Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Nintendo's E3 Press Conference - Impressions

Before the mainstream blogging pages erupt with their own opinions on Nintendo's showcase , I thought I'd put a few words down now that the lights have gone down. As anticipated, Reggie Fils-Aime began the conference by stating the cold, hard facts: Nintendo has once again owned the industry.

Sales of video game related products are up 46% in the Americas, 42% in Europe, and nearly 115% in Japan. Most of this growth is spurred on by the immense success of Nintendo's Wii and DS consoles.

Console sales is nearly split 50/50 between handheld and home console gaming.

Now, to the good stuff.

Nintendo announced today a new "Zapper" style controller, which marries both the Wii Remote and the Wii Nunchuk into a bizarre looking yet functional device for first person shooters. Reggie hinted that Nintendo was hard at work with a pack in piece of software for the Zapper, which I truly believe could be the next iteration of Duck Hunt. Price point? $19.95.

Reggie also announced that Super Smash Bros Brawl would release in the Americas on December 3rd, 2007. Good news for many, though I still haven't gotten enough play out of Super Smash Bros Melee. I'm sure it pleased the audience though, as many were anticipating the date related announcement.

I was a bit discouraged after this announcement, as Reggie veered off the future path and started discussing more current events and successes. That was quickly resolved, however as a brief presentation was shown on already revealed and dated games "The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass" and "Metroid Prime 3: Corruption." It was great to see the near finished product for MP3; the graphics look amazing and the control looks tight. When it comes out, I'm buying it.

Next, an announcement that I did not see coming, but that I was very excited to hear. Mario Kart Wii will be released with full online play in the first quarter of 2008. That, my friends, is exciting. Reggie announced that if online play is good, then online play with "more" racers must be even better. He didn't go into any detail, except to say that details would follow throughout the year. When it comes out, I'm buying it.

Finally, the moment I was waiting for. Reggie finally announced the release date for Super Mario Galaxy; November 12th, 2007. I found it funny that he has to clarify 2007. Nintendo has been notorious in the past for delaying heavily anticipated titles far off in the distance (example, both Metroid Prime 3 and Super Mario Galaxy were announced as launch titles alongside Zelda: Twilight Princess)

The video of the game looked great, and it looks like there is some two player co-op involved. Reggie said that while all Mario games deserve their place in the cannon, this was the first true successor to Super Mario 64. That says it all for me, right there. When it comes out, I'm buying it.

For the final bit of the presentation, Reggie introduced Shigeru Miyamoto. I remember earlier in the year, Nintendo Power interviewed Shig and asked him about current and future projects. Miyamoto was very hush hush and mentioned that he was having as much fun as he ever had with his current project, but wouldn't go any further than that. We finally got a good look at that project today. A new "game" that will guarantee the existence and proliferation of the Wii in not only my household, but in households across the world.

Wii Fit.

Coupled with the Wii Balance Board, gamers will be tested in balance, stretching, strength, yoga, and movement exercises. It looks fun. Shiggy said that he wanted to come to E3 and introduce one game to the world. Not Metroid Prime 3, not Super Mario Galaxy, Not Zelda, but Wii Fit. And that is enough to make me excited for it. My wife should love it as well; in fact, I think she predicted this exact release about seven months ago.

So no, there wasn't any announcements about a hard drive add on. No new Wii Channels to drool over. But we did get some fairly good surprises, and overall I felt a commitment from Nintendo to both the core gamer, as well as the expanded world-wide audience they are trying to capture. I give the press conference an A- overall.

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