For the second in our three-part series, looking at the E3 2010 keynotes for each video game hardware company, we’re looking at Nintendo. Be sure to read our thoughts on the Microsoft E3 2010 keynote as well. These aren’t simple recaps of the events – it would be better if you watched the event yourself (and you can do so at the bottom of this page). But rather an analysis of the announcements being made.
To say Nintendo’s conference started off on the wrong foot is probably something of an understatement. It started swiftly enough – after just a few minutes of rah-rahing by Fils-Amie, we were presented with the new Zelda trailer. Everyone was expecting this game to be announced, so it wasn’t exactly shocking. What we were looking for though, is confirmation of the direction they would be taking the series. Would it be another Wind Walker style game? Or more like the more ‘adult-like’ Ocarina and Twilight Princess. Luckily, we found out immediately that it is more like the latter – actually almost a combination of the two styles. The graphics are very stylized, with a touch of the cell-shading look.
They tried to be funny, with Miyamoto’s translator stumbling over lines and making the game look really bad.. But it kind of backfired on them, because the reaction was awkward until Miyamoto came on stage. Oh! He was sucking on purpose!
Then Miyamoto started playing it…
Okay, here we have the most influential man in video game history. An incredible genius. But man does he suck at games! That, combined with some apparent technical difficulties lead to a pretty poor demonstration of the game. By all accounts by people who have had some hands-on time with it though, the game plays very well. The sword mechanic works perfectly, and all the weapons play like they’re supposed to.
So with Zelda out of the way, it was time to focus on… crap that nobody cares about for 90 minutes, right? After all, that’s pretty much what the Microsoft conference was – get the games out of the way, and focus on the Wii-copycat titles.
Well that’s how it seemed at first. Fils-Amie returned to the stage to do some familiar pom-pom waving. Nintendo outsells everyone, sells more games than anyone, nobody misses having actual games, peoples’ Wiis aren’t collecting dusts, etc, etc.
Then they went on to announce a couple of these dust-collectors – Wii Party, and Mario Sports (where you can play ice hockey on the beach, apparently), and a sequel to Just Dance (and they couldn’t have found a more irritating theme song, believe me).
So yeah, the first 25-30 minutes of their keynote was just a bit underwhelming for us.
But my, how things changed.
First they announced a new Golden Sun sequel, for the DS. I played the first one, but for whatever reason didn’t play it through to the end. I do remember it being a good RPG though, so I may have to take another look at them before this one comes out.
First they perfectly teased and announced Goldeneye 007, a game people have been clamoring for. I personally was never really into the original (I played it a lot of course, but as someone who cut their teeth on Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake, it still seemed so far behind). They went real old school here, with the original multiplayer types, original maps, and graphics that almost look like they belong on the N64 (almost). Oh, they replaced Pierce Brosnan with Daniel Craig.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Epic Mickey, so this is one of the games I was most looking forward to checking out at E3. And I have to say, this demo looked really good. It looks like it controls something like Mario Galaxy, but with a cool paint/thinner mechanic that has real consequences in the game. The story also sounds great, with a sort of disturbingly altered versions of all the Disney characters. I really like this idea, and am more hyped than ever about it.
Okay, so they’re on a roll with a few core games.. It’s time to talk about something boring like Wii Fit 3 right? Or what about the vitality sensor?
No, we got a new Kirby game – Kirby’s Epic Yarn. WTF! The style of this look intriguing as well; sort of a weird combination of Paper Mario and Little Big Planet. They are really dealing with the lack of graphical capability too – Zelda and Kirby look great, while Goldeneye looks like crap. Way to know your strengths and weaknesses!
Okay that has to be it, right? Now they’re going to tell us about Cooking Mommy 5 or something, right? Brain Age 6?
Nope, Metroid Other M gameplay. It looks like it will have a combination of side-scrolling and first-person elements, which scares me a bit. As long as they succeed with the feeling of isolation and exploration, it should be good (and that’s exactly what they said they’d be focusing on)
And they still weren’t done – Donkey Kong returns in the upcoming game Donkey Kong Returns! And yes, they are keeping with the original 2D side-scrolling gameplay. See, Nintendo doesn’t hate us afterall!
Then came the moment we’ve all been waiting for *cough* the announcement of the 3DS.
No surprises here – the top screen is wider, it has an analog thumb slider, and is backwards compatibly with the DS. Actually one thing I didn’t expect was the ability to adjust the 3D effect on the fly, and even turn it off completely. Oh, and it has a WiFi messenger that works in the background while you play games.
And before the end of the show, they finally stopped teasing us and announced what will probably be the Killer App for the 3DS: Kid Icarus: Uprising. The audience lost their minds, and I have to admit I even bought into the hype a bit. But really, have you ever played the original Kid Icarus? I guess we were just looking for any relatively new IP from Nintendo, because it is almost guaranteed to be great.
By all accounts from the E3 show floor, the 3D effect works really well, but these aren’t game demos. It still remains to be seen whether developers can make use of these fancy 3D effects to improve gameplay in any way. For now, I still have to write it off as a gimmick. Sure, you don’t need glasses. But we probably don’t need a new DS either.
Looking at the keynote as a whole, I have to say it was quite impressive, despite the early missteps. Certainly it was better than last year’s! What is most interesting to me is that Nintendo is taking the exact opposite approach as Microsoft this year. Microsoft spend most of their time talking about “casual” games that we’re still not sure anyone will buy, while Nintendo spent the entire show dropping bombshell announcements with old-school characters we know and love. Besides Wii Party and Mario Sports, we had eight or nine actual games being announced. Not whacky gimmicks our moms will buy and ignore after a week, but actual games. They didn’t even acknowledge the Vitality Sensor that was the joke of last year’s E3. Thanks Nintendo, for reminding us that you love us after all.
Tune in tomorrow for our review of Sony’s keynote!
Here’s the Nintendo conference in its entirety. It’s also available in higher quality at Nintendo’s E3 site.