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E3 Report

By Paul O’Reilly

Last week saw the return of all the major video gaming companies to the E3 convention in Los Angeles. After a couple of years of confusion and fears that E3 would disappear altogether, the show came storming back with three days of non-stop action and announcements.

Perhaps the announcement that generated most ink was Microsoft’s Project Natal, a motion-capture camera that aims to make game controllers redundant. This week’s Online Mom Tech Report and The Online Mom Blog take a more in-depth look at Natal and its potential for creating revolutionary virtual experiences in the gaming world and elsewhere.

But what else came out of E3? Well, the answer is plenty! Let’s take a look at some of the other attention-grabbing announcements.


The Controller Wars

In addition to Microsoft’s Project Natal, both Nintendo and Sony came out with motion-sensor devices that aim to enhance or do away with the game controller as we know it today. Nintendo has long been the leader in this field, with the Wii Remote, the Wii Nunchuk, and lately the Wii Balance Board. This year, they demonstrated the Wii MotionPlus™, an add-on to the remote designed to increase accuracy and enhance game control, and the Wii Vitality Sensor, which checks your pulse. (Details of how the Vitality Sensor would be used in game play weren’t quite clear in the demo!)

Sony finally entered the controller wars with the introduction of a new motion controller for the PS3. The device looks like a wand with a color-changing ball on top. It’s designed to work with the PlayStation Eye camera and can be overlaid on the screen to simulate weapons or other instruments. Sony claims the device will be “millimeter precise” and provide the most accurate and sensitive gaming experience so far. The as-yet unnamed device will be available in the Spring of 2010 at a price yet to be disclosed.


With the PSP steadily getting outgunned in the marketplace by Nintendo’s DS and DSi, Sony desperately needed a makeover for its flagship handheld gaming device. The PSP Go! is a great-looking next-generation handheld console, with a 3.8-inch screen, 16GB of memory, and easy-to-use slide-out controls.

The PSP Go! isn’t designed to replace the PSP-3000 released in the Fall of 2008, but rather live alongside it, much like the DS and the DSi. Content, including games, can be downloaded right off the PlayStation Network and can now be managed on the PC via new software dubbed Media Go.

One problem with the PSP Go!? Price. At $249, it’s $80 more than the DSi and is even $50 more expensive than the cheapest Xbox 360! The PSP Go! will be available October 1st, 2009.


Almost overlooked in the hoop-la over Project Natal and the other hardware announcements, were the dozens of new games that were unveiled and demo’d at E3. Because it’s a hardcore gaming show, most of the attention was garnered by the hardcore games – almost all of them M-rated (for mature audiences only).

As usual, many of the biggest announcements were sequels to previously successful games, including Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction, Assassin’s Creed II, Modern Warfare 2, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and the brutally violent God of War III.

However, there were some non-M-rated titles and family games announced as well. From Nintendo came the surprise of some all-new Mario games, including Super Mario Galaxy 2, Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini’s March Again, and New Super Mario Bros. There will also be a follow-up to the incredibly popular Wii Sports package called Wii Sports Resort.

From Activision, we can expect Guitar Hero 5 and a new game, DJ Hero, which will require players to adjust controls on a turntable to match the music symbols on the screen. From Electronic Arts, there will be a raft of updates to their popular sports franchises, including FIFA Soccer 10, Madden NFL 10 a two new Need for Speed titles.

And Introducing…The Beatles!

But perhaps the biggest star of last week’s show was not a new console or a controller or even an actual video game. It was a promotional trailer for The Beatles: Rock Band, published by MTV Games and to be distributed by Electronic Arts this Fall. The worldwide release of the game will coincide with the long-awaited release of the re-mastered CD collections of the Beatles albums.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were in LA to discuss the game and were briefly joined on stage by Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, widows of the late John Lennon and George Harrison. Check out the trailer. If the game itself is half as good as the promotional build-up, we’re in for a real treat.

See it here: ">here:

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