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E3 2009: Nintendo Press Conference

E3 2009Nintendo

After a lacklustre presentation at last year’s E3, those crafty people at Nintendo delivered on what hardcore fans were clamoring for. A new Metroid. A new Golden Sun. Two new Marios. All of this came after a couple of montages of those obnoxiously wholesome models that were difficult to get excited for, but things got good quickly.

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New Super Mario Bros. Wii was the first game shown, and it looked a lot like the DS version. The key difference was that four players can blow through the 2D stages now. Some Nintendo suits demonstrated the game and it looked sort of fun because tactics can be switched on the fly between playing co-operatively and being an asshole.

It wasn’t clear what are the benefits of playing in the different styles are aside from that warm, fuzzy feeling of helping out a friend rather than impeding their progress, but since the game is playable on the show floor all will be revealed soon enough. Hopefully this turns out to be more than LittleBigPlanet without the customization.

Just a random note about Nintendo’s press conference compared to some of the others: almost all the trailers shown involved gameplay footage, which was refreshing. Also, there were no random celebrities on hand to pimp out their respective games. Everything was kept professional and the games were able to shine on their own merits rather than fluff and hype. Best of all, nearly every game shown will be playable.

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Like last year, the Wii Motion Plus was talked up, and a demonstration of Wii Sports Resort provided a more in-depth look than last year. The fluidity of the accessory was shown in the opening of the game, where the Miis sky dive in order to get to the resort. Whichever way the Wiimote was moved, the skydiving Mii also moved. He could flip on his back, flail around, or dive straight down.

Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of North America, depressed gamers everywhere when he talked of the power of the Wii Motion Plus.

“Every mistake you make in the real world… will be faithfully reflected,” he said. Although he was referring to golf swings and whatnot, it was still soul crushing to hear that.

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The game will come bundled with the accessory, although nobody at Nintendo said anything about the belief that this is what the Wii should have originally offered rather than having people buy it separately or with another game. Some games, such as Red Steel 2, require the Wii Motion Plus.

Archery and a 3-point contest were shown off, and while making baskets seems to only involve lazily raising your arm, the archery minigame looked extremely intuitive. By pulling the nunchuk back and holding the Wiimote with the front hand, the screen zooms in and the arrow can be released. It looked like a fun alternative to drunken darts.

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On the topic of accessories, Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, talked about what looks like a superfluous accessory. The Wii Vitality Sensor apparently records heart rate and other stuff, which may be good for those interested in Wii Fit Plus. For everyone else, the big question is why? Aren’t there enough accessories already on the system?

There was little buzz when New Super Mario Bros. Wii was shown off, but the crowd erupted with the announcement of Super Mario Galaxy 2. The trailer consisted of plenty of gameplay footage, and it looks like Yoshi will be featured prominently. The level design looked stellar, as they often are in Mario games.

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One surprise of the presser was the announcement of Golden Sun DS. This GBA favorite is back in full 3D and the graphics looked sharp. There were some stunning vistas, and the original style seems to be retained. No battles were shown, but it looks like a return to form in what looked like was going to a premier handheld franchise years ago.

Speaking of surprises, Metroid: Other M was the unquestionable star of the show. It was announced right at the end and seemed to come out of nowhere. Team Ninja, the people behind Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive, are bringing Samus to the third-person perspective. Most shocking of all were the space opera elements that showed Samus on space stations with other humans. It looks like there will be a storyline to correspond with the frenetic action. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come out until 2010.

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There were a lot of casual games shown off, and Fils-Aime, addressed two of the biggest complaint thrown against Nintendo: the lack of “hardcore games” and the alleged scarcity of worthwhile third-party games.

“I read the blogs too, and I’ve been a gamer myself for a long time,” he said. “I know there are people out there saying okay, great, but I want more. More is often associated with publishers not associated with Nintendo.”

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Two of the games, Dead Space and Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles looked like on-rail shooters. The other, Conduit is a straight-up FPS put out by Sega. The appeal of this game is that instead of shoehorning in an existing franchise, this game will be able to start something new without any constraints. It comes out later this month.

This is the press conference that Nintendo probably wishes they could have put on last year. There were a couple of surprises amidst the fluff and corporate speak that’s ubiquitous at these pressers, and some of these hardcore games look like they might deliver the goods (I’m mostly talking Metroid here). Now the real test comes in seeing how the games fare on the show floor over the next few days.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003. Get in touch on Twitter @akarge.

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