Just months before the supposed release of Nintendo’s next major hardware, the company has revealed a ton of new games and products in their latest Nintendo Direct conference. Considering all the rumours swirling around the form and function of the NX, a handheld device with the power of a home console, it came as surprise to me that Nintendo would unveil so many new 3DS products—and some of them even release well into 2017.
Whether it be a curious 3DS announcement or a rekindling of an amiibo series that I thought would most certainly be dead, let’s take a look at some of Nintendo’s most astonishing announcements from today’s Nintendo Direct.
Super Mario Maker 3DS
Super Mario Maker felt like a true Nintendo game when it released late last year: it was fun, had an immense amount of replay value and featured the tight controls we all expect from a Mario game. But what made the game truly a joy to play was the integration of the Wii U Gamepad. Without the touch screen it would have been a nightmare to manipulate the various assets used to create custom levels. It just makes sense that Nintendo would release a version of the game for the 3DS: side scrollers feel at home on smaller screens and, though small, the 3DS touch screen is perfect for manipulating your own level creations. What’s more is that a portable version of Super Mario Maker really plays to the strengths of the game’s pick-up-and-play mantra.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Amiibo
And I thought amiibo were dead. Amiibo support for New Leaf was announced in July, but it took Nintendo’s latest conference to remind me just how odd it is that they would do this. With all the Animal Crossing amiibo I see flooding store shelves, I would never have expected Nintendo to release a new wave of them, especially not for a game that is three years old. Is anyone actually still playing New Leaf, and who is in the market for more amiibo cards?
After ditching my town for years now, I know these announcements are meant to entice players to jump back in to the world of Animal Crossing, but I’m afraid to see what kind of decrepit village I left behind. Since I last played, the townsfolk have probably resorted to their animal instincts for sustenance.
Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World
At least I’m not the only one who thought Yoshi’s Woolly World was just too cute. Even my mischievous dog wanted a piece of the adorable yarn creatures—I caught him once with my Yarn Yoshi amiibo in his mouth. Lucky for him, he’ll be able to get his slobber all over the incoming Poochy amiibo when it releases in February. It’s a dog eat dog world after all.
Adorableness aside, I think that Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World was a wise move for Nintendo. Once again we have a game that lends itself well to a handheld. Platformers, because of their side scrolling nature and the size of each level, are highly enjoyable when on the go. I also think that Nintendo recognized that their latest Yoshi game was quite good, so leaving it on Wii U would stagnate the continuation of their whole series of yarn games. A double-dip approach for Yoshi’s Woolly World is not something I could have anticipated, and while I’m usually down on trying to suck out every dollar from games, it’s nice to know that Nintendo took the time to add Poochy-specific levels. If only my dog could play 3DS, he’d love this announcement.
Mario Sports Superstars
Five fully-featured sports games, and they’re in the Mario universe? Hmm, I’m not so sure about this one. I’ve always enjoyed the sports games from Nintendo, but they most definitely haven’t been producing ones of the quality I expected years ago. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash for the Wii U, and even more revealing, Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS were uninspired tennis games. The fact that the tennis game in this sports pack looks very similar to the standalone 3DS game, tells me that it won’t be much better.
Though Nintendo claims that each sport is not just a simple mini-game, I have a hard time believing that each sport was catered to in a way that they would have been if they were developed as separate experiences. The soccer game for example makes me wish that Nintendo had continued to work with Next Level Games to develop another Mario Strikers. Back in the golden days of the Gamecube my friends and I would dedicate our lives to the likes of Mario Power Tennis, Mario Superstar Baseball and Super Mario Strikers. Unless this compilation of games gets even somewhat close to the addictive fun of their older siblings, I don’t see how Mario Sports Superstars could possibly capture a wealth of attention. Horse racing anyone?
When Shigeru Miyamoto announced that he had a completed Pikmin game in his back pocket, I salivated at the thought of it coming to the NX. Luckily Nintendo always plays coy with its fans, and so we have a Pikmin game for 3DS instead. It was unexpected, but I’m not disappointed in the least.
At its very core the Pikmin series has been a top-down real-time strategy game, so it’s no wonder I would be hesitant to imagine a new entry on a handheld system. As I previously concluded, the screen would be too small to identify 100 busy critters at the same time, and the touch controls of the 3DS would overcomplicate the need for precision in the game. But Nintendo quelled all those fears by showcasing a handheld Pikmin game that is side scrolling. This is one of those lauded announcements where Nintendo flexes its creativity to prove why it has been the king of gameplay for so many years.
This new orientation for playing a Pikmin game was unheard of, and though I was skeptical of the new game essentially breaking how a game in the cult series has been played for years, I was quickly sold after watching the demo video. Side scrolling affords the game the ability to capture the charm of the old games while retaining the puzzle and strategy elements that make Pikmin what it is. Because Olimar and his companions traverse the lush environments from a 2D perspective, it’s looks like it will be easy to keep track of the onscreen action, and the touch screen makes perfect sense for designating members of your army, because there is no confusion caused by 3D depth. The simultaneous use of the top screen also makes for a visual treat, a method of using the assets of the 3DS to expand the viewing area of the natural environments while expanding the area and complexity of the puzzles.
With all my attention focussed on an unveiling of the NX and Nintendo’s 2017 plan, these announcements were weird, unexpected, playful and refreshing. Leave it up to Nintendo to totally shift my excitement from new hardware to curiosity for software coming out over the next several months. Let us know which Nintendo Direct announcements squeezed your wallet the most.