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E3 2007
Nintendo Drops the Ball
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on July 16, 2007   |   Episode 3 (Show Archive)  

   
devil may cry 4 art
After a largely disappointing press conference from Microsoft I looked forward to our next stop, Nintendo's press conference. While the Microsoft conference took place late at night (after the sun had gone down), this Nintendo conference was early in the morning on the first day of E3. But that's okay, because I was fully rested and prepared for whatever major announcements Nintendo had in store. It's a good thing I was fully rested, because this conference almost put me right back to sleep.

As most of you already know, last year's Nintendo conference was an overwhelming success. The long-time company managed to impress even the most skeptical games journalists, which was thought to be impossible by many. Perhaps it's my fault, but part of me expected something similar this time around. I had already resigned myself to the belief that they weren't going to show off new hardware, but I was fully prepared for Big N to show us their 2008 line-up and stress the importance of the third parties. Unfortunately neither of those things happened.

This year's press conference was a bit confusing, even for somebody who feels like they've seen it all. On one hand Nintendo had a lot of hardware to announce, most of which came in the form of cheap plastic devices you snap your Wii control into. First it was the new "gun" device specifically made for Ghost Squad and Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles. Then they announced a steering wheel-style accessory that looks exactly like the one released last year. And finally they featured a small Wii step, which is used to test your balance. Oddly enough, these three accessories ended up getting more press than any of the first party games, including the new Smash Bros., Mario Galaxy and Metroid titles.

In fact, there was hardly any mention of games in this conference. Half of the conference was spent showing us quick edits of web sites, MTV, the local Seattle news, and YouTube. This was fine the first time around, but they used this to segue between everything, which started to get annoying real early.

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For the first half of the event Nintendo spent their time patting themselves on the back. In fact, they were patting themselves so much that I'm actually surprised they didn't bruise their back. So much of the conference was self congratulatory that it started to get sickening. While listening to Reggie talk about how amazing their system is and how everybody loves it I started to yearn for some of those yummy doughnuts that were waiting for us out in the lobby. You see, Nintendo brought in two giant tables of doughnuts, cookies and other baked goods for all of the people attending their conference. This was a great way to start the day, and I'll admit that much of my attention was spent wanting to go back and eat a few more of their delicious treats.

But I didn't. Instead I sat there bored off my ass watching Reggie try and convince us that YouTube clips were more important than real game announcements. For some odd reason Nintendo decided that they didn't need to talk about games, so they didn't show anything about Super Smash Bros., only had a few seconds of Super Mario Galaxy, and absolutely nothing on Fire Emblem. While Metroid fared a bit better, it still only got a minute or two on stage (played by some random fansite editor with the worst designer pants I've ever seen). The amount of time you've taken to read this article so far is more than Nintendo spent actually talking about their upcoming games.

Things went from bad to worse when they introduced us to a large family who got to play all these games early. Outside of the fact that they had way too many children (it's called birth control people, look it up) this family was instantly forgettable. They played Brain Age, Zelda, and other "family friendly" games. To this day I don't understand what the point of this clip was, all it did was remind me how much I wanted to be playing those games ... or at least out in the lobby eating doughnuts!

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Oddly enough there was something funny about Nintendo's lame press conference. You see, in the past years these press conferences would be filled with adoring Nintendo fans. I'm talking about the kind of gamers who will hoot and holler even before Nintendo actually announces a new game. These fanboys don't care what is announced, they just love Nintendo so much that they're willing to get on board with everything the company says. Those types of gamers were absent from this year's Nintendo event, so this conference was considerably quieter.

But I get the feeling that Nintendo didn't know who the audience would be. In fact, it seemed pretty obvious that Nintendo thought they would have the same group of Nintendo fanboys ready to hoot and holler at everything they say. How else do you explain the lengthy pauses that were obviously designed for wild applause? But that wild applause didn't come, it was just silence throughout the entire event.

This stunned silence didn't happen once or twice, this was something that happened dozens of times throughout the event. When Reggie announced that Mario Galaxy would be coming out in November he paused and waited for everybody to jump up and down high fiving their neighbors. But that didn't happen. When Reggie announced the date for Smash Bros. he paused waiting for us to be so overjoyed that we wouldn't be able to hold in our screams. But that didn't happen. When he announced that the light gun accessory would be $20 he waited for the approval. But that didn't happen. Instead people scratched their heads and waited for the BIG surprise ... something that never came.

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Nintendo only had two announcements for E3, both of which we basically already knew going in. The first announcement was Mario Kart Wii, which Nintendo said would be perfect for non-gamers. They explained that the game would be simple enough for new gamers to compete (and even beat) people who have been playing Mario Kart for fifteen years. I'm not sure how they plan on doing this, but whatever it is the idea worries me. Part of the depth of these racing games is that you can get good by playing it for weeks and months. If a new player can beat somebody who has been playing it non-stop for three months then what good is actually playing the game?

Then they announced Wii Fit, the game that goes along with their crazy Power Pad-style balance step. As the name implies Wii Fit is an exercise game that tracks your weight and progress. Oh good, that's just what I've been waiting for. Now I can actually buy a video game that tells me I'm a fat slob ... thanks Nintendo!

After the comically bad demonstration of Wii Fit the show was over and we could exit the theater and eat more doughnuts. But with the thought that I would be playing a game that measures my body mass index I found that I wasn't in the mood for more fattening food. Instead I just filed outside and picked up the Nintendo press kit. From there we all piled into a giant bus that took us to the Sony event. After two extremely disappointing conferences I hoped that Sony would save us all. Find out how Sony fared in our next episode of E3: Invite Only!

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