It's not easy to admit that I worship at the altar of Nintendo. Despite my resolute belief that the Wii U is still a horse in the new-gen console race, plenty of people discounted it long ago. The little black box has faced its fair share of tribulations since launch but things are starting to look up.
And when a week like this comes around, you know that all the tears and night sweats have been worth it. The January Nintendo Direct may have been lacking some quality Iwata comedy, but it more than made up for that with a flurry of big games, big reveals and plenty of fan service. No time for bananas when there's this much news to announce. So let me break down what happened.
- New 3DS release date: both the new 3DS and 3DS XL will hit Europe on February 13. America will get its hands on the souped-up handheld on the same date, but only the XL. Check out our full review of the new 3DS right here.
- More Amiibos! Oh yes, you didn't honestly think Nintendo was going to stop milking that cash cow any time soon, did you? It's full steam ahead with a further bunch of figures for Super Smash Bros. including Wario, Ness, Charizard and Pacman. Then, as if your wallet isn't aching enough, there are some new Super Mario-themed figures to look forward to, including existing Amiibo characters who are now striking new poses. Which means they're completely different and I must buy them all.
- Release dates aplenty. Both the Majora's Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4 will be arriving the same day as the new and improved consoles, while Xenoblade Chronicles 3D will touch down on April 2.
- There's a gorgeous new Majora's Mask-themed 3DS that we can't wait to stroke.
- Nintendo is re-releasing a number of games for download on the Wii U, starting with Mario Galaxy 2 (now available) and including Metroid Prime Trilogy (available January 29). And for the first week each title is available you'll be able to get it for half price.
- And beside all of that there were some new game announcements too, although only one really worth mentioning here - the new Fire Emblem for 3DS.
Paws for thought
Ah, Watch Dogs. The very archetype of disappointment. It's not that you were bad - in fact you were pretty great - it's that you had so much untapped potential. And it certainly didn't help that you launched in the shadow of GTA 5 - I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.
But inside were some great ideas and the potential for a far better, far less muddled sequel. The game's creator seems to be of a similar opinion. Despite no formal announcement of a follow-up as yet, creative director Jonathan Morin has talked about his early plans for the inevitable Watch Dogs 2, which hopefully won't take five years to make this time.
"We want to allow [fans] to play with a very different state of mind, not wrap up concepts for them," Morin said in an interview with GamesTM. "Players loved the idea of other players who create an alternate reality in their games and, knowing that, now opens up a lot of new possibilities of what online can do."
But it sounds like Morin wants to go well beyond simply addressing the game's flaws. Whether this will translate into the uncompromised "GTA with hacking" that we'd hoped for remains to be seen - but we're not going to get our hopes up again.
"I don't think Watch Dogs is perfect in any way and there's a lot of room for improvement," he said. "But you don't always see this when you ship a game. We deliver what we believe the brand should be at the time.
"Afterward, when you cool down after five and a half years [of development] and take your vacations and people play the game, certain elements become clear. They let you continue to bring what you envision to the next level with the fans included this time, which is where I think it really gets interesting."
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