The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) took place two weeks ago and I promised you that once I got back I would comment on the highlights. For those of you not familiar with E3, it is a conference for videogame developers to showcase their upcoming releases. It takes place every summer.
I'll briefly comment on the Nintendo showcase today. Many who attended thought they had the most impressive showing due to their strong lineup of great new titles and the exciting announcements surrounding their new portable system, the 3DS.
Certainly of most interest to me was the unveiling of the new Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. See the trailer here:
The game looks very well done -- tightly developed in terms of mechanics and an impressive environment to boot. Of course, with any Zelda game fans mostly have to go on trust until it comes out. What I mean by that is it's hard to tell just how innovative the title will be until one actually plays through the dungeons and tinkers with the new items. But one element I would like to point out showing promise is the game's toon-like atmosphere reminiscent of Spirit Tracks and very much unlike Twilight Princess. Though I'm not a very experienced Zelda player, I've played enough of them now to come to the opinion that the toon-like atmosphere tends to be stronger in terms of overall environment and gameplay (puzzle, item) variation. Compare, for example, items such as the sand wand of Spirit Tracks to the wrecking ball of Twilight Princess. But when it comes down to it, these are just my own personal tastes here and you'll have to see for yourself if it has promise.
The next game I'd like to point out is a new DS game, Okamiden. Building off of the (cult) success of the original Okami for the PS2 (and then ported to the Wii) the story follows Chibiterasu (literally, "baby" or "little" Amaterasu, the main character in the first game) and largely keeps the ideas, music and gameplay of the original, in true cult-service fashion. Here is a gameplay trailer:
I am definitely impressed by this game, for the simple fact that I loved the original and I welcome any variations on this theme of watercolor environments, interesting Japanese-themed story, and innovative gameplay. However, I am skeptical about how popular it will be. Nevermind, as long as I can get it for a good price once it comes out, I will be happy! I've analyzed the gameplay and other elements carefully and I don't see how this can turn out badly. Fans of the original Okami will definitely appreciate it from what I can tell.
And in fact, aside from these two games, I can't say that there was much more interesting material for me. However, there are a few "under the radar" games that Nintendo fans should keep their ears to the grindstone for.
The first is a new Professor Layton game which is scheduled for a September 20th U.S. release. I was a big fan of the first game and the second game was even better than the first. (I blogged about it here and featured the music from the game here.)I anticipate the third will not disappoint. For those of you not familiar with this series, I strongly recommend it as a less-intense but very fun set of puzzle games for the DS. But what's unique about this puzzle series is the emphasis on story (with its amazing cast of characters) and environment. You really can't leave out the environment in these games as it really adds to the unique charm immensely, creating a really fun experience that also holds up to hardcore adventure games on the DS in terms of length (20 hours at least) and replayability. At any rate, here is a recent trailer for Professor Layton and the Unwound Future shown at E3 but not really talked about that much:
Finally, here is some news on the Nintendo 3DS: slated for an October 2010 release in Japan (with no release date set for the U.S.) the game system introduces 3D elements similar to what has been seen in recent movies, but without the weird glasses requirement. It integrates all the latest modifications of the DS (embodied in the DS lite and DSi), including wireless and camera capabilities, and downloadable content for games. While this does seem like it will be an exciting innovation in portable gaming, the initial price tag is somewhere around the $200 mark, which seems a bit excessive and may turn some (like me!) off to buying it within the first year or two of its release.
Here is a good video of how the 3DS incorporates 3D elements: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWAg1s7xfz0
I guess that's all for Nintendo! I will have some more to say about various games soon (including some more thoughts on SMG2).