E3 2008: Nintendo Conference – Shawn's Take
Nintendo had a lot of things to announce, but lets be frank.. only one of the properties gamers were hoping for really materialized.. Animal Crossing for the Wii and that game looked exactly like it did on the Gamecube. While I’m a big fan of the social interaction of the Animal Crossing series, I was hoping that Nintendo’s implementation on the Wii would be a little more earth-shaking.
Unfortunately they’ve played conservative yet again and we’re basically getting the DS version of the game with an auction house. The core obstacle that holds this back from being a good idea is the conceit that Nintendo seems to have regarding the safety and ease of use of their inane friend code online system. I guess I may be the only person left who hasn’t imbibed the Kool-aid on this one.
Nintendo also had a number of other announcements, one – the Wii Motion Plus, seems like a hardware update to make the Wii Remote function the way we all imagined it would when the system’s innovative controls were announced. The enhanced motion sensor really does look to make playing Wii motion games more precise and interesting but I have questions as to what impact the add-on will have on older games if any.
Shaun White, the pro snowboarder did show off his upcoming snowboarding title and I have to admit it look awesome but maybe I need a 40′ screen to really get that visceral powder shredding experience. The game showed that though Nintendo delivered the balance board with Wii Fit, there is a future for the peripheral in the hands of creative 2nd and 3rd party developers.
There was a claim that Nintendo was aiming to talk directly to the core gamers, that these announcements would be aimed at everyone but that the company had not forgotten the die-hards that sustained them through the lean years. Well it seems that was an empty promise. Wii Sports, Wii Music, Animal Crossing.. none of these titles fit the classification of a core gamer title. Sure they attract the masses, let grandma compete with little Johnny and share an experience but noticeably absent were any of the flagstone franchises like Mario, Zelda and Metroid. Though it was teased that the Zelda and Mario teams were working feverishly on new titles, there was no mention of what or when.
The only real core gamer title that I saw in the whole event was the announced GTA: Chinatown Wars for the DS. And at this point all we saw was a title, no screens, no description of gameplay or anything of substance. That does not scream core gamer to me.
Nintendo’s usual statistical overload claiming their dominance of the gaming world (just like Sony’s and Microsoft’s) was old hat. We know Wii and DS are popular. We know they have broadened the market. We know Guitar Hero is the savior of the universe. The question still remains.. do we care? Or is Nintendo just a company who survived on the back of the faithful only to quickly abandon them and move on when fair weather broke and the flagging Nintendo stocks began to rise.