As our roving SPOnG reporter is absorbing the DS based excitement currently consuming the specialist games press over in Seattle, Nintendo has revealed the full state of the DS launch plans. As the uniquely charismatic Reggie Fils-Aime summed it up opposite USA Today, “We're feeling quite good about the number of titles and, in particular, what the key titles are and what they represent,”. The US launch, still scheduled for November 21st, and the Japanese launch, following on 12th December, will be backed up by 5 first-party titles, as well-as the built in Pictochat software and Metroid Prime Hunters demo.
Nintendo consoles do rely heavily on first-party games, with all the popular characters they bring with them, and the DS will be no exception. Super Mario 64 DS will obviously be one of the biggest early DS games, and Pokemon Dash and Touch! Made In Wario will also help shift units in the early days. There’s also Nintendo’s first DS puzzle game, Chokkan Hitotude, and also an intriguing stylus controlled bemani-type affair: Big Concert! Band Brothers.
Of course, third party titles will also be important, and of the 120 odd games currently in development around the world, about 6 or 7 are expected to launch alongside the machine itself, with possible differences between the Japanese and US selections. Electronic Arts has promised The Sims: The Urbz, with Madden and Tiger Woods not far behind. Sega has the sensationally peculiar Feel The Magic (formerly known as Project Rub) and Spike has the equally unusual Tendo Dokuta, not forgetting Success' charming-looking Zoo Keeper. As revealed earlier in the week, Activision's Spiderman 2 will also be on the inital roster. And Koei also have a Mahjong game – just in case you care.
Other titles lined up for an early launch, possibly on November 21st, are Namco's Mr. Driller and Ridge Racer DS, THQ's Ping Pals, and Ubisoft's Rayman DS and Asphalt GT.
It does seem to be a reasonably strong line-up, and it’s certainly a break from the norm. This bodes well for the DS, if Nintendo and other DS developers can keep up the innovation, then 2005 should be a good year for eyebrow-raising developments. By the end of Q1, there should be around 25 games available – retailing at around the $29.99 mark.
SPOnG will bring you the full lowdown on the DS launch and software once the conference has concluded.