After the success of the Microsoft conference yesterday, you almost thought that Nintendo would be able to come up trumps with something and with an early announcement yesterday regarding the Motion-Plus add-on, there was high hopes for the conference.
It all kicked off with Cammie Dunaway, head of US sales for Nintendo entering the stage and claiming: “My name is not Reggie” before strangely talking about her wrist. Her rambling turned into an announcement about Shaun White Snowboarding and the main man himself was on hand to demonstrate how the Wii Fit balance-board will be used as a control method for the game.
Shaun White, from Ubisoft, has been developed from the ground-up for the Wii console and will receive a release later this year. Dunaway stepped up for a go on the game before taking an early tumble and admitting defeat. Iwata then stepped onto the stage and greeted “Good Morning” to the audience before turning our minds back to the E3 2003 conference which was also his first.
“I knew almost everyone attending held a pessimistic view of Nintendo’s future” he said. “That view was not enjoyable, but I knew people were just using what seems to be a common sense view of the videogame market. I must admit that even Nintendo employees could not have imagined 5 years later that the market could respond so quickly that we could be selling millions of…bathroom scales.” This is a man with a sense of humour.
What Iwata was trying to get at is that Nintendo is now managing to sell games that sell at a steady rate over a period of time and not first day sales in the millions then bombing the next week. He mooted titles such as Brain Training, Nintendogs and Mario for managing to continue steady sales over the past three years for the Nintendo DS.
Iwata let slip that the Mario and Zelda teams are both working on new titles, however he didn’t clarify if this means new games for these characters or brand new IPs. He stated that 700,000 Wii’s had being shifted during the last three months in North America and that a steady amount of casual and hardcore gamers alike have taken to the console with games such as Mario Kart and Wii Fit assisting this. He also thanked third party support in the form of Guitar Hero III which on Wii is the best selling of all the formats available.
“So let me conclude by saying that we at Nintendo always challenge ourselves to be pioneers in forming new paradigms. We seek fresh surprises and I hope you will enjoy the ones we have for you today” he finished.
A video soon flashed up with Katsuya Eguchi on-screen with a brand new Animal Crossing called City Folk. The main aim of the game is to create a world in which people co-exist together but not necessarily at the same time. The video showed a town which looks pretty similar to the Gamecube version of the game, while it showcased the trading and item buying that will take place in City Folk. An academy and an auction room will feature plus character customisation not seen before in Animal Crossing.
One of the biggest announcements of the conference came in the form of the Wii Speech microphone which will work with the new Animal Crossing to allow people to communicate with each other. After some more video footage of this in action, our main man Reggie entered the stage.
“[He] was not close to being satisfied” last year, he reminded the audience, however he feels slightly more satisfied this year following data showing that the Wii has sold 10 million units in North America alone. He reiterated what Iwata said by wanting to attract both casual and core gamers to the console. After some more statistical talk, he announced that he hopes that the Wii will become the best selling console this generation and it certainly isn’t far from achieving that status; if not already having done so.
With sales of the Wii rocketing, attention turned to third party companies and Reggie claimed that plenty of new titles would be available by the end of the year as companies focus more and more on the Wii. With such a big line-up on offer, the decision was made to showcase just three of these games; Star Wars: Clone Wars was announced, along with reels for Call of Duty and Raving Rabbids.
Focus turned back to Cammie and the Nintendo DS with a particularly big announcement regarding Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars for the DS. After some more DS advertising, Reggie greeted the stage once again with the new Motion-Plus add-on which will “render every slight shift of your wrist or arm into the gameplay”.
And then Wii Sports Resort popped up on screen, set on a beach and consisting of new games to make use of the new Motion-Plus add-on device. Best of all, the entire device will be packaged with a jacket and the game when it is released early next year. The Motion-Plus device was demoed on stage using Cammie to demonstrate how to play Dog Disc in the game and it certainly looked pretty impressive.
Reggie stepped up to demonstrate the Wave Race style game before both Cammie and Reggie (do you think they are dating?) stepped up to play a sword fighting game, but using sticks. Both promised more varied games when the title ships globally next year.
And so finally Reggie announces one more surprise which will make use of the normal Wii remote and will be available again later this year. A guy pretending to play the drums appears on stage, strumming a Wii remote and a Nunchuck to create the effect that he is playing a drum kit.
The final surprise is Wii Music which will feature 50 instruments when it launches. Miyamoto entered the stage to demonstrate the flute and also to explain more about Wii Music and how it will attract those who aren’t necessarily into music.
Alongside some friends, the gang played a rendition of Super Mario Brothers before taking a bow and heading off stage. It was left to Cammie and Reggie to close with Cammie stating that “Nintendo brings smiles to people’s faces”. Well to there bank managers anyway…