Nintendo's Wii U, in an odd turn around, has yet to launch in the country it was developed in as of yet. The Japanese launch date is actually this Saturday on December 8, so it could come as no surprise that Nintendo is still busy building a media storm for Wii U launch titles. This remains true for the Japanese Nintendo Direct, which aired this morning. There were a few surprises though, including new gameplay demos for Pikmin 3, Game & Wario and Rayman Legends!
Pikmin 3 fans will be happy to know that the game appears to retain all of the glorious gameplay the franchise is known for, but fully utilizes the technology upgrade found in the Wii U. The HD quality of the experience is highlighted in the Nintendo Direct video, as is new technology reliant features like a dark area with mushrooms that can be activated for lighting. It's an absolutely beautiful game, and sure to be one of Nintendo's next big hit.
The Game & Wario demo was not necessarily what you'd expect, but falls in line with what we know the title to be focusing on. That is, Game & Wario is a sort of Wii Sports/Nintendo Land collection of mini-games that show off the Wii U's GamePad and other features. There's still that Wario quirk, luckily. In the video we saw one of these mini-games, a sort of 2D Mii-based Spy Party. If you're unfamiliar with Spy Party, it's a game that forces one person to watch a crowd and pick out the other players from NPC while they search for items. With the GamePad, this Spy Party style of game certainly works very well, but it's not necessarily what I want to see from Game & Wario.
A few new pieces of software were also shown, though it must be said these have only been announced for Japan as of the writing of this post. These new apps include Panorama View and Google Maps. Using the GamePad, both of these applications can be used to explore a full environment -- Google Maps with Street View, or Panorama View one of many prerecorded videos of various area.
That sums up the basics of President Iwata's December Nintendo Direct for Japan. There was footage of Rayman Legends and LEGO Undercover, but nothing new (they still look great), along with some brief coverage of Wii U launch titles. Look forward to the North American Nintendo Direct within the next hour. Check out the full Japanese Nintendo Direct yourself here.