Monday, September 26, 2005

Revolution and DS Notes

There have been some marginally credible rumors about final specs for the Nintendo Revolution controller floating around in the last week. Here's the info as presented by Ferrago (
...a dual-thread IBM PowerPC 2.5ghz CPU alongside 256 KB of L1 cache and 1 MB of L2 cache. An L3 cache rumour remains unsubstantiated. A physics chip will be in the box, including 32 MB of dedicated RAM, whilst system memory will total 512 MB overall. The graphics chip supplied by ATI is said to be a RN520 600MHz core model, along with 256MB of dedicated RAM.

That's beefier than what was originally supported, which is interesting. And the dedicated PPU is very interesting. I have no idea why Nintendo would even want to put out a box this powerful, though, given that their goal is to have less expensive games that are easier to make.

In other news, I've spent about five hours with the DS, and it's an interesting unit. The touch-screen works far better than I expected it to (although the stylus still feels very tiny) and the control scheme is very intuitive. The screen is bright and attractive, although I would have far preferred one larger screen instead of two smaller ones. In a hardware sense, the only flaw I see is that the volume control is almost impossible adjust when using headphones, because even a tiny movement of the control results in a significant change in volume. It would have been much more effective to have a digital volume control that could be easily accessed via the touch screen. That would lead to precise volume and no accidential bumping of the volume control.

Most difficult for me is the entry into portable world. Games for Nintendo's handhelds have conventions that exist on no other platform--tons of screens of peppy, junior-high dialogue, full of spirt and enthusiasm. If that sort of framework appeals to you, good, but it's never really appealed to me. Reading the literay equivalent of "You are sly and a clever boy. Now you must defeat the Emperor!" on twenty consecutive screens is less than satisfying.

I remember getting Golden Sun for the GBA last year--it was one of the highest rated GBA games ever. I must have gone through a hundred screens of text, and it was all kind of cutesy, and then I was "all kind of" done. It just drove me crazy. Screen after screen after screen of dialogue, all written in a style that does not exist outside the world of Nintendo.

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