E310: Nintendo Press Conference Recap

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Nintendo’s press conference at E3 2010 spooled out in a rapid-fire fashion, starting by announcing the return of one of the company’s major characters. Link–hero of Nintendo’s action RPG series–returns in a new title Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword out in 2011. The Wii game will use the Wii-mote and nunchuk, mapping them to Link’s sword and shield, respectively. The Skyward Sword live demo was played by Shigeru Miyamoto. The level shown had Miyamoto fighting plant creatures that could only be defeated by slicing in the same direction that their mouths open, either vertical or horizontal. The game looked a little laggy in the live demo and Miyamoto encountered a few problems. But the improved accuracy of the WiiMotion Plus was on display and Zelda fans. Other new features like a Remote-control Beetle–used like a drone scout–were shown, too

In his remarks, Reggie Fils-Aime said that the goal of game design, per Miyamoto, is entertainment that can cross culture, age and gender. The next few titles shown continued in Nintendo’s vein of expanding audiences. Mario Sports Mix coming in 2011 will offer volleyball, basketball, hockey using characters from the Mushroom Kingdom. Wii Party out this holiday uses Miis to play 13 party games and 70 mini-games. These fit into what Fils-Aime called a concept of ”bridge titles,” games that move casuals and new players along to continued interest in gaming. The Nintendo Americ president cited Mario Kart Wii and NSMB Wii as such titles.

Other titles announced were Nintendo DS action/RPG Golden Sun: Dark Dawn out this holiday, and a new Goldeneye 007 from Activision exclusively on Wii, also for holiday.

The following are brief notes for each demo.

Disney’s Epic Mickey
Warren Spector demoed basic paint mechanics for the upcoming Mickey title. There wasn’t really anything new compared to what he told us back in October when the title was unveiled.

• Draw or erase using paint or thinner; play style matters
• Takes place in the Wasteland, a place of forgotten Disney characters and theme park attractions
• Blends action, RPG and platforming
• Travel zones: side-scrolling levels based on classic movies; one based on • Steamboat Willie

Kirby’s Epic Yarn
• Out this Fall
• Cute embroidery-looking aesthetic in a side-scrolling game
• More than seven years since last Kirby game

Nintendo is really mining old-school characters: Mario, Link, Metroid, Kirby, Golden Sun, Goldeneye

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies on July 11

Metroid: Other M on August 31

Donkey Kong Country Returns
• Being developed by Retro Studios
• Side-scroller with Donkey & Diddy
• Looks fun

Nintendo 3DS
• Glasses-free 3D
• Initial investment is steep for home 3D
Kid Icarus: Uprising- Launch title being developed specifically for 3DS
• Nintendogs and Cats for 3DS
• Wi-Fi seeking and comm. With other 3DS units: automatic, multi-tasked and persistent, no monthly fee

No mention of Wii Vitality sensor

After trotting out a gaggle of Nintendo girl-clones each with a handheld tethered to them, attendees got a chance to hold and play with a Nintendo 3DS at the end of the conference. The improvement in the handheld’s processing power was immediately evident, as the character’s shied and glistened in ways that current DS games can’t manage. Most importantly, the glasses-free 3D works as advertised. As far as I could tell, there’s a lenticular screen interpolating offset images and the slider on the side of the unit changes just how offset they are. The only thing on the 3DS was a minute-long video of various Nintendo franchises. You could move the camera in 3D space with the slide stick and the whole thing felt like looking into a window into another world.

We’ll try to get some hands-on time with some of the Nintendo title at the booth throughout the week.

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