Last night's Nintendo Direct online broadcast was significant for many reasons. First, and most upsettingly, it marked the first Nintendo Direct show since Nintendo President Iwata passed away a few months back - and while his banana-staring antics will be sorely missed, the Nintendo team still made sure to kick things off with a bang. A distinctly 3DS-shaped bang, that is, as a whole raft of games were announced to be coming to their handheld over the next few months (feel free to check here for a full round-up of what was announced on the 3DS side of things). On the Wii U side of things, though, things were noticeably quieter, with a showing that had a few big games to steal the headlines, but very gave the feeling that the console is reaching the end of its life, as the company gear up for their next big thing console, the Nintendo NX, which is due to be revealed (and perhaps released) next year. Seeing as the broadcast went out at 10pm last night, if you had family or work commitments, the chances are you may have missed it yourself - but we've rounded up the biggest and the best of the Wii U announcements below, so you don't have to.
Everything's coming up Zelda
A double dose of Zelda announcements kicked off the show, starting with the rumoured "HD" remake of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Originally released in 2006 on both the GameCube and Wii at the end of the GameCube's life, and the beginning of the Wii's, the slightly darker adventure added a new Wiimote powered sword-swinging control scheme and, under the guidance of the imp-like Midna, gave Link the power to transform into a wolf as he saved the Princess from series bad guy Ganondorf. The Twilight Princess HD remake sees the game being given a bit of a visual lick of paint, with a few new features added for good measure, too. There'll be a brand new Twilight Princess-flavoured amiibo in the form of Wolf Link, which, as the name suggests, is Link in his wolf form, ridden by Midna - but the game will also be compatible with the existing Legend of Zelda amiibos of Toon Link, Zelda, Sheik and Ganondorf. While Nintendo failed to mention what the amiibos will actually do in the game, the fact they serve a purpose does suggest Nintendo will be adding some new features. The game itself will be hitting the Wii U on the 4th March 2016, with a special edition that includes a copy of the game, a Wolf Link Amiibo and a soundtrack CD launching on the same day, while the amiibo itself won't launch separately until sometime later, making this bundle the only way to get it at launch.
2016 itself is a pretty important year for the Linkster, as it marks the 30th Anniversary of the Legend of Zelda series, and a Twilight Princess remake isn't the only thing Nintendo have up their sleeves. Remember that swish looking new Zelda game for the Wii U they showed off at E3 in 2014, then never talked about ever again, leading many to believe it had been quietly cancelled (or at least been shifted over to Nintendo's next console, the NX)? Well, it appears the Wii U Zelda game is alive and well, and will be hitting consoles next year at some point - and while they didn't specify, we imagine it'll be fairly late on in the year, given we'll have Twilight Princess to occupy our time earlier on. Those who plan on nabbing themselves a Wolf Link amiibo will be pleased to know that some, seemingly top secret information, saved onto the figure from Twilight Princess can be carried over to the new Wii U title - although what exactly, we have no idea. Very little of the game was actually shown, and while the short clip of Link riding Epona though the grassy fields did look rather pretty, more specific information would be nice.
If that's put you in the mood for some Zelda right now, though, Nintendo have a solution. Available now on the Wii U eShop (timed to coincide with the end of the presentation) are two of Link's best portable adventures, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. Both cutesy stylus-controlled games were originally released for the DS some seven or eight years ago, and now join the growing library of DS titles on the Wii U's Virtual Console download store. Priced at £8.99 each, if you act quick you'll be able to get the second for half price - £4.49 - so long as you buy one before the 19th November.
New Splatoon maps and gear
More updates are on the way for Nintendo's squid-based shooter, with new stages begging for a new lick of ink-based paint. Museum D'Alfonsino has a couple of rotating pillars in the centre of the level, while the Mahi-Mahi Resort level is more of a pool-side affair, packed with floating platforms and a changing water level - but as (somewhat strangely) Splatoon's squidlings can't swim, accidentally landing in the water doesn't do you much good. An update coming on the 13th Novemeber, will bring with it over forty new pieces of gear, clothing and accessories, while the first of the new stages, the Museum D'Alfonsino, will land the following day. More updates are promised "until January at least".
Mario Maker News
Essentially a big pat on the back for the big N, this segment revealed that a whopping 3.3 million courses have been published in the Mario-themed level creator so far. But having so many levels comes with its own problems - like finding and choosing which levels to play for the best. In a somewhat confusing move, Nintendo have decided the best way to fix this is not with a game update, but with a web page. Letting you load up a more detailed list of search options through your PC or smartphone (or we suppose the Wii U's built in browser?), you'll be able to filter levels by things like auto-scrolling, time attack or visual style, and then queue up courses via the 'Play Later' button this December. It's certainly a nifty feature - and one we can see being used to pass the time on many a dinner-break - but it'd be nice to see it mirrored in game, too.
A funny Xenoblade Chronicles X trailer
Hitting the Wii U in under a month's time, on the 4th December, Xenoblade Chronicles X takes you on an interstellar adventure in a world torn by war. Having crash-landed on the planet Mira, you, and the rest of the survivors must try and survive in a hostile environment, exploring the wilderness, battling huge creatures and trying to rebuild your lives in a sprawling sci-fi role-playing game. Take on the forces which threaten the human race in your own personalised giant mech, you can conquer the world with customised weapons and then kick back and make friends with some unusual alien beings - and hopefully save humanity in the process. It all sounds very serious - but the particularly light-hearted trailer shown in the Nintendo Direct proves that Xenoblade has a sense of humour all of its own too.
20th November - busy day for releases
Yes, you read that right - next week is the day many people's purses/wallets will end. While the 3DS gets fashionista-'em-up New Style Boutique 2, Wii U owners get a choice of the we're-not-too-sure-what-it-involves board game, Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival and the super-sized Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash. We're assuming from the title the former makes use of Nintendo's Amiibo figures in some way, in a multiplayer-centric Animal Crossing-themed board game, although we've yet to see any mini-games. Mario Tennis, meanwhile, is another dose of Nintendo's easy to pick up and play tennis series, letting you smash, slice and drop-shot your way to victory over your friends - now with a new Mega Mushroom power up to temporarily super-size your character and give you a big advantage.
The Pokemon fighting game, Pokken Tournament
Coming in the spring next year, Pokken Tournament is a fusion of Nintendo's lovable Pokemon characters and the fighting beat 'em up series, Tekken. Letting you duke it out as everyone from Pikachu to Charizard to Lucario, this fast-paced fighting game gives you a whole new way to play Pokemon. Those of you who are quick off the block in getting yourself a copy will also be able to pick up a Shadow Mewtwo amiibo card, exclusively in first print run versions of the game - scanning the card via the Wii U Gamepad will unlock Shadow Mewtwo as a playable character right away.
Another one that was originally part of the 20th November group, StarFox Zero was pushed back a few months ago, and will now be coming to the Wii U in April 2016 instead. The deliberately cheesy airborne shooter brings together series protagonist (and furry) Fox McCloud and crew once more, fighting to save the galaxy all over again. With new, transformable vehicles, there are all sorts of gadgets to employ to make defeating uncle Andross that much easier. From the legendary Landmaster tank, which is perfect when you need some heavier firepower - and can also transform, this time into the jet-like Gravmaster ship - to the new Gyrowing, which lets you hover through tighter spaces with more precision, making it the perfect ship for when you want to sneak into enemy fortresses - and even comes with a detachable, drivable robot, Direct-i, which lets you engage in a spot of hacking - StarFox Zero promises more of the aerial combat we loved in the original N64 title - and of course, plenty of barrel rolls too.
One amiibo, Two amiibos, Three amiibos, Four...
Nintendo's game enhancing figure range, which can be tapped onto the Wii U GamePad to unlock all sorts of bonus functionality and extras in certain games, just keeps getting bigger - and last night's Nintendo Direct brought with it a whole raft of new faces. Coming 'early 2016', there's Super Smash Bros. (and Earthbound star) Lucas, while on the Animal Crossing front we have angry save-obsessive mole Resetti, museum curator Blathers, observatory owl Celeste and Kicks from the shoe shop.
To coincide with the launch of Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival on the 20th November, there's a whole host of Animal Crossing amiibo launching too - there's the major's secretary Isabelle, Digby from the StreetPass Happy Home Showcase, and the Happy Home Designer's helpful otter, Lottie. There's also everyone's favourite guitar-playing dog, K.K., Mabel the hedgehog from the clothes shop, llamas Reese and Cyrus from town and the loan shark and Animal Crossing overlord raccoon Tom Nook. Series 2 of the Animal Crossing Amiibo cards will also launch on the same day - we weren't joking when we told you the 20th November would be a busy one!
Final Fantasy coming to Smash Bros.
And just to go out in spectacular style, Nintendo ended on a short trailer showing off a totally new cross over, as Super Smash Bros gets another new challenger - Final Fantasy VII protagonist Cloud. With his spiky hair and oversized sword, Cloud comes complete with a number of costume changes, including his regular FFVII outfit and Advent Children half-coat outfits, and the ability to summon a cute little frog. His smash attack meanwhile appears to be a Limit Break attack of some sort, paying homage to the original role-playing game's battles - also shown was the ability to summon the series staple "guardian forces", like Ifrit and co for some arena-wrecking damage. In closing, we also saw a Chocobo outfit for the Mii character, and the announcement of a special Smash Bros. Nintendo Direct coming in December - perhaps we'll see more Final Fantasy characters joining Smash Bros. in the new year?
And that's your lot! The Wii U may seem to be winding down, but it appears Nintendo aren't willing to let it die just yet, with two Zelda adventures and the sci-fi space role-playing game Xenoblade Chronicles X keeping it afloat into the new year. Why not head over to our 3DS round-up to find out what to expect on the handheld front in the coming months?