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Nintendo looks to boost Wii U's prospects with more Mario, Donkey Kong, and Zelda

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Mario 3D World
Mario 3D World

Nintendo's timeless characters are the most powerful weapon in the company's arsenal, so it's no surprise to see them called upon to reverse Wii U's troubling retail performance. To boost its console's momentum in the months ahead, Nintendo today announced several new games that include two Mario-related titles (Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart 8).

Super Mario 3D World will allow four-player cooperative multiplayer gaming with a cast of characters pulled directly from Super Mario Bros. 2 — yes, the NES game. Gamers will be able to play as Mario, Luigi, Peach or Toad when the title ships this December. Each character has unique abilities that were also first seen in Nintendo's NES classic. And there's a new "Cat" power up that does exactly what it sounds like, converting your character into a cat capable of scaling walls and scratching enemies.

Mario Kart 8 is the first entrant in Nintendo's popular racing series to hit the Wii U, though it's not due until spring next year. The company is hyping "anti-gravity" as the big addition here. Karts will alternate between racing on traditional tracks and upside-down sections of a course. Yet again, Nintendo is incorporating features found in older games; some races will dive underwater as was the case in Mario Kart 7, and motorcycles have returned as a vehicle choice.

Donkey Kong is also being brought into the HD generation with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Set to launch later this year, the game's playable characters include Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and Dixie Kong. You'll be tasked with defending the tropical island from viking enemies, and Nintendo is promising a deep experience that reveals previously hidden areas of the world as you progress further in the quest.

And finally, Nintendo plans to deliver the HD remake of Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker this October. The game even manages to take advantage of the Wii U's system strengths; a "Tingle bottle" gives players the ability to post messages and photos to the Miiverse. Any bottles you create will then be discoverable by other players.

The company's special E3 Nintendo Direct presentation can be streamed in full below.