Discussing more than just the news from today's Nintendo Direct, but the ramifications it will have on the company for the foreseeable future.
There was a metric shit-ton of information coming out of the Nintendo Direct transmission today. Over the past year, Nintendo has been bringing information straight to it's fans through it's social media outlets more and more, and this previous one may just be the biggest one of them all. In fact, there was so much news, and so many big news items, it kind of felt like I was watching a mini-E3 presentation. But rather than just rattle off the announcements verbatim, which you can get from literally every other news site, I wanted to talk more about some of the far-reaching effects many of these announcements can have. I want to spit some meta-game about Nintendo's communication styles, and what it means for us as gaming folk, as well as take a look at what crazy things have started and where they'll be going.
The Nintendo Direct communications are interesting, in that they are a direct contact to their own fanbase. They are preaching to the choir, so to speak, so rather than just telling you how awesome they are, they tend to spend more time saying things like "we hope you will be excited," and "we hope you understand it will take just a little more time." Both Iwata and Reggie come off more humble and friendly, and while any coherent person is aware that this is all being heavily PR filtered, I think this approach is much easier to receive than Sony and Microsoft's general "you're going to love us because we said so" approach. Ultimately, the fact that Iwata, the president of Nintendo, takes as much time out of his schedule as he does to talk to "me" directly really helps ground the company. I think this wins them a lot of favor with people, which is a great way to make them more receptive to anything you have to say.
The discussion of MiiVerse may have been a bit dragging, but what's most interesting about it is that Nintendo didn't just throw it out there and leave it to die; it's going to continue to evolve and grow as a service. It's going to allow developers to directly interface with their fans through Nintendo's channel, which has this weird cross-promotional synergy that, if I were a developer, especially a more indie developer like WayForward, I'd be way more excited about.
I'm not sure how I feel about this "new" Virtual Console set-up. Sure, adding all the features for MiiVerse and save slots to it is amazing, but the fact that it's a limited run, and that I continue to have to pay for it is weird. Yes, if I own it on the Wii and transferred my stuff over, I can get the enhanced version for only a dollar to a dollar fifty, but... I don't know. Shouldn't I kind of just get the upgrade? It seems like a bit of a good faith venture to me, but I suppose it's not like the efforts are free. I'm more concerned that there's still no way to just have my Virtual Console games already purchased available on all platforms, including the 3DS. But hey, we're getting GameBoy Advance games, finally, so that's pretty slick. Now if only we'd get that Castlevania: Bloodlines for the Genesis....
There's also this weird Famicon deal where you can essentially rent a game for 30 cents, for 30 days. I'm not really sure how I feel about paid, limited time demos, and I foresee a lot of people being confused about not being able to keep the game, so let's see how this all goes.
Smartphone integration for MiiVerse is a huge thing. Not only is Nintendo letting other companies have at an aspect of their little empire, but it opens the door for other opportunities as well. If you remember back in the days of Mario Kart Wii, there was a special Mario Kart Channel that you could upload to your Wii interface. This would allow you to check in on leaderboards and the like without actually loading up the game. If they could start integrating apps like that into smartphones, it could really take individual games to a whole new level of connectivity.
I'm just going to say The Mighty 101 is possibly the game I'm most excited about right now. Platinum Games making games for the WiiU makes me all kinds of excited. Between this unique IP that looks like a wonderful puzzle/brawler, and Bayonetta 2, there's a lot to love between this business partnership. Seeing the Platinum Games office showcase during the Direct was incredibly interesting to a gaming nut like me, and I hope to see more of these in future shows. As a side note, remember how Bayonetta had a ton of Sega references when it was funded by Sega? I wonder if Bayonetta 2 will have a ton of random Nintendo references... Finger's crossed!
If we're following along in chronological order, this is the part where Nintendo did something unthinkable. They basically tipped their hand without really having a whole lot to show for it. Things that you would imagine to be saved for E3 were just mentioned here, including the acknowledgement that Smash Bros. is coming along and will be shown at E3, there's a new Mario game by their EAD development staff (think Mario Galaxy and Mario 3D Land), AND they are working on a new Zelda. Now sure, it's all common sense that this is happening. Nintendo has always been one for secrets, sometimes announcing games mere months before releasing them. But now they're telling us about projects before they have so much as a screenshot? Madness! I'm curious to see how this new cycle works for Nintendo. Will they be guiding us along the development process more closely now, to allow us to see how our favorite games are being made? It's an interesting concept that I hope pans out.
An HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker was announced. Easily the best Zelda that doesn't have "Majora's Mask" in the title, I'm nothing but ecstatic to see this game getting released 10 years later! (I'm so old...) What's more, is this kicks open the door I was waiting for: classic Nintendo games in HD. How much longer do we have to wait before we see Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword in HD? How about a high-def remake of the Metroid Prime trilogy? Or Mario Galaxy, which I consider to be one of the best looking games of the past decade, low resolution not withstanding. It's not uncommon for studios to put out HD remakes of their best works, and Nintendo is no stranger to making excellent remakes of their games. And it's not just about putting them in HD: the combination of New Play Control with Wii-motes, and the GamePad functionality opens up a variety of gameplay enhancements that Nintendo could add! It's a very exciting road to travel down, but in the same breath, I really hope it doesn't detract from all the new ideas I want to see coming out.
New ideas like the new Wii Play title, for example. I know, I know, mini-game collections are the devil, right? To hell with all that, I love getting people together to play dumb mini-game games, and Wii Play was actually one of the best ones on Wii. Seeing all the crazy things they can do with this is going to be very exciting. That Wii-Mote/GamePad game of twister was interesting looking. If you haven't seen the footage yet, I highly recommend seeking it out. This is the kind of meta-game gaming that I love. Also? Two-players using the same GamePad to do a little game of Foosball is fucking brilliant.
I had to surgically remove my heart to be able to talk about Yoshi's Epic Yarn long enough to not devolve into a mass of girlish screams of joy. Kirby's Epic Yarn was one of my favorite games of the past few years for a number of reasons, not least of which was that it just grabbed the pleasure center of my brain and massaged it ever so gently. Now, Yoshi's going to be involved in a similar game with a similar artstyle, and I couldn't be happier. What they currently showed looks maybe a little -too- much like Kirby's Epic Yarn, so I"m hoping it continues to evolve the look further. Considering Yoshi himself gets a power up that turns him into more of a yarn-skinned plushie instead of just a 2-D outline shows me that they've definitely got something up their sleeves.
And just when I thought my heart couldn't take any more! Mr. Iwata mentions that they're working on a new partnership with a renowned developer. So that's exciting... Oh, Atlus? That's interesting... Hey I recognize those guys, those are Shin Megami Tensei dudes! AND THOSE ARE FIRE EMBLEM DUDES! AND THEY'S GONNA BE IN THE SAME GAME?! Yeah, needless to say I'm pumped to hear more about this title. And my curiosity is peaked at the mention of working on additional collaborations with more developers. This is a good thing, and I can't wait to see where it goes.
Well actually we can see one place it's going right now:
I have no idea what this is that Monolith Software is cooking up. It looks incredibly similar to Xenoblade, so that's already a really good thing. It looks mad JRPG, but it looks rather stunning, so I hope to hear more about this before too long.
So, what are the ramifications of this new Nintendo Direct? New directions for content, including developer behind-the-scenes stuff. Not taking any shit and jumping right into new game announcements. Illustrating a continuing growth and push on Nintendo's side for new content and amazing software. In short; the WiiU is going to have a nice, strong catalog moving forward. If they can maintain this kind of momentum, there's no doubt they're going to be doing very well for themselves for this console life cycle.