News: Everything you ever wanted to know about the DS and over 30 new game announcements
Nintendo has finally officially unveiled their dual screen handheld, code named the DS, today at E3. Along with a lot of information we already know from a USA Today story broken earlier in the day, more details have been released. Since it's so much information to parse through, here it is, straight from The Big N. A few features we didn't know about the DS before:
Wireless Game Sharing: If software developers desire, multiple players can compete in wireless games, even if only one person has a game card inserted. Players could also test-play games for themselves as long as they stayed connected.
3-D: With the newly developed graphics engine, DS can reproduce impressive 3-D renderings that can surpass images displayed on the Nintendo 64. Games will run at 60 frames per second, and allow details like fog effects and cel shading.
Sound: The 16-channel sound allows for greatly expanded use of voices and music, and a richer, more immersive game experience. A plug for headphones transmits stereo sound.
Microphone: An available microphone port means that in the future, players might need only to tell their games what to do. DS software could identify everything from voice commands to hand-clapping. Players might be able to move their characters simply by telling them which way to go. The voice capabilities also could allow gamers to chat with one another over the Internet while playing.
Nintendo also said that more than 100 companies have pledged support to the DS and over 30 games were announced. Nintendo plans to reveal four games on video and more as demos. The four video-only titles are Animal Crossing DS, NEW Super Mario Bros., Nintendogs and Mario Kart DS. So apparently the picture in USA Today of Mario Kart running off of the DS was real. Nintendo was also eager to announce a ton of first party and third party support for the DS:
Metroid Prime: Hunters: This amazing first-person battle game uses wireless technology to connect up to four players simultaneously (in the E3 demo version). Each player gets a Metroid suit of a different color, and then tries to destroy the three opponents. Touch the stylus to the bottom screen to rotate the camera, aim and fire, or to transform into a Morph Ball. The game features the same artwork, sound, graphics, architecture and ambience found in the huge hit Metroid Prime. See a picture of Metroid Prime: Hunters running on the DS.
Super Mario 64x4: The landscape and the characters all look familiar. This is the opening castle area of Super Mario 64, only with a few DS twists thrown in. Up to four players can link up using the wireless capabilities. Players move familiar characters like Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and Wario around the 3-D landscape, exploring and looking for stars. While one screen shows the player's character position, the other provides an overall map of the area. Touch a spot on the screen to pop the camera over to another player's position, or to take a close-up look at the castle. See a picture of Super Mario 64x4 running on the DS.
PictoChat: Up to 16 players (two in the E3 demo version) can use the wireless functions to link together and exchange instant messages or drawings. The bottom screen shows a standard keyboard, while instant messages from other users appear in the top screen. Players can type text messages using the keyboard, use the stylus to send messages in their own handwriting or simply draw and transmit a picture. If another user sends a picture, the recipient can modify it and send it back. Play a game of wireless virtual hangman or send covert messages to other users.
WarioWare, Inc. DS: One screen isn't big enough to contain Wario's greed and ego. He appears on the top screen and drops boxes to the bottom one, where they open an assortment of wild mini-games. Use the stylus and touch screen to drag a net and catch some fish, or to cut a rope to drop a cage around a duck. Players might have to erase or draw pictures, or slice at food that gets thrown at them. Finish as many mini-games in 35 seconds as possible. The game features the same good humor and fast pace that are hallmarks of the WarioWare franchise.
The following represent a sampling of initial projects by third parties on display at E3:
Bandai: MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM SEED: The game starts with the top screen showing a view of outer space. On the bottom screen, players choose one of three giant flying robots to battle the enemy. The game then switches to show a radarscope up top and the battle on the bottom. Use a tap of the stylus to lock onto the enemy circles. Once all three are locked, players select a weapon to destroy them. The game then transforms into a series of stylized anime movie clips as the robot fires at the enemies.
Hudson Soft: BOMBERMAN: Classic Bomberman action comes to DS, now with quick and easy touch-screen control using the stylus. The game starts with the player vigorously rubbing the screen to compete for power-ups. In the battle round, the player maneuvers around a maze while competing in frantic Bomberman competition, trying to bomb others while avoiding incoming attacks. If a ghost appears in the upper screen and haunts the player, the player cannot move until the ghost has been scratched off using the touch screen.
Konami: Yu-Gi-Oh!: Nightmare Troubadour: Players tap the screen to deal, draw and flip cards. The top screen plays out the action in full 3-D. Summon monsters and enter classic Yu-Gi-Oh! battles as players try to keep their life points from fading away. The game offers a "detail" feature that lets players zoom in and get more info about their cards. It's classic Yu-Gi-Oh! fun for fans of the game.
Namco: Pac-Pix: Draw Pac-Man to eat up the Ghosts on the screen. Pac-Man moves in whatever direction he is facing, but players can use the stylus and touch screen to change his direction. Draw a wall in front of Pac-Man and he will turn 90 degrees.
Namco: Pac'n Roll: Pac-Man comes alive in a full 3-D environment filled with Pac-Dots and Ghosts. Use the touch screen to maneuver him up ramps and around walls, while being careful not to fall into gullies. The faster players move their fingers across the screen, the faster Pac-Man moves.
Sega: Sonic E3 Demo: A two-part game that starts with a demo of Sonic. Players can tap the bottom screen to switch between different camera angles as Sonic zips through one of his vibrantly colored classic environments. In the second part of the game, users run their fingers back and forth on the touch screen to make Sonic run faster and faster as he collects coins. Rubbing the top of the touch screen makes Sonic jump to get coins from up high.
Square Enix: Egg Monster Heroes: In the first segment, players control a general and his troops. Flip them from behind to make them charge the opponents. Next, players enter into the "Egg Monster Battle," where players can touch their monsters' bodies to choose an attack method while aiming at opposing monsters' weak parks.
In addition to the games listed above, software companies from around the world are developing titles for Nintendo DS. Below is a sampling of what is to come:
Activision: Spider-Man 2
Atari: title TBD
Bandai: ONE PIECE, along with several other titles in development
Banpresto.: DRAGONBALL Z
Capcom: games from the Mega Man Battle Network series, the Viewtiful Joe series and the Gyakuten Saiban series
Electronic Arts: Need for Speed
FromSoftware: several titles in development
Hudson Soft: several titles in development
Koei: Dynasty Warriors
Konami Corporation: FROGGER 2005, along with a few other titles in development
Majesco: title TBD
Namco: a new Mr. Driller and a new role-playing game
Sega: Project Rub
Square Enix: a new FINAL FANTASY: CRYSTAL CHRONICLE series and a new DRAGON QUEST MONSTERS series
Tecmo, Ltd.: Monster Rancher and another title developed by Team Ninja
THQ: SpongeBob SquarePants
Ubisoft: a Rayman title
Vivendi Universal: title TBD
The Nintendo DS is currently scheduled for a Holiday 2004 release in the US and Japan and an early 2005 release in Europe. We'll keep you posted on Nintendo's second handheld machine, which they stil say is not meant to repalce the GBA. I guess we'll have to wait and see.