Next Nintendo console and controller

There has been a lot written about the next Nintendo (currently labeled Revolution).  It certainly has lower tech specs than the XBox360 or the Playstation 3.  There is an article over at about the console and its odd controller that speaks on the good and bad of the controller.  I’ll be honest here – I can’t get to the article now, so I’m speaking on it based on what little I’ve read of the article from the sites where I can read about it – I’ll update after I’ve read the actual article.  I just want to talk on a particulr quote that caught my eye at Joystiq:

Reading about the Revolution, I have quickly become bored of the constant suggestions people offer, trying to justify Nintendo’s bizarre new idea of a videogame system. If I see one more article about light saber battles, I… well. I’m just disappointed, is all. It’s like everyone is going out of his way to think up the flashiest tech demo in town, when the actual benefit of the system and its controller comes not in the amazing new gimmicks it will facilitate, or in anything that will ever require the player to flail his arm around the room.

I’m no gaming genius, and I can’t tell what will go over well with the gaming masses.  I know what I like, and what I dislike, and that’s really the extent of my knowledge.  I rarely can tell what will be a hit (my best games ever list includes the Descent, Tribes, and Thief series  – all decent sellers, but none spectacular like say Quake or Half-life) and what will be misses (to me, the blah games list includes Half-Life and Counterstrike – neither did I particularly enjoy).  But I do know the Nintendo has a pretty good track record of putting out gaming stuff people want.

Sure, R.O.B. and Virtual Boy 3D tanked, but look at the Nintendo DS.  When it was announced, loads of “experts” pooh-poohed the split screen and touch-sensitive bottom display.  The PSP was announced the winner of the handheld wars before it was even available.  Time marches on, and we can look at how each has done.  So far, the DS seems to be doing better on bringing out games people want to play.  In particular, Nintendo is picking up the much larger, less hard-core market with games like Nintendogs, Electroplankton, and Animal Crossing.  I don’t think the PSP has yet to come out with a “must by this console” game, although I hear Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City is doing well for the company.  Certainly I see more about the multimedia capabilities of the machine than the gaming options.  I’d like a PSP eventually, but I have yet to see a compelling game-based reason to get one right now.

The reason I point all this out is to give some justification for my not-so-bold prediction that Nintendo is going to do just fine with the Revolution and it’s odd controller.  Maybe the killer app won’t be a lightsaber battle game, or anything involving any kind of sword fights.  In fact, it probably won’t.  But just as games have come out for the DS that use the touch screen in interesting ways, games will come out for the Revolution that will use the available technology in interesting ways.  Maybe it will be a weapon-based game, like perhaps a martial-arts simulator with nunchuka and staff training using the controllers capabilities to support this (yes, stupid idea, but I’m trying to think way outside the realm of normal here) or the above-mentioned sword/sabre style games.  Maybe it will be some new music-style game like Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution that takes advantage of the features of the controller (Classical Concert Conductor Revolution?).  Maybe, and most likely, it will be something new that we haven’t really considered or talked about a lot.  But between the Nintendo retro-catalog, the as yet unthought of options with the new controller , and the effort to reach casual gamers, the Revolution will almost certainly do well.

I doubt it will take the number one or number two spot, but Nintendo doesn’t appear to be going for those.  Nintendo is trying to expand the market and get new people playing and buying consoles.  That’s how this new console’s success or failure needs to be measured.  That, and whether or not it’s even profitable.  But Nintendo isn’t going for the biggest console developer spot, or the broadest developer support spot, or the largest install base spot.  Nintendo is trying to get more people outside the standard gamer demographic into playing games and put out a console that will keep the company profitable long term.  And I’m fairly confident that these goals will be reached.