Wow, the last month has had me absolutely slammed with other work. But that’s all done now, and I can’t think of a better way to get back to a sense of normalcy (and more regular updates here again) than with the latest Nintendo Direct. You can find the full video and press release (for the Canadian side) over on Mario’s Hat, but here are my personal highlights and thoughts.

Star Fox Zero is the opening act, and I’m digging it. I like how the “black hole” plot from the original game seems to have had new life breathed into it here, with greater prominence via the whole portal storyline. Plus, the Monarch Dodora is looking better than ever in its return on the newly-revealed Fortuna here.

Speaking of throwbacks to the original game, not shown in the video above is that the Fox amiibo figure can unlock a vintage Arwing in the style of the original Star Fox game. I don’t have a Fox amiibo (I’ve had my eye on Falco), but this makes me inclined to get one — especially with the classic Super NES Corneria theme playing. Miyamoto says he doesn’t have the same attachment to the Super NES game as the younger staff who worked on the game, which is kind of worrisome — could this have anything to do with Nintendo not releasing it to the Virtual Console?

The new map system described gives me hope for a more robust Star Fox game, like I’ve been wanting for a while now. The co-op mode looks intriguing to me as well, with one player flying and the other shooting — sort of like in some old World War II fighter planes, or even a more advanced version of Mario Kart Double Dash!!.

Star Fox Guard was a bit of a surprise, as I thought that if it did end up being a part of Star Fox, it would be as part of Star Fox Zero. I’m interested in trying this one out, though my focus is more on the main game.

I don’t get to play as much Splatoon as I would like, but I’m glad to hear they’re still keeping on with the updates and new features.

I’m quite eager to get my hands on Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for the Nintendo 3DS. I was so disappointed that Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games didn’t have a Nintendo 3DS counterpart, as those are the ones that feature an Adventure Mode. Glad to see that it’s back! Interesting that it’s coming to the Wii U so much later, though, with the Nintendo 3DS version coming on March 18th and Wii U on June 24th.

This round of Super Mario Maker updates looks great, especially the inclusion of keys. Now we can finally have some mandatory boss battles! I can’t wait to see what people manage to cook up with these new building tools.

Lost Reavers kind of intrigues me. I’m not one hundred percent sure it’s a game I’m cut out for, but I like the dungeon crawl vibe I get from it, and if the open beta on April 14th isn’t too hard to get into, I’d love to give it a go.

Next up is Paper Mario: Color Splash, and… I don’t know. Sticker Star wasn’t a bad game, but it did kind of break my heart after The Thousand Year Door. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam helped restore some faith, but that was still a Mario & Luigi game by AlphaDream, not a Paper Mario game by Intelligent Systems.

What has me worried is the mass of generic looking Toads seen briefly here, as the earlier titles made their many non-player characters distinct. It’s part of what I loved about those games, is that despite the paper aesthetic, they felt like a greatly expanded-upon world of Mario. The graphics are gorgeous and I like the Paint Hammer idea, but the level maps, absence of experience points and return of Things by way of cards make it sound like it may lean more towards the Nintendo 3DS title. Still, if they can give the characters and world the heart that they had in the earlier entries, I’ll be sold.

Pokkén Tournament still looks aces to me. For a series about the creatures doing battle with one-another, a fighting game feels long overdue. Calling dibs on Pikachu Libre if I get this, though!

Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge certainly looks cute, and the price — free — is right for me to give it a go. I’ve got to wait until April 28th, though — while select retailers in the States will give access to it with the purchase of any amiibo figure on March 25th, it seems Canada has no such deal going on.

It took them long enough, but Virtual Console games from the Super Nintendo Entertainment System library are finally available on the Nintendo 3DS. Well, the New Nintendo 3DS, that is. That aside, after touting the new My Nintendo accounts and the Nintendo Network IDs, it’s disappointing that there is still no sort of discount whatsoever for those who have already purchased the games before.

On a related note, it’s also disappointing that the Super Famicom-styled New Nintendo 3DS is coming to Japan only (even if I’m not sure I could afford it). Incidentally, I feel like the only one who likes the North American Super NES, and would love to see that adapted to such a design.

I like Solitaire, so I wonder how I’d be at Pocket Card Jockey.

Azure Striker Gunvolt was pretty cool, but it felt like there was still room for improvement/refinement. I hope that’s what this sequel delivers.

I absolutely love Hyrule Warriors, and Hyrule Warriors Legends on Nintendo 3DS looks like a blast. Plus, they’re adding more new content to the Wii U game? I’m totally there. Plus, getting to import the characters from Legends to the Wii U title should be more fun — I just hope that’s not exclusive to the physical copies at retail, though. It looks like the U.S. has an exclusive art book deal going with GameStop, too. We have EB Games here, so why can’t we get fun stuff like that? Just our luck.

Bravely Second: End Layer doesn’t hold a lot of interest for me, because I’m not a big fan of turn-based role playing games (outside of Mario, anyway), but I’d be outright lying if I said I didn’t find a class who can summon cats who adopt enemy moves and use them in battle to earn treats downright compelling. (Also, from what I hear, the first game was like a throwback to vintage Final Fantasy, so I think that’s a cool thing for anyone who doesn’t care as much for the newer style.)

And is it me, or does the villain here sound like Cam Clarke (Leonardo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1987, Liquid Snake in Metal Gear Solid)?

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past: on behalf of my wife, I say “about time.” If it’s coming “later this year,” though, will Dragon Quest VIII still be on track for 2016?

Monster Hunter Generations looks cool, but I still want Monster Hunter Diary: Poka Poka Airou Village to come out here already.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force is still as divisive as ever among fans, but I maintain a keen interest in it. I like how we finally get our first look at Samus in this style (not seen above, but in the Nintendo Direct video), and that the Federation’s “Project Golem” was designed specifically to replicate her Power Suit. I liked what I got to play of the Blast Ball game, so I hope this plays as well as that did (or better, given the time since).

Hopefully this will help Nintendo figure out where they’re going with the series next. After Metroid: Other M, I think they might need to reconsider what they’re doing with Samus. Next Level Games has a good record, though, so I’ve got faith this will at least be good in its own right.

Rhythm Heaven Megamix sounds pretty cool, but my lack of rhythm means I probably won’t get very far in it. Nadia, on the other hand, she’s better than I am at that stuff.

Finally, we’ve got Kirby: Planet Robobot. All I can say is that I absolutely loved Kirby Triple Deluxe, and this looks like almost everything that was great about that and more. It looks like the Miracle Fruit and Hypernova Kirby might be gone, but the awesome Robobot mech suit seems like a more than adequate substitute.

The amiibo integration is pretty cool, too, though I think Nintendo missed a clear opportunity here. Instead of using a Mario amiibo to become Fire Kirby, why not have him become Mario Kirby, like in the Super Smash Bros. games? There’s already a model for it and everything, and using the Kirby amiibo already gives him his Smash Bros. move set.

Still, that’s an extremely minor nitpick. The game comes out on June 10th (huh, that’s the day after my anniversary — cool), and it can’t get here soon enough for me.

And that’s pretty much everything that caught my eye, which is (truth be told) most of it. People thought Nintendo’s release schedule was drying up this year, but that’s clearly not the case — and we’re not even to E3 yet!

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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