Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime Talks Zelda, the Future of Handhelds and Wii’s Big Holiday Push

How Nintendo is looking to finish the holiday season strong before the Wii U premieres next year.

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Any games that are kind of under the radar right now that you think are going to do good this holiday season?

I would focus on two; they’re both 3D digital content that we’re publishing. The first is called Freakyforms. Were actually featuring it in a television ad that will launch in a week’s time. It’s a neat little game, one of those that once people try it, they get addicted to it.

The other game I would highlight, which is also 3D digital content, is called Pushmo. It’s this little sumo character that is pushing and pulling on worlds and parts of levels to navigate through a puzzle, essentially. It makes great use of the 3D effect. I think these games highlight the activity we’re doing on the digital side.

How about for the Wii?

There is new content coming out on Wii, both on the virtual console and in terms of WiiWare–again small, digital bite-sized chunks of games. We’re launching games every Thursday, not only on WiiWare but on DSiWare and the eShop as well. The packaged content gets all the buzz and the noise, but in the last 12 months when you look at all of our key franchises—so Mario, Zelda and Pokemon—14% of all of those transactions are happening on the digital side of the business.

When games like Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword come out for Wii, does it push sales for other games in the franchise as well?

It pushes virtual console content, it pushes games on the 3DS eShop that are Zelda related. Zelda is kind of special in that it’s the 25th Anniversary of Zelda, so we’ve done a lot of promotional activity around all Zelda content. When the Mario Kart game, for example, comes out, it’ll drive a lot of Mario content in our digital shops.

How much of a surprise is the buzz around Fortune Street?

This is the first time Fortune Street is coming to the U.S. It’s a franchise that has had quite a bit of positive sales in Japan. From the Nintendo perspective, we’re faced with this challenge many times. How do we take a concept that has really done well in Japan and bring it here to the West in a way that’s fun and speaks to the Western consumer, but keeps all of the uniquess of the content from Japan? It’s a 21st Century boardgame that leverages Mario and other characters, which is really fun.

What are Nintendo’s expectations for Mario Kart 7?

We are giving Mario Kart 7 a huge push. I think you covered the activity we did at the LA Auto Show. It was a great way for us to break through at a different kind of event and show people what is fun and unique about Mario Kart: totally customized karts, different types of racing effects in terms of the glider in the air and the submarine in the water, the different range of tracks and the different ranges of items.

I think the best parts of the game are the multiplayer and community aspects. The group of us here can create our own community where we are only going to race these kinds of tracks using only these certain items, and we’ll play against each other. It’ll have scoring, bragging rights, the whole nine yards. Once the community has been built, anybody can participate. I think the online features are going to push this game and make it even more popular than the franchise has already become.

MORE: Tech Buyers’ Guide 2011

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