What if…?

Wouldn’t it be nice in the next generation of video games if…

Microsoft could gain an edge on Sony in hardware sales? Sony actually made quality products instead of passing off design faults as a consumers’ inability to adapt? Or even Nintendo to upgrade their 10+ year old attitude on the marketing of video games? Well, the above has already begun, and now, we’re going to take a look at Nintendo.

The Revolution will be backwards compatible. It will be able to go online, with Nintendo not ignoring it this time around. They have learnt, Reggie has stated that they had ‘missed the boat’ this time around. It won’t happen again. What’s more, Nintendo is aiming for a free service. And the DS is apparently a window into this. But what could the Revolution do? What should it do? Wouldn’t it be nice if…?

The Revolution utilised a form of next generation DVD technology, either it being HD DVD or Blu Ray DVD. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. HD DVD has far less capacity, but is cheaper to manufacture, with minor updates to current DVD manufacturing equipment along with some other material issues. Blu Ray on the other hand is more expensive but can contain as much as double the capacity on a dual layer, single sided disc. Both are designed to be backwards compatible. So which should Nintendo use? It doesn’t matter, so long as they give developers the necessary room required to develop the games they want to, and not some dribbly 1.5GB coaster.

If Nintendo were to use one of the two, I would go against popular rumours and say it will be Blu Ray. Industry insiders (IGN leeks in the Mailbag) suggest Nintendo may use HD DVD, but the fact that Matsushita (Panasonic) are their optical partners seems to be more than enough weight to me to support the Blu Ray theory. Matsushita will provide the optical readers for Revolution. It hasn’t been confirmed, but the Revolution is backwards compatible. Further more, one must remember in the days of Spaceworld 2000 that the medium announced by Nintendo for the GameCube was to be one of Matsushita’s proprietary 8cm optical disc formats, of which are very difficult to pirate. This is technology that belongs to Matsushita. The drive to read GameCube discs will have to be manufactured by them. And guess which format Matsushita is supporting? Of course things can change. The PlayStation Experimental was to be an add-on for the Super Nintendo. Now look at it. So until it’s announced, nothing is concrete.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the Revolution had not just a nice third party support following, but a solid, big name filled offering, near impossible to count on two hands? Games that sell systems. Mario 128 is anyone’s bet at Nintendo’s first offering, but what can we expect from others? Nintendo has formed concrete relationships with Namco, Capcom and SEGA. There are also ties with Electronic Arts, Treasure, n-Space, Camelot Software Planning and European developer Kuju. Well, how about five for now.

No 1. Golden Sun RPG. Golden Sun on the Game Boy Advance has shown what this system is capable of. The brilliant use of pixel effects, detailed environments and absolutely brain teasing puzzles. The musical score is nothing short of stunning and the use of creatures to use in battles in the vein of Pokemon is an absolutely invaluable strategic element. Imagine if Revolution launched with a follow up to The Lost Age. Fantastic environments, massive worlds, jaw dropping battles, Dolby Digital and highly detailed characters. How about transferring your character data from the end of The Lost Age? Not having to start from scratch, with weapons and items that took the length of both Golden Sun[i] and [i]The Lost Age to obtain. When I look at the video of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda for GCN, the detail and expanse of the world, I can’t begin to even contemplate the likes of a Revolutionary Golden Sun.

No 2. Soul Calibur IV. The GCN version of Soul Calibur II sold better on that system than any other console version. Furthermore, the Xbox version was on par with PS2 sales. This is why it seems a bit of a shock that Namco have ‘exclusively’ announced Soul Calibur III for the PS2. I can only assume that Sony have provided an exceptional wad of cash for the bank account in the name of Namco Co. Ltd. Hopefully, as IGN suggests, it is a timed exclusivity agreement. Nevertheless, how awesome would it be to have a fighter with guest stars Link and Ganondorf for the launch of their brand new system? The brilliance of highly detailed and animated characters from olden times, trained in martial arts, swordplay and other disciplines. Not only this, but with Soul Calibur II, Namco expanded the depth of the legend behind Soul Edge within the original Soul Calibur. It will only get better with III, paving the way for a truly epic and eventful experience in the fourth chapter.

No 3. Final Fantasy XIII. Can you imagine the uproar and protest on the Sony board if Square-Enix announced that FF-XIII was to be launched simultaneously on both the PS3 and Nintendo Revolution? Well, Nintendo worked with Capcom to have Resident Evil 4 exclusive, along with 4 other titles from the company that would be of exceptional quality, there is no reason why Nintendo shouldn’t be throwing around their own wads of cash at Square-Enix just to have the appearance. It’s highly unlikely, but think of the advantages. Final Fantasy is the highest selling console RPG in the western world. If Nintendo could build a user base with that, a user base that includes ex-Xbox owners, maybe even ex-PS2 owners, they wouldn’t be struggling in third, they’d be comfortably in second, perhaps even better.

No 4. Castlevania. Konami have drifted further from Nintendo this generation. They have published very few GCN titles, and developed even less. GBA support has been steady, but it’s obvious that games are on the platforms where the money is. But now, it seems Nintendo is working with Konami in order to repair the severed ties. Dance! Dance! Revolution with Mario is a collaboration between Nintendo and Konami that will see Nintendo publish the title which includes Mario and Luigi as dance stars, introducing the series to Nintendo’s console. Perhaps there is something in the pipeline for the Revolution? Wouldn’t it be a fantastic surprise if the next chapter in the Castlevania series was to launch with Revolution. This popular action/adventure title has enjoyed wonderful success on the PS2. It took a fantastic graphical leap on the 64 from its Super NES roots. Wouldn’t it be fitting for the series to take yet another ‘revolutionary’ leap on the Revolution?

No 5. Burnout 5. Criterion do a wonderful job with games involving cars, especially if that series is the Burnout series. Numbers 1, 2 and 3 have achieved well on consoles. Burnout 3 was developed for only the PS2 and the Xbox, with Criterion claiming that online play was a big element. Of course, the familiar tune of the GameCube lacking online play ringed through, and resulted in a departure from yet another series. Number 4 has recently been announced, and, you guessed it, it’s not coming to GCN. Nintendo’s GameCube has lacked in exceptional racing titles. It would be such an achievement for Nintendo to launch the Revolution with a well established racing title, especially to demonstrate the consoles’ online WiFi capabilities. To further demonstrate that Nintendo is changing.

This is nothing more than discussion of myths and rumours and the wishful thinking of myself. It would be nice for many of the above events to happen. But this is the real world, and things just simply never go to plan. Hopefully Nintendo can pick up their battered and bruised body and start a fresh with the next generation. It is their fifth, and the company risks ageing ungracefully. Dwindling support for the GCN is an ugly sentiment, and it is now a do or die situation. If the same type of outcome happens for the Revolution, Nintendo may be confined to the hand held industry. Even now that is under attack by Sony. Time will tell, as E3, and a display of the next generation, is only just around the corner.