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Nintendo announces dates for Mario Kart 8, but fails to impress once again

Check out our full written Mario Kart 8 review.

During Nintendo’s first Nintendo Direct broadcast of the year, beleaguered Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata appeared online to show off some of what the Japanese gaming giant has planned for the next few months. Highlights included the long-awaited reveal of Mario Kart 8’s release date on May 30, Little Mac’s confirmed inclusion in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, and confirmation of NES Remix 2 for the eShop on April 25.

Nintendo also announced that several classic handheld games – including Metroid Fusion, Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3, and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga – are coming to the Wii U Virtual Store starting in April, and it showed off a new trailer for Bayonetta 2, although it did not give a release date.

There was also a quick look at the battle system for Monolith Soft Inc.’s new game, which uses the system built for Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii. Of course there was no commentary, and the gameplay featured Japanese voices and text only. Two new games were also confirmed for the 3DS, Steel Diver: Sub Wars and Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball. There will also be a full NES Remix game titled Super Luigi Bros. that features levels from the original Super Mario Bros., but stars Luigi and has him running to the left instead of the right.

If that sounds somewhat underwhelming to you, you’re not alone.

At any other time, it would have been a decent, albeit perhaps a wee bit underwhelming presentation. Sure, it’s great to know when the next Mario Kart is going to be released, but Nintendo is in serious trouble right now and it desperately needs something to get people believing in it again. The company’s business model is fundamentally flawed thanks to the Wii U’s increasingly apparent failure, and announcing a few release dates and highlighting a handful of games we already know about isn’t going to do it. It’s sort of like a starving man buying silverware.

If you are a longtime gamer, you probably have a soft spot in your heart for Nintendo. After releasing video games for decades, it’s hard not to have at least a few fond memories of the Japanese company and its wares. And yet it’s tough not to see major issues within that company, both in its product and its presentation.

With the Wii U contributing to a 30-percent drop in Nintendo’s nine-month profits, leading to Iwata and other executives taking major pay cuts, Nintendo needs a big win. And soon.

Little MAcNintendo Direct has never been the most “action packed” of shows, but it is a good venue to thousands, if not millions of fans on Nintendo’s own terms. The last Nintendo Direct unveiled the new Zelda and Dynasty Warriors mash-up, Hyrule Warriors (still just a working title), a new Luigi re-release, and NES Remix 2. It wasn’t earth-shattering, but it got people talking, especially the Zelda game. Oddly, there was no mention of that game at all during this show.

For this Nintendo Direct, we got Little Mac joining Super Smash Bros. Yay?

The show was almost the equivalent of blowing into a NES Cartridge and hoping it plays. Granted, that actually worked more often than not, but Nintendo needs more than a handful of minor releases and news about games we already know about to ratchet up the excitement level.

Until then, events like these are a bit depressing.  We’re rooting for you, Nintendo, we really are. But you gotta give us something. 

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