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Nintendo Direct Japan showcases 2013 releases: Pikmin 3, Game & Wario

Nintendo Direct's latest Japanese episode focuses on 2013's incoming releases ahead of the Wii U's Japan launch this weekend. Pikmin 3, Game & Wario and TVii are this week's highlights, among others. Check out the details below.

This week's offering opened with a delightful depiction of Nintendo president Satoru Iwata in LEGO form, as he discussed crime-busting kid's title LEGO Undercover. Cheers to Nintendo Life for the pic.

Wonderful, isn't it?

Iwata then spooled through a list of quick-fire updates, such as showing off snippets of footage for Monster Hunter Tri G HD, Assassin's Creed 3, Batman: Arkham City Armoured Edition and Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2.

New Super Mario Bros. U

There was then a brief clip of what appeared to be a fresh New Super Mario Bros. U game mode. It's similar to Boost Rush - in which up to four WiiMote players must scramble across a stage while the GamePad operator places platforms on-screen.

But this time it was just Mario running across a stage full of wide gaps that had to be filled by the GamePad user, and a survival game type that saw Mario catching coins above a pit.

Iwata also unveiled a New Super Mario Bros. U-dedicated YouTube channel that features skill guides and level hints, and what appeared to be - bear in mind this was all in Japanese, the English-speaking version airs tonight at 5pm GMT - an option that lets players broadcast and share their gameplay to YouTube.

We'll have confirmation of this once the Western Nintendo Direct airs, but this could be a neat new feature.

Game & Wario

Out in 2013, Game & Wario was confirmed as having 16 new GamePad mini-games playable by up to five people at once, as well as some classic WarioWare quick-fire games. One of the key games Iwata focused on was called Fruit, a strange fruit and stealth game that sees players hiding in crowds of NPCs.

Another game showed characters skiing down a perilous mountain, while a third showed WarioWare character 9-Volt pretending to be asleep in his room. The aim is to put the GamePad down whenever his mother enters the room to check on him, and sneaking in some play while she's gone.

It all looks rather insane and fun, and you'll be able to play it at some point in 2013, although Nintendo still hasn't announced a solid release date.

Pikmin 3
Disappointingly, Nintendo didn't offer a release date for the highly-anticipated Pikmin 3 and showed little in the way of gameplay. However the clip showed the games stranded astronaut marching through lush HD gardens with plenty of Pikmin in tow.

The merry band then entered a dark cave full of glowing mushrooms that helped them light up dangers lurking in the shadows. It's looking fun and all, but we really want to see more now.

Wii U apps & TVii
Wii U's app features received a lot of attention, starting with the news that content service Hulu is launching in Japan with on-demand streaming functions, as well as Vii, which looks quite different to the US version. The TVii clip showed off a TV guide feature, with set reminders and programme overview.

Next up is Wii U Panorama View, which comes integrated into Google Maps. it lets you view Google Street View in 360 degrees by swivelling your GamePad around on the spot. Iwata used it to spy in Nintendo of America head Reggie Fils-Aime's house. Scary.

That's your lot. Hardly earth-shattering we know, but the English-speaking episode is set to give broader focus to Wii U launch window games coming out in 2013. Stay tuned for our coverage at 5pm.

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