Iwata, a veteran video game designer and player himself, made several major announcements during his Game Developers Conference keynote speech, “The Heart of the Gamer,” including such highlights as:
– Nintendo’s next game console, code-named “Revolution,” is proceeding on schedule and will include both backward compatibility and Wi-Fi features.
– Nintendo soon will offer a free Wi-Fi connection service to Nintendo DS owners.
– Iwata demonstrated several new software titles using the innovative features of the Nintendo DS, including voice recognition, touch-screen control and wireless connectivity.
– Iwata unveiled new images from the highly anticipated Legend of Zelda adventure coming this year for Nintendo GameCube.
“This is Nintendo’s plan: make our existing game world better,” Iwata said. “For us, this is a passion. This is a mission of adventure.”
Revolution: Iwata announced that Revolution will feature built-in Wi-Fi protocols, which will allow users around the world to connect with one another wirelessly. Revolution’s technological heart, a processing chip developed with IBM and code-named “Broadway,” and a graphics chip set from ATI code-named “Hollywood,” are being designed to deliver game experiences not possible to date.
“We’re excited to be developing the graphics chip set for Revolution, which continues our longstanding relationship with Nintendo,” says Dave Orton, ATI Technologies Inc.’s president and chief executive officer. “As the leading graphics provider, ATI is committed to delivering exceptional visual performance that enables consumers to interact with new and visually compelling digital worlds. ATI is proud to support Nintendo’s innovative contributions to gaming.”
Nintendo DS: Iwata announced that the Wi-Fi protocol for Nintendo DS will provide users with a link to other players across the country or around the world. Once the service begins later this year, Nintendo DS users will be able to connect to the service wirelessly at Wi-Fi hot spots, whether they’re at home, in a hotel or at a coffee shop. As one of several Wi-Fi games, Nintendo’s in-house development team is creating a new Animal Crossing game for global Wi-Fi play.
On the keynote stage, Iwata also took part in a spontaneous eight-player wireless contest of Mario Kart DS to demonstrate the local area network capabilities of Nintendo DS. He added that shipments of the DS game system have now surpassed 4 million units to North America and Japan in the 16 weeks since launch. With the system set to debut in thousands of stores across Europe within hours of his address, that number will approach 6 million units shipped by the end of March.
DS software: The speech featured a live demonstration of two Nintendo DS software titles that Iwata said represented types of entertainment that go beyond the traditionally accepted definitions of “video games.” One, Nintendogs, asks owners to nurture and interact with a variety of breeds of digital puppies. Puppy owners can issue voice commands, play games and train their puppies while developing real emotional bonds with them. Nintendogs is set to launch later this year in North America. The second title, Electroplankton, offers an otherworldly array of sights and sounds aimed to soothe or stimulate players with the innovative use of both the touch screen and voice interaction.
“This is designed to produce harmony, not adrenaline,” Iwata said.
Zelda: Iwata wowed the crowd by showing previously unreleased footage of the stunning Legend of Zelda adventure for Nintendo GameCube. The game will launch later this year, and is expected to be the most sought-after game of 2005 on any console.
Nintendo will announce more information about both Revolution and the Nintendo DS Wi-Fi service at the Electronics Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in May. To hear the full audio podcast of Iwata’s speech, visit www.nintendo.com.
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