Latest Nintendo Direct brings little but bad news: Pikmin 3, Animal Crossing 3DS delayed to Q2

Pikmin 3

Pikmin 3

Nintendo’s European president Satoru Shibata last night hosted a 45-minute Nintendo Direct broadcast focusing on upcoming Wii U and 3DS games – and owners of those consoles face a barren couple of months, with some of the most anticipated titles delayed.

Both Pikmin 3, for Wii U, and 3DS’s Animal Crossing: New Leaf were pushed back until the second quarter of next year. New Leaf, which was released in Japan three weeks ago and has already sold over a million copies, was the subject of a particularly mealy-mouthed non-apology from Shibata.

“We have been working very hard on the localisation for Europe, and are trying to bring it to you you as soon as possible,” he said. “We hope you understand our desire to bring you the best possible gaming experience and assure you we will launch as soon as we are happy that this is the case.” Shibata also confirmed that Intelligent Systems RPG Fire Emblem: Awakening would be released in April – a full year after its debut in Japan.

In March, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will be released simultaneously for Wii U and 3DS. Luigi’s Mansion 2, Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow – Mirror Of Fate and Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training: Can You Stay Focused? all set for release in the same month which, coincidentally we’re sure, is the final month of Nintendo’s financial year.

The next couple few months, though, look rather barren. In fact, very little is happening on either console before March. Ninja Gaiden: Razor’s Edge will be released for Wii U on January 11; Scribblenauts Unlimited, a launch title in the US, is out on February 8. New footage was shown for Lego City Undercover, which was given a vague “early 2013″ release date.

Perhaps that explains why Shibata spent the early part of the presentation focusing on Wii U games that are already on shelves. Sumo Digital’s Steve Lycett had a couple of minutes to talk about Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, which was on shelves when the console launched last week. Mass Effect 3 and FIFA 13 were also shown off.

Shibata even took the time to mention Wii U’s widely criticised day-one system update. “This is a simple process, but it could take more than an hour,” he admitted. “Please make sure you do not turn your Wii console off while it is updating.”

The broadcast was, broadly speaking, a disappointment, not least because we have come to expect a little more from Nintendo Direct. After all, it was during a September broadcast that Shibata announced the Wii U exclusive Bayonetta 2. Fans appeared convinced there would be a surprise announcement, especially after system updates were released for both Wii U and 3DS yesterday morning. Even if there was to be no surprise, the last thing Wii U owners wanted to hear was a delay to one of the console’s most anticipated games. 3DS owners, meanwhile, might as well start saving now for what is already looking like a very expensive March.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata insists the company has learned from mistakes made with 3DS, which had a strong launch lineup followed by a barren few months before the second wave of software arrived. It was assumed that the response to that would be to make more games; judging by the above, it looks worryingly like games are instead being held back.