Largely a response to dissension and more incoming news, I’ve decided to write a part two to my “Why I’m Not Excited About Nintendo’s Next Console” editorial. For the sake of outright admission, I realize that nothing is set in stone and not much is known about the next-gen release, but I felt it appropriate to give my reaction to the news. I’m fully ready to find myself turning a new leaf and getting jazzed for this next-gen console by Nintendo, but as of yet, I’m not convinced. I mean, what wouldn’t be awesome about having three amazing consoles to purchase next generation?
The news as of the first rumblings said the console would exceed the limitations of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and would target the hardcore market more vigilantly. To sum up my last editorial, I felt the statement about next-gen hardware exceeding current-gen hardware from 2007 should be a given and didn’t really say much about where the console would stand compared to the “Xbox 720″ and “PlayStation 4″. Bluntly, it’s like saying the PS3 is a powerhouse next to the original Xbox and GameCube — I should hope so.
They also touted backwards comparability for this later code-named “Project Café”. In my previous write-up, I expressed concern over this. Now, for the sake of clarity, I don’t think that Nintendo will focus on motion controls, like they did with this gen’s console. The reason it bothered me was because it was one of the very first things said about this new console. Personally, it’d be much more reassuring if they’d have simply brought that up as a peripheral point later on, as more details emerged. Instead, it was important to them to reassure all those fans who adopted Wii motion plus that they wouldn’t be burned. Do you sense the sarcasm in that last statement?
Really, that’s not all too important, though. Their possible new gimmick is just as frightening to me. Multiple sources have all but confirmed rumors on the console itself and the new controller. The new controller is said to have analog sticks, shoulder buttons, and action buttons. At that point, I was starting to feel relief, but then I read on further. It is speculated — as all reports on the console have thus far not been confirmed by Nintendo — that the controller will feature a 6-inch screen with touch capabilities. Somewhat akin to the Dreamcast’s controller, this screen is rumored from its sources to be far more functional than that of the Dreamcast’s and even more essential to the play experience — perhaps providing touch play mechanics for mini-games and the games themselves.
First of all, the idea of this tech is extremely intriguing — and not for the best. To be honest, I really doubt that a 6-inch screen will make its way onto the final build. If the controller is akin to a GameCube controller, but with a 6-inch screen, that puts the controller at the size of the phat PSP. That’s very large and often thought as much too large. The screen is also rumored to have HD resolutions, and it’s speculated that it may have multi-touch. With not much to go about the multi-touch, the HD resolution may not be completely baseless. Though, HD resolutions on a small screen doesn’t seem completely necessary, and only makes the controller more expensive. IGN has speculated that this controller may cost 80$ or more, based on it’s proposed technology.
That’s very expensive. Often for Nintendo games, playing in large groups of people is the best part. Though, if I’ll be paying 80$ plus for a controller, I may have to take donations at the door, if people want to come over and play Super Smash Bros. with me. Even then, my greater concern for the controller has yet to come.
I’m really concerned that this controller is going to be the next gimmick that ruins the idea of what could be a straight forward console. If this screen makes it to the controller, I highly doubt that Nintendo will not make sure that touch mechanics make it into every single game. Menu navigation and things of the like could be okay, I guess, but the touch screen’s existence will be “validated” by gameplay mechanics, and I don’t care for that at all. I’m not saying it couldn’t be great for some games, but I would rather ignore the touch screen for a vast majority of experiences.
Even though I’d like to largely ignore the touch screen — and perhaps many others would, too — I can imagine Nintendo forcing developers to make use of that technology on nearly every single game that’s released on their platform. If that notion is as likely as I believe it to be, that could spell the same-old, same-old for Nintendo’s next console. The Big N may think that 3rd party developers are uneasy about developing for inferior hardware, and they are, but what’s more unsettling is developing games that adapts to a very specific gimmick. If 3rd party developers are all but forced to develop gameplay mechanics that use the touch technology, they may yet again choose to largely ignore this console again.
It’s 3rd party games that could really bring Nintendo back into the light of the hardcore. I mentioned that games like Mass Effect and Metal Gear Solid made Xbox and PS3 the amazing consoles they are. Even though those are 3rd party titles, Microsoft and Sony respectively surely had their stake in what they became for their console. While greater hardware is a must for this, being adaptive to the common denominator is just as, if not more, important. That’s what it really comes down to; the value of this new console is dependant on its games. Saying that Nintendo plans to recapture the hardcore holds little to no weight with me, as there are no signs that their strategy is really going to change. My fear is that recapturing the hardcore means appealing to the fanboys who want HD Zelda, Mario, and Metroid. Fanboys and hardcore gamers are not the same thing.
All of this begs the question, “What will this new console do that the Wii couldn’t?” Nothing. The better question is, “What will Nintendo do that they’ve yet to do in too long?” New consoles with impressive hardware, goofy gimmicks, and so on make for nice thoughts, but I’m looking for more than that. If Nintendo really wanted to say something about their console that gave me hope, they’d have started off the bat saying that they wanted to change their strategy and embrace what they’ve yet to embrace in far too long.
What could get me excited? Well, right off the bat, I think it would have spoken volumes to instead say that this new console will feature a robust online platform. I’d have loved even more if they’d come out and candidly say, “We’d love and plan to create some new IPs that appeal to a mass of gamers. We’ll still be that same old Nintendo that many know and love, but our embrace will now more effectively include outside support for our platform. We’re aware of our short-comings and ready to correct them.” They really wouldn’t have to say a single detail about the next console to speak waves about the future.
To be fair, all these things may come, but I’m not convinced. With this being the first true rumbling of the next generation, Nintendo could have made sure the first surfacing of their new platform say more profound and important things. After all, your first statement sets the tone for the future. Hopefully that rule doesn’t prove to be true in this case, because I really do want to be impressed by Nintendo. I want to be able to say, ”Dang, now I’ve got three consoles I’ll have to get on launch day.” Nothings better than opening up your new console, taking it in, and knowing that your investment is sound. Hopefully I’ll be prepared for that after Nintendo’s official announment at E3.