Today marked the second showing of the Electronic Entertainment Expo and the second keynote presentation, this time given by Nintendo. While not quite as extravagant or visually wowing as Microsoft's presentation on Monday, Nintendo still managing to make a very strong showing despite the fact that a good portion of what they had to present was already well known.
For instance, the new Nintendo 3DS, which I now must gloat about having known about for months (I don't read all those industry patent tidbits for nothing) and have been eagerly waiting to see for some time now. The next evolution in Nintendo's DS line is nothing short of a show stopper, boasting a legion of improvements over the classic DS handheld, such as free always on DLC content, a larger (and widescreen scaled) top screen, a analog "slide pad" (no idea how that works, but eager to try either way), the standard touch screen, some vastly improved graphics processing power, and the big kicker: 3D gaming without glasses.
Yeah, I'll say it again, as will Nintendo many times in the upcoming months before release. The new 3DS offers handheld portable 3D gaming without any superfluous elements like glasses. Better yet, you can even adjust the level of depth with a slider on the side of the device to manipulate the depth of the 3D field, allowing you to even turn it off altogether.
What's more, the device also is backwards compatible with all of the DSi's features, including the camera function. What's different is that this camera is stereoscopic and takes three-dimensional pictures. Way to go Nintendo, you're introduce glasses free 3D portable gaming, and for kicks you've decided to embarrass camera companies everywhere by bundling 3D photography into the package. I can't wait to take one of these on my mountain biking excursions and start grabbing 3D landscape shots to show off later.
Nintendo was no slouch with games for the device either, although they only showed their own produced game for the system, opting to instead let other companies speak for themselves about the device and what games were coming for it, of which there was an impressive number. Nintendo's own contribution? Kid Icarus: Uprising, the much clamored for and finally coming (two decades later) sequel to the original NES game Kid Icarus. Not only did the game showcase some impressive visuals, but some impressive action elements as well, and Nintendo's rep was quick to point out that the 3D visuals made the action elements easier to play and navigate. Nintendo also gave us the title of another 3DS release, Nintendogs + Cats, but even better, hidden away during a showcased trailer for the 3DS was footage of a Mario title. Super Mario World 3D perhaps?
The 3DS will also allow users to watch 3D movies (again sans glasses) and has built in Wi-fi, motion sensing and a gyroscope for motion control. Nintendo's rep confirmed that the graphics capability was a powerful improvement over the DS, but did not say by how much. However, this would strengthen the leaked reports that the Nvidia Tegra chip (an HD output only 800Mhz chip) is the core component of the system (then again, maybe it isn't). Nintendo also claimed that the 3DS's Wi-fi connection would allow for constant supplies of free DLC content (which downloads automatically), but I remain skeptical of their ability to follow through given Nintendo promised the same for the Wii, look how much DLC we have there (answer: NONE).
Third party offerings for the 3DS ranged from Konami with a new Metal Gear Solid title to SquareEnix with a new Kingdom Hearts title. Remember when Kingdom Hearts was a Playstation exclusive? Those days are definitely gone.
Outside of the 3DS (which I should mention was playable on floor), Nintendo had a number of Wii titles to show off, including a few that got me fairly excited. Several just left me uninterested, and I'm still skeptical of Metroid: Other M but otherwise there were some neat new games. Nintendo announced a new Goldeneye 007 game, which looks to pretty much be a rerelease of the original with some slight enhancements. Sure, it might be great, but Goldeneye 007 always struck me as a game that couldn't pass the test of time.
Miyamoto was on hand (as always) to show off the new Legend of Zelda game, Skyward Sword (also playable on floor) which is taking full and complete advantage of the Wii Motionplus's 1:1 control to give you full control over your sword as well as putting a funny and nifty item selection interface at your control. Need bombs? Hold the B button and "reach into your back pocket" to pull out bombs! Clever and intuitive.
For the first time in years, Nintendo also announced a Kirby title for their home console, Kirby's Epic Yarn, that oozed classic Nintendo charm. Unlike most games with uber-realistic graphics or even cartoony graphics, Kirby's Epic Yarn is comprised of cloth worlds sewn together, while Kirby and items/enemies on screen are "drawn" by strands of yarn. Kirby makes use of a yarn strand like a whip to unravel, stitch and wrap the world and enemies.
However, the title that caught the most of my attention? Retro Studios, known for their outstanding work on the Metroid Prime series have returned to one of Nintendo's most famous and classic Super NES titles and are building a modern sequel (in the flavor of Sonic 4 or Megaman 10 save that it uses full modern graphics) that I must get my hands on:
Donkey Kong Country Returns. Watch that trailer. Retro Studios knows how to make a great game, and it's great to see that their talent is going towards some excellent material. A great reason to dig out my Wii again.
All in all, Nintendo's E3 showing wasn't too bad. I still felt stung by Nintendo's claims that they were "appealing" to their hardcore fans, which until they showed DKCR had me frowning. And I still cannot get excited about Metroid: Other M, which may have something to do with the fact that the ever questionable Team Ninja is producing the game and the subtle *ahem* "enhancements to Samus's physique throwing me off. Regardless, Nintendo has made a good showing this year, especially with the 3DS, and I predict another blockbuster holiday season coming. Whether or not you feel Microsoft or Nintendo was more impressive...well, that all depends on what you're looking for.
Tomorrow, Sony scrambles!