Hands-on impressions of the games at the recently concluded show and Peter Main's lively discussion of the Dolphin, PS2, Xbox, Dreamcast, and Game Boy Advance.
Nintendo held its annual gamers summit this past week to show off its fall lineup, which includes N64 and Game Boy Color titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Banjo-Tooie, Mickey's Speedway Racing USA, Alice in Wonderland, and Donkey Kong Country. In addition, Peter Main, Nintendo's executive vice president, spoke briefly about Nintendo's current status in the video game market and how Nintendo feels confident that the Dolphin will appeal to consumers that are primarily interested in gaming, more so than competing platforms with multiple functions.
Of the games we played at Nintendo's Gamers Summit, none were as surprisingly impressive as The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. As we found our way through the game's first dungeon and found various masks, it was obvious that this Legend of Zelda is completely different than any other.
The game begins with a stark title screen that simply reads, "Dawn of the first day: 72 hours remain." Gameplay begins near a town where you have to complete typical Zelda-style puzzles. One of the major differences between the Ocarina of Time and this adventure is that you can find 24 different masks that give Link different abilities. The Deku mask, for instance, allows Link to shoot bubbles at enemies and use large spinning flowers to glide through the air. Certain masks allow you to reach areas and accomplish tasks that are essential to your progress through the game.
Banjo-Tooie was also very impressive looking. The game takes place across eight new worlds on the Isle o' Hags, where players must once again defeat the evil witch Grutilda. This second quest is also all about completing puzzles in order to collect Jiggy puzzle pieces. The world is unbelievably huge, and to help navigate it, Rare has developed a transport system that allows you to easily warp from one place to the next.
The minigames that pop up during the game are one of the coolest new features in Banjo-Tooie. The minigames range from simple events - like a game that is best described as a pseudo-soccer shootout where the objective it to score more points than your opponent - to a full-blown first-person deathmatch-style shooter. One of the great things about these minigames is that Rare realized that the games were way too fun to just hide within the game, so they've made them available for four-player multiplayer action from the game's outset. You can select individual events from the 14 minigames available, or just simply choose to play them all in succession.
The other big game on hand at the event was Mickey's Speedway USA. The game features a total of five grand prix circuits, each with four races. Many of the tracks are loosely based on real-world locales such as San Francisco and Las Vegas. Almost all of the classic Walt Disney characters - including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and Donald Duck - are playable in the game. The game features a standard one-player tournament race event in which you compete against computer opponents. The game also allows for four-player multiplay in both a standard race and a Mario Kart-style battle mode.
Two of the Game Boy Color titles shown were Alice in Wonderland and Donkey Kong Country. Donkey Kong Country is a port of the Super Nintendo version that looks unbelievably close to its counterpart. Alice in Wonderland is an original side-scroller that is closely based on the story of Walt Disney's classic movie. Digital Eclipse, the development team working on the title, is implementing a lot of visual tricks that will make the game look quite magical.
Main's speech was fairly interesting, and while it mostly consisted of percentages and details concerning Nintendo's profitability, it did include a brief part focused on the topic of next-generation video game consoles. Specifically, Main pointed out the fact that the Dolphin will be the only system that is solely focused on video game entertainment and not on broadband applications, movies, or Internet capabilities. Main went on to point out that of the 2 million-plus PlayStation 2's that were sold in Japan, only 4 million games were sold. Main believes that the reason for this was because "half of them were sold basically as DVD players." Main also stated that the Xbox was still the "x factor," since so little is currently known about the system.
We probably won't get another chance to play many of the games that were shown at the summit before they are released this fall, but be sure to look for in-depth previews on all of the games mentioned above early next week.
Be sure to check out the video clip below as Peter Main passionately discusses the PS2, the Sega Dreamcast, the Microsoft Xbox, and Nintendo's own Game Boy Advance and Project "Dolphin."
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