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Nintendo Direct makes a triumphant return with heaps of Nintendo news

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Where to even begin! With the mere continued existence of the much-vaunted Nintendo Direct – a video series presenting Nintendo news to the masses – being uncertain after the death of former Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, fans were rightfully dubious when they heard a nebulous announcement in September that a new installment would come around “soon” (™). When no actual scheduled date was given and no Direct seemed forthcoming the Nintendo Twitter account was alight with #Direct and fans begging for a return of the series. A return they eventually got.

And what a return!

The Direct aired today – hosted by President of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aime and Senior Product Marketing Manager Bill Trinen – and was positively bursting at the seam with news – both updates on known products and some new announcements. If you want the full experience, head on over to the Nintendo Direct site and watch the 45-minute cavalcade of Nintendo news for yourself.

Here’s a dump of pretty much everything discussed in the Direct. Since there’s so much here, I’ve gone ahead and highlighted the titles so you can easily parse through and find anything of interest to you (spoiler alert: pretty much everything). You’re welcome.

One of the biggest bits of news is that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess will be receiving an HD remake for the Wii U.  The scheduled release date for this re-release of the grittiest Zelda game, originally released for the Gamecube and the Wii, is March 4th, 2016, which marks the 30th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda series.

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While it will feature enhanced visuals, Fils-Amie said it would be “more than a prettier version of the same game” and will even include a brand new Wolf Link (And Midna!) Amiibo. It will also reportedly be compatible with the Link, Toon Link, Zelda, Shiek and Ganondorf Amiibos from the Smash Brothers series. Other new features will be announced at a future date.

Preorders are available and include the soundtrack as a preorder bonus.

Fils-Amie also cheekily hinted at the new Wii U Zelda game (you know, the one that was delayed indefinitely) during the Direct, saying that some of the data that is saved on the Wolf Link Amiibo will transfer to the new title, expected sometime in 2016.

“We’re working hard on the new Zelda game for Wii U because we want it to live up to your expectations,” Fils-Amie said, “and 30 years of Zelda goodness.”

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Bill Trinen took the stage after Fils-Amie (and held it for most of the Direct) and announced that the team over at Nintendo was working on a free update for The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes that will add a new area, the Den of Trials, which will have 30 or more stages to normal areas’ mere four. The update will also add two new outfits: Linebeck’s Uniform and the Fierce Deity Armor.

The update will release on December 2nd.

Moving on, the Direct also gave an overview of the upcoming Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon, which will launch on November 20th. Trinen reiterated that the game would allow you, the player, to fill the Pokeboots of one of over 20 different Pokemon and that the game would include every Pokemon released to date…all 720 of them. The Direct showed footage of the game’s procedurally-generated dungeons, the “connection orb” that connects you with other Pokemon to get quests, and even showed off legendary Pokemon joining your team.

The image of a giant Ho-oh following behind Pikachu was amusing to say the least.

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New Splatoon content was revealed, including new maps (Museum d’Alfonsino and Mahi-Mahi Resort), both with interesting terrain twists like rotating platforms and lowering water level (anyone else but me find it weird that squidkids can’t swim?), and new weapons and gear. This new update is coming out in multiple parts with all sorts of new gear available now and Museum d’Alfonsino available tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. PST.

Nintendo is also launching a new Splatnet website (as of writing this website is not yet available) to track game stats and updates.

Super Mario Maker was shown off next, going over some of the new content from the recent update (checkpoint flags and status-depending powerup options). In addition, Trinen announced that they would be adding a new portal site – available outside the game on regular internet browsers – to allow for easier searches through the game’s 3.3 million courses.

The site is expected to be up in December.

More information was given about the upcoming Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival, giving details about the gameplay and features included in the game. The game, which is reminiscent of a board game, will challenge the player to collect the most “happy points” to make their avatar – all major characters from the Animal Crossing universe, available via Amiibos – the happiest animal around. Each turn will be one day in the life of your little Animiibo and the entire game will represent a month in their lives.

The game will launch on November 13th and will be available in a bundle with the Isabelle and Digby Amiibos. Those Amiibos will only be available in the bundle with other figures being made available after launch including Tom Nook (in case you haven’t gotten enough of his greedy little stares already), K.K. Slider and others. Animal Crossing Amiibo cards will unlock other game modes.

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It is currently unclear how (or even if) the game will play without these Amiibos.

Mario Tennis Ultra Smash was shown off with its singles and doubles matches on display, as well as the new jump shot (and “ultra smash”) system that would allow players to return volleys without waiting for them to hit the ground and the mega mushroom power up which…yeah, it makes your player bigger. This is Mario, after all. What did you expect? A simple mode will also be available, making the game more resemble traditional, non-Mario Tennis (but who wants that?).

A character select mode with 16 characters was shown in the Direct including obvious picks like Mario, Luigi, Peach and Bowser, as well as newcomers like Bowser Junior (complete in his Junior Clown Car), Dry Bones Bowser (for some paradox doubles with not-undead Bowser) and even a “sprixie” fairy from Super Mario 3D World. Up to four players can play and worldwide online multiplayer will be included.

Naturally, Amiibo will be compatible with the game and players can play through a special mode with their Amiibo partner, who grows more skilled the more you play. The Amiibos can then be used in online double matches against other players and their Amiibos.

Mario Tennis Ultra Smash will be available on November 20th.

Xenoblade Chronicles X, due out on December 4th, was next on the docket, with Trinen showing off a series of spectacular scenes from the upcoming JRPG. The segment showed off the giant world and transforming, customizable mechs called skells.

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What more could you ask for?

Trinen said the game would combine the open-world exploration and immersion of western RPGs and the stylish visuals and action-packed combat of JRPGs.

Xenoblade Chronicles X is currently available for pre-purchase and pre-load from the Nintendo eShop. In addition, there are downloadable data-loading packs currently available for those of you who want the physical copy of the game later that will “speed up loading times” and “greatly improve your gameplay experience.” The packs available are “basic” (2.0 GB), “enemy pack” (2.7 GB), “player pack” (3.6 GB) and “skell pack” (1.7 GB). The packs are built in to the digital version and therefor unnecessary for those of you who want to download the game from the eShop.

There’s currently a video series available for viewing called “Xenoblade Chronicles X, Survival Guide.” You can check out the first installment here on the Nintendo Youtube Channel.

The eShop was touched on next with a number of new digital offerings that will be made available, including Nintendo Badge Arcade, a free-to-play title available now, a crane game that earns you Nintendo badges that can be used to customize your 3DS home menu; Pokemon Picross, another free-to-play puzzle number game with a Pokemon bend which will be available in early December; Steamworld Heist; Fast Racing Neo (Wii U), which looks like a spiritual successor to F-Zero; and Typo Man (Wii U).

Trinen also announced that Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow (but not Green…come on Nintendo) would all be coming to the eShop. All are preserved in all of their original glory…with the addition of a revamped trade mode, so there’s no need to dig up your old transfer cable, people. These relaunches will be available for download on the eShop on February 27, the same day that the games were first available 20 years ago.

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Fils-Amie took the stage again (after Trinen had a run-in with a spirit from Yokai Watch and a few dozen donuts) to talk about a new Wii U bundle for the holidays which would include both Super Smash Brothers Wii U and Splatoon (rumored to be only $250 during Black Friday at Walmart) and some new 3DS XL deals.

After that, the Direct turned to 2016 for some of its biggest reveals, including the release date of the Pokemon fighting game, Pokken Tournament, which is scheduled for a spring 2016 release on the Wii U, and Starfox Zero. The Starfox Zero sequence showed off a number of the game’s new vehicles like the Landmaster Tank (which can apparently fly now), the Gyro Wing, and an Arwing walker, as well as the game’s dual viewpoint that will have the player watching the gamepad for a cockpit view and the TV screen for a wider view around their vehicle.

The new release date for Starfox Zero was revealed to be April 22, 2016.

The only technically-new title was announced next, Mario & Luigi Paper Jam, a mashup between the Mario & Luigi RPG series and the Paper Mario series that looks like an interesting twist on both. In the game, the “corporeal” Mario and Luigi will team up with Paper Mario (but not Paper Luigi of course…poor Paper Luigi) to tackle unique challenges that will make the most of their partnership by turning Paper Mario into a multitude of forms as well as special triple attacks between the three brothers. “Battle cards” are also being added for some extra variety in combat. And of course Amiibos will be compatible with this game too, giving the player special character cards in the game for more powerful effects.

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Mario and Luigi Paper Jam is set for a January 22, 2016 release date.

We also got a good look at Square Enix’s Final Fantasy Explorers, a blend of Final Fantasy and Monster Rancher that is set to be released on January 26 in North America. The action RPG will feature a job system with 20 different classes that can be used in cooperative gameplay that pits the player(s) against iconic monsters from the Final Fantasy series. The players can even channel characters from past Final Fantasy games with the “trance” command.

The game will be beatable solo but Trinen (who seemed to be over his donut binge) said that it would be better with friends or even trained monsters to fill in for the various team roles like tank, healer, support or DPS.

Final Fantasy Explorers will launched with all of the DLC that Japanese players are already enjoying with their game since it was released in December of 2014.

Speaking of Final Fantasy, Cloud’s coming to Super Smash Brothers for Wii U and 3DS. No. This isn’t a joke. Yes. I was shocked too. They also announced a “special broadcast” for Super Smash Brothers next month. If Cloud is just the appetizer, who knows what the heck the main course will be!

Fire Emblem Fates was also given the solid release date of February 19. The game will be launched as two separate titles: Fire Emblem Fates Birthright and Fire Emblem Fates Conquest. Each game is “a complete story and a complete game,” but playing both will show both sides of the game’s overall story. Trinen said that buying one game will allow you to purchase the second at a reduced price…and a third path (Revelation) will also become available for download for owners of both games that will reveal some “juicy secrets about the series.”

Trinen suggested saving Revelations for last.

A special edition will also be available, which will include all three games, an art book, and a 3DS XL pouch, all for $80. A free DLC map will be released sometime after the game’s February launch and six maps will be available for purchase after that.

The next announcement (which is near and dear to this writer’s heart) was a release date for the Mega Man Legacy Collection for 3DS. The game will launch for the 3DS on February 23rd and will be compatible with the Mega Man Amiibo (finally, a use for the Blue Bomber other than just looking awesome on my desk!) and a new, Golden Mega Man Amiibo – which will be packaged with collector’s editions of the game. The Amiibos will unlock 11 new challenge stages exclusive to the 3DS.

Returning to the land of Hyrule, Trinen showed off Hyrule Warriors Legends for the 3DS. The game will be much like the Wii U version that launched in 2014 but will include some new characters like Tetra, (Toon) Link, and the King of Hyrule from Windwaker, Skull Kid…and even Linkle, the female version of Link that hasn’t appeared outside of the Hyrule Warriors Art Book and the long-lost sketch pads of some Nintendo employee from a bygone era. Linkle wields two crossbows and is just generally awesome.

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Hyrule Warriors Legends will launch on March 25.

Trinen briefly mentioned a release date for Bravely Second: End Layer (Spring 2016); a 3DS release for Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past (Summer 2016); and a 3DS release of Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (TBA 2016).

Other information gleaned from the Direct includes a release of Kerbal Space Program for the Wii U (Q1 2016); a solid (we hope) release date of Mega Man spiritual successor Mighty No. 9 (February 16 for the Wii U and Q2 2016 for the 3DS), LEGO Marvel’s Avengers (January 26 for Wii U and 3DS); Project X Zone 2 (February 6 for the 3DS); and Terraria (Early 2016 for Wii U and 3DS).

Whew! I hope that was less exhausting for you to read than it was for me to type. What do you think, Nintendreaders? What announcement are you most excited for? Sound off in the comments below. Me, I’m just happy to see Iwata-san’s traditions continue.

And a female Link.

Be sure to follow Only Single Player for more coverage of all your single player experiences on Facebook and Twitter.

Reid Gacke
Writer, journalist, teacher, pedant. Reid's done just about anything and everything involving words and now he's hoping to use them for something he's passionate about: video games. He's been gaming since the onset of the NES era and has never looked back.

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