As the Electronic Entertainment Expo has seen a reduction in
size over the past two years, previous strategies have lost their
effectiveness. In 2006, when Nintendo unveiled their Wii console, fanatical
fans applauded rapturously and waited hours for a quick preview of the system.
But, as Nintendo was proclaimed a ‘paradigm shift’ in
Tuesdays’ press conference, the corporation needed to apply this theory to
their audiences. Gone from E3 are the fanboys, cosplayers, and assorted nuts that
would scream in a Pavlovian manner at the most ordinary of announcements. When
Nintendo announced Wii Sports: Resort, today’s crowd responded with forced
applause, a reaction that clearly bemused the corporation’s on-stage
Nintendo’s presentation began with the peppy Cammie Dunaway,
Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Dunaway unveiled Ubisoft’s Shaun White
Snowboarding after a longwinded tale of a snowboarding accident that seemed to
leave the audience unaffected. The snowboarding game employed the Wiifit
balance board, which both Dunaway and White rode, Wiimote and Nuncheck-filled
hands flailing wildly.
Next, Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s President spoke of the corporation’s
recent success with the Wii and DS platforms. Iwata’s ideologies were in direct
contrast to Microsoft’s Don Mattrick; favoring long-term goals, innovation, smaller
budgeted games. To support this notion, Katsuya Eguchi unveiled Animal
Crossing: City Folk, which seems to expand the social notions hinted at in
earlier entries of the franchise. To complement this interactivity Nintendo announced
the Wiispeak; a set-top microphone that is the equivalent of the Xbox Live
Reggie Fil-Aime took the stage next to show three curious
titles- Star Wars: Clone Wars, Rayman Raving Rabbits TV Party, and Call of Duty
5: World at War. None of these titles seemed particularly compelling, and
represented only a marginal improvement in the quality of third-party software.
Then, Nintendo unveiled the Wii Motion
Plus, a device that plugs into the bottom of the Wiimote to increase
functionality. Fil-Aime then showed off the capability of the hardware by
staging a swordfight within WiiSports: Resort, but not before using the controller
to simulate a Frisbee throw. The audience seemed restless.
The show closed with a demo of Wii Music, a music game that
seemed to puzzle the crowd. Shigeru Miyamoto , creator of Mario Bros, played
the Wiimote like a saxophone, while a drummer used the balance board, Wiimote
and Nunchuck to create a jazzy rhythm. The game, which seems more a tech-demo, allows
players to move controllers around to simulate one of fifty different musical
instruments. The only catch? It appears that gamers have to ‘play’
pre-determined songs; improvisation or even choosing a scale didn’t look like
an option. Players have to hit notes determined by the software; otherwise Wii
music might be a headache inducing jumble of sounds.
Still, Nintendo hasn’t completely lost touch with audiences-
its surprise announcement of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for the DS set
off howls of approval from the crowd. Reggie even mentioned Wii critics who had
dismissed the Wii as a ‘fad’, expertly overcoming the objection before
closing the show. A few more moments like these would have had the audience sitting
on a Lakitu cloud, and cemented Nintendo chances with their smaller, more professional E3 audiences.