Nintendo unveils new Zelda and Mario

Two short clips of the new versions of the "Legend of Zelda" and "Mario Sunshine" games for Nintendon's soon-to-be-launched Gamecube console were shown by its lead game creator Shigeru Miyamoto at a press conference on Thursday.

The press conference was held to introduce the new Gamecube and its launch software lineup, and came a day before the opening here of Nintendo Space World 2001, the company's own gaming exhibition.

The direction of the "Legend of Zelda" has changed, Miyamoto said. "Link," the main character of the game, looks more childlike and cute, compared to the last version of the game on the Nintendo 64, the existing game console. Link looked older and more realistic on the Nintendo 64 version.

"When I thought of which age would be ideal for Link, I started feeling uncomfortable about the characters we were developing back then," said Miyamoto, who is the director and general manager of Nintendo's entertainment and analysis division.

The company showed a short clip of the unfinished version of the "Legend of Zelda" at Space World a year ago, and not much had been changed. The team was heading in a direction similar to that of the previous version, he said. Although the same clip was shown at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in May, by then his team was working on the different graphics, he said.

Gamecube's technology, which allows computer graphics to have more sophisticated three-dimensional qualities, made Miyamoto feel uncomfortable about Zelda's characters and brought him back to the original idea that Link needs to appear as a child, he said.

"But an interesting thing is, the last version and the newest one (which are very different from each other), were both created by the same artist," he said. The software is expected to be released late next year.

As for "Mario Sunshine," the company chose a clip that doesn't show any important parts of the game or give away the game's surprises. It showed Mario just running around in bright sunshine. But the game is a further development of the version for Nintendo 64 and the new game version is original, Miyamoto said.

Based on the clip, the audience could not tell anything about the game's contents of the game, however, Miyamoto hinted that a mysterious device Mario was carrying on his back is the key.

The game is expected to be on sale in the second quarter next year; because "it's called 'Sunshine,' it should be released in summer," he said. "We'd be embarrassed if it was not released during the summer."

The new Gamecube represents the first time there will be no new "Super Mario" game available at the same time a new console debuts. The Gamecube is expected to go on sale in Japan in September. Instead of a new "Super Mario," Nintendo on September 14 will offer "Luigi's Mansion," featuring Mario's brother.

"I personally wanted to put Mario first, but our team insisted to create Luigi's game," Miyamoto said.

Photograph: Nintendo's Gamecube