HD Wind Waker, smartphone integration, and Virtual Console plans: all the news from Nintendo Direct

HD Wind Waker, smartphone integration, and Virtual Console plans: all the news from Nintendo Direct

Today’s Nintendo Direct stream addressed the company’s plans for the the Wii U system, outlining several new technologies, firmware updates, and games coming to the system. Nintendo has given us a roadmap of their vision of the Wii U in 2013, and we’ve broken down the biggest news for you below. You can also skip to the very end of the article to watch the stream in its entirety.

The tech

Miiverse smartphone integration

“There have been a lot of posts by many Miiverse users during the two months since launch, but there are so many posts and comments on Miiverse that even Wii U owners cannot check every post, and many of you may not have noticed when something was happening in Miiverse,” Iwata told viewers.

To help rectify this problem and bring more users to the Miiverse forums, Nintendo is expanding the service’s reach to smartphones. You’ll be able to view and participate in Miiverse from your smartphone this spring, Iwata said.

Faster loading times

Nintendo has two major firmware updates planned for the Wii U: one coming in spring, and the other coming in summer. Iwata said the company is addressing the lengthy amount of time it takes to launch software and return to the menu screen. Neither one of the updates will tackle the issue alone; Iwata said Nintendo was handling the slow boot-up times incrementally, so you’ll need both updates to get the best, fastest experience.

Wii U Virtual Console

Faster load times won’t be the only feature coming to the Wii U with the spring update – it will also mark the launch of the Wii U Virtual Console. The service will start relatively small, with only select NES and Super NES games available at launch. GameBoy Advance titles are also planned.

When the service launches, you’ll be able to play the following games both on the TV and via the Wii U GamePad, save back-up data, and access a new Virtual Console-centric Miiverse community.

The bad news is if you already own a game for the Wii Virtual Console that you would like to see on your Wii U, you still have to re-purchase the game. The good news is that Nintendo will offer you special pricing for such titles: $1 for NES games, $1.50 for SNES games, a roughly 80% discount for most games. In order to get this reduced price, you need to transfer your games from the Wii to your Wii U.

Although the full service won’t launch until later, Nintendo is offering a “trial campaign” for Wii U users. This campaign also doubles as a 30th anniversary celebration of the original NES, so from January until July – the months across which the NES/Famicom launched – Nintendo will be making select titles available for download for only 30 cents. Each month, different games will be released. You can see Nintendo’s planned line-up of games below:

  • January: Balloon Fight
  • February: F-Zero
  • March: Punch Out! Featuring Mr. Dream
  • April: Kirby’s Adventure
  • May: Super Metroid
  • June: Yoshi
  • June: Donkey Kong

The games

New Mario and Mario Kart

Iwata had no details to give regarding the upcoming Mario and Mario Kart games, other than the factit will be developed by the same team behind Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Super Mario 3D Land. Expect more details come E3 2013, when Iwata said the games will be shown, and playable.

New Yoshi game

The team behind Kirby’s Epic Yarn will be giving another Nintendo star the fabric treatment with an upcoming Yoshi game. No details were given regarding release date or when we might be able to get game play impressions, but the Nintendo Direct feed did give short snippets of the game in motion.

This will be the first Yoshi game developed for a home console since Yoshi’s Story, released on the Nintendo 64, in 1998. The director of that game, Takashi Tezuka, is onboard as supervisor.

Fire Emblem/Shin Megami Tensei crossover

The cast of Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series and Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei will be meeting up in a game developed by Intelligent Systems, the studio behind the recent Fire Emblem: Awakening. Absolutely nothing is known about this game, or when it will be shown again, so for now, just imagine the possibilities of Marth meeting up with some of the Persona crew. Crazy.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD re-release

Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma said that, after demoing the possibilities of a Legend of Zelda on Wii U at E3 2011, the team began experimenting with different visual styles and capabilities of the system. This led to some experimentation with old systems and graphics, and when it came to Wind Waker, Aonuma said the remastered game “felt like something entirely new.” It will feature new Wii U-specific features, such as the ability to play off-TV on the Wii U GamePad and a new section of Miiverse.

Wind Waker will be re-released not as a Virtual Console download, but as a full HD remastering at an unspecified date this fall.

The stream

Nintendo gave fans plenty to mull over and get excited for today, and we’ve only scratched the surface of all the information given. If you’d like to watch the Nintendo Direct feed in its entirety, you can do so below:

Hold-outs, is this enough to get you excited for a Wii U? Fans, what looks like the best incoming feature?