The latest North American edition of Nintendo Direct went live this morning, offering details on several Wii U and 3DS games due early next year. The vast majority of games that appear during the presentation should be well known to Nintendo fans, though there is one notable surprise: Google Maps, with a GamePad-enabled version of Street View, is coming to Wii U.
This installment of Nintendo Direct offers extended previews of LEGO City: Undercover and Game & Wario, new footage of Pikmin 3 (which is gorgeous!), details on Wii Fit U and Panorama View, a first look at Google Maps for Wii U and an announcement about DLC for Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. The 3DS gets its time in the spotlight, too, with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Brain Age: Concentration Training and a couple of eShop titles, HarmoKnight (from Pokemon developer Game Freak) and Tokyo Crash Mobs.
The presentation kicks off with Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime promising that the number games available for Wii U will double “over the next few weeks and months.” It’s a vague statement, made no clearer by the lack of specific dates for the Wii U games covered in the video. Basically, expect new first-party Wii U games to start arriving early next year, with one exception: Pikmin 3. The long-awaited third Pikmin game has been pushed back from its projected Spring release date to the second quarter of 2013. Yes, that’s a bummer.
LEGO City: Undercover is the first of the “early 2013″ games. Players assume the role of Chase McCain, a cop who goes undercover to bring down crime boss Rex Fury. Chase will have a variety of disguises at his disposal (Miner, Construction Worker, Fire Fighter, Robber), along with access to more than 100 vehicles. Players can scan Chase’s environment with the GamePad in order to uncover hidden criminals and items. Undercover has a cool tie-in with the LEGO toys, too. A new playset, dubbed “LEGO City: High Speed Chase,” will include both a Chase McCain LEGO figure and a DLC code that unlocks vehicles and missions in the game.
Next up is Game & Wario (check out our hands-on preview), a collection of 16 mini-games for as many as five players. Unlike Nintendo Land (read our review), which requires Wii Remotes for multiplayer, Game & Wario is controlled exclusively with the GamePad – though a lot of “playing” the game seems to be “watching” the game. According to Erik Peterson of Nintendo’s Treehouse, Game & Wario is “designed so others, who don’t hold the controller, can also enjoy it.” We’ll see. Check out Nintendo Global President Satoru Iwata trying his hand at the Fruit mini-game below, and look for Game & Wario next year.
As for Pikmin 3, Nintendo doesn’t have much to say about the game beyond announcing its delay to Q2 of next year. At least there’s a new trailer to gaze at longingly.
Rounding out the Wii U games, Wii Fit U is due in the first part of 2013 and features 77 activities, spanning aerobic training, strength training, yoga and dance. It’ll come with a Fit Meter, a small, Pokewalker-esque pedometer that keeps track of a player’s out-of-game activities and transmits the estimated calories burned to Wii U. Panorama View, coming next Spring, turns the GamePad into a virtual camera through which players can view 360 degree video, like a tour of London from a double-decker bus. It won’t be a free app, but there will be a free demo on the eShop.
Google Maps, with its neat GamePad implementation of Street View (which isn’t that far removed from Panorama View) is also destined for the eShop. It’s set to arrive in the first quarter of 2013, and though Nintendo didn’t comment one way or the other, we’ve gotta believe it’ll be free. Finally, two free DLC characters for Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge are coming soon (though we don’t know exactly when): deadly ninja Momiji and Dead or Alive‘s Kasumi.
That brings us to Nintendo’s 3DS games, and a few solid release dates. Fire Emblem: Awakening will be first out of the gate on February 4, 2013. Though the in-battle graphics are still grid and sprite-based, there are some lovely 3D animated cut-scenes to spice up Awakening’s “dozens of hours of gameplay.” One week later, on February 10th, Nintendo will launch Brain Age: Concentration Training. This time around, the game will dynamically tailor the difficulty of its exercises to keep players challenged. That leaves Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon as the last of 3DS’s big Spring games, though it doesn’t yet have a concrete release date.
As for the 3DS’s eShop titles, Tokyo Crash Mobs is a genuinely peculiar looking little game that appears to play kind of like Zuma, but with people instead of marbles. Seriously. If nothing else, the game’s art style – which includes live action video, digitized characters and animated elements – makes it worth a look. Game Freak’s HarmoKnight, on the other hand, is an absolutely adorable rhythmic platformer that’s been available in Japan since September. Both games are “coming soon,” but you can take another look at HarmoKnight below.
Ranters, what do you think of Nintendo’s Wii U and 3DS line-up for the next few months? Are any of these games must-buys for you, or are you still holding our for new Mario and Zelda titles? Let us know in the comments below.
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