Breaking Down the 3.3.16 Nintendo Direct

After covering PlayStation and Xbox One updates the past two days, today's Nintendo Direct was a perfect capper to the trilogy.

But as someone who follows and covers video games daily, there is a serious problem in Nintendo's Direct marketing when somebody as tuned in as me doesn't find out about the Direct until it's already up and running. Anyway, here's the highlights...

Star Fox Zero/Star Fox Guard

New Star Fox Zero stage shown off (Fortuna). Lots of alternate paths. Co-op mode shown off where one flies and the other shoots. amiibo integration in the form of reskinned Arwing from the classic SNES game.

Project Guard from a couple E3s ago has been re-appropriated to the Star Fox Brand and rename Star Fox Guard. Looks like a variation of a Tower Defense game focused on Slippy Toad and his Uncle Grippy. Player uses 12 cameras to observe and defend mining sites.

Star Fox Zero and Star Fox Guard will be packaged together and release April 22, 2016. Digital copies of the games can also be purchased separately.

Splatoon

Update will improve gear abilities, make adjustments to Ranked Battle matchmaking, and introduce new Splatfest element. Release March 8, 2016.

Additional update will re-balance weapons, divided over two parts, with the first half of the update coming in April.

Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Cinematic trailer showing off the latest in the Mario/Sonic Olympic Games franchise. Lots of colorful Nintendo characters presumably playing lots of Summer Olympic sports. Rugby and Rhythm Gymnastics are new to the fray. Releasing on Wii U June 24, 2016. 3DS version launches March 18, 2016.

Super Mario Maker

More than 6.2 million courses have been created,

New updates: Thwomp -> Super Mario World Skewer, P-Switch -> Key / Door -> Key Door. Coin -> Pink Coin (collect all for a Key).

New Super Expert difficulty in 100-Mario Challenge. New Mystery Mushroom costumes.

Bookmark site will have new additions like ranking categories for World Records and # of First Clears on March 9, 2016

Tokyo Mirage Sessions Sharp #FE

New "stylish" JRPG from Atlus. Deep RPG and "adrenaline fueled fun" of a pop-concert. Japenese voice track w/ English subtitles. Releasing on Wii U June 24, 2016.

Lost Reavers

Bandai Namco online-multiplayer-dungeon-crawler-zombie-action-RPG game. Coming soon to Wii U. Open beta release April 14, 2016. Full version release April 28, 2016.

Paper Mario Color Splash

Paper Mario comes to Wii U. He has a hammer that paints the world this time. And cards that play into the battle from the Wii U gamepad. Aiming for 2016 release.

Pokken Tournament

Showcase some battles and play styles from Lucario, Machamp, and Gengar. Exclusive amiibo card for Shadow Mewtwo for the first-run versions of the game. Releasing on Wii U March 18, 2016.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

Releasing tomorrow March 4, 2016 on Wii U.

My Nintendo

New Nintendo Loyalty program launches in March.

Mini Mario & Friends amiibo Challenge

Free downloadable puzzle game in the style of the Mario and Donkey Kong games. Available pre-release with purchase of qualifying amiibo at GameStop, Best Buy, or Amazon beginning March 25, 2016. Otherwise it will be available on the Wii U/3DS eShop starting on April 28, 2016.

Animal Crossing amiibo

More cards and Isabella figures release starting in June.

NEW Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console Update

Super Nintendo games are coming to the Virtual Console on the NEW Nintendo 3DS through the Nintendo eShop, with a Perfect Pixel mode that displays each game in its original resolution. Pilotwings, Super Mario World, and F-Zero are available starting today, March 3, 2016. Super Mario Kart, Earthbound, and Donkey Kong Country are coming next on March 24, 2016. Followed by The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, and Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest on April 14, 2016.

Pocket Card Jockey

A Solitaire/Horse Racing mash-up from Game Freak for 3DS. Available digitally in May.

Azure Striker Gunvolt 2

Follow-up to Azure Striker Gunvolt from Inti Creates. More fast-paced action. Originally game available on sale for $9.99 from March 2 through June 1, 2016. Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 will launch on Nintendo 3DS Summer 2016.

Fire Emblem Fates Revelation

Releasing March 10. Will present a new side to the story not seen in Birthright or Conquest. Additional map packs and DLC will be added weekly through April 21, 2016.

Hyrule Warriors Legends

3DS version of the Wii U game. Season Pass available on launch day - March 25, 2016 - for regular DLC updates.

Disney Art Academy

Tutorial game using the stylus to teach players how to draw Disney and Pixar characters. Releasing May 13, 2016 on Nintendo 3DS.

Bravely Second End Layer

Sequel to Bravely Default. Feature highlighting a couple job classes like the Wizard and Catmancer - because Cats! Bravely Second demo will give a standalone side story on the Nintendo eShop March 10, 2016 (or March 7 through a Best Buy Gamers Unlocked code sent out via email). Playing the demo will provide bonuses for the full game. Free demo for original Bravely Default available on the eShop as well. Bravely Second End Layer releases April 15, 2016.

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past

Remake of the classic PlayStation One game. Remade similar to the Nintendo DS remake of Final Fantasy IV with new graphics and a new translation. Launches on 3DS later in 2016.

Monster Hunter Generations

Western release of Monster Hunter X. Debut trailer cinematic. Releasing Summer 2016. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate save data will net players exclusive content. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on sale for $19,99 through March 5th, 3pm PST.

Metroid Prime Federation Force

Kensuke Tanabe, producer of the Metroid Prime series, took a few minutes to detail the game first shown off at E3 as the Metroid Prime game nobody wanted and explain while it is in fact a part of the Metroid Prime franchise. Went through a lot of re-design as it originally started as a DSi game and has been rebuilt to fit the 3DS as it has been upgraded with the NEW 3DS. Releasing late Spring 2016.

Rhythm Heaven Megamix

3DS compilation of Rhythm Heaven minigames from Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo Wii launching later this year.

Kirby Planet Robobot

Lastly, a new Kirby platformer game with a lot of amiibo integration. And now Kirby is going full-Mega Man with a Robobot armor. Releasing June 10, 2016.

Final Thoughts

Obviously the glaring omissions were the complete absence of Zelda Wii U (further lending credence to the perception that it will be an NX game now, or release Twilight Princess-style on both systems). And with all of the love they've been showing Earthbound recently (even including in in today's Virtual Console update), I would have loved to have seen a Mother 3/Earthbound 2 announcement.

The lesson of today though seems to be that Nintendo is still working on games for Wii U and 3DS, even with NX on the horizon. Today's Direct specifically featured their lineup for the 1st half of 2016 and since it didn't feature at all, Zelda Wii U probably won't release until the fall.