Revolution Obsession

Lately, I’ve been obsessing over the Nintendo Revolution*, especially about the “3rd secret”. I know one of the past two secrets was the controllers with built in motion tracking. I think the other secret is the ability to download and play games going back to the original NES system via emulation. Both of these are cool, but only the controllers seem revolutionary.

Here’s what we (think we) know about the new platform:

  • motion tracking, simplified, controllers
  • emulation of old games from the NES to the GC
  • very compact form factor
  • probably lower processing power than Xbox360 or PS3, but…
  • they claim that it will have similar graphics output levels (minus HD) because of efficiencies
  • cheaper than the competition, almost definitely less than $200, probably $150, maybe as low as $100 (unlikely)
  • not high definition
  • built in wireless Internet connection
  • release some time in 2006

I find myself really hoping that the Revolution will turn out to be great. I love the idea of being able to play old games like Super Mario Brothers 3, Kid Icarus, Metroid, Rygar, and more. I love the small form factor. I love that it’ll be cheaper than buying a new graphics card for my computer. I love what I’ve seen of the controller so far.

On the other hand, I’m disappointed in the Nintendo GameCube and DS. They’re both great platforms, but they just don’t have the games behind them that I would have liked. I’m still waiting for a decent Metroid game to be released for the DS — something that should have been a launch title. The possibility of the Revolution being the last console of this generation out of the gates, and maybe underpowered to boot, makes me think that Nintendo will have a hard time getting developers to make games for it.

I’m left thinking that if I want to get a new console, I might be better off getting two and giving up on PC gaming. I could get a PS3 for mainstream games, and a Revolution for more innovative titles (plus the nostalgia factor). At least with the lower price point for the Revolution, this may be possible. I have to ask myself if I’d spend enough time in the living room in front of the TV to make use of it.

So, this third secret could make or break the Revolution, and possibly console gaming altogether. Here are some guesses:

  • Virtual Reality headset – Mitchell Howe has a great post on why this could be possible. There’s also a video floating around a possible VR system called Nintendo On. The video looks fake to me, and VR as a whole feels a little too much like wishful thinking to be true.
  • Efficiencies – It’s not glamorous, but being able to support amazing graphics with much lower computing power than the competition could be important. I just don’t see how they turn this into a marketing point that gets people excited.
  • Price – If they announced a very low price (something less than $100), they could really get people talking, and probably convince a lot of people to buy the Revolution. I don’t see it hurting the sales of Xbox360 or PS3 because it would really fall into a different category.
  • Free Virtual Console – This is the emulation of older systems. Nintendo hasn’t talked about pricing for the older games. I think most people assume that it will be a few dollars to buy older games, and possibly a monthly subscription model. Nintendo could actually just give away all of their older games and make the Revolution that much more attractive. I don’t see third party developers doing this unless Nintendo pays them off.
  • Mystery Launch Title – Launch titles are important because the set the tone for the entire system and drive adoption. A large user base will attract more developers, which means more games, which means more users, etc… I think Nintendo will announce the launch titles at E3, but I don’t know that that would really count as the 3rd secret of the entire platform.
  • Release date – Current speculation points to November of 2006. If Nintendo announced a spring release date (in time for E3), they could really scoop Sony.
  • MMORPG – Massively Multiplayer Online Game. I haven’t heard of any other console based MMORPGs, so Nintendo having the first would be big news. I’m not sure how it would fit with their family friendly persona though.
  • 3D without the visor – This is my personal favorite. With the motion tracking technology that we know they already have, Nintendo could build a system so that as you move you head, the image on your TV is updated to show the proper perspective. I don’t know how this would work with game play, but it might be cool and effective, and it’s very doable.

Here are the sites that I’ve been tracking to keep up on my obsession:

* “Revolution” is only a codename and not expected to be the final name of the platform