Nintendo has announced they will launch a new console in 2012 and the speculation is already running wild. So why not? I’ll jot down a few thoughts.
If Project Cafe (as Nintendo is calling it) really is more powerful than the Xbox 360 and the PS3, that’s great and is probably more power than we need. Videophiles claim that some cutting edge games are revealing the age of current gen consoles. I honestly don’t see it. Well, I do if I look really closely and pay attention, but at this point what holds my attention is the gameplay and story. I know a certain segment will never be satisfied with any amount of power, but Project Cafe will be plenty for me. And it really should be plenty for any other developer as long as it’s easy to work with (and Nintendo now has a history of making their hardware much easier to develop for than Sony).
If the new console is launched on time in 2012, the Wii will have had a six year run. Not bad at all. That is, it’s not bad if the launch of Project Cafe signals the end of the Wii. I personally think the Wii will last for another few years after that, especially if Nintendo continues to support it. Project Cafe sounds like it’s aimed at the core gamers market and might not hold much interest to your grandma. If the Wii can exist (and even thrive) alongside the PS3 and Xbox 360, than it can continue on alongside Project Cafe. I expect 2012 will see the launch of more Wii Sports or Wii Party titles to keep casual gamers interested.
Internet posters are freaking out over reports that the Project Cafe controller will incorporate a six inch touch screen. I can’t determine the truth of that rumor any better than IGN can, but I’m not worried about its usability. If Nintendo knows one thing, it is how to design ergonomic, easily picked up user interfaces. The N64 controller has been their clunkiest controller to date, and even that wasn’t so terrible. When Nintendo makes stupid decisions, it is in going with designs that work perfectly for their own games but which do not work so well for games that third party developers might want to make. If a six inch tablet screen is too clunky, I am confident that Nintendo won’t use it. Although I can’t help noting that a TV console with a tablet controller would make a very good web browser.
I will also predict right now that Project Cafe will use global Friend Codes similar to the 3DS. And I’m ok with that. The problem with Friend Codes has never been the codes themselves but the requirement that players must exchange a new code for every online game they want to play. If Nintendo adds in a lobby system, they will have everything they need. But please for the love of Miyamoto, if you decide to incorporate Achievements give players some actual rewards for them!
None of this is preventing IGN editors from offering their opinions and declaring their disinterest before even seeing a prototype in action. Some things never change.