It has been a quiet few weeks in Nintendo land recently, an expected part of the typical post – E3 excitement and unfortunate Summer drought. As we move towards the end of the year, a raft of new games on all of the major consoles means the run in to Christmas looks to be another fantastic one for gamers of all types. We were not expecting any major Nintendo news aside from the usual snippets about upcoming games until closer to year-end, but as always with Nintendo, they aim to surprise as well as delight. Lets review the biggest stories from the past week.
New 3DS: Earlier in the week, Nintendo announced that they would be having a Japanese 3DS focused Direct. Fans waited to see some more Smash Brothers info, and maybe an unannounced game or two, but what we got was the entirely unexpected announcement of 2 new handheld consoles – the New 3DS and New 3DS XL. Boasting a number of upgrades from the predecessors, the two consoles will be available in Japan before the end of the year, with the West following some time in 2015. This seems like a shrewd, if a little cynical move by Nintendo, knowing that the Japanese market is almost completely driven by portable devices. As more information emerged on the consoles, it has become apparent that these are more than just basic cosmetic upgrades. The sizes of each has been increased, the weight decreased; there is a new circle pad, new shoulder buttons, and new button placement and design; there is an NFC reader to enable Amiibo use; the 3D hardware has been revamped to ensure easier use, and a wider range of positions to get the best full effect; the CPU and RAM seems to have undergone some large improvement, though accounts are varying on this so far; new models now use Micro SD storage, with each console coming with a 4Gb card; some new wireless and internet security malarkey. Perhaps the biggest news, and news which has annoyed some existing users, is that a bunch of exclusive games will be coming which will only work on the new console – with a port of the Wii’s excellent Xenoblade Chronicles being the first of these. Will you be getting one? I’ve been waiting for a 3DS XL to come down in price so I can pick one up, but I may wait until next year now to pick up one of these bad boys. With a huge library already, there has never been a better time to join the Nintendo handheld family.
Job Cuts: In more depressing news, Nintendo Europe have announced that over 300 jobs will be cut. Obviously this is terrible for all employees, and we wish them all the best for the future.
Mario Kart DLC: As us Western gamers ‘eagerly’ waited for the MK8 Mercedes DLC, Nintendo dropped another bombshell with the announcement of 2 upcoming DLC packages. Coming late this year, and early next year, each package will offer 4 new characters, 4 new vehicles, and most importantly, 8 new tracks making a whopping 16 – that’s basically an entirely brand new game! Nintendo has rightly been late to the DLC game, and has proven that DLC does not need to be a cynical cash in (looking at you EA). Courses based on F-Zero, Animal Crossing, and characters such as Link have been announced, and best of all, each package is less than a tenner. Fans have been naming this Super Smash Kart, and the floodgates could yet open for countless cross-overs.
Amiibo: Amiibo pre-orders have begun, and apparently are performing very well on sites such as Amazon. Although I don’t have any interest in the figures myself, I imagine there will be a big market for this, with kids wanting to pick up each, with fans like me wanting to try out one for the novelty, and the hardcore fans wanting to have them all on their shelves.
Miyamoto Speaks: Legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto has been in fine form recently, speaking on a variety of topics. Only little pieces of his discussions have since been released, so be sure to pick up next month’s Edge Magazine. So far, Miyamoto has been vocal about Nintendo, and his own personal desire to target the core gamer audience once more, moving away from the casual market which has slowly been moving away from Nintendo, and console gaming as a whole. Nintendo have always delivered quality – large scale imaginative adventures which transport gamers out of the mundane real world, and into a joyous world of invention and excitement. As a general rule, casual gamers do not want these types of things, instead wanting a quick addictive fix on the bus or toilet – in other words, they are the type of gamer who don’t really want the sort of fully fledged experience Nintendo is known to offer. Fans have reacted positively to the great man’s words, and if it means that we get less junk and more quality, then I am all for it. Miyamoto covers a variety of other concerns, and he is known to be an always honest, humble, and entertaining interviewer, so I’m sure there will be more highlights.
Bravely Second: The first footage of Square Enix’s highly anticipated sequel was unleashed this week, presenting a gorgeous visual style and a bunch of different jobs and outfits to choose from.
Pokken Fighter: A few weeks back, there was a rumour that Nintendo would be announcing a shocking new Pokemon game. Naturally, everyone was hoping for a fully 3D, HD Wii U game, but this week the game that was unveiled was Pokken Tournament, an Arcade only beat-em up. Using the latest Tekken engine, the game looks smooth, but likely won’t excite too many Western games unless a Wii U port is announced.
An action packed week then – I didn’t even get to mention the Bayonetta 2 release date or the NES Remix on 3DS announcement – let us know your thoughts about any of this week’s news in the comments section!