Check out the Nintendo 2013 Holiday Mall Experience!

Nintendo of Canada is bringing out its holiday best for 2013 as it plans to host events at malls across Canada. Unfortunately, the lineup of malls isn’t as big as the lineup of games they’re bringing, but if you’re able to make it, you’ll find them at the following locations on the corresponding dates:

  • Toronto, ON
    Square One: Nov 25 – Dec 8
    Toronto Eaton Center: Dec 9 – 15
  • Vancouver, BC
    Metrotown: Dec 2 – 29
  • Montreal, QC
    Carrefour Laval: Nov 25 – Dec 8

There, the following games will be available to try out:

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.

WiiU_DKCountry_scrn05_E3

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.

WiiU_SM3DW_100113_Scrn05

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.

Super Mario 3D World – At midnight tonight, Nintendo’s biggest card for the 2013 holiday season will be played. I’ve given my hands-on impressions here and analyzed one of the more recent trailers here; now it’s just time to work on the review, which is already in-progress.

I can’t say too much yet, but I’m two worlds in, and the game is a lot of fun. There is a lot going on here.

3

EDGE – Following Toki Tori, EDGE is the second of three games to come to the Wii U eShop. An award-winning retro-inspired platformer, 100 levels await as you take control of the cube and help it wind its way through to the end.

wiiu_vc_supernes_brawlbrothers_04

Brawl Brothers – After three friends from their martial arts gym get abducted, it’s up to Rick and Doug (aka “Hack” and “Slash”) to take the fight to the enemy’s air fortress in this two-player beat-em-up for the Virtual Console.

n3ds_thelegendofzeldaalinkbetweenworlds_03

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – Return to the world of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past in this all-new adventure! The world may seem familiar, but upon a closer look, much has changed since the last time you set foot in this version of Hyrule. And with a new baddy out to restore the Prince of Darkness, Link will have to give chase into the mirror world of Lorule to set things right. This one will be available at midnight tonight, and you can read my initial hands-on here and my analysis of one of the game’s biggest features here.

I’ve been playing this one for the past few days as well, and it’s looking like it should scratch the itch that many fans of classic Zelda have.

n3ds_mariopartyislandtour_02

Mario Party: Island Tour – Another November 22nd midnight release, four players can connect wirelessly to take on the first Mario Party game for the Nintendo 3DS. Seven new game boards and 80 mini-games await, among other new features. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to play this one yet, short of a few demos, so the jury is still out on this one.

vG2RIGZlFTxVurN4qGmbbzwfNx3-Dxsl

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destines “Turnabout Reclaimed” DLCDual Destines sees the return of fan-favorite Phoenix Wright to the role of attorney, but how did he come back? That’s the question this downloadable game answers as Phoenix not only fights for his own redemption, but the salvation of the accused killer… whale.

wiiu_coastercrazydeluxe_02

Coaster Crazy Deluxe – Think you have what it takes to build the ultimate roller coaster theme park? Many passengers have many different preferences, but if you can manage them all, you might become a real roller coaster tycoon! Only not, because that term belongs to another game.

wiiu_themysteriouscitiesofgoldsecretpaths_03

The Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths – Puzzles, traps, and more await as you guide the children Esteban, Zia, and Tao through China to find the local City of Gold.

n3ds_vc_nes_cityconnection_03

City Connection – Leave your mark around the world by painting the roadways of New York City and beyond, but watch out! After swiping all of that paint, the cops are right on your tail! Fortunately, a well-placed oil can will send them spinning out of control, clearing your path to victory!

n3ds_christmaswonderland3_02

Christmas Wonderland 3 – Santa needs your help! Can you find all of the hidden objects, solve all the puzzles, and light all the lights in sequence to make sure everyone has a Merry Christmas?

n3ds_jewelmatch3_01

Jewel Match 3 – Magic, fantasy, and the evil that razed your homeland to the ground await as you venture through the 100 huge levels and three modes of this Match 3 game to restore order and keep the villains at bay.

n3ds_ohnoodyssey_02

Ohno Odyssey – Action, puzzles, and strategy await as you venture through 35 gravity-defying physics-based levels to rescue the alien Ohnos and help repair their mothership.

dsiware_handsontanagrams_02

Hands On! Tangrams – Available for Nintendo DSiWare and in the Nintendo 3DS eShop, you’ll find six to eight hours of gameplay as you experience ten themed levels with 100 pattern puzzles based on the 18th Century Chinese geometric tile game.

bestgamingfriendssalemegaman

“Your Favorite Gaming Friends” Sale, featuring Mega Man – Mega Man’s first four adventures are on sale this week in both the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS eShops. Rather than the $4.99 each would normally cost, you can get them for $3.49 each until 9am PST on November 28th. How many times can you thwart Dr. Wily’s evil schemes?

That’s all for this week. As always, click the corresponding links above to learn more about each of this week’s releases, including screens, videos, and more information.

Nintendo of Canada has announced a one-two punch of events to look forward to this week. First up, there will be a Nintendo Direct at 8am PT on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013:

1398495_538708246213633_215874165_o

Details about this edition of Nintendo Direct are sparse, with the only hint being that they will discuss “new details and information about previously announced Nintendo 3DS software launching through early 2014.” So there may not be any big reveals of new games, but at least we should find out some cool stuff about games we’re already looking forward to.

Then, for those of you in Toronto, there will be a special preview event for The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on Saturday, November 16th, 2013 between noon and 4pm at The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, M6J 1H3). Fans in Montreal will have their own the following day on Sunday, November 17th, 2013 between 13:00 and 17:00 at the Square de l’église St-James, 463 Sainte-Catherine Ouest (for French, check out the event page).

The-Legend-of-Zelda-A-Link-Between-Worlds---Invitation

This is a free event, and fans are welcome to drop by and attend in their full Zelda cosplay regalia as they try out the latest game in the series before its official release for Nintendo 3DS (and Nintendo 2DS, of course) on November 22nd. Additionally, there will be giveaways for those who attend while supplies last, plus an appearance by professional costumer/model Pikmin Link and an artist who will render Link as a wall drawing right before your eyes.

As this is a clip from the recent Nintendo Direct, in a different format from the Super Mario 3D World trailer seen yesterday, so too will this analysis follow a different format.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Finally, we have one of the games I’m most looking forward to: The first new proper top-down The Legend of Zelda to be released since 2005.

(more…)