Friday, October 3, 2008

Press conference thoughts, opinions and prediction accuracy

So, Nintendo's press conference has come and gone. The DSi is revealed, we get a few new games, and everyone generally comes out happier than when they went in. Do I agree with these happy folks, or am I angry and disappointed? Hey, you know what to do: Read on and find out!

First off, the conference began with the announcement of the DSi. Taking several cues from the design of the DS Lite, the DSi adds larger screens, music playback, SD card support, a built-in web browser, and, most notably, two digital cameras. Looking at that, you really couldn't ask for more, right? Well, there's a catch: The music-playing features and digital camera functions are fairly low-end as far as we know. In a recent interview, Reggie Fils-Aime pretty much admitted that the music playback is nothing too special (Not to mention the fact it only supports AAC format, no MP3s). As for the cameras, there's a lot of conflicting information running about. Some say the cameras have 3 megapixel resolutions, while others say it's only 0.3 megapixel. I've seen more outlets referring to it as 0.3, so that's what I'll consider it to be for now. Anyways, as you can probably tell, 0.3 is pretty low-quality. Again, Nintendo admits this. Why bother put these in when they're so insufficient?

Well, these applications aren't meant to replace digital cameras or MP3 players. These features are here to give the DS a little more in the way of entertainment, and little more. Also, consider how the camera could come be implemented in actual gameplay. Here's a paragraph I wrote on Monday concerning cameras in the new DS:

"Imagine taking pictures of real-life objects and having them affect your game. You could put pictures you've taken into picture frames in Animal Crossing, edit them in a new Mario Paint, or even send them to a friend over the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Of course, this camera could also be used in a similar manner to the PS2's Eye Toy, tracking motion and interpreting your movements, then translating them into the game as input. Certainly a tantalizing concept."

A tantalizing concept indeed. See, these cameras don't have to be used in the traditional sense of merely taking pictures. They can also be used to evolve and enhance gameplay experiences. Take off the horse blinders and look into the abstract use for these new additions. Putting your own songs into the next Elite Beat Agents, or even using your own face to represent yourself in an online game. These new features aren't part of some multimedia device: They're part of a gaming console, and Nintendo definitely won't forget this.

I love the black DSi. How 'bout you?

Also added to the DSi is a brand new DSi Store, similar to its console brother's Wii Shop Channel. We'll be able to download brand new software onto our handhelds for no more than $8 each, with the possibilities for applications ranging from the mundane (Calculators, day planners) to the amazing (Complete games or a handheld Virtual Console). Even better, we can store all this and (Hopefully) use it directly from the SD card slot located in the side, making the DSi the most flexible Nintendo handheld yet.

Of course, no console is without its downsides. The DSi, in interest of preventing piracy, lowering costs and making a small handheld even smaller, has lost all Game Boy Advance support. Not only that, DS peripherals such as the Rumble Pak, slide controller, Guitar Hero grip and Tony Hawk motion sensor will now become entirely obsolete. Personally, I'm not too miffed. I hardly play GBA games any more, and if I do, I can just whip out my DS Lite. As for the peripherals, the only one I own is the Rumble Pak, and it gets so little use out of me it may as well not be there (Although it did make Metroid Prime Pinball AWESOME).

Another low point, as I stated earlier, is the complete lack of MP3 support in the music player. I understand there's a heavier licensing fee on MP3 than there is on AAC, but come on, Nintendo; Walk into any electronics store. What do you see: MP3 players, or AAC players? People don't listen to AACs all that much, unless they have an iPod, in which case music playback means nothing to them.

Finally, the DSi has a slightly lower battery life than the DS Lite, with only 3-4 hours at full screen-brightness, opposed to the DS Lite's 5-8. Then again, these battery readings depend on what the DSi is being used for: If you're taking pictures constantly, the flash is sure to drain your battery like mad. If playing a game, though, I'm sure the battery life is more comparable. Also, who's to say the DSi's maximum brightness isn't brighter than the DS Lite's? It's sure a possibility.

Other than those three downsides, the DSi is pretty damn-near perfect. When I first heard this new DS was to have all these features, I was excited, but skeptical. I'm happy to say that now, though, I'm incredibly pleased with what I see. If only us North Americans didn't have to wait so long!

All these features and more, right at your fingertips!

Of course, what good's a hardware revisions if we don't get any new games? Like a pro, Nintendo revealed a slew of new games yesterday for the DS, some of my favourites being Mario & Luigi 3, a new WarioWare, and a new Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. Three heavy hitters sure to be joining my game collection next year!

And how could Nintendo forget about the Wii? An even more astounding line-up was announced for the little white and blue box, with some favourites being Endless Ocean 2, Punch-Out!, Trace Memory/Another Code 2 and Sin & Punishment 2. I could hardly ask for more, especially considering the long-awaited Punch-Out! sequel is part of this barrage of excellence! Finally, Little Mac is back, baby!

Speaking of bringing back titles from the past, Nintendo will also be re-releasing several Gamecube titles on the Wii. So far, known titles are Pikmin, Chibi-Robo, Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat, Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Sadly, for no apparent reason, Jungle Beat doesn't seem to have bongo support as far as I can tell. What's the big idea, Nintendo? Are my bongos to simply fade into obscurity? Oh well. At least these re-releases may convince Nintendo to go back to the bongos and Chibi-Robo. Chibi-Robo Wii? Sign me up!

Also announced was the Wii Speak Channel, a brand-new application for the Wii free with every Wii Speak (Each unit comes with a code that can be entered for the channel download). Now we can use our Wii consoles like conference-calling phones, chatting with up to four rooms full of people across the world. After all, the Wii Speak is out in the open for all to speak into, making the virtual family reunion a reality! Wait, virtual family reunion... Hey, that's not a bad idea! No stealing it! It's MIIIINE.

You're probably tired of seeing all these new channels and WiiWare games announced, huh? After all, we still have the whole Wii Fridge problem to deal with. Well, have no fear, as Nintendo has come to save the day with... An upgrade that doesn't really solve anything. Starting next Spring (Why so far away?), we'll be able to download software directly from the Wii Shop Channel onto an SD card. That's great, right? Wrong. While we can download straight to the SD card, we still can't play straight from it. That's right: Instead of solving the problem, Nintendo gave us something that's no help at all. Gee, thanks.

If only the Wii Fridge were so spacious...

As for the American conference, it was all basically the same stuff in English, but with one difference: The announcement that Club Nintendo is coming to North America! The Nintendo rewards program made famous for its exclusive giveaways will finally launch here by the end of 2008, meaning we'll be able to use those darn registration codes in our games for something! Finally, we'll be able to get something for nothing like everyone else. Of course, if the European program is any indication, we shouldn't get too excited. We might just get little puzzles for insane amounts of registrations and discontinued Game Boy Advance games. Well, it's still better than nothing, I guess.

And now we come to the final section of the article: My prediction accuracy. Let's make a checklist, and cross out any that I got wrong:

-The conference will start with sales talk
-New DS will be shown
-Franchise revival possibilities: PilotWings, Punch-Out or Kid Icarus
-Wii storage solution (Not solved, just avoided)
-New Wii Channel (The Wii Speak Channel)
-A sequel to a current franchise (Endless Ocean 2, Trace Memory/Another Code 2)
-American conference will basically be the same, but in English (Club Nintendo in North America announcement)

5 out of 7! Hey, I didn't do bad at all! Also, when I said "Kid Icarus, Punch Out!, and Pilotwings" on Wednesday, I meant "Kid Icarus, Punch Out!, or Pilotwings". Just clearing that up.

So, all in all, I think it was a pretty good show! We got a new DS, a bunch of new games, and assurance that Nintendo does indeed still care about us hardcore fans. A success all around!

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SuperPhillip said...

If only your predictions were more specific and not so vague. :(

Most of those were givens-- especially with the loose wording.

PsychoDuck said...

Yeah, I'll grant that much... This conference was too easy what with all the leaks.

The Duck Has Spoken.

SuperPhillip said...

You did great all the same, bud. ;)

Awesome article as always!

Kyle said...

Yeah, I agree with a lot of your points. I wrote my own (World 1-1) article about the conference too...