I own a Wii. Problem is, I haven’t turned it on a while. It was fun for a while, and it does honestly have some great exclusive titles on it, especially for anyone who grew up with a SNES. But in a world where people are already starting to look beyond HD, and multi-platform titles are the norm, the Wii is already looking like it belongs in the annals of video gaming history. If that’s the case, then we salute you Wii for daring to challenge the status quo and attempting to reinvent the way we play games at home. So what’s next for Nintendo?
The internet is abuzz with rumours about what the Wii’s successor will be capable of. How much of it pure conjecture? The name “Project Cafe” apparently is out of the bag. Long-standing Nintendo developer Retro Studios who brought use the Metroid Prime series have confirmed that they have an early developer’s kit and are working on something “everyone wants us to do”. French website 01 Net has been earning a reputation for rather accurate industry leaks and claims that the machine will be running off an IBM powerPC CPU with three cores and will be more powerful than Microsoft’s Xbox 360; some reports even suggest it will be significantly more powerful than Sony’s PS3. HD is pretty much a guarantee at this stage in the game, but the most intriguing aspect is speculation over Nintendo’s next attempt to shake up how we interact with the games themselves.
With E3 just around the corner and the rumour-mill fast gaining momentum, Nintendo may just steal the show before it’s even started. No one is expecting them to announce a slightly more powerful HD machine with another standard controller. After all, this is the company which first put touch screen and now 3D visuals into the hands of the masses on the go; for the more domesticated they even succeeded in bundling dynamic controllers into a surprisingly tiny package. Nintendo are showing no signs of giving up the title of innovators any time soon.
There’s just one problem, the Wii’s relatively low-price tag and industry hype may have sent it flying off the shelves, but Sales of games haven’t exactly kept pace. As interesting as the motion sensitive controls were, they weren’t quite good enough, and Nintendo committed that vile industry sin of releasing an upgrade. As usual, most audiences had moved on by that point. The 3DS is now not selling in the numbers expected, in fact, the PSP is still shipping more in Japan, and there is a tide of people seriously underwhelmed or just plain put-off by it’s 3D technology.
This time around, Nintendo have to do something really special. Along with rumours of a Blu-Ray drive, early reports are insisting that the controller will have a touch screen pad, with conflicting (but at this stage more believable) reports also suggesting that the traditional d-pad, pair of analogue sticks, buttons and triggers will be present too. Unlike the current generation of touch screen gadgets, the panel will apparently be single-touch, not multi-touch, but IGN reports that it will be possible to download whole games to be played on the controller itself. Hmmm, that doesn’t quite make it a separate portable machine in itself, but it does open the door for some interesting multiplayer possibilities. On that note, think I’m off to play Buzz.