June 16, 2010

E3: Nintendo brings on the pain

Reggie Fils-Aime comes on stage because he wants to change the way you view the word "technology". "It shouldn't be about HD, Blu-ray, but it should be about the experience. Great technology married to great design is an experience like no other."

Ninty brings out the big guns, "an experience you've been waiting for". Yes, it's The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Semi-cel-shaded, semi-Twilight Princess. Wow.

Shigeru Miyamoto suddenly appears on a green screen dubbed in English, explaining the history of Zelda development circa 2004.

Wii MotionPlus was apparently key to the development of this new game, and Miyamoto calls for someone to demo the game's new controls. And fails.


Now that things in Nintendo land aren't looking quite good, Miyamoto comes to the rescue!

They're touting 1:1 motion tracking, and it's also failing badly. Hey Shigeru, this game isn't obviously ready for primetime.

Knowing Nintendo though, this game is going to be controlling quite well by release. Maybe there's lag due to the big screen being used, but even with that, the game's obviously still a work-in-progress.

Even with that, I like how you can actually control a few objects more granularly, in the sense that bombs can either be thrown or rolled. Miyamoto's blaming these snafus on Wi-fi interference though, and this is really Steve Jobs of them.

New gadgets include a beetle you can fly around with which is really cool. It'll kind of let you fly around a level to inspect and pick up unreachable items. Another item of interest is a whip you can use. A whip. Your dominatrix Zelda fanfiction just came true.

Seriously though, that whip is cool.

I know what's in store for this conference, but if I were actually watching this keynote for the first time, I would have my expectations lowered, if only because of these technicalities.

Reggie Fils-Aime goes back on stage to announce a new Mario game. No, it's not Galaxy 3, it's a sports game. Has volleyball, hockey, and basketball, all glorified with that arcade style Mario's known for. Coming in 2011, it's Mario Sports Mix. Might be fun, who knows?

Fils-Aime addresses some criticism for Wii, how it has waned in popularity and how games are sold less as time passes. "They're false assumptions," says Reggie. He then goes on to enumerate a lot of first-party games, thus somewhat making Reggie's claims pointless.

He then segueways to Nintendo's next "bridge" game: Wii Party.

In the spirit of Wii Play, it's pretty much another social game that's full of mini-games.

Next, Just Dance. Ubisoft's freaking everywhere.

I don't care much for it.

Fils-Aime goes back to the hardcore gamers by addressing the somewhat brief mention of a Golden Sun game for the DS last year. Now, it's getting a full-on trailer, along with a subtitle (Golden Sun: Dark Dawn). Looks really good.

I'm so loving my DS. Arrives "this holiday season".

Next comes a sudden segment talking about a new Goldeneye game. That's... very surprising! And the graphics look bad, a deliberate homage to the N64 days, or low production values?

I love that it has Daniel Craig in it, and it actually looks exciting. Activision's making it though. Hmm... well, maybe not Treyarch but yeah. It "arrives this holiday".

Epic Mickey is next on the pipeline, and I'm excited to see some really unique gameplay.

Warren Spector, the much-storied designer for Epic Mickey is called on stage to demo the game.

It's a 3D platformer with a catch: you can manipulate the world with your paint and paint thinner. You can draw things and erase the world.

Masahiro Sakurai is being featured by Reggie, and wait for it: Kirby's finally getting a new game in a console! The first time in seven years!

It's called Kirby: Epic Yarn, and the game looks astoundingly unique. This looks like art. Wow. Looks like it supports multiplayer. Releasing "this fall". That's a lot of blockbusters in one year!

Next game: Dragon Quest 9 for the DS. It's out in Japan, with 120 mini-quests (with more on WiFi), the ability to link with up to three DS's in an adventure and an lot of random treasure maps, this RPG is a huge craze over there. A localized version will be released on July 11.

Next, Metroid: Other M.

A return to 2D with FPS elements, it's pretty much Metroid with a new coat of paint.

Next, Retro Studios is working on a new Donkey Kong game. Yes, Donkey Kong Country is back. More specifically, it Returns.


Next: "3DS is on the way".

Satoru Iwata takes the stage and holds the new 3DS on his hand. The top screen is widescreen, and displays 3D without glasses.

There are a lot of cameras on the device. The cameras on the back are actually capable of taking 3D pictures: a nice touch. Also, Iwata reveals a new Slide Pad located above the d-pad. It will play some 3D movies from content providers like Disney, Warner Bros. and Dreamworks.

Next Iwata reveals Project Sora being worked on by Sakurai. What is it? It's Kid Icarus Uprising. Holy freaking crap.

"Sorry to keep you waiting!"

Wow. Talk about a great graphical upgrade for a handheld.

Another feature of note Iwata is introducing is a new way for games to communicate to your system. Basically, the old DS would have Nintendogs running, and under a Wi-Fi access point, another Nintendogs owner would be able to see you and wake your dog up, but the connection would stop when the cartridge was removed. Now, even without the cartridge, a 3DS can be communicated to. Does this mean that any software stored in the 3DS is finally separate from the hardware? Does this make the software downloaded from the DSi Store assigned to a user ID rather than an individual system? There are a lot of questions surrounding the specifics, but I hope Nintendo can sort all of those issues out.

Also, the launch lineup includes Nintendogs + Cats, as well as a lot of third-party titles from developers like Warner Bros., Atlus, Hudson, Marvelous, Ubisoft, SEGA, Harmonix, EA, Capcom, Bandai-Namco, Konami and more.

DJ Hero 3D, Professor Layton, Saint's Row, Madden NFL, Dynasty Warriors, Resident Evil, Kingdom Hearts, Batman, Assassin's Creed, Ridge Racer and here's a coup: METAL GEAR SOLID.

Bombshell, much?

A video about the Nintendo 3DS is shown.

I'm willing to bet that 5th Cell won't be leaving the DS any time soon.

In the end though, I'm so glad that Nintendo is going back and appealing once more to the hardcore. As Iwata said, "we've established the install base, now we want to make compelling games".

Another video is shown though featuring Satoru Iwata, Shigeru Miyamoto and Reggie Fils-Aime this time.

So far, this is really the only 3D display technology I've felt compelled to buy. And I really like how Reggie Fils-Aime got burned.

Reggie summons his echelon of booth babes to demonstrate the power of 3DS. I really want to see how the "3D sensation" will work. "No more glasses" should be the way of the future, really. Sony and Microsoft are working on 3D gaming but they have glasses. Nintendo is a step ahead.

Sounds fanboyish, but it's not.


Other notable 3DS launch titles: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is being remade, along with Star Fox. That's awesome.

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