E3 2006: And the Winner Is

The question that I get most from people when they found out that I was able to attend E3 this year is always, 'So what was the coolest thing?' or, 'What was the most impressive?' or 'What made your bones tingle with gladness' and to all of these questions I answer the same thing: Nintendo.

The E3 2006 Champion

Nintendo was easily the most anticipated company at E3. After feeding the public bits and pieces about their new console, then changing the name from Revolution to Wii with less then a week before E3, people knew that something big was going to happen, and it did. The talk had started way before the expo even began, and with rumors of Sony's overpriced Playstation 3 and the obvious failure of XBOX 360 in pleasing the wide number of gamers all over the world with an unimpressive launch setup, the stage was set for Nintendo to steal the show.

They opened up E3 with an amazing display of Wii's power debuting the new Zelda game, Twilight Princess. The demo showed the versatility of Nintendo's new controller as well as the improvement in graphics from the Gamecube to Wii. That was just the first step and it was obviously impressive enough to set E3 record lines in order to get in to see Wii, the lines ranged from anywhere to three to four hours all three days.

Crowd Inside the Nintendo Area

Once inside you had an assortment of games to choose to play, including Mario Galaxy which brings the Mario series to the next generation and almost serves as a template for how to use the Wii controller. There were also games like Metroid Prime 3: Corruption which impressed a lot of the viewers with its innovative use of the controller to fire and move as well as continuing the already extremely successful Metroid Prime series for Nintendo. Another impressive demo was the new Sonic game, Sonic: Wild Fire. This showed even more flexibility in the Wii controller and really proved just how many things Wii will be able to do that no other console will be able to compete with. For sonic you tilt the controller to the side and use it as if it was a NES controller. In order to move sonic around you simply tilt the controller left or night and the blue hedgehog will follow your commands. Along with games like Wario Ware, Super Monkey Ball, and Sports Tennis the popularity of the system definitely has proven that in the video game worlds, brains win over brawn. The fact that a release date or price was not announced gives us even more to look forward to and is certainly keeping gamers on their toes. With Sony's debut price of 500 or 600 for their PS3 we can also be sure that Wii will certainly be less expensive, another addition to Nintendo's winning artillery.

Nintendo's Latest Invention, DS Lite

However, Wii was not the only card that Nintendo had up its sleeve. Despite the amazing popularity of the exhibit it was not the only reason to head over to Nintendo's area. Nintendo also debuted their Nintendo DS Lite, a much smaller and portable version of their Nintedo DS. There were over 50 that were available to be played, containing such games as The New Supermario Brothers, Children of Mana, Yoshi's Island 2, Mario and DK 2, Starfox DS, Zelda: Phanton Hourglass, Mario Hoops 3 on 3, and Custom robo arena. There was a long line to play the new SuperMario game, because after playing you were given a coveted DS holder, which are already going for over twenty dollars on Ebay.

They also had a separate play areas for certain games. One area had Brainage, the new 'learning is fun' game from Nintendo, that actually, well, makes learning fun. They had it set up so you would compete against 3 other people in randomly chosen games. The one my group got was a mathematics game where math problems appeared on the screen and with the stylus you had to write the correct answer. I got extremely frustrated because the stupid game wouldn't recognize my fours (which I draw like the FANTASTIC FOUR) and kept thinking they were nines. I finally got really upset and started screaming at the DS and my friend who had already finished before I could even answer my first question calmly showed me how to make a four it would read. Despite my newfound knowledge on how to WRITE FOURS, I still found it very difficult to train my brain to write fours, so I walked away with a nice Brainage notebook as a prize for playing but a strong bitterness in my heart for the number four.

The other separate area was possibly my favorite section at Nintendo, maybe even the entire expo. It was a set of eight DS lights specifically for the new Pokemon games being released, Pokemon Ranger and Pokemon Mysterious Dungeon. I played Pokemon Ranger from the start of the demo until the end. I was extremely engrossed in the gameplay and the marvelous new way to catch Pokemon. Instead of just throwing pokeballs, in order to instigate the use of the stylus in the new generation of Pokemon games you must now circle the Pokemon you are attempting to capture with your stylus. Circling it forms a line and you must not let the Pokemon touch the line or it will be immediately broken and you must start again. Once you successfully circle the Pokemon the number of times needed in order to capture it, (in the demo the numbers ranged anywhere from three to eight) you let go of the stylus and the Pokemon will join your team and follow you around on screen. As the game goes on things get more complex and you can start using certain Pokemon's powers to help catch other Pokemon that are weak to a certain type, once again creating an extremely innovative and addicting gameplay for Pokemon fans.

Pokemon is Sweet!

The rest of the setup included a very professional corporate office area where Nintendo staff and employees were able to relax and enjoy themselves. They had a desk for media check in where you could schedule appointments to get VIP tours of the Wii area. I approached the desk sheepishly, almost feeling butterflies in my stomach like I was at a middle school dance again. I asked the woman if LAsplash qualified for the media VIP pass and her response made me feel like I had just been rejected by Shell Chandler again in 7th grade. 'Oh, LASplash? No I'm sorry you're not on the list, I know who's on the list, I'm really sorry, really I am, thanks though, have a good time.' The atmosphere around the Nintendo office was also different. It certainly wasn't cocky or obnoxious, but it had an air of confidence that they had this in the bag. Everyone greeted you as if they knew how impressed you were, and they were right. Nintendo hasn't always been on top of their game, their have been quite a few years where Nintendo fans have grieved after E3 had finished, but we all know this was certainly not one of those instances.  It is interesting that Nintendo codenamed Wii the Revolution.

Mario Galaxy for Wii

After E3 has finished, it is clear that Nintendo will certainly be starting a revolution in gaming technology. Their innovative, creative, and gamer participatory products (Nintendo DS, and Wii) are proving to be the TRUE next generation for video game consoles. Before the dust had even settled in the battle between the big three (Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft) after day one it was clear that Nintendo would be the undisputed champion. The next step is for further information to be released, but until it is Nintendo has got us at the edge of our seats in anticipation, an accomplishment fitting for the company that truly pioneered the video game industry. Now all we can do is wait for them to bring us into the new era of gaming, the Nintendo Revolution.   

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