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Ten years ago at E3 2005, Satoru Iwata unveiled Nintendo Revolution

R

Rösti

Unconfirmed Member


We are quickly approaching the 20th anniversary of E3, and thus I thought it could be fun to take a look back at the show's past and the advent of a true marvel in gaming - Nintendo Revolution. In the morning of May 17, 2005, Nintendo held its E3 media briefing in the Ball Room on the fifth floor of the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

Titles such as Mario Kart DS, Animal Crossing DS, Super Mario Strikes and of course Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess provided the audience great entertainment, but the real excitement and anticipation was all about Nintendo's next generation system, which Mr. Iwata had talked briefly about during his keynote presentation Heart of a Gamer at GDC 2005.

Anyway, the press conference can be seen in full here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anRy0JeHeCY

I've taken the liberty of transcibing primarily the Revolution segment of the press conference, and I also took some screen shots. Note that due to low audio quality, and Mr. Iwata's at the time less than excellent English skills, the transcription may not be entirely accurate. Important/interesting things are underlined.

A full impression of the conference is available via IGN: http://www.ign.com/articles/2005/05/17/e3-2005-nintendos-e3-2005-press-conference

Start of the conference



Iwata said:
My name is Iwata. I'm about making games. And, I'm about playing games. Last night I played Super Smash Brothers. That's my game. I kicked some.. you know what.
And I took his name. His name was Reggie. As Nintendo president, I'm also all about asking questions. So Reggie, I have a question for you. Who's your daddy?
Start of Revolution segment



Iwata said:
We gave you DS, a new Game Boy, and new games to play on them. And now, you say you want a Revolution? Well, we've got one.


Revolution games will play on 12 cm optical discs. These games along with all Gamecube software will play through the same self loading media drive.
Owners can also choose a small internal attachment to play movies and other DVD content.


Iwata said:
The system will contain 512 megabytes of onboard flash memory, as well as the option to add SD memory cards. We will also be incorporating our own [unintelligible] rights management software to deter sharing of intellectual property.

Beyond this, I won't be specific about the technology inside the hardware. So, I hope you'll let me create some elements of mystery to my further remarks today.
Maybe we can look at this as a form of puzzle game.




Iwata said:
First, let me assure you there is no mystery to the development of our core technology. When you turn on Revolution and see the graphics, you will say "wow".


Iwata said:
Our partners IBM and ATI are working with us to assure this. But the advances in our technology will also relate to areas that have no direct bearing on gameplay. I know, this is one of those mysterious comments.
Our competitors have taken time to detail the power of their core processor and their on-screen displays. Let me try to suggest the other benefits of our technical approach with Revolution.


Iwata said:
Every home game machine in history has married a controller to a console and the console to a tv. In the next generation, the addition of the internet will be important to all consoles, and particulary important to Nintendo. Wi-fi capability will be built into every
Nintendo Revolution. How these four elements, controller, console, tv and internet, interact with each forms a central difference in Revolution design. Our goal in customizing these connections is to develop a device which is functional and appealing to every member of a household, whether they consider themselves gamers
or not. It is right for everyone. I can confirm that all controllers for Revolution will be wireless using Broadcom technology. The controllers will also be very unique, in ways we will share with you later.

But, I will tell you we are already working on several Wi-fi titles each starring one of our key franchise characters. One or two Wi-fi titles will be ready for launch. And, I am pushing our team to make sure that Smash Brothers is one of them. That way, no matter where Reggie is I can always beat him. In fact, it is the game experience that will most separate Revolution from its competitors. So let me talk about other games for a few minutes. Of course, we all love what Mr. Miyamoto has created over the years. But for Revolution, he is challenging his team to create something brand new. His newest creation is set to debut with Revolution. What is that? I'm sorry, but Mr. Miyamoto is keeping quiet for now. Of course, it would be foolish to ignore the franchise we've have already created, the best group of game stars in history. So you will certainly be seeing them on Revolution. Next generation versions of Mario and Zelda are already on the way.


Iwata said:
We also have a big plan for Metroid in our Revolution. A franchise that has evolved constantly with each appearance. And with Revolution, Samus will take you places you have never gone before.


Iwata said:
The key here is not what you are playing, but how you will be playing. We expect that, much like Nintendo's Electroplankton, Revolution will act to create entirely new genres to expand the definition of video game. To help us, key second party developers, who have been so important to game creation for Nintendo Gamecube, will provide exclusive content for Revolution. We expect strong third party support in both hemispheres, because we believe they will appreciate our creative approach. For example, Square Enix is already working on a Wi-fi enabled version of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles for Revolution.


Iwata said:
On one hand, Revolution is the perfect form for video game masterpieces, game that look beautiful, game that play flawlessly, masterpieces that connect you to the game story like no system before. But, not everyone sets out to create an expensive, time consuming masterpiece, and here Revolution also earn its name. We are convinced game creation on Revolution can be the most developer friendly. Simpler, faster and less expensive than any other new system in this next generation.

Development cost will only move well into eight figures. Developers will become more endangered. For them, we offer a solution to help maximise creative freedom while controlling development investments. This is a console where the big idea can prevail over big budgets.


Iwata said:
Finally, I'd like to give you one full answer to a piece of the Revolution puzzle I have talked about previously - backward compatibility. As I said, the disc drive will accept Gamecube games, but we are redefining the term backward compatibility. That's because we have designed Revolution to be a virtual console, capable of downloading 20 years of Nintendo content.

You will be able to purchase games originally created for NES, Super NES and Nintendo 64. It is accurate to say that Nintendo Revolution is technically capable of playing virtually every Nintendo console game ever created. The idea of a single device transporting us back to the first Excitebike, EarthBound or Punch-Out!!, should make us all feel young again, at least for a while.




Iwata said:
In the end, Nintendo Revolution shares a common vision with one we outlined for Nintendo DS last year. The machine is just a tool, the experience comes from the software. So let me conclude with one more hint. Those over you who consider the possibilities of combining embedded content with an internet connection and wireless connection and our flash memory, may begin to make educated guesses on what game experiences we might be constructing. When it arrives next year we intend for Revolution to fully serve core gamers with new titles that fully meet their requirements.

We will attract casual games better than anyone using consumer friendly content, control and interface. And we will even draw non-gamers to our Revolution, showing them how much fun there is in what we all do for a living. We call this all access gaming. In short, more games, more players, more opportunities for developers, and more imagination in defining what a video game can be.


Iwata said:
It is my job to run a global company, but within my job, what still gives me the most satisfaction with seeing someone pick up a controller and finding surprise and delight? What touches their heart, still touches my heart. Thank you very much.
That concludes the Revolution segment of the press conference. Reggie, George Harrison and Eiji Aonuma also made appearances and talked about games being released that year and so forth.

Here's the press release Nintendo sent out on Revolution:

NINTENDO'S COMPACT CONSOLE WILL TURN THE WORLD OF GAMING ON ITS SIDE

New System will be Forward-Thinking, Yet Backward Compatible

LOS ANGELES, May 17, 2005 – Each generation of video game consoles builds on the past to set new standards for the future. As the company with the strongest heritage of innovation, Nintendo redefines expectations for all next-gen systems by employing a wide-ranging strategy to attract more kinds of gamers to more kinds of games. When Nintendo's new console, code-named Revolution, arrives in 2006, everyone will discover the meaning of All-Access Gaming.

"We will show the world what a next-gen system can be. Revolution marries the strongest heritage of innovation to the future of gaming," says Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. "With backward compatibility and the 'virtual console' concept, the stylish, compact body provides maximum gaming power. It will not only take home entertainment into another dimension by expanding the definition of video games, but it also will give you access to the great history of gaming."

Some of the system features that wowed the crowd at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles include:


  • The cool look: The new console boasts high-quality materials and a smart, compact design, approximately the size of three standard DVD cases stacked together. A variety of prototype colors are being showcased during E3. It will come with a silver stand that makes the system a welcome, artistic component of any multimedia setup, whether it's displayed vertically or horizontally.
  • Backward compatibility: The new console plays all games from the current Nintendo GameCube™ generation. But there's more…
  • The secret weapon: The console also will have downloadable access to 20 years of fan-favorite titles originally released for Nintendo® 64, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System® (SNES) and even the Nintendo Entertainment System® (NES).
  • Easy expansion: A bay for an SD memory card will let players expand the internal flash memory.
  • Two disc formats, one slot: Instead of a tray, a single, innovative, self-loading media bay will play both 12-centimeter optical discs used for the new system as well as Nintendo GameCube discs. Owners will have the option of equipping a small, self-contained attachment to play movies and other DVD content.
  • The specs: The system boasts 512 megabytes of internal flash memory, wireless controllers, two USB 2.0 ports and built-in Wi-Fi access. A worldwide network of Nintendo players can gather to compete in a comfortable, inviting environment. Revolution's technological heart, a processing chip developed with IBM and code-named "Broadway," and a graphics chip set from ATI code-named "Hollywood," will deliver game experiences not previously possible.
  • The stars: Introduction of a number of new franchise properties will add to the world's richest stable of stars, including Mario, Zelda, Super Smash Bros., Donkey Kong and Metroid.
  • Wireless freedom: A number of Wi-Fi-enabled launch titles are in development that will employ Nintendo's newly announced wireless gaming service, Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection. A worldwide network of Nintendo players can gather to compete in a comfortable, inviting environment.
  • Freedom of design: A dynamic development architecture equally accommodates both big-budget, high-profile game "masterpieces" as well as indie games conceived by individual developers equipped with only a big idea.
"Our next console proves small in size but big on ideas," says Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of sales & marketing. "We're throwing open the doors of gaming to wider audiences, from casual players to hard-core gamers who live for the thrill of defeating an endless army of wireless opponents."

Nintendo's All-Access Gaming philosophy covers the spectrum. The next console fits anywhere. It brings together new games and old. It gives people worldwide access through wireless Wi-Fi connections. And it opens the world of video games – to everyone. Software for the new console will even attract people who don't consider themselves players. Adults, kids, men and women around the world will have access to the most popular video game characters, the best game franchises and the most engaging experiences yet developed – only with Nintendo.
Where were you on this day? I don't remember if I followed it live, but I remember logging onto Nintendo's homepage (and the NSider forums) the day after to read up on things and discuss.

I couldn't find a GAF thread for the press conference as it happened, only discussions afterward. But there you have it anyway.
 

Acidote

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Apr 13, 2006
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I watched it live. Had a bad feeling about it and thought it was gonna be a failure. I was both right and wrong.

I was right about my bad feeling because Nintendo went in a direction I didn't (and don't) like. And wrong because it was clearly an incredible success.
 
May 14, 2008
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Man I remember people obsessing over the design of the box trying to glean secrets from it. Little did anybody know that the controller was the true revolution...
 

Neff

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Feb 6, 2012
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I remember thinking 'This actually has a shot at becoming a mainstream Nintendo console'.

Then I heard what they were going to call it, and I thought 'Great job, Nintendo. Nobody is going to abandon 'Playstation' or 'Xbox' for a 'Wii'.'

And I was right on both counts.
 

Sain Drevia

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The revolution is over. We lost.

Gamecube was my last Nintendo console. Didn't really see the appeal in the Wii other than some drunken good times playing Wii Sports in college.
 
Feb 20, 2015
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Much better name than Wii.
Definitely. I still wish we had seen a true successor to the Gamecube that focused on gameplay over gimmick. But to be fair alot of "light-gun" type games were alot of fun that we otherwise wouldn't have gotten.

Elebits is up there with H.O.T.D. for me even though they're extremely different games.
 
May 8, 2012
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Great OP. Good screenshots and good quotes. A lot of it sound silly in restrospect, and some of them sad, what with some of the stuff you underlined was handled very poorly.

I was only ten years old at the time and did not follow games the way I do now (it wasn't even as feasible to do so just ten years ago). I remember reading about this conference in a Nintendo gaming magazine and of course as a ten year old I was amazed by everything.
 
Feb 13, 2013
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I remember all the months of speculation as to what the Revolution actually was, how powerful it'd be, what the controller would be like. Some were pretty close to the mark but most were completely batshit. Some of my favorite rumors were the controller having advanced haptic feedback, or incorporating virtual reality technology. The speculated specs varied pretty wildly, even when it became pretty clear that system wasn't going to super powerful. Good times. Still my favorite era of next-gen speculation because the Revolution seemed like it could be almost anything.
 

Rodin

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Mar 12, 2015
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Such a fitting code name. It was definitely a revolution.
Yup, definitely. I still remember the first time i tried it at home at d1, there was nothing like it before. At first i thought it was a bigger game changer than the DS. Great gen for Nintendo.

The revolution is over. We lost.

Gamecube was my last Nintendo console. Didn't really see the appeal in the Wii other than some drunken good times playing Wii Sports in college.
You missed out on a lot of fantastic games.
 

kiguel182

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Sep 9, 2013
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I remember reading a magazine article about it and being really curious about what was coming.

Also, I wish E3 was in May. Way better timing than first half of june.
 

Apdiddy

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Jul 27, 2010
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I find it interesting that Nintendo was talking about a peripheral used to play movies but that never came out with the final Revolution/Wii system. Also, I don't think Metroid Other M was really what they had in mind -- I guess they were doing something after Metroid Prime 3 but that fell through or was changed.

And whatever happened to Square's Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles on Wii? I remembered there being two games from that on the Wii (Crystal Bearers and Echoes of Time) but was Iwata talking about a direct sequel to Crystal Chronicles?
 

Spieler Eins

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When Nintendo still knew what they were doing. Next year, their best E3 presentation will also be 10 years old already :/ (Which was like Sony 2013, except much crazier, but still deciding the gens winner from the get go)
 

Pudge

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Also, I don't think Metroid Other M was really what they had in mind -- I guess they were doing something after Metroid Prime 3 but that fell through or was changed.
That must have been whatever Dread was right? I wonder if we'll ever know.
 

Ridley327

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Feb 7, 2005
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I find it interesting that Nintendo was talking about a peripheral used to play movies but that never came out with the final Revolution/Wii system. Also, I don't think Metroid Other M was really what they had in mind -- I guess they were doing something after Metroid Prime 3 but that fell through or was changed.

And whatever happened to Square's Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles on Wii? I remembered there being two games from that on the Wii (Crystal Bearers and Echoes of Time) but was Iwata talking about a direct sequel to Crystal Chronicles?
Crystal Bearers was that game. I doubt he was privy to what the game actually was, but then no one seemed to be until it eventually came out years later.
 

Boney

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Jan 6, 2010
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Seems like most of their most ambitious prospects, regarding the internet fell through in the design phase.

Also, Iwata, just making up Smash Bros on the spot was so sleazy
 
Feb 13, 2013
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I find it interesting that Nintendo was talking about a peripheral used to play movies but that never came out with the final Revolution/Wii system. Also, I don't think Metroid Other M was really what they had in mind -- I guess they were doing something after Metroid Prime 3 but that fell through or was changed.
I believe Iwata was talking specifically about Metroid Prime 3 since Metroid/Retro played pretty heavily into E3 2006 and Metroid Prime 2 was one of the first true games to be shown with the Wii Remote in behind closed doors demos. IIRC Retro were the ones who called for the Nunchuk attachment to the Wii Remote and thus probably were tasked with demonstrating how it would add to the main controller. That or Nintendo was sufficiently impressed with their output at that time and made them a centerpiece of their plans for the next generation.
 

Madness

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Jan 1, 2013
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They lost me when they talked about the specs. After almost 16+ years it was the first Nintendo console/handheld I never bought. I just knew it was far weaker than its competitors and would lose out on third party support, which is what ended up happening. I knew the gimmick of motion control wouldn't be utilized properly aside from Nintendo and so would never revolutionize or take off on anything. In the end, the console came in hot 06, and was basically dead by the latter half of 2010.

In the end, the Xbox 360 became the best selling console in North America, and both the PS3 and Xbox 360 have come very close to the number of Wii consoles sold, despite being at times 3x the price.

It's funny how the very reasons that caused the Wii to lose support and fizzle out is what is affecting the Wii U as well. Gimmick of the expensive touchpad controller that is barely utilized beyond Nintendo, weaker specs leading to substandard ports or a lack of ports at all, etc. These days people just aren't willing to give up the chance to play a Destiny, a Witcher 3, a Grand Theft Auto V, all the sports games, Assassin's Creed games etc.
 

Sain Drevia

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Yup, definitely.


You missed out on a lot of fantastic games.
No doubt, but I was going through Nintendo fatigue at that point. I was never a PS1/PS2 kid growing up, but eventually Mario and Co. lost their appeal. I felt the desire to play other types of games. Motion controls have always been off putting to me as well.
 

Plinko

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Which led to the most underrated and underappreciated gaming library of all time.

Anyone who said, "LOL SD graphics" about Wii missed a ton of great games.
 

Newtype-001

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Sep 19, 2014
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I bought the Wii.

Played 2 games.
Wii Sports... then sonic and the black knight.

Sold it after 6months of nothing.

It was such a weird buy.
 
What a crazy ride it was before release.

The Revolution debut
Months of speculation
Hardware nit picks and the realization it wouldn't touch PS360
The controller reveal
The Wii name
Red Steel screens
Zelda at launch
Wii Sports pack in

Everything seemed so bizarre and different, and it paid off hugely. It also may have inadvertently doomed them, the jury's still out.
 

Zombie James

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Didn't like it then, still don't like it now, and I'm glad it died as quickly as it did. Attracting new people to gaming is good but when the audience you attract is only interested in the novelty of a gimmick and quickly abandons you, it's toxic.
 

Sciz

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Man I remember people obsessing over the design of the box trying to glean secrets from it. Little did anybody know that the controller was the true revolution...
Yep. This was ultimately just the teaser leading up to the TGS reveal later in the year.

edit: GAF reaction thread here
 

iMax

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Dec 5, 2012
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Iwata said:
My name is Iwata. I'm about making games. And, I'm about playing games. Last night I played Super Smash Brothers. That's my game. I kicked some.. you know what.
And I took his name. His name was Reggie. As Nintendo president, I'm also all about asking questions. So Reggie, I have a question for you. Who's your daddy?
 

Meesh

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Jan 6, 2007
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What a crazy ride it was before release.

The Revolution debut
Months of speculation
Hardware nit picks and the realization it wouldn't touch PS360
The controller reveal
The Wii name
Red Steel screens
Zelda at launch
Wii Sports pack in

Everything seemed so bizarre and different, and it paid off hugely. It also may have inadvertently doomed them, the jury's still out.
Don't forget all the fan made crazy "leaked" videos like "On" and whatnot which probably fuelled fan hype beyond 9000 as well. Crazy times...strange days to be a Nintendo fan.

Edit: I honestly hope some crazy nutter makes new viral videos for NX. I want to believe lol.
 

Gummb

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It was definitely a 'shock' console, in that everyone was paying it a lot of attention and trying to learn from its successes. It solidified gaming as a mainstream activity even further after the PS2 thanks to its relatively low tech and simple design - all of which has been absorbed into mobile.

I think the Wii U was an attempt to bridge that audience into more intricate and traditional gaming experiences, but the audience didn't translate. Gaming is moving much faster now, but I think Nintendo knows this and is now creating gaming experiences shaped by that new speed - i.e. Smash Bros. DLC, Splatoon Events, and hopefully Star Fox.

It's a much more exciting time to be a Nintendo fan now more than ever, in my opinion.
 

Trago

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They had good intent with getting new gamers, but sadly that audience moved away from consoles in favor of mobile.

Regardless, this console has a lot of killer games.
 
Feb 13, 2013
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It was definitely a 'shock' console, in that everyone was paying it a lot of attention and trying to learn from its successes. It solidified gaming as a mainstream activity even further after the PS2 thanks to its relatively low tech and simple design - all of which has been absorbed into mobile.

I think the Wii U was an attempt to bridge that audience into more intricate and traditional gaming experiences, but the audience simply didn't translate. Gaming is moving much faster now, but I think Nintendo knows this and is now creating gaming experiences shaped by that new speed - i.e. Smash Bros. DLC, Splatoon Events, and hopefully Star Fox.
Nintendo seemed pretty adamant at the outset of this generation that they wanted to bridge the gap between their Blue Ocean strategies of appealing to the casuals and bring that userbase in-line with the core, or the so-called Red Ocean. The problem was that the 3DS' initially cool reception might have caused Nintendo to change plans with the Wii U. Combined with a lack of consistent software support and severely fractured branding between the two platforms probably hurt their odds of bringing some of the Wii/DS userbase over, but mobile likely did the most damage.
 

Gummb

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about Rayman Legends Wii U.
Jun 21, 2010
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Nintendo seemed pretty adamant at the outset of this generation that they wanted to bridge the gap between their Blue Ocean strategies of appealing to the casuals and bring that userbase in-line with the core, or the so-called Red Ocean. The problem was that the 3DS' initially cool reception might have caused Nintendo to change plans with the Wii U. Combined with a lack of consistent software support and severely fractured branding between the two platforms probably hurt their odds of bringing some of the Wii/DS userbase over, but mobile likely did the most damage.
yeah, and honestly... their biggest mistake was thinking that New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land were equivalent successors to Twilight Princess and Wii Sport as launch titles. Same with Ubisoft's Zombi U vs. Red Steel (even if Zombi U is a much better game).
 
Apr 15, 2012
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I didn't really start following E3 until maybe 2010. I was a really young kid when I read about E3 2006 in an issue of Nintendo Power. This was the first console launch I was really following. I had an NES, SNES, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and GameCube. But those were either given to me by relatives who had no more use for them and so I had played them years after they released. This would be the first console launch I remembered. I was too young to remember commercials for any games before PlayStation 2/GameCube/Xbox.

I remember plucking video game magazines off stands in Wal-Mart and reading speculation on systems. I remember seeing a mock-up for a Microsoft portable called an Xbox 180, haha. I also distinctly remember reading about Nintendo Revolution in that magazine and how the controller had not been revealed yet but was sure to be unique. Things were much more interesting when I was younger and more naive with little Internet access.

The way Nintendo marketed Wii was pretty incredible. I remember reading about E3 2006 in Nintendo Power. Supposedly the lines were absurd. I soaked up all the information I could about the system. I read all about the controller and different channels in the OS. When you look at Wii promotional materials, it was very Apple-esque. As much as we didn't like the focus on games like Wii Fit and Wii Sports Resort a couple of years later, they did end up selling much much more than the games we hoped existed.