The internet has been abuzz with rumors, excitement, and unconfirmed leaks about Nintendo’s Wii 2, or Project Café ( Wii HD, and simply ” Nintendo ” are now rumored possibilities). The new system from Nintendo promises to be groundbreaking, for sure; but it also shows the adaptive nature of Nintendo.
Nintendo surprised those in the gaming community when it launched the Wii in 2006; at the time bigger and better graphics were the name of the game. Microsoft had launched the Xbox360 in 2005 and Sony was launching the PS3. Both the 360 and the PS3 were physically large machines compared to the Wii. The PS3 had a Blu-ray drive standard, and the 360 had a peripheral HD drive, and both supported HD output, but not the humble little Wii. It can only support 480i; can’t play DVDs; but is backward compatible with the GameCube.
The strategy was to go after a broader audience with a more accessible platform and a more user-friendly gaming experience. Shigeru Miyamoto (who I theorize is the second coming of Jesus) said about the Wii, “The consensus was that power isn’t everything for a console. Too many powerful consoles can’t coexist. It’s like having only ferocious dinosaurs. They might fight and hasten their own extinction.”
While that’s a terrifically worded response, it’s a terrifying gamble. Nintendo put everything on the line in hopes of opening a new market… and it worked. The Wii has out sold the PS3 and the 360 (it bears mentioning that the Nintendo DS has sold almost as many units as the PS3, the Wii and the Xbox360 combined!), and now Microsoft and Sony are trying to get in on the action with the Kinect and PlayStation Move.
And what does Nintendo do just as the other guys in the room learn their tricks? They go the other direction (sort of). Project Café is purported to support full 1080p HD and have a more traditional, GameCube style, controller, but with a six inch touch screen onto which you’ll be able to stream entire games (maybe). The Café will also be backward compatible with Gamecube and Wii games, which begs the question: Are they going to completely write off the wiimote format?
With the presumed high cost of a controller with a touchscreen integrated, is it going to be supported only by a few gimmicky games with the main control format being a screen-less gamecube controller, a wiimote, or a wii classic controller?
I don’t know but I’m excited.
One, they could be trying to take it back to their core, much in the way that Michelle Bachmann appeals to the core of the Republican party by being functionally retarded. High-def gaming is becoming the norm for end all be all marathon gamers. This could be a way of bringing Halo, Call of Duty, and Madden (or any EA game for that matter) fans back into the Nintendo fold.
Two, it could just signal that Nintendo recognizes that this whole complete motion gaming thing is a passing fad, that playing an FPS with a motion controller is clumsy and frustrating.
Nintendo is of course keeping the Wii format installed on the Wii2 (afterall most of the first party Wii games are pretty fun) but Nintendo is a company that knows that it’s unhealthy to keep doing the same thing over and over and over, that’s why every generation they offer some kind of new game-changing piece of gaming weaponry (I guess the GameCube offered… tiny-ness?) and keep evolving and changing the landscape of the gaming world.
I’m not getting too excited yet, these are all just rumors, but they’ll be put to bed next Tuesday when Nintendo takes the stage at E3.
I have a feeling we’re all going to be thoroughly impressed…