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Nintendo announces new Mario, Zelda, Virtual Console and system updates for Wii U

A new Nintendo Direct broadcast reveals Wii U's future

The Nintendo Wii U will receive two substantial system updates this spring and summer, Nintendo announced today in a new Nintendo Direct online broadcast. Each update will aim to improve the loading times between menu screens and software.

Wii U’s online MiiVerse service will also receive some new updates. As Nintendo hinted at last year’s E3, MiiVerse will be coming to smartphones this spring. Initially, it will be a web-based service, but Nintendo president Satoru Iwata confirmed that Nintendo will eventually release an official MiiVerse app that will be available for download sometime later. You’ll log in using your Nintendo Network ID and password. No dates on its release have yet been confirmed.

Wii U will receive its own version of the Virtual Console, Nintendo’s online library service that was first available on Wii. Only NES and SNES games will be available when the Wii U Virtual Console launches this spring, but Iwata hinted that the full Virtual Console library will be available in due course.

Each Wii U Virtual Console game is being newly developed for Wii U, meaning you’ll have to re-buy any titles you previously owned on the Wii’s Virtual Console if you want to play them again on Wii U, albeit at a discounted price. NES games will cost £3.49 (£0.99 to re-purchase) and SNES games will cost £5.49 (£1.49 to re-purchase). Other features include Off-TV Play, individual MiiVerse communities and the ability to save a back-up of your game progress. Game Boy Advance games will also make their debut on the Wii U Virtual Console.

Virtual Console Wii U Prices
Virtual Console charging for games you bought on Wii is controversial

Brand new titles are heading for Wii U as well. The first game Nintendo announced was a brand new 3D Mario game and Mario Kart title. We weren’t shown any footage, but playable versions will be available at this year’s E3. The next titles Nintendo showed off was an all-new game starring Yoshi in the style of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and a crossover title between the Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem franchises.

Yoshi Wii U
Yoshi! Yoshi! Yoshi! Yoshi! on Wii U!

The biggest announcement came in the form of a brand new Zelda game in development. Details were once again scarce, but Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma said that it will attempt to redefine common Zelda conventions, such as having to play by yourself and having to do dungeons in a certain order. This hints toward a more social and co-operative approach to Zelda, but Nintendo has yet to announce concrete details.

Zelda Wind Waker HD
Zelda Wind Waker HD coming to Wii U this autumn

While we wait for a new Zelda, Nintendo will be releasing a full HD version of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, complete with revamped graphics this autumn. Features such as Off-TV Play and MiiVerse compatibility will also be available.

Nintendo concluded their Nintendo Direct broadcast with a teaser from Monolith Soft’s unnamed project. A mysterious X was splashed across the screen after scenes which looked like a futuristic cross between their 2011 Wii game, Xenoblade Chronicles, and Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise.

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