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    E3; Round Up
    Wednesday, 23 July 2008
    This years E3 despite what you may have read wasn’t without merit. There were three conferences each with their own style and each had some highlights and moments that should have perhaps stayed at the rehearsal. We analysis each of the platform holders offerings, first up is numero uno Nintendo.

    Unfortunately Nintendo’s conference can for the second year running be described with just one word “casual” the current buzzword in gaming.

    Despite this though it is hard to see quite what gamers expected. E3 as an event has very much evolved; there are more members of the mainstream press than ever before, publications such as USA Today and mainstream entertainment magazines ran stories on the event and will likely cover many of the products when they launch. With this in mind Nintendo showed to this crowd the types of games that when reported in the mainstream press will get the casual audience interested.


    Nintendo did not disappoint in this respect, delivering plenty to keep the casual gamer pleased. Wii Sports Resort whilst offering somewhat strange sports still looks like it will provide the same Wow-Wii moments that Wii Sports originally offered. Packaged with Wii Sports Resort will come the Wii MotionPlus, a little block that plugs into the wiimote and gives complete 1:1 motion sensing capabilities, something wanted by hardcore gamers across the world. Which is why it seems strange that Nintendo didn’t reveal a game that will use this 1:1 motion whilst appealing to the more hardcore gamer, instead just teasing with this whilst offering no real killer app for the device left everyone wanting more. The 1:1 movement was perfect however and was really shown off during the Frisbee throwing game and sword fighting, but to a lesser extent on the jet ski game, whilst no other sports were revealed it is hoped that we will see more mainstream competitive sports.


    Whilst there can be little doubting that Wii MotionPlus is a fantastic innovation, Nintendo’s arrogance with regards to its release cannot be understated. There have been reports that the announcement actually took developers by surprise an
    d some have even allegedly gone as far to say they feel “betrayed”. For Nintendo not to have given out dev kits for this new hardware or at the very least inform them shows the company of old under Yamauchi where they believed they could just do what they wanted and everyone would jump into line and follow them blindly. Whether we will see enough new games developed with this in mind remains to be seen.

    Animal Crossing; City Folk was by far the biggest and most anticipated game that actually got announced. Whilst it’s easy to dismiss Animal Crossing as a purely casual game it does in fact have some very hardcore elements to it, at its heart if you distil it down to the lowest gaming denominator you will find a game not too dissimilar to the likes of Diablo, a game all based around loot. Whilst yes it does have a decidedly kiddy char
    ming look to appeal to the masses it still has that collectathon loot aspect that will keep the hardcore trying to earn enough money and do enough jobs to get the gifts they deserve. It comes with just enough features to keep the fans happy, as Nintendo proves how good there are at iterating on their franchises offering nothing ground breaking but enough new stuff to avoid criticism. One major new feature and one the game has been crying out for since the forever is voice chat. Coinciding with the release of the game will come the Wii Speak microphone, not a head set but instead a more sociable tv mounted mic that will allow for inter family communication on a large scale.


    The final game to be shown off was Wii Music. The stage went dark and the big build up of suspense was felt throughout the auditorium. Fanboys across the world were going “OMG Zelda” “OMG Kid Icarus” “OMG Punchout” and all were thinking WTF when a man was seen using the wiimote, nunchuk and balance board playing the drums and then Shigeru Miyamoto came out to play the saxophone doing little more than moving the wiimote up and down and pressing a few buttons. He revealed that this is not a hardcore music game like high level Guitar Hero and Rock Band play. It instead concentrates on being accessible. The music plays and you can alter pitch and such like by moving the wiimote and pressing buttons, but the basic tune still plays regardless of your performance, your music playing adds to it rather than makes it. The drum functionality does have some cool features offering a full drumming tutorial, how well these lessons could be transferred from Wii to drum kit remains to be seen. Whilst it may intrigue a lot of people this next game in the Wii franchise is not going to be the killer app Wii Sports and Wii Fit are and likely won’t sell any where near as many copies as Wii Play. It does however potentially offer the most socially orientated music game, it is easy to imagine families having a jam session on the drums and guitar and inviting Grandfather in to play one of the more relaxed instruments.


    There was very little to get excited about with regards to DS, GTA; Chinatown Wars was announced but nothing bar the logo was shown. Nintendo seems to have faith in third parties to continue to sell the console whilst their older titles such as Brain Training and New Super Mario Brothers keep on racking up the sales to new adopters.

    Where was Wiiware?! Nintendo’s service clearly has so much potential but we are yet to see much in the way of quality 1st Party support, there were heavy rumours suggesting a Wiiware Zelda title and it can only be assumed that these were either shown behind closed doors or will be revealed in future events. With no mention of it at all Nintendo clearly felt that E3 was not the place, whilst Microsoft and Sony showed off some impressive looking XBL and PSN games that have received much praise. This perhaps proves Nintendo have made a mistake in this respect.

    Nintendo did reveal during a post conference roundtable something for the hardcore. Pikmin 3 is indeed in development and that the Zelda and Mario teams are indeed at work on something. It is clear that Nintendo Loyalists need to readjust their expectations about what they get from E3 and that the titles for them will either not be announced at all or in the case of Wario Land; Shake It for example, shown off in advance. Relying on the conference for the big franchise reveals now seems a thing of the past.

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    posted by flameboy @ 15:31  
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