Nintendo eGames Keynote

17 November, 2006 at 10:19 pm 2 comments

The Nintendo keynote was far more enjoyable than the Sony one. The company spiel was short, sweet and concise. In fact they mentioned that it would be short (implying that the Sony was long and boring). Then a few demos, a run through the channel interface, and an in-depth look at Zelda. Rose Lappin talked about the concept of Wii and how it fits into Nintendo’s plans.

Essentially, Nintendo’s plan is to attract what they call, drift gamers, that is people who used to play games, but no longer play, e.g. 80s arcade players. To do this, they offer intuitive interfaces, starting with the DS and now with the Wii. They believe that the Wii interface is relevant for everyone; it ignores pas experience with games and puts everyone on an even level.

Rose also highlighted that the Nintendo WiFi connection makes is simple for people to quickly and freely play games online and that 2 million people have used the service on the DS that is now going to be used by the Wii.

It was also made clear that the word ‘Wii’ makes people giggle. Especially when used in sentences like “we want you to hold the Wii”.

Then they started the good stuff. The concept behind the Wii channels interface is that it is a logical extension of a normal TV. Therefore people who are picking up a console for the first time can use it easily and intuitively. Each channel is a box on the screen. You just point at the channel and press A to access the channel. And everything is on the opening screen.

Different Channels:

  • Mii – your personal avatar that can be used in some games and can be placed on your wiimote to take to a friend’s house.
  • Wii shop – shop for virtual console games. When a new game is purchased, it becomes its own channel, and it is always there. The purchase of a game is linked to the console and can be redownloaded if deleted.
  • Photo – photos can be viewed of an SD card and can be edited using simple editor Moving wiimote closer to screen makes paint brush bigger etc
  • Disc – any discs (Game cube and Wii) in console will be launched. This will also include DVDs when the functionality is added.
  • Weather/news -localised news/weather. The hope is that this function will draw the drift gamers and parents etc to the console and from this move on to games etc
  • Message board/calendar – again to draw in new users same as Weather/news. Can also send emails and messages to other Wiis with pictures.
  • Internet – opera browser built from the ground up. Will use the wiimote as mouse/keyboard but will also be used for zoom as resolution of wii output it low, same as picture move controller closer to zoom in etc

New functionality can and will be added all the time and will be added as channels. All weather/news/virtual console download/new functions will download when console is ‘off’ using connect24 because the console is never really off, just in a sort of standby. Therefore, when you turn the console ‘on’ the channels come up instantly as the console was never really off.

The audience was then treated to a demo of Wii Tennis and Boxing. Tennis is always ways fun. Interesting things to note are that swing with a proper swing and it will play much better, that sound effects of the racket hitting the ball come through the wiimote and that the players are your Mii avatars. Boxing use the nunchuck controller as your left hand and the right is the wiimote. The gloves move as your hands move.

Nintendo want to stress that the wii is not for little kids, nor a gimmick, and that their launch lineup is the biggest of all time, and the “launch game of all launch games” Zelda, which they describe as better than ocarina of time and hence the best game of all time is a testimate to this.

We were then all treated to a demo of Zelda, which was the E3 build, but with the new control system which I can say from experience is great. The wiimote creates the ability to control different gameplay situations intuitively and Zelda serves up a wide range of gameplay situation. One of these (apart from normal play) is fishing, which, while looks ridiculous doing, actually recreates the actions of fishing very accurately. Well, that is coming from someone who has fished maybe 15 times in his life. The speaker in the wiimote is also used very well. For example, when using the bow, the sounds of the bow being pulled back and letting the arrow go are player through the wiimote, and the sound of the arrow hitting a target comes from the TV. This really adds to immersion, an interactive surround sound if you will.

They ended the keynote by throwing limited edition lanyons and T-shirts with Wii written on them. The keynote was fun. There were jokes, they didn’t take it seriously, and just talked about the games as though it was a conversation between friends. It was informative, and instilled a degree of belief in what Nintendo is doing. Plus Wii makes people giggle.

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