It wasn't so long ago we had a Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Direct that unveiled over 50 "Must-See Things", so it was a pleasant surprise when Nintendo confirmed a wider-reaching, "good old fashioned Nintendo Direct" for today, 5th November; it kicks off at 2pm Pacific / 5pm Eastern / 10pm UK / 11pm CET, which is 9am on 6th November if you're in Sydney. There may be a few regional variations, too, as Nintendo of Europe will host part of its broadcast and, presumably, Nintendo of America will do the same.
Nintendo certainly hasn't delivered "old fashioned" Nintendo Directs a huge amount during 2014, instead focusing on individual games or rebranding as a 'Digital Event' during E3. That should make today's proceedings fun in their own way, then, as we can expect a range of details and announcement styles — there may be release dates, a surprise or two and videos showing new features in recently announced games, primarily those revealed in June's LA extravaganza. The level of excitement we'll get is also fiendishly difficult to predict, as we've had low-key Directs and similarly others that bring major announcements out of left-field.
It's tough to gauge, then, but as we were pleasingly accurate in our Smash Bros. Direct predictions, we thought we'd look at recent trends and make some logical — or at least semi-logical — equivalents for this event. There's a lot to hopefully hit us today, so let's get on with it.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Demo
Masahiro Sakurai teased a new challenger video — which fans of the 3DS game can safely predict — that didn't appear in the Smash Bros. Direct, so that's likely to be included. The announcement that would cause the most excitement, however, would be a Wii U demo to match the extreme hype generated by the 3DS equivalent from September. The timing is right, with just a couple of weeks until the game lands in North America — three weeks for Europe — and would get fans excited. In theory the game should be finished, too, so there should be no reason why a demo can't happen.
If we have one wish, it's that it would be a little more generous, in content, than the 3DS equivalent.
amiibo Details for Compatible Games
We now have a good idea of how amiibo will work in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, but part of the toy range's appeal is that some of them will function in multiple games and franchises, helping to distinguish them from Skylanders and Disney Infinity equivalents. While the Holiday season focus will be on promoting them with Smash Bros., we'd welcome more specific details on which toys will work in current and upcoming games. We know what games will be supported and that amiibo is also coming to 3DS in 2015, but little else.
We can bet good money that Mario Kart 8 functionality will be shown, as it seems a new web page was made available prematurely; it suggested that a software update on 13th November will pave the way for amiibo support, in which some — not necessarily all — figures can be scanned on the GamePad to create themed Mii outfits. Examples given included Star Fox, Kirby, and Samus themes, though we hope that not too many toys in the range are excluded.
Mario Kart 8 DLC Details
The content for this month's The Legend of Zelda x Mario Kart 8 DLC is already fairly fleshed out, with confirmed details below:
3 Characters: Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, Link
4 Vehicles: Blue Falcon, B Dasher, The Master Cycle, Tanooki Buggy
8 Courses including Wario's Gold Mine (MK Wii), Yoshi Circuit (NGC), and an F-Zero & Excitebike track
It'd get some hype going for the first pack if the line-up of courses was finalised, with some teasers for next May's Animal Crossing pack as a bonus. The amiibo details outlined above also make us hope that content shown off for either pack could take advantage of more Nintendo franchises, with the thought of Star Fox, Kirby and Metroid tracks and vehicles certainly getting us revved up.
The North American eShop tentatively says 'late November' for release, meanwhile, but a formal announcement would also help build the anticipation for this extra content.
Hardware Bundles and, Perhaps, Price Reductions
Will Nintendo follow Microsoft's lead and introduce a seasonal discount on Wii U to battle for sales? We've posed that question before, though right now it seems like a long shot. A more conventional strategy could be aggressive bundle deals that — in terms of the value on offer — provide an indirect price cut. What we haven't had announced up to now is a Super Smash Bros. for Wii U hardware bundle, which could be a huge success, and the announcement would be late enough before release to light a fire under on-the-fence Wii U buyers. Cheaper bundles, such as one with Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker in North America — it's still slated for January in Europe, though we'd love a late change to that — and perhaps even a Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric offering. In our view Nintendo was too cautious in the Holiday 2013 season, bundling older games rather than the latest hits; bolder moves are required in this most pivotal period.
We shouldn't exclude the 3DS and 2DS, of course, though new bundles seem a little unlikely here in light of previous announcements and a relatively thin-release slate outside of Pokémon. The New Nintendo 3DS isn't due in Europe and North America until 2015, meanwhile, and we doubt Nintendo will sabotage potential Holiday sales by bringing any more attention to the imminent upgraded systems than it has already.
Surprise Download Titles Coming Before Christmas
It's that time of year when Nintendo can still pull some relatively sensible rabbits out of the hat. In past years this has come in the form of eShop offerings, occasionally previously unannounced games to arrive for the festive season, or even some 'available after the broadcast' games and offers. Pricing promotions would be welcome, of course, which have been a popular course of action for Nintendo in Europe and the Americas.
Early 2015 Release Dates and Details
Nintendo has some exciting Wii U projects slated for the "first-half" of 2015 — Splatoon, Yoshi's Woolly World, Mario Maker and Project Giant Robot, to be precise. Beyond the details revealed at E3 and some demos that have done the rounds at expo events, little has been revealed about these games. We're due an update on all of these projects, then, and we're particularly keen to learn about the supposed single-player content for Splatoon and online sharing options for Mario Maker. Release windows and even a release date for any of these games set for Q1 would also go down rather well.
On the 3DS front we also want to see more of Code Name: S.T.E.A.M, the Intelligent Systems project that was only unveiled in LA.
As our token hope that's unlikely to be fulfilled, we'd also love a new, longer trailer for The Legend of Zelda on Wii U.
Extension of the Premium / Deluxe Wii U Promotion
A welcome bonus for 32GB Wii U owners is the Nintendo Network Premium promotion, in which purchases on the Wii U eShop count as points that are then redeemed as £5 / $5 eShop credit codes; for fans of retail downloads, in particular, this has been a regular source of discounts. Unfortunately the party ends on 31st December 2014, which has been the case right from day one, sitting right there in the small print.
As Nintendo is fighting for any competitive edge it can, while also pushing the eShop aggressively, it would be a terrific gesture to simply extend the offer indefinitely. Whether the numbers add up in relation to users enjoying the service and making a profit is for Nintendo to explore, but as the company is keen to shift software as much as possible, this promotion could play a small but welcome role, while also rewarding the loyalty of those that have supported the system in its first two years.
There you have it, some realistic — with a dash of aspirational — ideas that may make the grade in today's Nintendo Direct. Let us know what you hope to see in the poll and comments below, and don't forget that you'll be able to watch the broadcasts (North American and European) with live chat and blogging here on Nintendo Life, along with reaction and news once it's all gone down.
Which ideas in our list would you most like to see in today's Nintendo Direct? (476 votes)
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U demo
More amiibo details for compatible games
Mario Kart 8 DLC Details
Hardware bundles and, perhaps, price reductions
Surprise download games before Christmas
Early 2015 release dates and details
Extension of the Premium / Deluxe Wii U Promotion
Please login to vote in this poll.