E3 2003: Nintendo's line-up

Filling in the blanks (Mario Kart Double Dash, Advance Wars 2, anyone?)

Nintendo's E3 line-up isn't all that difficult to guess - particularly when it's laid bare (for the most part, we expect) on this rather helpful page, which sheds some light on each of the games featured. Before we get onto that though, they will be "Mario Kart Double Dash!!", F-Zero, Pikmin 2, Kirby Air Ride, Wario World and Advance Wars: Black Hole Rising. No sign of Mario 128, but we wouldn't be too surprised if the portly plumber rears his moustachioed head in some capacity during the show.

The games, then.

"Mario Kart Double Dash!!" is by far and away the most interesting, promising a game in which each Kart holds two racers. This time we can choose from Mario, Luigi, Peach, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, Yoshi, Birdo, Wario, Waluigi, Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Bowser, Bowser Jr., Koopa and Paratroopa, and you can pair them up any way you see fit - Mario and Bowser, if you like. The character at the front handles the driving, whilst the chap at the back handles up to six normal items and eight special items specific to each character. Handily, racers will be able to swap places any time they like, switching on the fly to fit the course and situation. Sounds blinding to us, and something of an improvement compared to Mario Kart 64 [heretic! -Rob].

Pikmin 2 sees Olimar returning to the Pikmin planet with a business interest this time out. His company is in debt to the tune of 10,000 pokos, so the little fellow has to salvage all the buried treasure he can, delegating work to his newfound assistant if needs be. Obviously the addition of a second Pikmin-ordering character means a greater emphasis on two-player puzzles, and the promise of co-operative play, but equally interesting is the removal of a time limit, new Pikmin colours to worry about, and the threat of bankruptcy.

Wario World meanwhile sees our old chum happier than ever - he's got a castle! At last! Unfortunately, his treasure has been infected by the machinations of an evil black jewel which turns gems into monsters. Eek. The player has to follow Wario through a portal to a parallel world and work to win back his treasure, using piledrivers, head butts, and all sorts of other fighting moves to beat the money out of aggressive nasties. Treasure's handling this one, so we're very keen to play it.

And apart from F-Zero and Kirby Air Ride, with which we're well versed, there isn't much. Except Advance Wars 2. "Except" indeed. The original is still among the best GBA games there is, and some would argue it is the best there is. The sequel will introduce new COs, with improved CO powers (like 'typhoon'), massive neotanks, hundreds of new battle maps and of course both single and multi-cartridge multiplayer modes. And did we mention the map editor? We didn't? Oh, well there is one, and that's special.

E3 kicks off in just over a fortnight. We're not sure of Nintendo's booth number yet, but by God we'll be there.

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