Download a video of the entire Nintendo pre-E3 press conference from Eurofiles (113MiB). Including first ever footage of Zelda sequel, Advance Wars on the Cube, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, the GBA's The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cup, and of course the long-awaited unveiling of Nintendo DS!
From the moment the Grand Ballroom doors opened and hundreds of journalists surged forward from every angle, creeping round pillars and leaping over barriers to try and gain a vantage point, it was clear this year's pre-E3 conference was going to be different for Nintendo, and to be honest there's so much to discuss that a lot of people in the assembled crowd were visibly overwhelmed.
First off, contrary to reports, Shigeru Miyamoto is not resigning. Nintendo reps rubbished the reports today, but there was no greater affirmation of the legendary designer's commitment to Nintendo than his appearance at the very end of the conference, when he leapt on-stage brandishing a Master Sword and shield to replace almost pose-for-pose a big-screen visual of Link (complete with amusing swooshing sound effects) - who appeared alongside Epona in the world's first video demonstration of the next GameCube Zelda title. But more on that later, because today's conference was about one thing above all others, and that thing is Nintendo DS.
Prototypes were held up, videos were played, claims were made, and we were promised hands-on experience of all manner of exciting software tomorrow at the LA convention centre, including Metroid Prime: Hunters (a battle-oriented multiplayer title with PSX-plus level visuals), Super Mario 64x4 (the much-discussed development demo based on the similarly epoch-making N64 title). Elsewhere WarioWare, Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, Mario Bros. 'Nintendogs', Bomberman, Sonic, Egg Monster Heroes (Square Enix's project), Need for Speed and countless other titles were mentioned in the literature we picked up afterward, and many will be at the show tomorrow. It was the sort of information overload that Sony could only manage by accident...
In terms of hardware, the DS will offer two individually programmable screens, one of which is touch-sensitive (via stylus and grubby fingertip), and the 3D visuals are in excess of what the N64 delivered. You can see the system for yourself in our previous item based on the USA Today exclusive, but in the flesh it's a bit bigger than you might expect, the D-pad is going to suit just about anybody's thumbs, it supports every GBA game ever made as well as its own software, features Bluetooth and 802.11b-based wireless connectivity (for local and Internet-based multiplay), decent battery life and we even caught sight of what looked like a headphone socket. The only slight dampener was news that while the US and Japan will see it by the end of this year, Europe and Australia will have to wait until Q1 2005. A price point (and indeed a final name) has yet to be determined.
DS was by no means alone on the big screens around the Hollywood Renaissance however, with all manner of Cube software shown off including Advance Wars: Under Fire (developed by UK-based Kuju Entertainment), major presentations of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Star Fox 2 and Resident Evil 4, and snatches of all manner of other titles including Paper Mario 2, before Nintendo gave us our first view of the new Cube Zelda title, simply known as "The Legend of Zelda" for the time being. We have a feeling a lot of you will be pleased to learn that Link is to be reunited not only with his trusty steed Epona, but also his older and more mature appearance, which was the focal point of a video clearly made up to look like the Cube's vision of Ocarina of Time. "Coming soon."
GBA-wise, no doubt much to the critics delight, connectivity didn't even get a mention - it was all the wireless multiplayer adapter and GBA video, with mention of the new Pokemon titles, the new Donkey Kong: King of Swing, confirmation of the new Zelda title The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cup (from Capcom), more Hamtaro, a US release date (Oct 18) for Kirby & The Amazing Mirror, and, well, extraordinary amounts of other information. Stay tuned and we'll be updating throughout the day here in Los Angeles with full DS specs and impressions, Cube video write-ups, and even a full video download of Nintendo's extensive presentation, so you can see it all exactly as we did crouched in the front rows of the pre-E3 conference.