Just yesterday Nintendo held a media summit to inform the press of its plans for the first half of 2010. Many forum denizens expected big surprises because of the inevitable hype that surrounds any Nintendo conference, but were disappointed. But those who kept their expectations in check were rewarded with solid release dates and hands on impressions for exciting hardware and software coming out before the summer ends. Even more important than what Nintendo showed, however, was what this summit means for fans of Nintendo: a new increased focus on their core fans. Absent was any mention of titles for the expanded audience; this summit was a love letter to the long time fans of Mario and Metroid.
On the hardware front, DSi XL has an announced North American release date of March 28 for $189.99. It features a 93% size increase on the current DSi screen and a thicker, pen-like, stylus for users who may have had a tough time grappling with the smaller equipment. This product will likely benefit those who have trouble seeing, or the elderly, making this product ideal for expanding the DS’ audience even further. Hardcore enthusiasts may want to skip out because of the slight hit to the resolution and decreased portability. It will launch in two colors, burgundy and bronze, giving the handheld a slightly more sophisticated look.
The software front is where Nintendo really impressed. While there wasn’t much in the way of new announcements, except for a few Artstyle games for the downloadable services and Wideload Game’s Guilty Party for Wii, Nintendo finally blew the lid off of two very anticipated releases- Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is set to be released May 23, surprisingly close considering how little has been seen of the title. Just as expected, the title features even more of the gravity centered platforming excellence found in the first title, but with added gameplay elements like the drill tool, which allows you to drill through soft earth, and Mario’s ever loyal sidekick Yoshi. While the graphical presentation doesn’t seem too different, the game is sure to throw a variety of crazy levels and fresh gameplay elements that you only received a small taste of in Mario’s first trip to space.
Metroid: Other M is dude out June 27, another surprisingly close release date. Gamers literally knew nothing about this game outside of what was shown in a short announcement trailer shown at the end of last e3. It turns out that the game is mostly displayed from a 2D perspective and is very reminiscent of Super Metroid, which is a good thing. Super Metroid happens to be one of my favorite games of all time and any similarities it shares with that game are ok in my eyes. It is played with the Wii remote turned sideways, NES style, with the directional pad controlling movement, the 1 button firing your primary weapon, the 2 button jumping, and the “A” button transforming you into morph ball mode. At any time you can point the remote at the screen and seamlessly go into a first person perspective, an ability that is useful for finding secrets and shooting missiles, which are only usable from this perspective. This title, developed in collaboration with Team Ninja, worried many gamers upon its announcement due to its increased focus on story, something Metroid titles hadn’t been to concerned with up until this point. But based upon what was shown at the summit, this is definitely a title to be looking forward to.
Nintendo also spoke about a few other titles that are sure to please gamers. Monster Hunter Tri is coming April 23, with free online and an optional classic controller pro bundle for $59.99. The classic controller pro will also be available separately, in black and white, for $19.99. Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is due June 7 and is sure to offer fans of previous Treasure games the fast paced shooting action they have been craving for so long. It looks to be a worthy sequel to the first Sin and Punishment, an N64 title, which is available on the virtual console now for people who wish to wet their appetite. Nintendo also showed FlingSmash, formerly shown as SpanSmasher, a game that combines Arkanoid with tennis. You use the Wii Motion Plus to smack your ball like protagonist around, smashing blocks with his body, in a game that looks like it could be fun for newcomers and veteran gamers alike. Another interesting game for everyone is Guilty Party, developed by Wideload Games. They developed Stubbs the Zombie, available for the original Xbox, which was a very unique and well received title. The title mixes elements of the board game Clue with point and click adventure elements and looks like good family fun for four players. Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands was also shown for Wii, a title that has been developed with Wii’s unique strengths in mind, separate from the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions. Last but not least come the Wiiware and DSiware titles. Mega Man 10, Cave Story, And Yet it Moves, Super Meat Boy, Max and the Magic Marker, Light Trax and Rotozoa are sure to make a big splash on Wii ware. The latter two, previously unannounced Art Style games, deliver simple old school gameplay with fresh artistic presentation. DSiware is no slouch either, with WarioWare DIY, Photo Dojo, X-scape and Metal Torrent. Both downloadable services, which have been lacking in quality software as of late, got a much needed shot in the arm and look to offer several great titles in the first half of this year.
This media summit has made it clear that Nintendo does value its core fans, offering several titles with much more depth than Wii Sports or Wii Fit could ever offer. I can’t really begrudge Nintendo for making those titles, as I like them too. They are very well developed and offer something that hasn’t been seen before in gaming. But every once in a while I need a bit of old school gaming to bite into. Nintendo has made a fortune off of the expanded audience, but it is nice to see that they haven’t forgotten about the fans that have stood by their side thus far.