We told you earlier this week about the rumored “Project Cafe“, a mysterious new initiative from Nintendo. Assuming it’s not a coffee maker, it looks as though the next home console and Wii follow-up is on its way, and we can reasonably expect to hear a big announcement about it right around the corner at E3. There are already rumors galore, “leaked” images, more baseless speculation than you’re likely to hear about any product this year. It’s a minefield of information out there, and there’s no reasonable way to know what to trust.
For now, let’s ignore all that disinformation and just talk a bit about what this thing should do if it wants to come out of the gate swinging. Hit the jump and I’ll tell you everything Nintendo is gonna need to tack on this thing if they want to win the next generation before it even starts.
We’ll start off with the obvious one:
This one is pretty critical. I’ve never really faulted the Wii for being pretty impotent as far as graphics is concerned; its conservative design was a pretty direct result of the relative failure of the GameCube. Nintendo wasn’t making much on that thing, and simply couldn’t afford to gamble on their next home console by loading it up with state-of-the-art processors. The experimental controller design was risk enough as it was. So we got the underpowered little Wii, which proceeded to sell like chocolate-covered porno from day one. Now that Nintendo prints raw currency on everything they produce, they can get away with sinking a little more power into the Wii 2. We can reasonably expect it to have a little more power than the now-ancient 360 and PS3, allowing it to comfortably accept ports of games from those consoles. Yes, it’s true that the Wii effectively proved that you don’t need amazing graphics to sell a console, but allowing game makers to port fantastic titles from those other platforms to the Wii 2 would bolster its library immensely. Oh, and if Nintendo is feeling particularly saucy, they could include support for 3D out of the box. They certainly seem to be into the idea recently.
Yet another constant gripe about the Wii is that its online features compared to those of its competitors are practically laughable. The Wii2 needs to shed Nintendo’s archaic mindset with regards to online interaction and give us a legitimately modern service. The 3DS was a step in the right direction, and I like to think that Nintendo will be getting lots of useful feedback from the gaming public about its online, but really, the term “friend code” cannot come anywhere near this thing. It’s becoming a running joke in the industry at this point, and it absolutely needs to be dropped.
Yet Another Wacky Controller
I won’t pretend to have the powers of prognostication necessary to know what the wizards at Nintendo will come up with as a means of actually controlling their next console, but I will tell you what it needs to accomplish. I think it needs to be an advancement of the Wiimote; that is, something that builds on what the Wii accomplished, and more importantly, won’t alienate the “new gamer” base they’ve established. Ideally, it would completely encapsulate the functionality of the Wiimote, making backwards compatibility a breeze. And I know I said we were going to ignore the current theories about this thing today, but I have to address the controller rumors. Specifically, I’ve heard some that claim the Wii 2 controller will involve a touchscreen of some kind, which I think would be a major misstep for one central reason: cost. One of the big strengths of the Wii is its ability to make people play together in real life, an activity which typically necessitates more than a single controller. Well, if the controller is some sort of overcomplicated, gyroscope-and-touchscreen filled behemoth sporting a $90 price tag, one is all anyone is going to own. So it needs to be cheap, it needs to be accessible, and it needs to advance the ideas established by its predecessor. Of course, this is probably going to be the biggest point of speculation going forward, and there’s a pretty good chance they’ll ignore all this and completely deny expectations once again. At that point, I’ll be happy if it just has buttons.
No New IP
Let’s face facts: if you’re a gamer between the ages of 18 and 30, the only reason you pay any attention ton Nintendo whatsoever these days is because they can reliably trot out all their old characters and franchises on an extremely regular basis. Everything else they produce falls flat with us, so I just figure: why keep trying? Just fall back on what works 100% of the time. Churn out a new Mario title every year. More Zelda, more Smash Bros, more Pokemon. These are provable, known quantities, and they always sell. They will always have fans. I can’t think of any reason at all why Nintendo should produce anything new at any time. They already have things that work! It’s like they’re just being greedy. Leave some new ideas for the rest of us, guys, jeez.
Okay, okay, wait. Just hear me out here. You know how the Xbox360 had those faceplates that you could buy and customize, and how no one ever actually bought them? And you know people always going nuts over cool Wii case mods? Why not take that idea and run with it? I’m talking about a fully customizable case. Rims, stand, disc drive, hydraulics, the works. People want to make their console their own, and will pay for the right to do it. I mean, once you get a little momentum behind it, the idea really sells itself. Think about it. If everyone else has a pimped-out customized Wii2, you’re going to look like a joke if you have some puny, stock Wii2. You’ll get laughed right out of the store if you come up to the checkout counter with just a Wii2, sans cart full of flame decals, blinking lights, and robot arms.