Microsoft were the first to bat at this year's E3 videogame expo, before its official Tuesday opening (following Nintendo and Sony's own presentations), with both the bacchanalia of Sunday night's Cirque du Soleil-headlined event to reveal the final form of its motion-control system now known as Kinect, and with this morning's press conference to show what the next year has in store for their flagship Xbox 360. Here's a quick rundown of what we learned:
1.) Microsoft are releasing a new, slimmer Xbox 360 model this week.
The new model, simply being referred to by Microsoft as The New Xbox 360, will be sold at the same $299 pricepoint as the current Xbox 360 Elite, but will increase the hard drive size from 120 to 250 gigs, and come standard with a built-in wi-fi adapter.
2.) Microsoft are banking on motion-interface Kinect to make the Xbox 360 a new "family console" choice.
Previously known as Natal, Kinect is a motorized camera and motion sensing bar that adds a controller-free gestural interface to the Xbox 360, due for release in North America on November 4th for a yet-unannounced price. On the console level, Kinect will add both voice and virtual touch controls to the 360's interface, as well as face recognition -- selecting your profile amongst the many on your console was demonstrated by simply facing the camera and waving.
Their hope, it seems, is to further expand the role and the image of the 360 as a "hardcore" game console, make it a necessary center-point of the living room by adding more content partners like ESPN (no sign of the previously much-rumored Hulu), and become a true rival to Nintendo's all-ages-marketed Wii, though:
3.) Microsoft do owe at least a small debt to Nintendo's foundational family lineup.
The initial lineup of software for Kinect will sound vaguely familiar: bowling, boxing and track and field events in Kinect Sports
, and the motion-controlled mini-games in Kinect Adventure
all follow closely in the footsteps of Wii Sports/Resort
and Wii Fit
, a virtual jungle-cat pet sim developed by Elite
creators Frontier, contains more than a few traces of the paws-on-the-screen virtual affection of Nintendogs
(though, having brought a child on stage to show off its pre-teen appeal, it did come off as the most honest and genuinely affecting demo of the entire presentation).
Other games demonstrated included Ubisoft fitness package Your Shape
, racing games both casual and core with Kinect Joy Ride
, and Dance Central
-- a full-body dance-battle game from Rock Band
creators Harmonix (no strangers to dance games, having previously added Dance Dance Revolution
steps to Konami's Karaoke Revolution Party
), set to feature music by Lady Gaga and M.I.A.
4.) Microsoft want you to know that despite all this they haven't given up on the "core" gamer.
Having rested much of their E3 presence on pushing the 360 as a mainstream device, Microsoft spent the rest of the presentation on triple-A titles: new Gears of War, Call of Duty, Halo
sequels, and Metal Gear Rising
, Konami's sword-play focused side-story that provided the only true moment of levity to the lineup, as franchise star Raiden carefully sliced and diced a watermelon with the same sword he'd previously used to cut a van (and numerous soldiers) in two.
Not so much as a word came on Xbox Live Arcade or Indies, nor whether the latter will have access to the Kinect SDK to come up with their own gestural games, though presumably we'll see much more of that on the show floor when the E3 expo properly opens tomorrow.
Josh Jacobson is a Nintendo cartridge hacker who makes homebrew cartridges for games that were never released for NES/SNES, complete with label art and colored plastic cases that makes them look like they came from an alternate universe where (for example), there was a Nintendo version of Sonic the Hedgehog.
The Humble Freedom Bundle will take $30 or more and in return give you more than 50 games, ebooks audiobooks and comics, including two never-before-heard audiobook titles from me: a newly mastered edition of the audiobook of my book on copyright, the internet and artistic integrity, Information Doesn’t Want to be Free, featuring both Neil […]
Among those caught in the crossfire of last weekend’s Muslim ban were lawful immigrants and permanent residents who were in the air when the rules changed; when these people landed, they were told that since they had arrived at the US in violation of the rules, they were being deported, and were banned from entering […]
Python is immensely popular in the data science world for the same reason it is in most other areas of computing—it has highly readable syntax and is suitable for anything from short scripts to massive web services. One of its most exciting, newest applications, however, is in machine learning. You can dive into this booming […]
Learning new skills is a great way to improve your resume and stand out from other candidates. Especially in a workforce in which many job-seekers have a wide variety of qualifications. With lifetime access to Virtual Training Company, you won’t have to choose a specific focus. You can pick up new expertise whenever you deem it […]
Instead of throwing out all the empties after your next party, why not transform them into some new DIY glassware? Cut back on waste and add some home ambiance with the Kinkajou Bottle Cutter and Candle Making Kit.The Kinkajou is designed as a clamp-on scoring blade to make precise cuts. Just slide a bottle in, tighten […]