It's another foggy sunrise in Los Angeles this morning, and the world's gaming press is up at the crack of dawn to head over to the Nokia Plaza for Nintendo's briefing. Somebody clearly forgot to remind the organizers that the average gamer is not a morning person. In any case, a series of Nintendo-themed trivia questions kept the crowd awake (or maybe it was the loud dance music) until the presentation began. The blocky and grey set design was strangely reminiscent of the NES design, which seemed at odds with the advancements of the company in recent years. Today, the meat of the conference relied on the games rather than the technology, but Nintendo made sure that the eager crowd was not disappointed.
There were no big surprises in the technology area, as Nintendo appeared to be content with their efforts to reach new audiences so far. The general feeling is that the gaming market typically raises the bar in gaming, year after year. Nintendo's stance is to make games more accessible to everyone without making them dull.
With that said, we already know what the key hardware enhancements are: the Wii MotionPlus accessory and the Nintendo DSi. One more would be added to that list today, the Wii Vitality Sensor. Denoted the "next advance in game control", the MotionPlus will add unprecedented accuracy to the Wiimote, allowing more precise gameplay for existing games and opening up new possibilities for the future. The DSi is targeted for an audience that desires a more customizable gaming experience, mainly through the use of the two cameras. Nintendo announced today that the DSi software will also enable users to automatically upload photos captured and modified by their portable directly to Facebook albums. In addition, new games will allow new creative modes, like the level builder in Mario Vs. DK: Minis March which can then be shared with friends. Similarly, WarioWare DIY will allow players to design their own game from scratch.
Stemming from advances in physical training with the Wii Fit and mental training with the Brain Age series, the new Wii Vitality Sensor was unveiled today. The new peripheral essentially does nothing more than measure your pulse through your finger. Nintendo execs were quick to point out to the skeptical crowd that they believe the key to a new world of games lies in removing the rigid definition of 'video game' that has already been bent by the fitness genre, and push the limits of what consoles can do and track. This peripheral reveals previously hidden information about the player, and could be used to help train your nervousness and anxiety, or even help people relax a little better. What game companies actually come up with remains to be seen.
Nintendo boasted the extension of the Wii Fit software, which has reportedly sold so many balance board units that it rivals some consoles. The new incarnation of the technology, the Wii Fit Plus, will provide its users with personalized fitness routines tailored to their needs, and also help target specific body areas. The software will also keep track of all calories burned. "What makes it Nintendo is that it's also fun!" The game will feature some fifteen mini-games that have you moving various parts of your body, whether it be having you jump between platforms or bump balls with your rear end. Wii Fit Plus will come out this fall, optionally bundled with a balance board.
Nintendo's line-up for this year and the future is extremely exciting this year. We're talking about a new Wii Sports game, two brand new Mario games, a Zelda game on DS, and a 3D Metroid experience. Cue the resounding 'wow'.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Are you ready to breach the 4th dimension? Shigeru Miyamoto's latest masterpiece brings the singleplayer Mario experience to a multiplayer audience. Playing either competitively or cooperatively, this will revolutionize the way you think of platformers. And the best part is that it will be available this holiday season!
Wii Sports Resort
The Wii Sports franchise is back in action in a much more refined incarnation. Making use of the MotionPlus accessory, the accuracy of the controller grants a wider range of sports including archery, basketball, golf, tennis and swordplay that is fun for the whole family. Wii Sports Resorts ships on July 26.
Nintendo also highlighted that quite a few games will take advantage of the MotionPlus accessory, including Tiger Woods' PGA Tour 10, Grand Slam Tennis, and Virtua Tennis 2009. Other titles like Red Steel 2 will only work with the MotionPlus.
Two New Square Enix Titles
Final Fantasy: The Crystal Beavers is a Wii exclusive; Kingdom Hearts 368/2 is exclusive to the DS. More details about these games are expected later this week.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
This new RPG for the DS has our favourite heroes reduced in size and accidentally ingested by their famous foe. The whole thing reminded me of that level in Ocarina of Time where you're in the bowels of the Zora's giant fish. This one arrives in retail this fall.
Golden Sun DS
The long dead RPG franchise is finally back for an incarnation on the DS. Not much is being said about this one yet, except that it's targeted for release in 2010.
James Patterson Women's Murder Club: Games of Passion
Examine evidence and find the killer by completing mini-game arcade puzzles. Are you good enough to find the murderer before he strikes again?
Cop: The Recruit
A new Ubisoft IP has a New York cop forced undercover after being framed for the murder of his partner. This racing/shooter seems GTA-inspired but will appear on Nintendo's portable platform.
Games for young girls are in this season it seems, and Nintendo wasn't about to be left out. In this DS title, players can buy lots and lots of clothes, then compete in runway competitions. What's not to like?
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
Little is revealed about this DS title so far, but it's on the show floor so you can bet we're going to deliver the goods a little later this week.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
A second full-3D Mario game is in the works! With graphics in the style of Mario 64, this game picks up where Galaxy left off but dramatically improves the visuals and reintroduces our favourite green steed.
Metroid: Other M
A new edgier game from Nintendo and Team Ninja takes a new look at Samus Aran's story and the Metroid universe. This 3D action adventure shooter promises to deliver an adventure like never seen before.
Sega's Sci-Fi shooter for the Wii ships three weeks from now. We'll have a preview up in no time.
Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles
Capcom brings the famed series back on the Wii with an adventure shooter that poses familiar characters in a whole new light.
Dead Space: Extraction
Dead Space picks up exactly where it left off on the Xbox 360 and develops the story even further. We will finally know the source of the events in the Dead Space universe.
That's it for the Nintendo Conference recap. Look for in-depth previews of these games and more on GamingExcellence as the E3 week progresses.