Today brought the Nintendo and Sony press conferences. I haven't had a lot of time to digest the total of what's been announced today between these briefs and the wealth of other information floating around the intarwebz right now, but after keeping up with as many tweets as I could and scanning the online presentations, here are some quick takes:
All the Mario Stuff: Look, I like Mario just as much as the next guy, maybe even a little more, but he was a little embarrassing to me to see how many times Nintendo went back to the well here. No less than four separate Mario games were announced, and to be perfectly honest, not a single one of them look the least bit original. That's not to say that they won't be enjoyable, but it doesn't exactly instill me with confidence to see the amount of blatant milking going on here. Super Mario Galaxy 2 added Yoshi, New Super Mario Bros Wii features four players (which btw does NOT equal being 4D), and the other games were just as predictably incremental.
All the WiiFit talk: There’s no doubt that Nintendo sold a hell of a lot of Balance Boards, but based on my own personal experience with talking to people who have gotten into WiiFit, the majority of them are not interested in using the Wii for anything else, they're not buying games, and they certainly aren't becoming gamers. In terms of raw sales, this thing is a success, but outside of that initial purchase, I don't see any legs to this trend.
WiiMotion Plus: Nintendo’s finally acknowledging what basically everyone on the planet already knew—the Wiimote wasn't nearly as precise or as accurate as it needed to be. A shocker, this is not.
Wii Vitality Sensor: I have absolutely nothing to say about this. It is its own joke.
Final Fantasy: Crystal Bearers: I'm actually surprised I didn't hear more about this title—it was one of the only games I was even halfway interested in. With a definite action slant and at least the appearance of integrating the Wiimote in a sensible fashion, it had an energetic vibe that I was kind of into. I'm a little sick of Final Fantasy right now, but this one still managed to catch my eye.
Metroid: Other M: Talk about mixed feelings. On the one hand, I've been wishing for a while now that Samus would return to third-person action. Wish granted. On the other hand, I absolutely despise the work done by Team Ninja. I think they are one of the most overrated studios in gaming today, and I actually recoiled a bit at the thought of marrying their skewed action sensibilities to one of my favorite franchises. Although the action on display in the trailer looks pretty decent, the out-of-suit sections look like they had the potential to be really awkward and painful. I'm hoping that Nintendo will rein them in and prevent things from going to awry, but I'm somewhat concerned here. It would be fantastic if the thing was pulled off well, but let's just say I'm not exactly holding my breath.
Moving on to the Sony presentation, I thought it wasn't nearly as lifeless and shillish as I was expecting. It wasn't all bad, really.
The PSP Go: No second nub, download-only games, and $250… currently being in possession of one of the older-model PSP's I can't say there are a lot of reasons I’d want to run out and drop the cash on this. Honestly, I'm a little surprised that it's so expensive. I might have considered a buy just for the novelty, but at that price point, I'll just invest in a bigger memory card for the PSP I already have. However, it does appear that Sony is finally extracting its head from someplace moist and dark and putting a lot more support behind their portable. That's definitely good news as the thing has been all but abandoned over the last few years in terms of software. I kind of question Sony's insistence that the older model and the new Go are going to coexist peacefully, though. I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that the UMD models will be phased out of production in six months or so.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker: While Nintendo certainly wins the contest for which franchise can be flogged the hardest, Metal Gear comes in a strong second. Although it's always good to get another solid PSP game like I alluded to earlier, I'm currently of the opinion that Kojima and MGS in general are running out of steam and in dire need of an extended vacation. Expecting more of what we got last time here.
Home: Enough, already. It's lame advergaming with the gaming removed. Move on.
The Last Guardian: Here’s my $60. Gimme the game, already.
The PS3 Motion Controller: From the tech demo on display, it seems pretty clear that Sony has what appears to be the most precise, most accurate form of motion control. The guys at Nintendo R&D must be eating their shorts right about now. That said, I'm still not sold on the entire concept of motion control to start with. Despite the impressive range of motions and actions at the conference, the little voice in the back of my head kept asking whether or not I’d actually want to "swing a sword" and "block with a shield" for more than ten minutes at a time. When playing a FPS, would I really "hold up a gun" for two hours straight? I do admit there was a bit of a "wow, neat" factor going on for me, but when you get right down to it, this new motion control kick doesn't seem like much more than a faddish d**k-measuring contest between the big three.
MAG: How the hell is anyone going to get 256 people all together at once?
… and that's about it. With the press conferences over and done with, remainder of E3 is going to be about finding gems scattered in between the random detritus and copycat efforts sure to flood the convention floor. I’ll be doing a fair amount of searching the net on my own, but I definitely look forward to eyewitness accounts on little-known titles from people at the show.
If you see something that catches your eye and it's not plastered all over the usual newsfeeds, drop me a line.
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