Tuesday, June 15, 2010

E3 2010: Nintendo Keynote Highlights

nin-press-10 Is it just me, or does Nintendo just not leak that much information to the press?

When Sony officially announced the PS3 Slim in September 2009, the gaming press had known about it for months already. Microsoft’s biggest announcements in their keynote yesterday had already been leaked the day before. Meanwhile, Nintendo’s conference was full of surprises and revelations – some products, like the 3DS and the new Wii Zelda title, had been discussed before but not in detail, and plenty of brand-new, never-heard-about-them-before games were revealed. Suffice it to say that I was more impressed by this than by yesterday’s crappy Kinect launch titles.

Hit the jump for the major announcements.

  • The Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword was announced, with a vague release window of sometime in 2011 – I’d expect it in the April-June window if they can get it done. The game’s art style strikes a balance between the cartoony Wind Waker and the (relatively) realistic Twilight Princess. The Wii MotionPlus peripheral is used heavily – swinging your sword, using your shield, firing arrows and using bombs are all accomplished with various waggles. It’s hard to say from this vantage point whether Skyward Sword can help the Zelda series climb out of its rut, but we’ll see.
  • In the “casual” game category, expect Mario Sports Mix, Wii Party, and Just Dance 2 to get your moms and sisters playing the Wii again.
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is due out on the DS in late 2010, just in time for the holiday rush. For those who don’t remember, the first two Golden Sun games were solid Game Boy Advance RPGs from early last decade.
  • A Daniel Craig’d version of Nintendo 64 staple Goldeneye 007 is coming to the Wii for the holidays – for the record, this was the only one of Nintendo’s major announcements that I had seen anything about before the keynote. Remember, everyone: playing as Oddjob is for pussies.
  • Epic Mickey footage was shown. Mickey is a surprisingly competent-looking action game for the Wii that is part of Disney’s effort to make Mickey Mouse relevant.
  • Nintendo staples and their release dates: Kirby’s Epic Yarn sports an interesting art style and core mechanic and is due out on the Wii in the fall, Donkey Kong Country Returns is coming to the Wii for the holidays and looks to dust off an old chestnut, and Metroid: Other M is a Metroid game by the Ninja Gaiden guys that’s due on the Wii on August 31. I can’t believe they are actually calling it Metroid: Other M, that is the stupidest name I’ve ever heard.
  • Dragon Quest IX is coming July 11 to the DS, of course! The sound you hear is the noise of no one but me being excited. Nintendo is putting a big advertising push behind the latest entry in Japan’s favorite RPG franchise – we’ll see if it makes a difference.
  • Nintendo3DS Here’s the big one: The Nintendo 3DS was detailed. The new handheld, coming sometime between now and early 2011, uses voodoo magicks to display 3D images without the use of stupid glasses. The bottom screen is the standard DS touchscreen (no word on multitouch capabilities), while the top screen is slightly wider and capable of displaying 3D images. The depth of the 3D can be controlled (or even turned off) using a depth slider. The system can be used to play 3D movies (How to Train Your Dragon was shown during the keynote). Graphics appear to be roughly inline with the Wii, which is a welcome improvement over the current system’s capabilities, and backward compatibility with existing DS and DSi games is included. Also featured: An analog stick, motion sensor, and gyroscope (think iPhone style moving and tilting).
  • Wow, that was a lot of stuff.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising was shown in detail. It and a Mario Kart title are among the 3DS’ launch library, and a new Nintendogs (which includes cats – I guess Nintencats is not as convenient a moniker) game is also coming at an unspecified time.
  • The lists of third-party studios and titles in development are both genuinely impressive, and put the Kinect’s third-party support to shame. It speaks to the strength of the DS platform, and to developers’ faith in it.

And that’s the rundown! Check back later today for our coverage of Sony’s keynote!