Tuesday, June 7, 2011

E3 2011 Big Three Thoughts

Well, let's take care of the easy one first; Microsoft:  Missed their conference.  I'll try to find time to watch an upload of it later.  For now, I have no thoughts on them.

Sony:  Much better than last year, and their showing last year wasn't bad at all.  They didn't have an obnoxious advertisement between every trailer or bit of gameplay footage, they didn't try to promote a horribly outdated system, there was no "Kevin Butler" and some of the software shown had some really neat ideas.  On the whole, it was pretty damn good.
The PlayStation Vita (final name for the NGP) had some very neat ideas showcased such as the race track builder in Modnation Racers.  We also got a look at Street Fighter x Tekken for the device which features Cole from inFAMOUS as a playable character.
Of course, there were some new PlayStation Move titles announced and showcased.  Among them, though I don't remember the name, looked pretty cool; it seemed very Zelda-like in its focus on exploring, solving puzzles and fighting monsters in a medieval world.
There were a lot of not-so-memorable announcements but nothing bad.  I think the only part of the conference that irked me a bit was when it touched on Little Big Planet and Sony basically tried to cake credit for the concept of open-shared user-created content.
But yeah, all in all it was a solid show.

Nintendo:  Oh boy.  I'm typing this right after catching Ninty's conference so I'm still feeling pretty hyped up, but let's go over a bit of a play-by-play first.
The conference opened, much like last year, with a look at The Legend of Zelda.  This time around, they had an orchestra in front of the stage to play the score for a video tribute to the franchise's 25th anniversary.  The video tribute also contained several bits of new footage of Ocarina of Time 3D as well as Skyward Sword.  This was followed by the obligatory speech of credit for the franchise and by disappointingly little new material surrounding Skyward Sword.  Ocarina of Time 3D will be out in 12 days and Skyward Sword is set to be released during the holiday season of this year.
Next was the showing of upcoming titles for the 3DS.  This is perhaps where a lot of buyer's remorse over the 3DS could have been put to rest.  We got a good look at Mario Kart 3D, Star Fox 64 3D, Kid Icarus Uprising as well as a couple titles that we've seen no material on in the past; Super Mario 3D and Luigi's Mansion 2, a game first announced during this conference.  The previously seen titles look just as good as they always did, for better or worse.  Super Mario 3D was claimed as the "first 3D Mario platformer built specifically for a handheld device" which I suppose is technically right; Mario 64DS was more of an enhanced remake than a port but it was still very much the N64 game.  Luigi's Mansion 2 looked...meh.
Some time was spent focusing on the download content for the 3DS, such as the recently-made-available Excite Bike 3D and Pokédex 3D.  All nice, nothing too special though.  Pokédex 3D has some really cool features though and is currently available on the 3DS's eShop for free.
The remainder of the show was sort of unusual, it was a jumble of the 3DS and 'Project Café', but a pretty well-presented jumble.  We now have the final name for Project Café, which came as a bit of a surprise to me.  It is called Wiiu ("we you").  I thought this was a bit surprising since Nintendo home consoles, post SNES, had unique names among each other.
Before moving on to the Wiiu's new tricks, we got an announcement that some of us have been waiting to hear since 1999.  Of course Wiiu will be receiving a new Super Smash Bros. title...and so will the Nintendo 3DS.  I doubt there's a single fan of the Smash games who hasn't expressed interest in a portable version at some point and this marks the first time that desire has become a reality.  It's very exciting and it's also about damn time.
And the Wiiu.  The inner hardware of the console, not spoken of during the conference, isn't much different than a PS3 so it is a damn powerful system to say the least; though again it will likely be left in the dust for processing power when Sony's and Microsoft's next systems arrive.  But what makes it interesting is, just like the Wii before it, the new controller.  The Wiiu's controller is basically a somewhat large slab with buttons and a screen.  The implementation of the screen isn't news to me but the potential uses that were showcased during the conference were mind-blowing.  Iwata made a bold claim that the console streams to the controller's screen wirelessly without latency issues; if this is true, it's exciting news for the competitive gaming scene.
The video showcasing the Wiiu's controller had so many different concepts showcased in such a short amount of time that I could go on forever about the potential, so I won't.  I will instead advise that you keep a close eye on Nintendo's website as I'm sure the video will be uploaded there soon.
But rather than dwell on the gameplay concepts, I should at least give a more descriptive look at the controller itself.  Much like the Wii Remote and (perhaps more like) the 3DS, it's capable of motion controls through the use of a gyroscope and accelerometer.  It has the typical features you would expect on a modern controller; two analog sticks, four face buttons and two shoulder buttons; all on a very tablet PC-like item.  And it gets even more tablet-like as, of course, the screen is also a touch screen.  I'm personally interested in finding out whether it's a pressure-sensitive touch screen; it seems perhaps unlikely since Nintendo's never used pressure-sensitive technology but a man can dream.
One remaining feature of the controller is the player-facing camera.  In one of the most memorable non-game examples of uses for the controller, we were shown that the Wiiu's tech could be used for a video call setup.

I should stop here so I can finally go to the bathroom and get something to eat.  Later all.

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