The Bigger Picture: Revolution

Archived from groups:,,japan.videogames.nintendo,, (More info?) Bigger Picture: Revolutionby Owain BennallackThe next generation console war is a three-way battle between Sony,Microsoft and Nintendo. But the fact that Nintendo is always listed last onthat roll call of contenders gives a clue as to the pundit's view of things.The battle is framed as a clash between the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Forall its heritage, Nintendo is squeezed out of the ring.Is this view correct? Nintendo's consoles are batting 0/2 to PlayStation,and it's not seen as having the wallet - or the ambition - of its rivals.Where Sony and Microsoft are apparently gunning for a prize beyond simply asuccessful games console, Nintendo executives stress it is going back tobasics with Revolution: a nicely-designed, sufficiently powerful gamesconsole that's affordable and plays great games. The more ambitious itsrivals get, the more strident that strategy must become - through choice ornecessity.Nintendo defenders (and almost everyone who grew up with its games or whoworks in game journalism or development loves the company) point toNintendo's top-quality game franchises. Have Sony and Microsoft given useven a fraction of that innovation? Not yet (although Sony is arguablycatching up, with the likes of SingStar and EyeToy). But Nintendo's rival'smachines undeniably host sufficiently appealing titles to offset Nintendo'sfirst-party advantage, from Grand Theft Auto and Gran Turismo to Knights ofthe Old Republic and Halo.Moreover, Nintendo's best IPs - Mario, Link, and friends - lie far fromtoday's violent and realistic cutting-edge. Hardcore gamers might valuegameplay above all else, but the mass-market buys the total package. Many20-year old GTA fans would no sooner play Mario than watch Madagascar. Arecent Internet survey by Decision Analyst, which found Nintendo the mostimportant brand for 8-12 year old Americans - but falling away above thatdemographic - makes bittersweet reading for Nintendo's supporters.Wildcard drawIf it can't compete on scale and its best brands are skewed too young totake up the slack, what can Nintendo do? Well, it can innovate - and hope todraw a wildcard.Naming the next machine Revolution was the easy (and cheap) part. Deliveringan asteroid strike, a Pokémon scale phenomenon that utterly remakes thecurrent landscape, will obviously be far harder.From the information revealed at GDC and E3 earlier this year, Nintendo'smachine might almost have been named the Nintendo Compromise. The companyhas accepted the need for high-end looks - and those who've got close vouchRevolution is Nintendo's best-looking machine yet. Equally, with itscommitted Wi-Fi strategy, Nintendo appears to realise it can no longer getaway with the desperate kind of network treatment GameCube suffered. Butpublishers seem little more convinced by Revolution than its predecessor(despite Nintendo again sticking with a proprietary disc media, and thepiracy protection it affords). And from the technical specs, Revolution isno Cell-beater - just as Nintendo had warned.So much for keeping up with the competition - what about overtaking them?The news that Nintendo's 20-year old back catalogue will be available onlineand playable on Revolution has been widely welcomed. But making decade-oldgames a key selling point of your next gen system seems somewhat ironic.Speculation as to where the Revolution might arise has therefore focussed onthe controller, which is yet to be revealed. Fake prototypes and wildconjuncture run rampant on the Internet, culminating in video gamesjournalists pouring over the technical submissions Nintendo has lodged withthe US patent office. Everyone likes speculation: to record one forposterity, how about a gyroscopic (tilt sensitive) controller, where thetilt controls the in-game camera? Nintendo has always pioneered withcameras...Whatever the secret ingredient, only hands-on play will reveal if the newcontroller is a revolution or a headache. Nintendo's credentials in thisarea are peerless, however. From the original d-pad and the N64's analoguestick to the more recent touchscreen on the DS, Nintendo gets breakthroughgames controllers right.A new controller won't significantly trouble Microsoft and Sony though, ifRevolution owners are still playing similar games to those on rival systems.Creating new gameplay to go with the controller is a further hurdle, but oneNintendo seems ready for. Company president Satoru Iwata and design legendShigeru Miyamoto believe people are tiring of the established game types.Fostering anything genuinely new in games is undoubtedly the last word indifficult, but if you had to bet on one company, who else if not Nintendo?We're already getting a sneak preview of this upcoming clash: Nintendo's DS,bristling with invention, versus Sony's PSP, with its sexy screen andfamiliar games. The good news for Nintendo is it's currently winning, withthe five million-plus DS shipped outnumbering PSPs 2-1. Remembered, however,that PSP is yet to launch in Europe, where Sony's consoles invariablyprosper. The current gap will rapidly close. Moreover, being a million ortwo ahead of Sony (post PSP's European launch) might seem a pyrrhic victory,given Nintendo has had 90 per cent of the handheld market to itself forgenerations.Huge prizePerhaps those days are gone. Whereas Sony and Microsoft seem to be strivingfor a huge prize beyond video games, Nintendo's challenge is just to stay inthe ring. It's already lost console leadership, and while it's doing betterin the handheld space than many predicted, the PSP is clearly its mostcredible opponent ever.Putting its back catalogue online for Revolution is a clever way buildnetwork use, but it's also a reminder to the world of what Nintendo means,and of the gaming goodness it has - and can - provide. It's a neat trickthat can only be done for the first time once.Nintendo must play every card it has now, though, and right. If theRevolution is quashed, the first platform to host all Nintendo's games couldalso be its last._______________________________
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  1. Archived from groups:,,japan.videogames.nintendo,, (More info?)

    On Sun, 7 Aug 2005 20:36:35 -0500, <Highlander> wrote:


    if you cant even copy and paste correctly, dont bother.

    gamertag: chrisflynnuk
    Live Line-up: To Be Updated When I Can Be Arsed.
  2. Archived from groups: (More info?)

    How the hell is someone supposed to read that?
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