E3 2008: Nintendo Press Conference Highlights

Tuesday 15th July 2008, 11:04:00 PM, written by Carl Bender

The second of the console giants to present at E3, Nintendo used their press conference this morning to discuss a strengthening market position and to introduce several new games and products. 

Most notable among these introductions was the recently announced Wii MotionPlus accessory for the Wiimote controller, with its promise of making possible 1:1 motion mapping in future supported Wii titles. 

To showcase the technology, Nintendo revealed Wii Sports sequel Wii Sports Resort, which will ship with a new set of sports-themed minigames and a bundled MotionPlus accessory when it goes on sale in Spring of 2009.  Shown were three of the minigames to be contained on disc: Disc Dog (frisbee game), Power Cruise (jet ski), and Sword Play (fencing).  Within these titles, the sensitivity of the MotionPlus-enabled Wiimote was demonstrated via the manner in which subtle wrist movements were mapped accurately to the characters onscreen; wrist control determined the angle and trajectory of tossed frisbees, mimicked revving the throttle and handlebar control on the jet ski, and allowed for an in-depth swordplay dynamic within the duel. 

Should the technology gain widespread support across future titles, it could have the opportunity to bring with it much added gameplay depth across a number of genres.

Animal Crossing: City Folk was another major announcement for the Wii, bringing the popular franchise to the system for the first time, and in so doing, looking to expand the depth of meta-game community interaction.  One of these expanded community aspects will be the ability to write and email other players from directly within the game, using locations such as the post office as the clients for sending and receiving.  Additionally, the title is the first to support the newly announced WiiSpeak microphone accessory, a $29.99 general room mic that will allow individuals within proximity of the microphone to converse with users across the network.  Both the game and WiiSpeak will be available at retail later this year.

Finally, Wii Music rounded out the selection of first-party games highlighted for the Wii during the conference.  Taking a different spin on the popularity of music-centric gaming, Wii Music allows for a semi free-form environment in which individuals or groups can choose from one of over 50 instruments to play, with the minigame norm of other 'Wii' titles being reflected in challenges such as drumming and orchestral conduction.  Instruments are controlled virtually via the Wiimote and nunchuck extension by being held in a manner similarly to how they would be held in real life, yet are not required to be 'played' as such, with button presses not necessarily corresponding to hit or missed notes.

Beyond those highlights above, Nintendo spoke to the potential of expanding the utility of the Nintendo DS to include support for non-gaming functionality such as hotel/restaurant location and sports tickers.  Reflecting that potential in this regard, Nintendo will be bringing Cooking Guide: Can’t Decide What to Eat? to North America this November, a title that serves as a cookbook containing over 200 recipes with illustrated and video step-by-step instructions.  The title is one that has already been launched successfully in both Japan and Europe previous to the announcement.

Other game announcements made for the Wii included Star Wars: Clone Wars, Shaun White Snowboarding, Call of Duty: World at War, and Rayman Ravin Rabbids: TV Party.  For the DS, announcements included a system exclusive Grand Theft Auto entry, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, as well as a new Pokemon title, Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia.

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