A new generation of home consoles is confirmed to be unveiled at this year´s E3. The Wii-successor, known as “Project Café”. There is a multitude of crazy rumors flying around, the most prominent being a built-in screen in every controller (which I believe was misinterpreted from those that reported it initially). But, of course, big part and big reason for a new generation of consoles is and has always been the jump in sheer processing power.
The rumors about Café´s power go from “a little bit better than 360/PS3” all the way to “significantly more powerful (than the current HD-systems)”. Basically, will we face a repetition of the Wii-strategy, or are we going to relive a PS2-like situation? Both would put the Café in the third rank, compared to the expected power of Xbox 720/PS4, but the latter would enable Nintendo´s new system to enjoy long-lasting third party-support, while the former might give them superior versions of current gen-titles, and then suddenly support drops off like a cliff. Both is realistic, but I´m not going to talk about the likeliness of one over the other. I want to express how it just doesn´t matter. At all.
Right off the bat: The reason why I´m kinda tired of my 360 is not its visual shortcomings. I have a (still) modern gaming-PC that can run multiplatform-titles in higher resolution and with much more details than Microsoft´s system is capable of. Yet, I´d gladly play more often on my 360. The reason I don´t, is that there´s nothing of interest. To me, I will consciously add. There´s Mass Effect 3 that I´ll buy, so I can use my game saves from ME1 and ME2. And there´s Deus Ex: Human Revolution, though I might buy that for my PC instead. Other than that, nothing. And I´m not saying that there aren´t well-made, high quality games still coming out on the system. But only to me, they´re boring. They´re always the same. They´re … shooters.
People are waiting for a Halo: CE-remake. They´re waiting for Modern Warfare 3. For Gears of War 3. For GTA5 (which could turn out positively different, but …). But it´s not only shooters, sure. They´re also waiting for the cool MGS: Rising. For Dead Island. For Skyrim. For whatever. But even if you fail to see it: To me, these games appear oh so un-special. Maybe you can see what I mean when I put it like this: The reason why you are waiting for these games is because of their new setting, their new story, their gruesomeness, even. However, it is not because of they offer new in terms of gameplay. So it isn´t used in a too ominous way, let me explain what I mean by claiming such a seemingly bold thing. The two HD-console games that made me feel like I´m playing something that wasn´t possible in the same way on GameCube/Xbox/PS2 are Dead Rising and Assassin´s Creed. Dead Rising had all these zombies, all that interaction, all these objects – what happens when you try to recreate that on a power-lacking hardware can be witnessed in the Wii-port of the game. Assassin´s Creed similarly featured a high count of npcs, but more importantly raised the bar of environment interaction close to the limit of what is creatively doable. Climb up almost everywhere, freedom total. And they´re adding a grappling hook in AC: Revelations, “oh my god” is what I said out aloud. These two games actually felt like an effort to break the barriers of last generation and introduce gaming to a new world. And then that stopped.
The Wii 2/Café might turn out to be just a slightly more powerful 360, but I´d happily buy that system. Why? Well, because I feel like there´s currently two scouting ships sailing within the vastness of an unknown ocean of possibilities, obviously unable to explore it all alone. All that while the other ship-manufacturers keep investing their money into adding fancy, shiny decoration to their big, slow ferry boats that keep driving between point A and point B, because it´s making them enough money to be content with, or because they´re too scared to enter the realm of unknown depths.
I am not claiming that it is safe to say that Nintendo´s entering the HD-era of gaming and instantly finding out about those unexplored possibilities. But I feel a strong disagreement for those people that beat down the Café already, only because of the potential that it might just be on par with the 360 and not introduce the next jump in power. So much creativity went missing in-between all those shooters and “mature” aka kiddy “cool games” or games that tried to mimic Hollywood-movies instead of pursuing the medium of the video game (in before “but why has it to be either or?” Don´t ask me, ask the industry´s reality). Since I know that it is a favorite amongst a lot of gamers (not my favorite, teehee), I´ll end this opinion (and you´re free to disagree) by throwing The Legend of Zelda: Majora´s Mask into this debate. Majora´s Mask was released towards the end of the Nintendo 64´s lifetime, yet it introduced a shockingly fresh gameplay-concept. And it was a smaller game than Ocarina of Time. It didn´t pursue the mantra of “bigger, prettier, better“. It dared to take an unexplored idea and that would later turn it into one of the fans´most beloved Zelda-games. It was released at the end of 2000. The same time when Sony´s Ps2 launched.
PS: I admit that I myself would be a bit disappointed if Café was just a slightly improved 360 in terms of power. You simply expect big things from a next generation console, and no matter the power, that´s what the Wii 2 is going to be in type. But not only is the above article my true view on the relevancy of processing power, it is also backed up by my current gaming reality. A superior gaming PC, a 360, a Wii, a N64 – all connected to a screen and still in use. Starfox 64 still rocks. Baten Kaitos Origins still wants me to finish it. And I´m not playing these games because of their looks, haha. Power is important. But power only can do so much. That´s what is the truth for me, when talking about whatever power range Nintendo shows up with their new system.