E3 ’07 So Far: Impressions from the Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony Press Conferences

by PocketGoddess on July 11, 2007

I never got the chance to go to E3, and like many others I was dismayed when I learned last year that the entire format of the show was being changed and the attendance greatly minimized. I’m definitely not disappointed any longer though–the chance to watch live streams of the “big 3″ press conferences has more than made up for it. And I didn’t even have to worry about being strip searched by airport security, hours-long lines for five minutes with an unfinished game, or dodging the panting geeks having their pictures taken with scantily-clad booth babes.

Microsoft

I wasn’t taking notes because I was working hard just to stay awake for the rather late start time (work definitely comes too early in the morning). I’m not really a Microsoft fan in the gaming sense and don’t have any hands-on experience aside from a brief opportunity to play with the original XBox at a Mobius event I attended several years ago. After watching the press conference though I’m interested in getting a 360, assuming I can ever get broadband Internet service at my house. I’m not too excited about Halo 3, Gears of War 2, etc. but I was very impressed with Microsoft’s XBox Live service. I saw several new Live Arcade games that I would love to play and for the first time really appreciate the diversity that the 360 offers. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always had it in my head that the XBox was the console for FPS fans, and never really bothered to look below the surface. I’m intrigued now, and will definitely be following the XBox news more closely from now on.

Nintendo

After I finished watching this conference I felt as though I had run a marathon–the excitement was that real for me! Gameplay footage and release dates for Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Smash Brothers, plus a closer look at Metroid 3 would have been enough for me. The Wii version of Mario Kart was announced, which I suspected, but I was surprised by the announcement of the Wii Wheel accessory that will be packed in with the game. I think it will be released in the first quarter of next year, though I don’t have anything more specific in my notes.
But I was completely blown away by the announcements for Flash Focus (think Vision Training) and Wii Fit. Hardcore gamers may be scratching their heads and wondering what the excitement is all about, but more casual gamers as well as the general masses are going to be interested in these new games. Wii Sports has definitely generated a lot of healthy interest, and at least one blogger is actively losing weight (and documenting the process here) playing the Wii. Why not go all out and create a first party health title? Wii Fit looks like just the ticket to help folks ease into a healthier, more active lifestyle and make it fun enough that everyone will want to do so. I’ll admit that I’m not the most active sort, and could definitely stand to lose a few pounds–but if Wii Fit is done right (as I’m sure it will be since Nintendo is developing it) we could have quite a Revolution on our hands. I didn’t hear any date or pricing information on Wii Fit, but I do know that the game will include more than 40 activities plus balance board accessory that seems able to measure weight and BMI.
I’ve long been disappointed that more of the “training games” popular in Japan haven’t been localized for US audiences (I want my language training, gardening, and yoga titles, darn it!) but it sounds like both Nintendo and some third party publishers have exciting plans in store. Reggie mentioned My Word Coach and My Life Coach, but I know that at least one publisher is currently working on French and Spanish training games as well as an intriguing “Paint By DS” title. My video feed dropped out a couple of times, so I don’t have all the details, but I can tell that I’d better start saving my cash now because there are plenty of Wii and DS games that I’ll be picking up this holiday season.

Sony

Ah, Sony–the company that everyone seems to love to hate right now. I don’t know what’s wrong with the PS3–if it’s just the high price, or all of the PR fumbles around the launch, or a game drought that seems even worse than the supposed “Wii drought” (I haven’t had any trouble keeping busy with Raving Rabbids and Trauma Center, but I digress). I don’t have a PS3 at the moment and again don’t plan to get one at the moment (again, until broadband Internet service is available at my house). I’m concerned about the backward compatibility issues–I have a lot of PS2 games that I still enjoy playing, and I don’t relish the thought of trying to find room in the entertainment center for both my trusty old PS2 and a gargantuan PS3.
So my main interest in Sony’s conference is any news and announcements related to the PSP, and then just to “see what I can see” related to the PS3. I’m a true-blue PSP fanatic right now; it gets more playtime than my Nintendo DS and always accompanies me on business trips because it does it all–games, movies, music, and photos. I was really hoping for a PSP redesign, and I was rewarded early on in the briefing with the announcement of a slimmer and lighter PSP that will be available in September of this year. Looking at it on stage the new PSP looks almost exactly like the old one, though I could tell that the markings and buttons on the front were slightly different, sleeker somehow.
It is however 33% lighter and 19% slimmer than the original PSP, with a better battery and faster UMD loading. That alone was enough to sell me, but there’s one very cool new feature–the ability to watch PSP video content on any HD television with a new video output mode. Even better, the newly redesigned PSP will be sold as a $199 entertainment pack that includes the Daxter game and a Family Guy collection, (unless you get the Star Wars edition, which will include a PSP-exclusive new Star Wars game) plus a 1GB MS Pro Duo. And you can finally get a different color, with the choice of black, silver, or the Star Wars edition (available in October) that is white with an image of Darth Vader. I’ll definitely be picking up one of the new models as soon as they are available at retail.
I wasn’t able to see too much detail on all of the PS3 games that were announced during the conference, because the feed I was watching was zoomed way out during most of the video presentations. I did see the MGS4 trailer, and it looked very good. But the coolest game I saw was Echochrome–sort of an M. C. Escher-meets-Crush kind of game that looks absolutely fascinating. The graphics are minimal, but the appeal here is the ability to manipulate the world by changing your point of view, and I can’t wait to play this one. I think it was announced for both the Playstation Network and PSP, so of course if it comes out on UMD I’ll definitely pick it up.
Thanks to the daily G4 telecasts and obsessive refreshes on news sites from GameSpot & IGN to places like Joystiq, I’ll be gathering up all of the E3 ’07 goodness I can stand. I’ll post another article at the end of the week that highlights the new games I’m most looking forward to. Now if I could just figure out how to pay for all the new loot coming out this holiday season and find the time to play everything, I’d be all set!
PS I missed the video on Patapon for the PSP, and can’t find anything else about it online. If you know more about this game, please leave a comment below. Thanks!

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