Today, Nintendo held a Nintendo Direct streaming event focused solely on the Wii U. The 35-minute presentation covered a wide variety of topics, from the console itself to the company’s plans for first-party title development.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata opened the video very positively, expressing the company’s overall appreciation for how quickly console owners have adapted to the online features of the MiiVerse, the Wii U’s online social environment. After showcasing some examples of the MiiVerse for those who are unfamiliar with how it functions, Iwata went on to reveal new features that are coming to the service. Users are now able to get verified accounts, which allows the user to post web links in posts and share videos straight from YouTube. It opens up a lot of new possibilities, as the MiiVerse has proven itself to be a very popular platform for interacting with other gamers.

Iwata promised that the MiiVerse will be getting an overhaul as well, creating a much more user-friendly environment that will allow users to create their own communities for discussion. This feature will most likely be restricted to verified accounts, but all users will now be able to filter posts so that they don’t miss out on interesting topics.

Perhaps the most interesting new feature, and a very smart move by Nintendo, is allowing Wii U owners to participate in MiiVerse discussions while away from their system via smartphone. Initially, the service will be available through an online URL, but Nintendo will be launching a dedicated app shortly after.

All of these features will be put in place by two major updates set for Spring and Summer. These updates will also improve overall functionality of the system, and Iwata promises that load times will no longer be so long, a complaint which almost all Wii U owners have expressed.

The Games

There were very few surprises in terms of games. Iwata stated that Nintendo is hard at work on bringing quality first-part titles to the Wii U, but there are no plans to release any throughout February. The long-awaited virtual console is finally coming to the Wii U with the Spring update, but Nintendo is offering 30-cent virtual console trials between now and July in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the Famicom system.

However, several new titles were mentioned. Iwata confirmed the development of a new 3D Mario game from Nintendo EAD Tokyo, the team behind Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 3D Land, as well as a Wii U entry in the Mario Kart franchise. Some new gameplay of Platinum Games’ The Wonderful 101 made an appearance, but no new details were given.

According to Iwata, development on the upcoming Super Smash Bros. sequel is proceeding nicely, but we’ll have to wait until E3 in June for details and screenshots.

After a short video about the development of Bayonetta 2, and an unimpressive look at a new Wii U party game, Iwata revealed a collaboration title from Atlus and Nintendo featuring both the Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem series. No other details were given.

The team behind the Wii hit Kirby Epic Yarn is hard at work on a similar game featuring Yoshi, and it will be the first game starring the green dino since 1998’s Yoshi’s Story. Based on the short presentation, the graphics are beautiful, with everything looking like it was crafted from yarn and fabric. Iwata didn’t mention an expected release date.

Perhaps the biggest announcement of the event is in regards to the Legend of Zelda franchise. Series producer Eiji Aonuma presented some new information about the project, revealing that they have big changes coming to the series. His team is focusing on making the next Legend of Zelda title much less linear, opting for more freedom in how the player explores and interacts with the world. It is going to be quite a while before we see the game, so to hold gamers over, Nintendo is releasing an HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker by fall of 2012. The game’s graphics look incredible in HD, and both Iwata and Aonuma stated that the game was built from the ground up for the system. See the two screenshots below:

To end the show, Iwata revealed a new title coming from Monolith Soft, the studio behind the critically-acclaimed Xenoblade and Xenosaga Series. Check out the trailer here:

Overall, today’s Nintendo Direct presentation held a very positive outlook for the Wii U. Aside from the alread-impressive line-up of games heading to the console between now and March, Nintendo fans have a lot to look forward to. It is great to see plenty of third-party supporters, and hopefully we’ll hear more about these titles at E3.