Wii U Direct: Did Nintendo deliver?

There’s been much uncertainty hanging over Wii U, facilitated by delays of big ‘launch window’ Nintendo-published titles – Lego City: Undercover, Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101 and Game & Wario to name the key ones. Expectations as what to be excited for in Wii U’s near future weren’t confident ones.

As such, today’s Nintendo Direct carried quite a weight to it.

Things kicked off fairly well, with Mr. Iwata confirming what we wanted to hear, namely system updates to address the long software launch times and – yes! – Wii U Virtual Console. A 30th anniversary Famicom celebratory scheme helped soften the blow of having to repurchase games (albeit at a lower price), promising to offer NES/SNES classics (Super Metroid!) at just 30 pence each.

Iwata also detailed a major update to Miiverse – including a cloud, web-based browser version we’ve been looking forward to using when we’re away from our Wii Us, alongside a smartphone app – and confirmed that Nintendo TVii is indeed still on its way to Europe.

But then when Iwata moved on to talk about the games we know are on the way – one key part of today’s Direct, things turned slightly for the worse as he openly (and rather honestly) admitted Nintendo had nothing new to show regarding the likes of Bayonetta 2 (though we did see a nifty look at the game in development) and Super Smash Bros.

To top things off, he made our worst possible nightmares come true by apologising for the lack of Wii U titles appearing in the launch window – those unconfirmed dates for key first party software remained, well, unconfirmed. So no new first party games until after March, then.

We’re not actually sure why Iwata drew attention to the fact these games weren’t ready yet – it only made the issue seem a bit more depressing.

And if this was where the Direct were to end, then we’d have been disappointed. There would likely have been no further reason for prospective Wii U owners to make that purchase, and current owners would be left feeling let down by the uncertainty surrounding these big releases.

But things turned around, by a factor of 1000. No joke – we weren’t expecting Nintendo to unveil such a slew of new releases. Things started off fairly tame with a look at a new Wii Party title – presumably from NDCube.

Then Iwata began to unveil surprise after surprise, beginning with a new 2D Yoshi ‘Yarn’ platformer from Good Feel, developers of Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Wario Land: The Shake Dimension. And we heard the first details on Wii U Zelda, before being treated to a look at an HD Wind Waker(!), due this Fall.

That was joined by This RPG Monolith Soft Were Working On. Which looks utterly phenomenal. Oh, and (what we presume to be) another RPG, a collaboration between Atlus and Intelligent Systems that sees the worlds of Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei collide.

So yes, an utterly genius turnaround move from Nintendo. As we write this we read hundreds of posts – on internet message boards, comments threads, forums, Twitter and the like – are filled with excitement, filled with an intention to purchase a Wii U, filled with people saying their Wii U purchase was completely justified.

Despite upcoming third party software remaining thin on the ground, seeing evidence that Nintendo has thrown all their weight behind Wii U is exactly what they needed for building gamers’ confidence.

What’s interesting is despite all these unexpected reveals, Nintendo still have more surprises to unveil in the near future – they haven’t shown us what Retro Studios or Monster Games have been working on, for example.

But where was Google Maps? We were almost certain yesterday that it’d be releasing this week on Wii U, following Direct. Odd.

Stay tuned over the course of this week as we begin to put our thoughts regarding some of these unveils to paper.