Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime kicked off the latest Nintendo Direct presentation in a big way (quite literally, as you’ll see in a moment) by announcing the 3DS XL, a super-sized version of the popular handheld system. The 3DS XL boasts 90% bigger screens than the vanilla 3DS, and will come with a 4 GB SD card and improved battery life. The system goes on sale in North America on August 19 (the same day that New Super Mario Bros. 2 launches in the region) for the price of $199.99.
That announcement set the trend for the rest of the news that was to follow, as this particular Nintendo Direct was all about 3DS. Nintendo recapped some of the major third-party titles that were scheduled to hit the system before the end of this year, including Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, Skylanders: Giants, Lego Lord of the Rings, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, and Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, which is available in demo form right now on the eShop.
From there the presentation turned to first-party games, starting off with the newly-announced (for North America, anyway) Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask. What’s particularly great about this installment (besides the usual mind-bending goodness that fans have come to expect from the series) is that it will receive one downloadable puzzle a day for an entire year after it is released, all free of charge. Miracle Mask will be available this November.
We also got our first details on the upcoming Super Smash Bros. games. Masahiro Sakurai will once again be sitting in the director’s chair, and while production on the pair has only just begun, he wants to assure fans that they are hard at work on the titles. Carrying out the brunt of the development will be Namco Bandai Games and Namco Bandai Studios, who have been specially selected to work on the series for their experience in the action/fighting genre.
In an odd bit of Wii-related news, Nintendo also confirmed that Kirby’s Dream Collection, a compilation of six of the puffball’s finest adventures released in honor of his 20th anniversary, will be making its way to North America this fall. Unfortunately, that was the extent of the company’s Wii announcements (sorry, anyone who was hoping to see Pandora’s Tower or Fatal Frame 2)
The remainder of the presentation once again turned back to 3DS, starting with some new footage of New Super Mario Bros. 2. As was announced at this year’s E3, the game will challenge players to collect as many coins as they can, even giving them new power-ups that can turn enemies and obstacles into cold, hard cash. The game also boasts a new Coin Rush mode, which will see players competing to clear three sequential stages as fast as they can– all on one life. Best of all, the game will also receive a steady stream of new Coin Rush stages through the eShop after it is released, ensuring that it stays in fans’ systems for a long time to come.
Nintendo also teased the latest installment of Fire Emblem (sans its Awakening subtitle), which it quietly announced in the wake of its E3 press conference. No new information on the game was revealed, but it will be hitting North American stores in 2013 and will also support downloadable add-on content.
In fact, downloadable content was a recurring theme during Nintendo’s presentation, culminating with the announcement that it will be releasing two Virtual Console titles a week from July 5 to August 1. The company also announced that certain eShop games will briefly go on sale in celebration of its first anniversary.
The presentation ended with a quick look at the upcoming Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 versions. Like their predecessors, these all-new games will be released for Nintendo DS, but 3DS owners can download two console-exclusive apps to supplement the experience. The first, Pokémon Dream Radar, will allow them to capture rare Pokémon (including Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus in new beast forms) and transfer them to their games, while the second, Pokédex 3D Pro, gives them access to a wealth of information on each of the 649 monsters. Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, as well as the two Pokémon eShop apps, will be available to purchase this fall.