This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo is over, and boy has it been a treat. The gaming world’s biggest manufacturers converged on this year’s event, aiming to capture the attention of gamer press and the public alike with their new hardware, exciting new titles, and future plans. But it wasn’t Microsoft or Sony that walked away with the gaming industry’s greatest prize, but Nintendo.
The Japanese gaming company was once the biggest in the industry, but a series of failed consoles and innovation crises left them recently struggling to gain a foothold. After the success of the Wii and Nintendo DS portable gaming system, Nintendo appear to have almost complete control of the gaming industry’s more public side.
It’s a phenomenon which has occurred once more at this year’s E3. After Microsoft’s dull Xbox 360 Kinect demo and Sony’s equally weak Playstation Move presentation, the former underdog stepped up and revealed some of the coolest hardware its produced in years. The Nintendo 3DS beat every other presentation at this year’s E3, demonstrating that the Japanese game house has still got it.
The system itself isn’t particularly unusual, nor is it a surprising release from the gaming industry’s most innovative manufacturer. Built around a familiar enclosure and boasting few physical changes, the 3DS looks much less like a next-gen system than we had imagined. Its controls are nothing new, its design relatively unchanged, and its enclosure built of the same materials we’re accustomed to.
That is, of course, until you switch it on. The system’s understated exterior houses a new processor, updated graphics unit, and an equally impressive dual-screen three-dimensional display. Just like the original DS, the lower screen is used to control in-game actions while the upper displays three-dimensional game content and can even be used to play three-dimensional films.
Amazingly, the compact screen displays 3D content more vividly than Sony’s own Bravia television line. The few demonstration titles we’ve seen looked smooth and natural, incorporating 3D subtly and rarely feeling like a technology demo. With the incredible software Nintendo has announced, the 3DS could soon find itself as the de-facto mobile and home gaming platform.
Other Nintendo announcements were slightly less eventful. A new Zelda title will soon be available for the Wii, while an updated version of Rare’s Goldeneye 007 will be released at some point in the next twelve months. Nintendo’s acclaimed Zelda: Ocarina of Time may be remade and released for the 3DS at some point in the next year, although Nintendo were short on details at the conference.
Nintendo has yet to announce a release date for the 3DS, although gaming industry experts believe the system will hit store shelves before the end of the year. Pricing is currently unknown, although a leak from Australian video gaming chain EB Games has pegged the system’s price at approximately $199 USD. Nintendo plans to showcase launch titles over the course of the year.