Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Shadow of Things to Come...

If you are interested in the Revolution and you are trying to find out exactly what we will find out on May 8th you would have a very difficult time. Reason being that this information is not on the internet, or if it is, not in places that are easy to find. I don't actually have any kind of "real" information here either but I will endeavour to make a list anyway. A list of things that we will learn about the Revolution at E3, extrapolated from announcements from the past year or so, and more than my fair share of common sense.

Lets get the boring stuff out of the way first. We will find out exactly how much it costs at E3. Price is something that consumers should be able to prepare for, emotionally. When you drop a few hundred dollars on a game system you want to know what kind of bang you will get for all those bucks. We all need some time to evaluate the system, its benefits, and its compatability with our personal lifestyles, and weigh these things against the price tag. We are only getting ballpark figures at the moment, which I would say is because there may be expensive elements to this system that we do not yet know about. A high price without revealing the last secret could turn a lot of people off. With what I believe the final secret to be I would guess a price range of near $250, but would gladly pay $300.

We will also find out exactly what colors the console will launch in. Five colors were initially shown at E3 2005, but it is unlikely that all five will be launch colors, or even if those are the only color options at the moment. They were black, white, gray, red, and green. The most popular colors by far were black and white, pulling in about 85% of the poll at IGN months ago. The least popular color was green, but then, black and white go with anything. On the other had, if the recent launch colors of the DS Lite are any kind of precursor then I may be dissappointed myself. The DS Lite launch in white (classy), light blue, and dark blue. Kinda lame as I was really hoping for a black one and considering the glossy exterior of the redesign black should have been a shoe-in. Of course, we have no idea what colors the Lite will launch with in the USA so who knows. My vote for Revolution colors would be black, white, and gray. They are trying to get their image away from "purple box with a handle" and into a classier look. These colors emphasize that. Let the more outgoing people buy skins.

We need to know the official name of the Revolution. Personally I really like the name just how it is but I will still buy it if it is called the "Gen5" or something.

Further we need to know when it will launch. Maybe not a specific date, but we will need to know a launch window. There are two possibilities here. The first is more likely, and it is that the Revolution will launch in November 2006 to take advantage of the holiday season. The second option is less likely but it mixes things up rather well, which seems to be the latest fad at Nintendo. It would be a launch in June-July. The early launch would give Nintendo a big time advantage against Sony, and would be too early for Microsoft to drop their price (something they are waiting to do during the PS3 launch). Also, there would be more time to generate hype bofore the holidays, and get alot of word of mouth advertising going on. The one problem I had with this theory was that they would have less time to get games ready. Last week we heard the announcement of a game called Red Steel, a fps being developed by Ubisoft. Ubisoft has had their hands on a Revolution controller since shortly after last E3. A year is not quite enough time to create a game from scratch, but it is certainly enough time to tweak it to run on the new controller, and now that we know that Ubisoft was in on the secret it makes you wonder who else was. Plus we know that Nintendo will obviously have several launch title which could be ready by June. I would'nt bet the farm on an early launch, but it is possible.

Speaking of launch, we need to know launch titles. George Harrison (Senior VP of marketing NOA) stated that there would be 20 launch titles. Maybe if I have some time I will sit down and try to list them, though it will probably be impossible owing to the fact that some of these titles remain unannounced like Red Steel which nobody knew existed until a week ago. A few likely titles are a new Mario, Metroid Prime 3, Twilight Princess which is technically made for the Gamecube but with the Revolution functionality it will act like a launch title, Red Steel and maybe a new Pilotwings. We also need to know the lauch titles for the virtual console. Don't forget that each of these games needs to be reliscensed in order to appear on the console. I thought a neat idea would be to have a cord that hooks up to your USB in the back and has on the other end, a slot that will fit any actual cartridges that you are still hanging onto seeing as how many titles will never make it back on to the console because of a lack of popularity or legal issues (no Rare games.... Grr.).

A big announcement will be the new intellectual property being created by Miyamoto which is promised to be brand new. I was originally hoping for an fps but with at least two fps games already announced as launch titles a third might be pushing it. I suppose I will just have faith in Shiggy.

There have been several comments on a further secret about the Revolution controller, but I don't believe it is the same as the 'final' secret of the console. I don't really have much of a guess here other than perhaps a built in microphone and headset jack maybe, or plutonium batteries that never die. We will also find out exactly what we get in the package controller wise. There are rumblings that there may be two standard controllers plus a nunchuck attachment in the box. We need to find out also, what the controller shells look like and if they are universal or if there is a seperate one for each retro system.

There is a possibility that the Revolution will ba able to hook up to external USB HDDs. Which would be awesome.

Lastly we need to find out the final secret of the Revolution. You can call me a wacko but I really think it will be stereoscopic vision. Let me rephrase. If Nintendo does not choose this console to bring stereoscopic gaming back to life, it will be a huge missed opportunity. There are only benefits for this move. One, it futher sets Nintendo apart from the competition while making the "you don't work on HDTV" argument completely moot. Second, it provides a more realistic atmosphere for the hardcore gamer, a new and intriguing technology that could bring in many non-gamers and could still output to a standard TV for people who aren't interested in full 3D. I did some checking online and found some VR headset glasses for $90. It says it is like watching a 36" TV from 6 feet away. If Nintendo was mass producing headsets they could bring the price point down to about $50, well worth the experience to most hardcore gamers. Also ATI is making the graphics chip for the Revolution and it is an extension of the Gamecube chip. THe point is it renders in OpenGL which means it understands the 3D world in 3D instead of rendering 2D screenshots and framing them together. It would be easy to output the games rendered by this chip in stereo. The fact is that the technology is there and gaming is inevitably going to move into stereo anyway. Nintendo was already first, they just need to be first again, and do it without complaints this time. Also there have been many comments to the effect of "the Revolution can play virtually any title from over 20 years of great hits" silently glomming the Virtual Boy titles in with them without bringing any attention to it. I could be wrong, but if I am I think Nintendo would be making a bigger mistake than me.



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