BitSnark

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Nintendo E3 2010: Previews, Predictions and Speculation

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Nintendo have to make a major splash at E3 2010. Least of all because they don’t actually have a whole lot to show outside of the 3DS, since all the decent Wii stuff is either known about or will have been released by the time the show starts.

Beginning with their first party line-up for the Wii, by far and away the most anticipated title is the Wii-specific Zelda title that has been in development for… well, a very long time now. Unlike its Gamecube concepted predecessor Zelda: Twilight Princess, this newest entry in the series will be designed from the ground up with the Wii and MotionPlus in mind.

Hopefully we can rely on Nintendo to pump out a Zelda title that has true, intuitive motion controls as well as some inspiring dungeon design to top the uneven effort seen in Twilight Princess. It would also be nice to see the always enthusiastic Mr. Miyamoto on stage to fully demonstrate the game to the awed masses.

The similarly long in development and equally secretive Pikmin 3 will have to show up this year, or it runs the fear of being forgotten about altogether. Previously announced at E3 2008, it will be interesting to see what innovations the first true Wii instalment of the quirky RTS can be bring to the table.

The forthcoming social party title, Wii party, should also be on show with Nintendo Exec Cammie Dunaway likely giving a demonstration to the assembled crowd.

In regards to their NDS lineup at the show, it will likely be very slim pickings for non-casual gamers.

Outside of the previously announced but MIA Golden Sun 3 and possibly a new entry in the Mari & Luigi RPG series, there won’t be a whole lot to see which isn’t directed toward the casual gaming audience.

The Wii Vitality Sensor should also have more to show us beyond the disappointing announcement it received last year. Ninty’s alliance with the AHA, should also help to cross promote the device when it’s given its first proper demonstration at E3 2010. What about the games though? Well, if I see one decent, innovative title in the tidal wave of ‘me-too’ crap that is surely to follow I will be very surprised.

Nintendo’s assured centrepiece of their media briefing will no doubt be their 3D capable successor to their wildly successful Nintendo DS handheld. With an announcement that came with as little fanfare as you can possibly imagine and only cryptic remarks issued since, it falls on the mysterious shoulders of the 3DS unveiling to turn heads, create gasps and effectively ‘save’ Nintendo’s conference this year due to a pointed lack of quality Wii or DS titles on show outside of what we already know.

In regards to the 3DS itself, everything should be laid totally bare; specs, release date, launch games, price… everything. Starting with the specifications of the new handheld, we can certainly expect something with a lot more grunt than the current Nintendo DS hardware, which in all of its remodelling’s has remained largely the same under the hood since 2003.

Eurogamer tech-site Digital Foundry, has done a whole heap of digging on the specs of the new handheld and it appears that the 3DS will utilise a tailored version of the existing Nvidia Tegra2 processing chip to power the new handheld. In basic terms, it means we could very well be looking at graphical fidelity somewhat approaching that of the Gamecube or Wii, with the lower quality graphics (in comparison to a 480p Wii/Gamecube display at the same resolution) being effectively ‘masked’ by the lower resolution screens on the much smaller handheld.

The utilisation of current, established technology chimes in well with the Kyoto giant’s business practices of adapting cost effective, current market components for their R&D, instead of investing huge amounts in unproven, costly to manufacture tech that could hurt their financial bottom line.

The unit itself will apparently boast two screens as before, with one screen being of a standard ration (4:3) and the other being a widescreen, 3D enabled display. The big selling point of the new system is that it supposedly gives a 3D display without the need for traditional 3D glasses. This new type of technical wizardry is apparently made possibly by the immensely nerdy sounding Parallax Barrier technology which has been developed by display manufacturer Sharp. In any event, I’ll be very interested to see how convincingly they pull this ‘3D glasses-free’ effect off.

Controller input will largely remain largely the same it seems, with Nintendo still looking to utilise touch mechanics alongside traditional button input; so look for a similar control system to the current DS. The other apparent feather in the cap of the 3DS and one that raises the danger of cannibalisation of existing DS sales, is the fact that the handheld is fully backwards compatible with all existing NDS titles. This is certainly a massive boon for anyone who has built up a sizeable collection games for the popular handheld, and is a very smart move by Nintendo to encourage the huge DS user base that is out there (some 100 million users plus) to make the leap to the 3DS.

Games-wise and compounding the fact that this will invariably be the core of Nintendo’s media briefing, I fully expect them to have enough games on show for the new system to sink a boat.

First party offerings such as a new Mario, Zelda and Mario Kart titles for the machine would be a lock one would think, throwing a bone to the core gaming audience who still hope that Nintendo can adequately cater for them in this new era of a prominent casual gaming audience. In particular, I would expect to see an F-Zero title in some shape or form for the system; seeing as the sci-fi racer is due for a reinvention since its last release seven years ago and also because its colourful, blazing fast visuals and perspective would make a visually arresting demonstration of the 3DS hardware.

These stalwart IP’s will no doubt find themselves on display alongside unique IP from Nintendo with a slant towards the non-casual gaming market that Nintendo has so readily tapped in recent years.

Going on from this, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Nintendo chose the unveiling of the 3DS to show off a brand new instalment in their ever-profitable Pokemon franchise (hopefully one with RPG style leanings) and a brand new Nintendogs/pets title, which hasn’t been seen since the early days of the Nintendo DS nearly half a decade ago in 2005.

Third parties will no doubt be falling over themselves to show their wares for the apparently cheap-to-develop-for handheld. Nintendo needs to be shrewd here though since nobody wants the piles and piles of gimmicky, innovation-bereft shovel ware that has plagued the NDS and Wii platforms in recent times. This is especially important since a number of people, especially the core gamers, have grown wary of gimmicky features and will be looking to innovative and fresh titles to make the most out of the new technology on offer.

When it comes to a release, Nintendo will probably shoot for a holiday 2010 release. From what I can gather, the technology is complete, in place and manufacturing would be hitting peak pace in about a month from now. This would likely allow Nintendo to replicate the previous holiday sell-out successes that they have had in recent times with the Wii and DS respectively, making a Nintendo product yet again, the hottest gift to give this Christmas.

In terms of price, it would be sensible to suggest that the price would be higher than the existing DSiXL, but cheaper than the Wii. So I would therefore estimate a price point of £149 for the handheld when it launches during the busy upcoming holiday period.

Nintendo are playing a risky game here. With Wii and DS sales slowing and a general feeling of stagnation with the two formats, the success of Nintendo at E3 2010 falls squarely on the unknown shoulders of the 3DS at this point.

I hope I get proved wrong and Nintendo have a varied, deep showing across Wii, NDS and 3DS; but I just don’t see it.

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Written by bitsnark

May 25, 2010 at 1:17 pm

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