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GDC 2007 Day 3 Wrap-up

By dcacho
Wednesday, March 7th, 2007 at 9:58 pm in Gieson Cacho.

I spent most of the afternoon on the show floor. There are two at the Moscone Center: one is in the North Hall and the other is in the West. I spent most of my time at the West and I found myself at Nintendo’s modest booth.

Let’s get one thing clear. This isn’t E3. There wasn’t much neon or half-naked booth babes hanging around. What we had was something serious, not too much hype with people mostly clothed. At the Nintendo booth, one of the demonstrators showed off “Big Brain Academy” for the NIntendo Wii.

The game, scheduled to be released June 11, was in the simple style of previous “Brain Age” games, but in this case, I was in direct competition with the demonstrator. We had to figure out a series of puzzles as quickly as possible. The minigames ranged from counting colored balls in a basket to picking a picture that doesn’t belong. I lost the first match but I came back in the second (only after the demonstrator reduced the puzzle level to easy.)

Elsewhere at the Nintendo booth was a “Pokemon Battle Revolution,” set to be released June 11. This is the first Wii game that will have Nintendo DS connectivity and will work with the “Pokemon Diamond” and “Pearl,” which is set for a April 11 release, according to Joel Simon, the demonstrator. The game will support up to eight DS connections at one time. That’s all fine and good but what about a single-player role-playing mode like “Pokemon Coliseum.” Unfortunately for players, this is a dueling only game. There’ll be different arenas but that’s about it. And I’m about poke-ed out.

Another DS title that Nintendo had on display was “The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass.” Taking full of advantage of the touchscreen, players will have to move Link using the stylus and perform actions by tapping on the screen. In the version at GDC, I played a multiplayer battle against a guy in front of me.

We took turns playing as Link and as a trio of stone guardians that try to stop our hero from grabbing Tri-force pieces throughout the level. It took a while to figure out but I actually liked the controls on the stone guardians. All you had to do was draw a path for it to follow and you can trap the other player that way.

The other two games that were playable at the booth were “Super Paper Mario” and “Super Mario Strikers” for the Wii. “Paper Mario” was remarkable for a gameplay technique that plays with a 2D and 3D perspective. Players can flip the world and turn the game from a side-scroller into a 3D world. I can’t wait for “Paper Mario’s” April 9 release.

It was a similar game mechanic that I’ve seen in “Crush,” a title developed by Zoe Mode and connected with Sega. In this PlayStation Portable game, players will also have to switch from 2D and 3D perspective. But one thing that separates “Crush” from “Paper Mario” is its goal. This is a 40-level puzzle game in which the character Danny has to get to the exit while collapsing the world into 2D perspective and vice verse.

The other mainstream title with an experimental touch is “Portal” for the PC. The developer, Valve, lets players experiment with a portal gun. By creating two rips in space, you’ll be able to activate buttons and go through doors. It’s a hard puzzle game to describe but instantly playable when you have mouse and keyboard in hand.

Earlier in the day, Sony executive Phil Harrison talked about Game 3.0. It takes the philosophies of Web 2.0 and applies them to games. It focuses on the social aspect of gaming. Perhaps, nothing exemplifies this concept better today than GoPets. The program is a social networking site focused on gaming.

It rewards players for playing indie and casual games on its Web site by giving them currency to accessorize their pets. Along with the new gear, these pets also travel to other users laptops or those who have similar interests.

What’s more exciting about the program is the cross-platform development on the Nintendo DS. According to representatives at the booth, the DS will have a separate GoPets world but the creatures will be able to go back and forth between the PC and DS. In addition, there may also be an instant messenger aspect to the program, which may make the DS a device for mobile IMs.

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