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Odama, Metroid lead Nintendo's Q1 2006 lineup

Chibi-Robo makes US Cube debut; Princess Peach, Electroplankton come to DS. Famicom-themed Micro also headed to US shores.


REDMOND, Washington--With just under two months of 2005 left, Nintendo today decided to give gamers their first taste of 2006. At the company's North American press event today, the Japanese game giant took the wraps off its lineup for the first quarter of next year.

The charge is led by a quartet of DS games, with Electroplankton arriving first on January 9. Billed as a "new form of expression" by Nintendo executive vice president of sales and marketing Reggie Fils-Amie at E3 2005, Electroplankton is more of an artistic music program than a straightforward game, allowing users to generate a vast variety of harmonics and melodies in 10 different modes of gameplay. In North America, the game will only be purchasable online.

Next out of the gate is True Swing Golf, due on January 23. The game will feature diminutive golf pros putting away time on Lilliputian greens. Nintendo is making much of how the game has the "most realistic golf swings ever possible" via the DS's touch screen, which will re-create the tactile sensation of swinging a very small golf club.

The third DS game of 2006 belongs to one of Nintendo's longtime leading ladies. Super Princess Peach, featuring the damsel in distress from several Mario games, reverses the character's role in a striking display of girl power. The side-scrolling action game sees the skirted one rescuing the portly plumber for a change. To see how Princess Peach will accomplish this, check out GameSpot's hands-on with an imported version of the game.

The last DS game of the first quarter of 2006 is one of the most anticipated games yet for the handheld: Metroid Prime: Hunters. Once slated to go on sale next week, alongside the launch of Nintendo's Wi-Fi network, the game, now schdeuled for release on March 20, will see intergalactic superheroine Samus conquer yet another Nintendo platform. GameSpot's previous coverage has more details about the sci-fi first-person shooter.

Owners of Nintendo's other handheld, the Game Boy Advance--recently revamped as the Game Boy Micro--will be able to add two new games to its library in Q1 2006. On February 6, Drill Dozer will burrow into the already crowded market of side-scrolling GBA adventures, while March 6 will see a revamped version of Tales of Phantasia, originally released for the NES.

Gamers who held off on buying a DS or a GBA, but are excited about the upcoming game lineup, might not want to rush to stores just yet--as a few colorful Nintendo handhelds will be released in the US soon. In addition to the previously announced red-colored DS being included with the Mario Kart DS special edition bundle (scheduled to hit stores sometime "near the release of Mario Kart DS"), the Famicom-themed Game Boy Micro will also come to North America.

The handheld, already released in Japan, is skinned to look like the Famicom, the Japanese version of the NES. It will retail for $99.99 and will include a $10 voucher for select Game Boy Advance games when it is released on November 28.

Nintendo's current-generation console, the GameCube, will see two new games in the first quarter. First on the market will be the short-statured star of Chibi-Robo, an action adventure about a 3-inch robot. The game is being developed by the relatively unknown studio Skip, which made the 2004 role-playing game Giftpia (not available in the US). Chibi-Robo is already available in Japan.

Much more anticipated is Nintendo's other Q1 GameCube game: Yoot Saito's Odama. Bearing the name of its eccentric-but-celebrated creator, the game is a first, combining real-time strategy with fast-paced pinball action and--believe it or not--vocal recognition. It was certainly one of the more unique games on display at E3 2005, where GameSpot's own Jeff Gertsmann got some hands-on time with the game.

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