It is merely mid-March, and already I am thinking about winter. No, I am not insane enough to wish upon us infinite piles of snowy goodness. Instead, I am longing for big-name gaming titles to crawl out of the woodwork and show their faces.
With the wrap-up of this year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, we got a glimpse of what is to come if we have the patience to wait for it.
Nintendo's keynote presentation was unlike any other I have seen footage from. To summarize, Sigeru Miyamoto — creator of beloved characters like Mario or the adorable Pikmin — stood up on stage, showed pictures of his garden and discussed the "Wife-o-Meter."
The intriguing "Wife-o-Meter" made me chuckle a bit. Miyamoto discussed how over the years of creating games for Nintendo, he has looked to his wife for reactions about his current project. Over time, her love of video games evolved into a greater appreciation for the technology, especially with the Wii release. Random, yes, but there were more exciting matters at hand.
Once again we saw footage from "Super Mario Galaxy." This title has been so long in the making that I am beginning to think it will never be released, and Nintendo will give us a big "Just kidding" come holiday season. The game looks stunning with spherical levels and "Sonic the Hedgehog"-style flight scenes, but I grow increasingly tired of seeing it. I want to see more of the gameplay, not the same footage that has been floating around YouTube for six months. As for a release date, Nintendo says "this year." What the hell is that supposed to mean? Tomorrow? Next week? Christmas Day? Give me a break, Nintendo, and show me the goods!
Another Nintendo release I was really looking forward to learning more about was "Super Smash Bros. Brawl." I haven't heard much about it since the awe-inspiring trailer was released, and we heard the news that Solid Snake (From the "Metal Gear" series) was going to get in on the action.
Yet, alas, I was sorely mistaken and have nothing new to report.
You might be asking why this is, but the only explanation I can give is that we are dealing with Nintendo. Since I have nothing but love for them, I am just going to complain and wait it out. You won't see me throwing out my Wiimotes anytime soon.
Sony, on the other hand, had quite a display for the few of us who decided to pick up a PS3, even though new releases are hard to come by. By far, its most impressive announcement was for its new service, being released in fall 2007, called "Home."
"Home" is an online community that really brings to life a love child between Xbox Live and Nintendo's Mii system. Players will log into "Home," create a virtual representation of themselves, manage an apartment, chat with other players and play games. You can use a keyboard of onscreen prompts to communicate or, if you want to be a fancy pants, whip out a Bluetooth headset and chat wirelessly over your connection. Another impressive feature is that you can upload media off the PS3's hard drive to share with the rest of the community.
Personally, I am pumped about "Home," even though every message board troll has been frantically poking holes in it. Sadly, they all come from the Nintendo camp. (Come on guys, you are giving us a bad rep.) Nevertheless, come fall I will be right there waiting to download "Home" and give it a test drive. I had a laugh when it was suggested that the media sharing of "Home" will turn into an instant porn extravaganza as fast as upload speeds can make it so.
Apart from "Home," PS3 owners will be waiting impatiently for other titles that have not been getting a ton of press even though, in my opinion, they should be. For instance, what is a Sony console without some love from Square Enix?
I am desperately waiting for the day when the release date of "Final Fantasy XIII" is announced. Hell, I have yet to even scratch the surface of "XII," but a boy can dream. If all goes according to plan, and rumor, we will be seeing it out by the end of this year and enjoy another 100 hours of role-playing bliss.
As for Xbox 360, its showing wasn't too impressive this year, except for the footage of "Blue Dragon." Taking a look at this game, it doesn't appear to me that it is appropriate for the 360. Frankly, it looks like more of a cartoon than a video game. Then again, its character design comes via Akira Toriyama, the "Dragon Ball Z" creator, so I am not surprised.
Other big names working on this title are Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu. Both of these men are, of course, associated with the "Final Fantasy" franchise, as Sakaguchi is a famed producer and Uematsu the composer of brilliant "Final Fantasy" soundtracks. This marks the first of what I am sure will be many RPG from Sakaguchi's company, Mistwalker, so I am excited to see the final result. Look for it in August.
What we didn't see was any sort of big announcement for 360's golden boy, Master Chief. You guessed it, our favorite "Halo 3" hero. We have all seen the trailer, downloaded dozens of screens, but now, alas, we have to wait. Wait for what, you might ask.
As I have said before, "Halo" is overrated, over-hyped, and I can already tell you what Launch Day is going to look like. At 11:59 p.m., the minute before launch, millions of basement-dwelling denizens and college guys who never attend class — you get the picture — lined up at game stores across the United States. At the stroke of midnight, the copies will be sold, 360s fired up and the race to see who can become the most annoying Xbox live jackass will ensue. Everyone will play multiplayer, ignore the campaign, trash talk and never see the light of day again. Please, there must be a more valuable way to spend your time.
With such exciting releases coming down the pipeline, it's too bad we won't see anything really noteworthy until after summer. It is no secret that developers want to save all their top dollar ammunition for the holidays, yet I don't think it would hurt to throw us a bone every now and again. Until then, get some sun and enjoy the fresh air; you know you will miss it come game time.
Justin Voss is a sophomore majoring in Japanese. Do you think "Home" will be a tech breakthrough or porn heaven? Trade gaming tips with Tanuki Voss at firstname.lastname@example.org.