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…)
E3 2012: Sony takes care of the hardcore gamers with exclusives ‘Beyond: Two Souls’ & ‘The Last of Us’
Sony was all about the games at this year’s E3. The company’s press event started off with a PS3 exclusive title from Quantic Dream, the development team behind the visually impressive Heavy Rain and the even better looking, emotional Kara tech demo that came out recently. Lead developer David Cage revealed his new project Beyond: Two Souls with an extended trailer that introduces the game’s main character Jodie Holmes. Cage hand-picked actress Ellen Page (Juno) to star as Holmes in a game that begs the questions what happens when you die? Cage describes the game as “emotional, mature, and unique, but also epic, breath-taking, and spectacular” and he teases that “if you make the right decisions, maybe you will discover what lies beyond.” Cage ranks up there with Avatar inventor James Cameron as a master of the performance capture technology. Visually mind-blowing with an intriguing storyline, Beyond: Two Souls is a strong exclusive for PS3.
Next, the PlayStation maker brought out developer Super Bot Entertainment to play a round of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. It’s Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros., a game that pits classic PlayStation characters against each other in a battle to a button-mashing death. The game stars Kratos (God of War), Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal), Sly Cooper, Mael Radec (Killzone 2), Fat Princess, and PaRappa the Rapper; at the presser Nathan Drake (Uncharted) and Big Daddy (Bioshock) were added to the mix. More significant than the on-screen battle was that the demonstration consisted of some players using DualShock controllers on the PS3 and others participating with PS Vitas. The game will be released on both the PS3 and PS Vita and will come packed with Cross-Play and Cross-Save functionalities. The former meaning that you can fight players on your PS3 and wirelessly with PS Vita owners; the latter meaning you can start a battle on your PS Vita, save it, and resume it on your PS3 (and vice-versa).
Following the innovations of Nintendo’s Wii U and Microsoft’s SmartGlass, Sony is looking to expand its services to a second screen, in this case the in-house PS Vita. In addition to Cross-Play and Cross-Save with Battle Royale, Sony also teased “cross-controller” downloadable content with LittleBigPlanet 2. Later this year the new DLC will allow gamers to “play, create and share using the PS3 and Vita” together. Sony’s Jack Tretton described the experience like this. “Utilizing dual-screen gaming in single player, Vita becomes an enhanced controller for the PS3. It’ll give each player their own controls and perspectives but working towards the same objective.” He summed up, “Cross-platform features will enhance gameplay and create completely new experiences.” They didn’t focus on cross-platform functionality as nearly as much as Microsoft did, but here’s to hoping that Sony is working closely with developers and content providers to enable this exciting technology more broadly across games and other forms of entertainment.
The PlayStation Move card was played this year by way of a new augmented reality experience called Wonderbook. Sony has invented a physical book filled with pages with AR markers on them that when laid out in front of a PS Eye camera will bring to life stories much like a pop-up book would, only on a much more grander scale. PS owners need only purchase one Wonderbook and it has the potential to tell theoretically an unlimited number of stories. Sony says they’re working closely with developers and authors to come up with various interactive tales. The first one comes from Harry Potter scribe J.K. Rowling and it’s called “Book of Spells.” It features “exclusive, new and original writing from Rowling herself.” The PS Move controller becomes a wand and the gamer-reader embarks on an journey that will reveal the origins of the spells introduced in the Potter books, like the levitation spell “levioso.” The book releases this fall. Sony makes a point that Wonderbook “isn’t limited to just stories.” It can also serve educational purposes: “imagine sailing the seven seas to explore an atlas, walking with dinosaurs, traveling beyond the stars to discover astronomy.” Though demos of this type of usage weren’t shown, Sony said that Moonbot Studios is developing “Diggs Nightcrawler,” a story inspired by film noir, so at least a couple of books will be ready when the physical Wonderbook hits shelves later this year.
Back to the games for the hardcore gamers… Assassin’s Creed III is coming to PS3 and its pirate-themed demo excited the crowd as did the announcement for Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for the PS Vita. Link the two games together and another form of cross-functionality takes place. “Cross-goods” include bonus content like new personas for your assassin. Far Cry 3 enables four-player co-op; the prequel God of War: Ascension looks to be a bloody good time; and the next title from Naughty Dog The Last of Us faded out the press event with a bang. The visuals and mechanics of that game look stunning. With Beyond, God of War, and The Last of Us, Sony proved this year that they are fully committed to securing innovative and genre-defining games to the PS3. There’s a reason why PlayStation fans are so loyal; even though the PS3 is transforming into an entertainment hub akin to the Xbox, Sony never loses focus on what matters most: the games.
Other announcements made at Sony’s press conference include: (Click here for more…)
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!
Today Apple held a press conference to address the iPhone 4 antenna problem that’s been making waves in the news recently. Just to recap, the antenna problem occurs when an iPhone 4 user grips the lower left side of the phone. AT&T signal strengh drops from five bars to none at a rapid rate when the user touches and/or grips that specific part of the phone. An official statement from Apple advised users to hold their phones differently or slap on a case. A case would cover the vulnerable lower left side and result in better signal strength during day-to-day use. Today Jobs announced that Apple will begin offering their Bumper case for free for all iPhone 4 owners who purchase their device before September 30. In regards to extending the free case offer Apple says they will evaluate the situation again in late September. If you’ve already purchased a Bumper case, you can receive a full refund on it. Since Apple cannot manufacture enough Bumpers fast enough, they will offer a choice of free cases to choose from (these have not been specified yet). Starting late next week you can apply for a free case at Apple’s online store. And if you’re totally unsatisfied with your purchase you can get a full refund on the phone; Apple’s got a 30 day return policy and a restocking fee will not be applied.
What led Apple to making this decision to offer free cases? Read on to find out. (Click here for more…)
iPhone 4 sales, international ship date, proximity sensor update & white model get discussed [Update: White iPhone delayed until end of year]
At the press conference that formally addressed the iPhone 4 antenna problem Apple alloted some time to discuss other news surrounding the magical (if it’s in a case) phone. Apple has sold over three million iPhone 4s since it launched three weeks ago. He also says the 4 has received “the highest customer satisfaction of any iPhone or smartphone.” Next up, the iPhone 4 will ship in 17 more countries on July 30, including a bunch of European countries, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Hong Kong. Noticably missing from the list was South Korea who was on the late-July shipping list back at WWDC. Apple also addressed the problem some users are having with the proximity sensor; it involves intermittent malfunctions where the display stays on during a device-to-ear phone call, and this results in accidental hang-ups when the phone is pressed up to the face. The next iOS 4 software update promises to remedy it. Lastly, you can expect the white iPhone 4 to ship at the end of this month, a tad later than expected.
Update: Today (7/23) Apple announced in a brief press statement that the white iPhone 4 model will not ship at the end of this month. Due to manufacturing problems, it “will not be available until later this year.”
The Sony press conference took place at the Shrine Auditorium. And I was there! So please continue on, will you?
3D gaming is all the rage in Sony’s world, and so all distinguished guests of their press conference received 3D glasses. After humorously jabbing Microsoft and their poncho-required Cirque event from the other day, President & CEO of PlayStation Jack Tretton invited Kazuo Hirai to start things off with a gorgeous demo of Killzone 3 in 3D. Though 3D gaming might sound like a gimmick to many of you, listen here: 3D adds a great sense of depth to the game and likely become an integral part of video games. Parts of the gameplay featured the use of jetpacks; during these scenes I felt like I was at a Universal Studios theme park ride, fully immersed in an exciting, different world. In another scene we were taken to the skies via a helicopter and watched a gunman fire at enemies down below. At one point I asked myself if I was witnessing a video game demo or a scene from Avatar. Yeah, it was that good. The 2-part demonstration elicited many oos and ahhs from the crowd. I might have been the loudest. In short, 3D added a tremendous amount of excitement to Killzone; after a few seconds of adjusting to the depth perception any distractions that might have existed disappeared. Killzone 3 from Guerrilla Games drops February 2011 and will be compatible with Sony’s motion controller called Move. 20 games will be made available in 3D for the PS3 by the end of this year. Sony promises 20 additional titles will be created natively in 3D by March 2011, some of which include Crysis 2, Mortal Kombat, Shaun White Skatebording, Ghost Recon Future Soldier, EyePet, Tron: Evolution, MLB 2K11, NBA 2K11, Motorstorm Apocalypse, Gran Turismo 5, and a Sly Cooper collection. A short montage of 3D video and gameplay rounded out the first section of the conference; let’s just say fatalities look fantastic and baseball players throwing balls at you is a bit scary in three dimensions.
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.
Microsoft kicked off E3 2010 in unique fashion with their Project Natal for Xbox 360 Experience featuring a Cirque du Soleil crew. Next they kicked things into high gear with their media briefing at the Wiltern Theatre. Ready, set…
The press conference began with a number of game trailers and real-time demos. First up was Treyarch with Call of Duty: Black Ops. It releases November 9. It was announced that Microsoft & Activision signed a multi-year agreement pertaining to Call of Duty downloadable content. Starting with Black Ops in 2010, all Call of Duty add-ons and map packs will launch first on Xbox 360 through 2012.
Next was Kojima Productions with Metal Gear Solid: Rising. It’s being described as a “sword action game” that’s based on the Japanese terms “zan-datzu” which means “to cut” and “to take.” A brief trailer revealed that the game will feature protagonist Raiden slicing and dicing his way past enemies (and watermelon).
Then Xbox’s major blockbusters hit the stage. Epic’s Cliffy B. demonstrated Gears of War 3 which is due out April 5. A new mode called “Beast” will be detailed soon. Then Lionhead Studios’ Peter Molyneux showed off a trailer for Fable III; it releases October the 26th. And things rounded out with a new trailer for Halo: Reach, “the most ambitious game Bungie has ever created.” The trailer was a mix of gameplay footage and cinematic cut scenes. Reach drops September 14. Also thrown into the mix was a new game from Crytek codenamed Kingdoms; it looks like a game based on the move 300. (*Each game title is linked to their respective E3 trailers/gameplay footage.)
Kinect for Xbox 360, formally known as Project Natal, was detailed. ”Kinect detects both movement and sound in very sophisticated ways.” An image revealed the guts of the motion-sensing device; it contains two 3D depth sensors, an RGB camera, multi-array mic, and a motorized tilt. ”When you combine the power of Xbox 360, the services of Xbox Live, and the magic of Kinect, the result is not just a revolution for your games, but for all of your entertainment.” Enter the Kinect Hub.
To get your Xbox 360 to recognize you, simply stand in front of Kinect, wave your hand, and the software will sign you into Xbox Live and bring up your custom avatar. Wave your hand a second time and you’re brought to a “controller-free menu” designed for Kinect gestures. The Kinect Hub allows you to interact with your games, friends, Netflix, Zune, Facebook, last.fm, and also customize your avatar. Thanks to the built-in mic, voice control is also accessible. Their motto is “if you see it, just say it.” You must precede all commands with “Xbox.” So for example, if you say “Xbox, Zune” the Zune hub loads up and now you have access to Zune Video, and now, Zune Music. Over seven million songs are now available over Xbox Live with Zune Music integration. With controller-free entertainment that’s “natural and effortless” you can also play/pause movies with your voice and rewind/fast-forward them with your hands. To select a piece of content simply hover your hand over it for a couple seconds.