In one of the company's regular Nintendo Direct Webcasts, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata announced several new games for the Wii U console, including remakes and new entries from the Zelda and Mario franchises. The Wii U is also adding a new version of its Virtual Console classic game shop, and a smartphone app for its Miiverse social network. Perhaps more importantly, spring and summer system software updates promise improved performance, especially for the Wii U's slow menus and software launching.
Wii U games announced
Since the October 2012 debut of the Wii U, the system's launch window software library has seen only a handful of new entries, and even fewer big name games. Nintendo hopes to change that with the announcement of new games from the Zelda and Mario series. The 2003 GameGube game The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is being remade with HD graphics for the Wii U for a fall 2013 release, and a second, new Zelda game is also in the works.
Mario is already on the Wii U, thanks to the 2D, side-scrolling New Super Mario Bros. U game, but two more Mario games are planned, according to Iwata. These include a new 3D entry, in the style of Super Mario Bros. 3D, and a new Mario Kart racing game. Both are expected to be seen at the upcoming E3 video game trade show this summer. A new game featuring Mario spinoff character Yoshi (yes, the dinosaur) is also planned.
System and software updates
This spring, a software update for the Wii U will add the Nintendo Virtual Console to the Wii U's eShop, which is the system's online downloadable software store. It offers classic games from the NES, Super NES, and other vintage Nintendo consoles. New Virtual Console purchases will cost between $5-$9. Gamers who purchased certain classic games via the Virtual Console on the original Nintendo Wii will have to pay $1-$1.50 to redownload the enhanced Wii U versions.
A second software update is planned for summer 2013, and promises to help with one of the Wii U's most annoying problems, the long time it takes for the system to launch some software, and to return to the main menu screen after.
The entire Nintendo Direct announcement video can be seen here. As usual, precise details and release dates for these new games and software updates are still to be announced.