Back to the Promised Land

by Billy Berghammer - August 19, 2001, 5:29 am PDT

Billy's posted his predictions and thoughts about Spaceworld 2001. What could be shown or announced at the big Sho'?

It’s finally going to be made official. I am heading back to Japan for Spaceworld 2001. This year (thank GOD) we actually have a team going! As I write this I am listening to the Hyrule Symphony kick out the Ocarina of Time soundtrack (word), and we’re about 3 hours away from Minneapolis, on our way to Tokyo. Everyone else is either sleeping, or watching Shrek. I’ve opted to take this time to air out my predictions and thoughts about Spaceworld 2001. Personally I haven’t been able to think about anything else.

Spaceworld last year was where we got to see Game Boy Advance for the first time, as well as we got our first glimpse of GameCube. This year Spaceworld will have a completely different atmosphere. Spaceworld in itself is a totally different experience than E3. It’s totally stripped down in comparison. There’s no booth babes, no DJ’s, no Conker Bar. It’s all about the games and that’s it. Not that that is a bad thing, but it’s a major switch from the glitz and glamour that is E3. Also add to the mix that the last two days are open to the public. This means kids galore. If you are just interested in playing games (and fighting crowds), then Spaceworld is your show.

This year we’ll get to see some of the second generation titles for the Game Boy Advance, as well as check out the finished versions of titles coming out for GameCube. With well over 50 Game Boy titles, and around 20 GameCube titles set to be playable, we should definitely have our hands full. The ironic thing, is that this is the first time the Japanese will get their hands on playable GameCube titles, and launch is around 3 weeks away.

I guess every year we generally know what to expect, as we do now. We’ve got a list of a majority of the games that will be on display this year, but there’s bound to be a couple of the usual “Nintendo surprises”. I would say most likely, if there was a perfect time for Nintendo to pull some surprises, now would be that time. With Japanese launch right around the corner, now’s not the time for Nintendo to remain silent. So what are some of the things that I think could be revealed this year? Well let’s look at the possibilities of what could be in store for us at Spaceworld 2001.

1. Online Network plans – It is pretty much guaranteed that we’ll finally learn Nintendo’s online strategy. It’s not likely GameCube will be online this year. Nintendo will probably start it’s online capabilities in early to mid 2002. Sure Sega’s going to have Phantasy Star Online ready in Japan in March, but if any company is going to test the GameCube’s online plans…it’s going to be Nintendo.

2. Relationships with second and third parties – Could there will be a new sort of dream team like there was with the N64? Whatever it is, I’m sure Sega will be involved in a big way. I also think there could be some announcements from Konami, Capcom, Enix, Camelot, and possibily even Square (don’t throw anything at me…I’m thinking GBA more than NGC). Sure, Nintendo has recently stated they want to focus on first party software before delving into third party software, but there are development kits out there.

3. Game Boy Advance/GameCube connectivity – Nintendo wants to sell a truckload of GameCubes and work towards taking back the market share in Japan. The Game Boy Advance has been sold by the truckload in Japan. How can you move a bunch of GameCube’s really quick at launch (or by the end of the year)? Bust out a must have game that utilizes the connectivity between the Game Boy Advance and GameCube. Why do I think that we’ll see something? Due to the fact that the GBA/GC link cable has been re-designed (and shown already), as well as the fact that third parties are getting ready to roll out cables at launch (even though they would anyway). I just see Nintendo trying to capitalize on an already established user base (GBA) to try to sell GameCubes. Not the dumbest idea in the world. Plus Madden 2002 needs it ;).

4. Finalized Japanese GameCube launch list - So far all we know is Luigi’s Mansion, Wave Race: Blue Storm, and Super Monkey Ball. I am hoping there is more than just that. Sure the N64 launched in Japan with almost the same amount of titles, but c’mon! Where’s my Mahjongg title?! Kidding! I’m just hoping we see some more love from the third parties at Japanese launch. I’m sure the folks in Japan are as well.

5. What is Marionette? What is Mario Sunshine? What is…- There’s too many questions out there about these and other unknown titles. Hopefully we’ll learn more, and possibly even get our hands on them. Plus there’s definitely going to be some new games announced that we haven’t heard about before.

6. Does Mario exist in Luigi’s Mansion? - We only saw a very small portion of Luigi’s Mansion at E3, and very few details have emerged since then. There’s got to be a lot more than just sucking down ghosts. Sure that’s fun and all, but when you look at a game like Mario 64, you know Nintendo’s holding a LOT back. The concept of just having to rescue Mario is rather un-unique. If you are going back to that concept, it better be to save the Princess.

7. Where’s the next real Mario title? - Mario is always a part of launch. I still think something funny is going on here. Speculation has been running rampant ever since Luigi’s mansion was shown last year at E3. Where’s the sequel to Mario 64 that we’ve all been dying for? Where the $%&@ is MARIO! Shigeru Miyamoto was quoted years back that the sequel to Mario 64 was in the works. Okay then….cough it up! Mature Mario? You can’t say that Smash Bros. Melee is mature by any means.

8. The next generation of Pokemon? – Crystal’s been our for far too long in Japan, and I think Nintendo’s running out of ways to rehash the same RPG (good). What could make gamers in Japan flock to Nintendo? Bust out that Meowth’s Party for GameCube, or better yet…create an ALL NEW Pokemon title for the Game Boy Advance that interacts with the GameCube.

9. Zelda – Where’s the series going to go now? Will it take a different side quest route like Majora’s Mask? How does Ganon keep coming back? Would Zelda make the leap into the online world like Final Fantasy?

10. How good is Metroid? – No more CG movies! What does Metroid look like “in-game”?

So what from the above list could actually happen? Anything really. You never know with a company like Nintendo. Nintendo always drops a few surprises into the mix at shows like Spaceworld and E3. With the Japanese launch rapidly approaching you know they have something cooking. What it is exactly, is anyone’s guess.

It’s amazing how much has actually changed since Spaceworld last year. Game Boy Advance has already launched world wide with great success. The world got their first chance to play GameCube at E3 2001, and Nintendo took E3 by storm. Now we’re moments away from Nintendo’s show in their own back yard. No matter what happens, hold on to your hats because it’s going to be an incredible ride.

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