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Nintendo E3 Press Conference 2008

This year’s series of press conferences put Nintendo in the middle of Microsoft and Sony on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time. The annual E3 press conferences headline the week with major announcements ranging from new hardware, price cuts and games. Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, started off the show with a demonstration of Ubisoft’s Shaun White Snowboarding. Shaun White, the gold medalist Olympic snowboarder, demonstrated with the Wii Balance Board what the game was all about.

The first (and arguably only) major announcement of the Nintendo press conference was the announcement of Animal Crossing: City Folk. First introduced on GameCube and then followed-up with an online enabled Nintendo DS version, City Folk will add an extra layer of online interaction with friends and strangers using the WiiSpeak microphone. You can talk to friends on the microphone, send them e-mails and even text messages. There will also be a city to visit where players can auction off items, get a haircut and presumably much much more.

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Of course a press conference wouldn’t be complete without numbers. While Nintendo did not delve into specifics, they did say that they expect the Nintendo DS to near 100 million units sold by the end of this fiscal year (which for them ends in March 2009). While the Wii enjoys a big lead in international sales, Xbox 360 remains only a few hundred thousand units ahead in North America. Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-Aime predicts that when NPD releases their numbers for June, Wii will surpass the Xbox 360 in North America, the last remaining market that it does not lead in.

Speaking of Nintendo DS, a new GTA is coming to the handheld. Known as Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, the game will take place in Liberty City and use its own game engine. No game footage was shown. Other than that, Pokemon Ranger and a new Guitar Hero: On Tour are coming to the DS called Decades. Just to show how poorly prepared the presentation was, the Guitar Hero: On Tour logo was unchanged and no songs were announced (unlike the 84 that were announced for Rock Band).

On Monday Nintendo revealed a new add-on for the Wii Remote. Wii Motion Plus will bring 1:1 controls to the system for the first time. It will come bundled with the newly announced Wii Sports Resort. Wii Sports Resort will feature beach sports games. One of the games they showed was a frisbee “game” where you threw it and a dog chased after it. The other was a sword-fighting game that you could play by yourself attacking objects or against a human opponent.

Overall, very little game footage was shown and only a handful of games were even discussed. The Wii had about four games that were talked about (Animal Crossing: City Folk, Shaun White Snowboarding, Wii Sports Resort and Wii Music). Call of Duty: World at War was one of the few third party games that we actually saw video of and it certainly pales in comparison to its next-gen counterparts. If you like the Wii Zapper, though, World at War will allow you to use it.

The question that many will undoubtedly have about Nintendo’s press conference is “where are the big games?” Animal Crossing aside, nothing remotely spectacular was shown. Months ago Reggie promised that E3 would be a headliner. It certainly was not this year. Even previously announced games like Mario Super Sluggers, Samba de Amigo, SimCity Creator, Skate and Wario Land: Shake It were no where to be seen at the press conference.

That’s all for Nintendo. To watch the full press conference, click this link. For complete coverage of E3 2008, visit our E3 blog at blog.gamefreaks365.com