Upon stepping foot onto the press conference floor, along with hundreds of other lucky gamer/reporter types, I was impressed with the elaborate media marketing infrastructure Nintendo had prepared. On the stage hung two gigantic high-res video screens, sitting in the middle of the stage was an Escher-esque prop comprising a stunning cubic design. Off to the side of the raised-roof structure that the event was held in sat a small army of technicians, tweaking various audio/video settings on what looked to be proprietary chunks of expensive high-end hardware. The likes of which I’ll probably never understand. I sat patiently in my chair, crammed between two freshly showered colleagues who could, thanks to my perpetually bouncing knee and darting eyes, physically sense my intense anticipation. “The Nintendo press conference will begin soon” announced an ominous yet cordial female voice, whose sentiments didn’t seem to reverberate with the crowd quite as strongly as I expected they would. Sitting on the edge of my seat, listening to the slightly volumetrically diluted musical styling of Jurassic 5 being played on surround sound speakers, I again heard the female voice; “The Nintendo press conference will start momentarily.”
Eventually, after a couple more announcements promising that the show would begin, the event was finally underway.
Fresh from his couple years stint at VH-1’s marketing department, Reggie Fils-Aime, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Nintendo of America, walked on stage and attempted to incite the audience with lofty claims of Nintendo’s superior grasp of the videogame industry. But it wasn’t long before the big man himself made his presence known.
Satoru Iwata looked confidently over the crowd for a few seconds, then non-chalantly produced a shiny Nintendo DS from his jacket pocket. After President Iwata was done working the crowd, the press at large was shown a hyper-pop injected video presentation of Nintendo’s 2004-5 lineup of cool ass crap. The video started with showing off the DS’ capabilities (one gigabit cartridge-based media capacity, backwards GBA compatibility, wireless connectivity, wi-fi support, online/multiplayer), then confirmed some speculation (such as a solid sounding release date of “before the end of 2004” in America and Japan), managed to rouse some speculation (voice recognition, wi-fi communication, touch-screen stylus input = WTF), before unveiling a bevy of new games across all three platforms (DS, GC, GBA). Most of the Nintendo DS games announced were based on Nintendo’s biggest franchises. Super Mario Bros. DS, Super Mario 64x4, Mario Kart DS, Metroid Prime: Hunters, and Animal Crossing DS were all announced for the “Developer’s System.” Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Advance Wars: Under Fire, and Goldeneye 2 were shown in all their long-awaited glory and splendor for the GameCube. And the GBA’s coolest offerings were The Legend of Zelda The Minish Cap, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and Mario Pinball (surprisingly).
While Nintendo may have some room for improvement in terms of seating arrangements for their E3 showings, it is evident from the company’s next generation GameCube and Game Boy Advance software, and the impressive Nintendo DS, that Nintendo has this whole “digital entertainment” thing pretty well figured out. Nintendo fan-boys have a lot to be excited about this year. Stayed tuned for our upcoming hands-on report of the Nintendo DS based on our experience with the system at this year’s E3.