Plugged In

Nintendo announces new Zelda, long-awaited Earthbound and more

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New Zelda for 3DS (Credit: Nintendo)

It might be the year of Luigi, but another green-garbed Nintendo mascot stole the spotlight Wednesday as Nintendo announced a slew of upcoming titles.

An all-new The Legend of Zelda game set in the world of 1991’s The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is scheduled to launch for the 3DS this holiday season. Also on the way are new entries in the Yoshi's Island and Mario Party series, as well as the U.S. arrival of the cult-classic Earthbound, the company announced in a direct broadcast to fans.

In the new Zelda game, Link has the ability to become a 2D drawing, which lets him move along otherwise impassable flat surfaces. To support the launch, Nintendo also plans to release the classic The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons for the 3DS via the Virtual Console on May 30.

The broadcast was light on details and was meant more to introduce the games. Nintendo did confirm separately, though, that the new take on Yoshi's Island would follow the same mechanics as other games in the series and would be out this year. Mario Party is only dated for "winter," implying it will be out in early 2014.

A wealth of other 3DS games were mentioned. Donkey Kong Country Returns, the SNES title that was remade for the Wii, is now being remade for the 3DS with an expected release date of May 24. Japanese role-playing game Bravely Default will be released in 2014. The next game in the puzzling Professor Layton series, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, is also due out next year.

The company didn't have a lot to say about the Wii U, but did drop a few breadcrumbs for fans of the home console.

First, the system update the company mentioned in February, which is designed to improve users' overall experience of the system, will be out next week. The update will decrease the time it takes to switch from games to the Wii U menu and apps and will let users install software as they're playing games. Best of all, it will be able to download and install system updates even when it's powered off.

Fans waiting for Pikmin 3 can now start their timers, as Nintendo announced in a press release that the long-awaited game will hit shelves on Aug. 4.

Finally…Holy Mother of Mario! EarthBound is coming to the U.S.

The role-playing game -- originally titled Mother 2 in Japan and considered one of the top titles on U.S. gamer wishlists for years -- is finally making its way to the States via the Wii U's Virtual Console. Fans have been begging for this since the Wii U's Miiverse went live.

Nintendo did not announce a hard launch date, but said it would be available before the end of the year.

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