Nintendo came to the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles with very little information circulating in public about its upcoming portable 3-D system, the 3DS. While Microsoft and Sony have focused on gaming in living-room spaces with Xboxes and PlayStation 3's this year, Nintendo opted to surprise its audience with the announcement that their DS successor would play 3-D movies from major studios and take 3-D pictures.
Together with an extensive list of third-party developers, such as Activision, EA, Harmonix, Konami, Capcom and others, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata presented logos from franchises including "Metal Gear Solid," "Saints Row" and more, which he expects to see appear on the new portable device.
"In this case, I believe we will enjoy our biggest launch support ever from third parties," Iwata said onstage. "To all of you developers and publishers, I want you to know that [I am] truly grateful for the support [you've offered]."
Iwata and Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime focused mainly on bringing 3-D viewing to a mass market without the use of glasses and reintroducing the company's classic character Pit for the 3DS title "Kid Icarus: Uprising." Still, the 3DS' farthest-reaching impact may come from the system's features that extend beyond gaming.
"Nintendo 3DS is also capable of displaying 3-D Hollywood movies," Iwata explained. "We are not announcing any specific plans [this week], but at our booth, you will find demonstrators showing you [examples] from Disney, Warner Bros. and DreamWorks. You can see DreamWorks' 'How to Train Your Dragon,' Warner Bros.' 'Legend of the Guardians' and Disney's 'Tangled,' all playing in 3-D."
Though no distribution plans, partnerships or agreements were detailed, the Iwata did state that Nintendo will be the first to enter the 3-D sector of handheld entertainment.
"This is the first time any such 3-D content has been demonstrated without the need to wear glasses," Iwata said. "It's also, it seems, one of the first times such content will be commercially available for a mobile device."
The 3DS will incorporate a "Slide Pad" to adjust imaging on its 3-D display, as well as a motion sensor, gyro sensor and two camera lenses.
"What this means is you can also take photos and view them in 3-D," he stated.
In addition to "Uprising," Nintendo showed demonstrations from its new Wii title "The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword," which saw its name premiere during the keynote address along with word that it would launch in 2011. That announcement was joined by a first look at "Donkey Kong Country Returns" and "Kirby: Epic Yarn," which will reintroduce two of Nintendo's longest-running franchises. The already-known Metroid title "The Other M," meanwhile, received an August 31 release date, and the new offering "Mario Sports Mix" received a 2011 release window.
Third-party titles on display included "Just Dance 2," a new "GoldenEye" game for the Wii featuring the voice of Daniel Craig, "Epic Mickey" and "NBA Jam," which Fils-Aime emphasized as an exclusive.
"Technology is only a tool," Fils-Aime said, assessing Nintendo's approach. "The end product, the thing that does matter, is the experience. And the best experiences always come when technology and game design are perfectly matched."
How well Nintendo manages to match its new entertainment platform with "Uprising" and everything else the third parties bring to it at launch should come into focus when the 3DS launches, but the development partners and intended scope of use should provide a wide range of opportunities heading into next year.
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