Round Table: GDC 2011 Keynote Speech

The staff has mixed reactions to the latest news revealed at Iwata’s GDC 2011 keynote speech.

By M. Noah Ward. Posted 03/02/2011 21:00 4 Comments     ShareThis
GDC 2011 Photo - Satoru Iwata

For their GDC keynote speech this year, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata and Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime took the chance to talk up 3DS and announced a few more features and software for the new handheld gaming device. In previous years, Iwata has used this same event to give keynote speeches that revealed the first details about Wii and both DS Zelda games, so anticipation was running high for what would be stated.

GDC 2011 Iwata and 3DSIn short? 3DS buyers should look forward most to the May firmware update that will install Nintendo’s new eShop, which will include DSiWare, 3D Nintendo Classics, Virtual Console, the option to transfer previously purchased DSiWare and a web browser. Netflix support is also incoming during “summer,” as well as 3D movie trailers (nothing stated about actual 3D movies) that will be accessible within a “short-form video service” that will include trailers, music videos, comedy clips and more, as selected by Nintendo, perhaps like the company’s Japan-exclusive Wiinoma channel on Wii. Fils-Aime also confirmed 3DS will be able to film 3D videos, expanding your creative opportunities beyond static images.

On the software side, Iwata confirmed the team behind Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel will be creating a brand new, 3D-environment Super Mario game for 3DS. Screenshots shown of the game were reminiscent of a high-res Super Mario 64 and the game’s logo, which just read “Super Mario,” showed what looked like a raccoon tail hanging off the shadow of the logo’s text– perhaps indicating a return of the Super Mario Bros. 3‘s raccoon suit. For Virtual Console, we learned it will not only include black and white Game Boy games and Game Boy Color games, but also Game Gear and Turbo-Grafx 16 titles.

With the news highlights covered above, what’s our reaction? Were we excited to learn these new details, or hungering for even more? We’ll tell you our reactions in the round table below…


Andrew Hsieh

Honestly, after watching the keynote and making sure I had all my info down pat, I really don’t think Iwata said anything that was wholly unexpected. Maybe I’m jaded, but I do expect Nintendo to do things such as a) throw in Netflix for 3DS and b) develop a Mario game for 3DS and c) open up Virtual Console to other consoles. I mean, these are things that came out with the Wii, and it’d just be disappointing for the Nintendo fanbase for the company not to supplement the 3DS like that. I think the only thing that surprised me was the ability to take 3D video, which I guess is interesting, but not wholly exciting. I don’t know, maybe it’s just that the 3DS launch titles are only so-so, and all this stuff is gonna come later in the year. Regardless, this pretty much cements my decision to buy a 3DS long after launch.

Incidentally, I expected Iwata and Fils-Aime (surprise surprise) to focus more on developers for their keynote, but it came off more as a marketing presentation than anything else. Of course, seeing as this is Nintendo we’re talking about, I guess I should have expected them to do what they did (i.e. talk a whole lot about how many games they’ve sold)– though they also praised Microsoft for its extremely robust online system, so that gives me hope that Nintendo recognizes its own online faults. Of course, considering Internet’s not gonna roll out with 3DS at launch, and in fact hasn’t rolled out in Japan at launch, perhaps my optimism is unfounded. We’ll just have to see, I suppose.


Kevin Knezevic

I, unfortunately, missed the entirety of Iwata’s keynote address because I was at work, but I quickly brought myself up to speed on all of the revelations as soon as I returned home. Like Andrew, I’m not particularly surprised at any of the announcements made today, but that does not mean I am any less excited about them. 3D video recording is neat and all, but what really caught my attention is the official confirmation of a 3DS Super Mario title (made by the Galaxy team, no less!). In four simple screenshots the title has moved to the top of my most wanted list, and I cannot wait to see more of it.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D Screenshot

Less talked about (perhaps understandably, as the majority of the speech was about 3DS) is the new Skyward Sword trailer, which looks quite interesting and potentially reveals the title’s antagonist. With all of the 3DS coverage of late it is easy to forget that Wii still has one big Zelda epic on the way, and this trailer was absolutely necessary to remind gamers of how awesome (and just plain different) it will be when it arrives. There are also a handful of new Ocarina of Time 3D screens that illustrate just how gorgeous the game has become, making me anticipate it even more. In all, while Iwata did not reveal anything particularly earth-shattering, he proved there is a lot of stuff to look forward to.


Aaron Roberts

Who cares about Netflix or downloading stuff? We’ve got a new Mario game, and it’s got a raccoon tail! Proponents of tails have been clamoring for a return to one of the most classic of power-ups for decades now, and why wouldn’t the 3DS be exactly the system to house its triumphant return? And we can safely assume that the raccoon tail will be the primary mode of transportation in “Super Mario” since it’s actually part of the logo. If I could find a way to type a raccoon tail visually, trust me, I would.

It’s somewhat deliciously ironic that the Virtual Console on 3DS will feature Game Gear and TurboGrafx-16 games, as both systems were identical to their portable or not-so-portable counterparts. The Game Gear was essentially a portable SEGA Master System, to the point it could play the Master System games with an adapter, and the TurboGrafx-16 had its own portable version of the system that played the actual TurboGrafx game cartridges. Where’s Johnny Turbo?


James Stank

Aaron was right… I should have learned by now not to underestimate Nintendo. Here I was expecting another boring keynote, with the majority of it being Nintendogs and nothing more, and I got everything I could have wanted. I think it’s awesome that I’ll be able to stream movies from Netflix to my 3DS. Would I have expected Nintendo to do this? Not the Nintendo that I know, but maybe they’ve been learning these past couple of years after all. The new Zelda trailer was great, as were the new pics from Ocarina of Time 3D, but that game is even less important.

GDC 2011 Photo - Satoru Iwata Super Mario 3DS Logo

Oot 3D is just an upgraded port of the original. What Nintendo needed to show was an original game built for 3DS that would define the system, and they brought it. Super Mario is going to be absolutely amazing. Being made by the pros behind the Super Mario Galaxy games, this new 3DS Mario title is sure to be as epic and enjoyable as Mario’s trips through space. If the screenshots are any indication, they’re pulling off Galaxy graphics on 3DS. Who knows, maybe they could make the game look even better. What more could you want than a new Mario game? For me, nothing.


M. Noah Ward

I’m more in Andrew and Kevin’s boat than I am in Aaron and James’. Aside from the fact that this was much more a “standard press conference announcement spiel” with a few, plain proverbs tossed in for the developers in GDC’s audience, much of what we heard was interesting (not surprising) and potentially overdue– several items could have been confirmed in January’s conference if not October’s. Iwata’s carefully-worded denouncement of smart phone and tablet games did raise my eyebrows a little, since some such developers were inevitably in the audience, but he didn’t seem to be there to talk about game development; he was more there to make announcements about 3DS and upcoming Nintendo games. (Full disclosure: those types of announcements were what I wanted as a Nintendo fan, but I would have felt less guilty if there were at least a developer-centric spin put on their reveals.) And did anyone else double take Reggie’s unannounced drop-in during the middle of Iwata’s keynote?

GDC 2011 Photo - Reggie Fils-Aime 3DS Netflix

Regardless, I’ve been waiting over a year to hear Nintendo’s strategy for selling or renting 3D feature films. Instead we get a welcome Netflix announcement (vaguely dated for “summer” as Nintendo continues to drip feed 3DS details) but nothing concrete about 3D films other than being able to watch 3D trailers— and not just any trailers, but ones personally selected by Nintendo. Certainly, a download, streaming or otherwise, of a 3D movie is likely to be huge in file size, and Netflix’s strategy for supporting streaming of 3D movies is nascent at best, but teasing consumers with 3D movie trailers last year to only offer just trailers and not films, feels like a major bait and switch. Yes, I want my 3DS for games more than anything, but glasses-free, 3D feature film support was a huge additional selling point– if it’s not going to be ready any time soon, why tease it so far in advance of being able to support it? Furthermore, having Nintendo filter what 3D “short-form movies” we’ll see suggests that we’ll only see family friendly clips, unless age gating is built into 3DS user’s accounts. Given the company’s history with protecting children’s best interests I’m again not surprised, but still disappointed.

The major high point for me was the announcement of a portable, 3D-environment Mario game from the Galaxy team. For me, there’s nothing yet that development team can do wrong, so I can’t wait to see what hook or theme the new game is built around. The slight curvature of the horizon in one screenshot makes me foolishly hope for another Galaxy game, but whatever the team makes will likely be great. Oh, but what’s the third word in the title going to be? “Super Mario [what?]” I’ll be on my seat’s edge to see the unveiling at E3. I’m also hoping that the game’s being announced this soon because it’s planned to be released soon (3D movie teasing strategy be damned)– perhaps this holiday season?  Definitely before Mario Kart 3D or a new Zelda title, I’d wager, and that’s fine by me as I’m a Mario fan first and foremost.

Taking it all together, though, like Andrew said, the fact that all these items are occurring anywhere from two to five, twelve or more months in the future only cements my comfort in not getting 3DS at launch. None of the launch games are must-have for me, and with ‘Wares, Virtual Console and, yes, 3D movies some time off, I’m even less inclined to buy a 3DS just for the sake of having it on day one. Who knows? Maybe my patience will result in a sweet software bundle or new system color. That happened when I waited to get DS.


The staff has a satisfied, if a little mixed, response to the latest 3DS and Wii news. What’s your take? Has Nintendo “blown it,” as Michael Pachter said in January, because the company still hasn’t announced Wii’s successor? Were the 3DS items revelatory or perfunctory? And can Skyward Sword arrive any sooner? Tell us in the comments below.

4 Responses to “Round Table: GDC 2011 Keynote Speech”

  • 690 points
    KisakiProject says...

    Was hoping you’d do minicast response. Anyways. Mario galaxy team making a new 3D mario on 3DS. What more could you want? Predictable..yes but still exciting. Also June for OofT justifies my day 1 3DS purchase! I’m still underwhelmed by SkywardSword.

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    • 393 points
      James Stank says...

      So you’re more excited for Oot 3D than SS? How?! One is a remake, that shouldn’t be getting anywhere near the attention that it is. It’s all because so many people think that Oot is the greatest game ever. Look at RE: Revelations. It blows Oot 3D out of the water in every area, including RE5-esque visuals. Sure Oot has been upgraded, but only slightly. Even the new Super Mario looks better. Oot 3D just seems like a quick and easy cash-in, and that’s probably what it is. I’ll be getting it, along with Majora’s Mask 3D, but I still doubt they will compare to other 3DS games that aren’t ports. I’d rather have a new Zelda than a port of an old one any time.

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  • 360 points
    M. Noah Ward says...

    Sorry to disappoint you KisakiProject! As it turns out my “light” cold got really bad right as the evening started yesterday so a written response ended up being much better, especially for staffers who never get on to the podcast.

    That said I think I had too much cynicism to have made a good podcast. I can already hear Aaron nagging me. hahaha

    Now underwhelmed by Skyward Sword!? Say it isn’t so. I will say having to add “adjust the aim of your sword” to my playing of the demo at E3 last year was a little clunky, but I think it’s something I could get used to. I actually loved the GDC trailer (my response above was too long to make note of this; comments area to the rescue!) and I’m even more excited for the game. It just looks to me like a Zelda game I’ve always wanted to play– not too dark, not too cheery, and just enough unique elements to make it… well, different *enough*.

    And you’re right, OoT looks more impressive with every batch of screenshots. My fave is the one in the story above (the lighting! floor textures! clutter!) which is why I plugged it in. That said I’d rather play a new Zelda than an old one. (And I’m more a Majora fan boy anyway)

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  • 690 points
    KisakiProject says...

    I never really dug RE. However in terms of skyward sword I’d rather have pure cel shading or the dark style. I guess inbetween doesn’t do it for me. Plus these SS trailers are based off “check out this mechanic” not the kind of epic hype building trailers Zelda used to have. I think I would be more excited it had some requiem for a dream music and some panoramic shots of epic somethings. lol.

    Thumb up 0

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