E3 2007: Nintendo Takes a Bow

Russ Pitts | 12 Jul 2007 07:04
E3 2007 - RSS 2.0

On the Wii front, trailers for Medal of Honor, Soul Caliber, Mario and Sonic Olympics and Super Smash Bros. Brawl were shown, and release dates hinted at, if not promised outright. For the DS, we were shown Ninja Gaiden and given a brief, but enervating demonstration of the latest Zelda adventure, Phantom Hour Glass.

Then the Wii was brought out again for a brief look at Metroid Prime: Corruption, which looks like a game that will definitely be more fun to play than to watch, but should wet the pants of Metroid fans.

The celebratory note faltered a bit when the discussion turned to online play. Reggie said a lot of folks had asked him when Nintendo would get serious about online. "What if we already did, and you didn't notice" he said. Which, in and of itself, is still a bad thing.

What happens when you throw an online party and no one logs on? It's not a party.

Nintendo aims to staunch the flow of blood with a new channel called "Check Mii Out," a kind of "hot or not" for Miis, and made mention of a few new games that promise to offer online play (Pokemon Battle Revolution, Mario Strikers Charged, Madden 08, Mario Kart Wii and Guitar Hero III) but as far as content goes, no major revelations were made. Nintendo appears to be following the same path as Sony in the online arena: opening the doors and allowing people to play, but offering little in the way of content.

"All of this should at least suggest that we're serious about letting your show your stuff online," he said. And I'm sorry, but it did no such thing. You're late to the party on this front.

Iwata hit the stage to talk about the company's vision, saying "Our next challenge at Nintendo is to destroy the psychological barrier ... to state simply: we must accept that games are for everyone. Yes, everyone will have different tastes, but anyone can develop a taste for video games." Which is about as clear a statement that Nintendo is (and has been) aiming for that other 90% for some time.

Which is as good a segue as any for talking about the piece de la resistance: Wii Fit, which I've taken to calling "Wii's Killer App."

Wii Fit comes with a large, flat, square-ish, wireless peripheral called "The Balance Board," which you lay on the floor and then stand on. It senses the changing pressure of your feet and can thereby determine how you're standing, what motions you're making with your arms, legs and body, what your posture is like and how much you weigh. All of which makes it the most physically-inclined game peripheral ever mass marketed.

"The Wii needed to be relevant to all members of the household," said Miyamoto. "One subject we felt we had to have to achieve this is health."

But the software is where it really shines. Wii Fit offers four types of training: aerobics, muscle control, yoga positions and balance. The game displays what looks like an interactive workout video, and judges your performance in real time, offering help and encouragement. It's bizarre, fun and brilliant. And given the Wii already encouraging acceptance by the key "other 90%" demographic, will undoubtedly sell millions more Wiis.

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