Nintendo Direct: promises, promises

New Mario games, new Zeldas, a dash of fan service and a few hardcore-pleasers, too. Today’s Nintendo Direct had it all, right?

The headline news was wonderful – Wii U owners will playing a HD remake of The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker by the end of the year. Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma was also on hand to offer some interesting comment on the direction of another, completely new Zelda project for Wii U, also talked about for the first time today.

It wasn’t ready to be shown to the public, but Aonuma-san did say that it is being developed with the aim of “re-think[ing] the conventions of Zelda”. He added that Nintendo is developing the game to challenge the expectation that you must complete Zelda dungeons in a certain order, and to play the game by yourself.

Nintendo also teased two new Mario games, of the ‘Super’ and ‘Kart’ varieties, both set to be properly unveiled at E3 in June. With Xbox and PlayStation sure to be battling for the headlines, the pressure is on for Nintendo with these two. It must deliver new Super Mario and Mario Kart games that’ll sell its new console to an indifferent public.

You can always expect a little fan service from Nintendo, too, and today that took the form of a new Yoshi game from the creator of Kirby’s Epic Yarn. It’s a welcome addition to Wii U’s anaemic software slate, though it is unlikely to tear up the charts in the current climate. On a similar note, Virtual Console and the release of a string of VC games at knock-down prices will give many Wii U owners reason to be cheerful.

It is also heartening to watch Nintendo’s dealings with Platinum Games. The platform holder has guaranteed the cult studio a platform for its trademark whimsy; The Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2 will gather vocal support online, as will the new title from Monolith Soft, revealed for the first time today. The trio will surely find a welcoming home in Japan, though they could struggle commercially in the west.

Again, this was Nintendo telling its public to wait. “I apologise to those supporting Wii U for the lack of new titles during January and February,” implored Iwata early on in the presentation. “But please understand we will have new titles to offer from March onwards.” It can promise and tease all it wants, but Nintendo’s fiercely loyal fanbase is growing uneasy. Not to mention impatient.

Meanwhile, PC and mobile continue their inexorable rise, and Microsoft and Sony prepare to unveil their next-generation consoles. 2013 could be the year in which the videogame landscape is utterly transformed, more quickly and more viciously than anyone could have forecast. When Nintendo finally delivers the games its fanbase wants, will they still be interested?