Nintendo tries to regain the momentum

At E3, on the heels of Microsoft's attention-getting announcement of Project Natal, Nintendo uses its press conference Tuesday to try to show the world why it has been on top.

Nintendo at E3
Nintendo prepares for its annual E3 press conference. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

LOS ANGELES--Microsoft on Monday set the tone for a newly revitalized E3 with the announcement of its Project Natal , a hands-free motion-sensitive controller for the Xbox. Now, on the heels of some less-than-stellar sales numbers, Nintendo has a chance to steal back the attention of the world's video game press, many of whom are on hand this week for the industry's most famous trade show. But can Nintendo do it?

This is our live blog of Nintendo's E3 press briefing, which kicked off shortly after 9 a.m. PDT at Club Nokia in Los Angeles. Sister site Gamespot will post a video of the presentation here later today.

9:02 a.m.: Nintendo is a little late starting. And Sony's briefing (which is scheduled for 11 a.m.) won't start until they get everyone bused over there from Nintendo.

9:09 a.m.: Nintendo of America executive vice president of sales and marketing Cammie Dunaway: Shigeru Miyamoto has been thinking about one new way to let you play a Mario game that has never been possible before.

9:12 a.m.: Nintendo starts its press briefing off with what may be its most anticipated new game: Super Mario Bros. for the Wii, a four-player version of the classic game.

It allows players to play major parts of the game in single-player mode, but then allows them to call friends over if they need help with a particularly hard level.

"We're happy to announce (the game will be available) worldwide holiday 2009," said Dunaway. "We know players will be lining up to play with and against each other in Mr. Miyamoto's newest masterpiece."

9:16 a.m.: Dunaway announces a new version of the 15-million-plus-unit selling Wii Fit. Called Wii Fit Plus, it is designed to help people design better workout routines. She said it featured 15 new balance games, and offers 6 new strength and yoga routines. "The key is how you mix and match different elements. You can combine it in any order you want."

She adds that Wii Fit Plus will be available this fall, and be offered as a bundle with the Wii Balance Board.

9:22 a.m.: Next, Nintendo of America CEO Reggie Fils-Aime takes the stage to announce the next version of the company's Wiimote, the Wii Motion Plus. A video shows a martial arts expert "chopping" a stalk of bamboo by slicing down with the controller, and an archer pulling back on a bow and shooting arrows.

Cammie Dunaway
Cammie Dunaway touts Nintendo DS sales. Gamespot

9:30 a.m.: Nintendo showcases the way its Wii Motion Plus interacts with one of the games it announced at E3 last year, "Wii Sports Resort." The idea behind the new version of the controller is that it offers enhanced feedback, what they called "physical reality."

The idea is that the controller allows for much more precise, feedback-oriented motion. So, for example, a video that they showed demonstrated that players can, for example, slice bamboo with a slicing action, or shoot an arrow by "pulling back" on the bow. And the game itself begins with players skydiving from an airplane. Players use the controller to orient themselves in the air.

9:34 a.m.: Fils-Aime says, speaking about the new controller, "Every little mistake you make in the real world when you currently bury your backhand into the net...will be faithfully re-created in the game."

He adds, "We will have you muttering the same bad words you (usually say) in real life."

Fils-Aime says that "Red Steel 2" will be playable only with Wii Motion Plus control, and then, speaking about third-party support for Nintendo, says that last year, more third-party games were sold for the Wii and Nintendo DS than any other platform.

9:40 a.m.: Fils-Aime also talks about new integrations with traditional partners. He talked about Square Enix's forthcoming "Final Fantasy: Crystal Bearers" and another former hit, "Golden Sun DS."

He says that franchise "went dark" six years ago. This, as fans in the audience clearly were excited by, is a franchise that had been popular on Nintendo in the past, but had been put on the back burner.

9:42 a.m.: Dunaway comes back on stage and announces that mystery writer extraordinaire James Patterson is collaborating with Nintendo on "Women's Murder Club: Games of Passion," which will be released on October 13, by THQ.

It will "usher casual gamers and passionate readers into wider world of video games," Dunaway says.

Dunaway talks about Mario and Luigi franchise Gamespot

9:48 a.m.: Moments earlier, Fils-Aime touted the next Mario and Luigi game for DS, "Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story." He said it would be available this fall.

Then Dunaway talked about the success of Nintendo's DSi handheld. All told, the DS line has sold more than 100 million units. She said that when the company put out the new DSi, "We predicted it would naturally complement DS Lite. So far, that's exactly what's happening. As of today, total DSi sales in North America have surpassed 1 million units. (And consumers) have purchased another 400,000 DS Lites."

9:51 a.m.: Dunaway says that starting this summer, DSi owners will be able to upload and share their photos on Facebook.

She then shifts directions and says the game that Satoru Iwata announced at the Game Developers Conference in March, "Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks," would be playable on the show floor at E3 this week. She does not give a release date, however.

9:53 a.m.: Iwata takes the stage to talk philosophically about Nintendo's advances in video gaming.

Satoru Iwata
Satoru Iwata at E3 Gamespot

9:55 a.m.: Iwata says that Nintendo has been examining how to expand the video game audience. He says that in Japan, the United States, and six European countries, there are currently 295 million game players. But he says there are also 149 million people who "say they might be interested in getting involved."

"For every two people now playing, there's now one more just waiting to jump into the game. Imagine the opportunity if the number of players were 50 percent larger than it is right now. (It shows) we still have a long way to go in expanding the gaming population."

10:03 a.m.: "Most of the games we talked about today are familiar even to non-gamers," said Iwata. "So, what's next? I thought, I should give you at least one potential answer. So today, as a sneak peek, I'd like to show you another entirely different way of thinking about games. With Brain Age, Nintendo proposed training your brain. With Wii Fit, using balance to train your body."

Wii Vitality Sensor
Nintendo's Wii Vitality Sensor Gamespot

Then, he offers the first look at Wii Vitality Sensor, which collects signals being broadcast by our bodies.

"For example, how nervous am I up here on this stage today?" Iwata joked. "How focused am I on remembering my script? Just as we enable you to center your body with Wii Balance Board (with) Vitality Sensor (we can) see information relating to inner world of your body. People will be able to use the product we're developing with (this)...to achieve greater relaxation.

10:03 a.m.: Dunaway announces another full Mario game, "Super Mario Galaxy 2."

10:09 a.m.: Fils-Aime is back on stage to announce a series of new third-party titles.

First, he talks about a Sega title created just for Wii, called "The Conduit." Next up is Capcom's top-selling "Resident Evil" franchise, and announced that in "Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles," Wii players will "see familiar characters in a new light."

And he says Electronic Arts has been working on "Dead Space: Extraction," the latest version, for Wii only, of the "Dead Space" franchise.

10:11 a.m.: "And what about Nintendo?" Fils-Aime says. "Could a new, edgier game be coming from us? Absolutely."

He explains that Nintendo has commissioned Team Ninja to work on a new Nintendo title, "Metroid: Other M," which will be available in 2010.

Metroid
A new Metroid game for the Wii is considered "edgy" by the company. Gamespot

10:13 a.m.: And that's it for Nintendo's press briefing.

We're heading over to Sony's presentation now. You can follow our live blog of that event, scheduled to start at 11 a.m., here .

 

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