Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reviewing Nintendo's pre-E3 2008 press conference

A little over four hours ago, I sat in front of my computer staring at a live stream window, waiting for Nintendo's press conference to begin. I went in expecting little more than Animal Crossing Wii and Wii MotionPlus, and in that regard, I left happy. As for how the conference was on the whole? That's a slightly different story.

From the beginning, the conference wasn't looking too hot. You'd expect this sort of thing to start with a bang, but instead we sit here listening to Cammie Dunaway yapping about a snowboarding trip she went on. Yup. Then it segues into a presentation for Ubisoft's Shawn White Snowboarding. Wait, WHAT? The conference isn't even starting with a Nintendo title? No, apparently Nintendo thought it was a better idea to focus on Ubisoft's iffy-looking snowboarding game instead. I guess they forgot the phrase "Put your best foot forward".

And then Mr. Iwata takes the stage, speaking about how far the company has come since 2003. Oh boy, here come the sales numbers... On a high note, he mentions in passing that both the Mario and Zelda teams are hard at work on the next installment of their respective series. Good! Just what I like to hear. Also, the Wii seems to have moved 10 million units since launch in the US alone. Okay, that's cool. Can we get to the games yet?

Apparently, the time for actual news has arrived at this point. A short video interview with Animal Crossing series creator goes over the goals the franchise has set to achieve. Yadda yadda yadda... Yay, Animal Crossing: City Folk! A lot is said about its various features, which is always a good thing to say during a press conference. Alright, that was good.

And then comes the announcement of Wii Speak, the Wii's answer to online chatting. It's not a headset, but a microphone that sits atop the television and records all audio in the room. Cool little device in my opinion, but this article is about the conference itself, not what was discussed. Moving on.

Reggie finally makes the scene! Hooray! He makes a quick note to say that Animal Crossing Wii will be in our hands this Holiday season, which makes me smile from ear to ear. And then... More sales talk... I literally stopped paying attention around here, just keeping an ear out for some interesting stuff.

And now they start showing a series of trailers for upcoming Wii games. Star Wars Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels, Call of Duty: World at War and Rayman Raving Rabbids: TV Party. Except for World at War, I'm fairly unimpressed. Would it have hurt so hard to show some MadWorld or Disaster: Day of Crisis?

Oh boy, Cammie's back on stage. Blah blah blah, female gamers growing in numbers... Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades is announced, which is kind of a bad sign. If they're occupying their time with this, that probably means they don't have much more cool things to show. I get ready to become disappointed.

All of a sudden, a random game announcement spills out: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Okay, nobody can say they saw that one coming. Woah, wait... No footage? No screenshots? Not even a developer interview? What the heck? Why'd you even bother mentioning it? With the way that went, I'm not expecting Grand Theft Auto for quite some time yet.

Cooking Navi's seeing a North American release. I actually think that's a neat little program, but not exactly what I wanted to hear about today. Come on, bring on the awesome already!

So Reggie takes the stage again. That's awesome enough for me! Finally we get to see Wii Motion Plus in action thanks to the new and improved Wii Sports: Resort. A neat little presentation, as long as you ignore the parts where Cammie talks. Her and Reggie duking it out in virtual sword-fighting was cool I guess, but I preferred the first round when the Regginator won. What? No game until NEXT YEAR!? Why show it so early?!

Ah, finally the coolness returns. Miyamoto takes to the stage to demonstrate Wii Music, the long-lost entry in the "Wii" game series. Miyamoto plays some sax while his Mii-self twitches around on screen. Presentation could use a little work, but otherwise, neat stuff (Again, I'll talk more about what was presented in another post. This is about the conference itself).

Miyamoto, Dunaway, Fils-Aimes and a professional drummer all jam for a while, playing a terrible rendition of the Super Mario Bros. theme. Don't quit your day jobs, folks.

And, well, that was it. A good amount of games were revealed, and whether or not they revealed the right ones is up to you. Personally, I was excited about Animal Crossing: City Folk, Wii Sports: Resort and Wii Music (And I'm curious to hear more about Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars). The other games were all pretty "meh" to me, but hey, that's just my opinion.

So, this conference was okay in my eyes. A good variety of games were shown, although a couple extra of the more anticipated titles would have been nice. Heck, I'd have settled for a Mario Super Sluggers demonstration. The biggest problem, though, was probably the stage presence. Reggie seemed significantly less awesome than usual, and Cammie was just annoying to me. Next year I'd like to see some more Iwata, as he got very little stage time.

Overall, I'd say this conference gets a 6.9/10. For comparison, I'd say it was better than last year's, but nowhere near as awesome as the infamous 2006 show. So, it was a good conference, but not great. I got my Animal Crossing: City Folk, though, so I'm happy enough. And remember, folks, E3 has just begun. More announcements are bound to appear between now and Thursday. Super Smash Bros. Brawl wasn't revealed until the day after Nintendo's press conference in 2006, so don't lose hope. Also, on the contrary, don't expect too much. It's never a good idea to be too hyped up, as it usually ends in disappointment.

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1 comment:

Tork said...

I was reading a lot of posts at gamefaqs. Yes, I know gamefaqs is popular and therefore there's a lot of trolls, but the disappointed reactions were so over the top. Yeah, the presentation was weak and Wii Music was a bad idea for the closer, but yeesh, they did show off the MotionPlus which will probably make or break the system.

I don't get the sense of entitlement that many nerds have.