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Nintendo Direct: 3DS XL confirmed, games galore coming this year

In the first Nintendo Direct of 2015, the company from the land of the rising sun revealed some awesome games for the US and UK coming this northern spring.

Thanks to an earlier leak by GameStop and Ars Technica, we had an inkling that the Nintendo 3DS XL would be launched in North America on 13 February, but after Nintendo Direct’s announcements, it has been emphatically confirmed.

Star-Spangled Banner-singing Nintendo 3DS XL is official

The handheld features beefier hardware, boating “a number of new enhancements designed to offer the newest and most engrossing games possible,” noted Reggie Fils-Aime, President and COO of Nintendo America.

But Nintendo failed to give any internal specifications away. What has changed is the more annoying issues with the 3DS, like the flawed 3D system. This has been remedied using a face tracking camera that adjusts the 3D effect on all games accordingly. Also included is NFC, which will become invaluable for those with amiibo characters.

Nintendo has also ditched SD cards in favour of the microSD variety (welcome to 2012, Nintendo), to keep the machine small and comfortable in the hand. And speaking of hands, there are a few more nubs and buttons to play around with, most notably the C-Stick. Essentially a little directional nub on the top right hand side of the 3DS XL, it can be used to pan the camera in selective games, and that’s just one feature.

Two new shoulder buttons are also included on the machine.

The handheld will come in two standard colours — red and charcoal — but special editions, including a rather fetching Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask 3D version and an even shinier Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate edition, will also be offered. Both will come with the games, and both will go on sale on the same day.

What games can we expect?

And speaking of the 3DS XL, there are a number of titles coming to the new handheld that makes use of its hardware and new controls.

The new Legend of Zelda title for example, benefits from a 360-degree camera pan ability, which allows Link to cock his head in all sorts of uncomfortable angles. A lot has been said about this game, and it somehow still scares me, but nevertheless, it looks like one to watch come February.

Other games include the turn-based strategy/third-person shooter amiibo-supporting Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. which looks a right hoot. The game will support Fire Emblem amiibo characters and will debut 13 March.

Bandai Namco’s Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy+ is another to look out for if you light aerial dogfights on 13 February and Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, which will make extensive use of the new 3DS XL hardware platform. That will arrive in April 2015.

Lastly, Ironfall Invasion, which will support six player multiplayer once its released “soon.”

Nintendo 3DS games

Just because Nintendo’s launching a new product in the U.S. doesn’t mean that it’s about to turn its back on the 3DS. The lowly handheld will also get a spate of new games this northern spring.

  • The latest in the Fire Emblem game will be outed, which is, according to Nintendo, like nothing that we’ve seen in previous series. It’s based on a series of small decisions the gamer must make which ultimately effect the gaming world entirely. Think Telltale’s Game of Thrones, but on a microscale.
  • There’s also a new puzzle/RPG/strategy game coming to 3DS called Puzzle & Dragons Z. The game will arrive in May, but it will be available in another guise, featuring everyone’s pan-Italian plumber, Mario. It will be called Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Edition, and the two games will arrive together in one single package.
  • Lastly, a free-to-play game comes in the form of Pokemon Shuffle which is a more strategic version of everyone’s favourite GameBoy title. It will arrive next month on the Nintendo eShop.

What can we expect for the Nintendo Wii U?

There’s some big software news available for Wii U gamers. You can now download Wii games on the Wii U, which makes the latter a more useful console. This will be made available first for Super Mario Galaxy 2. Huzzah! Additionally, Wii U games that required the classic controller to play can now make use of the Wii U controller.

So what else can we expect in the following months?

A game dubbed Punch Out will make sure that you use your fists in the game and not on your console. It’s out on 22 January.

Metroid Prime Trilogy will be re-released on 29 January. The massively sought-after title will make fans happy and collectors weep.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse will be launched on 20 February and will also support amiibo characters, along with Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U on 20 March.

Mario Party 10 will also find itself on Nintendo’s console sometime in the near future, but perhaps the most exciting launch is Splatoon.

Previously Nintendo announced the four-on-four mode online, but it has now revealed that there will be a social element to the game as well. The Inkling Central Hub will link up with the MiiVerse, where weapons, clothes and other items can be bought and swapped using the in-game currency. The game will arrive in May 2015.

Bandai Namco’s Katsuhiro Harada has also revealed that the legendary company is working on “Project Treasure”, an upcoming free-to-download title exclusively for the Wii U. He wasn’t ready to give too much information away, but it could be one of the big Wii U launches in the coming months.

Other games and goodies

Nintendo will also make games available on the eShop in the coming months for a reduced price. These games include:

  • Elliot Quest – February 2015
  • Blek – February 2015
  • Citizens of Earth 20 January 20 2015
  • Gunman Clive 2
  • Moon Chronicles episodes 2, 3 and 4 – January 2015
  • Sega 3D Classics – January to March 2015
  • Etrian Mystery Dungeon – [Northern] Spring 2015
  • Story of Seasons – March 2015
  • Fossil Fighters Frontier – 20 March 2015

It sounds like 2015 will be a good year for Nintendo, and if you missed Nintendo Direct, you can watch all the announcements again below: