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Did Any Revolution Mock-ups Get It Right?
game: Nintendo Revolution
posted by: Aaron Stanton
publisher: Nintendo
date posted: 11:48 AM Fri Sep 16th, 2005
last revision: 12:06 PM Fri Sep 16th, 2005

Click to read.There\'s probably little chance that you\'ve missed the announcement of the Nintendo Revolution controller last night at the Tokyo Game Show in Japan. The remote control flavored device caught the entire gaming community off guard, at least in appearance, defying all expectations and coming out looking pretty much like one of the most common household items of all time. In fact, I\'ve got a basket full of remotes sitting on the ground beside my chair; give me some white paint and I\'ll whip up one last mock-up before we start the day.

Before E3 2005, we ran a twoplayer comic that showed the Nintendo Revolution as the GameCube, GBA, DS, and Virtual Boy all duck taped together (see comic 1 and comic 2); turns out we should have just squished an iPod and standard TV remote into a box for a week and see what emerged after a little alone time.

The only fan mock-up that even seemed to come close to reality was this one here showing two egg-shaped items that were held in each hand; I happen to remember this one specifically because it\'s the only mock-up that I publicly called silly. I believe that my exact comment at the time was, \"If we\'re going to be batting around rumors about what the system\'s controllers are going to be like, let\'s at least make them worth looking at, eh?\" While the right-hand version of the mock-up certainly doesn\'t fit the bill (no mock-up that I know of even comes close to the remote control design), the left-hand peripheral could easily be a prototype of the egg-shaped analog stick dongle that\'s going to ship with the system.

I get to eat my words, now. They are tasty and delicious.

Other Revolution rumors that didn\'t come true include things like hot and cold feedback regions and a touch-pad with moveable buttons. At least, not yet. The dongle structure would certainly allow for all sorts of additions to the basic package, so we might still see some of these bizarre ideas showing up. My guess is, for the most part, probably not.

What\'s also interesting is how accurate others were in their predictions. The wireless connectivity was pretty obvious to anyone that\'s familiar with the way the next generation is going, but the ability to control objects in 3D space was a well-accepted possibility that\'s been a fan favorite since the Revolution was deemed to be more than a code-name. It was actually supposed to revolutionize things. Up until that point, we sort of assumed that it was just a name that didn\'t imply an actual feature or ability, sort of like whitening toothpaste. Turns out it\'s named more like the Phantom game console, whose name actually seems to imply its state of existence.

Of all the features of the announced Revolution controller, the big one is the detail with which the system can track your movements in 3D space. The ability to point like a mouse is cool, because it opens up the possibility of adequate controls for RTS titles, and titles that require higher levels of precision from the controls than traditional analog sticks can provide. What really keeps me interested, though, is the possibility of FPS titles with the Revolution in hand, aiming by twisting the controller around. Keep in mind, it doesn\'t just measure up and down, left and right; it detects all motion, including forward and back, and tilt, for God\'s sake. Leaning in a FPS might now be a matter of cocking your wrist the right way.

The revolutionary part of the controller is actually not its ability to track, but more its ability to track continuously. Light guns and peripherals able to provide that sort of feedback have existed for a long time, but they were inaccurate and only provided the information in bursts when you pulled the trigger. The Revolution introduces an element of play similar to the Eye Toy, only with far greater precision and responsiveness, and with the ability to interpret distances. I think that it is a very real possibility that Nintendo has developed a control system that can finally beat a mouse and keyboard for precision control.

This is not the first time Nintendo has taken risks and introduced a bizarre control configuration; everyone is familiar with the Nintendo DS, of course. What\'s interesting about the Nintendo DS is that the lack of an analog stick was highly criticized early in its life cycle; how were gamers going to play FPS titles without an analog stick? The PSP had a more traditional analog stick; obviously, everyone reasoned it would have better first person shooter titles. Wrong. The reality is that the touch screen turned out to be the perfect control scheme for an FPS, not in the stylus-wielding Metroid demo sort of way, but in the GoldenEye mouse pad sort of way. The unexpected control approach proved to be far superior then the more traditional, and Nintendo came out on top. Now that games like Advance Wars have come out, proving that the stylus allows for incredibly complex titles that simply wouldn\'t work well without one, the smaller, cheaper, more \"gimmicky\" handheld console is actually the one slated to have the more sophisticated and detailed gameplay.

One thing about Nintendo: they\'re hard to follow.

I read recently that there was a homebrew Nintendo DS emulator in works that would allow PSP owners to play DS games on their system. Only problem is that the best games around simply wouldn\'t work. Nintendogs without ability to interact by touch and sound? Advance Wars with no curser and no way to navigate? Kirby Canvas Curse without the ability to draw rainbows? None of them would work.

For what it\'s worth, the Nintendo DS is now offering a game experience that is simply unmatched in the industry. Sony can shrug and call it a gimmick if they like, and Microsoft can continue to pretend that Nintendo does not exist, but Nintendo has earned back a great deal of credibility in my eyes these last 12 months, and I\'m ready to see what\'s around the corner.

I\'m ready to be surprised, and Nintendo seems to be the only company willing to do that.

In the mean time, check out what some of the other members of the GF team think of the Revolution\'s controller:

Revolution Controller REVEALED

First Impressions of the Revolution Controller

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