At its press conference at this week’s E3 Media and Business Summit in Los Angeles, Nintendo of America president and COO Reggie Fils-Aime, worldwide president Satoru Iwata and senior marketing director Shigeru Miyamoto took the stage to show off new games and gadgets for the company’s enormously successful Wii game console.
Fils-Aime started his presentation by noting that Nintendo’s business is up significantly year-over-year — perhaps not surprising, given that this time last year it hadn’t yet launched the Wii, and sales of its Gamecube console were waning horribly. But Nintendo has seen more than 40 percent growth in the U.S. and Europe, he said, and a 110 percent increase in Japan. He called the move a turning point for the game industry and described Nintendo as the leader in the current console war, decrying naysayers who call the Wii a fad.
Nintendo has received criticism for some game critics and analysts for underpowering their console compared to Microsoft and Sony’s muscular Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles, but consumers are responding in droves to the Wii’s innovative and fun gameplay, according to Fils-Aime, who cited the console’s particularly strong appeal to older gamers and women, especially in Japan.
More than 100 new Wii titles are on the way, said Fils-Aime, and another 140 games are coming for the company’s dominant DS handheld gaming system.
Fils-Aime showed off a new apparatus coming for $20 called the Wii Zapper. It houses the Wii’s wireless remote control and “Nunchuck” thumbstick/trigger device, and is set up to be used with first person shooters including Medal of Honor and a new Resident Evil game.
Fils-Aime also revealed the release date of a title that’s been hotly anticipated by Nintendo fans: Super Smash Bros. Brawl, a fighting action game that’s coming on December 3rd. Other titles in the works include Metroid Prime 3, Soul Calibur Legends and Mario and Sonic at the Olympics, the first official pairing of Nintendo and Sega’s mascots together in one game.
Fils-Aime touted the online capabilities of many forthcoming Wii games. Online play is an area where Nintendo has fallen behind its competitors, especially Microsoft, whose Xbox Live online service provides a way for Xbox 360 users to play together competitively and collaboratively. The soccer games Mario Strikers Charged and FIFA 08, as well as the Wii version of Madden 08 will all feature online play, said Fils-Aime, and Wii users who play Guitar Hero III will be able to play online, as well.
What’s more, Nintendo is prepping a new Mario Kart go-kart racing game for the Wii that will feature online play and will come packaged with a custom wheel controller designed for the Wii. Mario Kart Wii won’t be out until the first calendar quarter of 2008, however.
While Microsoft and Sony have both focused their efforts to appeal to “hardcore” gamers and early adopters who don’t mind spending big bucks for big entertainment value, Nintendo worldwide president Satoru Iwata told the crowd that his company’s focus is squarely on the mainstream public — he wants Nintendo games and systems to appeal to everyone, rather than just hardcore or casual gamers specifically. Iwata’s short presentation was peppered with testimonials from real-life Wii owners talking about what fun they’ve had with their system.
Fils-Aime also let it drop that Super Mario Galaxy, a new 3D game for the Wii, is coming out on November 12th.
Shigeru Miyamoto, the legendary game designer behind Nintendo trademarks like Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda, capped the presentation by revealing a new game called Wii Fit. It comes with a “Balance Board” — a controller you stand on — to track your progress while you’re exercising.
Mini-games in Wii Fit run the gamut from stuff like hula hoops to soccer goalie practice to dancing, jogging and yoga.
The Balance Board included with Wii Fit doubles as a scale, and it can tell you where your center of gravity is, tracking data and creating graphs and charts. Miyamoto joked with chunky Fils-Aime about how the system determined that Reggie was 25 pounds overweight. Fils-Aime got back at Miyamoto by nailing him in soccer practice.
GamePro contributed content used in this article.