Nintendo Direct January 2013: New Zelda, Miiverse features, Mario Kart and more

All the latest news straight from today's Nintendo Direct press conference.

What Nintendo has learned from Kickstarter

Consider Nintendo Direct, the two-year-old video series in which the company's top brass makes big announcements directly to fans via short videos. We've seen dozens of these over the past two years, but for the most part they've been used to discuss known products or announce smaller, less consequential software and hardware. Some have been downright confusing, like the Nintendo Direct used in the lead-up to discuss the Wii U's user interface.

Yesterday, though, the Nintendo Direct took on a very clear and bold tone: We've listened to your requests, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said....

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Balloon Fight brings a Wii U Virtual Console preview, customizable controls and save points

Nintendo released Balloon Fight today in the Nintendo eShop, bringing with it a preview of the Wii U's upcoming Virtual Console as well as customizable controls and save points.

Balloon Fight is the first in a series of NES games that the company will release monthly between now and July in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Nintendo Famicom, the Japanese counterpart to the Nintendo Entertainment System. Like Balloon Fight, each will cost $0.30 for 30 days.

Nintendo's console version made its debut in 1986, and a port of that is now front and center in the Nintendo eShop. Tapping...

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EarthBound launching on Japanese Wii U Virtual Console in March

EarthBound, the celebrated SNES RPG known as Mother 2 in Japan, will be available on the Wii U Virtual Console in Japan this March, Nintendo announced today during a Japanese Nintendo Direct presentation, as translated by a NeoGAF user.

Mother 2 will be released on the Virtual Console as March's Trial Campaign game, with users able to purchase the RPG for 30 yen (approximately $0.34). The Trial Campaign celebrates the 30th anniversary of the NES, which launched in Japan as the Famicom in July 1983. Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream is the March game in North America.

The Virtual Console...

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Bayonetta 2 designers offer a glimpse into the development of a world of leather and monsters

A new trailer for the upcoming Bayonetta 2 was shown during today's Nintendo Direct, offering a look at the development process behind the sequel and the creation of character and environment models.

The video offers a number of short interviews with designers at Platinum Games, who detail the work that goes into creating everything from realistic leather garments in-game to developing numerous different locations in a way that fits within the Bayonetta world. According to the designers, the scale of Bayonetta 2 is "very different" this time, while users should expect it to feel as if you...

The Wonderful 101 defend the world against giant robots

A new trailer for the upcoming Nintendo game The Wonderful 101 was showing during today's Nintendo Direct conference.

The short video shows in-game footage of combat against enormous robot enemies, airship battles, as well as a look at in-game code-cracking using the Wii U Gamepad.

The Wonderful 101 was one of four anticipated Wii U titles previously announced as launch window titles for the console, including Pikmin 3, Game & Wario and Wii Fit U. Nintendo announced last week that these titles would launch in the first six months of this year.

Next Legend of Zelda title has a new design philosophy, says producer Aonuma

The next Legend of Zelda title, slated for release on the Wii U, will implement a new design philosophy that will be a departure from previous series installments, series producer Eiji Aonuma announced in today's Nintendo Direct.

According to Aonuma, the team has set aside the familiar conventions of the series to "get back to basics." Things like completing dungeons in a certain order and only being able to play by yourself will be changed "to create a newborn Zelda so players today can enjoy the real essence of the franchise."

Aonuma said the original plans for fall 2011's Skyward Sword...

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Xenoblade Chronicles successor coming to Wii U from Monolith Soft

A follow-up to Xenoblade Chronicles is in development on Wii U at Monolith Soft, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced today during a Nintendo Direct presentation.

The development team is led by studio head Tetsuya Takahashi, who also served as game director on Xenoblade Chronicles. Character design is being done by Kunihiko Tanaka, who performed the same duties for Xenogears and Xenosaga Episode 1. Hiroyuki Sawano, a composer for Japanese film, TV and anime, is writing the score.

Check out the debut teaser trailer, which includes gameplay footage, above. Nintendo is referring to the...

New 3D Mario, Mario Kart, Wii Party titles in development for Wii U, will be shown off at E3 2013

A new 3D Mario action game from the Super Mario Galaxy team and a new Mario Kart title are in development for Wii U, and will be revealed at E3, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed during a Nintendo Direct presentation this morning.

Details about the titles are slim, but Iwata promised that the games would be in a playable state at this year's E3 conference in Los Angeles, Calif. this June.

This year's E3 will also see the reveal of the first screens for the next Super Smash Bros. game for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.

A new party game is also in development for Wii U from the creators of...

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Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem crossover title on the way from Atlus

A Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem crossover title is currently in development by Atlus and Intelligent Systems, according to an announcement in today's Nintendo Direct.

The game will be available on the Wii U. The brief trailer shown during the presentation shows original Fire Emblem characters, including Marth, with stylized visuals familiar to the Shin Megami Tensei series.

Iwata noted that development on the game is progressing, and hinted that there are "many more partners" working on other collaboration projects as well. These additional developers and games will be announced...

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New Wii U Yoshi game coming from Nintendo

A new Yoshi game is coming from Nintendo, company president Satoru Iwata said during today's Nintendo Direct.

Yarn Yoshi is being developed by the team behind Kirby's Epic Yarn, Iwata said, adding that famed developer Takahashi Tezuka will be "deeply involved." The game will be set in a "fanciful world of yarn and textiles." This will be the first console game to feature Yoshi as the main character since 1998's Yoshi's Story for the Nintendo 64.

Tezuka is the general manager of Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development with Shigeru Miyamoto. The game designer has worked most of the...

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Upcoming Miiverse improvements include community features, interface updates

Nintendo is planning to expand the feature set of Miiverse, the Wii U social network, in a series of updates throughout 2013, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced today in a Nintendo Direct session.

Some updates will be tied to specific games. Pikmin 3 will allow players to use the Wii U GamePad as an in-game camera and take close-up screenshots from the point of view of the Pikmin themselves. Those images can then be shared on the game's Miiverse community.

Wii Fit U will offer closed communities within Miiverse, gated by unique IDs (similar to groups in Mario Kart 7 on Nintendo...

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The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD remake coming to Wii U by this fall

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is getting an HD remake for the Wii U, and will be released by this fall, Nintendo announced today during a Nintendo Direct presentation.

The title, which will feature remastered visuals and GamePad functionality, came as a result of the Zelda development team experimenting with environmental art from past Zelda games in the Wii U's new hardware. The team liked its take on Wind Waker's Windfall Island, seen above, so much, that it decided to move ahead with the remake.

Information on the title is still relatively slim, but Nintendo president Satoru Iwata...

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Nintendo bringing Nintendo TVii to Europe 'as soon as possible'

Nintendo is working to make the Nintendo TVii available throughout Europe "as soon as possible," the company announced during today's European Nintendo Direct conference.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said in reference to the wait European users have to still endure, "I appreciate your patience." In the meantime, the company is expanding its Netflix app on the Wii U to additional European countries.

As of now, Nintendo TVii is only available in Japan and the U.S. The Nintendo TVii app launched in the U.S. and Canada in December 2012. The service includes the ability to access an online...

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Miiverse coming to smartphones later this year

A Miiverse smartphone app is in the works by Nintendo, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced this morning.

Not a lot of details are known, but he said it would launch this spring. Initially, he said, the app would simply allow you to browse the Wii U's Miiverse with more functionality coming later.

Initially, the experience will be browser-based, he said, but a dedicated app is coming in the future.

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Wii U Virtual Console launching this spring

The Virtual Console will launch on the Wii U this spring alongside a system update, with titles playable on the GamePad controller, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced in a Nintendo Direct presentation today.

The Virtual Console will launch with a selection of NES and SNES titles that have been redeveloped specifically for Wii U. Players can save game progress and play these games on the GamePad as well as access Miiverse. Iwata noted that Nintendo plans to release Game Boy Advance titles in the future as well. NES and SNES Virtual Console games for Wii U will cost the same as titles...

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