Donkey Kong

Nintendo has been milking its impressive stable of mega-popular franchises for so long now that we really shouldn't be surprised that today's Nintendo Direct online video presentation was devoted almost entirely to sequels, remakes, and rereleases of popular franchises. Still, it's a bit incredible how much Nintendo is leaning on established properties, rather than new game ideas, to populate the software market for the 3DS and Wii U.

Of course, a generation of fans who grew up on these Nintendo games aren't likely to care too much. Nintendo announced a direct sequel to the SNES classic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the 3DS today, using the same familiar overhead perspective and established Hyrulian world, while infusing it with new mechanics like the ability for Link to become a 2D drawing and scoot along walls. There are precious few additional details about the game, but I'm willing to bet a good portion of those reading this are ready to preorder for the holiday release right now just because, hey, it's a freaking Link to the Past sequel!

Many Nintendo console owners will likely have similar feelings about the new portable Yoshi's Island game Nintendo announced today. And the new 3DS Mario Party title, the new 3DS Mario Golf game, the new 3DS entry in the Mario and Luigi RPG series, the new 3DS Mario and Donkey Kong: March of the Minis game, the new 3DS Professor Layton game, the 3DS remake of Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Atlus' new 3DS Shin Megami Tensei game. Not to mention the new Wii U Pikmin game, which are now set for August 4, and the new Wario mini-game collection, Game & Wario, now set for June 23.

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Replace that bulky Wii U GamePad with a Wii Remote in this picture and tell me it doesn't look more comfortable...

At Nintendo's E3 press conference this morning, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said NintendoLand would serve as the new system's version of Wii Sports; a killer app that could immediately convey the appeal of the system's new controller to a skeptical audience. And in fact, NintendoLand does a good job of demonstrating what can be done with the touchscreen-equipped GamePad, but I'm not sure it will attract the same, wide audience of non-traditional gamers that Wii Sports did.

The main problem with the five NintendoLand mini-games the company is showing at E3 is that they tend to require quite a bit of explanation to understand. Take Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, a slightly tweaked version of the hide-and-seek tech demo Nintendo showed off at last year's E3. Before we got going, a PR rep had to spend about a minute explaining how the four players with Wii Remotes are working together to collect candy, how carrying more candy slows a player down, and how to drop candy when the antagonists (controlled by the GamePad) got too close. It's not too complicated by video game standards, but it's far from the five-second "swing it like a tennis racquet" explanation of Wii Sports, and it's likely enough to scare away anyone not already versed in how games work.

Similarly, the player using the GamePad in Sweet Day has to control two separate characters using the GamePad's two analog sticks, a concept that is a bit difficult to master even for people with a lot of video game experience. Trying to get your non-gaming grandmother to play this role in NintendoLand seems likely to be a lot tougher than getting her to try a few frames of Wii Sports bowling.

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