It was clear that people were expecting some big announcements from the Nintendo press conference. Nintendo had a new system to announce and would love to get the buzz going away from Microsoft – and toward them.
As the Nokia Theater filled up, three giant screens displayed some interesting random trivia: 25 percent of gamers are over 50, 40 percent of gamers are female, and the most frequent purchaser of games is an average of 39 years old. The most popular original, third-party game on Nintendo's platforms is Just Dance.
The trivia screens switched to the Nintendo logo, and then Reggie Fils-Aime got on stage, spoke of the buzz and headlines … and described technology as a tool for the experience. He was going to redefine the game experience.
Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
In a video, Shigeru Miyamoto talks about the sword and shield from E3 2004 and how the series' history has refined those mechanics. The Wii MotionPlus will be used to make the sword handle, while the Nunchuk will control Link's shield. Bill Trinen, Miyamoto's interpreter, took to the controls, showing them live, and then Miyamoto jumped through a curtain to show how to do it correctly, and he was using pretty realistic motions. If a new plant monster opens its mouth in a specific direction, you'll be forced to cut parallel to it, while pig monsters will hold their swords to block you. New techniques for Link include sword beams and shield bashing, which is how you knock Octorock's shots back at them.
Item handling has switched to one button opening a bar of eight slots. The slingshot is no longer screen aimed; instead, you'll use the MotionPlus to handle more like the real thing, though this is clearly an adjustment. Bombs are similar to old but can now be dropped, thrown or rolled. The bow handles like it did in Wii Sports Resort, though wireless interference messed up the demo. The Beetle, a new item, is a remote-flying scout that can also grab items in within a limited distance.
Mario Sports Mix (Wii)
There's Madden NFL, MLB 2K, NBA Jam and Pro Evolution Soccer, but we're at a Nintendo conference. It's announced that Mario's returning to sports in Mario Sports Mix, which features basketball, dodgeball, hockey (beach, ice and street), volleyball and more — all in one game. It's slated for 2011.
Wii Party (Wii)
Wii Party uses the Miis and will utilize a new board game island location and house party modes, with an emphasis on gaming on the same couch. Thirteen party modes and 70 minigames make up the core of what is now the replacement for Mario Party.
Just Dance 2 (Wii)
Ubisoft's Just Dance is getting a sequel, since the original game sold millions of copies. Just Dance 2 will feature 40 new tracks, more active dance moves, a fitness-centric Just Sweat mode, a Dance Crew mode, and support for up to eight players.
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (NDS)
The new Golden Sun, now subtitled Dark Dawn, was announced last year, but we haven't seen much of it since then. To jazz the hardcore, Fils-Aime tossed up a new video for Golden Sun. There's something wrong with the in-game sun, and it's up to a new generation of heroes to engage in traditional RPG combat to save the world. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is confirmed for this holiday season.
GoldenEye 007 (Wii)
Activision is developing a new GoldenEye for the holidays. Exclusive to the Wii, GoldenEye 007 will feature split-screen and online multiplayer. Various modes show a clear emphasis on multiplayer, though we also saw bits of the single-player campaign. (For better or worse, it's Daniel Craig as Bond.)
Epic Mickey (Wii)
Adam Creighton, a producer for Epic Mickey, played as Warren Spector explained how the game shows off 80 years of Disney creativity. It takes place in Wasteland, which is a world that's as varied as Disneyland but is home to abandoned characters. Cut scenes are distinctively animated, with characters and theme park locations being very messed up. Spector pointed out how identifying the references slipped in all over the place was a major bit of the fun. Mickey deserved better, but Spector couldn't look back to make Mickey be innovative. He now gets to draw and erase using paint and thinner, so he must change the world to save it. Do you turn enemies into friends or kick their butts? Do you solve smaller issues or focus on saving Wasteland? This hallmark of modern gaming is in place.
Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)
Masahiro Sakurai, famous for Smash Brothers and Kirby, has become a hardcore favorite, but he hasn't starred in a home console since Air Ride seven years ago. In Kirby's Epic Yarn,Kirby's new world is 2-D and made entirely out of yarn, which folds and reacts in detail to Kirby's every move. Like his enemies, Kirby is also a yarn outline. It's confirmed for this fall.
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (NDS)
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies has sold 4.2 million copies in Japan and features 120 miniquests, 300 monsters, 900 items for customizing characters, and infinite randomly generated treasure maps. Four players can quest together with Tag mode, where the game seeks out other players, sort of like The World Ends With You's Mingle mode.
Metroid: Other M (Wii)
A lot has already been shown of this new title, with its third-person action and first-person missile firing and scanning. The video showed a few new details, including new creatures, the ability to hang from objects, and a moment that looked like a nice, God of War-like finishing blow against a large, snake-like creature.
Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)
Retro Studios, on the other hand, was ready for something new, and that was Donkey Kong Country Returns. Rare's finest moment returns, looking much like it did back in the day, except more detailed and live-rendered. It's still 2-D and has plenty of scenes that include lots of interaction with the background. This one's also scheduled for the holiday season.
The Nintendo 3DS will introduce the third dimension to gaming. Big-screen 3-D is expensive and has nothing to play, and argh those glasses! The stage turns red as a smoking platform rises to reveal the system: black and about the size of the DSI. Satoru Iwata finally took to the stage to show off the 3DS. The top screen's a bit wider, and the front camera is now above the top screen, which is widescreen and 3.5" wide. The d-pad's been moved down to make room for an analog stick, and the screen won't require glasses to play. He offhandedly mentioned Nintendo's last 3-D experience but wanted a way to make a product that was ready for the mass market. The 3DS was his answer.
The 3-D depth slider lets the player set how much sense of depth they want. A touch-screen and 3-D screen just don't get along so well, so the top's 3-D, and the bottom screen is 2-D but still touch-sensitive. The graphics hardware has also been improved and might draw some enthusiasm. The analog stick uses a slide pad technique, and there is a motion and gyro sensor. The 3DS is compatible with DSI games, and the back camera is now two cameras to allow for 3-D photos. Though no specifics are confirmed yet, the device will play 3-D Hollywood movies. To Nintendo's knowledge, this is the first time that 3-D without glasses has been shown off.
Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)
Project Sora, a Nintendo 3DS exclusive, was announced last year, and it's been revealed as Kid Icarus! Pit's finally making his return in Kid Icarus: Uprising. The world is 3-D, and the graphics quality is between the Wii and Xbox 360. Combat is split between land and air, with flight being limited to five minutes.
The 3DS has new features, including connecting to Wi-Fi even when it's off. While Nintendogs and The World Ends With You did this, it disappeared when the game turned off. The 3DS does this innately. New stages, quests, ghost data and rankings can be downloaded automatically, without requiring any player setup or knowledge, and there's no monthly fee.
Iwata announces that there will be a 3-D version of Nintendogs + cats. Other titles, all from third parties, include Assassin's Creed, DJ Hero, FIFA, Kingdom Hearts, Madden NFL, a new Metal Gear, Resident Evil Revelations, Ridge Racer, Saints Row and Super Street Fighter IV.
A video of developer comments showed lots of excitement from major developer stars. The most interesting comment was Keiji Inafune's emphasis on the system's power while others liked the idea of glasses-free 3-D. Kojima implied a jungle theme for his Metal Gear, while a Capcom rep discussed how the new Resident Evil will use the 3-D for chills. Other developers were intrigued by the 3-D camera and online functionality.
Then a bunch of booth babes, armed with 3DS systems, walked onstage. Game stations for Legend of Zelda: Skyward Swordrose up at the front of the floor. We saw a player tackling the new Zelda, and it looked a little clumsy, but his motions matched Link's almost perfectly. It's clear that the sword and shield could work, but you'll need to practice!
The 3DS demo was basically a tech demo with a few 3-D scenes to show off the feature. In 2-D mode, it was silky smooth, looking even better than the Wii. In 3-D, I noticed that there was some camera focusing. In the Pikmin demo, every last leaf was clear, but in Metroid, going into 3-D brought tighter focus to Samus and blurred the background just a tad. As for the 3-D, objects appeared to jump out of the screen a little, but the biggest difference was depth.