Yesterday, Microsoft raised the bar on the mainstream-interactive landscape with the demonstration of its futuristic Project Natal. Today, Nintendo had a chance for a rebuttal, during which it chose to focus on Wii Motion Plus.
Scheduled to debut in a few weeks when it's packaged in with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, the more accurate plug-in to the Wiimote has its greatest killer app in Wii Sports Resort, the delayed sequel to Wii Sports. Showed off last year as well, two new sports in the package, archery and a three-point hoops contest, were demonstrated once again by Reggie Fils-Aime and Bill Trinen. The accuracy benefits were more noticeable to the naked eye on the archery demo: smaller hand motions allow for greater focus and targeting.
E3 2009: Nintendo Wii Motion Plus
The Wii Motion Plus is a funny update to the Wii, because the advertising around it (virtual swordplay, archery) is exactly the same angle that was used for the original Wiimote. It arrives in a few weeks to stores.
Oddly, the new Wii Fit update, Wii Fit Plus, which comes out this fall, does not have any clearly explained integration with the Wii Motion Plus. It would seem logical, but perhaps more information will be forthcoming.
Besides the Wii Motion Plus, Nintendo worldwide president Satoru Iwata appeared on stage for a recap of Nintendo's immersive products, such as the Wii Wheel, finishing with a demo of a future product called the Wii Vitality Sensor. It's a finger-clipping pulse reader, which Iwata says could be fun for relaxation purposes. It's utterly unclear how this type of peripheral could be anything other than just another plastic peripheral gimmick in a game generation already overrun with plastic skateboards and fake instruments, and the fact that no compelling demo of the concept was presented, a la Microsoft with Peter Molyneux's interactive boy Milo, only makes this even more of a tangential oddity.
E3 2009: Nintendo Wii Vitality Sensor
Nintendo does get one thing right: its combination of quick-response buttons and motion control make for a hybrid experience that's a big part of the company's success bridging retro and casual gaming. Microsoft's Project Natal, which uses no buttons whatsoever, will have a steeper hill to climb--or will just require some particularly brilliant designers to pull off.