When Sundeep and I predicted this past Tuesday that Nintendo would unveil its new controller at the Tokyo Game Show, many thought we had no clue what we were talking about. Maybe the prophecy was a little unfounded, but I had a gut feeling that Nintendo needed to show off its little beauty sooner rather than later — mostly due to a desperate need of generating some sort of buzz.
So I got home from work Thursday night and decided to check some video game news sites to check on any major announcements at TGS. A few seconds and a rather large smirk on my face later, it became apparent that our prediction had come true. Nintendo introduced what it hopes will be its main advantage coming into the next generation of console wars, in the form of its new controller. Will it live up to the hype? How will it play into the next generation of consoles? What's up with the lack of buttons? Read onward to find out.
Nintendo wasn't joking around when they named their newest console. The Revolution's controller will host a variety of features aimed at changing the way people play, design and view video games. The sudden absence of buttons is Nintendo's response to games allegedly becoming overly complex.
However, the new controller does solve some formerly annoying issues, especially bringing first-person shooters to the console market. In the past, computers have traditionally been the home to the first-person shooter, mostly thanks to free movement granted through a mouse. That necessary free movement has been granted to the Revolution's controller through a transmitter chip that sits at the top of the controller. Players can now move up, down, left, right, whatever you want: simply by moving the controller.
However, the fun doesn't end with first-person shooters. The new pointing-device controller gives designers and developers the option of creating everything from fishing games and tennis games to sword fighting as well.
In addition, for those who worry about the striking absence of the joystick originally glorified by Sony's PlayStation, Nintendo has come up with a way to give players this and many other options. The Revolution's controller allows for a variety of hookups, including the former joystick. Nintendo promises there will be other controller options in the future, making the Revolution a console of potential growth.
While it hasn't been expressed fully yet, it is clear the Revolution's controller will aid Nintendo in utilizing the Revolution's reverse compatibly (the Revolution is capable of downloading games all the way back to the NES days). Simply turn the controller sideways and you've got your old friend, the NES controller.
To look at the Revolution's controller, it has a completely fresh feel to it, often not seen on console peripherals. Namely, it barely has any buttons. Compared to Nintendo's past offerings like the N64 (nine buttons), Gamecube (seven buttons) and even Super Nintendo (six buttons), this seemingly dumbed-down controller is certainly a unique idea. Featuring a total of four buttons (which actually seem to be alternative versions of the same 'A' and 'B' buttons), the fabled dream controller actually seems more like a nightmare. For gamers used to having a multitude of buttons at their disposals for numerous functions, suddenly dealing with a complete lack thereof will almost certainly be unwelcome.
Certainly the backward compatibility was the main focus for development of this controller, as it almost appears to be an old school NES controller rotated 90 degrees. Gamers hold it in their hands like they would a normal remote control, but Nintendo has mentioned it can also be turned and held like the aforementioned counterpart for some games. It features gyroscopic elements, in addition to a transmitter-controlled pointing device housed at the top of the controller.
The question is whether or not Nintendo's new controller will, in fact, bring about a gaming revolution. It's certainly new, but some wonder whether this might not just fall down the cracks of one of Nintendo's former "revolutionary" controller attempts: "The Power Glove."
However, Nintendo also had the "Track and Field" Pad, which still has gamers all over the world glowing with nostalgia.
The biggest weakness the new controller has is an answer to controlling traditional fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. Without at least six buttons, players will be at a loss to pull off any of the major (and often complex) fighting movements.
Fighting games aside, the new controller will almost certainly reinvent gaming. It will be interesting to see how the controller will re-create the RPG, puzzle-games and side-scrollers.
What could possibly save Nintendo from a cruel crash and burn is not its delving into the future. Instead, the Revolution will be a favorite for it's reaching into the past. There are far too many people who remember the "good old days" and would love nothing more than to go back and re-live them.
The biggest question on most peoples' minds is whether this controller will help or hurt Nintendo's new console. As much as everyone tries to say they don't like Nintendo, it's impossible to not root for one of my childhood memories. It's easy to dismiss the company after its last two consoles (Nintendo 64 and Gamecube) bombed hardcore with audiences, but this controller could very well be a figurative ace up its sleeve.
Up until this point, the only selling point for the console was that it would be able to play games from Nintendo's enormous library of classics. While this was certainly an interesting feature for the Revolution, selling consoles simply on the basis that your games have always been good is less than respectable. Nintendo has finally put the focus on the console itself, now touting its features and the ways they can be used in new titles. While "Zelda" with two buttons could prove to be incredibly annoying or nearly impossible, the simplification could just as easily "revolutionize" (sorry) the way video games are played. The potential for a complete reinventing of video games is there; whether or not Nintendo will deliver the goods remains to be seen.
Ryan (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Sundeep (email@example.com) are hopelessly addicted to video games. Ryan just picked up "Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Knights" and can't wait for "X-Men Legends 2." Sundeep is still playing "World of Warcraft" — the game that never ends.
Versus: Tails vs. the "Harvest Moon" guy
Sonic's life-partner, Miles "Tails" Prower was along for many wild rides. Though he didn't have any real superpowers, he did have one thing that few sidekicks don't — two tails.
Though the much cooler and more badass Knuckles later replaced him, Tails did still manage to make a few appearances in late "Sonic" titles. His perky demeanor and sheer innocence make Tails one of the more beloved, though useless, characters in gaming history.
"Harvest Moon" guy
Nothing whatsoever like Clint Eastwood, this "man with no name" made his debut in one of the first farming titles to hit consoles. When he isn't busy milking cows or tilling soil, the unknown farmer spends his free time in underground caves talking to vegetable fairies.
He did prove to be a true Casanova, wooing almost any woman to live in his immediate vicinity. His down-home demeanor and blue-collar lifestyle make him a truly bland man, but gaming would be lost without him.
And the winner is…
This battle of semi-meaningless characters got underway with Tails running circles around his adversary. "Harvest Moon" guy was lost for what to do, so he did what he knew best -and milked Tails the best he could. Tails was most upset, puzzled and felt relatively violated. Fight or flight instinct kicking in, Tails chose the latter weeping as he went. Sonic says he's never been quite the same.