Nintendo DS launch titles officially revealed

Super Mario 64 DS and Spider-Man 2 highlight a US launch lineup that will consist of 10 to 12 titles. Also, Japanese launch details, Final Fantasy III confirmed.

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SEATTLE--In the wee hours before it takes the wraps off its soon-to-be-released DS portable gaming system, Nintendo released new details on the upcoming platform's US software lineup at launch and beyond. As noted previously, the system is slated to ship November 21 at an SRP of $149.99. However, since Nintendo's release of those details several weeks ago, there has been little word on the software lineup for the fledgling device. Now, new details have finally emerged that help paint a broader picture of the software that will be available for the system and some of the system's unique features.

The first-party offerings for the system's launch will include Super Mario 64 DS, a translation of the Nintendo 64 classic; a playable demo of the upcoming Metroid game, Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt; and PictoChat, which will be built into the DS and will let users compose text messages or hand-drawn pictures and send them wirelessly to up to 15 other nearby Nintendo DS users. Looking further ahead, there will be a number of first-party DS-exclusive games hitting the system, including a multiplayer-enabled Mario Kart game, the full version of Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt, WarioWare Inc. DS, Animal Crossing DS, Yoshi's Touch & Go, Advance Wars DS, and a what is listed as a new Super Mario Bros. game. Nintendo-published games can be expected to retail for as low as $29.99.

The third-party support for the system includes key franchises and original games from several major publishers. Electronic Arts will release Madden NFL 2005, Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf, and The Urbz: Sims in the City during what is described as the "hardware launch window." Following that initial batch, EA is planning to deliver GoldenEye: Rogue Agent and Need for Speed Underground to the DS.

Activision will have Spider-Man 2 at launch and follow up with an unnamed title that is described as "major."

THQ will offer Ping Pals at launch and follow up with other games to be announced later.

Sega will offer Feel the Magic: XY/XX at launch and follow up with Puyo Pop Fever.

Ubisoft will release Rayman DS, Asphalt Urban GT, and Sprung (originally announced as Crush) all for launch.

Namco will present Ridge Racer DS at launch time, followed by Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits later on. Also coming later: Capcom will present an entry in the Viewtiful Joe franchise; Hudson Soft will bring Bomberman to the platform; Konami's Frogger will make an appearance; and Square Enix will offer a Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles title.

In a related story, during a press conference today in Tokyo, Nintendo revealed details on the Japanese launch of the DS on December 2. The company announced that 12 titles will be available for launch: five from Nintendo and seven from third parties. The first-party titles will include Super Mario 64 DS, Pokémon Dash, Big Concert! Band Brothers, Touch! Made in Wario, and Intuitive Stroke. Of the third-party titles, five are known: The recently announced Zoo Keeper (Success) and Mahjongg Tournament (Koei) will join Sega's Kimishine (also known as Feel the Magic), Spike's Tendo Dokuta, and EA's The Urbz.

Also announced at the Japanese press conference today was that Square Enix will be bringing a remake of Final Fantasy III to the DS. The only Final Fantasy title to never be remade and never make it out of Japan, FFIII is considered one of the most intricate role-playing games ever designed for the Famicom. It was originally scheduled to be remade on the WonderSwan portable years ago, but the project was cancelled when Square stopped supporting the system. A North American release for Final Fantasy III DS was not confirmed.

"DS provides a roadmap to the future of video games," said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of sales and marketing. "The overwhelming support of strong third-party titles, combined with Nintendo's flagship franchise, makes this the strongest software support for any Nintendo system in more than a decade."

The release also touched on some of the ways in which these DS games will take advantage of the hardware's unique functionality. Madden NFL 2005 will show all 22 players on the field in one screen and use the second screen to display "key action." The game will also let players compete head-to-head wirelessly. Super Mario 64 DS will offer head-to-head wireless battling, new touch-sensitive minigames, and "innovative control options."

Outside of those details, the release includes a few statistical factoids to offer some context for the breadth of the first- and third-party support for the system. In the first 30 days after the system's launch, there will be roughly 10 to 12 games in a variety of genres. By the end of Q1 2005, the library will be at roughly 20 to 25 games. There are more than 120 games currently in development for the system around the world. In addition, due to the system's backward-compatibility with the Game Boy Advance via the DS' second cartridge port, the system will allow gamers to play more than 550 existing GBA games. It's worth noting that the release specifically states that the second game port will let users play "single-player modes of games made for the Game Boy Advance SP," reiterating that the DS will not be compatible with GBA link cables.

GameSpot will have further updates on the Nintendo DS in the coming hours and days as the Nintendo Gamer's Summit unfolds.

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