Sunday, May 24, 2009

E3 2009 Preview (Part 1)... What could Nintendo bring to the table this year?

So next week is E3, aka Disneyland for the video game industry aka where megaton announcements are amazing as well. Of course, there are so many rumors and speculation regarding what the big three will bring and which big game will make the biggest impression among the gaming press, the gamers themselves, and the industry in general. The press conferences are always the big deal of the show of which company will please their fans the most as well as opening the doors somewhat to the public again in hopes of recapturing what E3 used to be earlier this decade being a spectacle rather than just another event. This could be an interesting E3 since normally we would be at the end of another console generation and perhaps Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo will maybe startup the next generation. Then again, we are still in a recession and that will play a role whether or not these companies are willing to give up on this current generation in order to be ahead of the game. Despite that, this generation I think still has another good year or two left before technology passes by for gaming to be pushed to new levels and we have to spend money on new expensive consoles again.

I'll start with Nintendo for this post as Microsoft and Sony will be later in the week.

Nintendo has been continuing to display their dominance of the industry currently with the Wii, which continues to sell like crazy every month, and the DS, in which the latest iteration, the DSi, is already a success for the land of Mario. While some critics may believe that Nintendo may lose their dominance in the coming months, its not stopping them from releasing great games for both casual and hardcore audiences. This could be arguably the best year of the Wii so far with awesome game after awesome game from MadWorld, ExciteBots, Punch-Out!!, EA Sports Active, and Boom Blox Bash Party compared to previous years even though Nintendo has pretty much released something from their major franchises like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid (They recently announced the Metroid Prime Trilogy bundle with all three Prime games in one package for 50 bucks for an August release, pictured above). Even all the success Nintendo has, hardcore fans seem never pleased with their new casual direction and not caring about the hardcore, but lately there has a good balance between that with the games I listed above. This E3 for them will be interesting how they handle the divide between casual and hardcore gaming such as whether or not someone like Reggie or Iwata will continue to brag about their success as their console is still a mainstream attraction here in America or they will actually bring the heat announcing new games that both audiences will care about.

On the Wii side... This is what I expect to see from Nintendo and hope it will happen.
  • Miyamoto's new game - The last two years saw Miyamoto, aka the man who made Mario and Zelda, reveal Wii Fit and Wii Music respectively. While Wii Fit still sells like crazy (We'll see how EA Sports Active, the Wii Fit killer, will fare against that), Wii Music turned out to be a disappointment, and indeed it was as it wasn't that good of a game. Will Miyamoto reveal another new game in the casual Wii... franchise or maybe go back to the faithful announcing a new Zelda game... which seems to be the major rumor among the world of Nintendo heading towards E3.
  • MotionPlus demonstration - The Wii MotionPlus peripheral is coming out next month and I expect it to make a big showing as some titles will show off the advantage of having the N64 Expansion Pak-like boost for more accurate motion. Wii Sports Resort will obviously be shown and hopefully new mini-games will be shown that weren't revealed last year. Also, Red Steel 2 will make its debut with Motion Plus support even though the first game was very terrible. Hopefully, more unannounced games by either Nintendo or third parties will be shown to take advantage of MotionPlus (This thing is 20 bucks when it comes out next month or July, but will be bundled with Wii Sports Resort).
  • What's next for WiiWare and Virtual Console? - Nintendo's downloadable services will continue to be behind Sony and Microsoft's offerings, but Nintendo themselves need to step up with WiiWare. Almost every week is nothing but shovelware that no one does not want to buy as Nintendo needs big games to make WiiWare compete with Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network. What I mean by big games is Nintendo putting out more first-party games to the service and games that involve their endless catalog of franchises. How sick would it be to see New Super Mario Bros. 2 or a new 2D Metroid on something like WiiWare along with a DS version of these titles? Of course, I don't see Nintendo giving a damn about WiiWare, but if WiiWare wants to hang with the other two, big and reputable games better start to show up (Mega Man 9, the upcoming Contra Rebirth and Final Fantasy IV: After Years are good starts). As for Virtual Console, it seems nearly all of Nintendo's games from the past are out on Virtual Console, but there's still some left like Yoshi's Island. I am hopeful that more third parties will release more of their games on VC like Square-Enix, which they are with the Final Fantasy franchise, and others from Western third parties like EA. I'm also curious how Virtual Console Arcade will turn out if more games are coming out being arcade incarnations of those games.
  • Wii HD? - Will Nintendo re-release the Wii with actual 720p support? I don't see this happening, but if it does, hopefully the Wii that is out now gets a price drop while this new Wii stays at 250 bucks. This will of course divide the audience tenfold, but there are people out there that are willing to upgrade. Speaking of new Wiis, where are the new colors?
  • More Nintendo franchises getting the Wii treatment? - We already saw the big guns on the Wii already with Twlight Princess, Metroid Prime 3 Corruption, Super Mario Galaxy, Smash Bros. Brawl, and Mario Kart. What's left for them to put out? There's actually plenty and if Punch-Out!! can get the awesome remake/reimagining treatment, why not some other Nintendo games like Star Fox, Pilotwings, Kirby, F-Zero, and so on.
Other games that might make an appearance...
  • The Conduit (aka the FPS that will be the "Halo" for the Wii and also out next month)
  • Sin & Punishment 2
  • More New Play Control games (Metroid Prime Trilogy for example)
  • The usual third-party offerings by EA, Activision, Ubisoft, and more
  • More Square-Enix goodness like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronciles stuff (Kingdom Hearts on the Wii? - Still a perfect fit for that system, maybe a compilation of KH1 Final Mix, Re: Chain of Memories, and KH2 Final Mix).

As for the DS...
  • DSi only games finally shown? - There will be likely some games announced by Nintendo and maybe other companies that will be DSi only.
  • Zelda: Spirit Tracks keeping the Zelda name alive? - With the GDC reveal, the new Zelda DS game, Spirit Tracks got a mixed reception among fans, so hopefully new footage will be revealed along with the game being playable at the show floor.
  • Pokemon Heart Gold & Soul Silver confirmed for US release - With the continuing success of Diamond, Pearl, and now Platinum, Nintendo has no choice but confirm the Gold & Silver remakes for release here in the States. Hopefully it would be day and date with the Japanese versions, but I don't see it happening.
  • DSiWare suffering the same fate as WiiWare? - I could totally see this happening as Nintendo has been ignoring WiiWare for others to release shovelware and the same thing could be said for DSiWare as well. I hope it doesn't happen as there's more potential for this than WiiWare with the stylus and touch controls to good games to come out.
  • The Game Boy Virtual Console actually happening? - This seems inevitable at this point with the DSi out as a Game Boy Virtual Console should happen for old Game Boy games (and even GBA games since the DSi doesn't have the GBA slot) like Super Mario Land, Link's Awakening, Metroid II: The Return of Samus, and Pokemon Red & Blue.
Hopefully these games are there...
  • New Super Mario Bros. 2 - (Please?)
  • New 2D Metroid or Super Metroid DS (Pretty please?)
  • New Kirby DS
  • The Layton sequels getting US releases
  • New Elite Beat Agents game
  • New Ace Attorney game (There's already one, I forgot what it is called)
  • Final Fantasy V DS (Eventually I guess since III and IV are already out on DS)
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days getting an official US release date (out in Japan next week)
Okay, that's it for Nintendo for this preview of E3 2008. Expect the same thing like this for Microsoft and Sony later this week as the show quickly approaches.

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