Nintendo confirmed rumors that they were working on a new console. They did us one better too by promising we would get to see the console in action in just a few months at E3. Other than its existence, we don't know much about the system. That doesn't mean we can't make some educated guesses though. Here's what we think the next Nintendo console will have based off of past consoles, rumors, and where we think Nintendo should focus.
Shortly after Nintendo announced they would be releasing a new console in 2012 they held a press conference shedding some light on what we should expect. Okay, it was less "light" and more a small flashlight with dead batteries. The details were vague, but Nintendo's president Satoru Iwata did give us a bit of insight.
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Iwata didn't say what the new console will contain, but he did promise it will give us something new. "We will offer something new for home game systems," Iwata said. Gamers already have 3D TVs, motion sensing controls, and HD graphics. What more can their next console offer?
Nintendo's next console will most likely ditch 3D. Despite just releasing a glasses-free 3D handheld gaming device, the 3DS, Nintendo isn't eager to go in that direction with their next entertainment console. Iwata sited the lack of 3D TVs in average households, for not focusing on that feature. He felt it would be "difficult" to make that a central point of the console.
A few weeks before Nintendo commented on their console rumors of a "HD Wii" or "Wii 2" began surfacing. The mystery console earned the title Project Cafe and soon mock-ups and designs were being leaked. Some of the rumored features included touch screen controllers, a hardrive and a processor that would rival the PS3.
The codename Project Cafe came from a French site called 01net.com. Along with the title, they offered details about the console's controls, and more specifically, its touch screen controls. The website suggested that Nintendo's biggest competitor is Apple, something Iwata himself has hinted at. In an apparent effort to counter Apple's advancements, Nintendo will use touch screens either as the controllers or built into the controllers. The touch screens will not be as advanced as the iPad nor will they be as high-def.
This concept might sound similar to the Visual Memory Unit, a memory card peripheral from the Dreamcast. The VMU also allowed gamers to play mini-games. The Nintendo version would be similar, but LCD and far more powerful. Specs for the device also include a bar-sensor built into the remote. According to the same website, this controller will also have a front-facing camera.
Other rumors indicate the console will be more powerful than Xbox 360 and maybe even the PS3. Rumored specs include a custom IBM Power PC, R7000 graphics processor, with a minimum of 512 RAM. This level of hardware and processor could make porting existing Xbox 360 games easy. In this current cycle, some developers had to pass on making games for the Wii due to its computing restrictions. Developers couldn't simply port finished, already released games to the Nintendo console. This lack of developer support was one of the reasons Iwata knew it was time for a new console,"It became difficult for developers to surprise customers with the current Wii," he said recently.
The Wii is already backwards compatible with GameCube games. Reports indicate the future Nintendo console will also have backward functionality, ideally for both Wii and GameCube games. Playing Wii games shouldn't be a problem since a motion sensing bar would be attached to the controllers, if rumors prove correct. Although, I think it is unlikely that the new console will boast motion controls as a core gameplay feature.
Another rumored title is the "Nintendo Stream." According to a source at IGN, Nintendo is considering the name Stream. The details in this rumor are similar to the ones released in the article about Project Cafe. The name Stream suggests the ability to play games from cloud saves, perhaps like OnLive, as well as the ability to stream games from the console to the high-tech controller.
Earlier this month we found an old patent filed by Nintendo. The patent was for the Wii Light, a peripheral that synced music and action triggered by the controller with a light show. The LED light display would be capable of showing over 250 colors. The patent also detailed how the lighting system would add to a variety of games including rhythm and fighting games. Having a peripheral that encompass your whole living room in light would add a new level of ambiance to gaming. That's certainly something people don't have in their homes already.
A Wii accessory you may have forgotten about hasn't been forgotten by Nintendo. The Vitality Sensor is still in development. The device was first shown off at E3 2009 and has since been the butt of many jokes, mostly ones made by me. Its purpose was to check stress levels and help gamers sleep. Iwata confirmed in an investor meeting we haven't seen the last of the vitality sensor. It's possible they will save its launch for the new console.
While none of this has been confirmed, it's not without basis. I guess we'll have to wait until June 7 to learn more. Good news for you: G4 will be covering every second of E3 so you won't miss a beat.
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