LOS ANGELES--At the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Nintendo had a grab bag of goodies for its devout following. The cash-flush Wii-maker used its briefing to unveil the Wii Vitality Sensor, a finger-worn pulse reader that will let players control some as-yet-unseen games with their biorhythms. The Team Ninja-developed Metroid: Other M was also unveiled at the event, as were Wii Fit Plus, Mario & Luigi RPG: Bowser's Inside Story, and Golden Sun DS. New Super Mario Bros. Wii also debuted at the briefing and went on to sell more than 14 million units.
Bright and early on the morning of Tuesday, June 15, Nintendo will once again gather the gaming press and assorted industry types to show off its latest slate of wares. Front and center will be the 3DS, a new iteration in its 129-million-unit-selling handheld line, which will offer 3D graphics without the need for glasses. Besides the requisite onstage braggadocio from Nintendo of America president and chief operating officer Reggie Fils-Aime, the conference will probably offer a closer look at the new Wii Legend of Zelda game, due out later this year.
Come back Tuesday morning for a live blog of Nintendo's press briefing, or watch a live video stream of it on GameSpot's E3 2010 event page.
[8:56] Nintendo returns to the Nokia Theater for this year's E3 media briefing, and a few things about the experience feel very familiar.
[8:56] Nintendo opened the doors to the show early, so attendees have been able to find seats for the last hour and then some.
[8:58] When they're not making small talk with their neighbors, the crowd can pass the time by answering trivia questions Nintendo has projected on the stage's big screen.
[8:58] What was the first NES cartridge to come with an internal save battery?
[8:58] A: The Legend of Zelda.
[8:58] Unfortunately, just like in previous years, the trivia runs on a quick loop.
[9:00] The show is scheduled to start presently, but there are still an abundance of people milling about, and the seating hasn't quite filled in.
[9:02] The music fades, the lights dim, and a timer counts down from 10 before an announcer introduces Nintendo of America president and COO Reggie Fils-Aime.
[9:02] Fils-Aime welcomes the crowd, and says for gamers this is the best week of the year.
[9:03] "You can feel the buzz in the air!"
[9:03] He says that feel is often driven by technology, but he wants to adjust that sentiment a bit. Technology is just a tool, he says, and the best experiences come when game design and technology are perfectly matched.
[9:04] Fils-Aime introduces a trailer for the new Zelda, which draws cheers and applause.
[9:04] Link stands in a field, and a montage shows him rolling bombs, using a slingshot and other activities.
[9:05] The game is The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for Wii.
[9:06] A video message from Shigeru Miyamoto plays, with the creator of the series holding the sword and shield he had at E3 2004 and promising to change the way the Zelda is played.
[9:06] The sword and shield turn into the Wii Remote with MotionPlus and Nunchuk, respectively.
[9:08] Players will use the Wii Remote as the sword, and the Nunchuk will raise the shield. Bill Trinen guides a live gameplay demonstration, which has Link holding the sword much like Trinen held it on stage.
[9:08] After Trinen gets beat up a bit by a plant, the video Miyamoto stops him and says he needs to hold the sword and shield "more like this."
[9:10] Then Miyamoto, in dramatic fashion, emerges from a screen behind the stage, to loud applause and begins to explain the control specifics. The sword follows his movements, the Z-button is used for targeting, and players can attack swinging horizontally or vertically.
[9:10] Miyamoto attacks the plant creatures, saying the only way to defeat it is to cut it along the mouth. Since the mouth opens horizontally or vertically, players need to slash in the right direction.
[9:11] When he lands a successful strike, the plant's mouth is severed as green fluid spills out, which gets a few oohs and ahhs from the crowd.
[9:11] Next up is a closed door with an eyeball in it. Miyamoto notices that the eyeball is following the tip of his sword, so he spins it around until the eye gets dizzy, then stabs the eye, opening the way forward.
[9:13] He gets into a sword fight with a couple of orcish creatures (Moblins?), and points out that they hold their own swords in a defensive posture. As a result, players need to swing along a path where their swords won't hit the enemies' weapons.
[9:13] Miyamoto then showed off the inventory screen, where players hold the B button and then choose the right tool for the job, be it a whip or a bomb.
[9:14] He starts by showing off the slingshot, and fires a volley of stones at spiders on the wall.
[9:14] Next up is bombs. The first one he drops explodes in his face, which draws some laughs.
[9:15] Link can also throw bombs, or even roll them like a bowling ball. Miyamoto says it's possible to put spin on the bombs as well.
[9:16] Miyamoto breaks out the bow and arrow, but there are control problems. He blames it on interference with someone's wireless devices.
[9:16] He also introduces a new item: the beetle.
[9:17] The beetle flies off Link's wrist like a falcon, and players have a limited time to guide it around the level, scouting areas or picking up items.
[9:17] Miyamoto changes to the whip, and uses it to cut grass and reveal rupees.
[9:18] The whip changes its path based on how the player swings the Remote.
[9:19] Miyamoto uses it in combat. It doesn't damage larger enemies, but it does anger them, causing them to drop their guard and rush Link. It will also take out smaller enemies like bats in one good sweep.
[9:19] Miyamoto apologized for the technical issues, and then says Skyward Sword will be out next year.
[9:20] The game will be playable on the show floor, where Miyamoto said attendees will see it plays very smoothly.
[9:21] A trailer for the game plays again, then Fils-Aime returns to the stage.
[9:21] He says Nintendo's goal is to provide new experiences for everyone, and wants to focus now on entertainment that can cross culture, age, and gender.
[9:22] It's time for titles that strive for that goal of universal appeal. Now he's talking about sports games, whether they be realistic or arcade-style.
[9:23] He's introducing a new Mario sports game.
[9:23] A video shows Mario holding a volleyball, and spiking it.
[9:23] Then Donkey Kong holds a hockey stick and takes a slapshot.
[9:24] There's some dodgeball thrown in there, as well as basketball.
[9:24] It's Mario Sports Mix, coming in 2011.
[9:24] Fils-Aime says the game is pure fun: "You don't have to be a game expert to understand its potential popularity."
[9:25] But even experts can get it wrong, he adds. He admits that last year people said Wii momentum was starting to fade.
[9:26] But he cites studies saying Wii owners play their systems the most, and more people intend to buy a Wii in the next six months than the 360 and PS3 combined.
[9:26] Mario Kart Wii has sold more than 22 million copies.
[9:26] And New Super Mario Bros. Wii has topped 14 million.
[9:26] Fils-Aime is introducing the company's next bridge title, which is intended to appeal to core gamers and casual crowds alike.
[9:27] He shows a trailer for Wii Party, which will have 13 different party game modes.
[9:27] There will also be 70 different minigames, and a heavy focus on Miis.
[9:28] The game will come out this holiday season.
[9:28] Fils-Aime said social interactions like what Wii Party fosters have worked for third-party publishers as well, and talks about Just Dance.
[9:28] A trailer for Just Dance 2 plays, promising "the hottest dance moves" as well as new modes and dance crew face-offs for up to 8 players.
[9:28] Just Dance 2 comes out this fall.
[9:29] Fils-Aime said a lot of players got jazzed last year when they announced a new Golden Sun for the DS.
[9:29] The game is now subtitled Dark Dawn, and he shows a trailer for it.
[9:30] The world has been reborn since the last Golden Sun game, but something has gone wrong.
[9:31] The trailer shows some of the stylus-based puzzle solving, as well as a traditional role-playing game combat system.
[9:31] There are also some pretty lengthy spell attack cinematics to close it out.
[9:31] Golden Sun: Dark Dawn will come out this holiday season.
[9:32] Golden Sun brings back memories for its fans, but "for other gamers, 'Golden' has an entirely different meaning."
[9:32] Fils-Aime shows footage of focus tests where they ask gamers about GoldenEye and tell them a new GoldenEye is coming out.
[9:33] The game will have eight Bond characters, 16 game modes, stealth kills, and Daniel Craig in the title role.
[9:34] The game will be published by Activision, which currently has the Bond license.
[9:34] GoldenEye will be exclusive to Wii this holiday season.
[9:34] Fils-Aime talks about a different kind of hero: Mickey Mouse.
[9:35] He says everyone's grown up with Mickey, and introduces Warren Spector to talk about Disney Epic Mickey.
[9:35] Spector is joined by Adam Creighton, the game's producer. Creighton controls a live demo, while Spector explains what's happening on screen.
[9:35] Mickey starts out in Venture Land, a quest zone where the player talks to characters and gets tools and supplies.
[9:36] A cutscene shows off a new art style for the game, as Mickey gets a quest from Peter Pan supporting cast member Smee.
[9:37] Creighton shows off some of Mickey's abilities, specifically the game mechanic to draw and erase things in the world.
[9:37] Using paint thinner, Mickey can erase characters and objects, changing the game world to try and save it.
[9:37] Spector says that playstyle matters in the game.
[9:38] How players solve problems will impact how people respond to the player.
[9:39] Do you use thinner and destructive options to progress, or the creative power of painting?
[9:39] Do you defeat enemies, or win them over to your side?
[9:39] Beyond quest zones, there are action zones that will be on display on the show floor, and travel zones.
[9:39] The travel zones are side-scrolling adventures inspired by old Disney cartoons.
[9:40] He shows off a travel zone inspired by Steamboat Willie, the first Mickey Mouse short ever made.
[9:41] Spector said innovation has been part of Nintendo and Disney culture from the start, and Epic Mickey strives to strike a balance between tradition and progress.
[9:41] Spector thanks the audience and leaves the stage. Fils-Aime is back out.
[9:42] The Nintendo executive says keeping franchises fresh calls for innovation inside the company as well.
[9:42] He talks about Masahiro Sakurai, creator of Kirby and Super Smash Bros.
[9:43] Fils-Aime says that Kirby hasn't had a starring role on a Nintendo home console in seven years, so it was time for a return engagement.
[9:43] He introduces a new Kirby game, Kirby's Epic Yarn.
[9:44] It appears to be a side scrolling platformer where Kirby (and everything in the world) is made of yarn.
[9:45] Kirby still has his variety of different powers, and he also interacts with the world, unstitching parts of the backgrounds to pass through, or tethering platforms with yarn to drag them within jumping range.
[9:45] Even with the new art style, Fils-Aime says the way the game works is the biggest difference in the game. It will be playable on the show floor and is slated for release this fall.
[9:45] Now he moves onto Dragon Quest IX, which has sold 4.2 million copies on the DS in Japan.
[9:46] The game has 120 miniquests, more than 300 monsters and 900 items, and randomly generated treasure maps. But Fils-Aime said the game begs for multiplayer action.
[9:47] It is playable by up to three friends together, and it can add new miniquests and characters when in "tag mode," pulling them from nearby DS users "quietly."
[9:47] Next up is Metroid: Other M.
[9:48] A trailer shows the Team Ninja game in motion, from cutscenes to corridor crawling gameplay.
[9:49] The game features a mix of playstyles, from cinematic boss fights to first-person shooting to third-person, over-the-shoulder action.
[9:50] Fils-Aime says the team "pushed the Metroid franchise down emotional corridors it's never been before."
[9:50] The game launches August 31.
[9:50] Next up is Retro Studios. Fils-Aime shows off a trailer for the team's new game, which is a Donkey Kong Country-style side-scroller.
[9:51] Kong rides animals, pals around with Diddy, swings from vines, blasts around levels on a barrel, and rides mine carts.
[9:52] Donkey Kong Country Returns gets a big round of applause from the crowd. It's set for release this holiday.
[9:52] Fils-Aime recaps some of the games they've announced, acknowledging they might take people into the past. But now he says it's time to look into the far future.
[9:52] It's finally time to talk about the Nintendo 3DS.
[9:53] Fils-Aime talked about the 3D things announced at CES, and mocks the glasses needed for stereoscopic 3D products displayed there.
[9:54] Fils-Aime showed a trailer for the 3DS, promising ample content for the system available on the first day.
[9:54] The slogan is "nothing between you and the experience."
[9:55] The trailer didn't show any gameplay.
[9:55] Now a podium is rising up on stage, and Satoru Iwata comes out and picks up the 3DS off of it.
[9:55] The system looks like a DS with an analog stick above the D-pad on the left side.
[9:55] It's black on top, and teal on the bottom.
[9:57] It has a 3.5-inch widescreen display, start, select, and home buttons, and four face buttons.
[9:57] There is a 3D depth slider control on the side of the system, allowing players to choose exactly how much of the 3D effect they want.
[9:58] The game has a touch screen, but Iwata said smudges reduced the 3D effect. The two don't get along well, he said. So the top screen is 3D, but the bottom one is just a touch screen.
[9:59] Iwata said the game will also have greater graphics horsepower, which he said could cause excitement in the development community.
[9:59] There's also a gyro and motion sensors in the system, and the analog stick is actually a slide pad.
[10:00] There are two camera lenses on the outside of the system, so users can take pictures and view them in 3D.
[10:00] Iwata said that the 3DS will be available at Nintendo's E3 booth.
[10:00] The system is also capable of displaying 3D Hollywood movies, but they aren't announcing any specific details at the show.
[10:01] However, they are showing Disney, Dreamworks, and Warner Bros. 3D movie trailers on the system at their booth.
[10:01] Iwata talks about Project Sora, which was established just to create a 3DS game.
[10:02] "We felt such a project deserved to feature a character already familiar to many of you," he said.
[10:03] It's the new Kid Icarus, which gets loud cheers.
[10:03] Kid Icarus: Uprising is the name of the game.
[10:03] It features Icarus in land-based and flying combat, with visuals closer to the PlayStation 2 realm of 3D power than current systems.
[10:03] "Sorry to keep you waiting," Icarus quips in the trailer.
[10:04] Iwata said a 3D trailer of the game will be on the show floor.
[10:04] When 3D effects are added to gaming, Iwata said there's a better sense of height, width, and depth in gaming worlds, so it's easier to navigate them.
[10:05] In Kid Icarus, Iwata said it's easier to judge distance between the player and floating objects, for example.
[10:05] The 3DS can automatically search for Wi-Fi access points and other 3DS systems, and will automatically communicate with them without you knowing it.
[10:05] Iwata said the 3DS supports automatic communication regardless of the games being played.
[10:07] The feature will be used to give new stages, quests, and rankings to players.
[10:07] There won't be a monthly fee for that.
[10:08] Iwata concludes by talking about the doubt people had regarding Nintendo's previous hardware innovations. As a result, Nintendo had to show the way with first-party software.
[10:08] In this case, Iwata expects the biggest third-party launch support it has ever received will be for the 3DS.
[10:08] Iwata also teases Nintendogs and Cats, and shows a list of publishers intending to support the system.
[10:09] DJ Hero, Kingdom Hearts, Resident Evil, Batman, Assassin's Creed, Professor Layton, Ridge Racer, and Metal Gear Solid will all get new installments on the 3DS.
[10:10] Iwata thanks the crowd, and leaves the stage as a trailer begins with developers talking about the 3DS.
[10:11] Hideo Kojima, Keiji Inafune, and other developers have positive things to say about the system.
[10:11] Team Ninja and 5th Cell developers are among those quoted.
[10:11] The Resident Evil game will be completely original, Inafune said, and will make players wonder what's behind every corner and piece of furniture.
[10:13] Jeremiah Slazcka talks about the ability to "capture 3D content" with the camera, which should get Scribblenauts fans excited about 5TH Cell's 3DS game.
[10:13] Fils-Aime returns to the stage and recaps the show.
[10:14] Fils-Aime said there's no way to adequately represent the 3DS experience on stage, so they've decided to communicate it in a different way.
[10:14] A video comes up on the big screen with Iwata starting the system up.
[10:14] Mario jumps out of the screen, slaps a mustache on him, and then the system sucks Iwata into it.
[10:15] Miyamoto walks by and hears a dog barking. He shakes its paw, and then is sucked into the system again as a bunch of Nintendo props fly out, including a StarFox Arwing fighter.
[10:15] Fils-Aime walks by and laughs as he watches Iwata and Miyamoto flee Bowser on the screen.
[10:16] Then Bowser pops out and breaths fire on the Nintendo executive, ending the clip.
[10:16] Fils-Aime comes back out and emphasized yet again how people need to get their hands on the system. Everyone in the theater is going to get the chance to try out the system right here and now.
[10:17] Dozens of women holding 3DS systems walk out on stage.
[10:17] They keep parading out, probably more than 100 of them.
[10:18] The 3DS systems are chained to the models, and Fils-Aime said they will be limiting the playtime of people on site.
[10:19] Fils-Aime also cues eight demo kiosks to rise from the stage, with playable versions of the new Zelda game in each.
[10:19] That's it for the media briefing.
[10:19] Fils-Aime thanks the crowd and tells them to enjoy E3.