Nintendo World 2011 marked the first time the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo’s upcoming 3D handheld successor which launches on February 26 in Japan, was playable for the general public. Up to this point, the 3DS had been shown at E3 in June 2010 and again at Nintendo’s conference in late September of the same year, both events whose attendance was restricted to the media and press.
Given that Nintendo hasn’t organized a Spaceworld event in nearly 10 years, Nintendo World 2011, a three-day event from January 8 through 10, comes as a welcome surprise for gamers and press alike. Part of it is due to necessity for Nintendo. It’s impossible for Nintendo to convey the 3DS’s glasses-free 3D screen with the traditional big screen trailer or on someone’s computer, so they needed to let the general public see the actual handheld for themselves to decide whether they would be impressed with the 3D technology or not. As with a majority of game trade shows held in Japan, the venue for Nintendo World 2011 was Makuhari Messe in Chiba, just directly east of the actual city of Tokyo. This is also the venue for the yearly Tokyo Game Show (TGS), which Nintendo is infamous for not participating in, as well as JAMMA, Jump Festa, and the Amusement Game Show.
Nintendo World 2011 was not designed for a heavy media presence. Traditional trade show events clearly outline the boundaries between the media and the general public in relation to photography, the receiving of informational materials and access privileges. Nintendo World 2011 did not draw this distinction in an obvious way: people could attend as press, but the only advantage they had was taking pictures of the venue and kiosks. Otherwise, everyone was entitled to the same information from the 3DS demo kiosks and from the stage shows that were thrown. The press could only play the exact same demos as everyone else and were not allowed to cut in line as is usually allowed at TGS, either. This was definitely a public event designed to show off the 3DS’s glasses-free 3D visuals. Moreover, it did not feature any original DS or Wii games. This was strictly 3DS.
The following 3DS games and demos were playable:
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Resident Evil Revelations
Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition
Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D: The Naked Sample
Winning Eleven 3D Soccer
Dead or Alive Dimensions
Samurai Warriors Chronicles
Ridge Racer 3D
Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle
There were other games with 3D trailers, including Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, Kingdom Hearts 3D, Tales of the Abyss, Star Fox 64 3D, Animal Crossing, Mario Kart, and Paper Mario.
On the first day, January 8, Nintendo organized three stage shows focusing on specific titles: the first was Mii de Asobu and AR Games, the second was on Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, and the third and final one was on Kid Icarus: Uprising.
The Mii de Asobu and AR Games stage show demonstrated titles that specifically made use of the 3D visuals of the 3DS. The stage show was hosted by Testuya Shirai and Kosuke Kikuchi, a pair of Japanese comedians. Nintendo chose these comedians because they made the stage show more palatable for the general public. They demonstrated the 3DS’s Mii avatar features. The 3DS allows users to take pictures of their faces with the built-in camera and use it to create a similar-looking Mii. Testuya Shirai used his likeness twice to create a Mii; the first time, his eyes were shut, resulting in a Mii with slanted eyes, so they retried it and got it right the second time after making a few manual adjustments.
The final third of the segment focused on AR Games (Augmented Reality) games. The first demo showed the camera pointing at a specially designed Nintendo “?” card set on a surface, with the 3DS then superimposing a Mii character onto the card on the screen. Also on the table were a cup and colored pencils. The 3DS detected these objects, and when the Mii starts moving, it could collide with the cup or colored pencils, showing the sophistication behind the 3DS’s camera. They demoed this AR game again by having Kosuke Kikuchi hold the card on his arm, with the Mii appearing above the card on the 3DS screen.
The Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D stage show did not involve any interaction with the 3DS hardware or the game itself. Instead, it was a long discussion about the Metal Gear Solid series between Konami/Kojima Productions’ (Kojipro) Yoshikazu Matsuhana and the host, Iccho Mori, a Japanese actor who, according to his Japanese Wikipedia article, has done commercials for the gaming industry.
They talked about Yoshikazu’s involvement with Konami and the Metal Gear series and why they chose to bring Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater to the 3DS: Kojipro felt that MGS3, being the first in the series chronologically, would be the best starting point for people new to the series. They showed an existing trailer of The Naked Sample, the name of the interactive camera demo “playable” on the show floor, but other than that no real new information was revealed to the audience.
The final stage show featured Kid Icarus: Uprising with Masahiro Sakurai as the host. Sakurai, known for the Super Smash Bros. and Kirby series, now works at Sora, Ltd., the developer of Kid Icarus: Uprising. Sakurai, aware that the audience might not be familiar with the original Kid Icarus from 1986, showed a trailer of the 3DS game before demoing the original NES title to the audience, explaining what has changed about the various characters and enemies since the original game.
Sakurai showed artwork of Pit, the main character and bosses such as Medusa. He then went through two stage demos: an air battle demo, which Sakurai likened to Space Harrier as Pit flew around the screen shooting things, and the land battle demo, where Pit went through the level fighting against enemies and eventually the Medusa boss.
The event continues into January 9 and 10 with more stage shows scheduled. The next stage shows will focus on Capcom’s two games present at the event: Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition and Resident Evil Revelations, which will be covered in the next report.