Nintendo E3 History: 2001 – 2003 – “Born To Play”

Game Boy Advance

E3 1999 and 2000 was another quiet time for Nintendo. They were still backing up their sales for the N64, and a mere rumour was circulating around a new hand-held, the Game Boy Advance. Along came 2001, and Nintendo had two surprises in store for its fans, the Game Boy Advance and the GameCube. The GBA had been unveiled at an earlier Spaceworld (Spaceworld, which is now called Nintendo World, is a video game trade show thats hosted by Nintendo), so was pretty non-existant at E3 2001. Nintendo instead of trying to promote the GBA at E3, decided to focus on “Project Dolphin“, the GameCube. Nothing was known about the Gamecube, and the GBA had been shown at previous events.

The GameCube was a big leap for Nintendo, as it had done away with cartridges, and now opted for optical disc storage, but instead of full size discs, went for mini discs. It came in various colours, like the Nintendo 64 had done also. The Cube  supports the display of Stereoscopic 3D, which was only applied to Luigi’s Mansion, one of the launch titles. 3D televisions were not out at this stage, and these compatible displays would be too costly. Two ports are featured on the Cube, accommodating memory cards to save your data. The controller, with its wing grip design, fits perfectly into the gamers hands. It includes a total of eight buttons, two analog sticks, an internal motor rumble and a D-Pad.

Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, developed by Factor 5, took centre stage at the expo, and officially became the first title to launch with the GameCube. The reason for this was Nintendo were so impressed by its graphics, saying that it was a major jump from its sequel on the pokemonN64. Super Smash Bros. Melee brought some fun at E3. The game revolves around fighting with some of Nintendo’s big franchises, Mario, Zelda and Pokémon. Wave Race: Blue Stormhelped sell the Cubes graphical ability, with its real life water effects and weather effects. Then came Luigi, in his own game titled Luigi’s Mansion. Taking place in a large haunted mansion, your objective is to find your brother, the almighty Mario.

E3 2001 showed off a great new console, but lacked the big titles.

The GameCube launched in Japan in September 2001, hitting Europe in May 2002, almost eight months apart. Many Nintendo fans were miffed by the fact there was no Mario title available for the GameCube, but that changed at E3 2002. Nintendo’s big three of E3 2002 was Mario, Zelda and Metroid, ensuring the crowd that fans would be playing these to-be-named titles before E3 2003. Super Mario Sunshine was the  highly anticipated Mario title, going for an August 2002 release, and is Mario’s second 3D adventure after Super Mario 64. Princess and Yoshi are held captive by “Shadow Mario”, who has also vandalised the entire island of Isle Delfino with graffiti. Your task is to clean up this mess, as you are unfairly blamed for the graffiti.

Toon Link

Zelda, was the next big announcement. It had two titles to offer, one was un-named which was later known as The Wind Waker for the GameCube, and the next being a title for the GBA, Four Swords. Four Swords was Zelda’s first four player designed game, where four players must co-operate to complete various puzzles. The Wind Waker showed our hero Link with a new cartoon look, very different from the previous titles like Ocarina of Time. The new game in the series was given a cel-shaded approach, giving the game its animated look. It shocked alot of fans at first, but scored many high reviews, with Nintendo Power claiming it to be the fourth best game to appear on a Nintendo console. Metroid Primewas a big title for Nintendo at E3. It showed Samus’ first person perspective, and the very first 3D adventure in the Metroid series. It is seen by many critics to be one of the best video games of all time.

For E3 2002, it was pretty impressive for the GameCube owners, finally getting their moneys worth.

By the time E3 2003 came around, the GBA had hit its stride, and in early 2003, a newer model was released, the GBA SP. This new design resembled a pocket laptop. Nintendo’s E3 presentation of 2003 wasn’t its best, for me it was probably its worst. Pac-Man Vs. was its main announcement, and for the Ninty fans, it didn’t work for them. Nintendo were pushing for gamer connectivity, which mean’t having four GBAs and a link cable to fully appreciate what they had on offer for the GBA. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! was the GameCube’s offering, reasonable enough, but gained mixed reviews. Eurogamer said that it was “one of the finest pieces of electronic entertainment ever developed”, whereas IGN stated “it didn’t exactly change the way we thought of the franchise”.

So, 2001  and 2002 were good for Nintendo. 2003, meh, not so much. With the dissapointment of E3 2003, would 2004 be a year for Ninty fans to look forward to?

7 Responses to “Nintendo E3 History: 2001 – 2003 – “Born To Play””
  1. jimjamz says:

    When Double Dash came out, I was in first year at uni and my and my friends played it to death. We loved the two-on-two co-op, timing our driver changes and taking turns. Without the fun of multiplayer though it doesn’t really stack up well against other entries. I think the best in recent years is the DS one. Wasn’t a huge fan of the Wii version.


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