Nintendo E3 Recap

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Looking over my wish list for Nintendo's press event at E3 shows that I had a thirst for a return of some key franchises. Zelda had been at the top of my list, with Excitebike being a very dark horse. No Zelda was announced but Nintendo managed to make their fans happy with word of four new Mario games and a brand new Metroid game.

You heard me; FOUR new Mario games and a new Metroid.

Nintendo must have known that they would need some big name franchises to make them seem relevant, especially with the fantastic presser that Microsoft had a day before. Painful memories of 2008's E3 presser were maligned for months and Nintendo made sure to avoid any similar mistakes, for the most part.

Demonstrating New Super Mario Brothers for the Wii was a bold first move. In the blink of an eye WiiMusic demos were quickly forgotten as four players demonstrated a level from the Wii version of New Super Mario Brothers. If you have played New Super Mario Brothers for the DS you will be familiar with the play style and game play of the Wii version. The exciting feature of the Wii version will be the four player cooperative play!

From that point though the press even was mostly lacking any real reason to be excited, with the latest information on WiiFit Plus following up the Mario news. Wii Fit Plus is looking to be very similar to the original WiiFit but will have the ability to create custom workouts as well as 15 new balance games. I was relieved when they did not mention a new and improved balance board, a rumor I had heard on the news earlier in the week.

The Wii Motion Plus was discussed but there was not much new to say about it compared to what they unveiled at last year's E3. Last year the Wii Motion Plus was demonstrated using Wii Sports Resort. Guess what. This year it was demonstrated using Wii Sports Resort. Yes, the game will be packaged with the add-on sensor, but wouldn't you rater see it demonstrated in a higher quality game? While using a basketball three point competition within WiiSports Resort Nintendo used Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime and the demonstrator on the stage to compete in a life like competition. To me the demo would have been more satisfying if Nintendo had arranged for an NBA three point shooter to participate. Something tells me Microsoft would have pulled that off with the guest stars they featured in their presser the day before (Tony Hawk, Steven Spielberg).

After a bevy of announcements about RPG titles coming to Nintendo systems, including an exclusive Kingdom Hearts for the DS as well as Golden Sun, Nintendo managed to bore the crowd with announcements of Women's Murder Club for the DS and a fashion design game targeted to their female audience.

Then things got interesting. The DSi took the stage for some titles including a download only Mario vs. Donkey Kong title and a WarioWare title.

In my wish list I had hoped for more online usability. Good news for DSi users as the wireless abilities will allow them to access the Wii Store to download games over a network right to their DSi. Also for Facebook using DSi users the ability to upload and share photos from the DSI will be coming soon. It may not be exactly what Microsoft had in mind with the XBox 360's ability to upload screen shots and achievements right to Facebook (and Twitter usability) but it is interesting and fits Nintendo.

When the President and CEO of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, walked out on stage it was expected to be big news, or lame business news. It was more of the latter, with the highlight of Iwata's speech introducing the Wii Motion Sensor, which hooks in to the Wii Remote and is placed on a finger to detect pulses. No mention on how this could be incorporated in to future games but I can see it being seldom used. It would actually be a unique feature in sports games, when your team is under pressure to make a big play or to judge adrenaline. Or perhaps it could be utilized in a game like Resident Evil to gauge how nervous the player is getting in tense moments. I am guessing thought that Nintendo will not use it to those extents though.

Finally, the biggest news of the day was when Nintendo gave E3 a glimpse at the next installation in the Super Mario Galaxy series, with Super Mario Galaxy 2! Much of the game play and environments looked to be similar to the original but now Mario will have the companionship of his favorite green dinosaur, Yoshi!

Nintendo also tried to sell fans on some exclusive third party titles, such as Resident Evil, and closed with a shocker; Metroid: Other M. The Metroid game will be released in 2010 and while I have never been too in to the Metroid series, it would be foolish to not say that this is a major announcement. Metroid is still one of Nintendo's best long standing series, after Mario and Zelda. Metroid has been with Nintendo since the beginning so it is great news to be able to say that Nintendo will be releasing major titles from two legendary franchises in 2010.

This press event was by far better than last year's and things look to be exiting for Nintendo in the future.

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