Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Ninendo E3 Press Conference

Grown-ups: Chris Kohler.

Wii: 4 (Zelda).

3DS: remaster, 3,6,2,4,6,2,5,

Wow. So Ninendo has officially abandoned the Wii, even though "Wii U" isn't coming out until 2012? That seems like quite a gap, unless Wii U launches in spring. I think that's definitely a tipoff as to launch date--showing the console this soon, when it wouldn't ship until holiday 2012, would be pointless.

So don't expect a Wii U holiday launch next year. It's going to be much sooner than that.

I know I listed numbers for all the 3DS games, and it's true, they're all sequels of sequels of sequels, but I will say this about Ninendo's franchises: they are still almost universally beloved. So while I've played I-don't-even-know-how-many Mario games, will I still buy the 3DS version the day it comes out? Of course.

Now, let's talk about Wii U.

First off, on the graphics side, the console can output 1080p and supports HDMI. Does that mean it's as powerful as the 360 and the PS3? I don't think anyone knows, and really, it probably doesn't matter. "HD" is going to mean equivalency in the minds of most consumers.

The big sell, though, based on Ninendo's presentation is the controller. a 6.2" touchscreen with a tablet-sized form factor and conventional controls (analog sticks, buttons) on the outside. The best way I can describe it is that they took all the controls of a 'regular' controller and smushed a 6" touchscreen in the middle.

What I really liked about the Wiimote was that it was a highly-targeted device. It was incredibly simple to use, and it felt very comfortable in your hand. It was revolutionary, but it was also simple.

The new remote, in comparison, is positively gigantic. It's not necessarily awkward, but there's no way it could possibly be as comfortable. And in a time when traditional gaming consoles and handhelds are under siege from cellphones and tablets, why would you make your controller seem MORE like a tablet? You have proprietary games, and a limited selection, but you also have the awkwardness of a tablet? Where's the win here?

Well, the win here--and I don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet--is if you are able to play games for mobile devices or tablets on the controller.

If you do that, then you have another whole market pumping in games for the system, and on the bigger screen, they'll be easier to play.

Is Nintendo doing that? It seems like a huge fail if they don't, and I certainly think it would be worth keeping that announcement in their pocket for a while.

Having said that, though, this kind of partnering really isn't their style. So it could just be another very funky Nintendo moment.

Without that, though, this seems like a huge mistake. They totally sold the public on motion control and the Wiimote. Now, instead of building on that legacy, they're introducing a behemoth controller that they now have to conceptually sell the public on from scratch?

Well, it's Nintendo. They have been both the smartest and the dumbest gaming company in history, depending on the era.

I'm hoping for the former this time.

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