The MS conference ended up setting the tone for the rest of the week — if you wanted to hear something earth-shattering, you probably weren’t going to hear it. Within minutes of the previous night’s MS event at Santa Monica High, you could already hear some grousing about how MS concentrated on the immediate future and not more of 2008. There was also no announcement of a price drop, which is what a lot of people wanted to hear.
Sony’s press conference felt the same way to me — not too much in the way of life-changing news, rather a better look at their upcoming lineup. It was a little gimmicky — Jack Tretton dedicated small chunks of his presentation in Home, with Kaz Hirai making a cameo to show off how the PSP and PS3 are going to interact when it comes to movies. One moment that burned itself into my head was the appearance of Chewbacca — and Tretton having a real conversation with him. It was a moment layered with theme-park cheese. Chewy was there to show off the new Star Wars PSP that had Darth Vader on it. I’m still trying to block it out.
To me, one of the bigger highlights of the event was the introduction of Echochrome, which has been described as an M.C. Escher painting. It’s a complete mind-screw of a concept, where you have to literally think in a visual, 3D sense to play of the levels effectively. Probably the most innovative game I witnessed all show, though the chances of me sucking at it are extremely high. I got some shots after the jump — it’s a downloadable PS3 game.
I didn’t catch the Nintendo press conference, but I know the highlights — essentially, peripherals. There’s a racing wheel coming out, along with the “zapper,” a small machinegun-like housing that combines the Nunchuk and the Remote to form a makeshift mini-rifle. That’s a little scary, actually, since one of the arguments against violence has been that holding a controller isn’t like holding an actual gun. I’m not saying the zapper provides instant weapons training, but you can bet some irate parent or anti-game advocate will bring it up.
What made the biggest splash on the Nintendo side was “Wii Fit,” which features a pressure-sensitive platform that you use to control whatever character is on the screen. The game was loaded with mini-games such as skiiing, hula-hooping and a soccer game where you deflected the balls with your head. All of these games focused a how you leaned on the platform. Sounds easy, but it’s not. I found this out the hard way at the Barker Hangar, which I’ll get into in my day-by-day breakdown.
There’s a lot of discussion about who “won” the conference war, and it’s really hard to say considering the dearth of good-god-almighty announcements. Microsoft talked about the massive power of their holiday lineup (and it IS powerful), Sony showed off more of Home and their upcoming games, and Nintendo unveiled their next money-printing device in “Wii Fit,” which had a lot of hardcore gamers wondering why they should care about the Wii at all.
Sorry about the lack of pics here, but there’s a chance you’ve probably already seen video and feeds on the interwebs. Next up — the games.