National Geographic Panda
I couldn't see this on the show floor, but was intrigued when Oli told me it had been announced at the Namco-Bandai press conference. Some extensive research i.e. the press release reveals it's a DS game where you get to feed, clean and play with a load of pandas. Nintendogs with pandas, then. Nintendandas.
You can read "over 20 authentic National Geographic articles about pandas", excitingly, with "new articles unlocked each day the game is played". Plus you can buy your pandas "toys and clothes". Let's hope by "toys" they mean "flaming hula-hoops you can then teach them to jump through", and by "clothes" they mean "sombreros".
The game will come bundled with a special DVD titled Secrets of the Wild Panda. Perhaps they're all hiding heroin addiction shame, or don't really like bamboo and just eat crisps when we're not around.
Keza informs me there was a similar game at the show revolving around aquatic flightless birds living exclusively in the Southern hemisphere. Nintenguins, obviously.
Mysterious Smoking / Law-themed Games
I have no idea what the English translations for the name of these games might be. I can tell you they're being published by Takara Tomy, they're for DS and they're advertised by a strange Japanese spiv who sports an enormous quiff, bad teeth and a pencil-thin moustache. You can see why I was drawn to them.
I was particularly intrigued by the one which features nothing more than the game title and a photograph of a ground-out cigarette on the front cover. I assumed this would be some kind of aide for giving up smoking, like the DS title Ubisoft recently announced. Having played it, I've no idea.
There is a calendar you appear to put stamps in, and what I think might be a calculator for working out how many cigarettes you'll smoke over the course of your life if you keep puffing away. There's also a bizarre mini-game where people with enormous heads wander round pastel coloured streets. Every so often, smoke clouds appear from nowhere. Tapping on them makes a number pop out of them, and then they disappear. No idea.
The law-themed game features a gavel on the box instead of a cigarette butt. I think it's some kind of Phoenix Wright clone, only without any of the charm, humour or appeal. It could be a serious barrister training sim for all I know, though. At least the spiv seems to like it.
That's only a working title, you won't be amazed to learn. In Japan it's called Hardworking People, but they're thinking of calling it Job Island in Europe to complement predecessor Sports Island. Where do we sign on?
It's a mini-game compilation for Wii, but at least it's not the usual collection of rubbishy Wii Sports rip-offs and pathetic virtual air hockey games. There's even a storyline about a family who realises a giant comet is heading straight for the Earth. No one believes them, so they must take on a series of jobs to raise money to buy equipment to destroy the comet.
You can choose whether to play as the Mum, Dad, Grandpa, Little Jimmy and so on, and there are around 50 mini-games to try out. These involve anything from being a circus clown or stunt man to a tailor, body builder or bereavement counsellor. Probably not the last one.
According to Oli, who got to go hands-on, it's reminiscent of Bishi-Bashi Special - not quite as brilliantly mental, but with a unique look and feel all the same. Who knows, perhaps it might even get more than 6/10. Or not.