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.
The second big E3 press conference was hosted by the PlayStation makers. Again, here’s all the info in easy to digest bullet-point form.
- President of Sony Computer Entertainment of America Jack Tretton started by addressing the elephant in the room. He apologized to everyone for the recent PlayStation Network outage.
- Sony announced that the PS3 is the leading Netflix streamer amongst consumers, account for almost 30 percent of Netflix’s streams. Coming this fall to PS3 owners is Best Buy’s CinemaNow video service, providing consumers with access to more than 12,000 TV episodes and movies for rental or purchase.
- Upcoming PS3 exclusives include: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (a demo was played and a 3D trailer was shown, due out November 1, 2011); Resistance 3 (Sony will ship a Resistance 3 Sharpshooter bundle dubbed the “Doomsday Edition” and it’ll come with the game, the gun accessory, the PlayStation Eye, and Move controllers, $150, due out September 6); the God of War Origins Collection will bring the PSP games Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta to the PS3 remastered in HD and 3D; the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus collection is also coming to the PS3 with support for 3D gaming.
- Speaking of 3D gaming, Sony plans to drive adoption for the new in-home format by selling a PlayStation-branded 3DTV. The 24-inch set features a mode where players can view individual, unique, full-screen images of gameplay when playing two-player games; the bundled set of 3D glasses do the trick. Other specs: LCD display, 1080p, 2D/3D support, high contrast (5000:1), wide viewing angle (176 degree) high response time (4ms GTG average), slim design, high quality sound, 2 HDMI ports. For $499.99 you get the 3DTV, Resistance 3, one pair of 3D glasses (PS-branded 3D glasses will sell separately for $69.99), and an HDMI cable. It’s a good idea, but question remains: is the lower barrier of entry low enough to get you to buy into 3D today?
- Upcoming games to utilize Move include: NBA 2K12 (Kobe Bryant popped by for the demo); Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest (made by the devs who brought us the Move launch title Sports Champions); inFamous 2 (out now); deeper Move functionality is coming to LittleBigPlanet 2 this September; Starhawk; Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (he’s back in 2012); Dust 514 (this PS3 exclusive releases spring 2012 and will extend to the NGP); BioShock Infinite (Irrational Games’ Ken Levine had to be convinced by Sony to incorporate Move support in this new title; though skeptical at first, Levine has found potential in it…he also announced that a new game set in the BioShock universe will release for the NGP some time in the future…and Infinite will come packed with the original BioShock); and Star Trek (will release next year alongside the J.J. Abrams sequel and will ship with a phaser-like accessory).
- New games from EA will provide PS3 exclusive content: SSX (Mt. Fuji map), Need for Speed: The Run (exclusive cars), and Battlefield 3 (Battlefield 1943 comes on the disc).
- Sony honcho Kaz Hirai also addressed the PSN outage and said, “We learned a lot during the recent outage of the PlayStation Network and one of the most important things we learned was the trust and loyalty of our customers.” On that higher note, he talked up the PlayStation Suite and PlayStation-certified Android devices.
- And then the announcement we’ve all been waiting for…the NGP is officially called PlayStation Vita. Where does the name come from? Sony explains: “Derived from the Latin word “Vita,” which means “Life,” this next generation portable entertainment system enables a revolutionary combination of rich gaming and social connectivity within a real world context.” It ships this holiday season and two models will be offered: WiFi only for $249.99 and WiFi+3G for $299.99. Sony has partnered with AT&T for the 3G data (the crowd moaned in laughter when this news was announced). The following games will be coming to PS Vita likely as launch titles: Uncharted: Golden Abyss, LittleBigPlanet, Ruin, Wipeout, and ModNation Racers. Capcom previewed Street Fight X Tekken; the game will feature InFamous‘ Cole MacGrath as a playable character. For a more in-depth look at the PS Vita, click here!
- Some DJ concluded the event with thumping beats.
Like Microsoft’s presser, I was left somewhat unsatisfied after watching Sony’s outing. They failed to excite me with a new franchise or by reinvigorating an old classic (though the return of Sly looks promising). PS Vita is an odd name for the PSP successor, but that won’t matter in the end if the content developed for it is good. And by the looks of it many developers are jumping on board to produce all kinds of fun, interactive experiences with the handheld’s OLED touch display, tilt functions, camera, and back touch pad. Here’s to hoping that Nintendo brings the goods tomorrow when they announce their new home console and new 3DS titles.
Today Microsoft kicked off E3 2011 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. So many game trailers, demos, and Xbox Live and Dashboard updates to talk about. Ready, set, bullet points!
- The press conference got started with a demo of Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. It is described as being “the biggest, most exciting and epic Call of Duty ever.” I can confidently back that statement up. MW3 downloadable content will be available first on Xbox 360. Due out November 8, 2011.
- Crystal Dynamics showed off the Tomb Raider reboot. Lara Croft is getting down and dirty in this game that shares style and gameplay with Uncharted. The developers explained that the game reveals “how an ambitious 21-year-old Lara Croft becomes a hardened survivor.” Due out Fall 2012.
- EA Sports president (and former Xbox honcho) Peter Moore announced that four sports games will support Kinect this year and they are Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Madden NFL, FIFA, and Mass Effect 3. ME3 utilizes Kinect with voice control. Kinect’s built-in mic will pick up your commands. RPG decisions and tactical team controls can be carried out by your voice. Due out March 6, 2012.
- Next up was Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. This title will also feature Kinect support, but this time it’s hand and arm gestures in addition to voice control. You can create various weapons by exploding them into their small parts using Minority Report-style gestures. This demo really wowed the crowed. Voice commands like “optimize for long range” will also piece together a weapon for you. The weapon customization process with Kinect looks very fluid, fast, and super cool. Ubisoft announced that all future titles in the Tom Clancy franchise will support Kinect in some way or other.
- The Dashboard is getting yet another facelift. Somehow Microsoft has made it cleaner and more streamlined. It was built from the ground up specifically with Kinect voice in mind. For example, saying “Xbox, music” will bring you directly to the Music section. The new UI contains the following sections: Home, Social, Live TV, Video, Games, Music, Apps, and Settings. That’s right–I said live TV. Microsoft is forging new partnerships to bring live television to Xbox LIVE in the US and around the world, adding to their current partnerships with Sky TV in the UK, Canal Plus in France, and FOXTEL in Australia. TV listings and a DVR manager will be accessible from the Dashboard. Also coming to Xbox is YouTube, UFC, and Bing search. UFC president Dana White came out to show off the interactive UFC content. You can call fights and compare results with your friends. “You say it, Xbox finds it” is the new Bing motto when it comes to searching for and discovering content on the console. “Xbox, Bing, X-Men” will prompt the console to bring up all games and videos (including movies and TV shows) related to your query.
- The following upcoming games are Xbox 360 exclusives: Ice-T joined Epic Games’ Cliff Bleszinski for a demo of Gears of War 3 (due out September 20, 2011); Crytek’s Ryse will take advantage of Kinect as you violently slash your way past enemies in Rome; To celebrate Halo’s 10 year anniversary a remastered version of the original game will release November 15, 2011 and it’s called Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (co-op over Xbox Live and classic multiplayer maps included); Turn 10 Studio’s Forza Motorsport 4 releases October 11, 2011 with Top Gear content and Kinect support for voice and headtracking; Head of Lionhead Studios Peter Molyneux hopped on stage to reveal the next Fable subtitled The Journey (this game too will come packed with heavy support for Kinect, due out in 2012); Minecraft is coming to support Kinect this winter; other exclusives include Kinect-based kids games Kinect Disneyland Adventures and Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster, and Kinect Star Wars.
- Microsoft’s bearded man with designer shades Kudo Tsunoda came out to show off the latest updates of his pet project the Kinect. He announced that Kinect Fun Labs is a permanent addition to the Xbox Live Dashboard and it will serve as a portal for the developer community to share their latest Kinect innovations. Three Labs games were shown off. Kinect Me will capture your face and clothing to create an avatar that looks just like you; in Kinect Sparkler you make poses for the camera, it captures them, and then you can use your fingers to draw sparkling lines of light in the image in three dimensions (you can manipulate the image to make it appear as if it contains two layers); Kinect Googly Eyes allows you to scan real-life tangible objects using Kinect and them manipulate their actions on-screen (at the conference a plush toy was scanned without issue). Kinect Fun Labs is accessible today to all Xbox Live members.
- More Kinect games coming to Xbox include: Kinect Sports Season 2 (baseball, skiing, golf, darts, tennis, football); Dance Central 2 (which now features a campaign mode, voice controls, and a revamped Break it Down mode, and simultaneous multiplayer dancing…plus all songs from the original an be imported into the sequel).
- And then came the “dawn of a new trilogy for Xbox 360″…it’s Halo 4! A brief teaser trailer was played. Master Chief returns Holiday 2012.
And that was the Microsoft press conference. Though most of the game trailer and demos were stimulating, the overall presentation was lacking in explosive, heart-stopping content. The Dashboard update is nice, the Xbox exclusives are impressive, and the push for Kinect is full speed ahead. It will certainly be interesting to see developers make new and exciting uses of the Kinect peripheral; Microsoft seems to be goading developers into incorporating it into their games somehow. Voice control seems overly gimmicking, but at least new approaches are being made to interactivity. And I gotta say, ending the event with a tease at the birth of a new Halo trilogy was a nice touch.
I attended the press conference this morning, so make sure you check out the pictures I snapped in the gallery below!