This year Nintendo opted out of the E3 press conference circuit and instead released a pre-recorded Nintendo Direct video hosted by the company’s Global President Satoru Iwata. Ninty’s Wii successor the Wii U has been on the market since November and due to a lack of must-have titles and drooping third-party support the console hasn’t gained much traction in the gaming community. The house that made Mario is looking to turn things around this year with the introduction of many first-party games featuring some of the company’s most prized characters like Mario, Zelda, and Donkey Kong. And yes, there are even some third-party titles coming that should stir some excitement Ninty’s way. Iwata previewed many titles coming to Wii U, as well as some for the 3DS handheld, and you can check ‘em all out after the break. (Click here for more…)
Perhaps this is something Nintendo should have announced at their underwhelming E3 press conference. On August 19 the company will release a jumbo-sized version of the 3DS handheld. The Nintendo 3DS XL (or LL in Japan) features a 90 percent larger viewing area up top with a 3D screen that measures 4.88 inches diagonally. The bottom screen has grown too to 4.18 inches. Gamers will also notice an updated form factor and “battery life [that] outperforms that of the original Nintendo 3DS.” The 3DS XL will ship with a 4GB SD card and come in red and blue models. The MSRP is $199.99. August 19 also happens to be the same day the anticipated title New Super Mario Bros. 2 comes out; no coincidence there.
Says Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime: “No other hand-held entertainment experience compares to the fun of Nintendo 3DS. With the launch of Nintendo 3DS XL on Aug. 19, consumers will be able to enjoy the great lineup of current and upcoming games on an even grander scale. Plus, Nintendo 3DS XL gives owners even more real estate on their screens to enjoy entertainment applications like Nintendo Video and Netflix.”
In other Nintendo news, it has been announced that a new Super Smash Bros. title is in the works for both the Wii U and 3DS. Developers Sora and Namco Bandai Games are working on it.
It started to seem like every year Nintendo could impress with their innovative hardware and nostalgic titles starring Mario, Zelda and the like. At this year’s press conference, however, things fell flat and at times felt downright boring. The robotic president of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aime could not manage to lift spirits as he trudged through a small lineup of mostly typical games being produced for the Wii U. Besides a brief video detailing the Wii U Game Pad, Ninty spent no time discussing the new hardware; they didn’t even show off the Pro Controller that had many fanboys drooling when it was announced just days before the press event during the company’s pre-E3 online stream. We came into the Nintendo E3 presser knowing that it would likely be focused entirely on games; Reggie confirmed this at the very start of it. When the dust settled in the end, though, I wasn’t left very impressed.
If you think about it, this press conference was important for Nintendo. It gave them the opportunity to fully flesh out their next-gen console and sell it by showing off the innovative ways the Wii U Game Pad will transform the way people play games. The company made sure to lineup first party games like Pikmin 3, New Super Mario Bros. U, and Wii Fit U but they failed to really capture how they will take advantage of the Game Pad. They showed off quick pre-recorded game sessions, when instead they should have brought developers out to show gameplay in real time. That said, here’s what we learned. In Pikmin, the Game Pad enables up to four leaders to control standard and new “rock” Pikmin to preform a variety of tasks. The Game Pad shows you a map of the land and makes it easier to roam back and forth between your leaders. The new Mario title supports up to five players, four using Wiimotes and one on the Game Pad. Reggie says that the Game Pad gamer “can use the touchscreen to helpfully place blocks along the way.” And that’s it. Nothing more was revealed as to how the Game Pad will truly enhance the gaming experience. We do know, however, that you’ll be able to pause the game on the big screen and continue playing it on the Game Pad, which is a cool feature. Wii Fit U is tailored to once again take advantage of the Balance Board peripheral and this time also the Game Pad to aid users in new exercise routines and “off-TV play.” In the demo video, a women watches a nature channel while a man continues his workout session looking at a GamePad for support.
Third party developers also had a presence at the event, namely WB Games and Ubisoft. WB is bringing Batman Arkham City to the Wii U but with a subtitle Armored Edition. The Game Pad will provide gamers a look at the Batman’s inventory, among other things. The popular, fun title Scribblenauts is coming to Wii U as well under the name Scribblenauts Unlimited. Later Ubisoft showed off Just Dance 4 (up to four people can dance and the Game Pad holder acts as a “puppet master” selecting the dance moves) and ZombiU (the most intriguing of the bunch that turns the Game Pad into a sniper scope, an x-ray scanner, and code breaker). A game with the working title Sing showed off a karaoke-style game that fills the Game Pad with lyrics “so that you can face your friends instead of the TV screen” while you’re singing and dancing along to the music. Yeah. All the other titles that were revealed got packed into a coming soon reel that didn’t quite whet anyone’s appetite.
At one point a Nintendo rep tried to dive into what’s coming to the 3DS, but he barely had time to say anything at all. What we got was a quick look at two new Mario titles and one starring his taller brother Luigi: New Super Mario Bros. 2 (“this Mario is all about the gold”), Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. And then another coming soon reel displayed a bunch of 3DS titles so quickly you could barely muster up excitement for any of them.
Nintendo ended the event with the unveiling NintendoLand, a collection of mini-games that will ship alongside the Wii U that serves the same function as Wii Sports did with the Wii. Simply put, NintendoLand will help gamers understand the appeal of the second screen packed inside the Game Pad. NintendoLand is a theme park that includes twleve attractions. At the presser five of the twelve were announced and they are: Donkey Kong’s Crash Course, Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, and Takamaru’s Ninja Castle. As you can tell, each attraction takes on a classic Nintendo franchise and when your Mii enters one it will also change appearance to match the setting. The theme park is an open world environment where Miis around the world can gather and interact with one another.
In the end, Nintendo spent way too much time talking about how they didn’t have enough time to cover everything. Reggie and company kept pressing that viewers visit e3.nintendo.com for more information regarding the games; during all that time they could have packed in more game reveals and proper demonstrations for both the Wii U and 3DS. In the beginning Reggie introduced the term “asymmetric gameplay”; he said, “this means putting one player with the Game Pad in a solitary role, competing differently, maybe even winning different. Pitting just you against everyone else.” Sound interesting, right? Though the term was bounced around a couple times thereafter, it wasn’t fully realized because none of the games were fleshed out with real time demos. They tried to do it at the end with NintendoLand’s Luigi’s Ghost Mansion mini-game, but that demo got boring quick because we were watching a pre-recorded demo that was too wordy and scattered.
Reggie also through this out: “Our goal with the Wii U this year…is to provide new and engrossing game experiences for every type of player–from the hardest of the core to the newest of newbies.” Batman and ZombiU are welcome entries for the hardcore types, but Nintendo failed to address that demographic here. Titles like Wii U Fit and NintendoLand dominated the show, and if Ninty was really dedicated to draw in the Xbox and PlayStation crowd they would have allotted time to more first and third party games that scream “I’m hardcore!” This they did not do. Since much really wasn’t discussed at Ninty’s presser this year, I will echo Reggie and advise you to visit e3.nintendo.com to learn more about how the new titles will integrate the Wii U Game Pad into gameplay. The 3DS is prominently featured there, too. The Wii U is releasing this holiday season with no hard release date, no price, and a launch lineup that barely has legs. Nintendo’s got to hold another conference before release time if they want to ramp up anticipation for their next-gen offering because this one didn’t do it.
Other announcements made at Nintendo’s press conference include: (Click here for more…)
With the $299 3DS casting its glasses-less spell on gamers, Nintendo is graciously dropping the prices of the handheld’s still prospering predecessors. Effective May 20 the DSi and DSi XL will see their prices slashed to $99 (from $149) and $129 (from $169), respectively. Not into the whole 3D craze that’s going on these days? Nintendo has now made the decision to jump on the DS bandwagon a heck of a lot smoother.
In related news, also on May 20 Nintendo is unleashing a new color variant of the 3DS: Midnight Purple. This joins Cosmo Black, Aqua Blue, Flame Red, and Pearl Pink in the fight against uniformity. Brief PR after the break.
Nintendo reveals plans for Wii U, 3DS online communities & downloadable content with Nintendo Network
On Friday Nintendo president Satoru Iwata presented his company’s lackluster third quarter financial results but also managed to lift spirits by dropping some interesting hints about the Wii’s successor, the Wii U. Over the years Microsoft and Sony have been generating a community of online video game players with Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, respectively, while Nintendo really dropped the ball and failed to ever capitalize on online gaming. This is about to change with the introduction of “Nintendo Network,” a network platform which will cover both Wii U and 3DS gamers. The Nintendo Network will allow for “competitions and communication among users, as well as the sales of digital content.” The company is also toying with “the future possibility of digital distribution of packaged software.” Wii U users will be able to setup personal accounts under the Nintendo Network, so that multiple household members will be able to login and use the console under their own usernames. Over time the 3DS will be the first hardware to see the upgrades that the Nintendo Network promises to offer; it is likely that the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection brand will fade away but this has not been confirmed yet. Mario Kart 7 is the first 3DS title to take advantage of the Nintendo Network, generating “Community” matches between online players. The upcoming title Theatrythm Final Fantasy will be the first to sell downloadable add-on content.
Additionally, Iwata revealed that the Wii U’s tablet-like controller will pack NFC (Near Field Communication) functionality. “By installing this functionality, it will become possible to create cards and figurines that can electronically read and write data via noncontact NFC and to expand the new play format in the video game world,” says Iwata. “Adoption of this functionality will enable various other possibilities such as using it as a means of making micropayments.” Intriguing, to say the least.
Nintendo plans to showcase the final Wii U hardware at this year’s E3 in June. It is also expected that they will expand upon the aforementioned Nintendo Network service. The new home console will release “between the E3 show and the end of this calendar year.” Holiday 2012 wouldn’t be a surprise. And as for the launch of Nintendo Network? “This concept was built into the design of the Nintendo 3DS, and we already have the necessary infrastructure,” reveals Iwata. “We will prepare the same infrastructure for the Wii U. However, we have not decided the concrete timing of when we will start it.”
With each update, Nintendo’s 3DS handheld system gets better. The latest enhancement for the 3D-capable portable gaming machine is an update to the eShop. As of January 19, the virtual store is offering up free downloadable game demos, giving 3DS owners a way to test out games before buying them. A free demo version of Resident Evil Revelations is begging to be tried out today. Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games will be the next game given the demo treatment later this month on January 26. Ninty promises that the eShop “will be periodically updated with new game demos,” so be vigilant gamers. Look out for demos of Rayman Origins and Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D coming soon. PR sits after the break.
In a game-centric press release (in full after the break), Nintendo managed to squeeze in a single paragraph officially announcing a new accessory for the 3DS. The Circle Pad Pro, which launched on December 10 in Japan, serves as a cradle enclosure for the handheld device and adds a second analog stick to the right side and three shoulder buttons (L2, R1 and R2). Though it certainly makes your 3DS thicker and heftier, sources claim that the optional accessory adds a whopping 480 hours of battery life working off one AAA battery. In order for games to “see” the cradle and utilize the second analog stick and additional shoulder buttons developers will have to code their software appropriately. Nintendo says that upcoming releases Resident Evil Revelations and METAL GEAR SOLID 3D Snake Eater will in fact be compatible with the Circle Pad Pro. Want one? It will be sold exclusively through Gamestop starting February 7 and will sell for $19.99.
Today Nintendo boosted its 3DS handheld with some fresh functionality. Nintendo said this feature was coming and now it’s finally here: after downloading the free software update, 3DS owners can now have fun with 3D video recording. You can record up to 10 minutes of glasses-free 3D video in continuous or stop-motion style. Another cool new feature is system transfer; if you’ve got a 3DS you can transfer photos, audio recordings and games, including save data, to other 3DS systems. Street Pass Mii Plaza and the Nintendo eShop have been updated as well. Buying and downloading content in the shop has been made easier; you can use your credit card to purchase content by adding only the needed funds, you can choose to Download Now or Download Later, and now there’s the ability to cue up downloadable content and let it install to your system in Sleep Mode. The update also includes something special for Mario Kart 7 players; any time you play online against another Nintendo 3DS owner in MK7, you can now automatically add them to your Friend List without a friend code. And last there’s Nintendo Zone. If you find yourself standing in one of Ninty’s 29,000 3DS hotspot locations you’ll be offered free and automatic access to game previews, 3D videos, trivia challenges, retailer promotions, coupons and more. Dig into the 3DS’ system settings to perform the software update right now.
If you followed Nintendo’s simple instructions to become a Nintendo 3DS Ambassador like a good fanboy and fangirl, ten Virtual Console games are now waiting to be downloaded on your portable gaming machine, free of charge! The first batch of games come from the NES collection and they are Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, Metroid,Yoshi’s Egg, Mario Open Golf, Wrecking Crew, Balloon Fight, and Ice Climber. Access the eShop to download the games; for step-by-step instructions click here. And if this wasn’t enough to satisfy your appetite for classic gaming on the go, you can expect Ninty to offer another 10 retro games from the Game Boy Advance catalog later this year.
Since the Nintendo 3DS released in the US on March 27, more than 830,000 units have been sold nationwide. Apparently this number isn’t high enough for the house that built Mario, and so Ninty has plans to drop the 3D-capable handheld from a pricey $249.99 to a much more affordable $169.99 on August 12. To show their appreciation with those early adopters who paid more for the 3DS prior to the price cut, the company will inaugurate 3DS owners into the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador program. If you own a 3DS and connect to the Nintendo eShop at least once before 11:59PM ET on August 11, you’ll automatically be registered into the program. Once you’re in, you’ll soon receive the opportunity to scoop up 20 Virtual Consoles for free! Nintendo explains:
Starting Sept. 1, Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors will be able to download 10 NES Virtual Console games at no charge and before they are available in the Nintendo eShop to the general public. These games, including Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., Balloon Fight, Ice Climber and The Legend of Zelda, are slated to become paid downloadable games, but Ambassadors get them early for free. Once the paid versions of the games are posted to the Nintendo eShop later in the year, the updated versions will be available to Ambassadors for download at no cost.
By the end of 2011, Nintendo will provide Ambassadors with 10 Game Boy Advance Virtual Console games. These include games like Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ and Mario vs. Donkey Kong. These games will be available exclusively to Ambassadors, and Nintendo currently has no plans to make these 10 games available to the general public on the Nintendo 3DS in the future.
You see that? Sometimes it is worth being an early adopter! In related 3DS news, the new Nintendo Video Service app is now available to download in the eShop. The app automatically delivers short 3D videos from the worlds of music, comedy, animation and Hollywood. Ninty promises exclusive 3D animation and videos from OK Go, Jason DeRulo, Foster the People, CollegeHumor, and Blue Man Group to start. Expect new content to be delivered to your device on a regular basis. To start, the app offers an intro video, two short films (Sunday Jog and Dinosaur Office), and a Captain America movie trailer–all in 3D.
Update: Nintendo confirmed to IGN that the Virtual Console games will not be upgraded to 3D; bummer. However, when the games become available to the general public later in the year some will be upgraded to feature multiplayer simultaneous play at no cost to the consumer; super!
Netflix is officially available on Nintendo latest handheld device, the 3DS. As long as you are signed up with streaming plan (starting at $7.99/month) you can stream content from Netflix directly to the 3D-capable handheld. I know what you’re pondering: does any of the Netflix content take advantage of the 3D capability? At the moment, no. But the press release (pasted after the break) is promising. It hints, “Users will soon have access to an additional library of select movies that can be viewed in 3D without the need for special glasses.” Unfortunately I do not think this future update involves Netflix, however. Back in March Ninty mentioned that a short-form video service was on the way; it is described as a 3D video channel that will act as a gateway to 3D produced content like movie trailers, music videos, and comedy shorts. Perhaps that is what the PR is referring to. But for now, if you’ve got a 3DS go ahead and enjoy Netflix content in classic 2D. The app is now available to download for free in the Nintendo eShop.
It’s Nintendo’s turn to show off their latest and greatest in software and hardware. Hint hint. Onward and downward (and Skyward) we go…
- The presser kicked off in brilliant fashion with a large orchestra playing classic tunes from the Zelda franchise. To celebrate 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, Ninty is making a Zelda game for each of their systems. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993) is coming to the Nintendo 3DS today as a download in the now accessibleeShop. It’s the first Game Boy Color title to be added to the eShop’s Virtual Console. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, the remastered N64 classic, ships for the 3DS next weekend; hint movies and Master Quest and Boss Challenge modes included. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords comes to the DS as a free download in DSiWare in September. And lastly Skyward Sword has been confirmed to ship this holiday season for the Wii. A limited edition gold Wiimote with the Triforce emblem on it will ship alongside the game, MotionPlus tech built-in. Nintendo will hold The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony concerts this year in “each region of the world.” If you can’t attend one, the company is releasing two Zelda music CDs. Those who register Ocarina of Time 3D with Club Nintendo will get “The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D Official Soundtrack” and a CD with recordings from the 25th anniversary concert will ship when Skyward Sword does later this year.
- Nintendo is ready to immensely expand upon the 3DS games lineup by bringing classic Nintendo characters and franchises to the portable system and they are: Mario Kart (with kart hang gliders and underwater race tracks…out this holiday season); Star Fox 64 3D (you can make use of the handheld’s accelerometer and control Fox in the sky by physically turning and moving the system…in multiplayer mode the camera facing you will capture your face and tag it to your spaceship so friends can watch your reactions in real time…out in September); Super Mario (raccoon suit is back!, out “before year is over”); Kid Icarus: Uprising (features 3-on-3 multiplayer combat and augmented reality functionality using the AR Cards to pit (get it?) characters against one another…out later this year); Luigi’s Mansion 2 (it’s not a remaster of the Gamecube classic, it’s a totally new game that includes “several new mansions”); other 3DS titles coming soon: Ace Combat 3D, Tetris, Cave Story 3D; Resident Evil: Mercenaries and Revelations, Driver: Renegade, Pac-Man, Galaga Dimensions, Tekken 3D, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D.
- President of Nintendo of America ReggieFils-Aime then went on to talk up the recent 3DS software update that brought the eShop and Internet browser to the handheld. Ninty promises that more Game Boy and Game Boy Color classics are on the way. Free Excitebike 3D for everyone for a limited time. Pokedex 3D is available exclusively through the eShop and also comes free. For more on the update, click here!
- Quite arguably the biggest and most exciting news to come out of E3 thus far was Nintendo’s unveil of the Wii successor. It’s called Wii U and it releases next year. “It’s a system for everyone, but it’s tailor made for you.” Instead of focusing on the system itself, though, Nintendo decided to spill most of the details surrounding the brand new controller design. The controller packs a 6.2-inch display and allows gameplay to take place away from the TV. Nintendo set up this example: Say you’re playing a Wii U game in the living room on the big screen TV and someone walks in and watch to watch live TV. You can easily pause your game and transfer the full experience to your controller and continue right from where you left off on the 6.2-inch screen. The bond between you and the TV has been cut. Wii U games get wirelessly beamed to the controller; one’s precise proximity to the console to make this work was not specified. Besides this awesome function, the controller provides endless possibilities for developers. “In single-player games: The new controller can display information on its screen that does not appear on the TV; The information and viewpoint can also change in the new controller based on the orientation of its gyroscope. In multiplayer games: The player using the new controller can have a different experience than those looking at the TV; This will offer a wide variety of competitive and cooperative opportunities.” Oh, the controller can do even more. The front-facing camera can be used to initiate video calls, you can flick content (i.e. pictures and videos) from the controller to your TV screen, and you can run a web browser on it. Make sure you check out this introduction video to get a sense for how it’ll work.
- Next let’s talk hardware specifics. In addition to the 6.2-inch touchscreen display, the controller also has an inward-facing camera, an accelerometer and a gyroscope, a rumble feature, microphone and speakers, a stylus, and the following buttons: two analog Circle Pads, a D-Pad, A/B/X/Y buttons, L/R buttons and ZL/ZR buttons. The Wii U console can be paired to one Wii U controller and four additional Wii Remote or Wii Remote Plus controllers. The system is also backward compatible and can play all Wii games and use all Wii accessories. Though Nintendo’s keeping mum on console specifications, it’s confirmed that full HD 1080p support is there. It will support connections to the TV via HDMI, component, S-video and composite cables. Four USB 2.0 ports and an SD card slot complement the internal flash memory. IBM will provide processor that beats inside. Aesthetically, the console looks like the Wii but with rounder edges. It was show in white. Also, Nintendo has hinted that the Wii U will boast better online capabilities.
- Dig this games lineup: From in-house – Super Smash Bros. is coming to Wii U and 3DS! From third party people – Darksiders 2, Batman: Arkham City, Tekken, Assassin’s Creed, Lego City Stories (coming to 3DS too), Ghost Recon Online, DiRT, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Metro: Last Light, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razer’s Edge…and EA’s bringing Battlefield, Army of Two, and many others to Wii U. Hardcore games are making their way to a Nintendo-made console, at long last. The company’s goal is to provide deeper gameplay and wider appeal with the Wii U, and with the upgraded graphics, better online capabilities, and the unique controller scheme I have full confidence Nintendo will strike a balanced chord with hardcore and casual gamers alike.
Once again Nintendo has beat Microsoft and Sony at the E3 press conference wars. Nostalgia is a powerful weapon and Nintendo knows just how to use it to their advantage. The 3DS is about to get a major boost in popularity with Mario, Luigi, Star Fox, and Pit coming to the handheld this year. Zelda’s star is shines brighter than ever 25 years later. And with the introduction of the Wii U gamers get to anticipate an entirely new and innovative way to interact with their video games. Nintendo made clear that the Wii U’s controller was “not designed to be a portable game machine” even though it’s in the shape of one. Surely more details will surface in the coming months. For now, peep the gallery below for a closer look at the super intriguing controller and the Wii U console.
Attention Nintendo 3DS owners–your handheld’s first major system update arrives early next week, Monday June 6 to be exact. It brings the long-awaited Nintendo 3DS eShop and a handy Internet browser. The eShop contains a wide variety of downloadable content; the press release says it all:
The Nintendo eShop is a digital store for Nintendo 3DS owners that provides access to a wide variety of downloadable content, such as original 3D software, classic games that have been re-mastered in 3D called 3D Classics, Game Boy and Game Boy Color “Virtual Console” games in their original 2D glory, and more than 350 Nintendo DSiWare games. Visitors can also view video game trailers, screen shots and product information for games, including those available at retail locations.
To celebrate the introduction of the eShop on the 3DS Nintendo will offer the classic NES game Excitebike remastered in 3D as a free download until July 7. The company promises that new content will be added to the eShop every Thursday. Ninty hints that upcoming Virtual Console content includes Game Boy games Super Mario Land, Alleyway, and Radar Mission. Another free application that’ll be offered for eShoppers is Pokédex 3D; it lets you collect data for more than 150 Pokémon from the Pokémon Black and White Version games and view them in 3D with animated motion and sound. Data can be shared with friends using the wireless SpotPass feature.
Additionally the update also gives Nintendo DSi owners the ability to transfer “most” of their previously downloaded Nintendo DSiWare games to their new Nintendo 3DS systems. So that’s nice. Note that this system update does not include the short-form video service that will bring 3D movie trailers, comedy clips and music videos to the handheld; the company is saving it for “the near future.” Same goes for Netflix.
When the evening of June 6 rolls around, head over to System Settings from the Home Menu and select System Update to pump new life into your maturing 3DS.
Wow neat is this? A man known only by his Internet handle “cranberryzero” has integrated an augmented reality experience into his arm! If you’ve purchased Nintendo latest handheld the 3DS, you’d know that the system comes bundled with a pack of AR Cards. When you point the 3DS’ outer cameras at the cards an augmented reality game or a bunch of classic Nintendo characters come to life. Here, cranberryzero apparently walked into a tattoo parlor and came out with one of the AR Cards imprinted on his wrist. Now when he points his 3DS at his arm his personalized Mii grows out of it. A little bizarre, but still super cool right? Head over to the source link to watch a video of the magic in action.
Today Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime took the stage in New York City to discuss the Nintendo 3DS launch details we’ve been waiting for. The 3D-enabled DS handheld will release on March 27 in the US for $249.99. It will come in two color variants: Cosmo Black and Aqua Blue. Ninty promises that over 30 3DS games will be available during the launch window (that is, between the March 27 and the E3 Expo in early June). These include a mix of first and third party games. Though Nintendo did not specify a solid list of launch titles, the press release mentions the following games: Pilotwings Resort, which has players soaring acrobatically over iconic Wuhu Island; nintendogs + cats, a new version of the Nintendo DS classic with a feline enhancement; and Steel Diver, a side-scrolling submarine adventure that gives the illusion that the player is peering into an aquarium. The ones you really want to play like the 3D versions of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Star Fox 64, Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, Paper Mario, plus the return of fan favorite Kid Icarus in Kid Icarus: Uprising are simply “in the works” with no release dates attached just yet. Some third party games mentioned at the event include Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition (Capcom), Madden NFL Football (EA), and LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (LucasArts), but again no release dates were specified.
So that pretty much does it for launch details. However, in addition to announcing price, release date, and games support, Fils-Aime took time to talk about the 3DS’ hardware and expand upon the some of the pre-installed software. Like its DS predessors, the 3DS packs two screens; the bottom one’s touch-sensitive and the top one’s 3D-enabled (no pesky glasses required). A 3D Depth Slider can be used to manipulate the 3D effect during gameplay; the slider can turn off the 3D effect entirely and all 3DS games can be played in traditional 2D. In addition to the D-Pad, a new Circle Pad provides a full 360 degrees of direction and allows for a higher level of precision during gameplay. The 3DS also packs built-in motion and gyro sensors, so it can react to the motion and tilt of the system. You’ll also find three camera built into this thing; one on the inside (facing you during gameplay) and two on the outside. Combined the latter two can capture 3D pictures and you can view them on the top 3D display. Other hardware notables: the 3DS comes bundled with an adjustable stylus (for use on the bottom touch-sensitive display), a 2GB SD memory card, and a charging cradle.
The Home Menu is where all your apps live. Mii Maker is just what it sounds like and works similarly to how Miis are created on the Wii. The difference here is that the Mii Maker will ask you to take a photo of yourself and the software will try its best to convert your real-life features into a Mii avatar. If the conversion doesn’t sit well with you, manual customization options are available to fiddle with to make things right. You also have the ability to import your Mii avatar from your Wii console by way of SD card transfer. The augmented reality-based game Face Raiders lets you take pictures of your friends and turn them into shooting targets. It’s a simple game that highlights the built-in gyro sensor since it requires you to physically lean and turn to search around for the targets and aim high and low to hit them. AR Games works similarly, but they take advantage of the pack of AR cards that come bundled with the system. All you have to do is place one of the AR cards onto a flat surface, point the outward facing 3DS camera at it, and targets come to life. Animations are superimposed into the scene; so for example if you place a card on your kitchen table the backdrop for the targets will be the kitchen table (that’s augmented reality gaming in a nutshell). The Activity Log tracks both your gameplay activity, much like the Wii Calender does automatically. It notes which games you’ve played and how long you’ve played them, as well as your physical activity, counting every step you take while carrying your Nintendo 3DS. Even when the system’s in sleep mode, it acts as a pedometer and tracks the distances you travel; the more you walk the more Play Coins you will earn. These coins can then be used to purchase in-game bonus content, if the game’s developer decides to support it. The Nintendo eShop offers access to downloadable games. In addition to DSiWare games, Virtual Console games pulled from the Game Boy and Game Boy Color catalogs will be available to download. Game videos, screenshots, demos, and ratings will also be browsable here. Titles can be purchased with either a credit card or prepaid cards. Other software notables: StreetPass Mii Plaza (more on this below), Internet Browser, Camera app (capture and view 3D pictures), Video app (watch 3D content), Sound app (listen to music in MP3 or AAC format from the SD card, plus record and play with sounds using the 3DS’ built-in mic); oh, and the 3DS is backwards compatible with all Nintendo DS games.
Fils-Aime mentioned that the 3DS is Nintendo’s most connected video games console ever made, and he’s not lying. First let’s get this awesome update out of the way: friend codes are no longer specific to each game you buy, there is only one code and it’s attached to your 3DS. Once you swap friend codes with someone, they will remain on your friend list and you can always check their online status no matter what game you’ve got running. Now to some fun new features: StreetPass and SpotPass. StreetPass is capable of exchanging game information with other Nintendo 3DS systems as owners pass one another. An example of StreetPass functionality is the aptly titled StreetPass Mii Plaza. Much like its Wii counterpart, the 3DS’ Mii Plaza will congregate your Mii avatar with all the other 3DS owners you happen to pass by, say, on the street (and your avatar will jump onto the 3DS of the person you pass). In addition to sharing your avatar, other information can be exchanged over StreetPass including maps for games, high scores, and custom character data for different games. This might be obvious but it’s worth pointing out–if you don’t want any information to exchange on the fly (because all this can happen while the 3DS is in sleep mode tucked away in your pocket) you can disable the StreetPass function. Next up is SpotPass and this essentially connects to 3DS up to public or private at-home WiFi hotspots. Once connected, the system can receive new content and updates even when it’s in sleep mode or charging.
Peer in the gallery below to get a closer look at the 3DS hardware, and look after the break to watch the 3DS virtual tour and catch a sneak peek at the software launch lineup. Also, don’t forget to check out my hands-on preview of the 3DS from E3.
The Nintendo booth at E3 was filled with Wii, DS, and 3DS software. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was contained in its own section. Attendees were directed to wait in a specific area to gain some hands-on time with the game demo. A bunch of other first-party titles were playable in their own sections, too, and they include Metroid: Other M, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Mario Sports Mix, and Wii Party. Other notable titles that were playable at the booth: Donkey Kong Country Returns, Pokemon Wii, Sonic Colors, Epic Mickey, GoldenEye 007, NBA Jam, Just Dance 2, Dragon Quest IX (DS), and Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS).
Mario Sports Mix looks and feels just like another Mario sports/party game, so it’s a ton of fun. The game has beach volleyball, basketball, dodgeball, and ice hockey games and each supports up to four players. In volleyball it’s 2-on-2 and you flick the Wii-mote up to serve and hit the ball and the nunchuck to move your player around. Basketball works similarly to Mario Hoops 3-on-3 for DS. After you set up a 2-on-2 game, dribbling is not required; you can pass the ball and flick the Wii-mote up when you’re near the basket to jump and shoot. You can also collect items and use them to trip up opponents. For both these games there’s a special meter that fills up during the course of the sport. Once it’s filled, you can make your character use a special move that’s essentially a free point because they can’t miss it. (Think of it as a gamebreaker from NBA Street.) Though I was unable to play the other sports, I am confident in saying Mario Sports Mix is yet another fun party game starring our favorite plumber. It releases next year.
Wii Party. Simply put, this game plays just like Mario Party, with the main difference being that your Miis star in the gameplay instead of classic Nintendo characters. You’ve got the dice to roll by flicking the Wii-mote up, there’s the game spaces you move across to reach for stars, and obviously the plethora of mini-games to keep things interesting. I played a mini-game that involved balancing a growing stack of presents. Party games support up to four players. In addition to party games, Mario Party also includes pair games (co-op) and house party games (these use the Wii-mote in various ways). The game drops later this year.
Donkey Kong Country Returns brought me waaaaay back to the good ‘ol days, if you know what I mean. Though it’s a brand new side-scrolling platformer made exclusively for Wii and its motion controls, it feels as if you never dropped the SNES controller. Thanks to the classic soundtrack and familiar environments, DKC Returns plays like a true modern DK game. If you’re playing single player, Diddy rides on DK’s back; in multiplayer mode the characters are controlled separately. And get this–if player two is having a hard time getting through the level, Diddy can jump onto DK’s back and go on a ride to the end of the level (all the while shooting peanuts to fend off nearby enemies). Diddy also has a jetpack in this game, allowing him to briefly fly to reach hard to get items (such as collectible stars). Both DK and Diddy share a ground pound attack that can help fight enemies and reveal hidden items in the environment. Sure, the DK experience is different thanks to motion controls but it’s most definitely a new one that I’m really looking forward to playing. DK has finally returned. Coming this holiday.
GoldenEye 007 is being described as a reimagining of the original classic shooter from N64. This time around the game stars Daniel Craig takes over the starring duty from Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. The game features a new single player campaign that follows the GoldenEye story but from a different perspective, Craig’s instead of Brosnan’s. At the booth I played the multiplayer demo. Thanks to an aesthetic facelift, the graphics look polished and the environments are more inviting. The muliplayer modes you’ve come to know and love, such as deathmatch and team deathmatch, are back, as well as character favorites like Odd Job and weapons like the coveted Golden Gun. Multiplayer is expanded with online functionality; you can connect and play with friends over the Internet and there’s an achievement system that involves experience points and unlockable items. I happened to play with a Classic Controller, and I was told other methods of input (with the Wii-mote/nunchuck) are being considered. 007 releases this November.
Nintendo’s E3 press conference took place at the Nokia Live theatre. Are you a fan of classic Ninty titles like Zelda, Donkey Kong, and…Kid Icarus!? Well read on then.
2010 is ‘year of the remake’ for Nintendo. The show started off with a bang with the reveal of the next Zelda game called The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. In it, the Wii-mote and nunchuck control Link’s sword and shield, respectively. To take out the sword and use it to attack enemies, simply shake the Wii-mote. The controls are described as being 1:1 thanks to the Wii MotionPlus add-on. Link will have many weapons at his disposal, including a slingshot, bow-and-arrow, and a whip. Though the demonstration headed by Bill Trinen and Shigeru Miyamoto fell victim to some glitches by “some technical difficulties”, the new Zelda game looked quite good. It releases for Wii next year.
These next few games aren’t necessarily “classics” but they were announced so here you go: NBA Jam from EA and Mario Sports Mix. The Mario game includes sports like beach volleyball, basketball, dodgeball, and ice hockey. It’s due out sometime in 2011. Next up, Wii Party! It’s another Mii-based game that follows in the Wii Sports, Wii Play, and Wii Sports Resort genre. It’s basically a bunch of mini-games you can place your Miis into. Then there’s Dance Party 2 and it packs 40 new tracks and allows up to 8 players to get their groove on together. It comes out sometime this year. Then things started to bit crazy after Golden Sun: Dark Dawn for DS was announced, which releases this holiday season.
A revamped GoldenEye 007 is coming this holiday exclusively to Wii. It stars Daniel Craig this time and features eight characters…yes, including Oddjob. Next it’s Epic Mickey from Disney. The game is set in a 3D world but there are 2D animated cut scenes abound. Mickey wields a few tools, namely a paint brush and paint thinner, that expose or remove object from the game. You are given a choice to find your way around obstacles by either painting around them or using paint thinner and in effect destroying bits of the world. A side-scrolling Steamboat Willie level is included! Next another “epic” game was announced, and this one stars not a mouse but a pink puffball; it’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn! This sidescrolling platformer drops this fall. Dragon Quest IX for DS, which supports up to four player local multiplayer action, lands in stores July 11. A new trailer for Metroid: Other M reveals an August 31 release date. Retro Studios, the developer behind Other M, is making another exciting game for Wii and it’s called Donkey Kong Country Returns! This new side-scrolling platformer, complete with the soundtrack you know and love, plays very much like the original titles from the SNES and it comes out this holiday season.
Hot off the heels of these latest rumors, Nintendo may or may not have slipped up in releasing a short but sweet press release about a forthcoming successor to the Nintendo DS handheld temporarily dubbed the Nintendo 3DS. That’s right, as in 3D. According to the press release found on Nintendo’s Japan website, the 3DS will allow games to be “enjoyed with 3D effects without the need for any special glasses.” Whether or not the 3D tech will work like this DSi Japanese game is yet to be known. It’s also important to note that it specifies the 3DS as the successor to the DS series (which includes the DS, DSi, DSi XL). The 3DS will be backwards-compatible with both DS and DSi games. Engadget scooped up further information; it looks like the 3DS will pump out 3D images using a parallax barrier LCD screen made by Sharp and Hitachi. The 3DS will pack dual screens, each sizing at 4 inches diagonally, 3D control sticks (these just might end up being analog nubs), vibration feedback, faster WiFi transfers, and improved battery life. We won’t have to wait much longer to hear the final word; Nintendo is expected to officially unveil the Nintendo DS successor this June at E3 2010.