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E3 2010 Q&A with Nintendo's Matt Ryan

Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo

It was Nintendo's kick at the press conference can Tuesday morning as E3 2010 officially opened its doors in Los Angeles.

The Japanese company's hour-and-a-half event began with the unveiling of a new Legend of Zelda game for Wii dubbed The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, set to hit stores sometime next year.

The conference's middle minutes were filled with announcements and recaps of titles exclusive to Nintendo's current platforms, such as Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, Retro Studios' Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Wii Party.

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The event was capped off with a lengthy look at Nintendo's widely reported but previously unseen stereoscopic handheld, the Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo didn't really get into specs, other than to mention screen size and the fact that there are a couple of cameras that enable 3-D photography, but they allowed attendees to briefly try units tethered to models.

I chatted with Nintendo of Canada's Matt Ryan shortly after the conference.

Let's get straight to the main event: Nintendo 3DS. What can you tell me about it?

Nintendo 3DS is the next level in portable gaming. It's all about changing the way that you play games, not just the way that you use buttons. The fact that you don't need glasses to see [the stereoscopic effect]is key. Once you get a chance to see it in action yourself, you will believe in this technology.

The other thing worth noting is that, Nintendo being as innovative as it is with its systems, we get support from third party partners. The support we are getting for the 3DS is tremendous. At launch there will be more than just a handful of games available.

The software lineup looked huge. The major announcement was Kid Icarus: Uprising, but there's also DJ Hero 3D, Kingdom Hearts 3D, and Nintendogs + Cats, as well as 3-D entries in franchises like Saints Row, Madden NFL, Street Fighter, Metal Gear Solid, Dead or Alive, Professor Layton, Ninja Gaiden, Madden NFL, Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, Resident Evil…I'm sure I'm missing some. What are some of the titles you're most excited about?

Actually, Nintendogs has been one of my favourite franchises ever since I've been into portable games. Nintendogs + Cats is definitely on my list.

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But from a core perspective, Metal Gear Solid in 3-D is something that we got a tremendous response from the crowd about. What they're doing with that game seems very experimental at this point; what they can do with the density of a jungle environment. There are some amazing things to see.

I'm also a zombie fan, so Resident Evil: Revelations is going to be on the top of my list.

Nintendo also talked about how the system's two front facing cameras will allow for 3-D photography and suggested that the larger, apparently higher resolution 3.5-inch top screen could be used for watching Hollywood movies filmed in 3-D.

Not needing glasses to view something in true 3-D is amazing. So Nintendo's innovation is to have a dual camera on the outside of the system. That's on top of the player-facing camera. It enables people to take 3-D pictures. That's all we're sharing at this point. Some people at E3 will get a chance to play around with that functionality a bit, but you can only imagine the potential a technology like that has to offer.

We also teased three movies-or rather clips from movies. That's all we're saying about [watching 3-D films on the 3DS]at this point.

There's still a lot of development going on with this product, so there are a lot of things that we need to figure out, and there will be more feedback after E3 as more people have a chance to play with Nintendo 3DS. There are a lot of things we're keeping under wraps as well.

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Like launch dates, pricing, and specs…

Yes. The processing power is definitely more in 3DS [than in the DS or DSi] but like all of our systems it's not about the technical specs. It's about the experience that you get when you play our systems. The 3DS needs to be played first, the tech specs need to be worried about later.

Okay, the other really big piece of Nintendo news was the unveiling of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. What can you tell us about Link's second adventure on the Wii?

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a new way to look at the Zelda franchise. It incorporates Wii Motion Plus, which delivers this feeling of being truly immersed in the game.

The demo that we're showing at E3 shows off the art style, how to use maps, how to use items, and there are a couple of bosses people can try their chances with. But it's about the feeling you have when you move your arm up at a 45-degree angle and slash your sword. You have to be precise with your movements in order to get through the game because enemies and bosses will protect themselves. They'll require you to pay attention to what's going on, and then move more precisely than ever before.

Some of my favourite items include the whip-it feels awesome, just whipping enemies [laughs]mdash;the slingshot, and the bow and arrow. And we've introduced a new item called the beetle. It will help you find items throughout the portion of the game we're showing here. You control the beetle with Wii Motion Plus. It feels right.

And the game is beautiful. It's done with this watercolour style which is going to stand out and make this a different Zelda experience.

Let's break some of the other software announcements into two categories. First there are the "bridge" games-as they were called during the conference-like Mario Sports Mix and Wii Party.

The social gaming side of things is obviously very important to Nintendo. Social gaming is what has helped expand the audience for video games.

One of our big announcements [in this category]is Wii Party. It uses Miis, so user-created Miis get to be a part of the game. There are similarities to previous party games we've done, but what we're showing here at E3 is that Wii Party isn't just about the typical party board games people are used to. On top of the board games there are all of these other mini-games.

There's one called "Balance Boat" where you play with another person cooperatively. You go through mini-games that help determine the size of the Mii character that each of you have to place on this boat at the same time. It seems pretty easy until you find out that one person gets a little tiny Mii and another gets an enormous Mii and you have to balance them out.

There's another game on a roller coaster where two players cooperatively can shoot balloons to get presents. These are mini-games that build up to the bigger part of the game.

But what consumers are going to find really fun [is taking]your Wii remote beyond just pointing and clicking at the screen. In one game--assuming you have four Wii remotes--one will make the noise of a certain animal and you need to guess which Wii remote is making the sound of that animal. There's also a hide and seek option where one player will leave the room and go hide the Wii remotes. Then you have to go find them.

Basically, you're bringing the experience of a social game outside of your television while there are still things going on onscreen. It is the next level of party games.

And Mario Sports Mix?

Playing as Mario characters is always fun. It's that over-the-top Mario fun.

Mario Sports Mix offers some new sports. Even though we've launched Mario sports titles before on their own, we decided to put four games in one here: volleyball, basketball, hockey, and dodgeball.

As Canadians, we are very happy that there is a hockey game built in there. I personally look forward to the volleyball.

Then there are the games that are geared more toward core players, like Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, GoldenEye for Wii, Dragon Quest IX, and Metroid: Other M.

Dragon Quest IX is coming very soon [July 11th] It's been very popular in Japan. It's not something new for us to talk about, but we wanted people to see how it looks. There are definitely some adventure elements, but RPG fans are going to love it as well. The game looks absolutely gorgeous.

One of the features that really took off in Japan and that we expect to be popular in America and Canada is the "Tag" mode. Basically, you put your game into sleep mode, it will pick up information from other people who have their systems in sleep mode, and start sharing. There's character sharing and map sharing. When you share a map with someone, that map is a unique map that only you have been able to get. And at the end of a map there are certain items that are totally unique. It's all done wirelessly in a protected way while you are in sleep mode.

With Golden Sun, we showed it last year but we're showing more this year. And judging by the reaction of the fans out there in the press conference today, we have a lot of excitement for this title. A lot of work has gone into Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, and I think fans are going to be pleased with what they see here at E3.

As for Metroid: Other M, it's also not new news, but we will be showing new content. It's developed by Team Ninja, looks totally awesome, and plays really well with that Team Ninja kind of feel. It's going to go into the backstory of Samus like you've never seen or heard before. It's a huge element of the game.

And to touch on GoldenEye, when I first heard about it I was very excited because many, many of my university hours were spent on that game with my friends. The fact that it has all of the elements that the original had, elements which helped change the face of video games-like four-player split-screen-I think any first-person shooter fan and original GoldenEye fan will love it. And it's a Wii exclusive.

And Epic Mickey is going to be worth checking out, too. Everybody knows Mickey Mouse, but this is a whole new look at Mickey at the way his world works. You can add and take away from what you see in front of you, and the decisions you make affect your gameplay. It's the overall crispness of Mickey, and the mischieviousness, and the darkness of the game [that makes in interesting] And the involvement of B- and C-characters from Disney who you never really knew in the movies; Disney is able to bring life to those characters here. I think it's something that gamers out there need to brace themselves for, because it's pretty different and really cool.

What age group is Epic Mickey suitable for?

Um, you probably want to talk to Disney Interactive about a Disney game. But I think it is a game for everyone because there is an easy way to play it and a more complex way to play.

And of course there's Retro Studios' Donkey Kong Country Returns.

Yeah. We surprised some people this morning with it. Retro Studios has been busy making this game look incredibly awesome. There is definitely some familiarity from the old Donkey Kong Country games. When you get a chance to see it and play it you'll find it's super fun. It's got the Donkey Kong chaos, and Diddy Kong is there to help. You can play cooperatively with another player. Judging by the reaction this morning I think that game will be a really big deal.

Follow me on Twitter: @ chadsapieha

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