It's that time again, as rather than give us a steady drip feed of information, Nintendo have once again bundled it all up into a giant, knock-out package of gaming news. Brimming with updates on upcoming 3DS games, and a little bit of love for Wii U too, the latest Nintendo Direct online broadcast was packed to the rafters - so let's take a look at what was revealed.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
What better way to start a Nintendo Direct than by showing off a bit more of the incredibly eagerly anticipated new Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, that's set to arrive on the 22nd November. The sword swinging, top down adventure's already been showcased in a number of trailers, including one that focused purely on its music, but yesterday we got a glimpse at some of the new characters as well as the game's StreetPass functions. One such character is Irene the Witch, who can sometimes be seen zipping overhead as Link explores the kingdom of Hyrule, and seems to also double up as a handy way of traversing the huge map. If Link rings a special bell, Irene will scoop him up on her flying broom and take you pretty much anywhere you need to go in the blink of an eye! Irene's broom makes an appearance in the game's other world/alternative dimension, the mysterious Lorule, as well (although this time without its owner) and performs the same quick travel function there too. Also introduced was Seres, the Priest's daughter who falls foul of new villain Yuga, who we're guessing will be at least one character that needs to be rescued by our hero in green. Mr Shibata also hinted that a rumoured link between this game and fan-favourite Zelda game Majora's Mask might have something to do with the milk bar and a mysterious man in the mountains. It looks as though this latest Zelda will be as filled with intriguing side-quests as previous games.
StreetPass functionality for A Link Between Worlds takes the form of battles between you and 'Shadow Links' that crop up at certain points in the game after you've encountered other Zelda players via StreetPass. Once you've met someone by passing them with both 3DS systems in sleep mode, their 'Shadow Link' will transfer to your system (and vice versa) and be waiting for you to battle. Defeating one of these shadowy versions of Link will earn you valuable Rupees to spend in the game. While it admittedly feels like a bit of a tacked on extra (StreetPass features don't really seem all that useful in a Zelda game if you ask us), it's a nice addition nonetheless.
3DS system update coming in December
It's been a long time coming, but it looks as though Nintendo's very own social network, Miiverse, which started life on the Wii U before heading to phones tablets and PCs, is finally ready to take up residence on 3DS. As part of a system update scheduled for next month, Nintendo's portable console will receive a dedicated Miiverse app, allowing chat between players via photos and typed or hand-written notes, along with announcements from Nintendo itself. Miiverse on Wii U currently plays host to dedicated communities for every game, both new and old, available on the system - and with so many 3DS games already out, we're told it will take, in true Nintendo Direct tradition, 'some time' to create communities for every title. We'll be glad to see Miiverse arrive on the 3DS, as it seems like a perfect fit - and a handy replacement for the newly banned Nintendo Letterbox. As part of the same system update, users who have a 3DS and a Wii U will be able to consolidate their eShop balances, provided that the same Nintendo Network ID is registered on both devices. This is a handy feature to have in place, as we've often found ourselves wishing we could have one combined balance between both systems, and it should make purchasing games digitally that much more appealing.
Nintendo Pocket Football Club
Well nobody saw this one coming. Nintendo Pocket Football Club, due for release on 3DS sometime in 2014 was announced yesterday and looks to be a uniquely Nintendo take on the beautiful game. Much like the recently reviewed Inazuma Eleven 3: Lightning Bolt, Pocket Football Club isn't concerned with realistic graphics or big licenses. Instead, it takes the Football Manager approach allowing you to select your country and emblem, design a strip and then set to work organising your players into the perfect team. When it's match time, you can sit back (or yell from the sidelines) as the tiny cartoony teams take care of business on the pitch. Not much else was revealed, although we do know that multiplayer matches will be possible using local wireless (two systems next to each other) as well as online with players further afield. Apparently more details will be made available over the coming months, although we are hugely disappointed this isn't a more arcade style take on FIFA. Maybe next time, eh?
Yesterday's Nintendo Direct also treated us to yet another look at gorgeous RPG Bravely Default that's arriving on 3DS on the 6th December. We've covered the game previously, but now we have a better idea of how the battles will work, with the initially silly-sounding title turning out to be integral to the game. During a battle, you can choose to shield your character by using the 'Default' move. While you're shielded you'll accumulate 'Brave' points which you can then use to unleash special attacks. You can even 'borrow' Brave points from a future turn if you don't have any saved up. It looks as though the battle system will have a lot of depth to it to say the least - which is why it's probably a good job it's a traditional, turn-based affair. As ever, we're told StreetPass will play a part too, as you'll be able to summon other players you've passed while out and about to help you in a fight, or set them to work rebuilding your town. The game looks as impressive as ever, and it's nice to get a bit more info on how the battles will play out. Better yet, there's a free demo of Bravely Default available on the 3DS eShop now, so you can have a go for yourself and see what you think.
We also got a closer look at the limited Collector's Edition of the game that's exclusive to online retailer ShopTo. Comprising an art book, soundtrack CD, collectible AR cards and a statue of Agnes (as well as the game, of course) it's an impressive looking package, although it's priced at a rather steep £89.86 last time we checked. One for the largest fans only then, but it's undeniably appealing. Needless to say, we're very excited for Bravely Default.
Mario Party: Island Tour
The latest in the long line of Mario Party games, Mario Party Island Tour was originally due to be released this year. We now know it's been pushed to the 17th January next year, but at least we have some new details on the mini-game bonanza to tide us over until then. Not much was said about the core board game element, as the focus was clearly on the new mini-games. With 7 new modes, and including 80 new mini-games in tow, there certainly looks to be plenty to do in this latest instalment, despite its miniature format. Shown off yesterday were a time attack mode, which sees you trying to complete 10 different mini-games in a row within a time limit, and Bowser's Tower which presents 30 floors of challenges, with a boss battle after every 5 floors. Mr Shibata also mentioned that other players met through StreetPass (up to 10 at a time) will provide 'ghost data' (much like Mario Kart 7) for you to compete against, which is a great alternative if there's no-one around to play with. Motion controls make an appearance too, with hang-gliding, ghost-busting and giant marble rolling all taking advantage of the 3DS' built in gyroscope. Best of all though, was the news that download play is included, allowing up to 4 players to play with each other on their own 3DS' by sharing data from one copy of the game. 4 players, 1 cartridge: brilliant. With the sunny tropical visuals sure to be a welcome treat next January, we're looking forward to catching a bit of sun with Mario and the gang.