This year Mario reaches an impressive milestone in video gaming: 30 years as a leading man in Nintendo’s timeless Super Mario Bros. series. At E3, Nintendo celebrates Mario’s longevity with a new installment in the franchise called Super Mario Maker, one of many games at the show that transforms familiar characters and their games with unique new looks, styles and game-play features. Players will see new installments of beloved franchises like Star Fox, Yoshi, Animal Crossing, Mario & Luigi, Xenoblade and Metroid, and enjoy the reimagining of Bowser and Donkey Kong as Skylanders figures that also have amiibo functionality with compatible Nintendo games.
“Millions of video game players worldwide look to Nintendo to deliver surprises and smiles,” said Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime. “That’s what we have on display at E3 – familiar characters and franchises transformed in unexpected ways that can only be found on Nintendo systems.”
Here’s a roundup of some of the news and games Nintendo is showing this week:
- Super Mario Maker: The next evolution of the Super Mario Bros.series lets people’s imaginations run wild. For the first time ever, friends can have fun playing through levels they create for one another. The Wii U GamePad controller makes it so easy for anyone to create levels; it may feel like simply sketching out ideas on paper. Players can enjoy a seemingly endless supply of inventive Mario levels from players around the world. The game includes a book totaling about 100 pages that illustrates the boundless possibilities in Super Mario Maker. Nintendo will also release two special Mario amiibo figures to celebrate the 30thanniversary of the original Super Mario Bros. game. Tapping these amiibo in Super Mario Maker adds a Big Mushroom power-up to your course, allowing Mario to grow big and bust blocks from any direction, as well as adding a retro visual filter to the game, reminiscent of older cathode ray tube televisions. In addition, many other amiibo will also be compatible with Super Mario Maker through the use of a new item called the Mystery Mushroom. This item allows Mario to take the appearance of many other characters, such as Link, Kirby or Wii Fit Trainer, complete with character-specific animations and sound effects. These character costumes can be unlocked by completing the 100 Mario Challenge mode and many can also be unlocked if the player taps the amiibo of the character to the Wii U GamePad. To coincide with the Super Mario Bros. anniversary, the Super Mario Maker game and the 30thAnniversary amiibo launch the 11th of September.
- LetsSuperMario.com Website: To continue the celebration of Super Mario’s 30th anniversary, fans around the world are encouraged to create personal “Let’s Super Mario!” video tributes that showcase their love for the legendary franchise. The videos can be submitted to a dedicated website (http://www.LetsSuperMario.com) starting today and might be shared by Nintendo on the website. Whether it’s through song, dance or reliving favorite moments, Nintendo will honor Super Mario by showcasing the creativity of our fans. In the spirit of Nintendo’s mission of putting smiles on the faces of everyone that experiences our products, Nintendo’s share of any ad revenue generated from the Let’s Super Mario 30thAnniversary videos will go toward a donation Nintendo is making to Operation Smile, a global surgical charity dedicated to healing the smiles of children around the world suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate. For more information, visit http://www.operationsmile.org.
- Yoshi’s Woolly World: Collect, cooperate and get crafty with Yoshi in a world made completely from yarn, felt and other fabrics and textiles. Pulling on strings in the game usually leads to discoveries, while new transformations include a motorcycle, mole and airplane. The game’s simple platforming adventure challenges players to find hidden secrets. Tapping select amiibo characters to the GamePad creates new patterns for Yoshi, while new Yarn Yoshi amiibo let players control two Yoshis at the same time. This first-ever two-player co-op Yoshi game includes Mellow Mode, which gives Yoshi wings, and is perfect for players who just want to hunt for treasure, or newcomers who want to get the hang of the game. The game launches Oct. 16.
- Star Fox Zero: Fox, Falco, Peppy and Slippy are back in a new adventure. Players pilot an Arwing in the traditional style of TV game play and, in a new twist, players can use the cockpit view on the GamePad to aim and shoot enemies using the gyro controls. Having two unique viewpoints offers distinct gaming advantages and frees up the TV for more cinematic moments in the title’s new all-range mode. Scheduled to launch during the 2015 holiday season, Star Fox Zero includes a new Walker transformation for the Arwing, a new Gyrowing vehicle and the return of the Landmaster Tank.
- Skylanders SuperChargers from Activision: Both Donkey Kong and Bowser guest star in the next Skylanders game complete with their own vehicles and move sets that celebrate the lore and legacy of their 30+ years in the video game universe. As an added bonus, the Turbo Charge Donkey Kong and Hammer Slam Bowser Skylanders SuperCharger characters also work as amiibo in compatible Nintendo games, so players can store their save data in both modes with a simple twist of the figure’s base. The game is anticipated to launch Sept. 20.
- Just Dance 2016 from Ubisoft: Just Dance 2016 is the latest installment in the best-selling music game franchise of all time. Launching Oct. 20, 2015, on both Wii and Wii U, the game features tracks from artists like Jason Derulo, Meghan Trainor and Lady Gaga. This year, the free Just Dance Controller app enables Wii U players to use their smartphones to play.
- Xenoblade Chronicles X: Amid an intergalactic war between aliens and human survivors, players fight for survival while exploring the massive expanses of an unknown planet. Weaponized mechs called “Skells” let players access every location they see. Players also can customize a lethal skill set of combat and defensive skills, called Arts, to strengthen their strategies and defeat enemies efficiently. The game launches Dec. 4.
- Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival: Animal Crossing amiibo figures and cards get their own party game. Players are challenged to collect the most Happy Points by the end of a dynamic board game. The board layout can remain the same, but the spaces and even the environment change, depending on which month players choose for their game. As in other Animal Crossing games, players can buy turnips and use strategy to decide when to sell them for big money. Scheduled to launch during the 2015 holiday season, Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival will launch as a bundle that includes the game, two amiibo figures and three amiibo cards.
- Genei Ibun Roku #FE (name not final): Set in modern Tokyo, young people come together to weave an epic tale alongside heroes from an alternate world. This brand-new RPG, developed by ATLUS, is infused with elements of the popular Fire Emblem series. In the struggle between the worlds of glamour and darkness, these young heroes rise to face the challenge. The game is scheduled to launch in 2016.
- Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash: Up to four players can compete in tennis matches that could only take place in the Mushroom Kingdom. With the addition of Jump Shots to hit high balls overhead, or Giant Mushrooms that when picked up make characters bigger, this Mario Tennis is reborn with features enabling players to aggressively go after higher balls. The game is scheduled to launch during the 2015 holiday season.
- The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes: Three players take on the role of individual Link characters and team up to solve puzzles and battle bosses in dungeons. The game features the same top-down view and visual style of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Players must work together, as the group shares all hearts. All three Links can stack on top of one another to create a Totem to reach new locations and solve puzzles or fight enemies. Different outfits offer unique abilities. The game is scheduled to launch this fall.
- Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon: The player transforms into one of 20 Pokémon as he or she sets out on an adventure in a world inhabited solely by the 720 discovered Pokémon, including Legendary and Mythical Pokémon. This game boasts hours of replay-ability by randomly generating each dungeon, so players will never explore the same dungeon twice as they unravel this tale of adventure and mystery. The game is scheduled to launch during the 2015 holiday season.
- Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer: One of the favorite activities in the Animal Crossing series now gets a full game. With more options than ever, players design interiors and exteriors of homes for hundreds of animal characters, and can even design a garden. They can choose where to place the home, and then pick out a house style and colors for the roof, door and fence before getting to work on the interior. Tapping compatible amiibo character cards brings favorite Animal Crossing characters with their separate personalities and design requests into the game, which launches with a complimentary amiibo card on Sept. 25. A bundle will launch the same day and include the game, one amiibo card and the NFC Reader/Writer accessory.
- YO-KAI WATCH: This game sold millions and became a cultural phenomenon in Japan. Now U.S. players get to experience the fun of hundreds of sometimes cute, sometimes spooky, and usually mischievous Yo-kai that inhabit our world. Players explore using their Yo-kai Watch to find Yo-kai, then befriend them and turn them into a team to battle other Yo-kai. The game is scheduled to launch during the 2015 holiday season.
- Fire Emblem Fates: Two versions of the franchise’s new installment offer players an unprecedented choice: fight an opposing force or join the other side and try to make changes from within. For the first time in the series, players take on the role of the main character and command an army, while struggling to decide which path to follow: helping blood relatives or the family that raised him or her. The game is scheduled to launch in 2016.
- Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam: Paper Mario jumps out of the book and into the bizarre adventures of Mario & Luigi, resulting in hilarious and dangerous hijinks. Become the superstar team of Mario, Luigi and Paper Mario to take on quests, take down enemies and untangle these two unique universes in this playful new entry in the Mario & Luigi series. The game is scheduled to launch in spring 2016.
- Hyrule Warriors Legends: The Wii U version of Hyrule Warriors comes to the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. In the portable version, experience new story elements and playable characters inspired by The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. New features allow players to enhance their tactics and switch between different characters on the fly as they explore and battle in Hyrule’s most famous locales. The game is scheduled to launch in Q1 of 2016.
- Metroid Prime: Federation Force: Up to four players can connect online or locally to take on co-op missions in this first-person sci-fi adventure set in the Metroid Prime universe. Players don a mech suit and work together as a team to clear out enemy-infested bases and complete objective-based missions. After completing the missions, up to six players can compete in Metroid Prime: Blast Ball, a three-on-three game that requires players to shoot a ball into their opponents’ goal. The game is scheduled to launch in 2016.
With so much information, it would be easy to dismiss the latest Nintendo Direct presentation as an elaborate April Fool’s Day prank. But the latest Nintendo Direct is definitely no joke. The next evolution of amiibo? It’s happening! Lucas from Mother 3 in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS? He’s joining the battle! The debut of a 200cc speed class in Mario Kart 8? Yup! A new line of Yoshi amiibo figures made of actual yarn? Oh yeah. A home-designing Animal Crossing game? Launching this year! Splatoon launching on May 29 and more details about Mario Maker, Yoshi’s Woolly World and the new game in the Fire Emblem series? It’s all accurate!
To view the Nintendo Direct video in its entirety, visit http://www.nintendo.com/nintendo-direct.
“The world of amiibo is getting bigger, better and even more interactive,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. “And with existing amiibo support for games like Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart 8 and more, and upcoming support for Splatoon, Yoshi’s Woolly World and Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, amiibo continue to stretch the definition of the toys-to-life category.”
Highlights revealed in the video include:
- amiibo Cards: A totally new form of amiibo is coming this fall! The first set of amiibo cards will be based on Animal Crossing characters and will be compatible with the Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer game. An NFC reader/writer peripheral for Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL and Nintendo 2DS – which offers the functionality for scanning amiibo currently included in the New Nintendo 3DS XL system – will also launch the same day as the new Animal Crossing game.
- The Next Waves of Super Smash Bros. Series amiibo: On May 29, a new set of amiibo in the Super Smash Bros. series will launch, featuring Charizard, PAC-MAN, Wario, Jigglypuff, Greninja, Robin, Lucina and Ness. July brings Dark Pit and Palutena. And in September, Zero Suit Samus, Ganondorf, Olimar, Dr. Mario and Bowser Jr. will join the amiibo family.
- Play Classic Nintendo Games Using amiibo: With amiibo tap: Nintendo’s Greatest Bits, Wii U users can download the free application from the Nintendo eShop and tap any amiibo to unlock game-play highlights from select NES and Super NES games.
- Yarn Yoshi amiibo: A new set of Yoshi amiibo figures made of actual yarn will launch later this fall along with the Yoshi’s Woolly World game. Tapping one of these yarn amiibo to the Wii U GamePad controller while playing Yoshi’s Woolly World will make another Yoshi appear in the game to assist the player. The Yarn Yoshi amiibo will be available in three colors: green, pink and light blue.
- Splatoon amiibo: Launching simultaneously with Splatoon on May 29 are Inkling Girl, Inkling Boy and Inkling Squid amiibo figures. By tapping one of these amiibo to the GamePad, players can receive special missions to unlock weapons and gear.
- More Mii Racing Suits!: On April 23, a new free downloadable software update to Mario Kart 8 will add support for nine more amiibo figures, including Mega Man, Sonic and PAC-MAN. Players can tap these amiibo to outfit their Mii characters in Mii Racing Suits themed to those amiibo characters.
- Mario Maker: The Mario Maker game launches exclusively for the Wii U console in September and easily lets users create their own Mario levels and share them online with people all over the world! Various activities related to the 30th anniversary of the Super Mario Bros. game are also planned throughout the year.
- Splatoon: In addition to previously detailed single-player and online “Turf War” modes, action shooter Splatoon will feature a highly competitive “Ranked Battle” mode, which ranks and matches players based on their wins in 4-on-4 multiplayer matches. The super-fun and super-colorful game will also feature a “Battle Dojo.” In this mode, players can enjoy local 1-on-1 battles with friends. One player plays on the GamePad controller, while the other plays on the TV using a separate controller, competing to see who can pop the most balloons. Splatoon will launch exclusively for Wii U on May 29.
- 200cc? 200cc!: Yes, that’s right: For the first time in the Mario Kart series, a 200cc racing class is coming to Mario Kart 8. Even faster than 150cc, the new high-speed class will work on all tracks in the game and makes braking an important driving skill. The new 200cc class will be offered as a free downloadable update on April 23 alongside the new paid DLC Pack 2 featuring three new characters, four new vehicles and eight new tracks.
- Nintendo 64 and Nintendo DS Games Hit the Virtual Console Service: Starting today, classic Nintendo 64 and Nintendo DS games are coming to the Virtual Console on Wii U. Today brings Yoshi’s Island DS for Nintendo DS and Super Mario 64 for Nintendo 64. While playing Nintendo DS games, the TV and GamePad combination will provide various options for dual-screen layouts, while all Nintendo 64 games that supported the Rumble Pack will continue rumbling away on Wii U controllers. Upcoming Virtual Console releases include WarioWare: Touched! for Nintendo DS on April 9 and Donkey Kong 64 for Nintendo 64 on April 16.
- Yoshi’s Woolly World: The lovingly crafted new Wii U game launches this fall and overflows with numerous challenges and hidden secrets. In addition to the challenging Classic Mode, Yoshi’s Woolly World adds “Mellow Mode,” an additional mode that lets players of all skill levels play as “Winged Yoshi.”
- Shin Megami Tensei & Fire Emblem Crossover Project: The role-playing masters at ATLUS are developing a truly modern RPG, where everyday life exists alongside a secret world of fantasy that includes characters from the Fire Emblem series.
- New Fatal Frame Game Coming to the U.S.: Fans that have been clamoring for a chance to play the latest game in the creepy Fatal Frame series will have their chance when it launches later this year for Wii U.
- Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer: This new game in the Animal Crossing series focuses on the decorating and home-designing aspects of the Animal Crossing games. Animals will ask players to design houses for them, and it’s up to designers-in-the-making to meet the animals’ requests by furnishing and decorating their homes. By tapping a new Animal Crossing series amiibo card to the New Nintendo 3DS XL system or NFC reader/writer accessory, players can design a room for that specific character on the card and scan additional character cards to invite those characters to visit. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer will launch this fall.
- BOXBOY!: From the platforming masters at HAL Laboratory, Inc., creators of the Kirby series, comes BOXBOY! The black-and-white charmer tasks players with creating, casting and hooking blocks to navigate more than 150 challenging stages. BOXBOY! launches exclusively in the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS tomorrow, April 2.
- A New Fire Emblem Game: For the first time in the series, the main playable character is not only a customizable avatar, but also the main hero or heroine of the game. Players must choose to take one of two major paths, resulting in two different experiences: the “Hoshido” side for a more traditional experience, or the “Nohr” side, which makes the story more complex and the difficulty level more challenging. The new Fire Emblem game will launch for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems in 2016.
- Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition: Players get two gigantic, unique puzzle/RPG adventures when Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition launches on May 22. The two-in-one game can be pre-ordered starting today at http://puzzleanddragons.nintendo.com. For players who can’t wait until May 22 to play, a free demo for Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition will be available in the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS on April 30.
- Pokémon Rumble World: The latest action-packed adventure in the Pokémon Rumble series is free to download (with paid content) and features more than 700 Pokémon, all the way from the original Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue games to the recent Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire games. Square off against tons of these Toy Pokémon when Pokémon Rumble World launches exclusively in the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS on April 8.
- Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.: An upcoming software update to Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. will add a fast-forward feature to drastically speed up enemy turns. In addition, a new online Public Tournament in honor of playable character Tom Sawyer called “Hijinks” launches today and runs until April 5.
- New StreetPass Games: On April 16, two new StreetPass Mii Plaza games launch for $4.99 each, or $7.99 if purchased together. In Ultimate Angler, players visit the “StreetPass Islands” to try to catch more than 150 types of fish and legendary monsters with bait received from Mii characters via StreetPass. In Battleground Z, players receive items based on the hobbies of their Mii Plaza StreetPass characters to defeat a horde of zombies. A new paid service will also launch alongside these new games called “StreetPass Mii Plaza Premium,” adding features like “StreetPass Birthdays” and a new Mii character VIP Room for $4.99.
- Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains: Based on the popular manga and anime, the Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains game features four-player local and online co-op game play and leaderboards as players take on the role of their favorite character to defend humanity from the giant Titans. In addition, the first two episodes of the hit anime series are now available to stream for free in the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS. Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains from ATLUS will launch exclusively in the Nintendo eShop for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems in May.
- Xenoblade Chronicles 3D: A new trailer hones in on some of the mysteries of this epic role-playing game, the first game developed exclusively for the New Nintendo 3DS XL system. The game launches on April 10.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS
- New (DLC) Challengers Approaching!: As previously announced, Mewtwo will join the roster of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS as a downloadable character on April 28. For $4.99, players receive Mewtwo for both versions of the game. Club Nintendo members who have purchased and registered both versions of the game will receive a free download code for Mewtwo on April 15. In addition, fan-favorite character Lucas from Mother 3 is joining the all-star Super Smash Bros. cast in June. After a game update on April 15, Super Smash Bros. players can also purchase more costumes for their Mii fighters, including ones inspired by Mega Man X and Proto Man from Capcom’s Mega Man series.
- Choose Your Own Super Smash Bros. Fighter: Starting today, Super Smash Bros. fans can visit http://www.smashbros.com to participate in a “Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot.” Fans can use this ballot to vote for which character they would like to see added to Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U as a playable character.
- Adventures of Pip from Tic Toc Games: When this pixel puzzle platformer launches this May in the Nintendo eShop on Wii U, players can use the GamePad exclusively to access inventory and quickly travel through the game’s world.
- Mutant Mudds Super Challenge from Renegade Kid: People who purchase the Nintendo 3DS version of this beloved muddy platforming sequel will receive the Wii U version for free (and vice versa!). Anyone that owns the original Mutant Mudds game will also receive a loyalty discount when buying Mutant Mudds Super Challenge. The game launches exclusively in the Nintendo eShop on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS this June.
- Don’t Starve: Giant Edition from Klei Entertainment: This acclaimed survival indie will launch this May with exclusive Wii U GamePad functionality and a special promotion – anyone that purchases the Wii U game will receive a free download code for the game that he or she can give to a friend!
- Octodad: Dadliest Catch from Young Horses, Inc.: Experience Octodad’s wobbly journey with family and friends in co-op mode, with two to four players controlling different tentacles. Octodad: Dadliest Catch flops his way into the Nintendo eShop on Wii U this summer.
Based on 14 critics, Ubisoft’s Wii U-exclusive game, ZombiU, currently holds a 72/100 on Metacritic. Eurogamer praised the game for ‘taking a new path,’ and awarded it with a 9/10. Although Destructoid said ZombiU is awkward, ugly and often nonsensical, it awarded the game with an 8/10.
Greg Miller, the executive editor of IGN PlayStation, said ZombiU‘s controls are ‘clunky, melee combat is annoying, and the game doesn’t look good,’ and gave it a 6.3/10. GameSpot said ZombiU has an ‘uninteresting world and dull combat,’ and gave the game a 4.5/10 – its lowest score yet.
ZombiU can be purchased in North America via the Nintendo eShop for Wii U and/or at retail.