We awoke early to have some breakfast and plan out more coverage for E3. After hopping on to a subway to Hollywood and Highland, we headed over to the Kodak Center where our group parted and I went into the Nintendo Press Conference alone. Apparently Nintendo felt like it was okay for them to shut all of us out of the press conference except one. I made my way up to the nosebleed section and sat on the third from top row.

The Press Conference began with Miyamoto coming out, Wii controller in hand, and acting as the Conductor for a virtual symphony. He used the Wii controller as his “baton” for the demo. The music sped up or slowed down depending on how Miyamoto waved his hand. This is how the world was first introduced to Wii.

Nintendo continued on by showing us glimpses of Wii titles and focused heavily on a game called Excite Truck where players are asked to turn their Wii controller sideways and use the controller like a steering wheel. Excite Truck did not impress me visually and it did not look that fun. Perhaps actually holding the controller in my hand will change that though.

Nintendo also showed off the rest of their First Party Lineup–including:Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Sports, WarioWare: Smooth Moves. All of these titles look like they could really take Nintendo to the next level. Expect full previews of these “AAA” Nintendo titles as we progress through our E3 coverage.

Third Party games briefly shown included: Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Call of Duty 3, Sonic, Super Monkey Ball, Dragon Quest Swords: The Mashed Queen and the Tower of Mirrors, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers, Madden NFL, Rayman Raving Rabbids, Red Steel, and SpongeBob SquarePants. Titles are also on the way from Namco Bandai, Atlus, SNK, Konami, Eidos, Majesco, Mastiff, Atari, Buena Vista Games, and more. While we can speculate on what these titles might be–namely Trauma Center Wii from Atlus–I will let the Third Parties give us more information and details hopefully through the remainder of this week. After that, we will all speculate as to what they will bring to Wii.

Overall the Wii left me feeling a bit empty. I wanted to know the release date and price, I wanted to know why the controller had a cord to the console, I wanted to know all about the Virtual Console and the costs associated with it, I wanted to know about the details of the Nintendo Online Network, and more. Reggie addressed questions by telling everyone that he wanted to fill our right brains with games and nothing for our left brains. He said that the time to fill our left brains would come later–when they are ready to reveal.

I hope my feelings change about the Wii once I start playing.

Microsoft was next on the agenda and I was ready for them to round out the top three console makers and deliver some good news on the 360. They did just that by opening with Gears of War and ending with Bill Gates and Halo 3. Gears of War is probably the best game anyone will see or play at E3. It features incredibly detailed visuals, intense gameplay, awesome controls, and it is coming, we assume, right around the launch of the PlayStation 3. I am sure the announcement that the PS3 will be $499 and $599 sent a chorus of cheers at everyone in Redmond because MS doesn’t have to lower the price of the 360 to remain one step ahead of the PS3. And with a game like Gears of War–along with the likelihood of a PS3 shortage–we may find many gamers moving to the Xbox 360 instead of the PS3.

In addition to Gears of War, we were then treated to the announcement of Forza 2 with brand new customizable options. The graphics and gameplay looked killer and this may be the game that Microsoft can truly say betters Gran Turismo. Along with Forza 2, MS announced a First Party Steering Wheel that is wireless, a new Xbox headset, and showed off the HD DVD player. All three and Forza will be out before the end of the year.

Microsoft concentrated a good portion of their press conference on connecting your mobile phone, Windows Vista PC, and the Xbox 360 together. They also showed a renewed emphasis on Games for Windows. I don’t feel this is the right place to discuss either of these topics and we will go into them in more detail later.

Other titles shown off for the Xbox 360 include: the return of the Shadowrun franchise, Fable 2, and Splinter Cell Double Agent. As the press conference began to end, MS announced that Gran Turismo IV will be coming to Xbox 360 first in October 2007. While it isn’t exclusive to the 360, it will feature exclusive downloadable content to further enhance the game. No other details were given and Rockstar has yet to comment on what they may have in store for 360 owners. Also, how long will it be until the game comes out on PS3?

The biggest announcement of all was a trailer of Halo 3 at the end of the press conference. Earth has been invaded and it is up to you to save the day. Bungie has gone on record saying this is the third and final installment of the Halo series. We will see about that. When Bill Gates buys you, he has the final word on such things!

Overall, Microsoft showed real gameplay that looked, felt, and played ever bit as real as Sony. Up to this point, I give them the overall advantage of Best of Show. They also have the best game of E3 in Gears of War. (So far. We will confirm if this changes once the convention ends on Friday.)

Tomorrow the show begins and we can’t wait to see all of the “Big Three” battle it out! This should be the best E3 yet!

By Kaleb Rutherford – 05/10/06

Screenshots for E3 06 Diary Day Two: Nintendo & Microsoft Press Conferences