Time to catch up on some news from the gaming world.
Tuesday evening Microsoft announced what's coming in the February update for the Xbox One. They're expanding their TV services in Europe and South America, adding OneGuide for the Netherlands, TV trending for France, Germany, Brazil and Mexico and Live Streaming of TV for areas where the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner is supported. (For a full list of new TV features head over to Xbox Wire.)
Another small but welcome (to me anyway) change is the addition of a translucent option for dashboard tiles. If you have a custom background but are frustrated by how little of it you can actually see, translucent tiles might help.
But the big feature is Game Hubs. Competition is baked into the Xbox ecosystem and Game Hubs are yet another way to expose it. Every game will have a Game Hub that'll let you easily compare yourself to your friends: who has played this game the most, who has unlocked the most stuff, and so on. They use Forza Horizon 2 as an example and there it'll track who owns the most cars, so presumably every game has a unique selection of metrics to track. There's also a VIP section that shows, for instance, the most popular streamers of this particular game (not limited to people in your friends list).
Game Hubs are also an easy way to see all the saved clips from that particular game and there's a neat feature that lets you launch the game with achievements (or party or streaming) already snapped. That'll be a handy shortcut for achievement hunters.
Personally I'm most excited about the translucent tiles, but I'm not a very competitive gamer. Here's a video sneak peak at the update coming sometime next month:
So that's Xbox. Now let's talk about Nintendo. Yesterday morning Nintendo aired its first "Nintendo Direct" for 2015. They talked a lot about Amiibos (the figures that interact with some games via near field communication); expect many more hitting store shelves in the near future. They also teased a few titles for the Wii U and announced that some classic Wii titles will be made available in the Wii U eShop. The first, Super Mario Galaxy 2, is available now. It'll regularly cost $20 but will be half price for the first week it is available. Following SMG2 will be PunchOut! on January 22nd and Metroid Prime Trilogy on January 29th. In each case the games should be discounted during the first week they're available.
The bigs news for this Nintendo Direct was that the "New 3DS XL" is coming to the US on Feburary 13th for $200. This is the system that was originally announced back in September of last year. It adds a pair of shoulder buttons, NFC capability (for putting those Amiibos to use), a second analog stick (more of a nub, really), face tracking to improve the quality of the glasses-free 3D effect, and an improved processor. They're also switching to MicroSD cards for storage.
Oddly, the system does not come with an A/C adapter but if you already have a 3DS you can use the A/C adapter that came with it. Otherwise you'll have to buy one separately (though to be fair you can get a 3rd party adapter for less than $10). Nintendo also didn't mention the "New 3DS" at all, only the larger "New 3DS XL" which suggests that only that model is coming to these shores.
So far it seems like 2015 will be business as usual for Nintendo. Lots of 3DS support and just a few games coming to the Wii U. If you missed yesterday's Nintendo Direct you can watch the archive on the Nintendo site.