Nintendo Direct Announces “The Year of Luigi” and More

357px-LuigihattipEarlier today, Nintendo of America (and Europe, and Japan) ran a new “Nintendo Direct” video, which you can find here. Over the course of the video, we were updated on a number of upcoming titles, but several previously-unannounced titles were revealed as well.

Perhaps the biggest news of the show, however, was that 2013 would mark “The Year of Luigi.” We already knew about the upcoming release of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for the Nintendo 3DS, but Nintendo seems keen on giving the younger Mario Brother the spotlight with a number of upcoming new releases, whether they feature Mario or not.

What follows are several of the announcements, accompanied by my own thoughts on each and screens (where available).

March 24th is when Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon arrives in North America, and Mr. Green-Stache isn’t sharing the spotlight with anyone but himself… literally. Nintendo showed off new multiplayer modes for the game, which features Luigi teaming up and competing against Luigi, Luigi, and… Luigi. If you’re familiar with the different color schemes of Luigi in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, then you’ll know how that works. Why not include Waluigi, or make Mario player 2 for a change? Only Nintendo (and developer Next Level Games) knows for sure.

The mode works with multiple game cards as well as download play, and even features online gameplay as well. In addition to the previously-seen “Hunter Mode,” there is another which involves escaping each floor of a “Scarescraper” in Rush Mode, as well as hunting for ghost dogs in Polterpup mode.

Following that, a new Mario role playing game was revealed to be coming to the Nintendo 3DS this Summer. In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, the game (or parts of it, anyway) takes place inside the mind of a sleeping Luigi, where he’s a powerful, brave hero.

From what we’ve seen (check out the gallery below), the graphics are looking terrific, and it appears that developer Alpha Dream has been given more slack to work with than Intelligent Systems was with Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story was great, and I can’t wait to try this one out, though I do have two small concerns.

First, two Mario RPGs on the Nintendo 3DS in less than a year’s time? Not that I have a problem with more of them, but I have to wonder when we might see one on Wii U– especially since consoles are typically Paper Mario‘s turf (so much for swapping out this generation).

The other is that I am skeptical that we’ll see much in the way of characters from Super Mario Bros. 2, which also took place in a dream world (Subcon) and made Luigi the best jumper of the group. It’s sort of a “why not use Tatanga in Super Mario Galaxy?” kind of thing, where it would be a shame if they didn’t take advantage of the opportunity, but the game is still fine regardless.

Next up is the “New Super Luigi U” (try saying that five times fast) downloadable content for New Super Mario Bros. U. Coming sometime this year, the single-purchase download will create a solo Luigi adventure out of the 80+ stages featured in the game by creating alternate versions with new challenges. Of course, you can switch back and forth between the original and new versions freely.

It would be cool if Luigi regained his superior jumping skills for this, though I wouldn’t hold my breath. Similarly, I hope that Luigi gets to rescue someone or something besides Mario’s girlfriend, or perhaps worse, Mario himself again (Luigi’s had to save him twice already). At the very least, here’s hoping for an appearance by Luigi’s gal, Princess Daisy, who has been absent from Mario and Luigi’s adventures for far too long (party and sports games don’t count).

Finally (as the “Year of Luigi” goes), we have Mario Golf: World Tour, which is coming to the Nintendo 3DS this Summer. “The Nintendo 3DS game includes both simple controls and a deeper experience for golf fans,” notes the press release, “plus courses that range from traditional to those inspired by the Mushroom Kingdom.”

This is finally answering a wish I’ve long had. I missed out on Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour on the GameCube (only played a little of it), and for some reason, the Wii completely skipped out on a “New Play Control!” port of that (as they did with Mario Power Tennis) or a new title altogether. Seriously, the system was practically made for it; meanwhile, the Nintendo DS didn’t get either series.

We did get yet another tennis game in Mario Tennis Open for the Nintendo 3DS last year, but as I noted in my review, it was good, but rang hollow as a “Mario” tennis game, particularly after Power Tennis. Fortunately, from what little we’ve seen, it looks like Mario Golf: World Tour is poised to display more of the character that Mario Tennis Open seemed to lack.

A 3D version of the Wii title Donkey Kong Country Returns is coming to the Nintendo 3DS this Summer as Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. Rumors had said that Retro was working on a Nintendo 3DS iteration of the game under the title “Donkey Kong Land Returns,” but I don’t think anyone was expecting a straight port of the Wii title.

As a result, the reaction is kind of a mixed bag as it’s not a new game, per se. On the bright side, at least this version will hopefully focus less on motion-controlled actions, which were a bit overdone in the original version– where rolling/firing Diddy’s peanut pop-gun were concerned especially.

This was an issue many people had with the game, and will hopefully not carry over here. In addition, maybe they’ll tweak some other things, like the mechanics for jumping off and rolling through enemies, which felt distinctly un-Donkey Kong Country-like, or the rather steep difficulty curve in the early goings.

Donkey Kong Country Returns is a great game, but can still be made better. Here’s hoping that Nintendo does just that with this port (and some new content wouldn’t hurt, either).

For those interested, a 3D trailer is available now in the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

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David Oxford

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you're interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.