Nintendo Direct 4-17-13: Earthbound, Link to the Past 3DS game, and more

Earthbound getting a U.S. release? Pikmin 3 receiving a shipping date, finally? Jump on in as we dive into the latest news from this week’s Nintendo Direct.

Nintendo Direct 4-17-13 Iwata Luigi image

Sound the Nintendo Direct horn, because this Wednesday morning Nintendo dropped another batch of Wii U/3DS related announcements – and a heavy hitting one at that. So let’s not dilly-dally any further and get to the good stuff with our wrap-up of today’s proceedings.

Earthbound arriving this year on Virtual Console in North America & Europe –

Earthbound SNES image

What a momentous day for fans of Earthbound – a.k.a. Mother 2 in Japan – perhaps one of the best role-playing games ever made that unfortunately had the timing of being under appreciated during it’s 1994 launch, as the game will see daylight once again via the Wii U’s Virtual Console.

And speaking of which…

Virtual Console for the Wii U launching with next system update –

Wii U spring system update image

Get ready to pay for your old Wii Virtual Console games all over again (oh, I’m just kidding! kind of), as the Wii U’s own retro-focused digital store front will launch on the system in part of a spring system update that should go live sometime next week.

That’s not all though, the system update is promised to improve load times between changing software or returning to the Wii U’s main menu. Additionally, users now will be able to transfer data between USB drives and install software in the background while playing other games.

You won’t even need to run software first – say like the lame situation on the PlayStation 3 – in order to download and install updates after next week’s system update either; all such matters will be handled when the Wii U is turned off. Pretty nifty.

Pikmin 3, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Shin Megami Tensei 4, and others get release dates –

Pikmin 3 whale image

• Pikmin 3 – Wii U – August 4 (in stores and on the Nintendo eShop)

• Mario & Luigi: Dream Team – 3DS – North America August 11, Europe July 12

• Game & Wario – Wii U – North America June 23 (in stores and eShop)

• Shin Megami Tensei 4 – 3DS – North America July 16

• Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move – 3DS eShop – May 9

• The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages & Oracle of Seasons – 3DS Virtual Console – May 30

Newly announced 3DS games: Zelda, Mario Party, and Yoshi’s Island –

Zelda 3DS Link to the Past image

After stumbling out of the gate, Nintendo’s handheld has shown an amazing rebound, and it’s about to get better with the introduction of a new Zelda game coming to the 3DS, one that apparently takes place in the world of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

Is it a sequel? A prequel maybe? No one knows for now, but from what little was shown it’s a top-down affair with an interesting twist, gameplay wise, with Link transforming into paper and moving against the walls like some shadow puppet.

What else is on tap for the 3DS in the near future? A Yoshi’s Island sequel that’s in 2.5D and feature’s the game’s remembered egg-launching gameplay. Likewise, much of this title is in the dark until further notice, as well as info about a new Mario Party for the 3DS.

Best of the Nintendo Direct rest –

Animal Crossing 3DS XL image

• New Super Luigi U DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U due in the summer

• Animal Crossing 3DS XL bundle featuring an Animal Crossing themed 3DS XL, Animal Crossing: New Leaf (pre-loaded), and a 4GB SD heading to North America (June 9) and Europe (June 14), retailing for $219.99

• Japanese 3DS games heading west, including the likes of Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, and Level-5’s ‘Guild02’ coming to the 3DS eShop

That’s about it for this today’s Nintendo Direct, and for more gaming news, the latest about the next Xbox, along with some criminally awesome cosplay of the Joker’s right-hand gal Harley Quinn, stay tuned to