Specials: The Big N unveils the DS, a new Legend of Zelda and a plan for the future. Kyle was there to let us know just what he thought of all of this.
11 May 2004 ? Hollywood & Highland Complex
Never one to rest on their laurels, Nintendo rounded out the Big 3 press conferences yesterday with several big showings, a couple new announcements, and a jab at a competitor or two.
Nintendo played a little bit of a numbers game in their press briefing. Then again, I would too if the numbers were in my favor. Most notable of these figures are those that show Nintendo sales being the only ones contributing growth to the videogame industry. Also, it is common knowledge that the current generation of consoles is nearing the end of their lifecycles. Nintendo acknowledges this and brings up several valid points to consider when looking at the end of this cycle, the most notable being the concept of major play for minor pay for those consumers that may still purchase their consoles. With a promise to consumers that they know how to, and will, handle the end of the GameCube's lifecycle with grace, Nintendo's George Harrison really pushed the "value" issue home. Add in the fact that the GameCube will have a library of more than 400 titles by year's end and you can guarantee that the GC still has some life left.
Of course, Nintendo's biggest topic at their press briefing was the Nintendo DS (a working name), their dual-screened successor to the GBA. Touting innovation over horsepower, the DS is shooting to redefine the portable gaming landscape with a plethora of features that have developers chomping at the bit. Already known to the public is the dual screen functionality, but Nintendo isn't stopping there. Touchscreen functionality, local wireless networking, backwards compatibility and broadband WI-FI compatibility are just a few of the ways that Nintendo is changing the way that games are being played. Nintendo didn't stop after listing off a few features either as footage of Metroid Prime: Hunters prompted ferocious applause from the audience. This early demo showed the lower screen touting GameCube-esque gameplay footage while the upper screen ran an in-game map. While this is by no means the extent of what the two-screen layout can accomplish, it is a great way to get people excited for this new system.
While promised to be released in 2004 in both the US and Japan (with European and Australian releases coming in Q1 2005), an official name, launch line-up and release price will all be announced at a later date.
Now, what is an E3 press conference without game footage? Nintendo showed plenty of that, as well. Some of the titles featured in their opening video included Namco's Baten Kaitos, Metroid Prime: Echoes, Custom Robo, Capcom's Resident Evil 4 & Killer 7, F-Zero GP Legend, Paper Mario 2 and Star Fox; each one drawing applause of anticipation over the return of familiar faces or of stunning presentation.
However, the most unexpected "announcement" of the day came when Nintendo ran footage of a brand new Legend of Zelda game. Foregoing The Wind Waker's cel-shaded formula in favor of one more akin to the early GameCube tech demo we saw, this new Zelda title looks to be more epic than any previous entry in the series. Under the watchful eye of Shigeru Myamoto, Link is growing up to tackle challenging puzzles, explore vast lands and hunt for treasure in an impressive new 3D world.
In general, Nintendo really got things hopping at their press briefing yesterday. A new portable system, a hint that a new console is coming somewhere down the road, several hot new games and incredible sales momentum are all combining to show that Nintendo is still at the top of their game. Is it possible that Nintendo is going to reclaim their spot at the top of the Videogame industry? Very. The trick is whether or not they can maintain that spot once the next generation is born.