e3

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E3 2012 - Most Significant Happenings from Nintendo's Wii U Showing

After giving my impressions of Sony's and Microsoft's respective efforts at e3, it's time to turn to Nintendo. Since tomorrow is Nintendo's stated day to focus on 3DS stuff, today it was pretty much all Wii U. I think there was a lot there to keep the Nintendo faithful happy, but I think overall there's still some work to be done for those who felt burned by the Wii or who didn't respond to the 3DS. Regardless, here is my impression of what I thought the highlights were:

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E3 2012 - Most Significant Happenings from Sony's Showing

My PlayStation VitaAfter giving my impressions of Microsoft's surprisingly effective conference yesterday - that is, considering the fact that they'll be competing against a major new hardware unveiling from Nintendo - I wanted to follow up with similar impressions of Sony's major announcements related to the PlayStation 3 and Vita. Nintendo impressions will follow after their big announcements later today. Unfortunately, Sony didn't particularly impress, with a similar mix of the usual types of new game announcements as Microsoft, just without much else of interest to augment it. Naturally, if any of these companies make any big announcements following their main events, I'll put up another post. With that said, here are the few Sony announcements from late yesterday I found of interest:

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E3 2012 - Most Significant Happenings from Microsoft's Xbox 360 Showing

My Xbox bookSo, as the first day winds down, I thought I would toss out a few impressions of what I thought were the most significant announcements from the early part of the first day, which focused on Microsoft and the Xbox 360. Next, we should expect to see Sony's stuff and then Nintendo's major Wii U announcements, both of which I'll also discuss.

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E3 2011 Viewpoints: Nintendo Wii U and 3DS | (yes, Nintendo's next console is pronounced, "We You")

After starting off with Microsoft, Sony, and Apple, it's only fitting we conclude with Nintendo, and the biggest announcement of the week: Nintendo Wii U. I'll also talk about how my predictions from April 19, 2011, based on previous rumors, worked out, inline, as appropriate (EDIT: You can read for yourself, actually, so I won't inline comment, I'll just say that I was correct in my prediction that the controller would be the ONLY innovation, in that any other expected innovations would add too much to the cost beyond the fancy controller):

  • Nintendo Wii U, "equally satisfying for all players" (hardcore and casual). Released some time in 2012 (Nintendo's focus this year is 3DS, with more franchise titles (Mario Kart, Star Fox, Kid Icarus, Mario, Luigi's Mansion)). I'm not sure I'm a fan of the name. I probably like it even less than I did "Wii", which did eventually grow on me. We'll see.
  • The controller looks a lot like a white tablet. It's generously sized (it has a 6.2" screen--goodness knows what the controller will be priced separately!). Pen-enabled. Also works with a finger. The screen (mock-up or not), looks very nice. It's a motion controller too and can play games stand-alone or in conjunction with a TV. It also has a camera (voice and video chat enabled). Nice!
  • Nintendo definitely took inspiration from Apple's iPad here. It's like the bastard child of an iPad 2 and Wii, with a little Xbox 360 thrown in for good measure.
  • It's backwards compatible with all the games and peripherals of the Wii.
  • Games appear to work differently if a player is using the new controller or a Wii Remote. There looks to be a lot of emphasis on the motion control features of the controller.
  • It's NOT designed to be a portable game machine, even though it shares some design characteristics. Everything is wirelessly transmitted from the console (no latency).
  • They talked a lot about HD images on TV or on the controller's screen. So this is definitely HD (EDIT: The console will output 1080p to the TV, but the controller screen will NOT be HD). Based on the non-gameplay and other graphics they showed, it's quite impressive looking, so probably at LEAST a little more powerful than Xbox 360 and PS3.
  • The Nunchuk port on the bottom of the controller is interesting, as it can also be used to snap the screen controller onto plastic peripherals.
  • They emphasized video chat and showing photos on your TV.
  • They talked about the expected interaction between Wii U and 3DS games, with Smash Brothers being the example.
  • They mentioned ONE game in particular (third parties mentioned others, like Batman: Arkham City and EA Sports stuff), Lego City Stories, a new open world game (exclusive to Wii U and 3DS). Beyond that, they made sure to mention what would be considered hardcore (core) gamer titles.
  • They talked a bit about online stuff, so hopefully they'll be more committed to the concept this time. The hardware is certainly there for it, at least.
  • There was no mention of storage or other specifics, so we'll probably have quite the wait for details like that.
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E3 2011 Viewpoints: Apple iOS and Macintosh at WDC

OK, it's actually the Worldwide Developers Conference (WDC), rather than E3, but the timing is the same and I like to keep the headers consistent, so kindly deal with it. After starting off with Microsoft and Sony, it's now Apple's turn (leaving only the elephant in the room to cover, Nintendo). Here goes:

  • I'm honestly not that interested in Mac stuff, but of the many updates via the upcoming OS X Lion, I most appreciate the fact that apps will finally be able to go full-screen. I always found the lack of that feature bizarre. The updates still won't get me off of the Windows standard, but at least Apple can still sometimes admit when they're wrong with interfaces.

Now, for the big iOS stuff (On a side note, I think all but one of the AA staff has iPhones at this point, and at least three of us have iPads, so, while Apple's mojo hasn't worked on us from the MacOS side of things, it sure has on the iOS side.):

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E3 2011 Viewpoints: Sony PS3, PSVita, and more

After starting off with Microsoft, it's now time to talk about Sony's E3 showing. Here goes:

  • Something of a bizarre one-off, but nevertheless, a clever and interesting gamble, particularly if you use it as a PC monitor as well--a PlayStation-branded 1080p LED-lit LCD 3D monitor with two HDMI inputs, stereo speakers, and integrated subwoofer. You get the monitor, a pair of active 3D glasses (additional are $69 each), an HDMI cable, and a copy of Resistance, for $499. The truly unique aspect of the monitor? If you have a second pair of glasses, you can play split screen games where each player has their own full view of the action (with the caveat that games must be programmed to support that feature). That's right, no more split-screen nonsense! It still remains to be seen if the pricing is truly competitive (and gamers are willing to forgo big screen HDTV's in favor of the smaller form factor), but I do appreciate the effort.
  • The NGP's name is official, PSVita, or PlayStation Vita. That name was of course leaked last week. The powerful handheld will be very competitively priced at $249 for the wifi-only version, with the addition of 3G through AT&T going for another $50. While the 3DS has received a tepid response overall, Sony is at least going with the right price point this time around to help what will still decidedly be an uphill battle. It's definitely a promising system though if the public is willing to give it a chance in this age of buzz- and gametime-stealing smartphones and tablets. The handheld offers six-axis motion sensors, dual analog controls, front- and rear-facing cameras (for the now seemingly mandatory augmented reality feature-set), an OLED touchscreen, and a touchpad on the back. Several promising and high profile titles were also announced, so early signs are definitely good.
  • Though minor, I found Sony's PS3 wireless stereo headset interesting, particularly since it works with a USB dongle (there's nothing I hate more than having to fumble behind these systems). For only $99 to pre-order on Amazon, it's supposed to deliver 7.1 digital surround sound. Too bad it doesn't hit until October.
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E3 2011 Viewpoints: Microsoft Kinect, Xbox 360, and LIVE

I thought it would be better that instead of doing a giant E3 blog post, to have separate discussions for each company to maximize ease of debate and discussion. Since Microsoft went first, I'll talk about them first.

First, here's the stuff that's immediate from Microsoft's session:

  • Kinect Fun Labs is immediately available and includes new avatar creation features and augmented reality stuff. I downloaded it (slowly) last night, but have yet to try it. The basic concept is a good one in that it really is a "lab" and new gadgets and features will be added over time.
  • Microsoft claims that the Xbox 360 will continue to be the number one selling console month-to-month in North America, but will also achieve that worldwide in short order.
  • It looks like all the rest of this is coming in the big Fall update, which I suspect will hit some time in September:

    • Lots of upcoming games (even hardcore ones) will make use of Kinect voice and gesture recognition, which, in addition to further integration into the dashboard will no doubt ensure that Kinect sales will continue to be brisk and Microsoft will continue to build a blueprint for their next generation system.
    • YouTube is coming to Xbox LIVE, joining the already-in-place Facebook and Twitter, among others.
    • Voice-command driven (via Kinect) DVR and an Internet TV service (Xbox LIVE TV) that will be in direct competition with standard cable and satellite services.
    • Bing (universal) search is coming to the system; you can also use Bing voice commands via Kinect to access marketplace stuff directly.
    • You can access PC media libraries using Kinect.
    • Microsoft will offer cloud storage for game saves and profiles, potentially making both using a USB stick to transport your profile to other systems and the account recovery process unnecessary.
    • A bizarre Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel was announced. I have an awesome Logitech force feedback wheel system for my PS3 and PC, so I'm definitely up for good steering wheel controllers, but this one might be a bit too radical of a design. I wish Microsoft would just reissue their now discontinued force feedback wheel.
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E3 2010 - It's about the Hardware and a Console Middle Age

Nintendo 3DSNintendo 3DSIn an interesting twist, this E3 has been about hardware and a console middle age. How is that a twist and what do I mean by that? Well, instead of the usual E3 when the focus is on hardware and the usual new, dedicated platforms, this E3 has really been about enhancing two of the three existing platforms with hardware add-ons, and, as a nod to the maturity of this console lifecycle, a rash of sequel-itis from the big three, with new entries in well worn game series. With no sign of either the Xbox 360, Wii, or PS3 being replaced any time soon, it's all about distinguishing your particular platform in a particular manner--Microsoft and Sony went with new, relatively expensive hardware add-ons (and the former one fairly slick redesign), and Nintendo went with its usual franchises. And oh yes, Nintendo slammed the gavel down with full details on the extremely impressive 3DS, the logical successor to the DS line (and thank goodness they went with the 3DS name and not some of the other names being bandied about).

So, let's take a look at what the big three offered up both right before and during E3, and provide some analysis:

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