Pre-E3 2009: PSP Go Confirmed

New Metal Gear and Gran Turismo get the nod as well.

May 30, 2009 - Sony's E3 press conference might still be days away, but it would appear one of the company's biggest cats is out of the bag -- the PSP Go is real.

Yes, for some reason the latest episode of Qore is live and features host Veronica Belmont speaking in the past tense about E3 and getting a private demo of the PSP Go from SCEA Director of Hardware John Koller. Want the deets? Well, imagine a smaller PSP-3000 where you slide the top portion up to reveal the D-Pad, Select button, Start button, and traditional face buttons. The screen is going to be 3.8 inches, the unit is 44 percent lighter than the PSP-3000, there's no UMD drive, there's a Memory Stick micro slot, it's Bluetooth compatible so that you can use a headset and link it to your cell phone, and the unit packs 16 gigabytes of flash memory.

As if that news wasn't huge enough, the episode of the show features our first look at LittleBigPlanet Portable in action (the screen is in tight on Sackboy and packing a lot of color) and Koller says that there is a new Metal Gear and Gran Turismo coming to the PSP.

In terms of the family tree, Koller said that the PSP Go is not replacing the PSP-3000 but that both units will live in harmony on retail shelves -- although he did say that Sony likes 10-year lifecycles so the PSP Go should have a bit longer life than the PSP-3000. Still, Koller said the company plans to continue to support both downloadable and retail-based games. Belmont asked if there would be different games for the Go versus the traditional PSP; Koller responded that the units will have a similar catalog to begin with, but with time, he expects there to be some differences -- like maybe developers making smaller games that are shorter experiences.

Want to get your hands on the PSP Go? Koller said that the unit is expected to ship this fall.

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E3 2009: IGN Invades E3

IGN has your backstage pass to the big show. All the details inside.

May 29, 2009 - The Electronic Entertainment Expo runs from June 1-4 in Los Angeles, and IGN will be there in force to bring you up-to-the-minute coverage from the big show. From live video streams of the hottest E3 press conferences from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to exclusive interviews with developers from the show floor, we'll have your all-access pass to the biggest spectacle in gaming.

If you're completely new to the madness that is the Electronic Entertainment Expo, make sure to check out our E3 Beginner's Guide. You'll find out how it began, why it's important and what to expect from the show. At its heart, E3 is and should be all about great videogames. And we have a comprehensive list of all the new games that have been officially confirmed for the show. To find out what will be on hand at E3 2009, check out our Big E3 List, which breaks everything down by publisher for your scanning pleasure.

But this year's E3 also promises plenty of surprises, and you'll want to log onto http://e3.ign.com to keep up with all the news, info, game announcements, photos, booth babes and HD videos.

One of the most exciting parts of the expo is the three first-party conferences held by Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony each year. You can expect some megaton announcements from each company about its game lineup and hardware plans for the rest of 2009 (and beyond).

Like last year, IGN will be streaming these conferences live. All users can watch them here for free, although Insiders will get the high-def experience.

Head over to e3.ign.com to gain access to the most reliable, flawless HD-quality playback on the Internet. So if you don't want to miss a beat, make sure you're locked in on June 1st and 2nd. Here's the E3 schedule:

  • Microsoft conference – 6/1, 10:30 a.m. Pacific
  • Electronic Arts conference - 6/1, 2 p.m. Pacicic
  • Nintendo conference – 6/2, 9 a.m. Pacific
  • Sony conference – 6/2, 11 a.m. Pacific
But make sure to stick around after the Microsoft conference closes, because we'll have three exclusive previews right afterward. So stay tuned to IGN for an in-depth first-look at what's shown.

What does the Regg-i-nator have in store this year?

In addition to live-streaming the major press conferences from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, IGN will also be broadcasting our Live Show from the E3 floor at the Los Angeles Convention center, giving you a backstage pass to the hottest games of the show including:

And way more!

On IGN's Live Show, all the biggest games and hottest stars will be on display via live direct-feed demos and interviews with the development teams in flawless, high-quality video. And IGN Insiders will see all the action unfold in perfect, full-screen HD-quality video.

So for the most reliable, high-quality E3 video experience available, log onto http://e3.ign.com to join Jessica Chobot and the IGN Editors for IGN's Live Show

IGN has the most reliable stream on the net and Insiders can see it like no-one else in HD quality. So when Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo make their biggest hardware and software announcements this year make sure you have a ringside seat with IGN.

Once again IGN is bringing you the most comprehensive coverage from the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, and just like last year IGN will be streaming the experience along with our Live Show that will feature gameplay demos of the biggest titles directly on the show floor.

As an IGN Insider subscriber, you'll have access to everything full-screen in hi-resolution at twice the bitrate. That means when we debut footage of your favorite game you'll be able to see every detail the way it was meant to be displayed. Sign up for IGN Insider right now and you'll get a 25% discount and a chance to win a bag of swag straight from the show floor.

Sign up today and see everything from E3 in higher quality video, including:

  • Nintendo Press Conference
  • Microsoft Press Conference
  • Sony Press Conference
  • The IGN E3 Live Show Featuring the biggest games
  • All show footage downloadable in HD


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E3 2009: IGN's PC Trends and Predictions

Find out what gaming's biggest show has in store for PC gamers.

May 13, 2009 - We expect a relatively quiet show for the PC this year, as many publishers are still a bit unsure of this return to the old format and are wary of making a large marketing investment in titles that aren't going to be released until 2010. These publishers will be holding back a bit, hoping to make a bigger impact by delaying announcements of new titles until closer to the end of this year. Not only will this give publishers the chance to announce new titles with less expense overall with fewer games competing for visibility.

Another way publishers are going to play it safe is by sticking with sequels and cross platform titles and we expect to see a lot of these at E3 this year. The tyranny of sequels is nothing new in the industry, but the new mass-market approach required of console development is going to push PC developers towards less riskier projects. On the plus side, in the massive scramble to poach proven franchises, some publishers are going to have to turn towards games from earlier generations and moving current properties to mobile platforms. If that means we finally get new games based on Grim Fandango, X-COM, TIE Fighter and Dungeon Keeper, well, that's all right with us.

The PC has lost a bit of momentum in certain key genres but has found new life in others. Though we still expect the PC will dominate the MMO and RTS markets, the success of the FPS and RPG genres on the consoles will encourage publishers to spread their investment in new games over as many platforms as possible. The PC's not likely to be the lead platform on any cross platform titles, but the recent success of games like Fallout 3, Mass Effect and Fable 2 will help give the single player RPG a boost in the PC market. Furthermore, the success of the microtransaction model in Asia will prompt American publishers to support more free-to-play MMOs and supplement them with microtransactions.

E3 will reveal increasing foreign influence in more general terms. With many of the big North American publishers moving more towards cross-platform development, foreign and independent developers and publishers are going to come in to fill the vacuum. Free of the controlling influence of platform manufacturers and unrestrained by some of the conventions and traditions of American game design, these lesser known studios from around the globe have an opportunity to present some of the most innovative and inventive titles at the show.

Mass Effect 2 is a huge PC game, but it's also on Xbox 360.
And, of course, no feature about the possible shape of E3 would be complete without a parting shot at Microsoft's near total lack of support for the platform. Despite being the company in charge of the Windows operating system and the DirectX programming interface, the company's claims of support for PC gaming gets harder to swallow with each passing year. This year, we expect to see the PC platform entirely neglected in their presentations, with the possible exception of ports of Halo 3 and Fable 2.

So while it might seem that the PC market has lost a bit of its cachet recently, the opportunity is there for developers within the US to resurrect brands and concepts for a hungry audience, and for developers from around the world to introduce new ideas that haven't already been done to death. To the extent that those two trends are represented at E3, it's going to be a very satisfying show for fans of PC gaming.

Turn the page for 5 predictions about the PC and its software line-up at this year's E3. The fun starts on June 1, so make sure to check out our E3 Expo coverage.

Half-Life is one of the pillars that the first-person genre rests upon, and the saga of Half-Life 2 that began in 2004 continues today with the Half-Life 2 trilogy of follow-up episodes. However, Episode Two shipped with The Orange Box shipped in 2007, and we're far overdue for news on Episode Three, the final chapter of the Half-Life 2 saga. And to think, when Valve originally announced the trilogy it said that it planned to get all three episodes out in a twelve month period. That was way back in 2006. In addition, since Left 4 Dead shipped last year, Valve doesn't have any announced games in the works. It's time for Valve to make some noise again.
Ever since the Xbox premiered in 2001 Microsoft has held an E3 press conference, and every year that press conference took some time to highlight PC gaming. That is, until last year, when Microsoft didn't even bother with a sizzle reel of upcoming PC releases. Sure, Vista was a disappointment and the Mac took some of the steam out of the platform, but to ignore the PC seemed altogether seemed unthinkable. Since then, Microsoft has shut down Ensemble and canned the head of the Games for Windows - Live effort. We think the best we can hope for this year is some kind of Windows 7 demo. Also, we wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft announces the PC version of Halo 3. If the port of a 2007 Xbox 360 game is the highlight of Microsoft's PC announcements, then expect some tepid applause.
The PC rules when it comes to massively multiplayer online games, but it seems that everything else is cross platform these days, whether they're single-player RPGs, action games, or even strategy games. We're also hearing that a number of companies are still focusing on their 2009 lineups, which means that we may not hear about some of the PC-only stuff that's early in development. It also doesn't help that Blizzard, the 800-pound gorilla in the PC industry, is skipping E3 this year. That just means that most PC-exclusive games are probably going to be in the online realm, with more and more jumping on the free-to-play with optional microtransaction revenue model that's popular in Asia.
2009 has been a relatively quiet year for PC releases thus far, but there's little argument that two of the biggest games to emerge in the first part of the year were Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II and Empire: Total War. The former came from THQ and Relic, while the latter was the work of Sega and Creative Assembly. Now that both games have been available for several months now, it wouldn't surprise us to see both teams continue their momentum. Relic has made no secret that it plans to add new campaigns featuring other Warhammer 40,000 races, and Creative Assembly does have a tradition of making expansion packs for every single one of its Total War games. E3 is when we may learn of what's next for those franchises.
Crytek is a pretty huge development company, with studios in Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, the Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. Yet we don't know what any of them are working on. Crytek shipped Crysis Warhead last September, and it hasn't announced what's coming next. Warhead was a stand-alone offshoot of 2007's Crysis, and Crytek boss Cevat Yerli has stated that the series is planned as a trilogy, so that means that there's a second and third chapter lurking out there. (The ending of Crysis certainly reinforces the entire trilogy thing.) Will we finally get Crysis 2 revealed at E3? Or will Crytek announce its new multiplatform console IP instead? We expect that the company finally breaks radio silence and tells the world something.

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E3 2009: IGN's 360 Trends and Predictions

Find out what gaming's biggest show has in store for 360 fans.

May 14, 2009 - Microsoft is notoriously bad at keeping its E3 secrets. We knew about the Avatars coming to Xbox 360 well in advance of the show. Rumors of Gears of War 2 being announced at GDC 2008 came well in advance of the actual announcement. This year is no different with hints at a 3D motion camera as the major announcement.

That won't be the only substantial piece of news to come from Xbox 360 this E3.

Microsoft exec Don Mattrick has promised an E3 presence that will, "will completely transform how people think about home entertainment." This sounds like talking points that could describe last year's show when MS announced Netflix integration into Xbox 360 and Avatars.

Microsoft has the hardcore audience locked down with the likes of Halo and Gears of War, but still struggles with mainstream gamers. Expect the big announcements to once again be focused on the casual gamer, particularly with the aforementioned 3D camera.

The hardcore gamer won't be totally ignored, of course. Microsoft has kept its mouth shut in the early parts of 2009 and so have most of the third-parties in preparation for what appears to be a monster showing at E3. The Xbox 360 release schedule for this fall looks slim right now but don't expect it to stay that way for long. Major first-party and third-party games are going to be put on display for the first time and many of them will be out before the year's end.

Would it be E3 without a little Halo?

Newly acquired BigPark will unveil its first game. Halo 3: ODST will be on display and Epic will likely show off the latest Gears of War2 add-on. If the past is any indication, Microsoft will put several bit third-party games on display during its press conference as well. Modern Warfare 2 and Splinter Cell: Conviction seem like natural bets. The same goes for Harmonix's The Beatles game.

The Xbox Live Arcade will get some lip service, but Microsoft has never given it much attention during press conferences. Some new games will be announced and a highlight video will be shown that gives us a first look at others. A bigger focus will likely be put on the Primetime service that is launching soon with 1 vs. 100.

Turn the page for five Xbox 360 related E3 predictions and don't forget to keep your eyes on the E3 Expo hub page for the latest.

Lionhead's Fable II has been out for a while and two bits of downloadable content, Knothole Island and See the Future, are out on the market, so it's safe to say the game is a known quantity. Since it would make sense for Microsoft to want to keep Xbox 360 owners excited about its upcoming lineup, it wouldn't be all that surprising to see an announcement regarding an in-development game from the first-party studio. So what could the project be? According to comments from Peter Molyneux at this past GDC in San Francisco, it might have some similarities to Valve's Portal, though the concept of objects passing through portals may be expanded upon. In the story from GDC, Molyneux gave the example of an orange passing through a portal-like mirror. Upon exiting on the other side, the orange's physical dimensions had been altered. With a potential for the integration of portals into online play, whatever Lionhead's working on does sound interesting, and E3 2009 seems as though it could be a likely venue for everyone to hear more.

If Microsoft senior vice president for Interactive Entertainment Business Don Mattrick is to be believed, the company is going to have some big announcements at this year's E3 2009. To directly quote Mattrick, "Microsoft is gearing up for a big presence at E3 which will completely transform how people think about home entertainment. We're excited about the momentum that is building in the industry in anticipation of our June 1st media briefing, which will kick off E3 in blockbuster style." This seems to indicate something big will be uncovered at the company's press briefing, currently scheduled for Monday June 1st. Will whatever's revealed live up to the kind of expectations Mattrick is trying to set? Or is it just corporate hype-speak? We'll see.

Alan Wake, where have you been? It's been a long while since developer Remedy, of Max Payne fame, first talked about its project. We've only seen bits and pieces in the long years since, and have been eagerly awaiting a chance to really see and play the game. This E3 2009 might be the time when the curtain is finally pulled back on the psychological horror title to give us a better idea of what exactly it is, in addition to an indication as to whether or not it'll be any good. We're certainly hoping for the best, and knowing it's coming from Remedy and the studio has apparently been given quite a while to work on the title, there's little reason to doubt even after a reveal that Alan Wake will be something worth getting excited about.

Rumors have been running rampant around the Internet about a possible Metal Gear Solid 4 announcement for Xbox 360. Is anybody surprised? The same rumor pops up before every major and minor press event that Konami is in any way associated with. We do know that Kojima Productions, the studio responsible for the Metal Gear franchise, is making an announcement this Friday. Our money is on that not being a Metal Gear game for Xbox 360. The rumors of the PS3 exclusive finding its way over to Xbox 360 are growing tired and stale. If you want to play the game, dish out the cash and get a PS3. Stop holding your breath for it to come to Xbox 360.

This one seems like a given. Rumors of some kind of motion sensing device coming from Microsoft have been making headlines for over a year and now it looks ready to happen. Even the Wall Street Journal reported on a motion sensing 3D camera, set to be announced by Microsoft soon. The camera is purported to be more accurate than past cameras such as the PlayStation EyeToy or the Microsoft Vision Camera. This extra fidelity will enable players to interact with games by moving arms or legs, similar to the Wii only without a controller. Instead, the peripheral will simply sit near the television and record player movement. It may sound like an EyeToy, but the 3D nature of this camera will allow for a much more robust set of features and more realistic interactions with what is going on in the game.

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E3 2009: IGN's PS3 Trends and Predictions

Find out what gaming's biggest show has in store for PS3 fans.

May 14, 2009 - Well, it's that time of year again -- the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Now that E3's getting back to its roots -- booth babes, blaring speakers, and obnoxious neon lights -- the pressure is on the big three to deliver the thrills and unexpected announcements the show used to be known for. Now, the whole point of a company having a big E3 press conference is to catch your fans off guard and blow their minds with breaking news, so only a bunch of fools would sit down and try to predict what Sony has up it sleeve for its June 2 showdown.

Today, we're those fools.

Sony needs to hit the gaming world hard on that Tuesday in the Shrine Auditorium. On paper, the company should be gaining ground like crazy on Microsoft and Nintendo thanks to those companies having (arguably) weaker fall lineups, but the economy's move to the toilet has left SCEA with a bunch of uber-cool exclusives and $500 systems people aren't willing to buy when they're worried about losing their jobs. With that as a backdrop, Sony's got to give consumers a reason to drop their hard-earned cash on the PlayStation 3, give the fans what they want, and keep the PSP's newfound momentum rolling.

It's likely that Sony will drop the price of the PS3. It seems like a no-brainer at this point seeing as how things have gone so poorly on Wall Street and the company has had a great first half of the year with Killzone 2 and soon Infamous. You drop the price of the system, and the stuff that's coming on the back half of the year is that much sweeter and enticing.

What's coming in late 2009? Well, just about the strongest stable of franchises you could imagine. If Sony plays by our E3 playbook and focuses the world's attention on stellar exclusives such as White Knight Chronicles, Gran Turismo 5, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and God of War 3, the fans are going to be placated and more supportive of the system than ever. On top of that, we're seeing third-party titles on the PS3 that compete head-to-head with the 360 -- Resident Evil 5 was solid on both platforms, the Madden games have come into their own, and so on. This means there's no reason not to get excited about '09 titles such as Modern Warfare 2, Just Cause 2, Fight Night Round 4 and Prototype.

Need more reasons to anticipate Sony's speech? Don't forget about the PSP renaissance we're seeing with current games such as Patapon 2 and Hammer' Hero as well as future titles such as Rock Band: Uplugged, Assassin's Creed, LittleBigPlanet Portable, and more.

We're excited, you're excited, and Sony's excited… well, Sony would be excited if a company could have emotions; I'm sure the people who make up Sony are excited, but the company itself cannot be. I digress. Why don't you keep on reading and see what the IGN PlayStation Team thinks is going to happen in the not too distant future…

It's time, ladies and gentlemen. Belly up to the IGN betting table and see how we think this conference is going to shake down. We've got Vegas odds on PlayStation 3 news, PSP redesigns, and a handful of high profile games. For the record, we know as much as you do about all of these topics -- we're just using our knowledge of all things Sony and a bit of editor intuition to figure out what's going to happen at Sony's E3 press conference. Will our picks pan out? You only have to wait a few weeks to find out.

This has to happen. Not dropping the price at all would be a huge mistake for Sony, despite the company's problems with the economy. With the Wii kicking butt on retail shelves and the Xbox 360 having been priced way lower for a long time now, Sony has to finally give in and lower the price of the system. We think $50 isn't enough of a drop, so expect the PlayStation 3's sticker price to drop to $299.

Vegas Odds: 1 to 1

Is anyone going to be surprised by this? Not us, but that doesn't mean we're not excited. Rumors are abound that it'll feature a touch-screen interface and no UMD drive. Instead, all games will be downloadable. Given this, we're going to say that Sony revamps the PlayStation Store a bit and includes all existing PSP titles available on Day 1 for download. And, there will be some way to convert your existing UMD titles to digital versions, though hopefully the process will be painless.

Vegas Odds: 1 to 1

It's no secret to anyone that Team ICO is working on something new, and eventually the studio will have to debut it to the world (simply putting it on store shelves didn't pay off for SEGA with the Saturn). This year's E3 seems like a good time, especially since Sony needs to come out with its biggest guns this year. Holding it for TGS could be possible, but we're closing in on four years since Shadow of the Colossus hit shelves, so it's about time. And believe you us, if Sony does unveil the studio's next game, it'll probably be the biggest software news of the show.

Vegas Odds: 5 to 3

Polyphony Digital has been working on Gran Turismo 5 proper for a long time, and the information leak has been growing and growing recently, which points to solid information very soon. A recent mysterious post about the game points to an E3 unveiling and a launch within a year, so it's safe to assume that we'll see it at the show in some fashion, at least in the form of a live demo even if we can't play it for ourselves. Given that Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, which is essentially a very early and stripped-down look at the title, has sold very, very well, we know that we're not the only ones excited to finally see the full game in action.

Vegas Odds: 1 to 1

A new Twisted Metal game has been rumored for a long time now, likely coming from either Eat Sleep Play (David Jaffe's new-ish studio) and/or Incognito. While it sounds like Sony already has a number of huge announcements to make at this year's show, a new TM title would certainly be icing on the cake. Also, it's about damn time, so we'd be somewhat surprised if it doesn't make its debut, whatever its title may be.

Vegas Odds: 2 to 1

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E3 2009: IGN's Wii Trends and Predictions

Find out what gaming's biggest show has in store for Nintendo fans.

May 13, 2009 - Nintendo has remained calculatedly coy about its plans for the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2009. The publisher's stateside executive staff has refused to make any promises about the anticipated show, even when queried repeatedly on the subject. We tried and failed about a half-dozen times to bait Nintendo of America's vice president of corporate affairs, Denise Kaigler, into teasing something for the event. She flatly refused. No doubt, the company's America executive branch is making a concentrated effort to avoid overhyping its E3 presence -- a tactic that has backfired for exhibitors in the past.

The same, however, cannot be said of Nintendo's global leadership, which has been uncharacteristically outspoken. Shortly after E3 2008, NCL president Satoru Iwata apologized to traditional players for Nintendo's lackluster showing, telling Forbes, "If there is any perception that Nintendo is ignoring the core gamers, it's a misunderstanding and we really want to get rid of that misunderstanding by any means." And earlier this year during an investment breakdown, Iwata said that it was "not impossible" for Wii to overtake PlayStation 2 in lifetime sales. "With what kind of software is Nintendo going to achieve this goal? Well, it will be shown at E3 to be held in the U.S. this June." That sounds like a tease to us. Careful, Mr. Iwata -- you might just build some hype.

For these reasons and more, including the fact that production head Shigeru Miyamoto admitted last year that the Zelda and Mario teams were reunited and officially confirmed Pikmin 3, we believe the publisher's E3 2009 showcase will be bigger and meatier than its American subsidiary is letting on. It is, after all, always better to over-deliver and not the other way around, especially when you've got a rabid, nearly-insatiable fanbase to appease. Don't deny it because you know it's true, dear readers.

Mr. Iwata's apology to core gamers stands as a public acknowledgement that he is aware E3 2008 was not all that it might've been for traditionalists. We therefore fully believe that the company will attempt to correct this oversight and appeal to the hardcore during this year's show, demonstrating with conviction its commitment to the demographic by way of the aforementioned franchise sequels. We also expect at least one major new 'core' game from Nintendo that makes use of Wii MotionPlus.

That said, Nintendo will obviously not ignore the fact that Wii, DS and now DSi are successfully expanding the audience. Wii Sports Resort, which ships shortly after E3 2009, seems certain to enjoy prominent placement at its media briefing. We would be surprised if Nintendo did not also unveil the next in its line of casual software, perhaps something along the lines of Nintendogs for Wii complete with MotionPlus controls. The functionality to play frisbee with your dog is already in place in Resort. On the same note, we expect the publisher to make a big deal about DSi and push the system's downloadable content in one form or another, possibly with some announced additions.

Third-parties are a little easier to predict. With Wii's installed base rocketing past 50 million worldwide, publishers continue to see dollar signs. Companies like Electronic Arts will show off robust lineups complete with AAA quality titles, like Dead Space: Extraction. Ubisoft will have Red Steel 2 and some other very notable software. The list goes on. There will also be a handful of big announcements from smaller, but dedicated development studios, many of which have really come to grips with Nintendo's system. That said, E3 will also house all the low quality mini-game-fests disguised as casual entertainment and subpar ports that Wii traditionalists have come to dread.

Turn the page for 5 predictions about Nintendo and its software line-up at this year's E3.

At E3 2008, Nintendo's legendary master designer and recognized international superhero Shigeru Miyamoto said that the Mario and Zelda teams had reunited and were actively working on their next projects. Vague, but enough for us to throw parties. He also admitted straight up that Pikmin 3 was in development. More parties on our side. Miyamoto later commented that he liked the foundation that the company's Tokyo studio laid down for Super Mario Galaxy, but wished the concepts were taken farther. With so much critical praise and equally strong sales, we think a sequel to Galaxy would be ideal, and timely. Meanwhile, we know from separate interviews with long-time Zelda director Eiji Aonuma that he is once more involved in the next major Wii title and it's bound to use MotionPlus in some capacity. We would not be shocked if Galaxy 2, Pikmin 3 and even a teaser for the next major Zelda debuted at the big conference this June.

Nintendo trumpeted the benefits of Wii to the casual crowd at last year's E3 -- maybe not the best move given that the attending audience consisted of slobbering hardcore fanboys. Soon afterward, global leader Satoru Iwata apologized for not showing more 'core' titles. We think the Big N will correct that glaring oversight at this year's exhibition. We already mentioned Mario, Pikmin and Zelda sequels, but expect to see more traditional software to complement the big guns. Games like Cosmic Walker, Takt of Magic, Dynamic Slash and Sin & Punishment 2, for starters. We fully anticipate that at least one if not more of these titles will showcase the gains of MotionPlus to the core in the same way that Wii Sports Resort does to the casual.

Okay -- a bit of an open-ended prediction, we admit. The point is, with slowing sales in Japan and the sluggish economic climate around the globe, it might finally prove time for Nintendo to offer Wii buyers a couple of incentives. A price drop is a possibility, especially since the cost chasm between competing high-definition consoles is no longer so wide. Yet, at least outside of Japan, Wii and DS continue to sell very well -- the two systems remain at the top of sales charts every month. There's still life in them. For that reason, the publisher may opt instead to do what it always does to increase demand: offer new colors or develop some kind of attractive bundle. Black and silver are the obvious choices for colors, but Nintendo showcased Wii in all sorts of primary hues, including red, green and blue, when the system was unveiled. As for a bundle, Nintendo has traditionally included hot new releases in console packages, but with the ridiculous shelf life of Wii Fit and the high price of the peripheral, we would not rule out a Balance Board bundle without an overall price hike. That'd be a great value.

The Texas powerhouse behind the Metroid Prime trilogy has publicly busied itself recently with Wii updates to the two GameCube titles in the series, now complete with remote support and new widescreen modes, among other things. By the way -- hey Nintendo, whenever you want to bring those games to America, feel free. But we know for certain that Retro Studios also has something else underway for Wii. Something big. And it could finally be time to show off that title at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2009. Bear in mind, we haven't heard anything so there's always the possibility that we'll have to wait even longer. However, if Nintendo is planning to dazzle the core fanbase, it usually draws on Retro Studios to help do so. And we're convinced that the developer's next big thing will blow people away.

The Big N's Virtual Console Wii service has proven to be an easy cash cow for the company. Take catalog titles, untouched, and put them up for sale. Easy money. It's only a matter of time before Nintendo offers a similar feature for its connected DSi via the DSiWare service. Imagine that you connect to DSiWare and can click on 'Portable Generations' to download classics from various portables, including Neo-Geo Pocket, Atari Lynx, SEGA Game Gear, Wonder Swan, and the obvious Nintendo systems like Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance. For a small fee, you could download and play through the Golden Sun series on Game Boy Advance, Capcom Vs SNK: Match of the Millennium for Neo-Geo Pocket or even the cult-favorite two-button real-time strategy game Warlocked on Game Boy Color. These, and all of the iterations of Nintendo's own big games that have persisted through the generations.

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