Yeah, I said it...Nintendo won the battle of the press conferences at E3 2010. I'm not saying that because of any allegiance to any console. It's always been my opinion that no real gamer can have an allegiance to only one system. It's like a boxer saying he'll only fight one particular opponent, but I digress. As of this writing, E3 hasn't ended yet, but the three major console manufacturers: Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft have all had their press conferences. These press conferences usually set the tone for that company for the next year, and a poor showing at E3 can prove potentially disastrous. While Nintendo has had phenomenal sales numbers for their Wii console, software sales haven't followed suit, with many folks buying Wiis as failed attempts to find a new way to exercise. They didn't lose weight, and it went into the closet. Microsoft has struggled with system reliability, and gamers have slowly started to go over to Sony, but there have been issues with the apparent lack of top tier exclusive titles in the past. After Last years round of pandering, many speculated that Microsoft and Sony would steal the last remaining gimmick Nintendo's Wii had up it's sleeve, and that Nintendo would be singing a swan song much like Sega did in 2002. after the final press conference, I can honestly say, that Nintendo had a stronger showing of the things that gamers actually care about, games.
The first press conference was held by Microsoft, and they focused the vast majority of it around their new controllerless motion control device, called Kinect. They danced with it, drove a car with it, snuggled up to a tiger cub with it, and pretty much did all the stuff hardcore gamers pouted about Nintendo doing with the Wiimote a few years ago. It was cool to see Gears of War 3, but I'm not sure how I feel about trying to play Gears of War 3 by skulking around my living room and flailing around with nothing in my hands trying to shoot Locusts with a Longshot. Some of the stuff was cool, like playing Forza with Kinect,but the demos seem kinda forced. It almost reminded me of watching Mr. Miyamoto play Wii Music a few years ago. Microsoft knows better, and I don't expect this kind of a showing often, and I don't expect this happening again next year, but they underwhelmed the hell out of me this year.
Nintendo started off the day today with the announcement and playable demo of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I never have been able to figure out where the names of some of these Japanese games come from, but that's a topic for a different blog post. After the Zelda announcement, Nintendo showed a bunch of random multi game collections. I'm not a fan of these, as they seem to water down the game experience. Then they started pulling out the big news, starting with a sequel to Golden Sun for the DS. Then they announced Kirby's Epic Yarn, and my inner early 90's fat kid came alive. The unique art style coupled with some old school style is enough to excite most gamers who missed having the pink fluffball around. Nintendo continued to announce a new Donkey Kong Country, a Wii reinvention for Goldeneye, Epic Mickey, and Dragon Quest IX. The huge news , however, came in the form of the new handheld console by Nintendo. The 3DS features 3D without glasses, and reports from E3 are pretty positive. What sold it for me, though, was the announcement of an all new Kid Icarus game, which will debut with the system in 2011. Nintendo announced that major third party support is on tap for the 3DS; which means more top tier games on tap for the system.
Lastly, Sony's press conference was a bit calmer than in previous years, and was honestly boring and disappointing...at first. After a video package promoting upcoming games (something Sony did more than once), a demonstration of the Playstation Move peripheral took place using a number of different games. The technology looks promising, but much like Kinect, it seems gimmicky right now. Hopefully developers can learn to master the technology in a manner better than which they did on the Wii. Hopefully, all that bad shovelware doesn't plague the motion control on PS3 and 360 like it has the Wii. After Playstation Move, things seemed to pick up for Sony, with demos of Little Big Planet 2 and Dead Space 2 gracing showgoers, as well as an announcement of Final Fantasy XIV, which will be an MMO. The surprise of Sony's press conference was the announcement and demo of an all new Twisted Metal game. This is the type of news that gets Sony Fanboys acting a fool on messageboards, and I must admit, I was really surprised and excited to see a new game in the car combat series. (random note: I would have preferred seeing a remake of Loaded, the PS1 shooter from 1995) The Sony conference was good, but again, I was left expecting more.
In closing, I'll say this: Microsoft and Sony both had rare off years at E3, while Nintendo seemed to get back the swagger of the 1980s. I'm hoping all three companies will have strong showings at the Tokyo Game Show later this summer. In other news, don't be surprised if Sony pulls the rug out from under that free PSN you guys enjoy. Microsoft is releasing a new model 360 console. and to be honest, if it still has Red Ring issues, I'm not spending the extra loot for it. I'm pleased by Nintendo's press conference this year, because it focused on what made them popular, their original, character driven games. Many gamers will dispute who had the better showing at E3, but if you look at what counts, and that's quality games, Nintendo won. Now, the question is, can they keep this momentum going?