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The Revolution Revealed

The once mighty Nintendo has fallen on hard times lately. Starting with the Nintendo 64 and continuing on with the GameCube, Nintendo has seen sales of their console lag farther and farther behind the competition thus causing Third Party Developers to look elsewhere for a place to release their games. Things haven’t been all bad for Nintendo. Even in these dark days for the company, they have been able to post a profit almost every single quarter and they continue to release great First Party titles.

At E3 this year, an eager group of people lined up for hours so they could listen to Nintendo reveal details about their future. Unfortunately it wasn’t until this month’s Tokyo Game Show that we got the information we so desperately desired--what makes the next Nintendo console a “revolutionâ€?? Shown off for the first time, the one-handed remote control sent shock and excitement through the gaming world. Here are some thoughts some of our Editorial Staff has on the new controller:

David Doel:
“Just like my parents remember where they were when man landed on the moon, I'm sure we will all remember where we were when we saw the Revolution controller for the first time. I imagine the thought that went through most people's minds when they saw the 'remoter' was largely negative in nature, yet for me it was a resounding "Thank you!". I've personally been completely disappointed with Nintendo's console offerings for the past 5 years. Without getting in a dizzy over it, let's just say that my GCN has remained largely untouched, something I never expected to happen when this generation began.

With the direction that Nintendo is planning to go though, I'm becoming very excited. Having the controller's movement affect what occurs on screen not only puts developer's imaginations to the test, it also gets non-gamers to hopefully take a chance with the Revolution since its interface is not so intimidating. Not only will the controller open up many new opportunities, but it will also set the standard for some popular existing genres, most notably first-person shooters. Will it alienate 3rd-parties? It all depends. It will probably make porting games to the Revolution a little tougher, but at the same time I feel that Revolution will end up with a lot more 3rd-party exclusive titles then GCN. Mr. Iwata also discussed how they will be working with 3rd-parties and anyone interested in creating games for the Revolution, in-turn hoping to lower development costs and the risk associated with developing games in the next-generation. Overall I'm very excited to get my hands on the Revolution, and I can't wait till E3 to see what Nintendo and other developers have in store for us.�

John Bean:
�Innovation is one of those industry buzzwords that bring people in entertainment software journalism to the brink of... something. Whatever it is, it's not good. Back in the 32bit days, it was all you could do to crack a gaming mag and not read that word before the letters section was over. Many an embittered gamer immediately fires up the ol' B.S. Detector whenever they sense the utterance of the word on the evening breeze. So it's with no small amount of trepidation that I use it in reference to the Nintendo Revolution Controller.

It has to be said, though. The Revolution's controller is innovative. Why? It will add to the experience in a meaningful way. Translating body movement into controller input has been attempted before. I think we all share an inward giggle when someone brings up the Activator. The Eye-Toy brought an old webcam motion-detector demo to the PS2. Even light guns dating back to the NES have sought to bring a person's body into the game. Trying to fill that void between a person's brain and the maelstrom of activity on the screen. A void that's currently occupied only by our thumbs and forefingers.

Why is the Revolution controller the best effort I've seen so far, though? It's a good question to ask. The Rev controller's triumph is in its simplicity. It doesn't try to track your body. All that Revolution console wants to know is where the controller is. Its movement, speed, position, and orientation. That's it. It's available, and proven technology that Nintendo can implement with predictability. It's a simple thing to ask. "Where is that controller? What's it doing?" The answers can translate into a myriad of actions. Actions we've already heard of. The casting of a fishing rod, the turning of a steering wheel, or the slashing of a sword. Simple function that can be deployed in a number of ways. A core controller with all of the brains you need, able to slip into any number of peripherals to heighten the experience. It provides the variety we've always loved in different input schemes, but takes away the fear of dropping $30-40 chunks on 'one trick pony' controllers. No. The Revolution controller isn't that $200 force-feedback racing wheel you saved for to play GT4 or Forza, but it's a much cheaper controller that comes a helluva lot closer than your DualShock.�

Andrew Thivyanathan:
“I think I had the same reaction as most gamers when I saw the Revolution controller. What was Nintendo thinking?! I've been a long-time supporter of Nintendo and all of their major decisions, even the unpopular ones. However, I wasn't immediately excited about the Revolution remote control. I can't say I was surprised though. Iwata and Miyamoto had been talking for months about how many non-gamers felt that games were too complicated to understand, that their controllers had too many sticks and buttons. After some initial disgust, I began thinking about the different ways we could play games with advanced motion control. The Metroid Prime 2 demo intrigued me especially. There are definitely many new and fun ways to play games with that kind of motion sensing technology.

It's not that I was ever against the innovation. I just wasn't particularly happy that it came at the sacrifice of standard buttons and analog sticks. I think there will be many awesome, incredibly fun uses of the Revolution controller. I just don't see why we can't have the motion control in addition to the other input functions that we're used to. So I was a bit relieved when I found out that there would be an analog stick attachment and some kind of shell that will turn the remote control into something more traditional. However, I still have my concerns. First of all, I think that the analog stick attachment and the controller shell should come standard with every Revolution controller. Otherwise, developers are not going to support them, and that means the Revolution is not going to have a lot of multiplatform games. I hope that the shell is more than a piece of plastic. I hope it includes a second analog stick and analog shoulder triggers. I think both of those things have become very important to console gaming. I look forward to Nintendo's game designs that rely primarily on the remote control's motion sensing capabilities. However, don't want that at the expense of other game designs that really benefit from a "normal" controller.

Regardless of how great this all turns out, I am most disturbed by Nintendo's philosophy behind the Revolution controller. They have been constantly talking about how they want to attract non-gamers to video games, and it seems to me that they are turning this into a primary focus. It feels like they're ignoring long time supporters like me. Don't get me wrong. I like experimental game designs. Not everything has to be the same. I think designs like Nintendogs, Electroplankton, and motion controls are great. I like the variety. However, it's a very bad idea to target an audience that does not want to play video games as the primary new direction for the company. To me, the Revolution's controller signifies their intentions to do just that. That may be related to another major concern I have. I am very worried about fatigue. How comfortable (or maybe I should say painful) will it be to play a game for a few hours. I mean, will he have to be holding the controller up and moving our arms and wrists all of the time? I am worried that the answer to this is, "No, because you're not supposed to play for more than an hour at a time," or something similar. That would fit nicely with their intention to make simpler, non-gamer friendly games. Games that you can play in long sessions also tend to be more complicated. Is Nintendo going to move away from this? I don't know. In many ways, the Revolution's motion control has some exciting and unlimited possibilities. In some other ways, it's limited by its lack of buttons, analog sticks, and triggers. For now, I'd say I'm cautiously optimistic about the Revolution. I just want them to ensure that I'll be able to play any type of game without having a thousand peripherals and there will still be big long games that real gamers can sit down and play for four or five hours in one night without getting repetitive stress injuries.�

Ryan Schaefer:
“Ok, so I was asked to give my opinion on this whole Nintendo Revolution controller spiel. Now I didn’t really want to do this because while everyone else is going all fairy wogdog over it, I’m sitting here scratching my head. Initially, when someone first showed me the pictures, I thought it was a joke, honestly. Well, don’t I feel sheepish…

Thankfully, I learned later that Nintendo was still going to have a standard controller for use, so that really makes dogging this new controller pointless because if you don’t like it, you could just use the regular controller instead. However, given that this article is about the new one in particular, I’ll go ahead voice my concerns.

First and foremost, are other developers going to make any games for this thing? Sure, Nintendo will support it, but I don’t know how many third parties are really going to go through with any projects that utilize the new technology. Secondly, calling it new tech isn’t wholly accurate. Motion sensor control has been used before. Remember those Tekken machines in the arcades that had no joysticks or buttons and you were supposed to punch and kick thin air? Your actions would then be interpreted by the sensors and your character would react on screen. Remember how well that didn’t work? Granted, this is a home console and Nintendo we’re talking about, but still I have my reservations about motion detection being used to control games.

Also, I can’t see using that controller as being very comfortable at all. That analog attachment looks like a pain to use along with the controller itself. Waving my hands to slash a sword would be great fun for all of about five minutes, then it would just be annoying. In the end though, I can’t discount it just because I don’t like what I’ve seen so far. I really didn’t like DDR when it came out, and now I’m an addict! I’m taking a wait and see attitude with the Revolution. I know what MS and Sony are doing, and I know I’ll like it; Nintendo’s trying something different which may pay off or may not. I just can’t shake this feeling of a Virtual Boy 2.0.â€?

Greg Meadors:
“My first reaction to the Nintendo Revolution controller was “where the heck are all the buttons?â€? The lack of buttons reminds of trying to play with an NES or Atari 2600 controller after using a PS2 controller. You need buttons to mash, so you can get the job done. Heck, as a PC gamer, games that get ported to a console from the PC just feel awkward without the keyboard and mouse layout. I’m not saying that the current generation of controllers features the best layout, but taking buttons away sure seems a step in the wrong direction. As more information surfaces about the new “remote controlâ€? controller, I start to feel a little less apprehension about it. The built-in motion sensing function looks intriguing. The use of the controller to perform sword slashes or as a gun in a shooter could end up revolutionizing gaming, but don’t ignore the potential catch. Nintendo has implement it in a way that works. Is it possible to do a slashing move and be able to hit a button at the same time? Can players manage to shoot and sidestep at once without needing inhuman coordination? Amazing ideas pop up all the time, but they fail because of their implementation. Can Nintendo pull it off?â€?

Kaleb Rutherford:
“Anger ran through my blood and a complete disgust for everything Nintendo filled my mind as I first gazed upon the Nintendo Revolution controller. A DVD remote?? Come on!! I spent the first twelve hours thinking about all the ways I could convey these feelings of disgust to all of our readers. Before I could actually sit and write any rants about it, my mind began to grasp the concept completely. What was once anger and confusion over this new device quickly turned into excitement as I began to dream of the potential. It appears games utilizing the GBA or the Kongas as a controller has finally given Nintendo the idea to bring a new type of control home to users.

Imagine for a moment that you are sitting at home and want to play a game. Would you rather use the same type of controller that you have been using since you first began playing games or would you rather play something interactive like you would in an arcade? What once was impossible to do at home will now become a standard on the Revolution. Developers can use the motion sensitive remote to do anything they can dream of. And if that wasn’t enough, Developers can even create new attachments to give their games even more variety and creativity.

While we don’t know what the games look like, how they play, or any specific details, this appears to be the “Revolutionâ€? Nintendo promised us it would be.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 09/30/05

Screenshots for The Revolution Revealed

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