While Shigeru Miyamoto, the legendary game designer behind Nintendo hits such as Mario and Zelda, did not make an appearance during, we did get a chance to see him host a small, intimate behind-closed-doors session (no photos or video allowed) later in the day with a select group of journalists and developers.
Speaking through a translator, Miyamoto personally grabbed a controller to demonstrate the New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii, talked the crowd through a Wii Sports Resort demo, and showed video of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and the new Zelda game for the Nintendo DS. But the real attraction was in hearing one of gaming's great minds hold court on a variety of topics, usually while his corporate minders cringed in horror (Miyamoto is as notoriously loose-lipped as Nintendo is secretive).
One new project Miyamoto said he was interested in pursuing was a software package for the Nintendo DS, aiming to make it useful as a carry-around digital device for everyday life. The examples he gave included being out shopping and being able to use the DSi's Wi-Fi connection to call up a map of the shopping mall you're in, or a classroom where teachers and students use DSi systems like a tiny tablet PC. "A program like that is something I've been interested in for a while," Miyamoto said.
Having worked on Mario games for about 20 years, Miyamoto says there's one thing he's been trying to do all that time--recreate the classic single-play Mario Bros. experience within a multiplayer environment. New Super Mario Bros. Wii does just that, and Miyamoto demonstrated the game for the audience. Even though he relied on cheats (giving himself a few specially powered suits), he still managed to fall down an icy crevice just before the end of the level. With up to four players at once, the game veers between cooperation and competition as the players onscreen worked together and also tried to beat each other out for bonus points.
Other noteworthy news Miyamoto made during the session included an admission that a new Wii Zelda game is in development, and Miyamoto showed off a teaser poster, but no actual in-game assets. He also mildly knocked Sony and Microsoft's upcoming motion-control hardware, saying that Nintendo likes to test and perfect their new hardware before showing it off.
With New Super Mario Bros. Wii due this year, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 on target for next year, Miyamoto said, "As long as there no traditional overturning of the tea table, we should be on time."