Nintendo?s Pre-E3 press conferences have always had a slightly different atmosphere than others. Whether it?s the legions of Nintendo fans who will scream in joy at the very drop of a pointed green hat, or the yearly appearance of Miyamoto ? Nintendo conferences just feel different. This year?s press conference was no different; with the debut of much awaited Revolution and Legend of Zelda, which made its first appearance at last year?s conference, there was reason to be excited. However, this year?s conference also showed off Nintendo?s more secretive side and provided more questions than answers.
Nintendo?s handhelds seemed to dominate Nintendo?s pre-E3 showing. After a brief demo of Electroplankton, a very unique puzzler for the DS, Nintendo?s chief marketing officer, Reggie Fils-Aime, rolled out one of Nintendo?s most unique DS offerings since the system's launch, Nintendogs.
With the help of G4 TV?s Tina Wood, Nintendo showed a game that takes the digital pet craze to a whole new level. In Nintendogs, players adopt a digital dog and train it to do tricks and play, as well as care for it. Nintendogs makes use of all of the DS?s capabilities. Not only can players interact with their dog via the touch screen, they can also call it and teach it tricks by using the DS?s built-in microphone and voice recognition software. It also makes use of the system?s WiFi capabilities by allowing other players? dogs to ?visit? and play with each other ? a mode that was shown off my none-other than Nintendo?s own Shigeru Miyamoto.
It?s just not a Nintendo press conference without an appearance by Shiggy.
Though announced during Itawa?s keynote speech at GDC earlier this year, Reggie officially announced that the DS would be online through wireless hotspots. Best off all, the service will be free. No timetable was given, though Reggie confirmed that the DS would be online by the end of the year. A new version of the Tony Hawk series was announced but not shown. Reggie also announced that Mario Kart DS would support online play.
The DS wasn?t the only Nintendo handheld to take the stage. Nintendo revealed a new edition of its GameBoy hardware known as GameBoy Micro. While Reggie made it clear that the system wasn?t the next-generation of GameBoy, the system?s size was still impressive. The system itself features all of the capabilities of a standard GameBoy Advance crammed into a device roughly the size of an iPod Mini. Similar to Microsoft?s next-gen system, the GameBoy Micro will feature removable faceplates, allowing owners to customize their system?s look.
Handhelds were only part of the show. To the rabid applause of fanboys, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata showed off the prototype for Nintendo?s next-generation console, the Revolution. The Revolution is easily one of the smallest of the next-gen consoles shown over the last few days. Itawa also stated that the system may be available in a variety of colors, including chrome, white and black, and could stand upright in a cradle-like stand or lay on its side.
Other than revealing that the system would be backwards compatible with GameCube games, Nintendo revealed very few details about the system. The unique controllers, which have been rumored to be everything from touch screens to gyroscopes weren?t shown. The only thing that is know at this time is that they will be wireless.
Revolution will support a user-friendly online service similar to Xbox Live that will support multiplayer games as well as downloads. Unlike Microsoft?s new Live system, which will feature downloadable content, Revolution?s online system will, as Itawa put it, ??redefine backwards-compatibility? and allow gamers to download and play games from Nintendo?s extensive library of games, including NES and SNES games. Itawa also hinted that GameCube games may be available for download in the future.
Revolution will accept standard DVD discs as its media, though a ?small attachment? will be required for DVD playback.
Even fewer details about Revolution?s games were announced, though it was mentioned that next-generation Mario and Zelda games were already in the works, and that the company had ?big plans? for Metroid.
With Revolution still a year away, Nintendo then focused on their present system, the GameCube. Among the games shown was Poke'mon XD, a full-fledged RPG coming in October. Nintendo also showed clips from upcoming Mario-themed games, including Mario Strikers, a soccer title; DDR: Mario Mix; Mario Baseball and Mario Party 7. Other third party games were shown including: Killer 7, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, WWE Day of Reckoning 2, Shadow the Hedgehog and Geist.
The conference?s highpoint came with the release of the much anticipated trailer for The Legend of Zelda. Sporting the new subtitle, Twilight Princess, the trailer revealed some interesting hints as to what the game will involve, including a dramatic scene in which Link turned into a wolf. How the mechanic will be used in the game wasn?t announced. In terms of looks, Zelda showcased some of the best looking graphics available on the system to date and should please fans who were turned off by Wind Waker's cel-shaded style.
While the other two companies left players with an overall message, Nintendo left fans with more questions and the advice to attendees to, "Let their brains run wild."