Tuesday, June 2, 2009

E3 2009 - Nintendo Press Conference

The 2009 E3 conference continued today with Nintendo’s awesomely thrilling press conference. To be honest, I didn’t go into this with any huge expectations. Nintendo remains a very cautious organization. But I watched it anyways… and this isn’t even my job! What’s wrong with me?

Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, started things off with some bragadocious (but true) statements about how more and more people are playing games of some kind. I suppose that the folks at Nintendo can take some of the credit for this; although, I bet we probably have the internet to thank for the majority of it.

So, the smart move for Nintendo would be a new Mario game. Cammie matter-of-factly announced New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The game looks like a nice next-gen-ish upgrade of the classic Mario games. But, 4 player cooperative play has been introduced. The players can work together or fight their way through the levels to collect coins and points. It looks like fun.

After playing through an entire level, Cammie came back to talking about Wii Fit and announced Wii Fit Plus. I kinda got bored with this, and zoned it out (please don’t hate me for it).

When I returned to paying attention to the conference, some guy named Reggie Fils-aime was walking on to the stage. He went on to talk about the original controls that made the Wii so revolutionary. At first, I thought I might have been watching a clip from an older E3, but he was just setting us up to talk about Wii Motion Plus, which is that funny little Wiimote add-on.

They rolled a clip of people playing some of the mini-games in Wii Sports: Resort. Then, they showed some real-time sky diving, during which you use the Wiimote to precisely maneuver your Mii. The presenter went on to display the archery and basketball, each of which featured precise motion-controls, which should more adequately translate true-life skill into the game. Look for it on July 26th.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, EA Sports’s Grand Slam Tennis, and Vitrua Tennis 2009 will each make use of the Wii Motion Plus controls. Furthermore, they each will be released in a matter of weeks. On top of that, a game called Red Steel 2 on Wii will only be playable with Wii Motion Plus.

After that Reggie made mention of the fact that more 3rd party games were sold on Wii and DS than any other platform. How many of those games were shovel ware?

Then Reggie went on to show a preview of Square Enix’s new Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles – The Crystal Bearers. I’ve never played any of the Crystal Chronicles games, and this looks so far behind the standard they’ll be setting with Final Fantasy XIII that I probably won’t play this either. In any case, it looks decent for a last-gen game.

But… on September 29th, Square Enix will be releasing Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days for the Nintendo DS. I know… that’s a horrible name for anything, let alone the next video game in a great franchise. Anyways, the game looks better than anything I’ve ever seen running on a Nintendo DS. Seriously, it looks as good as a PSP game. I’m officially excited about this game (which means that I should probably finish the first game).

After that, Reggie showed off Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story for the Nintendo DS, in which Mario and Luigi are shrunken to microscopic size and swallowed by Bowser and engage in some action-RPG craziness. The game will be dropping this fall in America and Europe.

And in 2010, the beloved Golden Sun franchise will see a sequel for the DS. The short trailer they showed looked pretty sharp. The original games were pretty good, so this one will be worth checking out.

After that Reggie left and Cammie came back out to talk about James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion. This too is a horrible name for a game, but the game seems fairly interesting. It looks like the game will be one part James Patterson murder-mystery (apparently, he’s a New York Times Bestseller), one part Phoenix Wright game, and one part mini game collection. It’s perfect for the DS.

C.O.P.: The Recruit for DS is all about an criminal who goes undercover to help the police take down some baddies. While the premise seems a bit formulaic, the footage of the game hints at it being a surprisingly competent Grand Theft Auto 4 type game.

Style Savy: this looks ridiculous!

According to Cammie, the Nintendo DSi has already sold a million units. One of those units is mine.

Cammie went on to announce (with increasingly annoying hand motions) that Flipnote Studio (or Moving Memo in Japan) will be available this summer. I think that this is supposed to be free, so there’s no reason for anyone with a DSi not to try out this animation software.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! for DS will allow players to create levels and share them with friends via local WiFi and the interwebs! The game will be available exclusively as a DSiWare download on June 8th. That’s next week!

Warioware DIY is a title that allows players to make “micro games” and share them with friends.

Cammie says that I’ll be able to upload pictures that I take (and edit) with my Nintendo DSi camera to facebook. I don’t think she explained how this will work, but it’d be really cool if this means that they’ll be offering some kind of facebook app. Don’t get your hopes up though.

At this point, I couldn’t help but notice that Cammie looks really pissed off.

Shortly after this, Satoru Iwata, the President of Nintendo, came out to talk (in surprisingly decent English) about how more and more people are playing games. He estimates that 295 million people in Japan, the U.S.A., and Europe actively play games; 149 million other people might play some games. Mr. Iwata would love nothing more than to inspire some of these might-be-players to play some games.

He went on to talk about how he’s spent a lot of time considering how to build gaming experiences that could unite expert gamers with non-gamers. Obviously, he really wants to create unique ways to have fun and train your mind and body. Then, he showed off a Wii Vitality Sensor, which is being developed alongside some relaxation software.

Mr. Iwata seemed like a pretty genuine guy, I was slightly disappointed when he left and Cammie came back out to deliver some closing statements. Oh, wait… she announced Super Mario Galaxy 2. The game looks like more of what made the original game cool, but I’ll admit that I never played it.

Ok, now for more closing statements from Reggie. Oh, wait… previews of 3rd party games for the Wii. The Conduit is a first-person shooter that’s coming in a few weeks. Resident Evil: the Dark Side Chronicles looks like an on-rails shooter: probably a sequel to Resident Evil: the Umbrella Chronicles. Dead Space: Extraction is a side story of the Dead Space franchise made just for the Wii.

Alright, Reggie, closing statements. Oh, wait… yet more previews. Team Ninja and Nintendo are working on a new Metroid game for Wii. Metroid: Other M looks pretty good for a Wii game. Look for it in 2010.

Finally, Reggie closes out the Nintendo E3 2009 Media Briefing.

Not bad! There were some nice surprises in there.

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