Today Nintendo held its yearly pre-E3 press conference to brief journalists on the company's current stance in the marketplace, as well as its initiatives for next year and beyond. The company opened with a discussion of its recent successes, such as how its redesigned Game Boy Advance SP system has already sold a remarkable 950,000 units, and how its critically acclaimed title The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has sold a million copies in just over two months.
Nintendo reinforced its commitment to its classic franchise characters, such as Mario and Link, and confirmed that despite the market's trend toward more-mature games, the company's main mascots would remain true to their roots. Nintendo's George Harrison drove the point home, saying "Mario will never start shooting hookers" while showing off footage of the colorful and lighthearted Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, the next game in Nintendo's popular racing series.
Nintendo proceeded with the product demonstration, showing off upcoming titles such as the real-time strategy sequel Pikmin 2, Pokémon Pinball Ruby and Sapphire for the GBA, the innovative and zany GBA game WarioWare, Pokémon Coliseum, Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, Sega's Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg, Donkey Kong Country for the GBA, Wario World for the GameCube, and the upcoming Star Fox shooter for the GameCube. Harrison reiterated Nintendo's commitment to the Game Boy Advance platform and its connectivity features with the GameCube, pointing out that more than 20 GBA games with such features will be on display at E3 this week. The company's GBA Player and e-Reader devices were briefly mentioned.
Nintendo then segued into a discussion about its intent to improve third-party relations. Satoru Iwata spoke of how Nintendo is working to adapt to changing climates in the industry, saying that Nintendo is confident in its ability to understand the industry and adapt to its changes. Iwata admitted that some of Nintendo's earlier efforts have not been sufficient--such as how, in the first half of last year, the company did not release enough exclusive titles--and that games such as Super Mario Sunshine and Metroid Prime did not live up to expectations. He acknowledged some of the specific challenges facing the company: developing better graphics for its games, creating games with a higher level of challenge, and creating games with "edgier" material.
Nintendo also acknowledged that the path to meeting these goals would necessarily involve solidifying third-party relations--increasing the number of third-party developers and strengthening ties with those developers. Nintendo made a point of showing off the first product of its "Triforce Partnership" with Namco and Sega: F-Zero GX, an extremely fast-paced futuristic racing game.
Nintendo also unveiled Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike from LucasArts and developer Factor 5, the follow-up to one of the GameCube's best, most visually stunning launch games. Sure enough, Rebel Strike made quite an impact on the crowd, with its great visuals and authentic Star Wars action.
Iwata spoke of Link's presence in Soul Calibur II as another victory for the company's third-party initiative before the third-party product demo continued. Capcom showed video of Resident Evil 4 for the GameCube, and the company's Shinji Mikami also spoke highly of the upcoming Killer7. Another Nintendo partner, n-Space, showed off a first-person shooter called Geist. Then Square Enix stepped up to the plate, showing off Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles for the GameCube while mentioning that game's GBA connectivity features.
Legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto arrived next. He introduced another game-design great--Will Wright from Maxis, who spoke of new The Sims games in development for the GameCube and the Game Boy Advance. Again, these will feature connectivity with each other, despite being wholly different games.
Then the president of megapublisher Electronic Arts arrived on the scene in video form and unveiled EA's upcoming GameCube games, including the latest in the FIFA, NHL, Madden, and NBA sports series, the snowboarding game SSX 3, the next James Bond 007 game, and the next Tiger Woods golf game.
Then Miyamoto unveiled a new Zelda title for the GameCube, sort of a party game in the vein of Four Swords for the Game Boy Advance. Miyamoto further demonstrated GC-to-GBA connectivity when he brought out Tooru Iwatani, the creator of Namco's arcade classic Pac-Man. This upcoming revision of the classic allows players to control ghost monsters on the GameCube while the player using the GBA controls Pac-Man. Ghost-monster players can't see the full map, so they'll tend to blindly roam around, giving Pac-Man an advantage, as in the arcade original.
Not to be outdone, Konami's Hideo Kojima entered the fray to reveal Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, which will be a graphically enhanced version of the classic PlayStation stealth action game. Silicon Knights' Dennis Dyack was also on the scene, as his company, previously responsible for the excellent survival horror game Eternal Darkness, is developing Twin Snakes.
Nintendo concluded its demonstration with a montage of its upcoming lineup, including games like Advance Wars 2, 1080 Avalanche, F-Zero GX, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and even a brief video of Metroid Prime II. The company proceeded into a Q&A session with the press, but not before ruling out rumors of a price drop for the GameCube and reaffirming the themes of the conference--that Nintendo will grow with the times, stick to what works, and stay in the thick of the console market while continuing to focus on its systems' innovative features.
We'll soon have a full downloadable version of the Nintendo press conference, along with video clips of the games that were shown.