Nintendo Revolution

Hey everyone. We're at Hollywood and Highland to bring you our live coverage of the last big announcement of E3, Nintendo's Revolution system. We'll be bringing you up to the minute coverage, so stay tuned! Yesterday we had live PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 coverage, and this morning Nintendo released the first pics of their latest console to the press-details are still slim, so we'll see how everything pans out in the latest salvo of console launches.

Here we go! They warned us there will be strobe effects during the show. They have a little experience with sending kids into seizures, so better safe than sorry? We've already seen a dozen people playing their PSPs proudly; we won't exactly expect to see these folks at the afterparty, at least not sober anyway.

Will the Nintendo Revolution be the make-or-break console for Nintendo? Speculation amongst the gaming community has everyone wondering whether Nintendo might go the way of Sega and exit the console business entirely if the Revolution doesn't work out for them. Sony and Microsoft each see themselves as gunning for number one in this next generation of consoles, so will Nintendo be content with being third for a second generation in a row? We have a feeling they're going to shoot high and gun for second, but the stakes are higher than ever for round five of the console wars.

As an aside, there are four channels of Nintendo DS pictochat going on. All four channels are full (16 people per channel). Here's some of what's coming down through the pictochat wires. Some of the stuff coming through is in Japanese, but this says it best: "I'm happy to have a seat!" (The event is standing-room only. The venue is just too small for the size of this audience.) The fire marshall has finally thrown in his two cents. Yeah, it's that crowded. No one is listening to the fire marshall, which could pose a problem in a couple of minutes, if, you know, the stage bursts in flames or something. Pictochat: "Apart from Zelda, what r we here for?" The responses: "Revolution?" Uh, yeah guys, did you get the memo?

Apparently, "we are now beginning" is actually code for "twenty minutes until we begin". You know you're at E3 when even event scheduling is hyped. Actually, this is because of fire marshall issues here. Ok, here we go!

Nintendo Revolution

Lights dimming. Game geeks cheering. "We remain all about the game. Actions speak louder than words." Saturo Iwata comes on stage and sez: "My name is Iwata, I'm about making games, and I'm about playing games. Last night I played super smash brothers. That's my game. I kick some ... you know what. So Reggie, I have a question for you. Who's your daddy?" Wonderful.

"Possess. Conect. Connect." They're showing Zelda clips and the crowd roars. They'll be presenting the "first meaningful information about the Revolution", along with DS and Zelda details. Now I know many of you walked in here today with numbers swimming in your heads. .... We'd like to add one more number to the mix, and that number is "2", as in two billion games. That's the number of games Nintendo has sold since we entered the business 20 years ago. .... If you're ready to move beyond pure numbers to a place where your right brain can envision the best in innovation .... you've come to the right place."

Nintendo Revolution

The word "or" does not apply to Nintendo. The word "and" is at their core. They want to include everyone. They're talking up how Nintendo is the place where "the right game goes to play". Sound like anyone else we know?

Nintendo Revolution
"Nintendo occupies a unique position in our industry. We are one of the top two game system manufacturers in the world and one of the top two game publishers in the world. Nintendo remains first and foremost a content company. We exist for the love of the game. We're about the levels the characters, the interface, the entertainment. We're about reaching what's known, and going into the unknown.... Today, you'll begin to understand how our Revolution is preparing to storm the gates. ... For 16 years Nintendo has OWNED the portable game space. We created it, and we're not moving out."

The Big Boys are whipping it out. Reggie is comparing GBA to PS2 numbers—upward of 28 million each They're talking about the PSP and PlayStation 2 quite some bit. They know they have to, because Sony's the biggest game in town, and have the systems to beat right now.
Nintendo Revolution
Reggie is now touting Electroplankton as software that attracts people who aren't interested in games. They're showing a clip of a guy playing around with the game; he loves it, and we will too if they'd just freaking release it worldwide already.

"[Electroplankton] is an excellent example of software that reaches out to people who don't even consider themselves gamers yet. David Hollands, DJ, talks gaming. "I've been in gaming since the beginning.... And now Nintendo has this Electroplankton game. One of the great things I've found about working with Electroplankton in the studio is that they're got really great sounds. I was able to make the track completely with just the sounds from the DS."

Reggie says: "We know more creativity means more fun. We also know more people means more fun. Especially if you're connecting them around the world. .... This is the year that Nintendo players begin connecting with each other in a new way: through WiFi Internet. ... Finding rivals with Nintendo WiFi connection occurs on two distinct levels." (via peer-to-peer connections with known friends and via wireless hotspots)
"We expect the participation rate for Nintendo DS to reflect the clear majority of owners. We see no reason why that participation rate can't reach as high as 90%. We're making access even more appealing because we're not assessing an additional charge for wireless access. Free wireless hotspots outside the house, and free inside the house connection via your existing wireless network."

Nintendo DS wireless
They will showcase WiFi internet tomorrow on the show floor, including Mario Kart DS. Around the world 25 developers are working on games for WiFi Internet play, including: Activision, Bandai, Capcom, EA, Konami, Activision, Ubisoft, Square Enix, THQ.

Now they're showing off Mr. Miyamoto's latest pet project, Nintendogs. "It's taught the Japanese game world to sit up and take notice. It remains the top-selling game franchise in Japan with more than 400,000 copies having sold through in less than a month's time. As is always the case, hit software sells hardware. The launch of Nintendogs is responsible for making Nintendo DS the best-selling system in Japan, outselling the PSP by three times."


"Bark mode" allows players to search for play partners for their dog. The system "barks" indicating that someone else in the WiFi network has the game. Turns out that it's Miyamoto's dog (what a surprise!). Miyamoto's dog appears to be, uh, getting friendly with Mia. Hoots from the crowd. What is this, Married With Children?

Game Boy Micro
Game Boy Micro
It's Game Boy Micro! They just announced a new portable that's "just a hair bigger and about two thirds the weight of an iPod mini. But it will play every Game Boy Advance game you own. It is not new technology, but it is a brand new look. ... It has the best and brightest screen we've ever put in a hand held. No matter how tight your jeans, it'll fit in your pocket." To market in Fall, to "the image conscious consumer". It is not a successor, but an "extension of portable play".
Nintendo Revolution
Nintendo Revolution
Nintendo Revolution
Satoru Iwata Prez of Nintendo is on stage; the Revolution has been revealed, and he's making this clear that this one is only a prototype. It's a small black box (we know) but he claims it will be even smaller in the final iteration, and that it's backwards compatible. "Clearly the Revolution is by far the smallest console we have manufactured. In its final form, it will be even smaller than this, about the size of 3 DVD cases stacked together. It will play either horizontally or vertically."

He's just not giving details, not announcing new titles, and this is just a teaser. However, new versions of Mario and Zelda are underway. Hopefully, we'll get to see some clips but no sign yet; this has been a very clip-free event so far. Iwata expects the Revoltuion to help people make unique content like the DS. He hasn't hinted at what exactly will allow that to happen. A wireless Final Fantasy is in devlopment.

Iwata says it will be easier, faster and cheaper to develop for the Revolution than any of the other consoles. He wants to big idea to prevail over big budget. On masterpieces: "Not everyone sets out to create an expensive, time-consuming masterpiece. Here, Revolution also earns its name. We are convinced that the Revolution will be most developer-friendly. In this next generation, development costs will move easily into 8 figures. We have created a solution to allow them to exercise creative freedom ... this is a system where a big idea can prevail over big budgets."

"Backward compatibility: the disc drive will accept Gamecube games. We have designed Revolution to be a virtual console, enabling it to download 20 years of Nintendo content. ... It is the gaming experience that will most separate Revolution from its competitors." This is huge! It will have built in emulation for NES, SNES, N64, as well as being able to read and play GameCube games! This completely trumps Sony's two-gen backwards compatitibility in the PS3.
All access gaming: more games, more players, more opportunities for developers, and more imagination in defining what a game can be. 
"It is my job to run a global company. Within my job what gives the most satisfaction is seeing someone pick up a controller and finding surprise and delight. What touches their heart, touches my heart. ... The machine is just a tool. The experience comes from the software. Those of you who consider the possibilities of combining ... wireless connections, Internet connection and flash memory, can begin to make educated guesses on what games we might be constructing."

"Next generation versions of Mario and Zelda are already underway. We also have big plans for Metroid in our Revolution. The key here is not what you are playing, but how you will be playing. Revolution will [allow the creation] of entirely new genres. ... We expect strong third-party content in both hemispheres. For example, Square Enix is already working on a WiFi version of Final Phantasy ... for the Revolution."

Battalion Wars: "Combined action strategy warfare and third-person shooting in a novel way... by seamlessly blending action-oriented gameplay with real time strategy ... you command entire squadrons with the touch of a button"

Killer 7: "Blood, swearing and mayhem. Graphical presentation that achieves the developer's dream of producing a work of post-modern art."

We can expect coming GameCube titles: Fire Emblem, Battalion, Geist, Killer 7, Batman Begins, Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Donkey Konga 2, The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Dreamworks Madagascar, Madden NFL 2006, One Piece (cell-shaded hotness!), Scooby Doo! Unmasked, Spartan: Total Warrior, Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, Mario Party 7, WWE Day of Reckoning, Super Mario Strikers, Nintendo Penant Chase Baseball, Midway Arcade Treasures 3, Harvest Moon, Shadow the Hedgehog, Mario Baseball, Medal of Honor: European Assault, and The Legend of Zelda: The Dark Princess.

We can also expect the following portable titles: Dynasty Warriors Advance, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stone, Mario Tennis Advance, Yoshi Topsy Turvy, Screw Breaker, Pokemon Emerald, Metroid Prime Hunters, Nintendogs, Mega Man Battle Netowrk 5, Mario Kart DS, Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, Electroplankton, Need for Speed Underground 2, Pac-n-Roll, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, Trace Memory, Goldeneye Rogue Agent, Mario-n-Luigi 2, Advance wars: Dual Strike, Kirby Canvas Curse, New Super Mario Bros, Madden NFL 2006, Spyro Shadow Legacy, Enteos, Castlevania DS, Star Wars 3 Revenge of the Sith, Trauma Center Under the Knife, Viewtiful Joe.

Mario Dance
The Mario soccer game has all the humor and cuteness you'd expect. Four new Mario titles this year, including Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix. Oy!



Saving the best for last, eh? Here comes Link, and there go the strobe lights. We're feeling faint. The vid and in-game play is intense, very dark, very unusual for Zelda. Link can transform into a werewolf? Yo, this game looks astounding.

That's all folks. First impression of the event is that it delivered what it had to. We saw the Revoltion prototype, upcoming GBA and DS titles and even had a surprise with the Micro (which looks sweet). The tone of the event was much more low-key than we expected, with an audience that was much harder to please than the GDC crowd. The new hardware, Zelda and Mario got the most applause, so that must be why they keep releasing the same properties over and over again (well, that and the sales figures attached). Iwata wasn't quite as articulate as he was at GDC, which may be the result of a press-only audience, but he still had the charm on.

Overall, Nintendo fans will be pleased, and Sony should be a little more worried that the Micro will be grabbing bucks from our portable gaming budgets. The Revolution is a really unsexy device, all things considered—but it is a prototype, and they did hammer home that they want input from their adoring public. This may also just prove that Nintendo is serious when they say they don't care about the hardware as much as they do about the gaming experience. They had to show something, and they did. It didn't hurt them, it didn't help them. As I said, they did what they had to do. Now on to the expo floor where we can put some of this hype to the test.

They closed with "Beyond this year, a revolution awaits." We definitely agree, but will it be a revolution in gaming, or all about the Nintendo Revolution?