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Nintendo won't do Net games, says president

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Nintendo's GameCube was well received at E3 t'other week, attracting many passing eyes. A lucky thing, really, because if it had not, company president Hiroshi Yamauchi was threatening to shut it down indefinitely, according to one of his characteristically understated E3 interviews.

Not content with that, he's back again, with a revealing exchange of words with a Japanese newspaper, translated in C&VG. The first thing he said, of course, was that "naturally we'll go ahead with sales as planned". Thanks, Yam.

The next question levelled at Yamauchi concerned the Xbox, and he was anxious to stress the difference between the two consoles. "Xbox has a built-in hard drive and is being touted as an extension of a PC. Microsoft is going after performance only, and does not understand that the game is played with software."

At this point, he confirms what a lot of life long Nintendo fans have been chanting like a mantra for several months now. "A Nintendo is ultimately a toy. It is the most advanced machine for playing games, and it is totally different from the Microsoft product. It is just like trying to compare a sumo wrestler and pro wrestler; they play by totally different rules. We do not consider Microsoft to be our competitor."

We'd love to stop ripping quotes out of the interview, but almost everything Yamauchi says hits home in some way. For instance, after damning the price tag of the Xbox for a while, the interviewer changes tack and asks about online gaming. "The Internet games available today are for hard-core gamers. I don't believe the general public is going to be very interested in them. And I doubt that Net games will turn out to be profitable," Yamauchi uttered, resolutely. "Unless the business proves profitable, Nintendo will not be involved in Internet games."

At this point, we ought to discuss the presence of Phantasy Star Online Version 2 on the Nintendo games roster for GC. According to sources on the floor at E3, the game will not be played online, despite its moniker, which while crucial to the PSO formula, isn't the end of the world. Nintendo aims to include up to four-player split-screen multiplayer, a la classic Nintendo games like Mario Kart, allowing gamers to experience PSO for themselves or with friends while sat not inches away from one another. We suspect the 'online' suffix may die a death, but PSO did start out life as a bona fide single player RPG, so hopefully users won't feel too alienated.

Back to Yamauchi, though, and the final thing he commented on was the software strategy for GameCube. Thanks to what he calls sluggish sales of exclusive software on GameBoy Advance, "when it comes to the domestic launch of GameCube, Nintendo will release only two software titles".

We advise you to take in the whole interview, so you can hear Yamauchi's comparison of the GameCube and Xbox situation to that of the Pro and Sumo wrestler.

And on that bombshell… ®

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Nintendo strikes Gamecube price at $199.95

Related Link

C&VG: Nintendo's Yamauchi interviewed

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