We haven’t heard a lot from Nintendo since E3. They revealed the NES Classic Edition mini-system, and more recently dropped a handful of new, er, New 3DS editions centered around Mario and, uh, the universe. They’ve been silent on the upcoming NX console, so it was more than a little disappointing that this Direct focused on 3DS instead of new hardware.
Nintendo showed us both new and older games, so let’s dig in.
Thoughts on what Nintendo showed follows…
// Pokémon Sun and Moon
Nintendo began with another look at the upcoming Pokémon games, Sun and Moon. We didn’t see a bunch — a new Ratata and Z-Moves — but considering how PokéCrazy I’ve been this year, anything is bound to build my anticipation. They’re also giving out a special Munchlax (the pre-evolution of Snorlax) through the early part of 2017, which I can’t complain about.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that these games were hitting mid- November. I had it in my head that they’d be here sooner, so there’s still a couple months of waiting left.
// Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS
This is a monkey’s paw moment. We wished for Mario Maker on 3DS, which we’re getting, but it lacks online level sharing. It’s a strange omission, but a huge one that kills basically any excitement for portable Mario Maker. If I can’t toss my levels onto a server for the rest of the world to play, then why bother? So I can share levels through StreetPass? Big whoop. What if everyone near me sucks at creating levels? I (and everyone else in this city) get screwed.
I might grab Mario Maker 3DS whenever it’s added to Nintendo Select, thereby dropping the price to $20, but not before. Of course, if Nintendo comes to their senses and adds online level sharing, this becomes a Day One Purchase.
// Mario Party: Star Rush
Presumably the intention of tossing Mario Party onto a handheld is to allow for frantic board game entertainment on car rides or recess, but this franchise feels like such a home console property that I’m unable to justify tossing it onto 3DS. To its benefit, Star Rush is a surprisingly beautiful game. Shame that I don’t like this franchise.
// Animal Crossing: New Leaf – Amiibo Update
Speaking of franchises I don’t like, Nintendo spent a few minutes on Animal Crossing. We already knew that 3DS title Animal Crossing: New Leaf was getting an update for Amiibo, and so they spent a bit of time on that. If only I enjoyed Animal Crossing, but the GameCube and DS installments bored me to tears.
// StreetPass Mii Plaza Update and New Games
Just when you thought there was no reason to jump into the StreetPass Mii Plaza, Nintendo comes along with a handful of new mini-games and interface updates. You’re now able to collect a wider number of Miis before letting them through, and the process of pushing them through the gate is apparently easier.
We saw a few new minigames, including Slot Car Rivals and Market Crashers, the latter being about predicting stocks, I guess. Fortunately, Nintendo is offering one of the two for free, which is good because I never had any desire to spend actual money to buy StreetPass games. I won’t complain if they’re giving ’em away, though.
// Tank Troopers
From the squat tanks to colorful cast of characters, it’s easy to mistake Tank Troopers as an action/multiplayer spin-off to Intelligent Systems’ dormant Advance Wars franchise. Maybe this project began as Advance Wars: Tank Troopers, but lost that title after the backlash for action/multiplayer spin-off Metroid Prime: Federation Force. Or maybe not. Hopefully somebody calls Nintendo on this, granting us an answer.
What we saw looked neat, if unspectacular, reminding me a bit of Mario Kart combined with Twisted Metal with a tank theme. What we didn’t hear about was online multiplayer, but since Nintendo mentioned local multiplayer and Download Play, it sounds like online might be a no-go.
// Picross 3D: Round 2
For a consider length of time, I’ve yearned for Nintendo of America to bring over Picross 3D 2, and that hunger only grew when it was announced earlier in the year that Europe would be getting the game under the subtitle Round 2. Well, now North America gets the Picross 3D love starting today, and I can’t wait to purchase it tomorrow (when I get my paycheck).
Both Picross DS and Picross 3D are among my favorite handheld games, and while Nintendo’s given us plenty of 2D Picross in the form of the downloadable Picross e series, 3D Picross wasn’t given the same love until now. And that’s a tragedy.
// #Nindies Summer Jam
Unsurprisingly, Nintendo spent a little time on a handful of indie games (or, as Nintendo likes to call them, “Nindies”) part of their #Nindies Summer Jam promotion. These include:
Axiom Verge (Wii U): A port of the critically-acclaimed “Metroidvania” released last year on PlayStation 4 and Steam. Needless to say, the small army of starved Metroid fans should immediately purchase Axiom Verge.
Jotun: Valhalla Edition (Wii U): A game that I saw a trailer for during E3, but otherwise don’t know much, including its genre. You play as Norse warrior Thora, who died and now seeks to enter Valhalla.
Noitu Love: Devolution (Wii U/3DS): Another game I’m unfamiliar with, but the trailer shows a lot of hitting enemies in a pixelated environment that could’ve been ripped straight from Sega Genesis (which isn’t a bad thing). It was apparently released on PC in 2008.
Severed (Wii U/3DS): Created by the talented team at DrinkBox, Severed was originally released exclusively on PlayStation Vita. I’m willing to give it a try based on the pedagree behind it, although first-person dungeon crawling is quite different from this team’s last game, the “Metroidvania” Guacamelee.
Best of all, Severed is one of a few eShop games to support cross-buy, so you’ll get both versions for the price of one.
Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 (3DS): The sequel to Inti Creates Mega Man Zero-like Azure Striker Gunvolt. Fans and first-time players might consider waiting one day longer when Yacht Club Games (creator of Shovel Knight) publishes Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack, a physical copy of the first and second Azure Striker games on a single cartridge.
// 30th Anniversary – The Legend of Zelda
Instead of spending a little time on Metroid’s 30th anniversary, Nintendo decided to focus on The Legend of Zelda’s 30th anniversary. Sucks to be Samus, huh?
Amiibo: Nintendo revealed four new Zelda-themed Amiibo that I’m having a hard time saying no to. (Sure beats those Animal Crossing and Mario Amiibo.) The first is 8-bit Link from the original Zelda, looking ripped straight from 3D Dot Game Heroes. The second is Link from Ocarina of Time, holding the titular instrument to his mouth. The last is cartoon Link and Zelda from The Wind Waker, which will come bundled together.
The Legend of Zelda: Art & Artifacts: After the success of Hyrule Historia, it’s little surprise that Nintendo and Dark Horse Books are returning to the Zelda series. High-resolution images from the series should make for a great book, or at least a decent companion to Hyrule Historia.
Hyrule Warriors Legends DLC: Nintendo returns to their hack-and-slash spin-off with two new downloadable characters: Link with his train from Spirit Tracks and ghost Zelda from the same game. I don’t own this game, so this means little to me. Oddly, I don’t recall mention of this DLC coming to the Wii U version.
Skyward Sword: Zelda fans can now download the Wii title Skyward Sword on their Wii U. Like other Wii games able to be purchased on Wii U, Skyward Sword is basically just the Wii game, lacking HD or gamepad control support. That latter bit sucks because as much as Skyward Sword uses the motion controls from the WiiMotion+, I had a terrible time with the damn device needing to be re-synced.
// Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice
The latest installment of the Ace Attorney series hits in a little over a week, so it’s little surprise that Nintendo pushed the spotlight onto Phoenix Wright and friends. Capcom released a (typically short) demo recently, so fans can enjoy about 15 of Spirit of Justice before buying the full game, which I’m quite excited for.
// Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
Although originally announced for 2016, Nintendo took this opportunity to mention that Dragon Quest VIII for 3DS is being pushed to early 2017. I don’t mind, though. Between DQ7, Pokemon Sun/Moon, and a handful of other RPGs, there’s plenty of stats and magic attacks on my plate.
// Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past
Of course, Nintendo spent a little time on Dragon Quest VII for 3DS, fortunately still hitting in 2016. I remember the original PS1 version, so I’m happy that DQ7 is getting a deserved graphical upgrade.
// Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits/Fleshy Souls
I guess after all the comparisons to Pokemon, Level-5 decided to take another page from Game Freak’s RPG and release the second Yo-kai Watch as two versions, Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls. The demo for the first Yo-kai Watch did nothing for me, but with a new demo incoming, I’ll give the franchise another chance to grab me.
// Disney Magical World 2
Well, this clearly isn’t for me. Um… the character models look good. Of course, the Kingdom Hearts games made incredible models on PlayStation 2, so equally impressive models on 3DS isn’t a huge achievement. Skip!
// Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice
After the horrible reception that the Sonic Boom games got before (including the Wii U version being called one of the worse Sonic games ever), Sega is taking another stab with a side-scrolling Sonic on 3DS. I can’t say that it impressed me, but with Sonic Mania on the horizon, it’s hard to get excited for anything Sonic Boom.
Seriously, Sonic Mania looks great.
// Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse
The sequel/sidequel to Shin Megami Tensei IV, Apocalypse focuses on a different cast, but brings more SMT4 fun. I’ll admit that Shin Megami Tensei IV didn’t grab me, mostly because of the difficulty, but I’m more than willing to give Apocalypse the benefit of the doubt to catch my attention. It should make for an unconventional companion to the new Pokemon games, too.
// Poochy and Yoshi’s Woolly World
Yoshi’s Woolly World is the best Yoshi-centric game since SNES classic Yoshi’s Island, so I don’t mind replaying Woolly World on 3DS. It sure beats playing Yoshi’s Story, Yoshi’s Island 2, and Yoshi’s New Island. Nintendo is also dropping a yarn Amiibo for lovable idiot Poochy, which I’m hoping will be better stocked than Mega Yarn Yoshi. I still haven’t found that Amiibo.
// Ever Oasis
Ever Oasis was a decent surprise during Nintendo’s E3 ’16 presentation, but it’s less of a surprise that we’re seeing it in a Direct for 3DS games. The footage shown wasn’t a departure from the reveal trailer, depicting the village under the player’s control and the wide, barren environment around it. That’s okay, I think. Nintendo has plenty of time before its 2017 release to expand on what they’ve shown, and building up a town while exploring the outside world for materials still sounds like an entertaining mix of combat and city building.
// Mario Sports Superstars
Who doesn’t love Mario sports? Well, Mario Sports Superstars looks a bit more ambitious than previous titles by bundling soccer, baseball, tennis, golf, and horse racing. (Regarding the horse racing, we saw no sign that it was fueled by solitaire.) You’re getting more for your money than with Mario Tennis for Wii U and Mario Golf on 3DS, but I sure miss the RPG elements from Game Boy/GBA Mario Tennis/Golf games.
// Pikmin 3DS
I’m not entirely sure what to say about Picross 3DS. Going with a sidescroller feels simultaneously interesting and, for Nintendo, predictable. I guess my interest varies on which direction they take this project. Using Pikmin could make for a fun puzzle platformer, but a straight platformer that requires Pikmin to skip an occasional obstacle would be boring. The trailer points to the former, but we won’t know for certain for quite a while, I bet.
// Final Thoughts
With Wii U effectively dead and the world awaiting the grand reveal of NX, it’s easy to forget that Nintendo 3DS is still pushing forward, and while that train isn’t pushing along at full speed, it still has a decent library heading into 2017. There’s nothing that the media is going to praise as the Next Big Thing, but does it matter? The media only seems to pay attention to handheld gaming half of the time anyway. Phoenix Wright and Shin Megami Tensei aren’t going to blow anyone away, but they’ll be good and great games able to provide entertainment, I bet.