Thursday, July 12, 2007

Nintendo Conference Impressions

Nintendo's Conference ended up being much like Sony's ones back when they were the leaders. They just kind of put information out there (like Sony loved to do) showing their overpowering numbers on DS and Wii worldwide. They also relied a lot on unneeded advertising pieces (another thing Sony loved to do). One or two would have been fine, but plenty of them through the whole Conference was a bit much honestly.

The biggest news items to come out of Nintendo's showing were the dates for Super Mario Galaxy (Nov. 12th), Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Dec. 3rd). They also announced that Mario Kart Wii is coming early next year with a wheel controller as well as a new controller for shooting games like Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and Ghost Hunter. They also had two online Nintendo-based writers show off Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for DS and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the Wii.

Then they carted out the upcoming Wii Fit with a new balance pad controller. It looks interesting, although I wonder how many fit games there will be. Gamespot talked about 4 of them (hula hoop, ski jumping, marble game and the soccer game shown at the Conference) in their preview.

Nintendo covered all bases in their showing. It is obvious that the Nintendo DS is as much a phenomenon as the GameBoy Advance was and has allowed more innovation in the games they make. It is also obvious that the Wii is still hot and it will be interesting to see when supply may finally outstrip demand. Nintendo has indeed sold itself well to both the regular gaming public and people that have never picked up a controller in their life. They are basking in the glow of a game playing public that Microsoft and Sony just can't touch. The question is whether they can sell enough units of games for 3rd party companies to keep making games for it. I still forsee Nintendo getting stuck in the same rut they were last generation with them making the only "must get" games for the system and no 3rd party games really standing out. That is where Microsoft and Sony shine, they have strong 3rd party support and often those sell better than even 1st party offerings.

I am still interested in picking up a Wii and DS, but I don't know if they will take more of those precious minutes that Reggie talks about at the end over something like the Xbox 360 or if I ever pick up a PS3. Nintendo is certainly leading the "new age" of video gaming while Microsoft and Sony are still leading the "established" video game structure. The "new age" is where the non-gamers are, the "established" is where people who have played games for decades are.