Nintendo has offered fans a first look at its new home console, the Revolution, and also announced a new model of its GameBoy handheld. It seems that the company does not intend to compete directly with Sony and Microsoft's technologically advanced next-gen consoles.
At a news briefing in Los Angeles, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata held aloft
a prototype of the console that is due out next year. Few technical details
were given about the compact rectangular machine.
Nintendo surprised many by unveiling a new version of its best-selling GameBoy,
called the GameBoy Micro, due to go on sale in the autumn.
The tiny game player is just slightly bigger than an iPod Mini, but two-thirds
The Micro, whose screen has adjustable brightness levels, will play all the
same games as the current Game Boy Advance SP and will be compatible with an
add-on digital music player. The Micro comes with a built in rechargeable lithium-ion
battery and headphones. Nintendo did not set a price for the Micro.
"No matter how tight your jeans are, the GameBoy Micro will fit in them," said
Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of sales and
The new console, code-named "Revolution," will launch in 2006 with
access to more than 20 years of games from past Nintendo consoles. It will
support a new disc format as well as discs from Nintendo's current console,
According to Nintendo, Revolution's key features include:
- Impressive look: The new console boasts
high-quality materials and a smart, compact design, approximately the size
of three standard DVD cases stacked
together. A variety of prototype colors are being showcased during E3. It
will come with a silver stand that makes the system a welcome, artistic component
of any multimedia setup, whether it's displayed vertically or horizontally.
- Backward compatibility: The new console plays all games from the current
Nintendo GameCubeTM generation.
- The secret weapon: The console also will have downloadable access to 20
years of fan-favorite titles originally released for Nintendo® 64, the
Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and even the Nintendo Entertainment
- Easy expansion: A bay for an SD memory card will
let players expand the internal flash memory.
- Two disc formats, one slot: Instead of a tray,
a single, innovative, self-loading media bay will play both 12-centimeter
optical discs used for the new system
as well as Nintendo GameCube discs. Owners will have the option of equipping
a small, self-contained attachment to play movies and other DVD content.
- The specs: The system boasts 512 megabytes of internal flash memory, wireless
controllers, two USB 2.0 ports and built-in Wi-Fi access. A worldwide network
of Nintendo players can gather to compete in a comfortable, inviting environment.
Revolution's technological heart, a processing chip developed with IBM and
code-named Broadway, and a graphics chip set from ATI code-named Hollywood,
will deliver game experiences not previously possible.
But Mr Iwata was coy about providing detailed information about the technology
powering the console.
Instead he said Nintendo was working with computer giant IBM and graphics
firm ATI to ensure graphics that would make gamers "say wow".
He also tantalised fans by suggesting that the wireless controllers would
be unique, without going into details.
"It is the game experience that will most separate the Revolution from
its competitors," said Mr Iwata.
- The stars: Introduction of a number of new franchise
properties will add to the world's richest stable of stars, including Mario,
Zelda, Super Smash
Bros., Donkey Kong and Metroid.
- Wireless freedom: A number of Wi-Fi-enabled launch
titles are in development that will employ Nintendo's newly announced wireless
gaming service, Nintendo
Wi-Fi Connection. A worldwide network of Nintendo players can gather to compete
in a comfortable, inviting environment.
- Freedom of design: A dynamic development architecture equally accommodates
both big-budget, high-profile game masterpieces as well as indie games conceived
by individual developers equipped with only a big idea.
The presentation of the console couldn't have been more different to the stat-
and technology-heavy approach of Microsoft and Sony, with Nintendo going out
of its way to describe itself as a content company rather than a technology
company and focusing heavily on their efforts to appeal to audiences outside
of the core gamer demographic.
"Our goal is to develop a device which is functional and appealing to
every member of the household, whether they consider themselves gamers or not," Iwata
explained in his presentation.
"Nintendo Revolution shares a common vision with what we outlined for
Nintendo DS last year," he continued. "The machine is just a tool;
the experience comes from the software."
"We expect the Revolution will create entirely new genres to expand the
definition of video games," he said to loud cheers in the hall.
The Japanese firm seems to be bowing out of the "arms race" which
Microsoft and Sony have entered into over next-gen consoles. However, the Revolution
still remains the most enigmatic of the forthcoming systems - with the full
specification, "unique" controller design and perhaps much of the
system's non-games functionality still firmly under wraps.
The Revolution is crucial to Nintendo. The company leads the way in portable
gaming devices, but lags behind when it comes to home consoles.
According to analyst firm Jupiter Research, Sony's PlayStation 2 leads the
way in the US with 43% of the games console market.
Microsoft's Xbox is in second place with 19%, and Nintendo's GameCube has
14% of the market.