Friday, September 16, 2005

What The Hell IS That?

I think it's probably easier if I title every post about Nintendo that way.

Nintendo announced their new controller for the upcoming Revolution console yesterday. Here's a look, along with analysis (

Believe me, you need to go look at the pictures in that link.

[Side note: after I'd written the title of this post, I started looking for a good picture of the controller. Through Gametab, I found the article over at 1UP, and one of the section headings of the article is titled "What the Hell Is it?"]

I wrote over a year ago that the next big advancement in controllers would be a tilt sensor. The reason I gave was that doing so would allow a console controller to more effectively mimic the functions of a mouse, and RTS games (not to mention aiming in FPS games) would immediately become far more playable.

So I think Nintendo got that part absolutely right. Well done.

This is Nintendo, though. So they can't just produce a normal looking controller, add a tilt sensor, and leave it at that. They have to go all wacky tobaccy on our ass and create a controller that looks like a DVD remote.


I know better than to even try to answer that question.

Let me say two things, though. One, this marks Nintendo's absolute separation from the so-called console wars. They're out. Almost no one will port anything to the Revolution--lower resolution, funky-ass controller, lower installed base. Forget it.

Having said that, though, I'm not saying it spells doom for the console. Not necessarily. It's going to have to come out very cheap (below $199, certainly), but let's say it does--let's say it comes out at $149. That's certainly a different price point entirely from Sony and Microsoft. They're no longer competing in the same space.

If Nintendo can get enough unique content for the Revolution, the console can absolutely survive. It can't survive on the basis of getting "also" content. Maybe they saw what happened with the Gamecube in terms of third-party support and realized that they had to go in a very different direction.

Can they get enough unique content? I don't know. I said the DS was a bad idea because the second screen was unnecessary and it wouldn't be effectively utilized. And even though I think I was largely right in that assessment, what I didn't realize is that it didn't matter. So what if that second screen is really not needed? There are a ton of unique games for that little system--nobody cares if that second screen isn't important. Sony, meanwhile, has vastly superior hardware in the PSP--and no unique games. Well, almost none except for Death Jr. Instead, Sony's approach has been to port existing console games to the small screen, and that's what third party developers are doing as well. Stupid idea, guys. Why do I want to play Tiger Woods on a handheld when I can play a far better (and far quicker loading) version on the big screen?

I don't.

If there was a fair amount of unique content, then those ports would just be a bonus, but without it, the ports just aren't worth much. I mean, I've wanted to buy the damn system for months, I have the worst impulse control of anyone on the planet, and I still haven't bought one!

So even though I look at Nintendo's new controller and burst out laughing (I did--literally), maybe the crazy, rainbow-eating mad scientists are on to something.

Or on something. I'm not sure which.

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