Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Second Place: Nintendo and the Wii

Coming in second: NINTENDO CO., LTD.

I’ve got to say I was really impressed with Nintendo’s presentation. My only qualm was with their spokesperson, VP of Sales and Marketing Reggie Fils-Aime. It seemed like he was glaring at me, shouting and barking the glory of the Wii at my face. After all, this was the guy who first appeared at the 2004 E3 declaring, “My name is Reggie, I'm about kickin' ass, I'm about takin' names, and we're about makin' games.” Interesting. But anyway, Nintendo’s presentation was not boring at all. It was refreshing and much appreciated, especially after Sony’s bland offering. Nintendo may have very well taken the cake by sweeping E3. That doesn’t necessarily make them number one, though.

Nintendo got right to the point with a movie demonstrating the capabilities of the Wii. It started out like a Wii demo video we’ve seen before, but quickly got into new territory: Super Mario Galaxy, Zelda: Twilight Princess, Excite Truck, etc. All were much-anticipated and I was pleased with how they unveiled the games. And unlike Sony who showcased their hallmark games with a traditional video game trailer, Nintendo showed us how we would be playing these games with the Wii’s intuitive and unique 3D motion-sensing controller.

This was the first time I saw the “Wiimote,” as it has been dubbed by some, used in conjunction with the analog stick attachment called the “nunchuck.” Both aspects of the controller-system have built-in rumble features as well as motion sensing technology. One of the new features of the Wiimote unveiled was the presence of a small speaker built right into the controller. This is so that, for example, when Link shoots an arrow from his bow, you would hear the twang of the bow and the sound of the arrow travel from the controller and straight to the TV. Amazing and innovative, well-done Nintendo.

If the Wiimote style of controlling your games doesn’t suit you, Nintendo also announced their new classic controller, which looks oddly like an SNES controller. It’s very minimalist in design with nice, rounded edges. Nintendo didn’t need to come out with this kind of controller, but it was a welcome change to see a company that knows its player base and the needs of that player base. I wouldn’t have expected anybody else to do this except for Nintendo.

We then saw demos of Red Steel, which looks like an amazing first person shooter experience. I’ve heard reports that the controller layout is too sensitive to the user’s movement, and the sword-fighting is not as amazing as it looks and sounds to be. Ubisoft can probably fix that in half a year, so the game should be a welcome treat come launch time.

Next up: The Twilight Princess demo was amazing. Albeit, I was a little overwhelmed with the complicated ways the game uses the Wii remote controller; so many things to do and keep track of, especially with the “nunchuck” in one hand and the remote in the other. The presence of the little fairy tracking the movements of the controller was also quite distracting. Regardless, I have not played the game first-hand, so I don’t really know how all of these details weave themselves into a unique playing experience.

The DS lineup looks very, very strong. It would be safe to bet that the PSP lineup pales in comparison with some of the individual titles the DS will be offering later this year. Ranging from Yoshi’s Island 2, a new Super Mario Brothers, Final Fantasy III all done up in new graphics (and released in America), MegaMan DS, Zelda DS, Starfox DS, to other import games. The introduction of the DS Lite in the US should boost sales for Nintendo as well. (I want one!)

The Wii is probably going to be much cheaper than the PS3, hovering around the price of around 250 dollars. The graphics are not as great as the Xbox 360’s or the PS3’s, but I think the actual fun factor you would get when playing with the Wii makes up for that lack in technical cutting edge. And what am I saying; the motion sensors in the Wii alone make it one of the most cutting edge technologies out there.

And what about the tennis demo at the end with Miyamoto and Iwata, Miyamoto and Spielberg, or Miyamoto and pretty much any high-level journalist/celebrity? Looks like it’s going to be a workout!

As for the top spot...you can already probably guess who it's going to be.


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