Tag Archives | E3

Nintendo’s Wii U: Gimmicky, Practical, Fascinating

There are two sides to Nintendo’s Wii U, as I discovered after spending nearly an hour with the upcoming home gaming system at E3 last week. On one hand, it’s another platform for gimmicky, silly fun, just like the original Wii. On the other, it’s a practical hardware upgrade that wants to be more capable than its console competitors.

My time with the Wii U included five “experiences” — that is, short tech demos that won’t necessarily become actual games — all of which showcased the Wii U’s controller, with its 6.2-inch touch screen. You can see each one on Nintendo’s website.

Picking up a Wii U controller was a lot like handling a Wii remote for the first time — a bit of bewilderment and a bit of excitement, followed by a quick dose of simple entertainment. I was playing a virtual game of tag with three pals from PCWorld, them using Wii remotes to chase my avatar, me using the Wii U controller to escape. The trick was that only I could see where everyone was positioned, thanks to a map on my controller’s screen. We yelled. We laughed. We cheered. It was Wii Sports Tennis all over again — a cheap thrill without much substance.

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Classic Gaming Expo Makes E3 Old Again

Tucked into a corner of the Los Angeles Convention Center was a retro gamer’s paradise.

Arcade cabinets lined the back wall of the booth, flanking row after row of classic game consoles. Literally everything was there, from the Magnavox Odyssey to the TurboGrafx-16 to the Nintendo 64, many of them playable. An old TV cabinet played Space Invaders, right behind a glass display case with some of the rarest video game hardware in the world.

And at the center of it all was Joe Santulli, dressed in a crisp white suit and turquoise shirt, as if he’d stepped out of the 80s. After a three-year absence, Santulli and his fellow collectors have brought the Classic Gaming Expo back to E3, this time with a new purpose: They want to build a museum for video game history.

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Nyko Solves Kinect’s Small Apartment Problem

When Microsoft launched Kinect for Xbox 360 last November, it came with one big gotcha: You need at least six feet of open space between you and the motion-sensing camera, and preferably more. If you had a small apartment, Kinect was not for you.

Finally, third-party peripheral maker Nyko is trying to solve that problem with Zoom for Kinect, a $30 clip-on accessory that’s supposed to decrease the amount of open space required. Whereas Kinect’s ideal range is 8 feet to 10 feet, Zoom for Kinect reduces the ideal range to between 6 feet and 8 feet.

When trying out the Zoom for Kinect at Nyko’s E3 booth, I didn’t notice any issues with sensitivity. Actually, I was able to get within one arm’s length of the Kinect and still have my movements detected, although players have to stand farther back when more than one person is involved. The Xbox 360 only warned me to back off when I got within a foot of the device.

Zoom for Kinect is nothing more than a set of wide-angle lenses that sit in front of the Kinect camera. The attachment slides over the Kinect unit and locks into place when the lenses match up. The idea is so simple that I’m surprised Microsoft isn’t selling its own version, but I’m glad someone has given consideration to folks who don’t live in luxurious open spaces (read: college students, New York residents).

The Zoom for Kinect peripheral goes on sale August 16.


Playstation Vita: Hands-On With Gaming Handhelds’ Last Stand

Sony’s Playstation Vita is a gesture of defiance toward smartphones and iPod Touches. It has a bigger touch screen and more raw power than nearly any phone on the market. It includes dual analog thumb sticks and a full rack of buttons and triggers. And just to make things interesting, the rear panel is touch-sensitive.

Sony’s throwing everything it can into the Playstation Vita, which launches this holiday season starting at $250. It even has front- and rear-facing cameras and, for $50 extra, 3G connectivity. All of this leads me to one conclusion: If the PSVita can’t compete as a gaming device with smartphones, then all gaming handhelds face a perilous future.

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Bad 3D Invades E3

So there I was, playing a demo of Silent Hill: Downpour in Konami’s E3 booth, and all I could think about was how I’d rather be at a different kiosk.

You see, I was playing Silent Hill’s Playstation 3 version, with a pair of stereoscopic 3D glasses affixed to my head. The guy next to me was playing the Xbox 360 version in 2D. The difference in smoothness and visual fidelity was all too obvious.

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Dust 514: E3’s Most Ambitious Shooter

If you watched Sony’s E3 press conference, you might’ve dismissed Dust 514 as just another Playstation 3 shooter among countless others. And that’d be too bad, because Dust 514’s latest trailer doesn’t do justice to the crazy ideas that CCP Games is trying to execute.

Unlike most multiplayer shooters, whose individual matches live in a vacuum and don’t support any overarching goals, Dust 514 is tied directly to the massive multiplayer game EVE Online. By fighting on the ground, players try to capture planets on behalf of EVE’s major corporations. In other words, players’ actions in Dust 514 can have a ripple effect throughout the EVE universe.

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Apple is “Very Excited” About OnLive on the iPad (Says OnLive)

OnLive made a bunch of announcements before E3, but at the show, the streaming game service was showing something new: full, working versions of OnLive on the iPad and Android tablets.

An OnLive app is already available on the iPad, but only for watching other players and seeing what games are available. The unreleased app shown at E3 can run OnLive’s full library of games using the universal controller announced last week, and one game was even adapted to the touch screen. According to Joe Bentley, OnLive’s vice president of engineering, Apple is listening.

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8 Questions About Nintendo’s Wii U

The crowd laughed at the silly name when Nintendo announced the Wii U at its E3 press conference, but their derision quickly turned to amazement when Nintendo showed what its upcoming home gaming system can theoretically do. The trick is in a controller with a 6.2-inch touch screen that streams video from the console itself.

We’re still a long way from the Wii U’s 2012 release, and Nintendo left a lot of questions unanswered, even as it injected a much-needed dose of buzz into the E3 atmosphere. So I’m going to take a page from Harry and tackle the Wii U announcement as a series of open questions.

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Sony Announces Playstation Vita, Stays the Course on PS3

Hand it to Sony for knowing its audience.

Although the Playstation 3 has become a multimedia powerhouse — Sony dropped the nugget that its console accounts for 30 percent of all Netflix streaming — Sony’s E3 press conference was almost entirely about games. The requisite parade of exclusives came first, followed by launch details for Sony’s next-generation portable, now known as the Playstation Vita.

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Microsoft’s E3: A Bang for Kinect, a Whimper for Live TV

Good thing Microsoft had a packed line-up of Kinect games to show at its E3 press conference, because last week’s big rumor about live TV on the Xbox 360 turned out to be kind of a dud.

Kinect, the motion-sensing, audio-detecting Xbox 360 camera that launched last year, dominated the discussion at Microsoft’s press conference. I counted 15 announcements for games that will either support or require Kinect, plus a revamped console menu designed for gestures and voice.

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