Yesterday's Nintendo press conference was probably the most subdued and honest of the three major events this week. While they didn't have anything really earth-shattering to offer up, the Gameboy Micro, the Revolution's game-downloading capabilities, and the new Zelda Trailer were all welcome news from a company that has been very quiet of late. Commentary, photos, and speculation available from: Nintendo, Engadget, USAToday, GamesIndustry.biz, 1up.com, Gamespot, Cube.IGN, NYT, BBC, Gamasutra, and CNN. Specific coverage on the new Gameboy Micro is available from Gamasutra, GamesIndustry.biz, and CNN. My two cents about Nintendo's conference are available below.Last night I took in G4's E3 coverage, and their discussion of the Nintendo press conference struck a chord with me. This last console cycle, with the Gamecube, Nintendo really missed the boat. The GC wasn't released until many months after the PS2 was already in homes lighting up screens, and their attempts to carve out a market share were always muddled by confusing choices. The most confusing choice of the current generation, by far, was their almost complete refusal to participate in online gaming. While the Xbox sailed by with the Live service and the PS2 limped into the arena with the broadband adapter, the GC quietly sailed on with only Phantasy Star to break up its lonely voyage. At last year's E3 Nintendo very specifically said that they were not going to miss the boat this time. They were going to release the next console right around the same time as the other two companies and make sure their name was out there.
I have high hopes for the Revolution, but to be honest Nintendo's press conference was very underwhelming. Even given that the PS3 isn't going to be on store shelves for another year, what Sony showed on Monday was literally jaw-dropping. Even if there was some liberal use of pre-rendered footage in the presentation, the press conference put on by Sony was designed to fire the imagination and get people excited about the possibilities of the next generation. Nintendo offered us Nintendogs. And a new Game Boy Advanced. Yes, I think that downloading old games onto your Revolution is a cool idea, but a...uh...friend of mine tells me that I can emulate those games on my PC for free.
Perhaps all this is just worrywortism. Nintendo has never failed to be innovative in the past, and their support of the DS and quirky games like Warioware is proof that not everything has to be same-old same-old in this ever more business-like industry. They have more than a year to get their ducks in a row, but I'm afraid that Sony and Microsoft may have already beaten them to the punch. In the end, it's not just about making fun games. You have to sell them too.