New Additions to Nintendo Selects Line Announced

Nintendo has announced twelve new additions to its budget line of Nintendo Selects titles, the successor to their previous Player’s Choice line of best-sellers.

On March 11th, four games each will be re-released for the Wii, the Nintendo 3DS, and Wii U at a price of $29.99 CAD. These include Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Pikmin 3, and NES Remix Pack for the Wii U; The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Yoshi’s New Island, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, and Mario Party: Island Tour for the Nintendo 3DS; and Super Mario Galaxy 2, Animal Crossing: City Folk, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Super Mario All-Stars for the Wii, which are also playable on the Wii U.

“Whether you just picked up a new Wii U or Nintendo 3DS system over the holiday season or want to expand your ever-growing game collection, Nintendo Selects are a great, affordable option,” Nintendo of Canada’s General Manager and Senior Director, Pierre-Paul Trepanier, said in a press release. “Not only are these games easier than ever to enjoy, but they also represent some of our highest-quality offerings in recent memory.”

Having had the privilege and pleasure to review several of these titles over the years, here are links to those relevant reviews:

In addition, I have an old review of Animal Crossing: City Folk that I’ll see about publishing ahead of this release.

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.

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Wow, now this is an awesome week for the Nintendo Download. I hope no one minds if I espouse a little personal history with some of this week’s releases.

But first, a trailer for this week’s six huge releases that is a very nice throwback to when the series launched back in 1994:

Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, and Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie’s Double Trouble for Wii U, and Donkey Kong Land, Donkey Kong Land 2, and Donkey Kong Land III for Nintendo 3DS – Six platforming adventures from Rare that were originally released for the Super NES and Game Boy, respectively, which followed the duos of Donkey & Diddy, Diddy & Dixie, and Dixie & Kiddy Kong (also respectively) as they sought to thwart the evil schemes of the dastardly King/Kaptain K. Rool and his legions of Kremlings. These are the titles which inspired the modern Donkey Kong Country titles from Retro Studios (see how you can get them for less in the eShop Sales below), though they play a bit differently from their successors.

On a personal note, I’ve been waiting for these releases for a long time, and I never expected them to come all at once. They were once on the Wii Shop Channel, but abruptly removed by Nintendo of America for reasons unknown; other regions at least had a little forewarning, but my wife and I were on a bus to New York City for the Wii U launch when the news came through. The worst part was we were actually looking at buying a then-inexpensive Wii for her mother and loading it up with all three Donkey Kong Country games, as she was a big fan of the series.

We had the first two ourselves, and had there been any sort of warning, we’d have snatched up the third. We have it for Super NES, but I’ve never beaten it; having it on Virtual Console would surely have helped, but at least now I have another chance. Fun Fact: According to an article from Kotaku UK, this game’s setting of the “Northern Kremisphere” was “modelled after the mountainous and forested regions of Northern Europe and Canada,” which is part of why I derived my choice of Weekly Deals visuals from this game.

As for Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, I’ve long wanted to take advantage of the Wii U Virtual Console’s features for this one. I completed the game in its entirety, “102%,” in my youth, but I’ve apparently lost a step along the way, with Toxic Tower becoming a stopping point that’s not only thwarted myself, but my wife and our friends time and time again. Not this time! With the help Restore Points (which I only intend to use for that section), I fully intend to stomp a toxic mud hole in K. Rool’s @$$ and walk it dry.

Regarding the Game Boy Donkey Kong Land titles, I’ve only played the first one, as I hear the latter two are basically remixes of their respective Super NES counterparts. The first, however, includes a fair amount of original content, including one of my favorite worlds in a Donkey Kong game: Big Ape City, where the original Donkey Kong (now Cranky) took on Mario!

A few other fun bits before moving on: As noted above, the trailer Nintendo released today was inspired by the ad campaign for the original 1994 release of Donkey Kong Country, and you can see an example of that here.

Over on PoisonMushroom.Org, I’ve detailed some of the personal history with Donkey Kong Country and myself in my recounting of the Blockbuster World Video Game Championships, and I also wrote an article last year which casts Donkey Kong as Nintendo’s true hero of the 16-Bit Console Wars, rather than Mario. I hope you’ll enjoy those.

Moving on…

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GravBlocks+ for Wii U – A Match-3 puzzle game with a twist: Gravity! That is, changing gravity to suit your whims and help you score higher multipliers. Just avoid the Destruction Hazards lurking within the walls!

IRONFALL Invasion for Nintendo 3DS – A third-person shooter with single and multiplayer modes, you can begin taking on alien robots now for free or stock up on some downloadable content first.

Titan Attacks! for Nintendo 3DS – This classic arcade-style shoot-em-up tasks you with driving the invading aliens back from Earth to the Moon, Mars, Saturn, and their homeworld of Titan where you can finish their threat for good.

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Luv Me Buddies Wonderland for Nintendo 3DS – Minigames and educational activities for children are the order of the day here, though it boasts appeal for children and adults alike.

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Around the World in 80 Days for Nintendo DSiWare and Nintendo 3DS – Based on the classic Jules Verne novel, this puzzle games features a two-player mode and more than 80 levels per journey. With the handheld positioned upright, there are options for both left and right-handed players.

Nintendo eShop Sales

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Until 8:59am PT on March 3rd, buying any of the Donkey Kong titles released today, as well as Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and/or Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D in the Nintendo eShop will get you 30 percent off the purchase of either of the latter two titles. Full details can be found here.

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Cypronia games for Wii UAngry Bunnies: Colossal Carrot Crusade, Cake Ninja 3: The Legend Continues, and more from Cypronia are on sale until 8:59am PT on March 31st.

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TNT Racers for Wii U – Until 8:59am PT on March 5th, this title is reduced from $7.99 to $4.99, 37 percent off.

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Toon Tanks for Wii U – Until 8:59am PT on March 12th, this title is reduced from $1.99 to $1.49, 25 percent off.

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JoinDot for Nintendo 3DS3D MahJongg and other Nintendo 3DS titles from JoinDot are on sale until 8:59am PT on March 13th.

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Aqua Moto Racing 3D for Nintendo 3DS – Until 8:59am PT on March 5th, this title is reduced from $7.99 to $3.99, 50 percent off.

Price Reductions

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“Beginning at 9 a.m. PT on March 1, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom and more games from Little Orbit will receive permanent price reductions” on both Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.

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Van Helsing Sniper Zx100 for Nintendo 3DS – This game has been reduced from $6.66 to $2.99. Guess the novelty pricing didn’t do it too many favors.

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New themes this week include “NES: Donkey Kong“, and on February 28th, “Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate: Hunter’s Seal” and “Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate: Palicoes 4 Ever.”

For more information, screens, and videos for each of this week’s releases, click on the corresponding links above.

A little over a month ago, Nintendo of Canada held a special contest: Guess the correct number of bananas frozen (likely by Snowmads) in a block of ice, and win a Wii U Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze prize pack, along with a trip for four to Whistler Blackcomb. How cool is that?

After a bout of silence, Nintendo of Canada has unpeeled and revealed the secret number of bananas contained in the icy container promoting the newest release in the Donkey Kong Country series: 4,835. Thanks to an accurate estimate, “one lucky winner from Medicine Hat, AB was awarded the grand prize that includes a four-day adventure trip for four to Whistler Blackcomb, a Wii U Deluxe Set system, a copy of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, a Wii Remote Plus controller, and Nunchuk controller, which was valued at $9,740.”

But our friend from Alberta wasn’t the only one who walked away a winner at the close of the contest: Nintendo of Canada (with a little help from DK himself, who used his monkey muscle to move the monumental mass of frozen fruit) went on to donate all of the bananas to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, “a non-profit organization that provides assistance to over 28,000 people weekly through 15 food depots and over 100 community agencies located in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and North Vancouver.”

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“Nintendo of Canada was pleased to share this experience with the thousands of Donkey Kong fans who celebrated this latest game launch with us,” said Nintendo of Canada’s vice-president and general manager, Ron Bertram, in a press release. “We are just as bananas as our fans about Donkey Kong and look forward to swinging, swimming, leaping and barrel-blasting through Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze!”

For those interested in how events unfolded, Nintendo of Canada has provided the following timeline of Facebook videos, along with a little jungle hijinx and a behind-the-scenes look:

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Nintendo of Canada launched the Banana Mania Contest on its Facebook page in early February, posting an image of a mysterious crate discovered in the Canadian wilderness. Over the course of five days, Nintendo of Canada teased fans with a series of daily videos and images, which inspired fans to guess what it contained. On February 7, a reveal video featuring television personality Ajay Fry and Donkey Kong revealed that the much-speculated crate contained an ice block full of bananas. Canadians then had two weeks to guess the number of bananas for a chance to win the Donkey Kong grand prize pack.

 Although the contest has closed, Donkey Kong fans can still see the whole story unfold on Nintendo of Canada’s Facebook page and YouTube:

–          Day 1: A Discovery in Whistler, BC (video clip – Facebook)

–          Day 2: Bigger than we thought (photo – Facebook)

–          Day 3: Mysterious Markings (video clip – Facebook)

–          Day 4: Off to a facility for a closer look (photo – Facebook)

–          Day 5: Going inside to investigate (video clip – Facebook)

–          Day 6: The Big Reveal (video – YouTube)

–          Donkey Kong Collecting Bananas (video – Facebook)

–          Behind-the-Scenes of Banana Mania (video – YouTube)

In addition, you can find some photos from the event below. As for the game in question, you can find my review here.

It’s a snowy week here in Canada, and two of this week’s releases in the Nintendo Download seem perfectly themed to that kind of weather!

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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for Wii U – The Beast is Back! Donkey Kong returns to his side-scrolling stomping grounds in this latest entry into the series from Retro Studios, and he has Dixie and curmudgeonly Cranky in tow. The frostily fiendish Snomads have invaded Donkey Kong Island, kicking DK and the rest of the Kong clan out and establishing their own icy regime. Naturally, Donkey is too stubborn to take this development lying down, and he’s out to show the Snomads who’s boss! Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze will be available at retail and in the Nintendo eShop on Friday, February 21st.

Check back in soon for a review of this one.

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Ice Hockey for Wii U – In this NES classic, you get to choose your team from one of six countries from around the world, including the United States, Sweden, and of course, Canada. Choose the type of players you want to fill out your ranks, ranging from the skinny but fast lightweight players, or the larger, more powerful players who are packing on plenty of bulk. If things aren’t going according to plan, the gloves can always come off as you settle your disputes the old-fashioned way!

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WEAPON SHOP de OMASSE for Nintendo 3DS – As announced just last week on Nintendo Direct, this title takes place in a role playing game setting like most any other. However, rather than play the role of the land’s hero, you’re instead an apprentice in a weapon rental shop. You’ll make weapons to the rhythm of the beat in this humorous, quirky love letter to the RPG genre.

Episodes of INAZUMA ELEVEN on Nintendo Video for Nintendo 3DS – Last week saw the release of this soccer-based role playing game in the Nintendo eShop, and this week brings the first three episodes of the affiliated anime to Nintendo Video, where you can view them for free.

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Kung Fu Rabbit for Nintendo 3DS – Your disciples have been kidnapped, but the attackers made the mistake of leaving you alive. Now is the time… for revenge! Logic, precision, agility, and “lots of sabre rattling” are key to succeeding across 80 stages and two levels of difficulty.

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Quell Reflect for Nintendo 3DS – “An enchanting game of logic, which has taken the puzzle world by storm,” with 100 levels to challenge you and an exclusive soundtrack by Steven Cravis. You’ll want to click on the link to see the video, which gives a better idea of what this game is all about.

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Sky Kid for Nintendo 3DS – If you follow Bandai Namco’s ShiftyLook webcomic imprint, you might be familiar with Sky Kid, whether it’s from his own comic strip, his recurring role in the Mappy animated series, or even as one of the many characters you can hang out with in Namco High. But if you’ve ever wondered where Sky Kid originated, now’s your chance to find out!

One or two simultaneous players take control of the Sky Kids, Baron and Max, as they take to the air, pick up bombs, blow up the enemy fortress, and come in for a safe landing. Succeed in your mission, and you’ll bring honor and glory back to Bird Land!

As always, click on the corresponding links above for more info, screens, and even videos for each of this week’s releases.

From 11am until 1pm on Saturday, February 22nd, Toys R Us locations across Canada will be hosting “Play Day at Toys R Us,” billed as “The Ultimate Family Event.” Those who dress up as their favorite superhero will receive a personalized Secret Identity Card, along with savings on Hasbro Marvel products. On top of that, there are numerous other games, crafts, and activities to be enjoyed.

But the main reason you’re learning about this here, as you might have guessed from the headline, is because select locations will be hosting a demo of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which will be available the day prior (Friday, February 21st, for those not keeping track). The demo will be available at the following locations:

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Click here for a PDF file, should the above graphic not display properly.

To see what other activities will be available, click here, or simply read on:

  • HASBRO SUPERHERO ACTIVITY: Create a unique Superhero Identity – design your very own mask and Secret ID Card!
  • STICKY MOSAICS MAKE N’ TAKE: Learn to tile-by-number. Choose from a variety of peel & stick designs and make your own mosaic masterpiece!
  • FASHION ANGELS HAIR CHOX ACTIVITY: Experiment with the fun trend of hair chalking using the new Hair Chox by Fashion Angels. Try one of the 5 cool temporary hair “chox” colors to dye the tips of your hair or create ultra-bold streaks!
  • PRODUCT DEMONTRATIONS: Test your skills with some of the fun and exciting toys & games available at Toys“R”Us!
  • KREO MAKE N’ TAKE: Pick from a mini KRE-O Dungeons & Dragons OR Transformers sample, build in-store and take it home!
  • MEGA BLOKS FIRST BUILDERS ACTIVITY: Learn how to build a Snail, Dog or Horse with Mega Bloks First Builders!

Everyone was waiting with bated breath to see what Nintendo would reveal in their next Nintendo Direct, the first one of the year 2014 and the first one since their ever-controversial financial report earlier this year. What was in store? Well, you can view it in its entirety above, or read on to find out!

An Assist Trophy no more! Things got off to a hot start with a new trailer for Super Smash Bros. which revealed a new character in the game that fans have long been hopeful for. Previously, director Masahiro Sakurai expressed concern that there wouldn’t be enough moves for a complete set, but it looks like Little Mac of Punch-Out!! fame has learned a few new tricks since contenders were being considered for Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

I knew that was no wrestling ring being shown off in previous trailers, and with the World Video Boxing Association logo now clearly displayed, its purpose is all too clear. Little Mac himself looks rather potent, too– he looks like he could end up being a favorite of competitive Smash Bros. players with his rapid close-range attacks and killer uppercuts, though his air game appears to be a little on the weak side. In any case, he should be fun to try out.

Super Smash Bros. is set to be released later this year; my money is on the holidays.

I never thought I’d see the day. The Mario Kart 8 announcement revealed not one, not two, but seven new racers: Bowser’s Koopalings! For the first time ever, Larry, Morton, Wendy O., Iggy, Roy, Lemmy, and Ludwig are all playable characters. I figured they used Bowser Jr. because it was easier to feature one, rather than seven. Seems they’ll have a harder time keeping them out of other games now, too. My only concern is whether they’ve come at the expense of other racers– still wanting R.O.B. and Funky Kong to come back over here.

Mario Kart 8 is on-track for a May 30th release.

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It’s been a while since Nintendo last said anything about bringing Game Boy Advance games to the Wii U Virtual Console, but today we got an update. Starting in April, releases will include Metroid Fusion, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, and Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3, with more to follow “every month.” I was sort of hoping for Super Mario Advance and Wario Land 4, personally, but this is a decent start… though to be honest, I’d much rather have the Super NES version of Yoshi’s Island. What’s the hold-up there? In addition, I hope we see Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, but mainly if Nintendo has a way to implement the eReader cards.

Bayonetta 2 has a new trailer showing off some new features as well, and is coming later this year.

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The latest from Monolith Soft, the enigmatic “X”, does not have its own separate trailer, unfortunately. Nintendo Direct did show new footage and revealed that “the game’s battle system is based on Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii,” and that “additional updates will be announced in the future.”

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A sequel to the recently-released eShop title, NES Remix (review coming soon), will be arriving on April 25th. This installment features a batch of new NES titles with new challenges, including Ice Hockey, Dr. Mario, the curiously renamed Mario Open Golf (previously NES Open Tournament Golf), Metroid, Kid Icarus, and some of my favorites: Super Mario Bros. 2, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and Super Mario Bros. 3, among others still.

Like its predecessor, NES Remix 2 will be $14.99, but this one features an unlockable game as well: A full version of Super Luigi Bros., the left-scrolling, high-jumping Super Mario Bros. remix available in bits and pieces in the first game.

The last item on the Wii U front has no screens or video of its own, and is called Child of Light, an Ubisoft role playing game that will be available in the Wii U eShop for $14.99 on April 30th. Joined by her firefly companion Igniculous, Princess Aurora is out to fight monsters and solve puzzles in order to retrieve three sources of light from the evil queen.

Read on for the latest in Nintendo 3DS news!

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is barreling towards a February 21st release, and given the weather we’ve been experiencing lately, something about it all just seems incredibly apt. From now until the 20th of February, however, Nintendo of Canada is holding a special contest for Canadians to win a trip for four to Whistler Blackcomb, along with a Wii U Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze prize pack.

How do you win? First, watch the following video:

That’s right: This crate full of frozen bananas could be your ticket to fame and fortune! Or, well, a vacation and what looks to be a cool (sorry) game on a fun system. Just count the bananas for your chance to win (along with filling out the contest entry form on Facebook, of course).

To learn more about the game, visit the official website. As for the contest rules:

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to residents of Canada who are at least 13 years old at time of entry. Math skill-test required. Contest closes February 20, 2014 at 11:59pm PT. 1 Grand Prize available to be won, consisting of an adventure trip for 4 to Whistler Blackcomb in BC, including flights, accommodation, lift tickets and equipment rentals, private lesson, plus 1 Wii U™ system, 1 Donkey Kong Country™: Tropical Freeze game, 1 Wii Remote Plus controller and 1 Nunchuk™ controller, ARV $9,740 (based on Toronto departure). 5 Second Prizes available to be won, each consisting of 1 Wii U™ system, 1 Donkey Kong Country™: Tropical Freeze game, 1 Wii Remote™ Plus controller and 1 Nunchuk™ controller, ARV $410 each. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Full Contest Rules at http://www.nintendo.ca.

One thing I don’t get, though, is the requirement for winning. Does the number have to be exact? Or will the person who comes closest be able to claim the prize? Following the link for full contest rules takes you to a graphic with the above text, and following the link there leads you to Facebook, all in a perpetual circle. Whatever the case, best of luck to those who enter!

Today, Nintendo posted a new surprise Nintendo Direct video to show us what games are to come for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U in 2014. As it turns out, there were not only some new announcements made, but some reveals of new games which are available as we speak. Here’s the video, followed by a rundown.

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The first part of the video revealed an all-new title coming in 2014, tentatively titled “Hyrule Warriors”. “A new game for Wii U developed by Tecmo-Koei that will feature the action-packed Warriors series set in the world of The Legend of Zelda“, says the press release, “[t]his is a separate project from the new installment of The Legend of Zelda series that is in development for Wii U by longtime series producer Eiji Aonuma and his team.”

I’ve never really played any of the Warriors games very much, so this seems like a good introduction to me. Besides which, I don’t mind seeing The Legend of Zelda spread its wings a little more beyond the core series (says the guy who loves Link’s Crossbow Training).

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Kirby: Triple Deluxe: The game is a side-scrolling platformer, but players can move Kirby to the background and foreground to dodge enemies and solve puzzles. Kirby can also use a new Hypernova ability, which powers up his inhale ability and enables him to suck up everything in his path. The game includes more than 20 different copy abilities, including four new ones created for this game. Kirby: Triple Deluxe also includes two new game modes: Kirby Fighters lets up to four players pick one of 10 copy abilities for their Kirby and then fight to see which is the most effective in battle. Dedede’s Drum Dash asks players to press buttons in sync with Kirby music while jumping and collecting coins. The game is planned for 2014.

I’ve seen people say this is a sequel to Kirby Super Star, but it’s looking less like that as we see more of it– at least, insofar as having a ton of smaller games in one package goes. Nonetheless, it’s good to see Kirby take advantage of the potential 3D background interaction where New Super Mario Bros. 2 did not. Kirby Fighters sounds fun, though I’m a little let down that Dedede’s Drum Dash is a rhythm game, mainly because I’m terrible at those.

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Yoshi’s New Island: The game launches this spring, and will be produced by Takashi Tezuka, the creative director of the original Yoshi’s Island for Super NES.

This one is a bit tough to get a pulse on. Nintendo hit on something special with Yoshi’s Island and have tried to replicate its success ever since, but have never been especially successful in doing so. Yoshi’s Island DS was decent, but unspectacular, and a bit on the hard side as well– and not simply “oh, I can’t do this” hard, but “keeping track of things in the gap between screens and across two screens at once kind of sucks” hard. That one didn’t have Tezuka’s involvement, but another did: Yoshi’s Story, an underrated game which didn’t set the world on fire. Tezuka produced that one as well, and while I enjoyed it quite thoroughly as a $10 Wii Virtual Console title, I can see how those who paid upwards of $50 or so might have felt a bit less satisfied.

Fingers are crossed here that this time, Nintendo finally figures out how to make the magic happen again.

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Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder: Everyone’s favourite helpful 4-inch-tall robot is back! This time Chibi-Robo has been tasked with helping a new museum get off the ground. Players are given silhouettes of needed objects, then use the Nintendo 3DS camera to find matching objects, known as NostalJunk, in the real world. Chibi-Robo will also help characters like superheroes and singing sponge-bears with various tasks, all while keeping an eye on his electricity reserves. The game also features community events called NostalJunk Challenges that focus on particular silhouettes, and give players opportunities to showcase their creativity and maybe earn a special outfit for Chibi-Robo to wear in the game. A demo will soon launch exclusively in the Nintendo eShop, with the full version landing on January 9, 2014.

I’m honestly not sure what to say on this one; Chibi Robo has a cult following (the “cult” part perhaps being why this latest entry is a Nintendo eShop release), but I’ve never really gotten to play one of the series. I have the Nintendo DS game kicking around somewhere after picking it up on sale a few years ago, but I’ve never had a chance to try it.

Suffice to say, I’m interested, but also wary– the AR-driven action worries me, as I wasn’t able to much with Spirit Camera.

Pokémon Bank and Poké Transporter: Pokémon Bank is software that lets players store up to 3,000 Pokémon from the Pokémon X and Pokémon Y games. Poké Transporter is an application that lets players take the Pokémon they’ve caught through the years and transferred into Pokémon Black and Pokémon White, as well as Pokémon Black 2 and Pokémon White 2, and transfer them into Pokémon X and Pokémon Y. Pokémon Bank and Poké Transporter launch December 27. Players can download a 30-day free trial version anytime between launch and January 31, 2014. Following the free trial, an annual usage fee will apply for Pokémon Bank. Anyone who accesses a Pokémon Bank box by September 30, 2014, will receive the Pokémon Celebi as a special gift.

Bringing all your Pokémon from one game to the next always struck me as slightly odd, at least in an in-world way. I certainly see the real-world desire and practicality of it, but in the games, isn’t catching everything part of the journey of your character? It just seems weird to me that Red (for example) would effectively go up to some new trainer one day and say “hey, why don’t you take all my Pokémon? I’m not using them.” But that’s probably just me thinking way too much about it.

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Bravely Default: A free demo of the game launches in the Nintendo eShop on January 2, but this is much more than a demo. It’s an exclusive story with hours of content not included in the main game. The full game launches in stores and in the Nintendo eShop on February 7 at a suggested retail price of $39.99. If players with the full game close their system while the game is active, they might gather additional warriors via the StreetPass feature, but they also earn Sleep Points for every eight cumulative hours of down time. Sleep Points can then be used during battle to change equipment, revive a fallen party member, heal or unleash attacks beyond the game’s usual damage cap. Players who don’t want to wait for their Sleep Points to refill have the option of purchasing SP potions in the Nintendo eShop to refill all three Sleep Points at once. Also launching February 7, a Collector’s Edition including the game, an art book, a soundtrack CD and 34 augmented-reality cards will be available via select retailers at a suggested retail price of $49.99.

I have absolutely nothing to add here.

Wait, that’s not true; it looks nice! But that’s really it.

Okay, that’s not it: This sounds like a really good demo for people looking forward to the game. Demos which add to the experience, rather than merely sample from a random part, tend to be kind of cool. That’s all.

Now, back to the Wii U!

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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze: Veteran Cranky Kong joins playable characters Diddy Kong and Dixie Kong as companions for Donkey Kong. Cranky Kong comes with his own set of special moves that allow him to bounce off enemies and obstacles using his cane. Players who collect 100 bananas in a stage can execute a new move called the KONG-Pow, which turns all enemies on the screen into items. Now that Cranky Kong is setting off on an adventure, instead of overseeing the in-game shop as he did in the Donkey Kong Country Returns game, the aptly named Funky Kong will assist players by offering them items for trade in the game. The game launches February 21 in stores and in the Nintendo eShop.

I can’t look at Donkey and Cranky together without hearing the first verse of the Goof Troop theme song. Also, I’m glad to see Funky Kong is back! Now to cross my fingers that he’ll show up elsewhere, like perhaps in a certain racing game (along with a returning R.O.B.).

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Sonic Lost World: A new Nintendo-themed level is coming to the Nintendo eShop. Yoshi’s Island Zone is now available for free. Done in a Yoshi art style, the level has Sonic speeding through areas filled with pipes, coins, Shy Guys and Piranha Plants.

Wow, where was this during the marathon? Also, it went unmentioned in the press release, but a Zelda-themed downloadable content pack was also hinted at in the video. You can see Kotaku’s screencap of the teaser image above.

Beyond that, I have to wonder: Between the game’s similarities to Super Mario Galaxy and the Yoshi’s Island Zone DLC, could Sonic Lost World be part of an effort by SEGA to create a Mario/Sonic platforming crossover they previously said couldn’t be done?

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Wii Sports Club: Launching today, golf becomes the third sport added to the Wii Sports Club lineup, joining bowling and tennis. In a move not possible on any other system, golf asks players to place the Wii U GamePad controller on the floor in front of their TVs. Players can then use a Wii Remote Plus to swing at the ball on the ground, just as they would a real golf ball, enabling more precise control with each stroke. When they take their swing, the ball flies from the screen of the GamePad to the TV screen in one fluid motion. Wii Sports Club – Golf includes the nine-hole course from the original Wii Sports game, in addition to a newly developed nine-hole course based on Golf US Course, a Famicom game that Nintendo Global President Satoru Iwata helped develop more than 25 years ago. Wii U owners can play a free 24-hour trial of Wii Sports Club, which lets players sample all three sports. The trial offer is open to everyone, even to people who previously sampled the 24-hour free trial. A Club Pass for the full golf game, allowing unlimited access, can be purchased for $9.99. Boxing and baseball will be coming to Wii Sports Club in 2014.

Finally! I’ve been waiting for this one ever since they first showed the Wii U off at E3 a couple of years ago.

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NES Remix: Select parts from 16 classic NES games have been remixed with new challenges. For example, players might be tasked with completing a familiar Super Mario Bros. stage while running to the left. Or they might encounter a revamped level of Donkey Kong that allows them to play as Link from The Legend of Zelda series. NES Remix includes Miiverse compatibility, so players with broadband Internet access can show off their skills, complete with cool 8-bit stamps. NES Remix is now available exclusively in the Nintendo eShop for $14.99.

I’m eager to try this out and put my skills to the test. This is a pretty cool way for Nintendo to leverage their library of classic games, and I hear it’s surprisingly substantial, which is good, given the admittedly hefty price.

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Dr. Luigi: The Year of Luigi continues to deliver surprises, with a new title starring Mario’s green-clad brother. Much like the classic puzzle game Dr. Mario, Dr. Luigi requires players to line up colour-coded pills to destroy viruses. Dr. Luigi offers different skill settings and attacks in multiplayer games, and an original mode where the pills are, of course, L-shaped. The game comes with a Dr. Mario mode, Wii U GamePad compatibility and online play, so wannabe virus busters from all around the world can compete. Dr. Luigi launches exclusively in the Nintendo eShop on December 31 for $14.99.

This sounds like fun! I never did get Dr. Mario: Online RX, and I guess this sort of negates the need? That actually saddens me, slightly. Still, it’s funny to see Luigi follow his older bro into the pharmaceutical business, though Mario seems to show a touch more professionalism by not wearing his cap to this job. Also, a strange thing: The virus designs on the left are different, but in the playing field, they look just like the original three.

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Super Smash Bros.: Rosalina, who was introduced in the Super Mario Galaxy games for Wii and makes a surprise appearance in the new Super Mario 3D World for Wii U, will be a playable character, accompanied by her starry friend, Luma. The game will launch in stores and the Nintendo eShop on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS in 2014.

Oh, Nintendo, you are a dirty, dirty tease! In the Nintendo Direct video, this portion opens by making it look like Kirby might be joining Mario Kart, answering a plea for a full Nintendo roster of racers fans have had for years. But nope; Rosalina comes down to put the star warrior in his place pretty quickly, and reveals herself to be the latest addition to the Super Smash Bros. roster. Meanwhile, Daisy fans are left steaming.

That aside, I’m cool with this; I love Rosalina, though they seem to have gotten rid of that cool echo effect her voice had previously. She looks like she’ll be interesting to use, too, as she’s accompanied by Luma, who looks like he might act somewhat independently of the princess of the stars. One positive to take away from this is that if they do operate separately to a degree, that’s a good sign for the Ice Climbers, who people have been worried about being dumped due to trying to get the same rosters working on both Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.

Incidentally, that intro… could Rainbow Road be a new stage to fight on?

With that, there’s just one more game left:

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Mario Kart 8: New playable characters include Rosalina and various “Baby” Nintendo characters, like Baby Mario and Baby Luigi. New course settings include an airport, the desert and high in the clouds, and vehicles include UFOs, four-wheel ATV buggies, standard karts and bikes.

Sigh, who keeps asking for the babies to come back? Were they tracked as widely-used in Mario Kart Wii? I just don’t get it– they’ve even made a Baby Daisy just for the series, but I don’t know of anyone who is that big a fan of the lot. I guess they must have their audience somewhere.

Between Super Mario 3D World and Super Smash Bros., plus being in the last two entries in this series, I don’t think Rosalina’s inclusion is much of a surprise any more. I am curious about the new UFO vehicles they mention, though. As for stages, the airport looks neat, but I hope we get more like the Shy Guy Bazaar and Piranha Plant Pipeline from Mario Kart 7— the ones which really brought the worlds of the regular Mario games to life.

That’s pretty much it, but that’s also plenty for now, wouldn’t you say? 2014 is looking pretty good!

With the triple-threat of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Mario Party: Island Tour for Nintendo 3DS and Super Mario 3D World for Wii U now available to take on the newly released next generation platforms of the PlayStation 4 from Sony and the Xbox One from Microsoft, the battle to claim consumers’ dollars this holiday season is now fully underway.

I took the opportunity at a recent media event to chat for a bit with Nintendo of Canada representative Matt Ryan about the company’s plans for the holiday season, and how they intend to move forward against their marketplace adversaries.

Mario’s Hat: Normally, when approaching the holiday season, there usually seems to be more of a leaning towards either the console side or the handheld side, but this year feels pretty well-balanced in comparison to previous years.

Matt Ryan: You’re right; sometimes it is more heavily weighted towards one side or the other. I think we have a good balance, with more Wii U titles this holiday season, but it’s Wii U’s turn, you know what I mean? The Nintendo 3DS has had its stronger holidays, this year it’s the Wii U.

On November 22nd, you’ve got Mario Party: Island Tour, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and Super Mario 3D World coming out. Are you at all worried that you might be overloading that particular day with three big titles?

We just like that day for some reason. *laughs* The reality is we have a lot of product launches, but very few times have I seen three really big titles launch on the same day, because digital titles will launch when they launch, and sometimes they’ll overlap with a packaged game launch, but we just like that day, and we’ll see how it goes. We also have a lot of other products we need to launch, and there are things we haven’t even announced yet…

For this holiday?

Yes, those are things our operations and logistics department have had to think about. November 22nd is going to be a big day if you’re a Nintendo fan, no doubt.

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Up until a recent Nintendo Direct, you guys had a certain date set in December. First it was for Super Mario 3D World, then it swapped with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and then that got delayed. Is there any reason to no longer go with the December date for anything?

The reality with Donkey Kong is that it’s not ready; Retro’s going to put some more time into it, and we’re happy about that, and all the fans should be too, because we’re not going to put something out until it’s ready. I think the majority of the launches happen before December anyway, just because of the time of year, but there’s no real particular reason.

So there wasn’t any worry about Nintendo being in further competition with itself by releasing on that date? Rayman Legends was originally supposed to release around the same time (that Donkey Kong has been delayed to) this year, and it would have had the spotlight all to itself, which seems to be where Donkey Kong sits now.

I’m going to say “no, that’s not the situation”, because look at previous years when we launched Mario Kart and Super Mario 3D Land, both within four weeks of each other. So it’s not a matter of competing against ourselves, no; it’s a matter of Donkey Kong not being ready, so we’re going to give it some more development time to get it ready. Other than that, we have a lot of things launching already, so there’s just lots of choices this holiday.

Nintendo is in a unique position this year, as you’ve had a new console out for about a year, while Sony and Microsoft are just getting ready to launch their new consoles now. How do you think your lineup will fare against their launch lineups?

Like most years, we’re just going to be focused on us this holiday. We released the Wii U a year ago, and developers have had their opportunities to make games already for a year, with the devkits even earlier than that. So we’re going to see a lot of great games come out, no matter what time of year, just because of the life cycle and how far we are into it already. Our holiday will fare based on on how the Wii U, the Nintendo 3DS, and the Nintendo 2DS do, along with our software. That’s what we’re focused on; the industry is obviously going to change a little bit this holiday with some other consoles coming into the marketplace, but we’re going to focus on us. That’s what we do best.

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The growing concern about the Wii U is that if Nintendo doesn’t start bringing in big sales numbers after one year, the console is finished. Any thoughts on that?

This holiday, we’ve got games for everyone, and there’s a lot of them. And a lot of them are Wii U games, so it’s really going to be determined on how we see the sales of these games, but these are games you can only play on our system. You can only have Miis on our system, and Wii Party U will be exclusive to Wii U. Super Mario 3D World, some of the other games from third-parties like Sonic Lost World, you can only play that stuff on Nintendo. We think that’s going to help our situation with the Wii U for sure.

It’s also very early in the life cycle; I think there are some comments out there about Wii U’s performance, but when you’re comparing it against the Wii, you’ve got to realize that was a revolutionary change, and we’re just getting started with the Wii U. The GamePad is still that differentiating feature that we have on ours; it’s built to work with that system, and we’re pretty proud of that, so we’ve got a long way to go with Wii U.

There has also been some concern that several Wii U games aren’t really making unique use of the GamePad, outside of things like Off-TV play. Any thoughts there?

One of things people may or may not have noticed– on Super Mario 3D World, for example– is the person using the GamePad has a “reveal” option. So you can use your finger or stylus to actually rub on the screen in different areas, and it will make question mark blocks and other things appear that can help players play. It also becomes a strategic move, so there’s a little more than just the Off-TV play there. But not every game needs to make such use of it; sometimes just having Off-TV play is just as satisfying.

Going back to third-parties: Several have been vocal about the sales numbers of the Wii U, and not bringing their “A” game to the console as a result. Do you think this holiday season will bring in the numbers needed to attract them back to the system?

Our industry revolves around the fact that software sells hardware; great games are what people are looking for, and the bigger the install base, the more opportunities there are for any developer to get more games out. Are some of our titles this holiday hardware sellers? Definitely! Look at some of the options we’re giving people: We’ve got a new configuration for Wii U that comes with two games, New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U. That’s going to attract more consumers to Wii U. We’ve still got some of the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD bundles out there, so that’s moving hardware. We’ve just announced a Skylanders: Swap Force bundle with the Basic Set to get even more hardware out there.

We’re just going to keep doing that, so it’s up to third-party developers to develop for whatever system they want, but the install base is obviously going to continue to grow.

Alright, so let’s wrap up with this question: Any favorites among the games shown here today? (The titles featured at the event were Wii Fit U, Super Mario 3D World, Wii Party U, Sonic Lost World, Mario & Sonic at the Soichi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Shovel Knight, Mario Party: Island Tour, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies)

Just one?

Or two.

Okay, Super Mario 3D World, which I think has been so well-polished that it definitely stands out as my favorite this holiday because of little intricacies like being able to walk anywhere on the world map. That’s new, and that’s exciting; I don’t know why I like it so much, but it’s just cool to cut across, rather than follow the linear path.

Yeah, I’ve always wanted to do that.

Yeah, it’s cool. The cat transformation is awesome. There’s a really cool character enhancement, the Double Cherries, which we’ve just announced. It’s so incredible to throw a fireball with six Luigis at the same time and have them ricochet everywhere– I really enjoy that.

I’ve always really liked the Wii Fit series, so I love the trampoline activity in Wii Fit U, and I look forward to using the Wii Fit Meter and bringing that with me as well.

A special thanks to Matt Ryan and everyone at Nintendo of Canada for granting me this interview! For those interested, every title listed above (save for Shovel Knight) is available now in the Nintendo eShop and, with the temporary exception of Wii Fit U, at retail as well.

In the latest edition of Nintendo Direct, the company not only revealed a closer look at several of the games coming out this holiday season, but also revealed a previously unannounced title and an unfortunate delay. Following is a recap of the video (seen above) for those unable to view it by way of Nintendo’s press release.

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In a move many have been saying the company should make, yet few ever actually expected them to actually do, Nintendo announced today the release of the new Nintendo 2DS: A new, more cost-effective version of the Nintendo 3DS which dispenses with the somewhat controversial stereoscopic 3D and clamshell design in favor of a form which should be more appealing to– among others– children, and moreover, the parents who buy things such as video game systems for them.

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And here we are, back again… in Donkey Kong Country.

If you aren’t familiar with the series– by which I mean the new series, rather than the Super NES originals– I recommend checking out my review of Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D for the Nintendo 3DS. It’s pretty much the best reference point I can give you for everything else here.

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Earlier this week, Nintendo and Best Buy held the first of their “Nintendo Experience” demonstrations at select stores across the United States and Canada (the second one is this Saturday; click the link for more details). I wasn’t going to say much here, but since Nintendo of Canada were kind enough to send along some photos from one of the events, I figured I might as well talk about my own experience there.

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