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Controller Freak

Chad Sapieha leads you deep into the world of games, covering gaming trends

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E3 '09: Nintendo presser Q&A with Matt Ryan Add to ...

Long-time Nintendo fans will likely be happy with the news that came out of Nintendo's official E3 media conference Tuesday.

It began with the announcement of New Super Mario Bros. Wii-an old-school side-scrolling platform game with support for up to four players.

Then came video from Super Mario Galaxy 2, a sequel to one of the Wii's most popular games to date.

And the event wrapped with Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aimé revealing Metroid: Other M, an action game developed by Team Ninja (of Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive fame) that will take the franchise in new directions.

There were plenty of interesting announcements in between, too, including an impressive roster of software designed specifically for the DSi that will allow users to create their own micro-games and 2-D animations, as well as upload photos from the handheld system directly to Facebook.

Nintendo also made a point of calling out some of the more mature games coming to the Wii designed to satisfy the system's core gamers, including The Conduit, Dead Space: Extraction, and Resident Evil: Dark Side Chronicles.

There was even news on the hardware front, with further information being released regarding the immanent Wii MotionPlus attachment for the Wii remote, and another peripheral called the Wii Vitality Sensor, a biometric doodad that can sense a player's heartbeat, among other internal workings.

I spoke with Nintendo of Canada's Matt Ryan shortly after the event to obtain further details on his company's new games and devices.

Let's get straight to the most exciting stuff: Metroid: Other M, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. What can you tell us about these games?

With Metroid: Other M, what I can tell you is that Nintendo has been working with Team Ninja. It's not a prequel or a sequel or anything like that; it's a whole new Metroid experience on Wii. Samus is still Samus, and there are some key footholds for the franchise that are going to be in there, but it's definitely a whole new Metroid experience. All we showed today was a trailer. But that provided some tasty nuggets of what is to come.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is for the advanced gamer; the Super Mario Galaxy fan. It's a little more on the core side, though I think "advanced gamer" is a better definition of the market we're talking about. The complexity of the 3-D gameplay is something that's going to whet the appetite of someone who has a little more experience. That's not to say it's going to turn off casual gamers, because it is the type of experience that can be enjoyed by everyone, but there are additional levels of complexity.

And the unique offering with New Super Mario Bros. Wii is that you can have four players playing at once. It's the same 2-D side-scrolling platforming action that you and I and other gamers who have been around for a while love. There are new suits for Mario, new worlds, new things you can do. One of the things that stands out for New Super Mario Bros. Wii is that you can ride Yoshi, and make Yoshi more a part of the game than he has ever been before.

When will these games be released?

Metroid: Other M will be launched in 2010, and so will Super Mario Galaxy 2. New Super Mario Bros. Wii I'm happy to say is holiday 2009.

There was plenty of talk about Wii MotionPlus. It's been a long time coming, but it will be here this summer. What can players expect to see when the first games supporting this new peripheral launch?

Nintendo's launching Wii MotionPlus with Wii Sports Resort. Last year we gave a little tastes of what it had to offer. This year we're defining it.

On the show floor here we're going to be showcasing all 12 of the activities that will be available in Wii Sports Resort. That's what we're showing with our game. But the reality is that in the marketplace it will launch first with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10. This game will let you feel how to put spin on the ball. You will be very aware of the mistakes that you're making when you're slicing or hooking. That's what Wii MotionPlus is bringing; a more real experience.

How about the Wii Vitality Sensor?

[Nintendo CEO]Mr. [Satoru]Iwata announced the Wii Vitality Sensor, which will be coming in the future. It allows the user to look at and feel some of those things that are normally invisible to us. It will help read some of the internal workings of the body, like the pulse. That's all I can say about that, but Mr. Iwata wanted to make sure he told people about what is coming next. There's not much more that can be said at this point.

WarioWare DIY for the DS looks to be another step in what seems to be a new trend of user-generated content in games. Will players be able to share the micro-games they make in DIY?

WarioWare DIY is definitely all about user-generated content. It's going to be the answer to what a lot of gamers have been waiting for, which is to create their own game experiences.

The key idea behind WarioWare DIY is that you get to create your own games. You get to draw them out, time them, figure out what makes you win or lose.

And you will be able to post your own games and let others download them and give them a try. The exact details on the mechanics that will let you do that haven't been released yet.

The new DSiWare non-gaming applications look interesting as well. Tell us a bit about FlipNote Studio and the Facebook photo app.

FlipNote Studio is DSiWare. What I can say about the experience is that it's all about user-generated content. It's about creating these moving animations that can be as basic as a stick figure to something more complex, like what we showed, a gorilla laughing, which has a lot more detail to it. It's going to let everyone be an animation artist and share their work. In Japan there is a hosted site to which users can post their flipnotes, and users will have the same opportunity here in North America.

The Facebook application is free. It's giving Nintendo DSi users the ability to post a photo or multiple photos on facebook. It is a step in the direction of a partnership with Facebook. You'll have a unique place in Facebook where all your DSi photos will go.

There was also some talk regarding audience growth, and making games that appeal to all sorts of players, regardless of their skill level...

Mr. Iwata, who is our visionary leader, made a very important comment about the amount of gamers out there. There's basically a huge market that is untapped. The reality is that if you look at the amount of people who aren't currently playing games but who have somehow indicated that they could be interested in games, they could add 50 per cent growth to the market. That's almost 300 million people.

Nintendo had a strategy back in the 1980s with the NES that was about getting as many people to play video games as possible, creating tons of experiences that would be accessible to everyone, but also creating other experiences that were more complex and for an advanced gamer. Over the years the strategy has changed, but right now we're looking at the same strategy. We're delivering experiences for everyone. And that's done through applications and software which are built at different levels of gameplay and complexity.

At Nintendo's booth on the show floor is a vast array of titles that will show experiences of all types. Some are completely for the advanced gamer. Some are for women and girls, like the new Style Savvy, which is all about fashion and dressing consumers and running your own store. It's a clear example of expanding the video game market.

The other thing that really stood out in our presser today was the announcement of Wii Fit Plus, which is an enhancement of the Wii Fit that is already in market. It's an experience that's not really about video games, but rather about fun and fitness.

So Nintendo's strategy hasn't changed since the launch of Wii and DS. We're reaching out to everybody.

 

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