Nintendo of America has unveiled its games lineup for the Electronic Entertainment Expo and overall strategy for the rest of the year. Like most of Nintendo’s E3 conferences, the event was something of a contradiction within itself – while Nintendo president Satoru Iwata and George Harrison of NOA professed redoubled efforts toward third-party support and “mature” titles, the most exciting announcements involved Mario, Zelda, and other titles familiar to any GameCube fan. Harrison opened the proceedings with a miniature GameCube pep rally, detailing the surge in console sales and the market share they’ve retaken from the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in recent months. However, he was also careful to assure Nintendo’s most devoted fans that no drastic changes in their hardware or software strategy is coming in the future – “Mario,” as he put it, “will never be seen shooting at hookers.” After Harrison, Nintendo president Iwata gave conference attendees their first look at several new titles, including Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Pikmin 2, Super Mario Bros. 3: Super Mario Advance 4, and Star Fox 2 (the Namco co-development that was titled Star Fox Armada up to now). Following Iwata was Nintendo producer Shigeru Miyamoto, and – as always – he was the highlight of the expo. Miyamoto started the show by announcing several new projects from Nintendo’s second and third parties, bringing out Hideo Kojima to show Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes and EA’s Will Wright to show a special GBA-compatible version of The Sims for the GameCube. He also took the time to show off Geist, a new first-person shooter starring a ghoul who possesses in-game characters to break into new areas and complete objectives. Pac it in
After that, Miyamoto demonstrated two new projects showing his company’s commitment to the GameCube-GBA connectivity feature. First up was a demo of a Pac-Man multiplayer game – as Miyamoto explained to Namco’s Tooru Iwatani (creator of the original arcade game) on stage, the game is for four players, with one playing Pac-Man and the other three playing ghosts out to hunt him down on the playfield. The designated Pac-person looks at the entire playfield on his GBA screen, while the three ghosts view a small section of the field on the GameCube TV screen – in other words, the ghosts will need to use strategy and teamwork to get the yellow guy. Right now the game is at alpha level (Miyamoto claimed he began work on it without receiving Namco’s permission), but the four-player demo seemed addictive enough, and it seems like the title could make a good mini-game somewhere in the future. The second title was a GameCube version of The Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords, the four-player GBA title that Nintendo released last year. The GameCube version of The Four Swords is a heavily enhanced version of the original – instead of connecting four GBAs together, players connect four GBAs to the GameCube, and play on the same overhead map. This map scales in and out depending on your character’s movements, and whenever someone enters a house or cave, a separate window opens for that particular character’s indoor scene. Very cool stuff, and quite possibly what The Four Swords should’ve been in the first place.