By now, you’ve probably heard the mutterings about “Project Cafe”, rumors of which say that it will be announced at E3 as the Big N’s Wii successor. Speculation on what it might be has ranged from the humorous (it’s two Wiis duct taped together) to the serious (speculative specs indicating that it will be “a bit more powerful” than the Xbox 360). Nintendo, being Nintendo, have been very quiet about all of the rumormonging going on. After all, in the high stakes world of hardware, revealing what you’ve got going on can be just as bad as a terrible sales quarter especially when your competitors are checking every move you make (no pun intended).
But Shigeru Miyamoto has said something on it courtesy of an interview at Gameblog.fr – which is all in French if you couldn’t tell from the domain extension. Fortunately, a translation for the relevant quotes has found its way to Scrawlfx in which the Mario Godfather has basically confirmed that Nintendo IS working on new hardware…but doesn’t say exactly what it is. That’s not too surprising.
Console development has historically taken years to go from concept to production so I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that Nintendo have been quietly planning their next console just as the first Wiis rolled off of the production line. The same with Sony and Xbox. It’s just been a matter of “when” they officially drop the veil and admit to what everyone has been talking about.
If the new Wii, or whatever it will be called, comes out, the only thing I can hope for is for them to keep some of that backwards compatibility. The Wii has a huge install base. I could see Gamecube support being removed at this point though I’m hoping they’ll find a way to keep it. But locking out the Wii library? There’ll be a lot of upset people out there. Of course, it might not matter if the motion controls for the new console do things differently enough to make it impossible. And then there’s all of the shovelware that’s already on the shelves. Augh.
The Wii’s biggest selling point from my perspective was the union of pricing it low and introducing a motion control system that worked remarkably well. Developers have also found ways to leverage a few popular properties on it such as Call of Duty. And a new Nintendo console can only improve upon what is already there – friend codes, limited storage space, the internet space, an aging medium, and the biggie to many, graphics horsepower
It doesn’t necessarily have to incorporate bold new processors and the most cutting edge graphics to deliver a fun experience. Even if the rumor that it will a bit more powerful than the Xbox 360 are true in the graphics space, that means seeing the kind of visual fidelity that the platform has been delivering to its audience – something of a quantum leap over what the Wii is capable of doing – without breaking the bank.
Whatever Nintendo has planned, though, you can expect it to have learned from their lessons in the market – the same lessons that made the Wii and the DS huge hits and have given the company the kind of staying power that its peers envy. That’s not to say that Sony and Microsoft have nothing to talk about. They will. Yet like anything else in this business, all we know for certain is that we’ll see a lot more rumors crop up before we get anything official.