So if you’re at all interested in gaming you’ll have seen the leaking PR campaign for Project Café – the code name for the new Nintendo console. The way gaming sites are reporting on this, the sources are very obviously credible and likely Nintendo insiders, so what’s been leaked is likely mostly accurate (or at least what Nintendo want us to think). It’ll be HD (how could it not be) and will supposedly be a return to core gaming (thank god) – so a pad you can play proper games on, with real dual analogue sticks, plenty of buttons and no more waggling (PLEASE). The main innovation is allegedly a touch screen on the controller. Simple but with extraordinary potential if done right.
So my speculation…
The way I would imagine it to be is the controllers will be very personal to players – with the idea that people will carry them around with them to each other’s houses and use them off line a lot. Controllers would hold all the players profile, avatar, saved games, achievements and there will be “off line” things you can do in your games just on the controller that will be up to the games makers. So it could be mini games, or customization of characters, or combinations of the two. Maybe Fifa and Pro Evo would allow you to work on deep strategy and formation planning out side of the game; you could level up by carrying out simple mini games in RPGs; access the dojo training mode in fighting games, or depending on the power of it, maybe just practice inputs and combos.
I think that would be a genuine gaming addition, rather than a gimmick like the Wii, very aimed at gamers allowing them to be locked into their gaming experiences anywhere, but could also have lots of fluffy casual applications too. It just sounds plausible to me.
The way I imagine it looking (wishful thinking) is based on a comment of an IGN writer saying they imagined the whole control pad being a screen but then heard it will have analogue sticks so dropped the idea… I’d still like imagine the whole face of the pad was a screen, just with holes in it where the sticks and buttons will be inlaid – surrounded on all sides by screen. I don’t see why it shouldn’t have the basic dimensions and layout of a Wii classic but the analogue sticks could be like the 3DS slide pads to minimize profile/danger of breaking and allow the pad to be easily slipped into a pocket. In my mind, while the whol face of the pad is a visual display, only the central area would be a capacitive touch screen area though (resistive touchscreen will be unacceptable if they plan on having us carry the thing around, which they should).
This isn’t exactly crazy stuff, but the real, meaningful gaming potential would be great. Imagine the whole view of the controller being a different skin for every game buttons being labeled with their actual functions in-game? I think developers would love that level of control over the interface and could obviously add their own “start menu” options in game on the centre of the screen if they wanted making play a lot more direct, use areas as a secondary display. I think with a lot of hardcore games getting more complex, that freedom for the developers to offer an extra five buttons when needed, then switch back to an extra radar display, then a little tutorial when needed – all without breaking coherent on screen display. For Nintendo the tutorial side would fit very well. You know how in Nintendo games something on-screen will explain how to do a certain thing – prompt you to use a button at a certain time? Imagine a little arrow appearing above a button on the pad, maybe Mario popping up on the face of the pad over the buttons pointing at a button saying “press this” with a demonstration on the main area of the pad showing how the action works? The pad would be completely dynamic and change as the game needed it to.
Maybe I’m going all out with the wishful thinking, but this is what I imagine them doing anyway. It would make controllers very expensive, with the controller probably being a large part of the cost of the system but I imagine they would sell a stripped down non-screen controller (maybe just use the existing classic controller) for multiplayer pads. Bear in mind that its been leaked that the 3DS itself with all its tech only costs Nintendo around $100 to make and it doesn’t become so far fetched for the console to be bundled with something perhaps as powerful as gameboy advance console as the pad.