Video game sales were down by 17 percent last month, amid fears of a continuing global recession. But reading the daily reports from the floor of the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, you wouldn't have known anything was amiss. For gamers, it was one of the biggest weeks on record – a high-volume barrage of news about sleek portable devices, Mario, Metroid, and a very fancy-looking controller-less device from Microsoft.
Missed the buzz? Here's a look back:
• Sony officially unveiled a sleek little portable gaming system called the PSP Go, which executives said will be available this fall in the US and Japan. The device will be 50 percent smaller and 40 percent lighter than the current PSP 3000, and feature 16 gigabytes of flash memory, integrated Bluetooth, and an application allowing users to access the online PlayStation Store. In an intriguing development, PSP Go users will have to buy their new titles directly from the online store, streamlining the buying process and potentially cutting the local video-game store out of the equation. The price tag for the Go is expected to be $249.99.
• Nintendo trotted out an array of brand new games with familiar characters, including Mario, Donkey Kong, and Samus Aran – the soldier from the fan favorite franchise Metroid. Nintendo dominated sales last year: Both the Wii and the DS handheld device outsold Microsoft's Xbox 360 by a 2-to-1 margin.
• Speaking of Microsoft, the company this week unveiled something called Project Natal, a new add-on for its Xbox 360. As we wrote in this space earlier in the week, Natal could "get gamers off the couch – and more into the game – for good." The peripheral combines depth-sensor technology, a camera, and a mic, lets gamers control onscreen action with full-body movements and voice commands.
• In other motion-sensor news, Sony attacked the Wiimote head-on, with a wand-like device that could have more precision than the controller used in Nintendo's Wii. "The regular PlayStation 3 controller already senses motion, but the feature is rarely used to much effect," we wrote. This new wand could shake things up for fans of the PS3 – which hosts some of the most intense games being produced today.