The new issue of Nintendo Gamer is on sale now.
The world could do with more heroes. Lunatic dictators play with their nuclear toys, the 1% raise the price of the 99%'s sausage rolls and Nintendo are looking frayed around the edges. Share prices plummet, games sit unsold on shop shelves and shadowy industry 'insiders' whisper portents of doom about a tablet controller that's not up to scratch.
These are rough times to be an inventor of fun.
Nintendo needs its heroes and we need Nintendo. So we shone the 'Ninty symbol' (basically the bat symbol modified to look like a giant Mario moustache) into the night sky and summoned the finest games around. Our ten heroes come from far and wide: first-party, third-party, Wii, 3DS and Wii U. Each game promises to be brilliant in its own right, but it's the bigger picture we're interested in.
As Bruce Wayne himself once said, "People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy." And so each of our ten games represents something more: changing approaches to development, embracing brave new ideas or simply finding new ways of offering better value. These are the ten games that define the new Nintendo. A company pursuing the same fun they did in 1985, in a way that makes more sense in 2012.
1. SUPER SMASH BROS 4
Remember when Masahiro Sakurai, the man behind the Smash Bros series and Mr Iwata's best buddy, said he was finished with Nintendo punch-ups? The tears flowed. Thankfully, he was kidding! No wonder Mr Iwata's so fond of him. Sakurai and his Project Sora studio, bankrolled by Nintendo, had a break from Smash Bros while developing the excellent Kid Icarus: Uprising - but the intention was always to make their next game the fourth Smash Bros. The juiciest detail is the biggest: both Wii U and 3DS get their own versions, and they connect to each other. Argh, our aching wallet!
As explained by Sakurai during an Iwata Asks, the concept comes from his idea that playing on 3DS seems a more "individual" experience. Sakurai contrasts this "private" gaming with the "public" Wii U version, which will be a more traditionally instant brawler - because, as Mr Iwata sternly notes, not every player will like the idea of training up characters. Iwata sums up the concept underpinning the two games thus: "Players will spend time on 3DS building up their character and collecting rewards, then show off their skills on Wii U!"
The Wii U version will be the all-singing all-dancing Smash Bros jamboree with a heavy emphasis on multiplayer, running at 60fps so you can pwn noobs in Wii U smooth-o-vision. The 3DS game will be more about solo play (though hopefully any campaign will improve on Brawl's iffy Subspace Emissary), customising fighters and unlocking bonuses.
There's even more! This is a little more ambiguous, though - Sakurai says the 3DS game will be less traditional, with a new system that lets skilled and unskilled players face-off, which he hints will involve teamwork - the kind of super attack you'd see in crossovers like Marvel Vs Capcom, we bet. That said, don't expect any major fighting revolutions.
Imagine a world where Smash Bros needn't finish when you leave the house. Falcon punches on tap, 24/7. All you need is patience. Announced last year, development only started scaling up after the completion of Uprising. And if you're a programmer who speaks Japanese, Project Sora is still hiring! For the rest of us "it may take a while," says Sakurai, "but I think your patience will be rewarded".