E3 06: Nintendo tips handheld hand

One new Game Boy Advance game and 23 new DS games form the handheld offering.

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LOS ANGELES--Nintendo has announced the full list of first-party handheld titles that will be shown at E3. The list features a heavy DS bias, with only one Game Boy Advance game on the list in the form of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team, but the company has treated us to a few brand-new product announcements that we've detailed below. More information should be available at the show itself, but here's what we know about the new games so far.

Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol is an adventure follow-up to the previous Chibi-Robo game. The story follows Chibi-Robo as he ventures into the great outdoors, where the flowers have been transformed by evil monsters. The character can use buggies, cars, and boats across lawns and ponds. He is also equipped with a squirter to fend off enemies, and dances to give life back to the park flowers. No release date has been given for the game as yet.

Clubhouse Games is a card, board, and clubhouse game collection that includes checkers, darts and poker. The game can be played by up to eight people from one game card over wireless game sharing, and will feature a Pictochat-like interface for communicating with friends. The game will also feature bowling, backgammon, bridge and billiards, and forms part of Nintendo's Touch Generations library, which is intended for nongamers.

Custom Robo Arena is an action role-playing game set in a sci-fi landscape, where players fight toward the Custom Robo championship. You will be able to upgrade your Robo with unique parts and create a unique warrior that can be taken online over Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. There's also multiplayer with multicard play and DS download play. The DS touch screen is used to customize the robot as well as clean it up after battle.

Diddy Kong Racing DS was also announced by Nintendo today, although the company didn't offer any more information prior to the show. We'll have to see if the company chooses to show it at the show when it opens on Wednesday.

DK: King of Swing DS is an action game starring Donkey Kong. A sequel to the GBA game, King of Swing DS sees Donkey Kong swinging and climbing across levels that make full use of the console's dual screens. Adventure mode will feature Diddy Kong as a subcharacter, and there will also be new moves, items, and minigames available. There is also a four-player mode that will make use of multicart and DS download play, and will offer the choice of Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong, or Funky Kong.

DS Air is the working title for a new flight simulator from Nintendo. The aim will be to take elite strike fighters and hunt down a mad dictator, and it will be a realistic sim with customizable fighters and weapons. Locations include land, sea, and air, and DS Air will feature a co-op mode that can be played over Nintendo Wi-Fi.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is an intriguing new graphic adventure game that places you in Los Angeles in 1979. As Kyle Hide, an ex-cop turned salesman, you must investigate the mysterious room of the title and solve the mystery of Room 215. Holding the DS console like a book, you use the touch screen to grill characters, search for clues, and solve puzzles.

Kirby is a provisional title, but Nintendo has announced that it is a new action game in which Kirby's copy abilities have been massively boosted. You can use the stylus to mix and match copy abilities, so that you can burn trees with fire ability or freeze water with the ice ability. The title also has subgames that can be played locally by up to four players, both via multicard and DS download play.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, due for release in Q4 2006, sees gaming favorite Link tackle a new adventure. This time, he's washed ashore a mysterious island and must find the way back to his companions with the aid of a fairy. The game will be played almost entirely using the stylus--not just when controlling Link, but also when solving puzzles and making notes on the map. There's also a two-player wireless minigame available, involving a race against time to collect Force Gems.

Magical Vacation (working title) is a game that tasks players with the rescue of their teacher and classmates from the Will O' Wisp magical academy. As players progress through the game, they will fight monsters to earn experience points and buy new weapons, gaining levels and power as they go. As well as the solo game, players can team up with up to five friends wirelessly to take on enemies in a special "Amigo" dungeon. The game will be controlled almost exclusively with the stylus and features turn-based combat that accommodates melee and ranged attacks.

Mario Hoops 3-on-3 is due for release on September 11 and, as you'd expect, sees Mario enter the world of basketball. Each team will contain three figures from the Mario universe, although it's only possible for four human players to play simultaneously, so expect some NPCs to make up the numbers.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis is an action-puzzle sequel to be released on September 25 that puts the player in control of Mario toys in a bid to save Pauline--one of the franchise's early characters, not seen for decades. In addition to playing through the normal game solo, players can create their own maps and send them across the world via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, as well as downloading those that others have created.

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team, slated for a September 18 release, turns the player into a Pokémon character for the first time. The land is being ravaged by numerous natural disasters, and you must team up with a partner Pokémon to rescue others in trouble and save the day. Most of the game is set in dungeon environments, and players will employ various strategies to progress. No multiplayer element to the game has been announced yet but is available for the GameBoy Advance under the title Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team.

Starfox DS is a 3D space-based shooter due for release on August 28 and has the player jumping aboard an Arwing fighter and blasting through a branching set of missions. Players can also dogfight with their friends, or play cooperatively--either with seven other players using the local wireless functionality, or with three others across the world on the global Wi-Fi Connection. In co-op mode there's an added strategic element that will see the team commander drawing on the map the route the group should take through the level.

Sudoku Gridmaster will be released on June 26 and feature more than 400 of the popular number puzzles. There are four difficulty settings and plenty of in-game tips to enable the player to become an expert, with all of the puzzles hand-picked by the experts at Nikoli, the original creators of sudoku. As you solve puzzles you'll win stars that will let you unlock new challenges.

Tenchu: Dark Secret is the latest instalment in the stealth-action franchise and will be released on August 21. You play a ninja assassin assigned to protect a princess across more than 40 single-player missions, using a mixture of sneaking skills and fighting techniques. Players can also challenge a friend to wireless one-on-one combat and buy, sell, and trade items across the global Wi-Fi connection.

The full list of Nintendo DS titles announced by Nintendo is included below, with release dates where possible.

Big Brain Academy - June 5, 2006
Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol - June 5, 2006
Children of Mana - Q4 2006
Clubhouse Games - Q4 2006
Custom Robo Arena - Q4 2006
Diddy Kong Racing DS - TBA
DK: King of Swing DS - TBA
DS Air - TBA
Elite Beat Agents - Q4 2006
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 - Q4 2006
Kirby - TBA
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass - Q4 2006
Magical Vacation (working title) - Q4 2006
Magnetica - June 5, 2006
Mario Hoops 3-on-3 - September 11, 2006
Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis - September 25, 2006
New Super Mario Bros. - May 15, 2006
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team - September 18, 2006
Pokémon Ranger - TBA
Star Fox DS - August 28, 2006
Sudoku Gridmaster - June 26, 2006
Tenchu: Dark Secret - August 21, 2006
Yoshi's Island 2 - Q4 2006

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