Metroid Prime 2 will form the backbone of Nintendo's Christmas Cube offering in Europe, while Pokémon Leaf Green/Fire Red and The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap stand tall in a diverse list of first party GBA offerings.
In a release issued this morning, Nintendo of Europe outlined its Christmas releases, starting with budget-priced party game WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Game$ on September 3rd and concluding with the release of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.
In between, Cube owners can look forward to the long awaited, localised European release of Animal Crossing, also out on Sept 3rd, Pikmin 2 and Donkey Konga in October, and Paper Mario 2 and Namco's Tales of Symphonia in November, which ought to keep RPG fans happy for a month or so.
Curiously though there's no place on the list for Mario Party 6, which we had very much expected to see in its traditional pre-Christmas slot. Perhaps Nintendo bumped it to give Wario Ware a chance to shine? The list also virtually confirms recent reports - including one this morning - that Star Fox and Geist are now due out next year.
This leaves Nintendo, once again, with a lot of titles that are bound to gather critical acclaim - and almost certainly deservedly so - but with the exception of Metroid Prime 2 not that many that are likely to scythe through the competition during a hectic Christmas rush.
Any GBA owners bound to an elderly relative's couch this Christmas won't have too much to worry about, however, with a number of exciting titles due on the handheld - despite the impending launch of the Nintendo DS, which is due out in Europe in early 2005. In fact, it'll be interesting to see how GBA sales fare in the run-up to Christmas purely on that basis.
We'll be in the queue though, busily scrabbling to get hold of Mario Golf Advance Tour (Sept 17th), the eagerly awaited The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (Nov 12th), Mario vs. Donkey Kong (Nov 19th), and Super Mario Ball (Nov 26th - it's the new name for Super Mario Pinball, since you ask). Square die-hards will be pleased to see Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls down for early December, too.
Key exclusives due out on Nintendo platforms in the run up to Christmas:
- Wario Ware, Inc.: Mega Party Game$ - September 3rd
- Animal Crossing - September 3rd
- Pikmin 2 - October 8th
- Donkey Konga - October 15th
- Paper Mario 2: The Thousand Year Door - November 12th
- Tales of Symphonia - November 19th
- Metroid Prime 2: Echoes - November 26th
- Game Boy Advance
- Mario Golf Advance Tour - September 17th
- Pokémon Leaf Green/Fire Red - October 1st
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap - November 12th
- Mario vs. Donkey Kong - November 19th
- Super Mario Ball - November 26th
- Mario Party Advance - December 3rd
- Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls - December 10th