Konami's E3 conference packs the house

Featuring Snake Eater and mud wrestling, the Japanese publisher's epic three-hour press conference dished out the dirt on its hot upcoming games.

Konami's preshow press conference showed a lot of flash, and a little jiggle too, thanks to wrestling game Rumble Roses. But digital mud wrestling wasn't the only thing on tap. Konami mentioned a stronger relationship with the film industry, pointing to the King Arthur game it's currently working on and the previously announced Silent Hill film based on its popular survival horror franchise. Konami announced a new Frogger game for all Nintendo platforms (including DS) and the PSP and showcased new games in a number of its long-running franchises, including the hotly anticipated Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

Metal Gear series producer Hideo Kojima, talked about some of the new features in the latest game in the series, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater. According to him, the three keys to gameplay in this version are close-quarters combat, camouflage, and food capture. The close-quarters combat system in Snake Eater allows Snake to restrain enemies, kill them, or use them as human shields. The camouflage element of gameplay has three factors: posture and speed of motion, costume (Snake can choose from outfits with a number of different camouflage patterns), and face paint. Finally, food capture has Snake keeping up his stamina by finding and eating edible plants and animals. Kojima demonstrated this mechanism in-game by having Snake eat mushrooms, as well as shoot and eat a number of animals including snakes, frogs, and a bird. He also demonstrated that it's better not to have Snake exercise too much after eating--he throws up.

Konami is still adding working on camouflage patterns to be included in Snake Eater and is running a competition for gamers to submit their ideas. More information is available on Konami's Web site. For more on MGS3: Snake Eater, check out GameSpot's E3 2004 preview.

Kojima also showed off the second Boktai game for the GBA. Called Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django, the new game will use the same solar sensor as the first game in the series, but it will add some melee weapons to the "solar gun" used in the first game. Kojima noted that this feature made it easier to play the game on cloudy days or in the evening.

Unfortunately, Kojima became much less forthcoming when asked about the PSP version of Metal Gear Solid shown at the Sony press conference earlier in the day. Claiming he hadn't been at the conference or seen the footage, Kojima declined to comment on the game. He suggested those interested in seeing it visit Konami's booth on the E3 show floor.

Other games shown at the press conference included:

Neo Contra: Producer Nobuya Nagazato noted that production was approximately 90 percent complete, and he showed a gameplay video that revealed the ability to ride animals and vehicles in the game, fighting against enemies including monsters and uniformed soldiers.

Silent Hill 4: The Room: Scheduled for a fall 2004 launch, the latest installment in this survival horror series features heavy use of a first-person viewpoint, a decision the producer said added intimacy and personal impact to the game. He also noted that weapon changes in the new game would be done in real time rather than through a menu, heightening tension and improving gameplay.

Enthusia Professional Racing: This new, extremely realistic racing sim has hardcore credentials: Producer Manabu Akita is also technical director for one of the race teams at this year's Le Mans. Plans call for the game to feature several hundred cars from 40 makers, and it has a release date sometime in 2005.

Rumble Roses: Formerly called WWX: Rumble Rose, this all-girl wrestling game features skimpy outfits reminiscent of DOA Beach Volleyball. Though the jiggle factor made it hard to take the game seriously at first, the gameplay demo turned things around. The development team made a conscious effort to speed up gameplay, and they commented that the resulting game would appeal to a lot of fighting game fans, as well as fans of traditional wrestling game. Of course, a game like this has to have strong graphics too. Each character model has more than 10,000 polygons, and the game's producer noted that his programmers worked hard to make the texture and dripping effects look realistic in the soon-to-be-notorious mud wrestling level.

Karaoke Revolution Vol. 2.: The new version of this game will feature a medley mode that allows gamers to mix and match up to five songs of their choice, and it will be released in July for the PS2.

Four games in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise were also on display. The first, Reshef of Destruction, the sequel to Sacred Card, is a card battle RPG that will be released in June for the GameBoy. The second, Power of Chaos, Joey the Passion, will also launch in June for the PC, with LAN match capabilities. Capsule Monster Coliseum, a "3d tactical board game," will launch in October for PS2, and the final game displayed, Destiny Board Traveler, is a GBA game for children that the producer described as a fusion of board games and card battles that will support up to four players in head-to-head matches.

Games that were announced for release this year but not demoed included:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4: A four-player co-op beat-'em-up.
King Arthur: The game based on the movie.
Gradius 5: The brief video clip wound up with the caption "hip to be 2d," but it appeared to have rail-based shooter sections as well.
Evil Prophecy: A Todd McFarlane game pitting the player against waves of monsters.
Nanobreaker: The newest game from the Castlevania producer.
Ys Ark of Napishtim
Suikoden 4
Dance Dance Revolution Extreme with EyeToy support for the PS2.

All in all, it looks like a busy year with some great releases for Konami.

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