E3: Xbox gets lips, Final Fantasy XIII

By Mathew Kumar, Special to CBCnews.ca

LOS ANGELES - The Electronics and Entertainment Expo (E3) doesn’t kick off until tomorrow, but companies are trying to steal the early spotlight today with advance annoucements. They ranged from the actively exciting (a sequel to classic arcade title Galaga from the team behind the superb Pac-Man Championship Edition with Galaga Legions), to the utterly boring (we really don’t need a Banjo Kazooie sequel, honestly).

But my heart was captivated by the announcement of Lips, a new karaoke game from iNiS, the team behind the brilliant Nintendo DS game Elite Beat Agents. Promising to allow you to use your own music collection to sing along to (a claim that was notably not explained in any way), Welsh popstar Duffy appeared on stage to sing a spirited version of her song “Mercy.” It looked exactly like Sony’s competing karaoke brand Singstar, but the promise of being able to use my own music (finally a chance to karaoke sing Dethklok’s Bloodrocuted!) is a promise too thrilling to overlook.

Inis founder Keiichi Yano introducing Lips

Surprisingly, Square Enix appeared to steal the whole show with a reaffirmation that despite Microsoft’s attempts to capture the casual gamer, they haven’t overlooked the hardcore: The eagerly awaited Final Fantasy XIII is to come to Xbox 360. Though it’s not going to be an exclusive, for many in the auditorium this was huge news.

Though arguably not as huge as the news Nintendo Canada sneakily text messaged me during Microsoft’s press conference – that they’re releasing a new addition to the Wiimote, the MotionPlus, which is to allow the Wii to truly understand the movement of the Wiimote in 3D space. That’s an astonishing development, and I’ll have more on that after the Nintendo press conference tomorrow.

(The author is a Canadian freelance writer blogging for CBCnews.ca from the Electronics and Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.)