We all know what to expect from Nintendo’s E3 conferences by now. Cute gizmos. Footage of waxen-faced twenty-somethings in rooms filled with white furniture. Execs bouncing around with cheerful lack of self-respect in front of the latest bright-eyed ‘Wii + X’ party compilation. And very, very little in the way of product that the people who bought and cherished NESs, SNESs or N64s really care for.
In turn, we’re sure Nintendo now knows exactly what to expect from us, the embittered heart of the gaming community. Fiery polemics about the fates of obscure, decades-old franchises. Flared-nostril disdain for anything even tenuously associated with the word ‘casual’. Constant moping after the Nintendo of yesteryear, the Nintendo that ‘still made’ videogames, the Nintendo that knew who its ‘real friends’ were.
So it must have given Reggie Fils-Aime, NoA president, no small degree of pleasure to stand up this morning in a Los Angeles auditorium and lay down what has to be the most announcement-packed, hardcore-friendly, ferociously old school Nintendo showcase of the past five years.
Where to begin? With the first gameplay demo of the newly titled Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, perhaps – but as far as the event’s timetablers were concerned, that was just the warm-up. How about the GoldenEye Wiimake, complete with signature para-jump intro and four-way splitscreen, or the woolly wonderment that is Kirby’s return to the world of 2D platforming? Golden Sun? Metroid? Donkey Kong?
Never has the phrase ‘embarrassment of riches’ seemed more appropriate. There were slower moments – Warren Spector’s lengthy digression on Epic Mickey could have shed a few hundred words, though the game itself looked stellar – and there were missteps, like Miyamoto’s technical troubles with his Zelda demo unit, but these were mere flecks on the polish.
The debut of Nintendo 3DS, rising from dry ice in one corner of the stage, was obviously the crowning jewel. The new handheld’s features were similar to those rumoured shortly before E3: a wider, adjustable ‘glassless 3D’ top display opposite the familiar DSi touchscreen; motion and gyro sensors; a round analog control stick or ‘slide pad’. Surprises were in store, however: two parallel lid cameras, for 3D photography, and vastly sturdier networking functionality, allowing the device to pull game content from Nintendo’s servers or fellow handhelds while in sleep mode.