Wednesday, July 11, 2007

E3, the big (though scaled-down this year) video game convention, is this week, and by now Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have all had their keynote addresses. Nothing of note announced by Sony, that I can tell (PSP slim, Home can run on a mobile phone). But I paid more attention to Microsoft and Nintendo, since I own their platforms.

Microsoft didn't announce anything too earth-shattering (nor did was all rather underwhelming). The Halo-themed Xbox 360 looks like ass. Scene-It is coming to the console, which is being met mostly with jokes about the bundled controllers. I think it actually looks interesting, especially if the controllers are utilized with other trivia games (You Don't Know Jack for the Live Arcade, anyone?). But their biggest announcement was probably the arrival of Disney movies to the Live Marketplace, in HD. I have yet to rent a movie via the download service. I'll probably try it out sometime (I noticed today that The Fountain is available in HD, though other movies I'd really like to see in HD, like Pan's Labyrinth, are only available in standard-definition), but the service strikes me as a questionable value proposition. $6 to rent a HD movie is a tad steep, methinks. I'll stick to Netflix and standard-definition DVDs on my upscaling DVD player. HD is nice, but as long as its widescreen, I don't see the reason to pay $6/movie, when I'm not paying Netflix much more for a month's worth of unlimited (essentially) movies (albeit without instant gratification).

Nintendo's press conference also wasn't earth-shattering, though they did announce Mario Kart Wii, and confirmed release dates in 2007 for the big three (Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3, and Super Smash Brothers Brawl). They finally revealed the Wii Zapper, but I'll have to learn more about how it's utilized before I make the plunge (I'm not buying it unless it lets me shoot that snickering Duck Hunt dog). But the big announcement on the Nintendo front was regarding Wii Health Pack, now called WiiFit. It will apparently come bundled with a pressure-sensitive pad that can measure your weight, center of gravity, and movement, while putting you through a series of exercises. I think this is absolutely awesome. I loved the concept of EyeToy: Kinetic, a PlayStation 2 exercise game which used a camera attachment to put you in the game, but ridiculous lighting requirements and other limitations of the camera made it an exercise in futility (hee-hee). So it remains to be seen if WiiFit works well, but I have very high hopes for this game.

So that's my summary of what looked to me like the big news of E3. Nothing major, but just enough to make me feel like I'm getting my money's worth from both the Wii and Xbox 360. I do intend to write a review of my Xbox 360, now that I've had it a few months, but that will wait for another day.

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