Nintendo Direct’s Return Might Bring Zelda News
This Thursday at 2 p.m. Pacific, Nintendo will go live with its first “Nintendo Direct” presentation, announcing new details on upcoming games, since May of this year.
The extended break, following the untimely passing of chief executive (and Nintendo Direct host) Satoru Iwata, has had company fans especially eager for another dose of direct-to-consumer announcements from the Wii U maker. This week’s show will be not unlike Apple’s transition away from Stevenotes, a changing of the guard.
What will not happen is any announcements about Nintendo’s upcoming NX game machine, nor its smartphone games. To temper expectations about this, Nintendo even left a little note to that effect on the Nintendo Direct live-streaming page.
But here’s what we can expect, from pro forma updates on previously announced titles to big blockbuster announcements (maybe). This is a worldwide show—Europe and Japan have their own separate livestreams occuring simultaneously—and that means announcements that impact the whole world.
Happy Anniversary, Zelda
Fresh off celebrating the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., Nintendo heads into 2016, the 30th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda.
The obvious opportunity here, having not shown anything from the upcoming Legend of Zelda for Wii U since the summer of 2014, would be to update fans with new information and announce that the game will arrive to cap off Zelda‘s anniversary year.
Of course, this all depends on how closely the re-introduction of Zelda is going to be tied to the upcoming NX console. Nintendo maintains that Zelda is still coming for Wii U, but that wouldn’t preclude an NX version or the game having special features that only work in an NX. If it wouldn’t make sense for Nintendo to issue a Zelda update without mentioning NX, then we won’t see it until Nintendo is ready to talk about the new hardware.
Hyrule Warriors Legends, an action-game spinoff for Nintendo 3DS, will surely be mentioned, since it’s coming out early next year.
The big rumor, that seems to have some serious substantiation behind it, is that Nintendo will release an HD upgraded version of the 2006 game The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for Wii U. This will surely end up being more than just a simple remaster, since Twilight Princess was not a simple release: There were two versions, one for GameCube with standard controls and one for Wii with motion controls.
But it’s weirder than that: The Wii version of the game was actually mirror-flipped so that Link would fight with his right hand (like Miyamoto, Link is normally a lefty), while the GameCube version was not. If Twilight Princess HD is real, expect Nintendo to come up with some clever way of dealing with Twilight Princess‘ dual identities, maybe letting people choose mirrored or not-mirrored, motion controls or not.
Another Zelda remake, building on the work Nintendo’s already done with Wind Waker HD, would make a lot of sense as a retail buffer during what’s probably going to be Wii U’s last big year. Speaking of which…
Wii U’s Last Christmas?
Nintendo says it’s going to talk about NX in 2016. It’s not out of the question that it could release NX in 2016, too, and if it does indeed combine portable and home gaming into a single [platform/device/sentient primordial goo/whatever], that means we’re probably looking at Nintendo starting to wrap things up for the Wii U. On the off chance there are any huge Wii U games coming out that we haven’t heard about, it’s possible we’ll get announcements this week.
More likely is Nintendo taking the time to keep selling Wii U and 3DS owners on its last remaining Christmas releases. In Japan, that’ll be a lengthy exegesis on the unwieldily-named Genei Ibunroku #FE, the Fire Emblem–Megami Tensei crossover role-playing game coming in December. In the U.S., it’ll be the RPG Xenoblade Chronicles X, which has been out in Japan a while but is coming here in December.
(Nintendo is also releasing the action game Devil’s Third in the U.S. in December, but given its thoroughly mediocre reviews in other territories, they may decide to not give it too much of the spotlight this week.)
Nintendo held an election this year, asking fans to vote on which character—from any videogame ever made by anyone—they’d most like to see in Super Smash Bros., its all-star fighting game franchise. The ballot closed on October 2, and now would be the most obvious time for Nintendo to report on the results and announce what character(s) it plans to add to the game next. I’m not sure why it would delay the results any further, and the news could juice extra Christmas sales of the game even if the character won’t show up until 2016.
You can’t talk Smash without talking Amiibos, and so new interactive figurines in the line will probably make an appearance here too, so we can find out when we can buy a tiny Ryu.
Springtime for Nintendo
Beyond the holidays, Nintendo has already announced a few games coming in 2016, and has said on its Japanese Twitter that this Nintendo Direct will cover games coming out between now and “spring.” Since spring ends in mid-June, that means for all practical purposes that the whole first half of 2016 is on the table.
I expect updates on 2016 games like the 3DS role-playing games Fire Emblem Fates (out in Japan, but not here) and Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam. What I think is less likely is an update on the 3DS shooter Metroid Prime: Federation Force. After its lukewarm reception at E3 this year, I think it’s more likely that Nintendo will wait to re-introduce it at next year’s E3, maybe with an overhauled gameplay demo that makes it more acceptable to Metroid fans.
Nintendo originally planned to release Star Fox Zero for Wii U this year, but bumped it back to the first quarter of 2016. That’s not a very lengthy delay, which means we’ll likely get some announcements about it—more gameplay modes, perhaps, but another not-unlikely scenario is the announcement of Star Fox Amiibo interactive toys. Shigeru Miyamoto has said in the past that he wants an Amiibo based on the Arwing, Star Fox’s fighter ship. Could we see it tomorrow?
Nintendo has been updating its Wii U evergreens Splatoon and Super Mario Maker with new content, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see either or both of these get another content update announced during this Direct.
Splatoon in particular is ripe for a substantial content update that actually costs money, a la Mario Kart or Smash Bros.‘ big feature-rich updates that have probably contributed a lot to Nintendo’s quickly increasing digital-goods sales this year.
Mario Maker just had a small update a few days ago, so if anything, perhaps it’ll be more along the lines of an announcement of big features coming that Nintendo’s still at work on.
Allow Me to Briefly Engage in Some Wishcasting
Rhythm Heaven The Best Plus for Nintendo 3DS is only out in Japan right now, and it is an absolutely stellar greatest-hits collection of hundreds of musical mini-games from throughout the entire series. It represents a particularly onerous localization problem, since songs have to be re-recorded into English at the very least. So I’m hoping that’s the reason it hasn’t yet been announced for America, and that Nintendo of America will debut it during this Direct. If we don’t see it, we get one step closer to it never coming here at all, which would be a tragedy. Seriously, it’s really good.
Actual New Videogames
Nintendo can’t (well, shouldn’t) bring Nintendo Direct back without some games we haven’t heard about before. Of course, the nature of these things is that they are unknowable. Miyamoto has said that the Pikmin team is working on another installment of the adorable-garden-creatures strategy game, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a Wii U title.
Then again, if it is, now would be the time to announce—E3 2016 is going to be all about NX, which means any remaining Wii U and 3DS games need to be unveiled asap. So depending on how much is still in the pipeline, there’s still room for some big surprises even if this Direct only focuses on current-gen games in a limited time window.