Hearing Mario, seeing Animal Crossing

We’re sure you didn’t miss one of Nintendo’s biggest announcements at their E3 press conference, the one about Animal Crossing: City Folk featuring voice chat via a sort of a community speaker, in which everyone in the room could speak. We’ve all experienced plenty of times where our friends would be playing on a headset, meaning others couldn’t partake in the conversation, so this idea of Nintendo’s actually makes sense. That’s not to say that a headset wouldn’t be nice down the road.

But how well does the damn thing work will be the question. Will we have to yell loudly in the room for others to hear us? Will it pick up just voices or every little sound? Where are we going to stick yet another peripheral onto our televisions? No one has the answers to all these questions, but I did get to sit down while waiting for my press time with Nintendo and experience the Wii Speak microphone for myself while playing Animal Crossing: City Folk with none other than “Mario” (actually the voice actor behind Charles Martinet) on the other side of the mic.

After being introduced to the man in the red hat who was sitting at an undisclosed position, we got to chatting. He even named a fish he caught after me, which was nice of him despite it being the ugliest fish he had. Other than talking over the hubbub and din of all the goings on in Nintendo’s meeting room, we didn’t have to yell at all to be heard by the mic, though sometimes we did have to repeat ourselves to “Mario.” Again, not sure if this was because of all the background noise or the mic itself.

Hearing Mario was no problem at all, though it seemed he had been at it a bit and his accent kept drifting in and out for some reason. Sound for the Wii Speak microphone came right out of the television’s speakers without a hitch. Speaking never overcame the sounds of the game and didn’t seem to mess anything up either. I didn’t really get a hands-on impression of it since I didn’t get to mess with it at all, but from my brief time spent with Mario as people popped in and out and talked with him, it looks like Nintendo’s got a pretty good idea up their sleeve with the whole community discussion thing.