Nintendo hosted their E3 press conference Monday, unveiling a promising lineup of reinvented old school games, a few expected announcements and one unfortunate wireless problem.
Hosted by the ever-cheerful Reggie Fils-Aime and punctuated by brief appearances by Shigeru Miyamoto and Satoru Iwata, the event surpassed and improved upon the company's recent lackluster conferences.
First off in the list of heavy hitters was Zelda: Skyward Sword. Teased back in 2008, the newest incarnation of Zelda is the first true Wii exclusive from that franchise (Twilight Princess was originally intended for the Gamecube). Though the demo was skimpy on the plot details or storyline, Miyamoto himself demonstrated the controls. While past iterations of the series had you holding R to raise your shield, this title integrates Wii Motion Plus by assigning the use of the shield to the nunchuk. To protect Link from attack, the player must raise the Nunchuk in a quick, fluid motion, as if they were actually holding the shield. Flicking the nunchuk while the shield is raised does a shield bash, which is helpful to avoid projectiles.
It's not really "new" (thanks to Wii Sports Resort archery, and Link's own crossbow training), the player now uses the bow in an expected fashion. The Wiimote is the bow, and the user holds a button, draws back the Nunchuk like the string, and releases the button to let the arrow fly. Unfortunately for Miyamoto, infrared interferance made this part of the demo a bit of a flop as the Wiimote simply wasn't in his control anymore.
To be released sometime next year on Wii, this was an impressive first blow for Nintendo.
Next is Mario's Sports Mix, a complation sports game comprising of volleyball, dodgeball, hockey and basketball. It features many of the well known characters from the franchise. To be released in 2011.
Following that is Wii Party, a multiplayer game similar in concept to the Mario Party titles of yore. It features many different mini-games and game modes, including a board game mode. It's expected on store shelves for this upcoming holiday season.
Just Dance 2, the sequel to Nintendo's version of a dance game is expected this fall on Wii.
Another heavy hitter is Golden Sun, which is now Golden Sun: Dark Dawn and is expected this holiday season on DS.
Next was the confirmation of a rumor that many hoped to be true: Goldeneye 007. Featuring multiplayer, eight Bond characters, 16 special game modes (including paintball) and Daniel Craig as Bond, fanboys and fangirls will be happy to know it will be available in the late fall or holiday season of this year.
The highly anticipated Disney Epic Mickey was then shown, and certainly captured the attention of the crowd. In this title, players control Mickey in a world chock full of references from the Mickey franchise. In the demo, viewers saw Ventureland and Mickey speaking to the beloved Smee. The true core of the game is the use of paint and paint thinner, to create or erase things from the world. It touches on game morality, a big thing in video games these days. You can choose to destroy all barriers and challenges in your path using thinner, or find creative ways to go around them using paint. To get between worlds, the game uses a sidescrolling mini-game based on various Mickey cartoons. During the demo, viewers were treated to a Steamboat Willie level, all in black and white (with spot color). Those curious can see it this holiday season on Wii.
Following this was the announcement of a new Kirby game, Kirby's Epic Yarn. Incredibly impressive visually, the game features a new Kirby that has never been seen before. Instead of just inflating to float and sucking up baddies, Kirby now uses a sort of yarn whip to do many different attacks and moves. When dashing, he turns into a little car and when underwater, he turns into a submarine. The game certainly reeks of cute, but not in an overbearing fashion, and seems to be great fun. It is expected this fall on Wii.
After that was the impending launch of Dragon Quest IX (next month), a trailer of Metroid Other M (late summer) and possibly the second most surprising announcement of all: Donkey Kong Country Returns, available this holiday season on Wii.
Not very surprising but certainly expected was the announcement of the Nintendo 3DS. Featuring improved graphics, the new system is 3D without requiring the use of glasses. Users can adjust the intensity of the 3D visuals using a slider and can even shut it off completely. The touch screen is now only on the bottom, but now features an analog pad similar to the PSP and motion and gyro sensors. Instead of just having one camera, the system features one camera inside and two on the outside, allowing the user to create their own 3D images. It can access the internet, it can play 3D movies and is hoped to be hitting store shelves sooner rather than later.
Closing with perhaps the most shocking (and maybe most anticipated) was the surprising new Kid Icarus title, a one-two hit graphically.
This impressive game list might have nabbed Nintendo best conference of the show (I said best, not weirdest, Microsoft), and certainly cinches the company's return to video games in a big way. And they didn't even have to use ponchoes.