While Sony's showing at E3 left a bad taste in everyone's mouths, Nintendo stole the show with their next-gen machine, the Revol-, er, I mean, the "Wii." For the first time since Nintendo officially announced the Wii at last year's E3, the company allowed show attendees to get some hands-on time with the games, giving them, (and everyone else) a chance to see just how the new system fares. The verdict? It's pretty damn awesome. (Awesome enough to make people wait in line for almost four hours to get their chance with the innovative system. Heading into E3, many people were skeptical over whether or not the Wii's motion-sensing control scheme would actually WORK, let alone be easy-to-use, and gasp, fun. Judging from the countless "Best of Show" awards that Nintendo won for the Wii, it's pretty safe to assume that showgoers really dug it.
Nintendo also had some pretty interesting things going for their handheld wonder, the DS , which continues to sell in bunches and doesn't look to lose its software superiority over Sony's PSP anytime soon. Nintendo announced that the DS Lite, the sexy hardware revision that makes the original DS look like an ugly stepchild, will be coming to the US on June 11th for $129.
HEADLINE GAMES: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Both GameCube and Wii versions), Wii Sports, WarioWare: Smooth Moves (Wii), Red Steel (Wii), The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS), Super Paper Mario (DS)
HARDWARE News: Wii: Wireless "Wii-Mote" controller works with "shells" for those seeking more traditional controller setups; Always connected to the internet, Nintendo Download service (classic Nintendo games); Online gaming service, similar to Xbox Live; Not as powerful, graphically, as other next-gen systems (hard to tell the difference, however)
DS: DS Lite coming out on June 11th for $129 in "arctic white."
WII COST: "Less than $250" (looks like a bargain, compared to the $300-$400 Xbox 360, and the $500-$600 PS3.)
RELEASE DATE: Fall 2006. Nintendo promised to solidify a release date within the next two months.
BIG QUESTION: How much are all those nifty little controller shells going to cost us all?
Man, those guys at "The next-generation doesn't start until we say it does, bitch," (AKA, Sony) sure did bungle up their E3 appearance with their incredibly pretentious showing. Yes, they may have the most powerful console of the big three, but damn, don't tell us something akin to, "It's $600, and if you know what's good for you, you're gonna to buy it, bitch!" A lot of people were prepared to hear Sony announce some kind of astronomical price for the PS3, but they were at least looking for Sony to at least show everyone WHY. Instead, the company made a huge PR blunder and had very little to show for it. Showgoers seemed to be rather excited to see the incredible looking Metal Gear Solid 4 and Final Fantasy XIII, but its become apparent that titles like these don't carry the same weight that they did in the last gaming generation. (At least, not $600 worth)
Unlike Nintendo and Microsoft, however, Sony remains committed to supporting their respective current-gen gaming platform, the PS2. With super-titles such as Final Fantasy XII and God of War 2 coming out in the next year, the PS2 looks to keep rocking while the GameCube and original Xbox continue to gather dust.
The big news on the PSP front is that Sony plans on releasing some kind of software update that will allow the PSP to play PS1 games. (Can you say, FF VII on the go?) One would assume that Sony would allow gamers to download PS1 games straight to their PSPs, somehow. One can only hope that they don't go and bungle that up, too.
HEADLINE GAMES: Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3), Final Fantasy XIII (PS3), Assassin's Creed (PS3), Devil May Cry 4 (PS3), Okami (PS2), God of War 2 (PS2), Final Fantasy XII (PS2), Loco Roco (PSP), Tekken: Dark Resurrection (PSP)
HARDWARE News: PS3: Most powerful next-gen console; Blu-Ray player; Built-in HD (20 GB and 60 GB configurations); Xbox Live-like online service; Controller with motion-sensor (no rumble, however); Backwards compatible with PS2.
PSP: Ability to play PS1 games
PS3 Cost: $500 for 20 GB configuration, sans-HD capabilities; $600 for 60 GB, full-HD capabilities.
RELEASE DATE: November 17, 2006
BIG QUESTION: Does Sony have anything else up its sleeve to warrant the incredible price difference between the PS3 and its competitors'?
With the release of the Xbox 360 during last year's pivotal Christmas shopping season, Microsoft got a head-start on its competitors with the first volley into the next-generational console wars. Thus far, M$ has enjoyed incredible success within the US with the 360, but has failed to inspire the imaginations of Japanese consumers with a system heavy on shooters and low on RPGs. At E3, Microsoft practically screamed it loud and clear that it would be ready with incredible-looking titles for early adopters and potential customers by concentrating on building its current gaming library, and sprucing it up with key titles that would appeal to consumers around the world. With titles like "Gears of War" and "Mass Effect", as well as improving its award-winning Xbox Live service, 360 owners are sure to never experience a dull moment in the next year.
There was also the tiny, little announcement of a really little, insignificant game... Halo 3... (though, it will not be released for another year at least)
HEADLINE GAMES: Gears of War (360), Lost Planet (360), Splinter Cell: Double Agent (360), Ninety-Nine Nights (360), Grand Theft Auto 4 (360), Halo 3 (360)
HARDWARE News: Xbox Vision camera will be released in September (camera that will enable live video conferencing among friends during games; HD-DVD drive add-on announced, release in Fall 2006
360 Cost: Will remain in two current configurations of $300 and $400.
BIG QUESTION: Will the 360 EVER get the kind of RPGs that many consumers now look to Sony to provide?
And so, that's our E3 round-up of the Big Three. Naturally, the more information we find out, the more we'll post. One thing's for certain; this is going to be one interesting console war. And it's sure to be fun for all of us.