After Microsoft revealed their Xbox 360, and Sony blew the lid off of the PS3, I was curious about how far Nintendo would go when talking about the Revolution. Unfortunately, they didn’t reveal too much. In fact the whole press conference felt that way.

Nintendo has been letting so many details slip here and there in the past few months that there wasn’t anything really surprising at their E3 Press Conference this year. They started off by discussing the Nintendo DS. As we’ve heard before, their will be an online gaming network in place by the holiday season. Among the first online titles released are Animal Crossing DS and Mario Kart DS, no surprises there. Square-Enix is working on an online title and Activision is making a new Tony Hawk game for the DS that will also support an online community. Over 25 publishers are currently creating online DS games. They also showcased Electroplankton and Nintendogs. It was basically the same stuff that we saw at GDC and other media Nintendo’s been releasing. A preview clip of multiple games did reveal one nice surprise: Mario & Luigi 2 for the Nintendo DS. This game should be playable on the show floor tomorrow, so we’ll be able to give you the details on the new features then. 쎥wlt;i>Super Mario Bros. should also be in playable form.

The only thing that took me totally by surprise was the Game Boy Micro. Nintendo showed off an incredibly sleek, compact version of the Game Boy Advance. It sports a smaller screen, but the screen has better quality and adjustable brightness levels to compensate. The system itself looks like a cross between a Game & Watch and an MP3 player. There will even be changeable faceplates to customize your Game Boy Micro. It should be releasing in the fall. Check out our of the system for more details and images.

Next, Nintendo presented the Revolution console. We’re still not sure if that will be the final name. Most of the features detailed had already been revealed in various announcements that Nintendo has made earlier. The system is compact. It doesn’t really look like a game system and Nintendo is really trying to draw a new type of crowd. The disc slot glows with a stylish blue light and the console is mostly smooth and flat. There are no controller ports visible, large buttons, vents, or anything like that. They showed the Revolution in five different colors, but then again, the GameCube was also shown in five colors when it was first unveiled. Wireless online play will be a big focus for Nintendo going forward. Even the controllers will be wireless. We already knew that the Revolution will play GameCube games, but Nintendo has taken it further. They will provide a service for players to download full versions of NES, SNES, and Nintendo 64 games. They didn’t mention anything about pricing yet. Sadly, they did not show any demos or game trailers for Revolution. They did announce that Square-Enix is developing a Crystal Chronicles sequel and that Nintendo is already working on Mario, Zelda, and Metroid games for the Revolution. Perhaps most exciting to fans, they are hoping to have an online sequel to Super Smash Bros. ready for launch next year. Though they did reveal the look of the console, Nintendo expects the final version to be even smaller and look different. Iwata teased the audience by stating that they have created a unique controller for the console, but that they are not yet ready to reveal it. So the mysterious “revolutionary” aspect of the console will remain hidden, and indeed, it may just be out of control hype now.

There wasn’t much new on the GameCube front either. We’ve know about all of the games showed for a long time save for Super Mario Strikers, a new Mario soccer game. The big focus was on the Zelda, now with an official name: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. A new trailer confirmed the rumors. Link can transform into a wolf. This will allow the player more options in combat and new abilities to overcome environmental obstacles. Overall, the trailer seems to picture Twilight Princess as a much darker game than previous games in the series. We’ll finally get to play it tomorrow along with several other GameCube games such as Fire Emblem, Mario Baseball, Super Mario Strikers, Geist, and Battlion Wars. That final title is the renamed GameCube rendition of Advance Wars.

It seemed like Game Boy Advance was barely mentioned. The only new game shown was Mario Tennis Advance in a very short clip. Overall, I walked away from the conference indifferent. I wasn’t really disappointed, as I think there are plenty of good GameCube, GBA, and DS games here at E3. Also, I didn’t expect Nintendo show much Revolution software either, and they didn’t. It’s just that I knew of practically everything they showed and the conference days or even weeks ago. It wasn’t as exciting as it was last year. There were no surprises. However, I look forward to checking out the show floor. I’m definitely excited to see what Zelda is like, and I know there’s a bunch of good DS games to check out as well.

By Andrew Thivyanathan – 05/17/05

Screenshots for 2005 Nintendo E3 Press Conference