My on-site E3 experience started off this morning with a visit to the amazing Nokia Theater for the Nintendo press conference. After some tense moments, fearing I wouldn’t make it in time, I got in as the lights came down…
Cue the music! A live orchestra and choir kicked things off by playing a montage of songs from the Zelda universe, while onstage, a pretty sweet Zelda retrospective was showing. At the end of the video, the crowd erupted into the first round of applause as Shigeru Miyamoto took the stage. As this was my first Nintendo presser, I was a little bummed to see him in a suit as opposed to wielding his sword and shield. I reference to the video and music, he mused, “Brings back a lot of memories”.
This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Zelda series and to celebrate, Nintendo is releasing Zelda titles across all their platforms. In addition to the games, there will be a special Gold Wii Remote Controller released alongside Skyward Sword, a series of live concerts performing the music of Zelda touring worldwide and 2 CD’s – one with the score from the 3DS title, Ocarina of Time 3D and the other a collection of music from the tour. At the conclusion of this section, Miyamoto had several of the Zelda collaborators come onstage so he could public ally thank them, then he thanked the Zelda players around the world for the continuing success of the Zelda series.
Next up was Satoru Iwata. His opening speech was about expanding the gaming population… How Nintendo has done so far and their game plan to expand it even further. “Mental boundaries exist in how game systems are designed… We haven’t acheived a game platform that is created for all gamers. The goal of Nintendo is to serve every player. The next Nintendo platform is a good attempt to achieve that goal.”. However, he wasn’t ready to reveal the next big thing quite yet.
The next item out of the gate was a video showcasing the next batch of Nintendo 3DS titles. It showcased Mario Kart, Starfox, Mario, Kid Icarus and a first look at Luigi’s Mansion 2. After the video, Reggie Fils Amie took the stage. He asked hypothetically if it was possible to deliver “something for everyone”. His answer was that they are attempting to with the 3DS. He then launched into a video of Mario Kart 3DS.
Mario Kart adds a couple new gameplay features – aerial and underwater gameplay. There is also a new component that allows you to modify your Kart. They showed off some monster truck looking Karts in the demo. Immediately following the presentation, I was able to go hands on with it and it was a lot of fun. I modded out my Kart, then set out on the track. The 3D effects were nicely implemented. This game is due out by the ubiquitous “Holiday 2011”.
Starfox 3D was shown in video form and is due out in September.
Kid Icarus. Uprising had something new up it’s sleeve, 3 on 3 multiplayer! Also, they showed off a boss, Medusa, which looked pretty impressive. They also teased the use of augmented reality cards with the game, which looked interesting. This game is due out this year as well.
Next up… “The first brother of video games is back and he has his vacuum.” That’s right, this was the reveal and official announcement for Luigi’s Mansion 2. The game is set to feature Luigi and his ghost cleaning across multiple mansions.
After Luigi, hey showed another montage of several upcoming releases.. Ace Combat, Tetris, Resident Evil, Cave Story (which garnered a strong crowd reaction), Driver Renegade, Tekken, and finally Pac-Man and Galaga. Then, they showed off an enhanced Internet browser and announced an App Store, the new Nintendo E-Shop. The e-shop will allow you to get games and demos, right on the handheld. They also showed off the new Virtual Console for the 3DS. To kick off the Virtual Console, they are giving a free game, 3D Excitebike (Excitebike was one of my original favorites on the NEC.
To wrap things up, Reggie announced a new feature for Pokemon 3DS. It is a revamped Pokedex. It will allow for sharing between your friends, and even allow you to place Pokemon in pictures. The crowd was remarkably silent during this part of the presentation. Could it be that we are finally growing tired of Pokemon? I know I am. As they moved on, they let us know that the 3DS means Social, Connection and Interaction in total 3D.
Then it was time for the meat of the matter. The new console reveal! They started off by talking about how they came up wit the name for the Wii. They also said that the new console should focus on bringing “You” to the “We” from before. Therefore they decided to call the new console the Wii U. All they really showed off yesterday was the new controller and some tech demos for it. They didn’t really address the console itself, but the controller in and of itself was pretty exciting. It features a 6.2″ touchscreen, every button you’d expect to see on a current generation controller, an accelerometer, speakers, rumble, a microphone and a front facing camera… Whew! The videos focused on new tech demos and exciting new ways to utilize not only the new controller, but also the current-gen Nintendo controllers as well. One demo that showed the versatility of the whole package was a golf game. The new controller’s screen showed your golf ball in a sand trap. The TV screen showed the fairway and the sandtrap your ball was in. The player placed the new controller on the floor, picked up a Wii remote, then swung it, golf club style at the ball on the new controller. When it “connected” the ball flew from the new controller into the tv screen and onto the green. Impressive.
They also showed the controller being used to send videos to the TV, as a video chat device, and even an autonomous video game playing machine, as two people played Othello on it. It seemed as if Nintendo is taking their time and really doing their homework to create new and unique ideas for this provocative new system. The console will be in full HD And they showed some demo footage to prove it. Miyamoto talked about a new Mario idea they are working on as a prototype called Mario Mii, which puts your Mii directly in the game next to Mario. It looked pretty fun. They only made one official game announcement, Lego City Stories which will be coming not only to the Wii U, but also the 3DS. They did however, show a developer interview video and announced some future titles that should be coming to the Wii U… Darksiders 2, Tekken, Arkham City, Dirt, Aliens Colonial Marines, Ghost Recon Online, Metro Last Night, and Ninja Gaiden 3. John Riccitiello from EA came onstage to announce a new partnership between EA and Nintendo and said “We can’t wait to see EA Games on this new system. He showed off a video of their top-tier titles, Madden, FIFA, Need for Speed, Harry Potter, The Sims, Army of 2 and Battlefield.
So that was the Nintendo press conference here at E3 yesterday. It was a great and exciting way to kick off E3. Nintendo is packing quite a punch this year.