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Nintendo and Sony at E3: Forget the fancy controllers, bring on the awesome games!

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Nintendo and Sony announced nothing at their respective E3 gala presentations yesterday as omigod-if-this-works-I-think-I-may-have-just-glimpsed-the-future impressive as Microsoft’s Spielberg-endorsed Project Natal. (Seriously, as a friend pointed out to me, the thing is like watching the earliest version of the holodeck from Star Trek: The Next Generation, except actually frickin’ real.) But that didn’t stop Microsoft’s competitors from trying super hard to top Natal.

Along with announcing games including Super Mario Galaxy 2, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini’s March Again, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Nintendo trotted out what they’re calling Wii Motion Plus, a small cube that plugs into the bottom of your Wiimote, allowing the controller extra sensitivity. Nintendo showed off the add-on doohickey by demo-ing a sequel-of-sorts to their insanely popular Wii Sports, called Wii Sports Resort, which lets players take on games requiring subtle, complex movement, like hitting some ping pong, slicing a sword and shooting an arrow. At the very least, the game (out July 26) looked enticing enough to get those who still only use their Wii’s to play tennis and go bowling to actually shell out for another game. But the company’s claims that the Wii Motion Plus will revolutionize videogaming would be slightly less dubious if they hadn’t announced Wii Sports Resort and Wii Motion Plus at last year’s E3. Weirder still, the Nintendo folks pretended like those announcements last year had never even happened.

And it’s Sony’s games that really, truly impressed. From the supple renaissance-era details of Assassin’s Creed II to the haunting storybook scope of The Last Guardian to the epic brutality of God of War III, it’s becoming more and more clear just why videogames make so much more money than even the most successful Hollywood blockbusters. Nintendo’s games looked like they were super fun to play, but it was dry as toast watching other people play them. Not so Sony’s games; shot and paced like top-of-the-line movies, I could happily watch someone else playing these (quite intimidatingly complex) games for hours. To wit, embedded below is the (slightly NSFW) demo for the PS3’s Uncharted 2: Among Thieves — tell me by the end you aren’t thinking it’s more fun than Terminator Salvation and X-Men Origins: Wolverine combined. (For comparison, after the jump I’ve embedded the demo for Nintendo’s new Super Mario Bros. Wii — tell me how long you lasted before clicking “stop.”)