GDC 2006: Nintendo to make Sega games available for "Revolution" console

san Jose (CA) - No "Revolution" launch date announcement - that's the news from Nintendo at GDC. President Satoru Iwata avoided to mention any specifics about the upcoming game console in his GDC speech, but at least promised to expand the Revolution's download service with more classic games - including Sega titles.

If you have expected ground breaking news about Nintendo's at GDC, this was not the event to visit. In a somewhat surprising move, Iwata circumvented the current frenzy around the Playstation 3 delay and simply left the keynote stage with the promise that playable Revolution consoles and games will be on-site at the E3. Until then, specifics about the console will be largely based on speculation. That includes also the Revolution's final name, which, according to today's rumor mill, could be "Go."

If there was any noteworthy news in Iwata's speech, then were just two items - if we leave business facts such as six million sold Nintendo DS devices out of the picture. First, the Nintendo DS will receive a new game title, namely "Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass." However, Iwata held back some more interesting news for the end of his address: The second considerable news item touched the Revolution's download service named "virtual console."

Virtual console so far was announced to include classic games from previous Nintendo console generations, including 32 NES titles, 30 S-NES games and 18 N64 titles. According to Iwata, the service will also include an unspecified number of Sega titles, dating back to time of the Genesis console, which was introduced in 1988. Instead of recompiling these games, Nintendo will simply use a software emulator to enable this content to run on the Revolution.

Nintendo believes that many of these older titles are unknown to today's kids and teenagers and therefore can be recycled to be offered as "new" content to this target group. In contrast, adults may remember some of those titles and be interested in playing them again, Iwata suggested. And there is certainly a market for Nintendo, considering all the reanimated C64 and Atari games that have been flooding retail stores over the past two years.

Overall, Iwata's story at GDC lacked the meat many of us would have expected. Perhaps it was the absence of real news and the chance of a disappointed crowd that prompted Iwata to hand out free games - a copy of Brain Age - to anyone who listened to his keynote. Just like Steve Jobs can keep his enthusiasts happy with very little from time to time, the audience left the keynote hall with a smile on its face. But clearly, gamers will be expecting more than just the outline of a new feature for the Revolution at E3.