Posted on May 11 2011 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
So, a few days ago I got a lot of flack for asking the question “Is Project Cafe Really the Right Move For Nintendo?”. I came to the conclusion that this could be a poor move on Nintendo’s part on the whole, not necessarily because of anything related to the obvious HD and improved graphics, but more so to what should end up being an inflated price point. However, if there is one thing I have learned in my almost 20 years of gaming it’s this: Never bet against Nintendo. Just when you say they can’t… they do it. Everyone laughs at them over something crazy? They turn it into a profit. Of course, they don’t always come out ahead (See Virtual Boy), but Nintendo knows what they’re doing.
Unlike most game companies out there, Nintendo has arguably the best grasp on the industry as a whole, especially the fan base. They understand that above all else, people play games to have fun and be entertained. Whether it’s through a free or cheap social game, or through a AAA title, they all provide varying levels of fun usually for completely different people. It’s not that graphics don’t matter, but more like graphics are just another means to providing fun. They are not the only means, nor are they the most important either. People may not like what I said a few days ago, but rest assured I am just as excited for this new console as the rest of you.
Still, Nintendo is known to mix things up and change the game “almost” every generation. The GCN was an anomaly in that it was a “copy cat” system – it copied the Playstation controller setup in general (dual analog sticks), and simply offered more power – which generally is not Nintendo’s style. Sure, up to that point they always added more power, but it was to advance gaming, not just to simply say “hey this game looks visually better than the N64!”.
Wii 2 (Project Cafe, Stream, whatever you want to call it) has an untapped potential the media is overlooking to truly be yet another game changer. It may not have the close to 90 million (or 100 million in the end) sales that Wii has, but it could still be a strong 50 to 60 million unit system mover that causes Microsoft and Sony to play catch up yet again. How exactly can this occur?
For starters, Nintendo more than anyone else recognizes what the true audience of Motion Gaming is. Did Motion Gaming “really” advance any of their franchises to this point? Most of their great games this generation would of been just as great with traditional controls. The lone exception could be Skyward Sword, but there is always the one big exception to the rule. Zelda may be that exception, and if it works right I would love for motion to continue in the series. In the end, however, Motion Gaming simply is not going to ever catch on with hard/core gamers. They may enjoy some of the experiences with it, and as I said, there may be a game like Zelda that becomes an exception… but in general it’s not going to be what they want.
Nintendo is no fool, so while they did an excellent job at expanding the console gaming market with the Wii, it’s time for them to innovate in the other direction to show that the hard/core gamers still have some evolving to do as well. Some may laugh at a “screen” in a controller really providing that advancement, but lets look at the screen’s true potential.
For starters, it “could” mark the complete merger between at home and mobile gaming. There are already systems for streaming games out there such as OnLive, so what is stopping Nintendo from using your own at home internet connection to connect with a mobile controller anywhere it can access the net? I’d say nothing (outside of Australia’s very strict limit on bandwidth usage). This means you can enjoy you’re console games on the go.
Of course, the big question then is “what about the 3DS?”, What indeed. Well, for starters you have to have a decent wireless internet connection to even play games via a streaming method with the Wii 2, and you don’t need that with the 3DS. In addition, the 3DS still has 3D. Something that is likely not to be included in the standard controllers because of cost. Oh, and did you hear? Nintendo is experimenting with making the 3DS a Wii 2 controller. So imagine streaming games from the console to your 3DS is full blown 3D. Yeah, Sony and their “glasses” 3D gaming can eat their heart out.
This all assumes Nintendo takes this direction with game streaming, and frankly it wont surprise me no matter what they do. However, I am sure it will be a success and the competition will find ways to quickly incorporate it into their future consoles.
In the end, Nintendo is going to shock and surprise the entire gaming world at E3. While I may speak at times against some of their ideals in terms of converting the Wii market, something tells me they just don’t care. This is Nintendo, they do, and innovate, however they feel like. Nintendo is likely to change the game yet again for consoles, and this time it’s by targeting the market they have long abandoned. Who knows how else they hammer home innovation this round, as they may even be taking online networks themselves to the next level. This is Nintendo, and I am no longer surprised by the bold decisions they make. Okay, I lied, I am surprised… surprised at how wrong I am. I’ll never forget when the Wii was shown “wait, that’s it? A stupid dick shaped controller? Yeah, thanks for crushing my dreams Nintendo. GCN repeat here we come.”