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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Well, E3 has started today and there is SO MUCH new Mario stuff to talk about.

As a result, I am going to split the E3 coverage into 3. The first day (today) I will talk about the new Nintendo: DS system, tomorrow will feature the new games for Gamecube, while Friday will have some new GBA games.

Lets get started with the Nintendo: DS

First I will give you the official Nintendo overview of this interesting new system:

Nintendo: DS image courtesy of http://www.theregister.co.uk

Dual Screens: Two LCD screens offer one of the most groundbreaking game-play advances ever developed: experiencing a game from two perspectives at once. Imagine the possibilities. In a racing game, drivers might see their own vehicle's perspective on one screen and an overall track view on the other. In a role-playing game, the action could take place on the first screen while the second provides a reference for a player's tools inventory. Game play also could use both screens at once, offering a giant boss for heroes to defeat. In the future, games could be created allowing users to play games on one screen while text messaging other DS users on the other. Each 3-inch screen can reproduce a true 3-D view and is backlit to assure comfortable play in any lighting condition.

Touch Screen: The lower screen will offer something never before provided by any game device: PDA-like touch capabilities. Players no longer have to rely on just buttons to move characters or shift perspectives. They can navigate menus or access inventory items simply by touching the screen with stylus or fingertip. A software-based keyboard might even allow the screen to be used as an input center for games and messaging. The possibilities are limited only by developers' imaginations. The screen will have a tougher film cover for durability, and will come with a stylus.

Microphone: An available microphone port means that in the future, players might need only to tell their games what to do. DS software could identify everything from voice commands to hand-clapping. Players might be able to move their characters simply by telling them which way to go. The voice capabilities also could allow gamers to chat with one another over the Internet while playing.

Wireless: DS users will be able to connect with a local wireless network of up to 16 players. Nintendo's guaranteed range is 30 feet, but will extend far beyond that depending on circumstances. It assures high response rates required for real time game play, and will make use of both IEEE 802.11 and Nintendo's proprietary communication protocol, which provides low battery consumption. Players will be able to chat and play games without any connecting cords, completely untethered. The DS technology also provides for a wireless LAN connection, which could allow a theoretically infinite number of players to connect at a hot spot and compete at a central game hub on the Internet, even if they're thousands of miles apart.

Wireless Game Sharing: If software developers desire, multiple players can compete in wireless games, even if only one person has a game card inserted. Players could also test-play games for themselves as long as they stayed connected.

3-D: With the newly developed graphics engine, DS can reproduce impressive 3-D renderings that can surpass images displayed on the Nintendo® 64. Games will run at 60 frames per second, and allow details like fog effects and cel shading.

Sound: The 16-channel sound allows for greatly expanded use of voices and music, and a richer, more immersive game experience. A plug for headphones transmits stereo sound.

Battery & Power Management: The battery is rechargeable and the unit features a low-energy-consumption design. The DS also has Power Management functions of Sleep mode and Standby mode. In Sleep mode, players can stop and resume game play whenever they like. If the user receives a message from a friend or user nearby, DS activates itself from Standby mode.

Processing: The unit will run on two processors, one ARM9 one ARM7.

New Media: For its compact cards, the unit uses newly developed semiconductor memory, which allows for lower cost, shorter manufacturing time and memory capacity of more than one gigabit of information.

Dual Slots: Nintendo DS makes a vast library of Game Boy® Advance games readily available. Developers could find ways to make new connections between GBA games and DS games. The GBA port could be used for new hardware, enormously expanding the functional expandability of the DS.

As you can see, this is more than just a mere GBA upgrade. This is truely the next generation of portable gaming for Nintendo.

Now for a preview of the neat new Mario games that will come out for the Nintendo: DS:

Picochat

This is not a Mario game, but I had to show you this (at least the screenshots have Mario in them).

Official Nintendo Description: Up to 16 players (two in the E3 demo version) can use the wireless functions to link together and exchange instant messages or drawings. The bottom screen shows a standard keyboard, while instant messages from other users appear in the top screen. Players can type text messages using the keyboard, use the stylus to send messages in their own handwriting or simply draw and transmit a picture. If another user sends a picture, the recipient can modify it and send it back. Play a game of wireless virtual hangman or send covert messages to other users.

SK's Thoughts: Picochat looks very neat. It looks like a mix of a PDA and a chatroom and it looks like it would be one of the most unique Nintendo creations since the Game Boy Camera (hopefully Picochat would last longer)

Screenshots








WarioWare Inc: DS

A WarioWare game with one screen wasn't enough, now you have a WarioWare game with two!

Official Nintendo Description: One screen isn't big enough to contain Wario's greed and ego. He appears on the top screen and drops boxes to the bottom one, where they open an assortment of wild mini-games. Use the stylus and touch screen to drag a net and catch some fish, or to cut a rope to drop a cage around a duck. Players might have to erase or draw pictures, or slice at food that gets thrown at them. Finish as many mini-games in 35 seconds as possible. The game features the same good humor and fast pace that are hallmarks of the WarioWare franchise.

SK's Thoughts: The Dual Screens make this WarioWare seem a lot more like a Game & Watch Game (I wouldn't be surprised to see G&W: DS in the future). Also the use the of stylus would allow more control than the controller would allow you. This is a game to watch out for.

Screenshots








Super Mario 64x4

One thing to say - Super Mario 64: Multiplayer

Official Nintendo Description: The landscape and the characters all look familiar. This is the opening castle area of Super Mario 64, only with a few DS twists thrown in. Up to four players can link up using the wireless capabilities. Players move familiar characters like Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and Wario around the 3-D landscape, exploring and looking for stars. While one screen shows the player’s character position, the other provides an overall map of the area. Touch a spot on the screen to pop the camera over to another player’s position, or to take a close-up look at the castle.

SK's Thoughts: See Luigi IS is Super Mario 64. So is Wario. And Yoshi is down from the roof. This game looks interesting, and with the Bowser screenshot, it looks like this will hopefully be more than "Super Mario 64 as Mario Kart"

Screenshots










Other Screenshots:

While Nintendo decided to cover only the three games above in their preview, our good friends at TMK have scored some addition screenshots from two other games, that I would like to share with you.

Mario Kart: DS

Screenshots:









SK's Thoughts: Mario Kart: Super Circuit (the GBA game) did a good job at emulating the N64 graphics. However, if you look closely, it was still a 2D game. That can't be said for this game. This is 3D Mario Kart action in the palm of your hands. Also, I think the lower screen might be used for more than just a map.


NEW Super Mario Bros

Screenshots:







SK's Thoughts: OH MY GOD!!!!! You may recall that I did an April Fool's news report that talked about a new version of SMB being released for the Nintendo: DS. However, I wouldn't have thought in a million years that Nintendo was ACTUALLY MAKING ONE!!!!!! You can't can't tell much about NSMB by the screenshots other than it will be a "2 1/2 D" platform game. Time has yet to tell on whether or not Nintendo will do the "Mario and Luigi simultaneous" thing.


That's all for today! We will get to the (now boring) Game Cube tommorow.

- Report By Sean Kelly at 11:23 AM


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