Nintendo E3 2006 Media Briefing Highlights Feature - The Next Level

Nintendo E3 2006 Media Briefing Highlights

Playing=believing (or "Fighting fire with marshmallows.")

Article by James Cunningham (Email)
May 11th 2006, 03:55AM

Nintendo kicked off their plans for world domination with Tuesday's press conference, talking up Wii almost exclusively. While many big questions were answered, such as the final controller functions, important bits of info like price and release date are being saved for later. Despite an omission or two, though, the conference generated a lot of Nintendo love among those attending.

Kicking off with Shigeru Miyamoto goofily conducting a cartoonish 3D virtual orchestra with a Wii remote, the emphasis seemed less on shiny and new than the fun of play. There wasn't a moment's rest in showing just how darn entertaining waving a remote around will be.

That's not just cynicism at work, either. Unlike Sony and their graphs, Nintendo blasted the audience with game after game after game, leaving only a little time between each video clip for Reggie Fils-Aime or Satoru Iwata to drive home the message about reeling in a new audience of non-gamers. The dual message of fun games and market expansion filled the whole hour, hardly giving the audience time to catch its breath.

The good bit, of course, was the games, and Nintendo showed a nice variety of them. Concentrating almost exclusively on Wii, with only a few DS titles showing, the poor Gamecube got no love at all despite the announcement of Super Paper Mario elsewhere. Still, people came to see New and that's what Nintendo gave them.

Mostly new, at any rate. As cool as seeing Pilotwings, Super Mario Galaxy, Excite Truck, Metroid 3: Corruption, and others was, new franchises were a bit scarce. Red Steel, with its first-person control for both gun and sword, showed a lot of promise despite the one bit technical glitch of the show. Disaster: Day of Crisis is interesting just by the concept, which seems to be surviving a brutal natural disaster. Project H.A.M.M.E.R. is about bashing things with a giant mallet, which is always fun. There was a good level of enthusiasm shown for just about every title, not just because Nintendo was good at keeping the momentum going but because they just looked fun to play with.

And that's the thing about Wii that Nintendo tried hardest to communicate, that playing on their system involves playing with the game. It's a toy to be picked up, manipulated, and waved around. Does it look goofy? Absolutely, no question, but play isn't a dignified activity to begin with.

Nintendo had a few other Wii announcements as well, outlining the final controller specs that had been kept under wraps or glossed over. The nunchuck attachment with analog stick is also motion sensitive, although not to the extent of the primary remote. Also revealed was the final secret of the main remote, which is the speaker in its center. This is used for sound that happens closer to the player, like the click of a reloaded gun or the whirring of a fishing reel. It seems like a small thing, but could add a good bit of immersion when used properly.

In addition to all the Wii hoopla, Nintendo also sneaked in a few DS announcements. Yoshi's Island 2, Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis, Starfox DS, Mario Hoops 3-on-3, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon in both Blue and Red formats, and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. They didn't spend a lot of time on these games, preferring to give the lion's share of the attention to the big new console.

All told, Nintendo put on one hell of a show. Lots of variety focusing on their core series, with a smattering of all new gaming to spice it up, kept the show lively and fun to watch. Most importantly, despite the graphics that just don't stack up to PS3/360 standards, they showed games that looked like a blast to play. In the very near future we'll find out for sure if the experience is as good as it looks like it ought to be.

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