Nikkei confirms 6″ Touchscreen-Controller for Project Café

June 3, 2011

Nikkei.com again confirmed some soon-to-be-official news regarding Nintendo: The controller of Project Café/Stream/Wii 2 will feature a 6 inch touchscreen. Just as rumors of the past months implied. Further, the controller has a built-in battery and can function as a full-fledged portable device, not needing a TV-screen. Last but not least, there is also a built-in camera that the player can, for example, create an avatar of himself. Launch date is set to the middle of 2012, following in line with Nintendo´s press release that stated that Wii 2 wouldn´t launch before April 2012. More information should be available at Nintendo´s E3-press conference the upcoming Tuesday.

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Five Things (and two more) the next Smash Bros. needs to do

May 24, 2011

All the rumor-talk about a next Smash Bros.-game gets my E3-hype only up all the more, so I took the time to think about what features, what kind of content I´d like to see in the next Smash Bros.-title for Café or 3DS. Below I listed five things that Nintendo needs to include to make me happy.

 

1.) Changeable Moves

A huge difference to the past three games, but the more I think about it, the less of a problem I see. Changing the moves of a character isn´t unprecedent, even fairly typical in a lot of anime-based fighting-games, such as Narutimate Hero for PS2 or the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi-series. These games let you decide what move is executed by what button-press. As big in content Brawl was, the freshness in terms of controlling all these characters was lost. Smash Bros. 64 was a great first entry, Melee improved vastly on that by adding the directional-B-moves as well as the ability to defend yourself in midair. Brawl added … tripping. Lol, no, of course, Brawl added a bunch of new gameplay as well, but it was more about environmental improvement. The characters had pretty much the same variety of moves as before.

I could see this being the big new feature of Smash Bros Café/3DS. All characters start out with a standard set of moves, but as you play the game, you unlock new moves, represented by some sort of trophy-like collectible. There would be unlockable moves of different categories, one category for each button-combination. At the end of unlocking all the content, there would be character-specific moves, moves that can only be used on a certain character. Maybe have three such moves for each category of each character. And then there´d be general moves that can be chosen for all characters. This wouldn´t only allow for a f***ton of classic, recognizable moves to be included (imagine choosing between Samus´ normal Beam, Plasma Beam, Ice Beam and Wave Beam for the B-button, or choosing between Link´s boomering, hammer or  bombchus for the B+right/left-move), it´d also solve the problem of giving all fans what they want. For example, many fans want Ganondorf to have moves that he actually used in the games. Like using a sword, proper magic and stuff. But then there are long-time Smash Bros.-fans that want Ganondorf to stay exactly the way the grew to love fighting as him. Peace, baby!

2. New Characters

That is obvious, yeah. The two number one missing characters that I fully expect to see in the next Smash Bros.-game are Ridley (Metroid-series) and Krystal (Star Fox-series). Metroid really got shafted so far, with Samus Aran being the only playable character from the franchise. Yeah, we got Zero Suit Samus, but that´s hardly a new character per se. I mean, give us at least one enemy from each franchise so we have someone to fight, Nintendo. And Krystal would add both one more female character, not much of those, as well as introduce the first staff-fighter to the game. Speaking of staff-fighters, Nintendo could also add some Fire Emblem-character with a spear or such, and hopefully a series-villain, too. Other than those, the sky is the limit. There´s so many video game characters out there that would be tons of fun to have in Smash Bros.. I guess the most popular third-party-wish would be Megaman. But really, more important than adding new characters, Nintendo should concentrate on make the ones they already have as unique as possible.

3.) Trim down the Fat

Brawl has often been called “the ultimate Nintendo collection” or similar names, and it is true: The Wii-entry featured an encyclopedia´s richness of information, both in text and graphics and music. It also featured a singleplayer-adventure that by itself took around eight hours to beat a single time. And then we had a million of other game-modes. To be honest, I didn´t need all that. Especially the adventure-mode. The cutscenes were truly fantastic, but the mode itself was rather annoying and bland. And really, any true Smash Bros.-fan buys the game because of the fighting, not because of some sucky platforming.

Get rid of this hour-long adventure-mode and if it has to be there in some form, get it back to Melee-proportions. And while I hope to see a big soundtrack and wealth of information about characters again, do we really need all these small modes? I admit that I sucked at it, but stuff like the boss-run-mode or cruel Melee (whatever it was called in Brawl) didn´t really capture my heart. Same goes for repeating the All-Star-mode with all of the characters. And event-mode was fun in Melee, but really sucked in Brawl. I finished it because I´m addicted to finishing my games, but it was more of an annoyance than a “yay, I´m so happy to play this right now!”. And guess what, there´s two modes that Brawl was even missing. I want the “Finish the platforms” from the N64-game and the “Reach the Goal” from Melee back. Those modes offered a truly different experience. Oh, and either get rid of Target-mode or give every character his own level. Target-Test in Brawl sucked hard. Anyways, sometimes, less is better. More focus on the fighting and the truly fun bonus-modes, less “it´s there because it was easy to implement”.

4.) Against the CPU-cooperative modes and 4 vs. 4-battles

The former would feature a few different missions where up to four players are fighting against CPU-enemies, but not in the usual arenas, but specially designed mission-levels. And the goal here wouldn´t be to simply kill other characters, but to pursue real taks, like protecting a ship that is sailing on an ocean, trying to conquer a castle, trying to build a tower by using certain items to reach a high up point while simultaneously defending against attacking enemies. There could even be boss battles, like when you´re sailing mentioned ship, a giant sea monster appears that you have to fend off by using the ship´s own cannon.

The latter would introduce a whole new level of multiplayer-action to the franchise, while at the same time not overdoing it. Four players during battle should remain the standard battle-mode, but for adding a lot of new potential, I´d love to see a raised player-count. I don´t know, if that was possible offline, but at least online, it should be doable.

5.) Return to a mix of 64/Melee-gameplay

This is a hardcore-fan´s wish, so I kept it for last. The main reason why Super Smash Bros. Brawl didn´t captivate myself for not even close to as long as Melee, was not only the lack of available offline-friends. It was also because of the floaty, party-game-like gameplay. Yeah, yeah, some ignorant gamers laugh about the Smash Bros.-series, “fighting game, lulz”, but for all those of us that put a lot of time and effort into the franchise, the depth was obvious and extremely motivating. What I loved about 64´s gameplay was how impactful each and every move felt. Hitting another character with Link´s sword really made you feel the contact between sword and character, even without rumble pak. This got worse in Melee, but then again, Melee introduced a speed and dynamic to all the fighting that made it just as engaging. Combine the two styles and I´m sure we would experience the best Smash Bros.-game of all times.

And a small 6.), because I´m too lazy to edit this article´s title: Different costumes for every character, not just color swaps. Seriously, that´s not demanded too much, is it.

And small 7.), lol, because I just searched for a nice image for the top of this text: Maybe change the artstyle from the realistic one we have right now to a more cartoony style, resembling the original game´s boxart. As can be seen above.


About “Café”´s Power

May 23, 2011

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.


Project Café is real

April 25, 2011

Enjoy the following message that Nintendo sent out into the interwebs today. Looking forward to potential more news at Nintendo´s investors meeting that´s also happening today in Japan (tomorrow for the rest of us). See you on the other side.


The Calm before E³ 2011 – Crazy Prediction Time

April 18, 2011

At some point of the year, E3 feels awfully far away. When it is in the coming then, it feels like it´s been just a day since the previous one. Unneeded to say that pre-E3 time has hit hard four days ago, when – we´ll get to that. E3 2011 takes place from June 7th – 9th, with conferences starting on Monday 6th. When I wrote last year that E3 2010 was shaping up to become a great one, I meant it. What I planned to write in this entrance passage of this year´s prediction article was the c0mplete opposite. By no means did I think that E3 2011 would be a bad one, but a … rather boring show. An E3 of games, rather than shocking announcements and revelations. Again, this changed about four days ago. As in the previous years, I´ll mostly focus on Nintendo stuff, since that´s what I´m most interested in, and I´m no phoney to pretend excitement for things that I´m not excited for. So let´s start with the FlyingFisch´ predictions of E3 2011!

Fanboy´s Favorite: Nintendo 


Shit – that is what would be a good single-word description of the Wii´s software lineup for 2011. There´s been nothing, and there will be more of that. Ah, well, we got Kirby and Mario Sports Mix, and we´re going to see Wii Play Motion. I guess that´s better than nothing? Not really.  Reality is, the Wii is in a comatose state, both in software- and hardware-sales, though the software-side is off dramatically worse. There´s literally not a single promising third-party title to look forward to (except for DQ10, sigh), and the only Nintendo-titles to wait for are long-overdue localizations of year-old JRPGs and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I guess that releasing those three titles could somewhat excuse the shit first half of the year, but after these three games, it´s over, nada, finito, the end. And with all due respect: I don´t see Nintendo announcing enough totally unknown high-profile games for the Wii to keep it running in 2012. That is where the happenings from the past four days come into play.

Project Café, N6 or simply: Wii 2. Ever since Game Informer published information on a Wii 2-reveal at this year´s E3, together with a bunch of other informations, a non-fact-megaton took place. More and more reputable (lol) websites started to report on anonymous sources, claiming that indeed the Wii 2 is coming. That by itself isn´t news-worthy, but nobody would have expected Nintendo to show off their new home console at E3 2011 already, much less in-depth details. However, all these reports say that Wii 2 will be “a notch” more powerful than Xbox 360, feature a 6 inch screen and better motion controls than PlayStation Move. Also, big publishers are supposed to have development kits for months and and anonymous comment made it sound as if this would be a system that´ll please all self-proclaimed hardcore-gamers. That is it. What´s notable is that none of this is reported as rumors, but a actual facts.  As for a launch-date of the Wii-successor, one source mentioned that Nintendo planned to launch these holidays, but delayed it back to Q1/Q2 2012 due to 3DS.

What can you expect of Nintendo´s E3-conference, then? You can see my mock-up of the N6 just below this blog entry. That is what I expect. Nintendo´s answer to take over all of our homes, introducing a 6 inch-tablet in addition to improved Wii-remotes. The actual system, that doubles as a docking station, streams content to the tablet. Even when you´re not fully engaged in some hardcore-game experience, where you´d use the wiimote and nunchuck, you can just grab the tablet and access all the other functions of the Wii 2, like social networking, entertainment stuff like movies, and playing smaller games that you purchased online, as well as accessing bonus-content from retail-games. Now, why a tablet, you might ask? Because that would solve one of the biggest staples of gaming: Destroying the boundary to a single place at home. Whenever someone wants to play a game, he or she has to sit down in the living room and devote time exclusively to that environment. That makes playing games a very luxurious experience for a lot of casual gamers. You´re probably familiar with “it´s just a game, leave it and come”, answered by you with an annoyed “let me just save!”. A tablet would make away with such limited occasions for gaming. Actually, there´s a great example of a single game where this matter applies to: Animal Crossing. When I bought the GameCube-version way back then, no matter how neat the game might have been, it was too boring to motivate myself to sit down in front of the TV. When the NDS-version was released, I kept playing it for hours. Because I could play next to the PC, while watching something on TV, or quickly close my DS if I had enough. The barrier of exclusive environment was shattered.

If it was a Nintendo-commercial, it´d go like that: You wake up in the morning, walk into the living room. You see the tablet, that´s sitting in the docking station,  and a light keeps blinking. You pick up the tablet and the screen turns on: You have a new message from one of your friends. You smile and walk into the kitchen, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, sit down at the table and touch an icon on the tablet to read the message. You decide to reply, so you type something on an up-popping virtual keyboard and click “send”. You look at the time display and realize that it´s a bit early, so you start playing Cut The Rope. After a while, you remember that you could use the time you have a bit better and after a few clicks through the tablet´s menu, you start Monster Hunter 4. You cannot play the full game – you´d need wiimote and nunchuck and the TV for that – but you can access your MH4-account through the tablet and organize your items, change your current equipment, make sure that the damn cats produce more honey, and so on. Then you see that a friend has come online, and, oh, it´s one of your fellow MH4-players, so start a text-chat with him or her, and so you plan for your next game-session. It´s finally time to leave the house, so you put the tablet back into the docking station. And just before leaving the house, you grab your 3DS. Fín.

That´s it for Wii 2. Maybe Nintendo won´t show anything about their next home c0nsole and all of these reports are revealed to be fake. But let´s hope that it´s all true, because nobody can want to live through the year of 2012 with the Wii. That´s not going to happen. What´s definitely going to happen is the announcement of dozens of games for Nintendo 3DS. We already know that Super Mario Galaxy 3 will be shown off at E3. Additionally, Mario Kart and Paper Mario are sure bets. Since they won´t be out by then, Ocarina of Time 3D, Kid Icarus and Starfox 64 3D will make an appearance, too. Add Resident Evil: Revelations, and you have all the known stuff for 3DS. But what about more?

The Wii 2-hype kind of ruins this prediction, because I believe it´d be overkill, but a Smash Bros. for 3DS would make for a great announcement.  Honestly, it doesn´t matter for which system, a Smash Bros.-game would always be celebrated. Just make sure to add Ridley and Krystal as playable characters this time, Nintendo! Other than that, I want to see a new Fire Emblem-series for 3DS. I´m currently playing Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars and it is a perfect fit for a handheld. Your typical FE-story would blow that Tom Clancy-stuff out of cold water, though. I´m not doing any game-predictions for the Wii 2, since that´s a risky prediction in itself, but if it wasn´t for that rumor, a new F-Zero-game would be nice. But that´d probably be a better showcase for a new HD-system.

What I want to see from Third-Parties is the biggest support one could imagine. What this means: Give me Final Fantasy 15 exclusively for 3DS, Square Enix! Give me Monster Hunter 4 Portable exclusively for 3DS, Capcom (splitting the fanbase would be the best way to ruin the franchise, which is why I think MH-games should stick to one platform. Obviously, I´d prefer 3DS over PSP2) ! Give me Zone of the Enders 3, Konami, as well as full-fledged Pro Evolution Soccer (with online-multiplayer, sigh). Give me a high-quality Mass Effect-spin off, Electronic Arts! Give me GTA, Take Two! Give me Assassin´s Creed, Ubisoft, but not a shitty, dumbed-down version. That´s it for the big names. I hope to see a lot of new stuff, too, good new stuff.

It´s not dead, yet, but close to it. I expect to see localization announcments of Xenoblade and The Last Story for Wii. Zelda: Skyward Sword will be an early fall release or another dual-release like Twilight Princess, releasing in the holidays, both as a Wii- and a Wii 2-version. Add in the recently announced Kirby-game and you have the last breath of the Wii.

As for complete out-of-the-blue predictions, I won´t let go of a big, epic Berserk-game, that lets you control Guts and swing the sword by yourself, using a wiimote with motionplus. Other than that, I have little to predict here. Wii 2 consumes most of my imagination.

Microsoft´s effort machine


That is really just me, so don´t take it as me claiming that it is a fact for all of us, but the Xbox 360 is even more dead to me than the Wii is. There´s two games I´m looking forward to, and I might buy one of them for PC instead of my 360. The biggest title is Mass Effect 3, of course. The final part of the trilogy, showing us if (male) Shepard can defend the galaxy against the Reapers´ menace. The last DLC “Arrival” was disappointing, but latest informations about the third ME-game have been quite positive. My one and only expectation for ME3 is that it is fun to play (and re-play) and that the solution to defeating the Reapers is NOT bringing all alien races together and kill the enemy with a combined fleet. That´d be utterly unbelievable (in the negative sense). And boring. And show me Tali´s face. That´s it. That other game is Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I never played the first to Deus Ex-games, but from what I saw of this one, it looks like a game filled with options to interact with the world around you. I love non-linear challenges, so this should please me greatly. But it might be even more pleasing on my PC. We´ll see about that.

The Third Place: Sony


I´m (not) sorry, but i just don´t care.

Conclusion:

Aaand that is it. Another E3 already, eh? I know it´s crazy with all these Wii 2-rumors, even moreso since the 3DS launched early this year. But it´s too exciting, too tantalizing to buy into all of that. The 3DS is a fantastic handheld and it´s destined to see a vast amount of great games. But a new Nintendo-home console, with another crazy feature? That´s the real deal, at least during these few days of conferences and hands-ons. It´s a hard wait, but in less then 1,5 months, we will know the truth about Wii 2. Is this another Nintendo ON-situation, or is it really happening? No matter how tiny the number of games worth playing, E3 is always the most exciting time for any gamers, and I´m happy that this year´s expo is shaping up to be more interesting than I had previously thunk.


It begins …

April 14, 2011

From Game Informer

From Kotaku

From IGN

From CVG

From Blu-Ray.com

From Neowin

From Edge-Online

From Next-Gen.biz

Exciting times 🙂

Edit before bed time: I think CVG either didn´t get all the details or misinterpreted the screen-stuff. It won´t be a built-in hd screen in the Wii 2´s controller, but the Wii 2 itself will be a tablet that´ll feature an HD screen. Yes, I am further clinging onto my tablet-console-hybrid theory. And tonight I will dream of the future of video games and E3 … or some hot girl, hm …

Another Edit: Here´s a mock up I just made. Just a quick thought on the whole 6″ screen and such. Enjoy.


Beyond Wii HD – Madness Ensues

February 11, 2011

A couple of hours ago, a fellow gamer friend mentioned how he hoped for the Wii-successor to leave the same kind of “WTF?!”-impression that the current market leader left when Satoru Iwata unveiled it at Tokyo Game Show 2005. A lot of discussion boards are currently filled with notes from users that simply demand HD-resolution, a Wii HD, a Super Wii – in other words, the typical successor-system. Personally, I agree with that one friend: A Wii 2 with only better graphics and slightly better “everything else” wouldn´t really hype me much. I´d buy it on the advent of a new Zelda-game, of course, but it´d really lack any specialness. Some gamers out there correctly wrote about how going with a typical successor could even be quite dangerous for Nintendo, since the last remaining traditional home console manufacturer is in a rather unpleasant situation: The Wii sold tons, dominated the hardware landscape, but third party-support is absolutely dead, starting this year. Motion Controls have been adopted by both of Nintendo´s competitors, with Kinect showing a new kind of freshness that wiimote-style gaming has lost. And let´s not kid ourselves: The Wii 2 won´t be leader in graphics, be it for a long time or be it for the fact that third party-developers won´t support a powerful Nintendo-system. It´d get a lot of cheap up-ports, the end. That´s Nintendo´s outlook, that is what it looks like right now. One might mention the Nintendo 3DS to possibly change third parties´ perception of supporting a Nintendo-system, but that, too, can be doubted a lot.

Nintendo needs a special “so-me-thing“. They made the phrase “blue ocean” popular, and that´s exactly what they have to find anew. But what is this mystical, special, fresh new “something” that can ensure for the Japanese company to survive and continue being successful? Smallish innovations, software-based innovations are nice, and I already talked about such concepts, but these have two basic problematics: 1.) They lack the instant “wow“-factor for the masses, and 2.) they can be copied easily by competitors. Taking all of the above into account, looking at the hardware instead of (only) the software, and trying to get into Nintendo´s “creative mind“, I came up with 5 Concepts of Madness. What fascinated me, was that while coming up with these ideas, I engaged in some research using google and found out that these “well, that would be cool, wouldn´t it“-thoughts of mine are actually being turned into reality at this very moment. No, with the exception of one of them, these are not yet part of the gaming industry, BUT: Smart people have developed these technologies to the point where they´re reliable, comfortable to use and, probably, affordable. All of them have one thing in common, though: They increase our interaction with games – or games´ interaction with us.

1.)  Living in a tablet-world – The Tablet-Hybrid

Yeah, I apologize for bringing such an unoriginal idea into this article, but it´s both as uncreative an idea as it´d be crazy for a home console´s concept. Tablets have been THE attention eating topic of the past year and the not-so little devices continue to grab the electronic entertainment industry´s buzz. Just now, Samsung is gaining more and more reputation for their Galaxy Tab-series, while Apple is about to announce the updated iPad-version. But wait: Am I about to propose for Nintendo to compete in *that* market? Well, bluntly said, yes. But imagine this:

The Wii 2 is neither portable nor stationary, it´s a hybrid-machine. It consists of a controller (of some kind), a dock-station for wireless picture-and-sound and a tablet. However, the tablet is not meant to become the main center of attraction of this system – it´s a natural expansion. To this day, I remember the days prior to E3 2005. Thanks to this most entertaining time in my internet-career, I also remember a quote of Shigeru Miyamoto that since then has often been cited. That quote basically expresses, how Miyamoto would love for games to leave that box in front you, that TV. A built-in projector was the most popular fan-theory. But what, if instead of going for something completely crazy and weird, Nintendo´d go for the realization of the Nintendo DS´ concept for home consoles? That way, the tablet becomes an extension of that game world that previously only existed in the confinements of your television. Just to make sure: The tablet would NOT be the main controller of the system, not by any means. You´d still have wiimotes in your hands. But imagine it like that: You´re sitting on your couch, playing the new Legend of Zelda-game, using the wiimote for 1:1 sword-fighting. Right next to you on the couch is the tablet. You need to take a look at the map, so you grab the tablet and watch it, while nothing breaks the immersion of the game you´re playing. And that´s only one admittedly superficial example for its usage. I don´t have a tablet, I´m not the one that´s in the position to tell you how awesome these devices are, but I guess millions of Samsung- and Apple-consumers would be happy to get their word out there.

Additionally, even though the tablet is supposed to be an extension to the existing gaming experience, it is, after all, a tablet. Which means that it´d make for great multimedia purposes as well as creating a continued gaming experience that´s not bound to the television. Browsing your console´s menu, chatting with friends from your friends list, playing some of the more simple games you downloaded from WiiWare, or even accessing special tablet-modes from the “big games” that add another layer to these games´ enjoyment.  With Sony´s PSP2 featuring HD-graphics buil into a device that´s still quite a bit smaller than a tablet, satisfying visuals should be doable, too. I also don´t see this concept rivaling the Nintendo 3DS, since it´d be “just a tablet“, meaning no buttons or sticks. And be honest: You´d love for Iwata to reveal this concept of a Nintendo-tablet-hybrid at this or next year´s E3. I know you do.

2.)  Let´s invade them! – The Augmented Reality-System

Maybe it´s just me that thinks this concept would be crazier than the above, but in my opinion it´d be a big gamble. A gamble that could change gaming in the same matter that Wii did. We all know by now what augmented reality, or in short: AR, is. Using a camera to film the real world, then inserting virtual objects or animated characters into that scene. There´s mostly two reasons why I feel confident to name it as an idea for a whole new system: 1.) Because existing AR always had a problem with the interaction of virtual objects and real world scenes, and 2.) because there´s so much untapped potential!

AR has been a gimmick and continues to stay on that level with what can be seen from Nintendo 3DS and Sony PSP2 so far. But let´s take a moment and think about what this phrase actually means: Augmented Reality – some kind of mechanic or happening or action that takes reality and expands on it.  Why, I ask, is it that this concept seemingly can only be used for cute pet-simulations or fad-like features? Well, because nobody´s taking it seriously, which, of course, is partly due to no such system existing that comes built-in with higher AR-capabilities. “Smartass, how about giving examples, eh?” With pleasure.

The big focus, as a consequence of the AR-features, would be a home console that´s all about creating unique experiences. To initiate that creation stage, the system comes bundled with a camera, a 3D-camera that can record the depth of its environment. It wouldn´t be just a stationary camera like Kinect or EyeToy, though, but also one that you can take with you. Go wherever you want and film the environment of yours. Later, you transfer the data to the main system and the real fun starts. For a Mario-game, you could now jump around with the good ol´ plumber in your own room or whatever you recorded. For Pokemon, fierce battles would ensue in your garden. Or, my favorite idea, the next Resident Evil-game would take place in your own house (or at least one part of the game). I often thought about how super-scary a horror-game would be, if it played in my neighborhood. Okay, maybe that´s because my neighborhood is that scary, but I believe that it´d be like that for most gamers: Seeing their comfort zone being invaded by the horrors and trying to survive. That´s how I imagine the proper use of AR. Sure, it all depends on the camera´s quality, which in turns might be costly, but it´d be definitely another game-changer. Gaming would be no longer about experiencing streamlined content, it´d be all about experimenting with your environment and changing games to your liking.

3.)  Not the craziest one, guys – Brain Controls

Haha, I know, I know. This is the usual “guys, look at me, I´m making THAT joke again“-idea. But let´s bear with it for a moment. The idea of controlling a game with your brain, with your thoughts always seems like a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gives us sensational vibes, making us dream of fantasy stuff like telekinesis and telepathy. On the other hand: Win Button. Think to win, and you will. Yeah, not that exciting. But that´s not how it´s supposed to be implemented in real video games, anyways.

When Kinect was announced and Milo was shown, my mind went crazy about how this advanced camera could be used to complement traditional controller-inputs. You know, playing Mass Effect 3, moving Shepard (who´s male) with the one stick, turning the camera with the other one, shooting with the trigger and so on. And slapping aliens in the face by doing a punching-motion yourself, or throwing grenades or, well, that alien-sex part … For now, Kinect has turned into another minigame-fest and due to the lag, I don´t feel like it´ll change from that status any time soon. However, that´s where Brain Controls come in – only a hundred times better in theory.

Brain Controls should never become the primary input method (unless we´re talking about Matrix-like gaming). As a complementary input-option, however, it´d open up a whole new world of interaction with virtual worlds. Your primary controller would remain something like a Wiimote or a 360-controller, but in addition, you´d have some sleek sensor-device on top of your head that measures your brain activity. Examples for what that would enable players to do are literally limitless. You want it, you think it. Now, I know that you still think “okay, it´s nice to want things, but that´s far-into-the-future scifi-stuff“. Except it´s not. In the following video, Tan Le from Emotiv Systems shows off their next generation of human-machine interface – a sleek device that´s costs are in only the hundreds of dollars instead of thousands of dollars that previous brain measuring devices cost. Both design and price make this a real possibility. And if you want to know if it can actually be used for gaming purposes: Watch the video!

Video: Tan Le of Emotiv Systems demonstrates Human-Machine interface

4.)  Now they´re attacking – R.O.B. 2.0

So we´ve talked a lot about getting deeper into games to strengthen immersion and fascination. How about going the opposite route, though? Calling it “R.O.B. 2.0” is hyperbole, since the original hardware-gimmick for the NES couldn´t do a whole lot and actually only was supported by two games. But the concept I´m proposing is simply too damn similar in appearance, so don´t fall of your chairs: A robot-console.

Robot-supported” console would be more exact, though. Social Gaming has become a buzz word that everyone has heard by now. One of the big parties that embraced these easily accessable, simple games was Nintendo. First, Sony brought games out of the playroom, then Nintendo brought it out of the hands of freaks, to the casual masses. But social gaming isn´t just this entry level-software. Microsoft took multiplayer-gaming to new heights with Xbox Live and keeps adding features that heighten the value of its communication aspects. “Social Gaming” has become a reality for gamers, but that´s only true as long as they´re sitting in front of their TV. Video games are still niche in that they´re confined to a narrowly defined space within our life. And it´s only getting worse for Nintendo, with smartphones, that are capable of hundreds of functions, taking away attention from dedicated gaming systems. Therefore, to keep attacking that new kind of competition, while maintaining a focus on what matters (gaming), one has to break free from that one confined space in front of the TV and place emphasis on a broader aspect of life.

Maybe you´re thinking of some kind of Nintendo smartphone now, but that´s totally not it. Software alone will not be enough to fight 1 Dollar-games. We all know that Paper Mario 3DS will be well worth its 30 Dollars, but the mainstream doesn´t care about that. The mainstream is happy with a simple touchscreen-only games to bridge the ten minutes waiting time in-between two events. It´s creative hardware that has a real shot at attracting consumers. That´s where R.O.B. 2.0 comes into play. Or let´s call it the NinBot, I like that better. We as gamers socialize with each other thanks to all the new possibilities, but who we´re not socializing with, is the games. Socializing with games? “Dude, hentai-games are not cool, eew …” No, not THAT kind of socializing, idiots *blushes*. What I mean is to look at virtual content as more than “just another title“. But that´s a mostly software-based decision and thus something that could be easily copied. That´s why there´s NinBot. NinBot is a small, well-designed robot that has basic communication skills. There´s lots of different ways to realize such a machine, but maybe it´d have a lcd-screen that could display emotions. It could make sounds, maybe learn words and simple sentences, getting more complex the more time you spend with it. But NinBot wouldn´t only be some Furby-copycat. While playing Call of Duty online, NinBot would work as your headset, imitating a real friend. Put it next to you on the couch, and what other human players say will sound from NinBot´s speakers. And don´t worry about a microphone, it is Nintendo that brought WiiSpeak to us, after all.

That´s just a small array of NinBot´s features, though. It all comes down to costs, but the little, fellow robot could also have a built-in camera that, which combined with the ability to walk/drive could make for some nice games to be played on the big screen.  But no matter what, NinBot´s number one purpose would be to bring video games out of the living room and into the whole home space. Don´t imagine NinBot to look toy-like, instead picture a really cool-looking, stylish robot that can sit on your shoulders and becomes more fun the more you interact with it. I know that my reasoning for WHY THE FLYING FUCK SHOULD NINTENDO DO THAT?! hasn´t been that great, but I found this line on Wikipedia: “R.O.B. was released with the intention of portraying the Nintendo Entertainment System as something novel in order to alleviate retail fears following the video game crash of 1983.” If that line is even remotely true, then I don´t think NinBot is that crazy of an idea. Or it is, but a crazy, yet potential idea. And to give you another presentation of what direction I´m actually thinking for this robot-guy here, watch the following video, where Cynthia Breazeal from MIT demonstrates the development of socializing robot-technology.

Video: Cynthia Breazeal demonstrates the development of social intelligence

5.)  An audible revolution – Music Emotion

Phew, the crazier it gets, the harder to explain it, as well. And I don´t have another video to clear up the picture I´m going for. Let´s start simple: The Nintendo 64 and PlayStation started a visual revolution, introducing 3D-graphics that have been refined constantly since then. The next big revolution was about controls entering the motion-stage. Now, audiophiles might claim that DD 5.1-sound was exactly that, but I disagree: We haven´t seen a revolution of sound in video games, yet, and it is the area within games that offers room to attack. I´m a gamer, not an audiophile, so when I talk about a “revolution of sound“, I mean something that´s a game changer, not just some nicer sounding quality – that´s boring and not exciting at all!

What´s exciting, though, would be another case of gaming leaving the television. I´m thinking of an evolution of the Vitality Sensor-project. A device that is capable of measuring your feelings … if that is somehow possible at all. I guess I´m one of the few remaining Zelda-fans that likes the usage of midi-files, since these seem to be what enables the music to be dynamic. This kind of dynamic music, however, is reliant on nothing but pre-programmed actio-reactio situations. Riding on the sunny field => happy music. Enemy approaching => intimidating music. What we see has become interactive, what we do has become interactive, now why not what we hear, as well?

The new version of the Vitality Sensor, maybe a clip on your ear or whatever, would notice how the player feels in each and every situation and change up the music accordingly. That doesn´t mean that scary scenes would be ruined by some happy song playing due to the player´s fearless attitude. But instead of the super dark, intimidating song, a rather challenging, adventurous track would play if you engage a hard fight with a bright attitude.  The vitality sensor wouldn´t be used exclusively for sound, though, so there´d also be other new aspects thanks to this hardware. And speaking of hardware, here´s the real crazy part about this music revolution: The Vitality Sensor wouldn´t be a sensor device only, it´d also be a type of MP3-player. Including a pair of earphones that´s either not fully covering the ear OR is of semi-permeable structure, so you can still hear your surroundings. Completely unrelated to your home console, you´d be wearing this “Vitality Sensor-MP3-Player” during everyday-life situations. The clue is that the sensor would still be measuring your feelings and playing corresponding music tracks, automatically changing between tracks, volume or speed. The idea is that, instead of keeping the player captivated in front of his TV, this device would transport a crucial part of what makes games and movies so emotional and intoxicating to the real world: Accompanying our feelings with perfectly fitting, mood-supporting music. If we take it a step further, there could be connectivity between every “Vitality Sensor-MP3-Player“, thus people interacting with each other will hear the same music during their encounter. And thus, the music revolution would begin.

Conclusion:

Neither of the five above concepts sounds like a highly-likely plan for Nintendo´s future. I´m well aware of that. But neither did motion-controls and glassless 3D for a portable sound that likely. Anyone could talk about his dream Wii 2 with gorgeous HD-graphics, fantastic online-features and improved motion controls. But that has been done to death and, honestly, I personally hate the idea of that. The Wii is my favorite system of the current generation, which puts me in a minority within the “hardcore gamer“-crowd. But still, the reason why I loved the Wii were its unique features. Prior to the Wii´s revealing in 2005, I thought about giving up video gaming, or stay with only a PC. But then the Wii was shown, alongside the motion-controller. It was a dream come true, something that was so incredibly hard to take serious before its official confirmation. And I want to get a feel of that sensation again. Is one of these five concepts going to happen? Maybe not … but maybe yes! That´s the kind of thought that gets me excited, hyped. Not the thought of a WiiHD.