E3 2013: Nintendo details new Zelda, 3D Mario games

June 11, 2013 | 10:51 a.m.

To set the stage for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Microsoft and Sony on Monday showed off their new hardware and games at large-scale news conferences in basketball arenas near USC. Nintendo, in contrast, is relying on the names of some of its most trusted brands, unveiling details Tuesday morning on a 3D Mario title for the Wii U, an HD Zelda remake and the eighth edition of its venerable “Mario Kart” series.

In lieu of a large-scale press event, Nintendo presented its wares Tuesday with an episode of Nintendo Direct, its online-direct-to fans news conference. The 40-minute live-stream initially seemed unable to meet demand and was fraught with glitches for much of the first half.

But here are the highlights: “Super Mario 3D World” will be released by the end of this year; “Mario Kart 8” is coming in spring 2014; a previously unannounced “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze” is due in November, and the Wii U remake of GameCube title “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker” is due in October.

PHOTOS: Scenes from E3 2013

It’s been relatively quiet on the Wii U front in 2013, as a number of titles teased before the system’s late 2012 launch, including the superhero-themed “The Wonderful 101” and a return visit to the world of “Pikmin,” have still not hit retail shelves. Anticipation was high that Nintendo would trot out most of its biggest brands at E3 to regain momentum, but Tuesday’s announcement didn’t come without more product delays.

Still on the horizon is “Wii Fit U” and “Wii Party U.” Both were initially targeted for summer and are now postponed at least until the winter to add new features, said Nintendo President Satoru Iwata.

“After the Wii U launch, we couldn’t release games as smoothly as we had planned,” Iwata said, who then apologized to fans with a bow.

But the company offset the news with a number of surprises for its core titles. Chief among them: For the first time in a Mario game, players can gain cat-like abilities. A power-up will give Mario, Luigi, Toad or Princess Peach — all four are playable in “Super Mario 3D World” — a cat-like suit that allows them to climb walls and do spinning, tail-claw attacks on enemies.

Nintendo has a reputation for handling its original properties with great care, subtly adding details that can make games feel fresh. A brief hands-on with “Super Mario 3D World” left a positive impression, as the game incorporates the open-feel of “Super Mario Galaxy” with a look that takes after the more structured, level design of “Super Mario 3D Land.”

In addition to playing as the speedy Toad or the graceful Princess Peach, the game also interjects puzzle-like challenges. Mario games have long made use of flower-pot-like tubes that magically transport characters to other lands. Here, those green pots again are plentiful, but so are clear, valve-like cylinders that send characters soaring around sometimes-convoluted tracks that are navigated with the directional pad. When you are playing with others, a head-first crash of Mario and Toad will send the characters rocketing in the other direction.

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Even more important, the game supports four-player local co-op, and it’s implemented in such a way that players are alternately working for and against one another. While completing a level is a team sport, tallying up gold coins is an individual contest. When you are facing enemies, the GamePad can be used to put a touch-like hold on them, or it could be explored to find hidden paths not visible on the screen for one’s selfish quest for lucre.

An early look at "Super Mario 3D World." (Nintendo)

An early look at “Super Mario 3D World.” (Nintendo)

But even playing the game for just a few minutes left me wanting to further explore. Admittedly, I am a cat person, so watching four Mario characters in cat suits climb walls and scratch their way through the universe transfixed me.

“Mario Kart 8” and “Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze” were also sampled in hands-on time. “Mario Kart 8” possessed all the fluidity the series is known for and took advantage of the Wii U’s power by mixing in antigravity vehicles. A seemingly serene race through castle-adorned lands can instantly be turned upside down, challenging players by changing perspective and then forcing them to hang-glide back upright. It can be a shortcut or a dizzying detour.

“Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze,” despite having a name lifted from the local Tiki bar, is a 2D side-scrolling game that feels like it isn’t. Underground paths, trails among the trees and barrel-blasts over sea shift camera angles to give the feel that each area can be explored up, down, backward and forward.


Along for the ride this time are Donkey Kong pals Diddy and Dixie, and they’ll come in handy in single-player mode. With underwater paths, penguin foes and viking ships jammed into one level section, there’s a colorfully complex richness to the worlds. It wasn’t always clear where to look or where to explore.

Missing, however, was news on the original “Zelda” game in development for the Wii U, but Nintendo did confirm that the 3DS “Zelda” title will be called “The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.” Hero Link can now become a drawing to move along walls.  The game is due this holiday season, coming after the release of the more lighthearted RPG “Mario & Luigi: Dream Team,” due Aug. 11 for the 3DS.

In long-term development is a game for the Wii U from Monolith Software, the team behind “The Xenoblade Chronicles.” It is due in 2014.

— Todd Martens

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex


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28 Responses to E3 2013: Nintendo details new Zelda, 3D Mario games

  1. lolwut says:

    …and nobody cares.

  2. The Skev says:

    I love the Zelda series. Have played every release in the series but with only one release per console, I might be done. I just can't justify laying down $300-400 to play this game anymore. We got 3 releases on the gamecube and 1 on the wii. I laid out $300 to play Skyward Sword. Great Game but $300 really? And now to play the next installment I gotta buy the Wii U? why isn't this stupid tablet just an add-on for the Wii? And I am with an earlier poster, gimmicky motion controls and now tablet controls just blow. Zelda + WaveBird all the way. Just my po'd 2 cents worth.

    Oh, nintendo if you are listening, I am not buying the wii u to play a rehash of a gamecube game. You gotta be kidding me! I already bought this game once and loved it but it should be free for previous owners. This release is embarrassing for you. Too bad for such a previously strong brand.

    • Chazii banoosh says:

      There were two games for the wii actually, and if your a true fan you would easily justify spending the money. The wii u is going down in price, and for ultimate gaming experience I suggest the limited edition legend of zelda 3ds. It's beautiful.

      • macromanjr says:

        Counting a Zelda game that was out for both the GameCube and the Wii at the same time as one of the two Zelda games for the Wii STILL isn't helping your point.

        And no, Nintendo did NOT announce a price cut for the Wii U, so I don't know where you're getting that the price is going down. But even if it DID go down, it's still not refuting The Skev's point–it's not worth buying a console just largely for one game–and we didn't even see THAT game this year.

        While I don't agree with everything The Skev said with being the same sentiment for myself (like making the GamePad a Wii addon? No way–I wanted a new console), there used to be more reason to buy a Nintendo console, but not anymore these days.

        These days, they care more about appealing to "casual" gamers than to the core Nintendo gamers who made Nintendo who they are today. Out of all the games shown at E3 for Wii U, only a few of them were targeting the core gamer–most of them being third-party games (The Wonderful 101, Xenogears 2 and Bayonetta 2). Everything else was targeting your 8-year-old cousin and your grandma. There's nothing wrong with target casual gamers, but balance is needed. Nintendo PROMISED the Wii U would target core gamers better–it hasn't.

        And don't pull that whole "…if you're a true fan…" nonsense. The guy said he's a fan of Zelda–he didn't say he was a die-hard Nintendo fan overall. Maybe there's not much on with Nintendo that he cares for–frankly, I don't blame him, because Nintendo these days only releases a solid non-casual game like once in a blue moon. Nintendo used to give you all sorts of reason to buy a Nintendo console–but not anymore.

        There's nothing wrong with being honest and calling a spade a spade. It doesn't take a hard look to see that Nintendo simply fell short of their promise to targeting us core Nintendo gamers more with Wii U.

        They denied us F-Zero, but then put anti-gravity tracks in Mario Kart 8, which otherwise looks no different from Mario Kart 7? They teased us with a new Zelda for Wii U at E3 2011, and show us NOTHING about a Zelda for Wii U two long years later? They hire Retro Studios and have them make Donkey Kong instead of a much-more heavily-fan-demanded new Metroid game?

        It's the ass-kissing easy-going among Nintendo fans who keep Nintendo generally lazy and complacent with targeting the casual gamers more than core gamers. The more you just keep accepting their lowering themselves from who they used to be, the more they're just going to rely on it. I've been a Nintendo fan longer than some gamers here have been alive, through thick and thin, but it doesn't mean I'm going to ignore their decline in effort these recent years.

    • Infamousdx says:

      Well you have other games but zelda for the wii man. Do you not like Smash? Pikman?I mean dude Megaman..come on

      • macromanjr says:

        I love SSB. But Nintendo should've done more with it. Like adding a 16-player online mode and adding much more fitting characters to the main roster than…Wii Fit Trainer Girl. She would've made a good unlockable secret character (just for kicks)–not a main roster character. Like, who even played Wii Fit but mostly the casual gamers? I love the Mega Man addition, though. I just wished they did more than just add Mega Man. Pikmin 3's looking good, too, but it's soooo late. It should've been a launch title. Nintendo launched the Wii U so unprepared.

    • The Wii doesn't cost anything like 300 dollars. Maybe the solution is to focus on other games until Nintendo systems drop in price.

    • ATK says:

      I was psyched for Skyward Sword but it bored the crap out of me…the only Zelda games I really enjoyed were Ocarina and Windwaker.

  3. mattfoley says:

    nintendo is dying, if not already dead. Have they created any new, memorable characters since MArio or Zelda? Every game they have released in the last 30 years that had any significant success was a mario or zelda game. Frankly, i got bored of nintendo when I turned 14. The only people who still play it are 6 year olds and adults who are tripping on cough syrup

    • anonomous says:

      Whoa there, dude! Lots of popular games that are not in those franchises have been released, like Kid Icarus for the 3DS, as well as the Fire Emblem series. You may not like Nintendo, but don't you dare go dissing a company that is still a giant on the industry with lots of fans. Like me, who neither is drug-addicted or under age 14.

    • nicetrydood says:

      I would argue that they are the ONLY console that has memorable characters. Link, Mario, Samus, Starfox, etc… Can you think of any memorable characters from other companies? Microsoft… hmmm master cheif? Sony… hmmmm.

      I think nintendo will outlast any other consoles; the golden age of the console is over, the very best graphics you can get on a brand new console are already outdated compared to the best of a PC. That's why Nintendo has shifted focus to fun games that are based on multiplayer experiences; they try to be innovative and develop new ways to play games, not just increase the polygon count on the guns of the same FPS over and over again…

    • Wes says:

      Are you joking? Nintendo has had enormous success with Pokemon, Star Fox, F-Zero, Metroid, Kirby, Fire Emblem, Donkey Kong, and many more. Nintendo isn't dying and it won't be any time soon. It is by far the biggest name in the industry, with legions of fans and high sales to prove it. Go back to your Microsoft and Sony where you can pay 60 bucks for 1/4 of the same old FPS and then pay for the rest with DLC.

    • MelonyMutou says:

      What new characters have SONY or MICROSOFT created? The ones in all the First-Person Shooters that you don't even REMEMBER anymore? What about Olimar and Louie from Pikmin? They are INCREDIBLY big, and they were only introduced in the 2000's. What does Microsoft have? Freakin Master Chief. Seriously? Go back to your Shooter games, Nintendo's evidently not for you in the first place.

  4. mattfoley says:

    snore fest

  5. @wiiill says:

    Exciting that they are bringing multiplayer to this game type. I am happy to see it looks like the 3ds version, that game was really good. I hope it is as challenging as the later levels of 3d land on 3ds or mario sunshine.

  6. Zim says:

    Where's Zelda U darn it!?

  7. Dave c says:

    Scrap windwaker. Do majoras mask remake on wii u redone, bigger, and a vast world. Or maybe do oracle of ages and seasons on wii u would be insane. Be creative….. Or make an entirely new game, one you dont have to point and click or wave your arms around like an idiot…. That would be nice.

    • Deku Clarinetist says:

      Wind Waker wasn’t my fav either, but it does have a lot of fans and is easier than other games would be to make hd. They aren’t using the kind of gameplay with swing like in Skyward Sword again because it distracted from other aspects of the game. It’s still likely that they will make a Majora’s Mask for 3DS. It should be easy to make considering it should run on the same engine as OoT 3D.

  8. Caleb says:

    *Nintendo fans beg for Zelda: Majora's Mask HD remake*

    *Nintendo remakes Wind Waker*


    • MelonyMutou says:

      To be fair, the generation that is Nintendo's biggest target audience right now (GENERAL target audience, that is) actually had Wind Waker listed as their favorite games. Hardcore Zelda fans, ones that were born and raised on the original Zelda and were born again when Ocarina of Time was released, insist they don't like Wind Waker much, but a lot of the slightly younger generation than that (than us, I'm one of those OoT fans) loved Wind Waker more *shrug* it's just a fact of reality, I couldn't tell you why. Maybe it feels more open-world to them, maybe it was cartoony and they were children when they played it. Most people I know say they liked WW more. Not many of them are hardcore gamers like myself, and that's more what it has to do with, I believe. I agree that it would've made more sense to give us the Majora's Mask 3D/HD remake first, but it appears they went with the bigger hit – you gotta remember, when Majora's Mask first launched, it actually WASN'T that popular.
      On top of this, if anything, you should be GLAD they haven't yet given us a Majora's Mask remake. It actually implies that they may be working REALLY HARD on it. Maybe even entirely remaking the game, keeping literally the entire plotline and gameplay the same, but instead entirely revamping the graphics, making it LOOK like Twilight Princess but PLAY like Majora's Mask.
      The longer they take on a game, the gladder you should be – it usually means they're ironing out all the little details to make SURE it's up to par with our requirements.

  9. ChristyTina22 says:

    I've been a Zelda fan for years, and the only reason I haven't bought a Wii U yet is no new Zelda. If I wanted to play Wind Waker, I'd plug in my Game Cube! (Yes, I still have it.)

  10. Brandon says:

    You know what they need to make a remake or sequal to? BAD FUR DAY!

  11. Desdemona says:

    I am an AVID ZELDA fan. I am 56, a grandmother, and I think Zelda is the bomb. I have played other games but never got the thrill I got from playing the Zelda series. Nintendo needs to make a NEW Zelda game. Zelda Twilight Princess was incredible. Can't they come up with something similar to that. Where was the genius that came up with that scenario?

    • MelonyMutou says:

      Did you never get Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword? o.o
      TP was pretty incredible, though. But I'm a sucker for games that let you run like an animal – or that have mounts. Make you god-like, jumping over buildings and things. Could never tell you why, I just find that sort of gameplay invigorating and incredible.

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