We're at T-minus 75 minutes to Iwata's GDC keynote and the early word on the internet is that something big is going to go down. See, today happens to be the anniversary of WiiWare's launch in Japan and the word from Joystiq is that Wii Shopping Channels worldwide are "down for maintenance." It's set to come back up at 2 AM Tokyo time-- the exact moment when Iwata's keynote is officially over.
Fans, fire up your Wiis and get ready to download something when the keynote's over. We'll be eyeballing all the liveblogs and be back around that time with a comprehensive synopsis of what was announced for when and why you should care. Rumors are pointing to something called the "Wii Qube" and "Wii Relax", from the same Euro sources that earlier this week confirmed Balance Board support for Punch-Out!!
UPDATE: The "secret" is the Wii SD Card Channel and Virtual Channel arcade. Read more about it behind the cut! We've also got a new Zelda game coming for Nintendo DS, supposedly out this year! No Wii Qube or Wii Relax, but seriously, who cares?
New Legend of Zelda for Nintendo DS! Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. Appears to use the Phantom Hourglass engine and style (hooray). It's a railroad-building adventure which means it will sell approximately four billion copies in Japan. Link can also create enemies and have them do battle for him. Don't worry, there's also dungeons to explore and all that good stuff. BE PLAYABLE AT E3. Is supposed to be available later this year.
The Wii SD Card Channel went live as part of Wii System Menu 4.0 update during the keynote, after Iwata admitted that many people feel "abused" by their inability to save a lot of content to the Wii's internal memory. It's part of a new firmware you can opt to DL for your Wii (bet it breaks all kinds of homebrew stuffs). Bill Trinen of NOA calls it a "complete storage solution for Wii."
The Wii SD Card Channel is part of Wii System Menu 4.0. This update FINALLY announces support for SDHD cards, allowing up to 32GB of storage. Previous firmware only allowed for up to 2GB of storage on a single card and made me very unhappy. You can now download directly to SD card with new drivers and can opt to launch games off of the cards. There's "data management features" too.
No Zelda announcement, but they do make fun of the Zelda rumors by launching Zelda II off an SD card as part of the Wii System Menu 4.0 demo. Hah! Anyway, if you've been deleting stuff for lack of space, go pick up a 32GB SD card today and start redownloading it.
Virtual Console is being expanded to support arcade games, with "Return of Ishtar" demonstrated at the GDC. YES. Take that, stupid Genesis version of Forgotten Worlds! This feature launches today with some titles available for download immediately.
A WiiWare sequel to Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as King is confirmed. It will be called Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord (!). Final Fantasy IV: The After Years for WiiWare is confirmed by Iwata, who is certainly a better source than the ESRB. The original Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy IV are announced for Virtual Console. Japan is getting the whole series through VI. Total BS, pay some fan-trans group five bucks and give us the original FFII, III, and V.
Demo for a WiiWare game called Rock N' Roll Climber, previously thought to be an Ice Climbers update of some kind. It's actually a mountain climbing game that uses the Balance Board to let you simulate the experience of climbing up the side of the mountain. When you reach the mountain's top, you rock out on an electric guitar. Actually, there's no signs this thing is playable WITHOUT the Balance Board... are we seeing honest-to-god peripheral support?
DSiWare's Moving Memo is announced officially. DSiWare WarioWare title confirmed for the U.S. as WarioWare Snapped. This game uses the DSi camera in a way similar to the PS3 EyeToy to record your facial expression as you play.