E3 2007: Nintendo Press Conference impressions

We joined the cluster around the Santa Monica civic auditorium this morning slightly groggy from the adventures of the previous evening, hoping for more to write home about than Miyamoto’s famous Wife-O-Meter speech of GDC fame. There’s something about the energy of a Nintendo conference, though: The energy of the atmosphere is infectious, no matter how much you may grumble in the aftermath.

Reggie Fils-Aime took the stage after an intro video intro basically restating what we already know: Nintendo is king right now.  While I do have many an opinion about what Nintendo could be doing better, it’s still exciting to see their victories, especially with portable consoles. Of course since portables are technically the modern version of NES era gaming, I tend to be a little biased.

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While the 80/20 percentage split between male and female game consumers was sadly highlighted as a fact of the industry that would “never change,” Nintendo itself showed a 33% percent female consumer. I know we will never be 50% of the industry, but it’s heartening to know that our percentage is growing, even if the DS is the portal system responsible.

In the second video Destructoid’s logo flew across the screen, along with one of Nick Brutal’s articles about the Wii. Did that just happen? We were all shaking so hard that when the Wii zapper was introduced a few moments later, we all had to focus to pay attention. Medal of Honor and Resident Evil 5 looked yummy with the new peripheral. I noticed a definite focus on more mature titles, rather than the usual party titles that have been the Wii standard.  Super Smash Brothers Brawl was announced for December 3rd, a game I have never really been attracted to before but totally wanted to play seeing it on screen today.

We got to see some live gameplay from Phantom Hourglass (featuring my favorite Link incarnation!). The control looks really tactile with the DS stylus. To me it felt like watching the Zelda of my childhood, which is a good button to have pushed. This deserves a DO WANT macro.  Metroid Prime also looked really good to me, which puzzles me since I am not an FPS fan.  Have I been suckered by Nintendo’s master plan? Have I mentioned in Mario Galaxy you get a bee costume?

WiiWare was announced for next year, along with a new channel for Wii called Check Me Out where players can rate their Miis and compete in contests. Frankly I couldn’t give two shits about that, but I’m sure it will appeal to some people.  Reggie whipped out the Wii wheel a few minutes later, planned to accompany next year’s MarioKart title in a single package.  Damn, two periperals? They really aren’t screwing around with new product this time. There’s really no room for people to bitch about lack of titles, or for that matter, variety.

When Wii Fit was announced it took me a second to close my gaping mouth and stop attracting flies. Miyamoto came out and chatted about it a bit, looking charming as usual in a blazer and acid-trip t-shirt. They are taking the healthy aspect of Wii’s motion controls and totally amplifying its possibilities, drawing in further the older demographic they have drawn in with titles like Wii Sports. I think younger people could dig this too though, especially yoga fans. Wii Fit could totally score even more unexpected players. Some gamers will think this is lame, but I thought it was clever as all hell.

I came out of this one feeling good. I have confidence in Nintendo and always have. They hold that essential spot in my heart that the NES carved, and I have always hoped to see them back on top, so it’s cool to see it happening.  I definitely felt this presentation took many cues from the past one at GDC, addressing everything from “serious” gaming to online titles. I haven’t purchased a Wii yet, as my rule is to wait until a console’s library and future look promising enough to me to do so. After today, I think I’m ready. Now all I have to do is find someplace they aren’t sold out.

 

 

 

 

 

Colette Bennett