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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Familiar faces in Nintendo's line-up
Jo Twist
By Jo Twist
BBC News Online technology reporter

The cute, the familiar and the more serious are lining up to grab the limelight for Nintendo in the race to top the Christmas games charts.

Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is released in November
The games company offered a glimpse of the latest GameCube and GameBoy Advance titles which could be finding their way into Christmas stockings at the video games trade show in London this week.

Among them were some familiar faces, like Pokémon in a pinball game and Pikmin 2, which will please those who like the cute and cuddly rather than the big and scary.

But there were some fast-paced racing, strategy and fighting games on offer too.

Mario returns

Many of the games mark a return to the familiar brands names which Nintendo hope will boost sales and rescue the ailing GameCube.

GAMECUBE TITLES
26 Sept - Soul Calibur II
31 Oct - F-Zero GX
14 Nov - Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
28 Nov - Pikmin 2
28 Nov - 1080 Avalanche
5 Dec - Mario Party 5

They have also introduced more third party titles like the Stars Wars game Rogue Squadron 3 and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.

Among the main GameCube titles from the Nintendo stable which gamers can expect to see in the next three months is Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, released in November.

It is exciting many Nintendo fans and has all the familiar characters, like Mario, Luigi, Peach and Yoshi.

A new feature in the game is the ability for players to choose two characters to race at the same time, with one doing the driving while the other looking after the weapons. Players are free to swap them around at any time too.

Another new element to the game is multiple playing. Those with Nintendo's broadband adaptors and TVs can test their turbo power in an eight-player game.

Pikmin 2 ups the cute factor with a new character, Loojie, and unlike the first Pikmin, this one has no time limit in the game.

Serious stuff

There are some more serious offerings for the GameCube too, like the fighting game Soul Calibur II, with seven different playing modes and 200 weapons to collect.

Lizardman from Soul Calibur II
Soul Calibur II was best fighting game at E3

It has already won praise, picking up the best fighting game prize at the recent games critic awards during the E3 video games show in the US.

For those who prefer to race than fight, Nintendo say the fast-paced space F-Zero GX for GameCube will test those looking for challenging multi-player action.

Originally appearing on the Super NES in 1990, then as F-Zero X in 1998 for Nintendo 64, this incarnation has added ships with speeds of up to 200kmph.

Another Nintendo 64 title making a comeback for GameCube is 1080 Avalanche. The snowboarding racer is fast, graphically pleasing and challenging for tricksters.

Handheld hopes

While Nintendo are still standing back from the online games market, they are introducing more titles which allow players to link up their GameCubes and their GameBoys.

GAMEBOY ADVANCE TITLES
19 Sept - Golden Sun 2: The Lost Age
26 Sept - Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land
3 Oct - Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
17 Oct - Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros 3
24 Oct - Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
14 Oct - Game Boy Advance SP Arctic Blue & Flame Red
7 Nov - Top Gear Rally
14 Nov - Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire
21 Nov - Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

The long-awaited Advance Wars sequel, Black Hole Rising, along with Super Mario Bros 3 are unleashed in October, while Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, comes out November.

But let us not forget Pokemon. In November, Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire comes out which is sure to be a hit with children and adults.

It plays just like regular pinball, except players have to catch as many of the 200 Pokemon characters as possible.

Looking ahead to 2004, titles like the Puzzle Collection, Pacman, Pokemon Colosseum and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords will take advantage of the ability to connect GameCubes to GameBoys.

In Zelda Four Swords, for example, players will be able to explore Hyrule on the TV then pop underground on their GameBoys to uncover secrets which will help in the game.

Nintendo will have to wait and see whether these titles can help maintain their dominance in the handheld market with the upcoming Nokia N-Gage, Sony's recently announced PlayStation Portable, as well as improving mobile games.


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