Reactions from Nintendo E3 ‘09 Press Conference

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While it was hard to go after the buzz that Microsoft generated, Nintendo held its own, albeit barely. By sticking to their award-winning family-oriented games that have held the top spot in the Nintendo franchise, they definitely played it safe.

Even though Microsoft used celebrities, Nintendo stuck with their own–namely Mario, Zelda and the surprise ending with Samus in the new Metroid. They introduced a few new things, such as the Wii Vitality Sensor and Wii Motion Plus. Check out our review of all things Nintendo after the jump.

Games

Karen: Wii Sports Resort looks like the games that we should have had when the Wii first came out, but the archery game seems interesting enough to use, as well as the basketball point game. I’m sure a lot of bros will be really into it. And dads. But they did generate a lot of excitement by sticking to their guns–the staples of the Nintendo franchise. A lot of people were surprised with the new Metroid game, including Andrew.

I was happy to see the inclusion of Super Mario Galaxy 2, because it meant I could use my Wii for a little longer and dust it off. The Kingdom Hearts announcement also excited a fair amount of people thanks to SquareEnix’s spread to all three platforms. There could have been better announcements in terms of games, but they tried to access every type of gamer out there–from those who would be excited for “The Conduit” to those who wanted to use the “Style Savvy” game for the Nintendo DS.

Frankly, I thought they could have done a little better than to introduce James Patterson for the DS. You already have great winners in the DS franchise such as Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton. Try for more originality.

Andrew: If there’s one thing this press conference made clear, it’s that Nintendo’s first party development team aren’t letting up. Names like Mario, Donkey Kong and Samus are going to ring true to the ears of young and old gamers alike for what might be as long as gaming exists. That’s not always a good thing, however.

When I saw Super Mario Galaxy 2, all I ask was why go back to the well? Mario could do a lot more. Why not go somewhere else? In that same vein, what they did with the new Metroid in allowing Team Ninja to work on it was an interesting change to a very beloved franchise.

The DS and DSi both were the strongest points of the press conference, offering up new titles that looked like they would be able to appeal to a mass audience. Golden Sun, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 were all great looking titles that made me interested. It was also nice to see some DSi exclusive titles, although the fact that they’ve fractured their consumer base with two different handhelds is something Nintendo shouldn’t have done so soon, when the DS Lite is still selling like crazy.

I know that’s just nit-picky but really, Nintendo’s been known to just go for the safe bet and not really try too much risk with their main characters. They’d rather let the third-party developers take most of the risk.

However, the risks Nintendo have taken on themselves have really helped put the company where they are now. It’d be ridiculous to say that the Wii itself wasn’t a risk and games like Wii Fit with their $90 price tag are enough of a risk. Right now, Nintendo seemingly can’t do wrong and as a company, that’s great. As a gamer, however, you have to look at what Nintendo’s offering you and really ask yourself if what they’re selling is what you want.

Features and new announcements

Karen: Nintendo failed to bring new things to the table, in terms of the “wow” factor and ingenuity. What they did instead was to bring improvements to the original Wii (i.e., fixing the problems that the Wii had to begin with… I still don’t understand how I kept winning Darts in Wario Ware). The Wii Vitality Sensor (or as N’Gai Croal called it the Mood Ring 2.0) was nothing new, and in fact, reminded me of a hospital.

Aside from that, the Wii Motion Plus was kind of a letdown. I was kind of upset that they just added new games to the Sports package, in a “nifty new package” called “Wii Sports Resort.” That was disappointing and did not add to the new technology of Wii, although it is still fairly ahead in terms of revolutionary gaming. I will give Nintendo that, but overall, the technology aspect fell flat on me.

Andrew: All I really can say about the new features that were shown today was that there weren’t many new things out there. They talked about Wii Motion Plus like it was a new thing. Let’s just pretend that they didn’t announce it last year and it’s still not out.

The Wii Vitality Sensor is such a batty idea. I don’t know how it could be used in a gameplay sense, other than the fitness titles. That’s where that kind of thing can shine and frankly, that’s pretty cool. Iwata-san said that it could be used to help people relax. I’d like to see this thing in action before I really judge it, but it’s just one of those things you tilt your head toward and ask what the meeting for that device was like.

Overall show

Karen: Nintendo made it a point to try and access every kind of gamer out there and make sure to get even the maybe gamers. But the thing is that in the process of spreading themselves around to everyone, they’re not hitting hard enough. Their inclusion of the Wii Vitality Sensor was nothing spectacular, but I’m curious to see what they will do with it, maybe even use it as a way to “smell fear” in their gamers (FATAL FRAME ANYONE?!).

Also, it was fairly disappointing to see the Wii Motion Plus because it just felt like it improved on what should have already been included in the system. Overall, Nintendo played it a little too safely, trying to hit every market they could. It wasn’t as spectacular as the introduction of the Wii.

But here’s to the future of the Wii–it won’t be anything like the Xbox 360 or the PS3, but it’ll stay around for a while. I mean, Mario can’t die. Or can he?! There is too much to Nintendo to truly let it die… Super Smash Bros. Brawl is still a good time, as is Mario Kart. Let’s hope that their forays into their treasured franchises prove to be as fruitful as those in the past.

Strengths: Keeping true to the franchises, expanding new stories on characters

Weaknesses: Staying entirely too safe, lack of new technology, overall flat performance

Overall grade: C

Andrew: This conference had a lot of opportunities for Nintendo to really wow the people watching it by showing us a ton of new ideas and games that we hadn’t heard of yet. Instead of finishing with a huge bang, we got the equivalent of a cap gun, thanks to three consecutive non-announcements of The Conduit, Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles and Dead Space: Extraction. All three of those are already known and all of them are shooters. Even then, The Conduit is the only traditional shooter out of the three, since the other two work more like light-gun shooters; something the Wii is already over-saturated with.

Sure the last two announcements of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and the new Metroid game will appeal to a mass audience. It just seems like Nintendo is self-aware to a fault. They know they don’t have to do too well at E3 anymore because they’ve tapped the elusive non-gamer. As long as they keep making the safe bets on games your average mom will buy their kid or will buy for themselves, Nintendo and just keep cranking out the dollar bills. As I said before: good for them, bad for old-school Nintendo fans.

Strengths: Really strong characters still strong after so long, quirky new peripherals

Weaknesses: They played it safe, no Starfox or other IPs, any news on Virtual Console?

Overall grade: C

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~ by Andrew Martins on June 2, 2009.

2 Responses to “Reactions from Nintendo E3 ‘09 Press Conference”

  1. I think the reason why Wii Motion Plus wasn’t in the Wii to begin with was obvious technology costs back in 2006, not to mention that back then Nintendo didn’t even know if the Wii would succeed, so adding better technology at the time seemed like an even bigger gamble.

    Also to quote Chad from Destructoid regarding Mario Galaxy 2:

    “It seems there is a semi-negative vibe around the show floor concerning Super Mario Galaxy 2. People all agree it looks amazing, but a lot of people are worried (almost even annoyed) that it looks a lot like the first game. Well, yeah, that is true, but look how many new gameplay mechanics are already shown in what amounted to a two minute trailer? And on that same note, it was only a two minute trailer! Obviously the game will have a lot more to offer in addition to the already amazing addition of things like Yoshi and a massive drill! Majora’s Mask looked a lot like Ocarina of Time at the beginning, but we saw how different that game turned out to be, right? And what about God of War II? Or Uncharted 2? The list goes on and on. Oh, also, the first Super Mario Galaxy was incredible! A sequel is a good thing!”

  2. Ok, this is like 5 separate comments, but whatever:

    Hey! Don’t hate on the lightgun shooters! With traditional arcades disappearing at an alarming rate, they were all but extinct until the Wii embraced them.

    I don’t understand why people are upset with Super Mario Galaxy 2, especially considering the fact that too much of an emphasis on innovation brings forth games like Luigi’s Mansion and Super Mario Sunshine (not exactly the jewels in the Mario franchise’s crown.)

    It’ll be really sad if Microsoft or Sony’s new attempts to cash in on the motion control craze net them the world’s first realistically-controlled Star Wars lightsaber combat game. Whoever is first to grasp that Holy Grail will have a license to print money. After all, isn’t that what a lot of people bought the Wii in anticipation of?

    and you’re right about Nintendo not having to worry about impressing at E3 anymore. They’ve been able to successfully tap into that wellspring of casual/non-gamers, and it’ll take years to drain it dry.

    Were there any new WiiWare games announced? I’m psyched for Eduardo the Samurai Toaster, Final Fantasy IV 2 and Explodemon!, but those are the only ones I’ve heard anything about.

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