Nintendo unveils DS, new Zelda at E3
Hotly anticipated handheld will ship with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and strong third-party support; widely beloved game franchise will get two more installments.
Like Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo revealed its biggest E3 news before the show even started. At its preshow press conference this morning, Executive VP of Sales and Marketing Reggie Fils-Aime unveiled the company's buzz-generating DS portable, and revealed details about its launch date and launch titles. The company also announced or showed clips of some exciting new games, including new versions of Metroid, Starfox, Zelda, and Resident Evil for the GC, and Donkey Kong Country 2, Zelda, F-Zero, Mario Pinball, Mario Golf: Advance Tour, and Mario Party for the GBA.
The DS announcement included some new information as well as a number of details that Gamespot has already reported. We already knew that one screen will be a touch screen and that the DS will sport Bluetooth for wireless head-to-head gaming, while analysts have predicted the release price will be around $150. However, this was the first confirmation of the DS launch dates for 2004 in Japan and America. Fils-Aime didn't specify a date, but the DS will presumably launch in Q4 in Japan and North America and in Q1 2005 in Europe and Australia. Fils-Aime also revealed some of the device's technical features:
--Short-range wireless enabling up to 16 players to go head-to head at distances of up to 100 feet.
--Wi-Fi for times when no other DS users are within 100 feet.
--2 media bays, one for DS software, which Fils-Aime said could be as large as "one gigabit of data and beyond," and one for GBA games, enabling backward compatibility.
--Built-in microphone for voice control.
--Each screen is programmable in either 2D or 3D, and they can be used together to show one very large character or scene.
One tech demo gave a good example of how developers might use the double screens. In a DS version of Metroid, the top screen showed a map, while the bottom screen showed the traditional first-person view. Nintendo promised to demo playable versions of Metroid, Super Mario, and unnamed other games when the show floor opens tomorrow. Game development for this device won't be a one-studio show, because video clips from third-party developers showed strong support. Firms expressing interest in the device included Atari, Activision, Capcom, EA, Konami, Sega, Square Enix, and THQ.
In the conference, Nintendo also took a few potshots at Sony and Microsoft, announced a video playback device for the GBA SP, touted strong Japanese sales for Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green, which are games that use Nintendo's proprietary wireless device, and teased the press conference attendees by coyly refusing to comment on specs for its next-generation console, saying only that the user experience "is more important than horsepower."
The conference ended with a short and visually impressive film of what appeared to be a Zelda: The Wind Waker sequel and an appearance by Nintendo's visionary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Carrying a Link-esque shield and sword, Miyamoto briefly showed clips of another Legend of Zelda game, which featured a grown-up Link and would be "coming soon." For more information on this title, check out our impressions.
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