Nintendo Console Rumors

It’s fun to watch the internet buzz about a new Nintendo console and get all fanboy and hater. Console wars, good times.

Decision is easy for this family. Buy. Don’t even know what it is, but I’m certain it will have a Mario platformer, a Mario Kart, some cool new inventive control mechanism (or at least motion controls refined), an eventual Zelda game, a new Metroid, and it will all be HD and gorgeous — finally. So, yeah, completely hopeless against its draw.

Now, the delicious part is the speculation and the hype and the wacky Nintendo viewpoint that always springs up in the middle.

Here’s my best guess based on the wildly varying rumors:
Nintendo has had some success catering back to the hardcore gamers recently and has already been experimenting in that area with games like Metroid Other M using cutscenes, full voice acting, mature themes, stuff Nintendo has been shying away from for close to a decade now. That new in-house Pandora’s Tower game further shows this trend.

My bet is that Nintendo will aim the first announcement squarely at hardcore gamers who used to love Nintendo but have moved on. Releasing a console September 2012 will be earlier than the other guys and there could be a nice sweet spot where all the third parties can port their AAA games to Nintendo and it will likely be at least on equal footing with them, perhaps with an edge.

Look for a deal and a BIG third party with a true AAA title promised to the new system. Doesn’t even have to be exclusive — Nintendo has its own exclusives. I could see Square bringing the next mainline Final Fantasy “back to Nintendo” for instance. Medal of Honor, maybe. One of the big ones.

How could Nintendo turn its back on the Casual market like that? I wonder if it will try the DS approach. When the DS first launched it was promoted as a third tier. The Gameboy Advance was still super successful and the DS unproven. Of course, it panned out that the DS destroyed all records so it didn’t ultimately matter, but Nintendo shows precedent here.

Perhaps it’s hoping for side by side sales. The Wii could live on as the casual device and the new system seeems like it will be backwards compatible anyway. In other words, new casual games could still come to the old Wii for quite some time. Even if that couldn’t hold realistically for more than a couple years, the impression on consumers could still be convincing.

The real question is the control mechanism. The surprise. Nintendo has talked big about this. It wouldn’t release a new console unless there was a compelling hardware or gameplay reason. So there will be something. There was an odd rumor about controllers with HD screens on it. Don’t know about the HD part, but there might be something interesting there.

What I’d like to see is a super-refined control mechanism that incorporates motion and pointing, but also harkens back to the classic controller as well. I don’t ask much — I do. I really want it to be two separate controllers. Love lounging while playing arms spread out. Sad, really. Anyway, Wii’s motion controls had SO much promise and they were really underutilized, mostly due to the lack of precision in the motion controls and the flakiness of pointer control. So much could be accomplished if the bar was simply raised significantly.

Sidebar: Motion Plus shows the promise of refined controls, but I can name all the games this matters for: Wii Sports Resort (awesome), Red Steel 2, Zelda Skyward Sword (not yet released). It was just too little too late in the life cycle of the console. Third parties already decided the best way to make money on the Wii: waggle. Just Dance, a big third party hit, proves this point nicely. End Sidebar.

It WON’T be a 3D system, and I doubt Nintendo would future proof it with 3D capability either, though it would be nice. It will have exactly what it needs in 2012 and that is all.

My saddest prediction is that it STILL won’t nail the online aspect of gaming. Nintendo might not even be wrong about making people all play in front of one TV next to each other instead of focusing online. For small groups, not much is better than New Super Mario Bros. Wii — online or not.

Nintendo’s online strategy is still a blemish. The 3DS shows they still don’t get it. Finally friend codes are tied to hardware not games so you don’t have to have a friend code for each game, but overall, it’s still an afterthought according to those who have used it. If Nintendo falls at in line with my guesses here, it will make a darn good attempt at a real online strategy and may match the competition on several fronts, but Nintendo has never embraced the idea and has comparitively little experience. I’m guessing It’s going to fall somewhat short, even if it’s a huge improvement.

Now for hopes:

  • Stellar backwards compatibility with Wii games. In other words, options to increase the resolutions to HD. Logistically possible? Maybe not. Like emulators on PCs it might require too much finaggling to be consistantly glitch-free.  But this is the hopes section. 😛
  • Controller that is refined enough to form the basis for a complete reinvention of one or two big Nintendo names: Mario, Zelda, Metroid, StarFox, Pikmin. Remember Mario 64 and Zelda: OOT? They defined what third person 3D console games would be like for 15 years. I’d love to see Nintendo make motion controls (or whatever) reliable and precise enough to change everything again.
  • Return of a Retro developed Metroid AND a 2D Metroid. I can dream.
  • Oh, and while dreaming, let’s break Rare off from Microsoft and reinvigorate Rare with new talent and get the Rare IP back all for one game: Diddy Kong Racing. Yup.

Should be fun to see how wrong I am. The other way would be Wii 2. The same thing but updated and with happier Miis or something. Just doesn’t sound right to me. I don’t think Nintendo has a chance at disruption like it did before, but I don’t think it’s going to do a basic tech bump and expect people to bite, either. Can’t wait to find out more!

Oh, and by the way, Snowball is NOT dead! 🙂

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One Response to “Nintendo Console Rumors”

  1. aaron says:

    Now that I own a Wii U and love it, this is a fun post to return to. MiiVerse is a great place to commune so Nintendo once again does its own thing in a well. The console is not all that popular yet, but Nintendo Land was a blast for my family (that little guy from a previous post is almost 4!) and really loving Lego City right now.

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