The Nintendo press conference at E3 2010, conducted as always by the redoubtable Reggie Fils-Amie, firmly cemented the Big N's place in both the hardware and software markets. A new 3D DS showed their commitment to pushing the envelope in how people play games, but the somewhat lackluster software reveals (pretty much exclusively sequels and returns of older franchises) seemed kind of sad - like the company knows its best days are behind it. Here's our rundown of the event.
The first game shown was Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the first Zelda game developed especially for the Wii. Shigeru Miyamoto appeared on the screen talking up the design and control philosophy for the new title, and translator Bill Trinen came up on stage to play. However, Miyamoto took umbrage with Trinen's poor performance and burst through the wall like a tiny Japanese Hulk to seize the controls. Unfortunately, technical glitches ("wireless interference") made this into a total crap show, with Link jumping around and Shigeru looking like a fool. That said, the game could be decent. Excitement level: 4/10.
Next up, sports titles. The major third parties were shown, and then we got a peek at Mario Sports Mix, a compilation title featuring volleyball, hockey, dodgeball and baseball. The previous Mario sports titles have been competent to great, so maybe a bundle is a workable way to present them, but there was no real "wow" factor to the trailer. Excitement level: 3/10.
Reggie bragged about sales figures for a while before showing Wii Party. Oh boy - mini-games! Just what the Wii doesn't have enough of! All new party games, 70 different mini-games. Excitement level: 0/10. We also got a peek at Just Dance 2 from Ubisoft in there. The crowd went wild for the announcement of Golden Sun Dark Dawn for the DS, the return of Nintendo's popular portable RPG series.
The next announcement was Goldeneye 007. Rumors of a new Goldeneye game have been swirling for about a million years, so froth is high for this first-person shooter. However, what we saw wasn't terribly impressive - although the Wii's control system is a sweet fit for first-person shooters, trying to recapture the magic of the N64 original is going to be a very tough challenge. Excitement level: 6/10.
Warren Spector then came on stage to demo Epic Mickey. This is the first time we've seen hands-on gameplay for this very hyped title, and it looked interesting and solid. There's still some tweaking and polish that need to be done, but the production value is very high and the adventure looks like it has a truly... uh... epic feel. I'm sorry, I couldn't think of a better word. Excitement level: 7/10.
Kirby's Epic Yarn was then announced for the Wii. The pink inflatable hero returns in an all-new and very different adventure, occupying a world made of thread that can be unraveled and re-spun. Interesting gimmick, but we'll see how it translates into gameplay. The Kirby games have always been solid, though, so a fair amount of hope for this. Excitement level: 7/10.
Dragon Quest IX then got a rousing response from the audience, as did the new Metroid: Other M trailer (that game's hitting stores August 31st). Another blast from the past hit with Donkey Kong Country Returns, an all-new side-scrolling game strongly reminiscent of Rare's classics for the Super Nintendo. Excitement level: 7/10.
And now, the big deal: the Nintendo 3DS, the first 3D portable system since the poor Virtual Boy. This thing is actually completely amazing - two cameras, including a 3D one, the ability to play 3D movies, and an incredible lineup of titles including Street Fighter IV, Saints Row, Kingdom Hearts and... Metal Gear Solid! And, of course, the flagship title for the new system, Kid Icarus Uprising. I thought it was going to be tough for Nintendo to get me to buy a new DS. I thought wrong.