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01 Jul 2010

THE ANNUAL Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center between June 15th and June 17th. Although it all went down as we went to print, Game Console did manage to catch the very fi rst round of announcements.

First up was Microsoft, with an event one day before E3 proper during which the company offi cially announced the new name of its motioncontrol peripheral previously known only by the working title of ‘Project Natal’. The controllerless, camera- and voice-based device is now offi cially called “Kinect”.

Microsoft also unveiled the fi rst batch of fi rstparty titles for the device, including Kinectimals (which lets you train and play with 20 different virtual cats), Joyride (a racing game where players hold an imaginary steering wheel), Kinect Sports (boxing, bowling, beach volleyball, track and fi eld, soccer and table tennis), Kinect Adventures (a fourplayer river-raft and obstacle course game), and Dance Central (developed by MTV Games). Kinect will launch (along with 15 compatible titles) on November 4th.

This was followed the next day by Microsoft’s offi cial E3 press conference and the announcement of a new Xbox 360 console, offi cially the Xbox 360 S. The redesigned version is substantially smaller than the original console, sports a 250GB hard drive and integrated Wireless N wi-fi . It’s also worth mentioning that, while Kinect is supported by all models of Xbox 360, the Xbox 360 S features a custom port for the new peripheral. When used with older models, Kinect will need to be plugged into a separate power outlet. The new Xbox 360 will retail in New Zealand from July 9th for $499.

At its conference the following day, Nintendo unveiled the rumoured Nintendo 3DS, the major sell of which is that the user is not required to wear glasses in order to view its 3D visuals. The 3DS boasts a 3.5-inch widescreen display, a smaller touchscreen, an analogue control input (a fi rst for a DS device) and two front-facing camera lenses (which enable 3D still photographs). The unit will have increased graphical capabilities over existing Nintendo DS handhelds, and it will also play 3D-encoded movies. The rather large list of upcoming 3DS games include Kid Icarus: Uprising, Mario Kart, StarFox 64 3D, Paper Mario and Resident Evil: Revelations. There was no word on the availability of the 3DS in New Zealand at the time of writing.

Among Nintendo’s other major announcements were Wii titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Skywards Sword (scheduled for release in 2011), Mario Sports Mix (also 2011), Wii Party, Just Dance 2, and a reimagining of the classic N64 fi rst-person shooter Goldeneye. Sony revealed further details of PlayStation Move and its 3D-gaming initiative with demonstrations of Killzone 3 (now pegged with a February 2011 release date) in stereoscopic (glasses required) 3D.

Sony also confirmed the rumours that a ‘Premium’ PlayStation Network subscription will be introduced soon for $US49.99 a year (approximately $NZ70), and that the long-time-coming Gran Turismo 5 will fi nally be in gamers’ hands this November. However, among the surprises at Sony’s conference were that a new Twisted Metal title is headed to the PS3 in 2011, and the unlikely news that Valve’s Portal 2 is also en route to the PS3.