Well, the Smash Bros. Nintendo Direct went pretty much how I thought it would, but managed to throw in a good surprise or two.
One of the big surprises was the different release dates. Now, Sakurai hinted that this might be the case a while back, but I still assumed both games would be released simultaneously. I don't have too much of a problem with the different dates (Smash Bros. 3DS will be released in Summer, the Wii U version in Winter 2014) as it shows they're taking their time with the game(s) instead of rushing them both out. But it is a little bit of a bummer that Wii U owners have to wait that much longer to play the system's most anticipated game.
I've heard some people say they were disappointed that only one new character was announced, but honestly, I kind of thought that's what was going to happen anyway. Nintendo was already revealing a lot of other information on the game, it would be pretty out-of-character for the company to also spoil the new characters all at once.
The new character reveal was Greninja, who I think is a surprising and welcome addition to the series. I know most people wanted Mewtwo back, but when it comes to Pokemon, I feel there's so much for them to work with that I kind of always want to see something new from the series. And I don't think anyone saw him coming, so that's always a fun type of new character.
Aside from Greninja, four returning characters were revealed: Yoshi (an obvious choice who strangely wasn't announced sooner), Shiek, Zero Suit Samus and Charizard. The latter three were once part of "transforming" characters in the series, but now are completely separate characters. While the whole transforming aspect was fun, I think this is for the best, as now these characters seem less like novelties and more like solid members of the roster.
Perhaps my favorite part of the Nintendo Direct was when Sakurai discussed the games' online modes, which basically addressed every issue I had with Brawl's online modes. No longer will players be anonymous, instead they'll use their Nintendo Network IDs when playing online. Players will now be penalized for things like joining a game only to just stand there doing nothing (this was a serious problem in Brawl after a while) and ganging up on particular players.
More importantly were the adjustments to the online modes themselves. Playing online with friends still brings the usual customizations, but when playing against the world you now have two play modes: For Fun and For Glory.
For Fun provides players with access to every stage (except Final Destination), every item, and only a player's wins are recorded. While For Glory is tailor-made for the "hardcore" crowd. No items, only Final Destination (more accurately, "Final Destination-ized" versions of the stages to provide some variety), and losses are counted as well as wins. So basically it has something for everyone.
Another big reveal was the ability to customize the characters. Naturally, these customizations are only available in local play and when playing online with your friends. From what little you could gather from the clips, it looks like you can alter the power and speed of moves, as well as a character's durability (DK is shown performing an attack unfazed from his opponent fighting back). This could have a lot of potential.
The 3DS version will also be getting a mode unique to itself titled Smash Run, which is inspired by the "City Mode" from Kirby's Air Ride in which players fight through a dungeon-like stage to gather power-ups before facing off against each other. Let's hope the Wii U version gets some unique modes as well.
Aside from that, we got some good looks at some of the stages in the games, as well as items, Final Smashes and Assist Trophies. No, maybe we didn't get one new character reveal after another. But we did get a lot of revealing info about the game. Frankly, I was very much satisfied with the Nintendo Direct. It showed that the game is looking to not only add some new ideas to the series, but also address its predecessors' shortcomings as well. The gap between releases is a little bit of a sting, but nothing the sheer joy of the games themselves can rectify.