As 2015 begins and we look forward to whenever the first Nintendo Direct of the year arrives, we turn our attention to what announcements excited us most over the past year.
We provide a rundown of the moments that stood out for us in a year where Nintendo decisively upped its game in reigniting interest not only behind Wii U, but Nintendo 3DS as well.
We last saw the seven siblings in New Super Luigi U, but 2014 spurred more significant appearances from the Koopalings. April’s Mario Kart 8 Direct revealed that Larry, Morton, Wendy, Iggy, Roy, Lemmy and Ludwig would all extend the kart racer’s character roster, a welcome addition that was later matched by Super Smash Bros. for Wii U & 3DS where they were added as alternate costumes for Bowser Jr.
I could watch these on repeat. Whether it be Little Mac, Shulk, Palutena or Duck Hunt Duo, Nintendo’s blistering reveal trailers had our tongues wagging all year long. That they were all included within Super Smash Bros. for Wii U’s bulging Vault was an added bonus, and we can be eternally grateful to the team behind such visual treats.
They’d already jazzed up Super Mario 3D World, but the Nintendo Special Big Band teased our ears with an early chance to hear them record Mario Kart 8’s equally energetic soundtrack. It lifted the curtain on the musicians that brought to life another of the company’s scores, and Dolphin Shoals remains a firm favourite.
A section of April’s Mario Kart 8 Direct saw Nintendo turn their attention to criticism that bikes introduced in Mario Kart Wii were faster than karts – evident by dominating time trial rankings. ‘Karts vs. Bikes: The Ultimate Speed Showdown’ saw game director Kosuke Yabuki pit the fastest Kart (Circuit Special, Slick Tyres and MKTV Parafoil) against the fastest Bike (Sport Bike, Slick Tyres, MKTV Parafoil), demonstrating that the status quo had been evened in the Wii U exclusive, racing six times consecutively in multiple courses to show that both are separately suited to different courses. Nintendo’s developers not only had the chance to showcase their driving prowess, but also how attentive they’ve been to the community.
Whether Satoru Iwata’s Mii singing in the bath or the disastrous love triangle between Shigeru Miyamoto, Eiji Aonuma and Princess Zelda, nothing could prepare us for the Tomodachi Life Direct. It’s best witnessed rather than read about, so watch it for yourself to see what we mean!
5. Satoru Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aime battle it out
Nintendo’s decision to forgo a traditional press conference at E3 2014 had been a worrying one. That is, until they hit play on their pre-recorded Nintendo Digital Event. Robot Chicken provided a humorous opening, but everything was soon kicked up a gear when Satoru Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aime fought each other in a blaze of Nintendo exec glory. The precursor to revealing that Mii Fighters were to be included in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U / 3DS, it set the tone for the entire presentation and personified exactly what Nintendo’s always been about. Fun.
Rebuking criticism that they cling to well-trodden genres and characters, the Nintendo Digital Event also saw the company reveal Splatoon. Led by younger developers working at the Kyoto-based outfit, the multiplayer action game proved one of E3 2014’s greatest surprises. If splattering paint everywhere wasn’t enough, its colourful visuals and ability to switch between squid and person allowed it to stand apart from the competition. For many critics it proved to be one of the most popular games of the show, and we certainly can’t wait for its release this year.
After plenty of teasing, Nintendo were at last ready to tell us that a terrible fate awaited us in 2015. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D‘s confirmation was an early Christmas present, and its reveal trailer all the more magnificent as the Clock Tower’s bell tolled. We’ve been waiting ever since questing through The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, but it sounds like Nintendo have taken time to rework Link’s darkest adventure. It’ll soon be upon us, and we’ll savour every minute.
2. Satoru Iwata returns to announce New Nintendo 3DS / 3DS XL
We’ve learnt to keep our expectations lower when there’s a Japan-only Nintendo Direct scheduled, but we still tuned in to watch August’s presentation to see Satoru Iwata for the first time since he underwent surgery earlier in the year. After sharing Shulk’s reveal trailer for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U / 3DS, he guided viewers through other incoming games such as Bravely Second and Final Fantasy Explorers. And then he dropped a megaton.
We’re used to Nintendo revising their hardware over time, but the New Nintendo 3DS / 3DS XL announcement completely took us by surprise. 15 minutes were spent talking through the handheld’s revised design, whether that be the widened 3D viewing angle, new Control Stick, built-in NFC for amiibo, or improved CPU. Cover plates only heightened our excitement, with the only disappointment being that Europe and North America have had to wait so long for a confirmed launch date.
1. With a click of his fingers, Eiji Aonuma silences Wii U hardware critics
The Wii U’s underpowered innards are often criticised when directly compared with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but Nintendo ensure that their software always goes above and beyond on their own hardware. We’ve already seen that with Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, but the Nintendo Digital Event provided a moment that silenced all critics.
Eiji Aonuma’s appearance saw him reveal how The Legend of Zelda Wii U‘s development is progressing, clicking his fingers to show the game on-screen behind him. It looked magnificent, and to remove any doubt we were transitioned into what Aonuma later clarified was gameplay footage. It stole E3 2014 for many, and quickly became our most anticipated Wii U title for 2015.
And, that’s a wrap. What were your best Nintendo Direct moments of 2014?