Special: So, what exactly does this GameCube do?
Yesterday we took a quick look at some of what we can expect from the hardware side of Nintendo's GameCube, but we all know that it isn't the hardware that makes the system successful. Just look at Sega's Saturn. It was a great piece of machinery, but Sega lost most of their software support to the easy to program for Playstation. It can even be said that, despite excellent first party titles, the Nintendo-64 lacked the third party software support to be really successful. Nintendo is hoping to turn that all around with the GameCube by making software development more accessible to game companies.
While the jury is out on whether or not third party support will be as strong as it will need to be for Nintendo to win the upcoming console war, we know that Nintendo itself has a great arsenal of games building up with their first party developers. We caught a little glimpse of what is in store for the GameCube back in August at Nintendo's Spaceworld convention in Tokyo. While Nintendo emphasized that what was shown was just a technical demo, it isn't like the big 'N' to do anything without planning on using it. Anyway, here is a brief look at what was shown, and what we might be seeing from these titles.
Rogue Squadron 2 - This game is confirmed to be in development from Factor 5. Their previous credits include the original Rogue Squadron and Episode I: The Battle for Naboo, both for the Nintendo 64. In this sequel, you can expect to see more of the same great gameplay that made the original such a great game. For those of you that were disappointed with the visuals of the original (I suppose that there might be some of you out there) take heart, Factor 5 is promising an incredibly improved viewing distance, less fog effects, and more detailed textures and models. Hopefully, this version will feature some multiplayer options, but only time will tell.
The Legend of Zelda - The Spaceworld demo literally blew everyone off of their feet with this segment. While this game is not yet confirmed, the amount of detail put into both Link and Gannondorf, the meticulous work put into the background, and the superb character animation seems to be a bit much for just a "technical demo," especially, for a franchise as successful as this one. While I wouldn't hold my breath over this game being available at launch, I'd bet on it being ready for Christmas 2002.
Metroid - Of everything shown in the demo, the Metroid spot was perhaps the most unexpected, and the most welcome. Rumors have been floating around for some time that Nintendo has been working on a 3D update of this classic for the N64, but this GameCube clip offered more visually than could ever be imagined. Little is known about the game itself, but if the makeover given to Zelda for the N64 is any indication, then this game is going to blow the socks off of everybody. Currently in development by Retro Studios, we might be lucky enough to see this by the end of the year (but I wouldn't count on it).
Mario - What would be a Nintendo launch without a Mario game? Each of the infamous Mario Bros. titles was featured in their own spots during the demo. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Mario segment used as the startup sequence for the GameCube itself, while Luigi's Mansion might be more indicative of what a game featuring the brothers might be like. Even though development of a Mario Bros. game for the system is unconfirmed, I would not be surprised to see one ship at launch.
Wave Race 2 - The original Wave Race helped to sell a lot of Nintendo 64 systems. I know I bought mine after seeing and playing it. While this one looks to be ready to put the visuals of the original to shame, we have to hope that the gameplay of the franchise is preserved. When might we see this title? It's hard to say, but hopefully it will support the online hardware for the system and feature Internet racing and rankings. If that's the case, we may have to wait a little while.
Perfect Dark 2 - Rare showed off a couple shots of a fully rendered Joanna Dark doing absolutely nothing. You know what? That's all it took to get rumors about this game flying. Online forums are already buzzing with, "I could kick your butt," posts, and everyone is just about assuming that the game will feature online support. Whether that's the case or not, we can definitely expect a solid first person shooter with tons of split-screen multiplayer modes and options. With how little advancement on this game was actually shown in the demo, I could almost guarantee that we wont see this game this year, and probably not even next.
Too Human - Silicon Knights, the developers of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, were originally developing this game as a four-disc adventure/RPG game for the original Playstation. Plans for that version were scrapped when Knights signed with Nintendo as an official second party developer. Expect to see this title aimed more toward the adult market, being both dark and a little bit twisted. This will help to fill a long-standing gap in Nintendo's software library.
Meowth's Party - Nintendo will keep the Pokemon franchise alive on the GameCube. There is no real surprise there, but the first game to feature the billion-dollar franchise looks to be a Parappa style rhythm/music action game. The game sure looks nice so far, and the Pokemon moniker will help it sell a million units, but we will have to wait and see just how the game turns out.
That covers just about everything that Nintendo slipped out to tease the masses back at Spaceworld. All in all, it shows that Nintendo is going to back this system with everything it has and that first and second party software will, over time, be plentiful. Hopefully, Nintendo will be able to avoid the pitfalls that they hit when launching the N64; lack of titles, lack of systems, and lack of third party support.
Tomorrow, we'll kick back and take a look at just what we might be expecting from third party developers.