Ever since the broadcasts began, Nintendo Direct has given fans a fix of reveals, footage and talking points about upcoming releases; so when a gap opens up between presentations, there's some nervous twitching. When is the next video coming, and will Satoru Iwata appear in front of any quirky blue screen backgrounds, or Reggie Fils-Aime with a creepy giant Mii head version of himself? When are the games coming?
It's now two months since Nintendo's first and only Direct so far of 2015. It was full of details and reveals, with the focus being on the New Nintendo 3DS launch date and related releases, though with notable surprises including a new Fire Emblem game. We had the announcement of Wii games on the Wii U eShop, too, though the enduring legacy of that presentation will likely be the mix of brilliance and bewilderment, with the barely believable limitation of just the New Nintendo 3DS XL making it to North America certainly dominating the conversation on at least one side of the Atlantic.
That was two months ago, as we've said, though Nintendo could argue that it's not exactly been quiet since then - it launched the New Nintendo 3DS, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on 13th February with plenty of marketing hype, let's not forget. Since then, however, it has felt rather low key from the big N, particularly in terms of the Wii U - gamers in North America should note that PAL territories haven't even had Kirby and the Rainbow Curse to satisfy the lust for retail games. Here at Nintendo Life we've gleefully hijacked and covered two video presentations for Xenoblade Chronicles X, but they've not been intended for the West - we've essentially just been crashing that party.
With that gap there's an inevitability, then, that the next Nintendo Direct should be very close; yes, we saw the 'rumours', but it's ultimately just simple common sense. Unfortunately the days of one a month (at least) seem to be a thing of the past, with 2014 being a little less generous. In fact, looking at the archive the first Direct of last year was on 13th February, and then three game-specific broadcasts in April; that was our lot before E3. There were multiple broadcasts focused exclusively on single games, as a matter of fact, but when you add the E3 Digital Event into proceedings two months was pretty much the longest gap. We're due something.
But what form will the next Direct take? The truth is Nintendo's probably already largely written and decided on the next presentation, perhaps it's already been filmed, but we certainly hope it's a genuine 'Direct', rather than a showcase for one game. Putting E3 to one side - as we should this far out from it - there are still a number of Wii U projects, in particular, that are due soon but have no release dates. We're thinking of examples such as Yoshi's Woolly World, Mario Maker and Splatoon, games that we think will come in the next few months but have no firm details. We also need to know what exactly is coming to the 3DS between now and Fall / Autumn, as its slate is worryingly low on content right now. That's relatively normal for the portable, with build-up and hype for its games generally being over a much shorter timespan - the new Fire Emblem is due in Japan this Summer, for example, though localisation will surely push that to later in the year in the West.
One game we've been discussing a lot within the team here, also, is Star Fox on Wii U. We wrote earlier this year that, aside from those E3 2014 previews and vague talk of dual screen play and 'cinematic' approaches, we actually know very little about it. It's coming before The Legend of Zelda Wii U, which will probably be the final retail game on Wii U for 2015, yet we've seen more of Eiji Aonuma's next major project than this GamePad-focused Star Fox. There's a line of thinking that Star Fox deserves its big showcase at E3, too, but that depends on the scale of the game. Is this a relatively short adventure (like a number of its predecessors, to be fair) that serves as a demonstration of the GamePad's functionality, or is it a big-budget blockbuster? Nintendo's ability to keep secrets can be outrageous at times, but our gut instinct is that it's the former. That's the point though, it's all guesswork. If Nintendo needs a brand to excite fans at the close of its next Direct then Star Fox could be it - we've seen practically nothing, so we'd welcome almost any game footage.
Beyond that, there are other areas Nintendo can cover that'll get fans talking - an update on amiibo's upcoming waves, and perhaps any movement on the amiibo cards due this year, would be an easy win. In addition we also have the not-so-small matter of the major update due with Super Smash Bros. on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. Not only are we keen to enjoy the Mewtwo DLC, but this writer's still excited about online Tournaments / Tournies - Nintendo's been silent on that feature since its '50-Fact Extravaganza' Direct last October, so we'd love another look and a release date. In fact, that update would be a good candidate for the 'available after the presentation' reveal. The usual coverage of the eShop stores and upcoming releases would be very welcome, too.
Ultimately, a Nintendo Direct is due simply to enable Nintendo to grab some headlines and set the agenda, perhaps setting itself up for a couple of those game-specific presentations in April / early May as lead-ins to E3. We trust there are games due between now and Fall, too, so even release dates and details on well-known releases give Nintendo some solid material. The company did well to earn attention in the early part of the year, helped with the launch of New Nintendo 3DS, but in the weird world of the internet and modern consumerism that seems long ago.
Nintendo has a number of options that wouldn't have to detract or upset its E3 plans, and it needs to get fans - and gamers as a whole - talking about it again as we head into Spring.
Assuming there's a Nintendo Direct on the way soon, what do you hope to see?