Nintendo's Press Conference - Detailed Summary

posted 10 Jun 2011, 20:20 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 10 Jun 2011, 21:13 ]

Right away, I have to say that Nintendo's Press Conferece this year really grabbed me on an emotional level. I regularly had tingles down my spine with the footage that was shown of new games, and just when I didn't think Nintendo could make me feel even more elated, they did. There has been lots of talk on Nintendo this week, and these can all be traced back to the decisions that formed their presentation. Some good, some not so good. You'll get a mix of both in the following write-up.


The presentation started right away with an epic Zelda orchestra just below the front of the stage, with the screens showing us a retrospective look at past Zelda titles, including Wind Waker and even the CD-i version. This served as a nice way of introducing Shigeru Miyamoto who seemed very passionate about Zelda's 25th Anniversary. At this point, it seemed like this was going to be an Anniversary celebration that would be properly serviced (unlike Ubisoft's).

I certainly agree with Miyamoto's words that music really is an "indispensible piece" in game development, but I loved how he emphasized the truth of this with the Zelda franchise. Miyamoto drew attention to key moments like opening treasure chests, commenting that the musical jingles are what really make these moments so long-lasting in people's minds. So in line with this, Shigeru requested that the talented orchestra play a few 8-bit tunes for the audience. This lead to some positive reactions from the crowd to which Miyamoto seemed visibly grateful for.

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the franchise, it was announced that Nintendo would be releasing a total of four Zelda games this calendar year. Link's Awakening was added to the Nintendo eShop on the same day to introduce the Game Boy Color line-up; Ocarina of Time 3D will be out in a few days, housing an improved framerate, revamped graphics, a new sense of realism, and new modes; Four Swords will be releasing this September on the DSiWare platform as a free download; and finally, Skyward Sword will be releasing this holiday season accompanied by a gold Wii Remote and the promise that it will be the "most satisfying Zelda experience of any game in the series". Tieing in with these four releases, it was announced that orchestra symphony concerts would be held in regions around the world in the months to come. Additionally, music CD's will be provided as Club Nintendo rewards to those who register Ocarina of Time 3D early.

After bringing out some of the Japanese development heads and offering sincere thanks to those who have been supporting the Zelda franchise, it was time for Iwata to take the stage! He quickly touches on the aspects of the DSi and Wii launches and how these were historic moments in the industry for expanding the gamer population. And despite the changes Nintendo has seen in "who plays, where we play and how we play", it was acknowledged that mental boundaries still exist. And so it was this understanding that helped spear-head the development of a new gaming platform, one that will "equally" satisfy all players in ways the Wii has not, through "deeper game experiences" and "wider appeal". 

Iwata believes that this new platform presents a major step in reaching the company's goals of serving every player and their individual gaming "appetites". Instead of letting the cat out of the bag, though, he stopped himself from continuing and said more details would be announced later on in the show. Instead, Nintendo wanted to use this opportunity to first draw attention to the 3DS and its budding potential. And on that note, a captivating video was shown, showing off Mario Kart 3DS, Kid Icarus and... Luigi's Mansion?! Aww yeah. Too bad there was no mention of Animal Crossing.

Reggie picked up where Iwata left off, quickly commenting that they are indeed listening to their target audience -- people want "comfortable" (familiar franchises) and "surprise" (those same franchises offering new experiences). Starting off the set of headline 3DS titles for the upcoming year is a trailer for the new
Mario Kart game. At first, everything seems to be pretty straight-forward, with retro tracks like Maple Treeway (Wii) and Airship Fortress (DS) making an appearance. But then we see paraglider and motorized propeller add-on's featured on karts, which instantly gave me a Diddy Kong Racing vibe. This "entirely new" game also features monster trucks and other vehicles that make the inclusion of bikes in Mario Kart Wii look small by comparison. 

In contrast to 
Star Fox SNES where many felt like they were flying in 3D, the 3D effect will be fully realized in Star Fox 64 3D. It was revealed that the new battle modes will make use of the 3DS' Cameras to show real-time reactions from rival players -- an interesting, albeit unnecessary move. Next up was Super Mario (name not final) for the Nintendo 3DS. The footage we were treated to for the first time looked really really clean and crisp, and it was great to see the Tanooki Suit back in a modern Mario game. We were told to expect the game to release before the end of 2011.

Following that was footage of Kid Icarus: Uprising, which looked very impressive. One of the main things they decided to focus on at this conference was the ability to battle other players in 3-on-3 multiplayer matches. There was also a tease that AR Cards would be used to conduct battles in the game as well, but we'll have to wait for more information on that. And finally, a trailer of the new Luigi's Mansion 2 was shown with much excitement from the audience. This sequel will feature not one but "several" mansions, and with Canadian team Next Level Games taking control of the game's development, there's much to look forward to with this long-awaited return.

We were then shown footage of third-party games coming to the Nintendo 3DS in the next few months, including
Resident Evil: the Mercenaries 3D, Ace Combat 3D, Cave Story 3D and Tekken 3D. It's great to know developers really are focusing on providing new content to 3DS-owners. Switching gears for a couple minutes, Nintendo then decided to touch on the launch of the eShop and discuss how accessible their service is compared to what's been done before and the kinds of exclusive games that are currently available through this hub.

Then came the moment people were waiting for. It was time to announce the name of the new platform and put to rest all of those crazy rumors we were hearing about for weeks and weeks. The name for the Wii's successor was revealed to be Wii U, with the prevailing thought being that this new console will be "the perfect fit for you not us". We've seen Nintendo aim for the family-building approach for the last couple years, and slowly there have been hints that they want to strive for more personalized customizable experiences which is exactly what the Wii U hopes to offer. What else does the "u" in Wii U symbolize? Reggie made a couple (corny) suggestions that early players will find the system to be unique, unifying and even utopian. More than that though, it's inferred that the letter "u" can mean what you want it to, as the player. At its core, the system is "infinitely complex" yet "perfectly simple" at the same time and to get a taste of what's to come in 2012, we were shown the first official trailer for the new product.

Early on in the video, I started worrying about the 'New Controller' (name to be determined), thinking in my head how much it reminds me of the uDraw Tablet. But as the trailer showed other uses of the new device beyond allowing you to draw on it, I started to have a much more positive attitude. For example, you can use the motion-sensing capabilities of the rectangular controller to control, say, a baseball glove on screen in a game of
Wii Sports. You can also make video calls (a move I'm very surprised about given Nintendo's older business model), use it to browse the Internet in a different way, and interact with your TV screen in other cool ways.

"Up until now, home console games have occupied the TV screen", Iwata points out. But now, "U" won't need to stop playing when someone else needs the TV. Instead, players can continue playing on the New Controller which is either genius or shaky for the future console, depending on how you look at it. Nintendo is creating this platform particularly with the "most dedicated players" in mind, claiming that the variety and intuitiveness of the play controls will ideally re-define the future of gaming. They did stress, however, that this is "not designed to be a portable game machine". What they're doing is creating a new structure for home entertainment and a new bond between TV, games and the Internet. Iwata re-assures us that new ideas are already popping up within Nintendo and amongst third-party developers. There's already talk of a new cross-platform
Smash Bros. for the 3DS and the Wii U where they will work together in some fashion.

To provide "tangible proof" of the Wii U's staying power even in its early prototype stages, Nintendo announced they have created eight interactive experiences for the event. Although these aren't actual games, you could easily see some of these (like Chase Mii and Battle Mii) being included a start-up package for the new system's release. Nintendo offered a tease of the system's graphic capabilities by showing a tech demo of a bird flying around in a Japanese garden with pretty cherry blossoms and highly-detailed water effects. 

We were then shown a testimonial video where early adopters in the game developer space had positive remarks to share on the device. This included team representatives from 5th Cell, Ubisoft, Disney Interactive, EA Sports, and THQ. Along with this, Reggie briefed us on some of the working titles of established IP's that developers already thinking of bringing to the new system, including Darksiders II, Batman Arkham City, Assassin's Creed, Dirt, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge. Just when I thought the core audience couldn't be emphasized even more, the president of Electronic Arts took to the stage (something that has never been done before!) to announce the new "breakthrough" in their relationship with Nintendo. 

To round off the Press Conference, Reggie asked everyone to consider the company's four current platforms: DS, Wii, 3DS, Wii U. In reality, they all "share a common pedigree", as he put it, of innovation. The two screens of the DS changed gaming. The Wii's motion controls changed gaming. Glasses-free 3D has and can still further bring change to gaming. And now, Wii U opens up a "second window" to the game world with plenty of new opportunities still waiting to be explored. And with that, Reggie walked off stage, cueing lots of game logos to briefly appear on-screen before the Press Conference was officially over!


Did Nintendo's presentation manage to win me over? Not completely, but for the most part, they did a great job. There were definitely some gaps in their presentation of the Wii U but that's probably because it's still in the prototype stages. Still, the fact that some outlets are misunderstanding the intent of this new system (i.e., that it's not just the 'New Controller') says that Nintendo didn't convey all their ideas in the best way possible. Not to mention, too, there were some great teases to look at as Reggie was making his way off the stage, and some of these were actually new games! Instead of officially announcing these at the conference, they just showed us a logo to prompt our interest in coverage from game journalists. Sadly, some games like Professor Layton and the Last Specter, Mario Party 9, Fortune Street, and Super Fossil Fighters flew under the radar to make room for their focus on the Wii U and the 3DS. Perhaps they could've used a bit more re-focusing so that these titles could be covered properly. Either that or Nintendo's conference should have gone on for even longer. At least this tells us that Nintendo will have a busy year ahead of them.


Breakdown


Strengths:
  • All about games; little-to-no filler stuff
  • Catered to the core audience very well
  • Wii U shows a lot of promise
  • Zelda's 25th Anniversary was approached well
  • Good use of industry data/highlights; worked in their favour
  • Nice Zelda fan service at the start
  • EA president coming on stage!
Weaknesses:
  • Could have articulated the premise of the Wii U better
  • Some new DS, Wii and eShop titles were not announced; flew under the radar
Most Memorable Highlight:
  • Wii U announcement!



Cave Story 3D - Latest Screens

posted 10 Jun 2011, 15:03 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 10 Jun 2011, 15:06 ]

We have some of the latest screens for Cave Story 3D, courtesy of NIA America! Check them out in our Screenshot Gallery below.


Feature - System Transfer Stupidity

posted 9 Jun 2011, 15:49 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 9 Jun 2011, 16:04 ]

Far from a seamless and user-friendly process, using the 3DS System Transfer to bring my DSiWare titles, recordings and photos did not turn out the way I expected at all. Call it a rant or call it drawing attention to the truth, the whole process of bringing your previously-purchased games over to the Nintendo 3DS has left me quite upset. Here's why.

First off, there's the tool itself. Although the Pikmin animation that runs on your Nintendo 3DS during the transfer is amusing, it seems like a rush job. During my attempts to transfer select titles from my DSi to my 3DS, I encountered plenty of problems. The tool kept chiming out mid-way because it was unable to connect to the Internet even though there were no actual problems with my wireless. And because of that, copying over all the games I wanted turned out to be a long and tedious process (one that I still haven't fully completed). Eventually I was able to consistently choose titles one after the other with few error screens in between, but that was only after having gone through all those regular interruptions. Because I own over 100 downloadable titles, you must be wondering, "Why not just do the Full Transfer?" And this leads me to my next point.

Any title you transfer does not retain its original save data, meaning that all my progress in games like Trajectile and Pop Island would be wiped clean and that's not something I was okay with. For some games like Looksley's Line Up I really didn't mind playing over from the beginning. Similarly, in games like in the Game & Watch releases, I wasn't concerned about losing my high-scores at all. But that's besides the point. I was super-disappointed that Nintendo didn't have the decency to ensure save data would be kept in tact when games were moved over, and even now I still have trouble wrestling with this decision.

One other area where Nintendo has really dropped the ball is in the matter of leftover Nintendo Points. It's one thing to prohibit the use of unused Nintendo Points cards on the new eShop platform. That I somewhat get. But I don't understand why you can't bring over any remaining points you have sitting around on the DSi Shop and convert them to eShop cash. 

Unfortunately, after I brought over some of my DSiWare games to the 3DS, the disappointments only continued. Not only are you unable to assign any DSiWare games as your 'Favourite Title' in the Friends List menu, but Nintendo has also disabled use of the Home Menu whilst playing. Would it have been so hard to implement these features? They seem little, but they do go a long way -- at least, in my overall experience with the system. Especially with the latter, players wouldn't have felt a loss in interaction with the 3DS platform now that they're playing games that were designed with the DSi in mind. Instead, the inability to access the Home Menu during play ultimately contradicts the very strategy of player immersion that Nintendo has been pushing again and again.

Any games that you brought over that weren't directly transferred over as a full download were transferred in license form. This requires you to open up the eShop and access the Download Activity area where you can re-download said games free of charge if you so choose. So that forces players to go through a couple extra steps just so they can confirm which games they sent to their 3DS. 

Also, you'll notice that some games actually have smaller block sizes on the 3DS than they did on the DSi, which does allow you to hold more games on your menu screen. But I still find myself feeling disappointed that the internal memory doesn't give you more leeway to house more DSiWare releases. Allowing players to run games off the SD Card would have been a simple fix for this problem, but once again, Nintendo didn't take up this opportunity. I figured they would have cracked down on this by now (especially with the numerous complaints people made with the DSi), so that's what makes this even more upsetting. 

Nintendo did get a few things right with the DSiWare transfer system, though. Thankfully, these games do count as entries for your Activity Log and you are able to rate them on the eShop after spending at least an hour with them. So there's a positive there. But as a whole, I'm still very disappointed with how Nintendo has handled this whole thing. Instead of being worth the wait, the System Transfer feature has just made me feel like Nintendo has neglected my needs as a gamer and as a future customer and I'm not happy about that at all.

Feature - Exploring the Nintendo eShop

posted 9 Jun 2011, 13:43 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 9 Jun 2011, 19:35 ]

Boy was it ever difficult to connect to the eShop late Monday night. After a long delay that met with even more delay time leading up to its release, it was great to finally see an online service appear on the Nintendo 3DS. Many feel this should have been incldued from the get-go, and while I don’t necessarily feel as strongly as some do about the matter, I definitely feel that the eShop plays a big role in providing additional content and continuing the trend of player satisfaction. 

It’s exciting just thinking about the sorts of titles ambitious developers will release for this platform in the coming months ahead, especially now that the size limits have seen considerable improvement over the DSiWare service. For now, though, let’s take a few moments to delve into the eShop’s structure and get a better idea of the sorts of improvements Nintendo has been tooting.

The first thing to notice is the way they’re striving for a slightly more personal touch when it comes to interactivity. Kind of like the DSi Sound application and the Wii’s Photo Channel where we were introduced to two animal “hosts” (a parrot and a black cat, respectively), the eShop is home to an animated shopping bag with nothing but smiles for prospective shoppers. To be sure, it’s a simple character by virtue but there’s just something slightly more welcoming about having an animated sprite accompany you on your shopping experience.


Until further notice, when you boot up the eShop, 3D Classics: Excitebike is the first game that’s advertised. To see the other exclusive games that are available at launch including Super Mario Land, you’ll have to first scroll past a couple for accessing more games. It’s a little weird to see games like Pokedex 3D mixed in amongst the other folders on the Main Menu instead of having them all clumped together.

On first glance, the organization is certainly a tep-sup from the DSi Shop, with categories like ‘Staff Pick of the Week’, ‘DSiWare Favourites’ and ‘Essential Games’ offering key points of interest. There’s also a section just for Mario games, one for two-player games and a couple genre-specific areas. Seeing sections designated for puzzle, card and strategy games says a lot about the sorts of titles that were in high demand over the course of the DSiWare service. Nintendo is definitely aware of who their target audience is and what their purchasing patterns have been like since DSiWare’s inception.

Along the far left of the Main Menu, you’ll find a menu for considering sales data or viewing the latest releases. A series of options have also been placed in this area, and these include things like adding funds to your account and rating titles a la the Nintendo Channel. These can also be accessed at any time by tapping the Menu icon in the top-left corner of the Touch Screen, which is handy.


Looking beyond what’s on display and actually delving into the individual components of the eShop, I found myself having a different reaction to some of the early decisions Nintendo made here. Take for example, the ‘DSiWare Favourites’ section. As pleasing as it was to see niche game Big Bass Arcade make an appearance in this area, I can’t understand what possessed Nintendo to promote titles like Remote Racers, Hospital Havoc or Academy: Tic-Tac-Toe. I can already think of 5 games that are much more deserving of being crowned a ‘Favourite’. 

Then, as I moved to the ‘Essential Games’, I could see a similar pattern of certain titles being promoted that, in my opinion, did not deserve “front page status”. Dragon Quest Wars? Yes! Arcade Hoops Basketball? Need for Speed: Nitro-X? No way. Talk about sending mixed messages of what truly is “essential” to a gamer’s library.

After observing that even some of the genre-specific categories had questionable picks, I soon realized this was pretty much a universal thing. Two Scrabble games make it into the Strategy Games’ area, and yet there’s no sign of Starship Defense or even Libera Wing? That makes no sense. I have no idea what their process is of determining what titles get promoted here, but I can tell you I was sorely disappointed to see real must-have games like X-Scape not appearing whatsoever.

On top of all that, I can’t believe there’s no actual DSiWare browsing space in the shop! There’s a huge catalogue of games that many aren’t even aware of and Nintendo chooses to only highlight some of these in their ‘Favourites’ area? I’m not pleased at all. The only way a person can find out about games like
Alphabounce
is by entering them into the Search bar. But therein lies one of the big problems I’ve always complained about with the DSi Shop -- ineffective marketing strategies.

Numerous people are completely unaware of what actually exists on the DSiWare service because the less-important stuff shines through on the sales charts. By now, I expected Nintendo would act on this, but instead they seem to be simply turning a partially blind eye to it.

As I conclude this piece, I don’t want to make it seem like I’m dissatisfied with the new eShop. But put simply, Nintendo has made ineffective and very upsetting choices that must be rectified moving forward. Otherwise, we’re just going to see a repeat of the last few years where deserving third-party titles will continue to be brushed aside to make room for hyped games like Cave Story and big sellers like Extreme Hangman.

Ubisoft's Press Conference - Detailed Summary

posted 8 Jun 2011, 11:15 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 8 Jun 2011, 11:28 ]

Ubisoft’s press conference at last year’s E3 wasn’t great (is it ever?) but in my opinion, it was surprisingly good. And so I had at least expected that it wouldn’t be a waste of time to sit through this year’s conference. E3 2011 has shown me a different side of Ubisoft that I’m not happy about. Their idea of a press conference was almost a total mess, and had it not been for a few redeeming features, I would have had even harsher things to say about them.


Let’s start off on a positive note and say... Wow. What an impressive first showing! Watching the two-player co-op session of Rayman Origins warmed my heart. I was reminded of the first Rayman game all over again. The game looked even better than I thought it would, and it truly is looking amazing in its current form. I can’t wait for it to come out!

After the demo of Origins was complete, it was at this point that we were all introduced to the host of this year’s press conference: Aaron Priceman (a.k.a Mr. Caffeine). This crazy fellow started hyping up the “Gaming is Adventure” tagline, showing us pictures of the NES and even the SEGA CD as though we were in a classroom setting. Then Aaron began telling terrible jokes and extremely cheesy pick-up lines that referenced all of the current major platforms. Litle did I realize at the time that this arrogant joke-teller would turn out to be a serious serious flaw for the entire presentation.

Throughout the conference, before introducing their new games, Ubisoft would first show animated “retro versions” of the titles they were about to show off. So they started off by showing
Driver: San Francisco “Retro” where blinking squares were giving chase to a single car in an top-down action sequence. Then the real trailer started and all eye’s were on the screen. During a high-speed car chase, we heard the sounds of a news reporter making comments about “unusually fast-flowing” traffic, advising listeners to “drive safe” right before the trailer closed off. The video wasn’t bad but not nearly as exciting as EA’s trailer for the new Need for Speed: The Run. Little information was given on what to expect from the title except that we can continually expect something new even after “hours and hours of play”.

Next, Ubisoft moved on to a simple introduction of Far Cry 3 which was then followed by a trailer that went on for a good 6 or 7 minutes (maybe longer). Randy Pitchford from Gearbox Software arrived on stage shortly afterwards to present a new take on the typical approach of World War II games with the upcoming Brother in Arms: Furious 4. Again, little information was given on either of these titles afterwards, supposedly under the assumption that all the game journalists would do the talking for them once the conference was over.

With little fanfare, a trailer of
The Adventures of Tintin: The Game was shown. It didn’t seem like many were applauding over the next game they were showing off, but I for one am very interested in seeing how this turns out. Some of the people responsible for the film over at Paramount Studios made positive comments in the trailer about what they like about the game tie-in. Apparently, the game “takes you on new adventures that aren't part of the film” and yet is still a “great companion to the movie”. Not just limited to exploration and basic combat, the trailer showed off a flight segment and an instance where Tintin was defending himself with an armed pistol against pursuers on motorbikes. I was a bit surprised by the different elements that will end up forming the game’s structure so I think it will be interesting to see how that turns out in the end.

Totally switching gears, the Ghost Recon franchise was up next with Tommy Jacob on stage to tell us about the new Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. It was interesting to see the “game-changing intel” in practice with an on-screen demo. I think they showed off the team co-ordination system, the real-time HUD and the reconnaissance systems quite well, but the demo itself went on for too long. After all that was finally over, they announced that Ghost Recon Online will be a great compliment to the console version and showed us a quick trailer of it in action. After Jacob left the stage, Priceman tried to one-up what was already said and did a rather weak move and tried to show random stock photos to illustrate the aspect of sharing in the land of gaming.

For the PC fans, Maniaplanet was touched on with the upcoming September release of
Trackmania 2: Canyon. “Playing online will never be the same” according to them, but, once again, little information was actually given to what to expect from the new Trackmania title. We were shown a trailer of what looked like an intro sequence for the upcoming game but no actual gameplay footage was displayed.

Next we were introduced to Raving Rabbids: Alive & Kicking for the Kinect. As the presenter was talking about the project, Rabbids would interrupt him on-screen and he would proceed to kick them off the screen. That wasn’t too bad, but when it got to a point where there was a game of Whack-a-Rabbid going on, I instantly thought, “Okay, this is weak”. After an underwhelming introduction to the latest Rabbids game, the presenter called over a couple other team members to help him demonstrated one of the new mini-games in the upcoming title. In ‘Fill the Shapes’, players co-operatively use their bodies to fill in the outlines shown on-screen. This went on for a couple tries and, might I add, with little excitement from the audience at all. There was no announcement of the new Raving Rabbids 5* for the 3DS, but at the time, I was more caught up in thinking about how silly the Rabbids segment was.

Moving onto yet another successful IP that has “millions of converts”, Priceman introduced the brand new trailer for
Just Dance 3 which had Taio Cruz’s Dynamite playing in the background about a quarter through the video. It was soon revealed that “the most successful party game in the history of this industry” would be moving to the Move and the Kinect platforms. The game will be releasing in October of this year.

Although Ubisoft has already spoken about months prior to the event, they wanted to build more awareness to Rocksmith. The video for the new innovative guitar game, showed a bunch of different professionals and musicians speaking about how Rocksmith really does help a person learn the guitar. Nothing new was learned about this project at all and I’m not sure why Ubisoft was releasing a second teaser for the concept instead of having something more to show or tell us about. But I digress.

After that, Ubisoft announced Your Shape 2 and showed a brief teaser for the upcoming release. And then the presentation concludes with a seven-minute demo of... Assassin’s Creed Revelations? What a contrast.

Overall, I didn’t think Ubisoft’s presentation was good at all. It was very disjointed in the way it jumped from one end of the spectrum to the other. Plus, the organization of which titles they revealed first, second and so on was clearly flawed. After Driver: San Francisco was shown, the presentation just seemed to go downhill and only barely managed to recover from it because of the closing presentation of Assassin’s Creed Revelations. To add insult to injury, Aaron Priceman was a terrible host -- disrespectful, unprofessional, and not in the least as witty as he thinks he is. For a 25th Anniversary celebration, you would think Ubisoft would crack down on these sorts of cracks, but alas, it seems like they lost sight of a lot of things when they were preparing for this year’s Press Conference.


Breakdown


Strengths:
  • Strong showings at the beginning and the end
  • Fun retro versions of upcoming titles
Weaknesses:
  • Disjointed presentation
  • No sense of flow whatsoever
  • Awful host who took away from the presentation rather than add to it
  • Flawed organization of titles
  • The Ghost Recon demo went on for too long
  • Lack of hype-building/information for certain titles
  • Seemed content with just releasing a teaser
  • Weak Rabbids presentation
Most Memorable Highlight:
  • Rayman Origins looked amazing!



EA's Press Conference - Detailed Summary

posted 8 Jun 2011, 09:45 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 8 Jun 2011, 11:28 ]

After a very casual-focused presentation from Microsoft, one could say that EA succeeded at bringing the attention back to the core audience at this year's E3. But were they able to keep that focus the entire way through? Read on for a detailed summary of EA's press conference and an analysis on how it went overall.


EA wasted little time in getting right into the action with a tease of Mass Effect 3 which spawned much excitement from the on-site audience. This was followed by a live demo of the game in action where BioWare promised to make the newest title even stronger than the list. Soon after Mass Effect had made a strong impact on viewers, the president of the company took to the stage and proceeded to get into the preliminaries with everyone seated in the auditorium. He was quick to highlight that EA likes to do things differently from the rest, and even took a jab at a certain company, saying that they’re not going to invite random celebrities for appearances. Instead, EA promised to effectively showcase the sorts of products they have in development and not aim for certain appeals to get people’s attention.

Then came an early mention of Origin.com, a new service where EA and EA partners can offer previews of new games and services that fans can look forward to in the coming year. In changing their structure at EA, Origin.com seems to be a great initiative for reaching out to consumers and making it even easier to access information and more. It really seems like EA is trying to do their own thing and market their titles in their own way, rather than simply leaving that up to retailers to hype up their upcoming releases with pre-order opportunities and the like. Origin has already been up and running prior to the show, and so far it’s created a considerable amount of buzz within the industry.


Need for Speed: The Run
came next, and boy did things get interesting. Some of the key highlights of the game that the company flaunted include its "breakneck speed", its "chase and race sequences" and a “relentless” AI force that is willing to use “any lethal means to take you down”. The Autolog system first introduced in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit will once again be returning in The Run except this time, they are aiming to weave the system into the game’s story whereby players will be racing friends to New York City. Much more exciting, though, is an announcement that really sent my heart racing. For this iteration in the franchise, they’ll actually be “pushing action out of the car”! As soon as the comment was made that Need for Speed would have on-foot portions, I immediately got goosebumps.

To provide a demonstration of what this entails, EA ran through a live on-screen demo where the main character (you) is stopped by police and ends up taking to rooftops. As he does, helicopters are firing bullets at him and as he reaches the edge of a roof, a button appears on the screen, confirming that these segments will feature QTE’s. Uh oh. A high-speed chase ensures where nice lighting effects are demonstrated in a realistic-looking setting. Along the way, quick sequences take place with other cars getting knocked out of the way. It soon gets to a point where the main character finds himself in an overturned car along a set of train tracks and must use QTE’s to escape. Worrying? Definitely. But we’ll have to wait and see.

To introduce Star Wars: The Old Republic, the General Manager of Bioware was next to take the stage. Hyping up the trailer of the game, he has plenty of positive things to say about the game’s development due to "the enormity of the experience". In his words, the LucasArts fanbase is the “most loyal and demanding audience in the history of entertainment” so having to craft this experience has been very challenging for the team. The trailer that was then shown was really captivating, pitting two armies against one another in a classic tale of a nation’s homeland getting assaulted by another nation that’s been lurking in the shadows. The video asks players to choose which side they want to follow, suggesting that there are multiple storyline paths you can explore in the upcoming game.

Next up was a trailer of
SSX: Deadly Descents! As soon as snow appeared, you knew what to expect. The video looked pretty exciting, with the tagline “Defy Reality. Own the Planet” and the proposed release date of January 2012. Peter Moore took the stage after the reveal, promising a seriously “massive” open world -- so massive, in fact, that there was a mention of NASA Satellite data being used. Custom to “true SSX fashion” the game will offer three unique experiences: ‘Race It’, ‘Trick It’ and ‘Survive ‘It’. Peter went on for a bit about, again, the “unique” cast of characters, informing viewers that a trailer on one of the most well-known characters from the franchise is available on the Origin website.

Continuing with the EA Sports brand, there was naturally talk about FIFA 12. Boasting 51 awards for their last game and over 1.3B recorded online sessions, they’re aiming for three main things with this new release: meaningful tactical defending where positioning is now just important as tackling; as well as precision dribbling enabling you to maintain positions even in closed quarters. A trailer was then shown featuring musicians Lil Wayne and Drake and a whole slew of other FIFA players who commented positively on why they love playing the FIFA video games. With a commitment to innovation, EA then announced a new service, the EA Sports Football Club, which promises to be "the heartbeat of FIFA". It’s a live Service that injects challenges and storylines with social competition at its core. EA believes this new service will create "persistence and presence" across platforms.

Madden NFL 12
was up next and here EA seemed to focus on this new release in a different fashion. I kept hearing the phrases "True to victory" and “True to the game" pop up, which says a lot about the realism they’re aiming to provide moving forward. And in doing exactly what they said they wouldn’t do, LCD screens on-stage were lifted to reveal three real-life NFL celebrities. Even if they weren’t “random”, it seemed a bit hypocritical of them to follow through on this.

Moving to the casual for a bit, it was announced that The Sims were moving to Facebook with the game The Sims Social. This promises to be the game for people who are "tired of robotic games based on agriculture". Other than the jab at Farmville, there wasn’t much else interesting to report on this.

From 38 Studios, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an upcoming game where players are involved in an epic war and can change fate and destiny of characters and the world through their actions. And from Insomniac Games, there was the announcement of the game Overstrike, a game featuring 4 “elite agents” that will expand the team’s portfolio to the Microsoft audience. And finally, EA’s press conference concluded with a trailer and a live demo of Battlefield 3 where the next-gen tech engine Frostbite 2 was on display.

So, how did they do? Well I honestly came away feeling satisfied with EA’s press conference. Each game they showed (with the exception of FIFA and Madden) offered a different experience for a different group of people. Their presentation seemed very professional in the sense that the demonstrations were properly integrated, they offered pre-ambles and, many times, even follow-ups to each showing. Additionally, the overall flow of the presentation was great! It seems like loyal supporters of the Electronic Arts brand have a lot to look forward to.


Breakdown


Strengths:
  • Core audience was well-represented
  • Great presentation order and flow
  • Lots of Origin.com plugs; lots of awareness for the new service
  • Discernible focus in each game announcement
Weaknesses:
  • Celebrity representation seemed hypocritical
Most Memorable Highlight:
  • NFS: The Run will feature on-foot segments, a first for the franchise!



Super Fossil Fighters - E3 Trailer

posted 8 Jun 2011, 09:41 by Knuckles Sonic8

Fossil Fighters is getting a sequel! The game will be out later this year.


Kirby Wii - E3 Trailer

posted 8 Jun 2011, 09:40 by Knuckles Sonic8

Kirby Wii is back in business with this new trailer!




Rhythm Heaven Wii - E3 Trailer

posted 8 Jun 2011, 09:39 by Knuckles Sonic8

More on Rhythm Heaven Wii in this new trailer!


Fortune Street - E3 Trailer

posted 8 Jun 2011, 09:38 by Knuckles Sonic8

Check out the trailer for the newly-announced Fortune Street.


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