty dark fantasy.
I'm so ready, professional detachment be damned. I'm allowed to get excited about things that look incredible.
However, once the adrenaline wore off, the New 3DS stole the show. Idiotic and confusing branding notwithstanding, make mine an XL - most likely the Monster Hunter 4 special edition. As someone who's been waiting for this more dynamic and mobile take on the franchise for literally years, I can't wait to get involved on the revamped hardware. Even if I'll have to faff about to carry my content over.
Nintendo still have a mountain to climb, but for me, today's Nintendo Direct shows a confident company ready to fight and deliver on its strengths: great games that you can't find anywhere else. Bring it on. And maybe find time to get rid of region locking while you're at it.
Well, I suspect that the Nintendo fanbase will be happy with the first Nintendo Direct of 2015. It did everything it needed to – showed off the big titles that will hit later in the year, introduced a few new titles, and gave us solid dates for games and the New 3DS system. However, I’m not part of that Nintendo fanbase, and because I hate fun (apparently) I’m not coming away with the same levels of enthusiasm.
That said, it was a good showing and here’s why – the new Fire Emblem title that was demo’d renewed my interest in getting a (new) 3DS, and the Xenoblade Chronicles X vista-ganza video increased the chances of me getting a Wii U to play it on once it releases. Hell, Splatoon continued to look incredibly fun and colourful, although the mention of abilities linked to clothing does bother me a little bit in that players of certain playstyles will ultimately all look the same.
Otherwise it was the same old of showing trailers and then explaining them (ugh) and announcing re-releases of games I’m not a huge fan of. Still, closing on the reveal of IronFall Invasion was an unexpected surprise, although the emphasis on how the second stick gives “new levels of precision” came off as naive. However, what Ninty have done with today’s presentation is successfully fire up the excitement levels of existing customers while raising a few interested eyebrows from those who have yet to make the jump. So while I’m not yet sold, I think it’s fair to say “good on you, Nintendo.”
How about you, folks? What did you make of today's Nintendo Direct? As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!