E3: The good stuff

The Nintendo difference

After the dismal performance of Dreamcast, Sega had already announced that it was dropping out of the console race and 2001 was the first E3 that it hadn't attended in the capacity of hardware maker. However, it did show up with some new multiformat games, among them Super Monkey Ball (GameCube), Jet Set Radio Future (Xbox) and, still keen to feed its loyal fans, Sonic Adventure 2 (Dreamcast).

More than ready to try and fill the void left by Sega was Microsoft and its hulking great Xbox. After announcing console launch details at a special pre-show event it descended on E3 in force, showing off more than 80 games. It also strengthened its list of Xbox exclusives by announcing that movie tie-in A.I., Dead or Alive 3 and Dino Crisis 3 would be joining Halo and Munch's Oddysee on the roster.

Nintendo was also busy hyping its new console - now called GameCube - and delighting gamers by revealing that it would cost $199 - a full $100 cheaper than Xbox. Head of product development Satoru Iwata told the audience at its pre-show conference that the success of GameCube would be down to the "Nintendo difference". This, he described, was four disciplines that made Nintendo special: innovation, quality, characters and heritage.

Above: Shigeru Miyamoto shows off Nintendo's GameCube like a proud father

GameCube was playable for the first time - which was a good job as the only new N64 game was Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 - and the crowds were understandably eager to get their hands on one of the 11 titles on display. Among them were Star Wars Rogue Leader, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Pikmin, Luigi's Mansion and... one from Rare that would eventually become an Xbox 360 launch title, Kameo: Elements of Power. The GameCube impressed, but without Mario it just wasn't a party.

Sony, with its PS2 shifting along nicely, still managed to barge into the limelight by revealing its desire to take PS2 online. The Network Adaptor would allow the console to connect to broadband and phone lines, giving users access to the internet. Microsoft's Xbox honcho, J Allard, had this to say about Sony's plan: "We talked to the gamers and asked about surfing the web and downloading stuff. We also said, you can play F1 online and everyone can play a different car on the track. When they made a choice they went with the games."

A staggering 100 new PS2 games were revealed at the show and gamers were impressed by the likes of Stuntman, Final Fantasy X and Jak and Daxter. Support for the original PlayStation continued (65 new games were heading to the old dog) although, in the shadow of its successor, the games were aging fast.

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