16 June, 2010

Nintendo and Sony Press Conferences; Game Updates

written by Blain Newport on Wednesday, 16 June, 2010


I suspect a lot of people are going to say Nintendo "won" the show. They announced a lot of entries in classic franchises (Zelda, Kirby, Donkey Kong Country, Kid Icarus, GoldenEye).

The 3D on the new 3DS handheld seemed to go over well with most people, and if all the games announced for the 3DS come out, it's going to have a ridiculous library (on top of being backwards compatible with the DS). I don't much care for Metal Gear games after Metal Gear Solid, but the fact that Metal Gear Solid 3 will be coming to a handheld and in 3D both speaks to the level of support and power of the device. (How the game will play with only one analog stick is another question.)

While I personally liked the emphasis on core games, I'm really surprised there weren't more games for other Wii consumers. It was like Microsoft and Nintendo had switched roles and while I think I understand Microsoft's (terrible) strategy, Nintendo's console strategy has me at a loss.


Sony's (terrible) strategy, on the other hand, was exactly as expected. They pushed 3D and their Wii controller. Supposedly their entire conference was in 3D to prove how essential 3D is now. Tycho from Penny Arcade did a splendid job of throwing cold water on the hype.
The Kinect is rumored to cost a hundred and fifty dollars, and this is considered to be the equivalent of a street mugging. To contrast, a single pair of active shutter glasses costs the same amount - every picture of a deliriously happy family enjoying 3D content is predicated on a hardware investment north of four thousand dollars.

But price always comes down (if consumers don't reject it outright), and part of me has reason to hope 3D works out. When games first moved to flat 3D, I felt like we lost a lot of precision. I was hoping really good stereoscopic 3D might help third person games feel more natural. It might be easier to judge my jumps and my character's reach and to get a better feeling of space. (The 3D upgraded version of the Sly Cooper trilogy may be my litmus test of Sony's tech.) In an ideal world, Sony's figured it out. And after a few years, 3D will be an affordable standard. But I can't help but look at that price tag and think it's anything but madness, currently.

While not as absurd, the Move's value proposition isn't much better. A 360 Arcade unit plus Kinect (if the rumored price is true), will run you $300. The PS3 plus Move will cost you $400, and you will need to buy a nunchuck and a second controller to play some of the single player content we've seen, raising the total investment to $480.

The Wii costs $200.

Game Over

Speaking of games that should be over, there was no announcement of a replacement for the PSP and PSP Go. I've never understood why the PSP sold at all in first place, so maybe that unknown reason will keep them selling okay against the 3DS.

Finally, back in the land of the core gamers, Sony performed decently, probably better than Microsoft. But neither company impressed me.

Game Updates

Fallout: New Vegas - 1UP did a developer interview with some live gameplay. It's nothing earth shattering, but the game looks to be coming along fine. I'm struck by the elements of the new Fallout games that seems static and lifeless: the barren environments, the lack of color, the slow pace. But that usually helps the crazy stuff stand out more. It's comfortable.

Brink - The hands-on was short, but there was one, which is much better than nothing as it means the game's core mechanics have come along.

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