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Keep On Moving

electronicentertainmentexpoMotion control is the name of the game at this year’s E3, and day two marked presentations from two names who, if not bigger than Microsoft, have been in the game just a little bit longer: gaming stalwart Nintendo and marketing machine, Sony.

Both conferences lacked the star-power of Microsoft: when you’ve got half of the Beatles and a big Hollywood director, where can you go wrong? (Actually scrap that, Ubisoft had James Cameron, and look how that ended up.) But that said, both had their fair share of surprises, both expected and otherwise.PSPmockup

Unfortunately for Sony, much of the weight behind their surprises had already been leaked with this weekend’s reveal of the PSP Go, the only new console to be revealed at this year’s E3. Significantly smaller than the original PSP, the GO promises downloadable content, media playback and 16GB of storage.

In terms of gaming, Sony showed a lot of footage: over a two-hour conference, it could really be considered the downside of their presentation that they showed a lot of footage as part of montages for the PS2, PS3 and PSP, naming few games. Some games were exclusive to the brand, others not.

The main PS3 exclusives to be shown were “MAG,” the 256-player on-line tactical game, and “Uncharted 2: Drake’s Fortune,” and the conference wrapped up with some footage of “God Of War III.” Expanding on the Play*Create*Share brand spear-headed by “LittleBigPlanet,” “ModNation Racers” brings the same customisation of world and player, expanding it to a racing game where you can create and modify the vehicles and build and upload your own tracks.

The most interesting game to be shown, however, was a slightly re-worked and magnificently rendered video that’s been doing the rounds for the last few weeks, the new PS3-exclusive game from the team behind “Shadow of the Colossus.” The code-name of “Project Trico” now has an official name in “The Last Guardian” and looks absolutely amazing.

Other footage shown included “Assassin’s Creed 2,” “Gran Turismo V” and PSP-based additions to the “Gran Turismo” and “Metal Gear Solid” franchises. The cross-platform “Final Fantast XIII” segued into a much more interesting video: the PS3-exclusive “Final Fantasy XIV: Online” coming in 2010 (before we’ve even had a chance to play “FFXIII.”)

The most disappointing aspect of Sony’s presentation, however, was their showcasing of new motion-based controls, an altogether rushed affair that was a stark contrast to the rest of the presentation. Using beta technology and with two executives who looked more comfortable working down Gamestop than attending an E3 conference, the control wands showcased much of the same technology as used by Nintendo’s Wii Motion Plus but without the fun, and really failed to come up to the standards set by Microsoft’s Project Natal presentation.

nintendo_logo_grey1Nintendo’s conference, on the other hand, was a much more professional affair, with people in suits telling us all about how much fun we’re going to have using their consoles, but not showing too much.

Nonetheless, the big guns were brought out immediately, with the reveal of “New Super Mario Bros. Wii,” which will be released before the end of the year. The gameplay follows the look of the NES games (and the recent DS “New Super Mario Bros” game) but features up to four players on screen simultaneously, playing either co-operatively or competitively.

Since the Nintendo DS and Wii have launched, the company has focussed on expanding their audience into non-gamers, and their presentation today furthered that sentiment, with James Patterson’s “Womens Murder Club: Games Of Passion” providing the interactive novel experience on the DS while “Wii Fit Plus” furthered continues to target the keep-fit market. Third party games were discussed, but little was shown and even DS inclusions for both the Mario (“Bowser’s Inside Story”) and Zelda franchises (“Spirit Tracks”) were glossed over.RVL_WVS_C1_E3

In terms of hardware, much aplomb was made of the strength of the DS-Lite’s sales, even after the release of the DSi, although the DSi continues to offer more features, including instant uploads of pictures to Facebook (Sony remains the only console not to announce Facebook connectivity this year.) The only new addition to Nintendo’s stock was the most unusual reveal of E3 so far: the Wii Vitality Sensor, a fingerclip addition which will measure heart and pulse rate, likely to be used in tandem with WiiFit and the Balance Board control.

Reception to the Wii Vitality Sensor was a bit unusual: a number of Tweets from the floor included the words “huh” and “WTF” at that point, but Nintendo managed to pull it back with the anouncement of two major franchises returning to the Wii in 2010. First, “Super Mario Galaxy 2.”

Towards the end of the presentation, the discussion turned to some other third party games, and after showing footage from “The Conduit,” “Dead Space: Extraction,” and “Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles” the audience were asked if Nintendo could bring any mature first party games to the Wii. The answer was yes, and a trailer was shown with the Team Ninja logo (the same developers behind the “Ninja Gaiden” series) for “Metroid: Other M,” looking on the whole like a “Ninja Gaiden/Mass Effect” crossover. That isn’t a bad thing, by the way.

  1. Hedgie
    June 3, 2009 at 11:07 AM

    I am basically going to post here what I posted on Kotaku.

    ” Meh. Yet another Mario game, yet another Metroid game, yet another bullshit ‘fitness’ add on, yet another batch of waste of time casual games for Grandma to chow down on.

    I’m honestly surprised there wasn’t another Zelda game, Pikmin game or Pokémon game announced today – it would have completed the trifecta of “we’re Nintendo so we don’t have to try anymore”, “everyone wants to suck Miyamoto’s nuts” and “we’ve just retread the same five games since 1987″ that I called last week.

    At some point, Nintendo, do you think you might bring out something that would make my Wii worth the money I paid for it? I ask because the last game worth bothering with, in my opinion, was Twilight Princess and it’s getting a bit lonely over there under my Dreamcast and the rest of the obsolete consoles. ”

    I watch that Metroid trailer and all I can think about is how cool it could look and feel on a *real* console. I’m tired of babys-first-console.

    I’m glad Sony and Microsoft brought it this year. I was really impressed by both their pressers and have a lot to look forward to this next year or so but Nintendo I couldn’t care less about anymore.

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