Friday, March 31, 2006

Nintendo-Revolution down awhile

Now, this is a brief rumour round-up, as well as my last post before E3. I have just entered into a preliminary agreement to develop a concept for and then shoot a music video (I don´t just work as a game journalist, but also as a freelance producer for various kinds of projects). Part of the clip may be shot in Los Angeles just after E3, which is the reason for having to rush a first concept and storyboard.

Despite my intentions, this clip, alongside my regular work in the newsroom, will keep me so busy over the next few weeks that I will be unable to keep running this blog. Please appreciate that this is a professional project and this blog will simply have to take second place. Thanks for understanding - see you after E3!



Mr. Inc´s blog is offline, finally. In a last-ditch effort they have published a silhouette of what looks like two game characters. Here is their last post in full, just for the record:

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I have to remove this blog within 24 hours after this post. I’ve still good connections with one member (friend)of the team which said they’ve been warned about the following thing!




Whether you hate me or No End Soon, the Nintendo fans will love this month.

Goodbye forever!

PS, please confirm to yourself at E3 this blog was actually REAL ->
Look what uncle bad guy has in his hands!


PROBLEMS, SORRY . . . . . . .

Almost a brave decision to post a pic like that. With it, they will remove all doubt about them being impostors come May.

2.) Dubious interview about Zelda: Twilight Princess Rev controller features

Nintendo fan site The Hylia has apparently interviewed Eiji Aonuma, Zelda: Twilight Princess producer.

The game will be released closer to the Revolution launch, making it essentially a launch title. (...) You can control the sword and shield with the unique setup of the Revolution controller, allowing the player to experience combat in Zelda like never before. When you play the game on GameCube, the fighting mechanics are based in a third-person perspective. However, on the Revolution, the battles shift into a first person mode, which allows the player to really feel like they are dueling a foe rather than playing a game. You should see some of the boss battles in this mode.

Of course, you can use the controller to aim your bow, your hookshot or your boomerang, as well as some other items. The amount of force you use while handling the controller will also determine how far or fast your items go. There are also some puzzles specially developed on the Revolution version that will require the input from the Revolution’s controller. These puzzles will be solved a different way on the GameCube. (...) We’re still considering an online Zelda, either for DS or Revolution, but I can’t speak anymore about it at this time.

However, The Hylia has been offline for more than a day and the editors have not responded to my mails so far. The excerpts are courtesy of Codename Revolution. I mailed the site´s owner and this is the response I got:

I'm not allowed to talk about it. It's no longer up, that's all I can say without any futher consequence.


My guess here is that it was fake. No disrespect, but it´s unlikely a site like that would be able to secure such an interview.

3.) All the rest

This is where I am being overtaken by time constraints, unfortunately. I would have wished to be able to post in detail about Matt´s chore list in that IGN discussion and various other rumours going around, some of which are quite intriguing. But I simply can´t. Sorry. It was a pleasure serving you for so long (I only hope I have) and I am pretty sure that I can be back after E3 to tell you all about Revolution. In the meantime, please use my link list, which I believe to be rather comprehensive. And, if you would be so kind, please use the comments section to keep me up-to-date with any recent developments. Looks like the tables have turned now ;)

Sources: Mr. Inc´s blog, The Hylia, Codename Revolution
Thanks to: all of you

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Revolution to have Xbox specs

The Revolution will have little more horsepower than the original Xbox, IGN reports. They have spoken to a number of studios who wish to remain anonymous. Here´s the story:

IBM's "Broadway" CPU is clocked at 729MHz, according to updated Nintendo documentation. By comparison, GameCube's Gekko CPU ran at 485MHz. The original Xbox's CPU, admittedly a different architecture altogether, was clocked at 733MHz. Meanwhile, Xbox 360 runs three symmetrical cores at 3.2GHz. (...)

Revolution's ATI-provided "Hollywood" GPU clocks in at 243MHz. By comparison, GameCube's GPU ran at 162MHz, while the GPU on the original Xbox was clocked at 233MHz. Sources we spoke with suggest that it is unlikely the GPU will feature any added shaders, as has been speculated.

"The 'Hollywood' is a large-scale integrated chip that includes the GPU, DSP, I/O bridge and 3MBs of texture memory," a studio source told us.

The overall system memory numbers we reported last December have not greatly fluctuated, but new clarifications have surfaced. Revolution will operate using 24MBs of "main" 1T-SRAM. It will additionally boast 64MBs of "external" 1T-SRAM. That brings the total number of system RAM up to 88MBs, not including the 3MB texture buffer on the GPU. By comparison, GameCube featured 40MBs of RAM not counting the GPU's on-board 3MBs. The original Xbox included 64MBs total RAM. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 operate on 512MBs of RAM.

It is not known if the 14MBs of extra D-RAM we reported on last December are in the current Revolution specifications.

"The external RAM can be accessed as quickly as the main RAM, which is a nice touch," a developer we spoke with alleged.

This news is hardly surprising - and shouldn´t make us expect any less graphics from the console when we will see games within the next few weeks (or quite possibly within days). After all, seeing how Nintendo managed to get Resident Evil 4 running on their current hardware, just think what wonders they could do with at least double that hardware power.

Source: IGN

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Revolution news imminent

We will see Revolution games within the next four weeks. First of all, IGN´s Matt Casamassina has pretty much confirmed that there will be Revolution news before E3 by posting the following on an IGN Insider board, freely available through GoNintendo:

You won’t have to wait for E3 for stuff, that much I can guarantee. GDC should be decent. And you’ll learn about and even see games prior to E3.

He has since reiterated that statement on an IGN Board open to the public:

Well, I happen to know the timelines for some releases and a few are happening in April. Supposing the schedules don't change -- at this point, I'd be near-impossible to move them -- you'll start to see stuff before E3.

Thirdly, there is Nintendo Power claiming they will have "the biggest scoop of the year so far" on the next edition´s cover. Here´s a scan, courtesy of GoNintendo:

And lastly, I myself can reveal that we will see Revolution games within the next four weeks, possibly much sooner. I may have posted this under the rumour heading, but this is fact. If you ask me, about time.

Source: IGN Insider boards (through GoNintendo), IGN boards
Image source: GoNintendo

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Geometry Wars developer working on Rev project?

Are the award-winning makers of the Xbox Live Arcade blockbuster Geometry Wars and the racing series Project Gotham Racing working on a Revolution title?

The UK-based development studio Bizarre Creations Ltd. are listing a yet unannounced project with these mysterious words:

What's next from Bizarre Creations? Remember kids, Bizarre Creations ain't just a racing game company! We have fingers in other pies as well... and PGR3 isn't the only thing coming to next-generation consoles from our studios. Watch this space for details!

Their next update was a photo of (allegedly) a bruised elbow, accompanied by these words:

As a result of excessive leaning whilst play-testing Bizarre Creation's as-of-yet-unannounced project, Nick Davies (Design Manager) has incurred a really gross gaming injury. In fact, it's so gross that he thought it would be a good idea to share it with the world at large...

One of the posters suspects just what I am thinking: A bruised elbow is most likely sustained while playing with the Revolution controller.

And, finally, they have a third update about a mystery piece of paper, which they claim is "fluttering around" the studio. Here is the latest picture of the mystery paper, next to what I believe is a shotgun shell of sorts.

Could this project be for the Revolution? Quite possibly, in my opinion. The developer has made their admiration of the console known and the bruised elbow is a solid hint. They are currently developing a game for SEGA, possibly one of their own IPs, and this could be it. I am going to watch that website for more.

Source: Bizarre Creations Ltd.
Image source: Bizarre Creations Ltd.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Simultaneous launch in question

A simultaneous worldwide launch for the Revolution console seems to be in question, Bloomberg has learned (via the Taipei Times). They have interviewed Nintendo president Satoru Iwata after his GDC keynote speech. Here´s their story:

Iwata said that unlike Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo doesn't plan to release the Revolution globally at the same time.

"We don't think it's necessary to do the simultaneous worldwide launch simply because others are doing this," he said.

However, Iwata said the very opposite in October, speaking to Nikkei Business. The article was never published online, but numerous sites posted the story. Some even confirmed it with their own sources, as my October post Global Revolution launch after April summarizes.

There is no questioning the validity of Bloomberg and there is only a little chance of the Taipei Times getting it wrong (by translating the article back and forth, for example). At the same time, the Nikkei Business was never discredited either. So here we have Iwata contradicting Iwata.

What could be the reason for this? I believe that Nintendo will have a relative ease of production, given that the hardware components appear to be modelled closely on their predecessors and are not reinventing the wheel (which is precisely what Sony and Microsoft have opted for). So out of those three, Nintendo is in the best position to pull off a simultaneous launch in all three main territories. And if they are able to pull it off, why not do so? Iwata´s new comments could only be a smokescreen intended to fool the competition. That, I believe, is the most likely scenario. Remember Nintendo´s initial responses to the DS Lite and Rev controller features for Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Source: Bloomberg (via Taipei Times)
Thanks to: Revolution Report, GoNintendo, Gamefront (German)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Nintendo press release

This Nintendo press release just came in, summarizing Iwata´s keynote speech at GDC.

Nintendo Also Announces Plans to Offer Classic Sega and TurboGrafx Games

SAN JOSE, Calif., March 23, 2006 – Nintendo President Satoru Iwata today challenged a crowd of game developers to think differently and take a fresh approach to the creation of video games. During his keynote address at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., Iwata said Nintendo will provide developers with the tools they need to disrupt the traditional methods of game creation, much as the company already has.

These tools include the controller for Nintendo’s next home console (code-named Revolution), which lets users control the action on their television screens through the motion of the controller itself. The controller lets game developers create new kinds of gaming experiences, ones that enhance the experience for hard-core gamers while making video games more accessible and less intimidating to novices. The new forms of innovative software that can be created by any size developer will be made available for download via Revolution’s Virtual Console service.

“This new approach is like stepping onto an unexplored continent for the first time, with all the potential for discovery that suggests,” Iwata said. “No one else can match the environment we’re creating for expanding the game experience to everyone. Our path is not linear, but dynamic.”

Iwata also announced partnerships with Sega and Hudson to offer downloadable access to their classic games via Revolution’s Virtual Console. Revolution owners will be able to relive their past gaming glories from the Sega Genesis console by playing a “best of” selection from more than 1,000 Genesis titles, as well as games sold for the TurboGrafx console (a system jointly developed by NEC and Hudson). These games join Revolution’s access to 20 years of fan-favorite Nintendo games from the NES®, Super NES® and Nintendo® 64 eras.

Iwata also revealed for the first time that a new game called The Legend of Zelda®: Phantom Hourglass would be released for Nintendo DS later this year.
Iwata, a game developer himself, revealed behind-the-scenes stories about the development of three key initiatives.

For the industry leading Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, internal engineers and developers overcame a series of hurdles to make the system seamless and flexible enough to allow players to choose to play wirelessly either with friends or against unknown opponents. The Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection reached 1 million unique users in just 18 weeks – nearly five times the adoption rate of the leading online game console network.

He described a pivotal meeting in coming to agreement on development of the incredibly popular “brain games” in Japan. A leading Japanese scientist attached a sci-fi-looking wired helmet to a Nintendo staffer and then visually demonstrated stimulation of brain activity as the staffer played prototype software.
Finally, he described the hundreds of sketches, dozens of prototypes and company-wide collaboration that led to the final form of the unique Revolution controller system, which resembles a traditional TV remote control. He called the related research and manufacturing costs of the new control system, “… our method to disrupt the market … realizing a new way to connect a player to his game.”

Quite a bit more background details, which you may be hungry for (since there was so little news in general).

EDIT On their press server, NOA has published Iwata´s speech in full. For your benefit, I have pasted the relevant paragraphs below (leaving out the introduction, a lengthy talk about the ´Brain Training´ series and the announcement regarding ´Zelda: Phantom Hourglass´ for the DS). Find the entire speech here.

In 2004, we began considering Wi-Fi gaming. From the start, we had several challenges. First, we knew that both Animal Crossing and Mario Kart would be arriving on the DS the next year, and we wanted them to feature Wi-Fi play. That made the development timetable very short. Secondly, I insisted that our Wi-Fi interface be seamless. I wanted connecting to someone around the world to be as easy as connecting to someone playing next to you in the same room. As you know, this creates its own problems, because normally making things easier for players, makes things harder for developers. But the most difficult aspect was deciding who players would be able to connect with. Online gaming normally belongs to the most aggressive players, and they can be a very vocal group.

For the casual player, this kind of interaction can be very intimidating. I believed if we catered to only this very vocal group of hard-core players, we could never truly expand the audience. Originally, we thought Wi-Fi should be set up as a kind of social network, almost a game-play version of MySpace. In Japan, we initially referred to the Wi-Fi system as „project house party.“ We had in mind the comfort of inviting friends over to play in your own home. Well, at Nintendo of America this name was not very popular. They told us that this sounded like what you call a „tupperware party.“ No matter what we called it, I believed the experience must be easy and fun. What did I mean by „easy?“ It´s simple to connect a game on DS locally when you´re sitting in a room with your friends. It should be just as easy to find those friends and play with them even if they´re thousands of miles away.

But what is „fun?“ That depends on the player. You may want to play Mario Kart only with people you know. Or you may find it more fun to try to defeat total strangers. Sometimes, the choice will be determined by the nature of the game. No one playing Animal Crossing wants someone to come in cut down all their trees and trash their town. What was important to me was that players have the choice, and the freedom to choose which way to play. For developers, „easy“ and „fun“ doesn´t mean the work will be „easy“ or „fun.“ There were many barriers to overcome. And my colleague, Mr. Takao Ohara, will share those stories with you later here at the GDC. In the end, it is the freedom of choice, I believe, that has made the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection so successful.

To date, we have surpassed 1 million unique players, totaling more than 29 million play sessions - and, this in only 18 weeks of availability. We reached 1 million players almost five times as fast as the Xbox Live service, which also offered free connections when it began. It took them 20 months to reach 1 million different users. Of course, this has made our Wi-Fi development team very happy as you can see. What you can´t see is that sign they´re holding up, a message to all of you. So let me show you what it said: We love the GDC. They all wanted to come, but I told them, „Sorry, no.“ But I did promise I would bring their picture. As you know, this week we added a new wrinkle to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Voice over internet protocol arrived with Metroid Prime Hunters. It introduces a new level of fun. (...) [Demonstration follows]

The third story I have to share is the answer to a question people ask me all the time: how did we get the idea for the Revolution free-hand controller? Well, we started out with a very simple question: why is it that anyone feels comfortable picking up a remote control for a TV, but many people are afraid to even touch the controller for a video game system? This was our starting point. Our first controller meetings began early in 2004, and from that initial thought we added two other requirements. First, the controller must be wireless. We need to give players freedom to move.

And second, the look of the controller had to be simple and non-threatening. But of course, at the same time, it had to be sophisticated enough to serve the needs of complex games. And yes, we also wanted it to be „revolutionary.“ Finding an answer to all of this was not easy. For more than six months, two people at NCL did nothing but produce sketch after sketch with new ideas. Each sketch caused more discussion, and the discussions led us to create dozens of prototype designs. In all, about 15 people were involved trying to figure out an answer. At the same time, I was considering technologies which would incorporate a direct pointing device, something that would show direct visual contact between the controller and the screen. In fact, many good ideas were floating around, but nothing yet felt revolutionary.

Early last year a young team leader of the controller development group came up with a disruptive idea: what if you could play with just one hand? Mr. Miyamoto quickly imagined a small, simple, wireless device. That intrigued us, but we realized an immediate problem. Considering our plans, how would we allow backward compatibility to all the previous Nintendo games that required two-hand control? Again, Mr. Miyamoto had an answer: make the small wireless controller detachable from a larger, traditional controller - both using the same wireless interface.

This sounded good, but when we shared the idea with our Metroid Prime producers, they objected. They said their games would not work with what we invented. They added another idea: Why not keep the simple one-hand controller, but also add a secondary device for the other hand if the game required it? - Something like a nun-chuk device. We think this is something that will entirely change firstperson shooter games. By separately using the joystick device to control position and the direct pointing device to target enemies the experience truly feels more intuitive.

Now, we really went to work. There were dozens of models and prototypes fabricated until we came up with the final result. And what did it look like? Well, it looked exactly like the same TV remote control that we first imagined more than a year earlier. Sometimes ideas are like good wine in that they just need time. After all the designs and mockups, we were happy with the final result. It met our goals. It was wireless. It was inviting to new players. It offered something brand new for core players. And, it was also a new interface we could offer to every player. But, it also represented something else.

As you can imagine, this was a very expensive process. Not only in terms of the research and development costs, but also the manufacturing expense of producing such an elaborate control system, and including it as part of every hardware purchase. Some people put their money on the screen, but we decided to spend ours on the game experience. It is an investment in actual market disruption. Not simply to improve the market - but disrupt it. We believe a truly new kind of game entertainment will not be realized unless there is a new way to connect a player to his game.

„New“ is good, but there also is an appetite for „old.“ For young players, classic games are brand new. For others, they are a way to feel young again. After we announced the virtual console concept for revolution last year, many people asked me if only games for Nintendo systems would be available. Today, I have a better answer. I can announce that games specifically developed for both the Sega Genesis and the NEC Turbo Grafx system will also be available for Nintendo Revolution via the Virtual Console. Between them, these systems built a library of more than a thousand different games. Of course, not all of them will be available, but the best of them will. Thank you for listening to my stories this morning.

However, the most important story of all is still to be told. I hope all of you, the creative force of our industry, will help us write it. It is the story of how disruption will help every one of us overcome the growing barriers to game development. We know what the main barrier is cost. There is one dominant business model for our industry. Publishers work backwards from a console game at retail that sells for $50 or now, even $60. To compete at that level, games must be longer, larger and more complex, which requires bigger development teams. Success is more likely if a strong license is acquired, but even then, huge amounts of money are needed to market that game to a mass audience.

It´s understandable that many publishers, in order to reduce risk, feel most comfortable relying on sequels to already successful, high budget games. As a result, our business is beginning to resemble a bookstore where you can only buy expensive, full sets of encyclopedias. No romance novels. No paperbacks. No magazines. In our business, too often people with a fresh idea don´t have a chance. I believe if Tetris were presented today, here is what the producer would be told: „Go back... give me more levels... give me better graphics... give me cinematics... and you´re probably going to need a movie license to sell that idea to the public.“ The producer would go away dejected. Today, Tetris might never be made.

Nintendo understands the dominant business model. We work with it every day. And future Zeldas and Marios and Metroids are going to be bigger masterpieces than ever before. But, this does not have to be the only business model. We want to help you create a new one. One where your simple Tetris will be made. With Nintendo Revolution, we offer a combination of opportunities that simply can´t be matched. Our controller allows for every existing form of game to take on a new character. It allows for game creation that is not dependent on just the size of the development budget. I consider our virtual console concept the video game version of Apple´s iTunes music store.

Since I first announced the virtual console concept last year at E3, other people have become very interested in digital downloads. Others will offer such a service, 12 but it will not be the same. Because for us, this is not just a new business opportunity, for us, this is true innovation - true disruption. It is part of our DNA. The digital download process will bring new games to the widest possible audience of new players. Young people, older people, even those who never played video games before. When I think of what faces all of us right now, I imagine what it must have been like for the explorers who first set foot on a new continent. For them, it was impossible to imagine all the adventure that lay ahead.

Our adventure is still ahead of us. Nintendo is committed to creating an environment where all of your work can prosper. I began today saying that disruption is not just a strategy for Nintendo. Yes, we have already disrupted handheld - and it worked. Yes, we have already disrupted Wi-Fi - and it worked. We disrupted the very definition of a game - and that is working, too. In a few weeks, you will better understand how to disrupt console gaming. You will play, and you will see.

At Nintendo, we do not run from risk. We run to it. We are taking the risk to move beyond current boundaries. It should be our goal, each of us, to reach the new players as well as the current players. Our goal is to show them surprise. Our reward is to convince them that above all video games are meant to be just one thing - fun ... Fun for everyone. Thank you again so much for inviting me.

There you go. Lots of interesting quotes to mull over.

Source: Nintendo of Europe press server
Image source: Nintendo of America press server

Thursday, March 23, 2006

GDC summary

As my contacts have assured me, there was little Revolution news at the GDC. IGN has a live transcript of president Iwata´s keynote speech. Here are the key points:

* Zelda game for DS announced, to be released this year
* Sega and Hudson back catalogue will be available through the virtual console

That´s it, people. Hardly anything. My contact was perfectly correct.

Source: IGN

Introducing Nintendo Go?

Could Nintendo Go be the final name of Nintendo´s next-gen console? Engadget has been sent the above image. Here´s their story:

Someone sent in this image of what they believe might be a swiped slide from Japan showing off Nintendo's final brand for the forthcoming Revolution. Supposedly it could be announced later today by Iwata-san at GDC in San Jose, but until one of our faithful readers wants to translate what little text is visible we're by no means prepared to comment on the validity of this shot -- if anything, we're inclined to call hoax, since they quite often are, particularly with Apple and Nintendo.

I am undecided about its validity. The name is cool. The logo I would have to get used to.

EDIT Apparently, ´Go´ means 5 in Japanese. The name would fit perfectly, this being Nintendo´s fifth console.

EDIT Here´s a translation of the Kanji, courtesy of Arihb.

1. Burando wa Hanei... Brands reflect/influence....
2... mu no nyuushu no kanou... ..the possibility of attaining...
3...[toumen?] ga ima made ni... ..* until now..
4..."GO". to burando... ..the brand "GO"...
5...emaa wa ima made ni... ..**emaa was until now..
6...sentaku wo keiken suru kikai.. ..opportunity to experience the choice....
7...[shi]sutemuleberu de fukun[de].. ..bear in mind the system level..
8...gijutsu ni saishinjouhou wo tsuka.. ..use new information on technology..

*The first kanji means to step on, or trample, the second means features. I don't know what they mean together, no matter what's in front of it. The rest means

** the first half of this word is probably on the line before it, but I can't figure out what it is.

Thanks for the translation, Arihb.

Source: Engadget
Thanks to: Fletcher, Product_Number_18

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Revolution to launch in June?

There have been fresh rumours that a June launch for the Revolution is possible. A few days ago, Business Week quoted an analyst, who seemed to lend credence to the story by speculating about what would happen:

"There are rumors that the Revolution could be released as early as June," says Akiteru Itoh of Tokyo-based game-research outfit Media Create. "If that happens, and Nintendo sells around 1 million units, Sony would have a harder time catching up."

Now, SPOnG has reminded us that they had an exclusive story last year to the same effect. They now give us a bit more background about how their story came about:

Senior sources within Nintendo and its close partners assured us it was the case. To add a bit of rare background to this piece, at the time the news broke on SPOnG, we were aware that several games media outlets in Japan had been briefed either casually off the record or under terms of non-disclosure that Nintendo's internal target and that of its partners was June 2006.

Over the course of several meetings, a long-time SPOnG mole was made privy to these plans, prompting the investigation into Revolution launch plans and netting the comments published above.

However, I briefly spoke to a very senior German Nintendo rep today who asked me if I had heard those rumours. I said that I was aware of them. He replied that he would be very surprised if that turned out to be true. Now, I am not saying that Nintendo couldn´t pull off a June launch without telling senior staff here in Europe, but that would be very strange nonetheless.

Bear in mind that I spoke to someone very senior at Nintendo of Europe, not just Germany. If he didn´t know, when would he be able to plan the European launch strategy, talk to major European retailers, mobilize his PR machine and so on?

EDIT Oh, and I was also told that there probably won´t be huge news at Iwata´s GDC keynote. We´ll find out tomorrow.

Sources: Business Week, SPOnG

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

GDC reminder

This is another one of those practical reminders of what will be happening this week and when. Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo Co. Ltd., will hold a one-hour keynote speech on Thursday, 23rd of March entitled ´Disrupting Development´ at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, California, USA. Here´s an overview of when the speech will take place in the relevant timezones:

10:30 am California, Nevada, British Columbia (PST)

11:30 am Arizona, New Mexico, Alberta (MST)

12:30 pm Louisiana, Arkansas, Manitoba (CST)

13:30 pm New York, Virginia, Quebec, Ontario (EST)

6:30 pm UK, Portugal (GMT)

7:30 pm Germany, France, Spain, Italy (CET)

The following times are for Friday, 24th of March:

2:30 am Western Australia (AWST)

4:00 am Northern Territory, South Australia (ACST)

4:30 am Queensland, New South Wales (AEST)

6:30 am New Zealand (NZST)

Also, do remember that a reputable industry magazine in the UK wrote last month that Iwata was to "unveil some key details" about the Revolution at the event. Further, IGN´s Nintendo editor Matt Casamassina said that "you’ll learn about and even see games prior to E3", as GoNintendo reported.

Most recently (but perhaps also somewhat predictably), GDC´s director Jamil Moledina is advising people: "I would strongly recommend attending the two platform keynotes from Sony’s Phil Harrison and Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata. Trust me!", as FiringSquad reported. Of course, Nintendo will save the best for last, i.e. E3. But this will also be one to watch. And where, I hear you ask? My weapon of choice will be Joystiq, who will be "blogging live from the event."

Source: Wikipedia, Game Developers Conference, GoNintendo, FiringSquad
Image source: Nintendo press server
Thanks to: Digg, Joystiq

Friday, March 17, 2006

++EXCLUSIVE++ Shiggy confirms Rev controller features for Zelda exclusively to me ++EXCLUSIVE++

Welcome to my anniversary exclusive. It is hard to imagine, but in only a few days my page view counter will hit the one million mark. I would like to thank all my readers again for making this blog possible. And what better way to celebrate this than an exclusive interview with Shigeru Miyamoto himself, Nintendo´s head designer and manager of the reknowned EAD studio.

I have conducted the interview on behalf of three news outlets and am currently unable to post the transcript. I will do so soon. In the meantime you may read my first article (in German) at Der Spiegel, a weekly German magazine (comparable to Newsweek or The Economist). I will translate the article soon. Please check the Google translation in the meantime.

You have probably heard the big news about Miyamoto confirming that ´Zelda: Twilight Princess´ will have special controller features when played on the Revolution. In fact, Miyamoto confirmed this piece of information exclusively to me, much to everyone´s surprise. Nintendo of Europe then had to react quickly and posted a press statement before I could write the article. Nevertheless, this bit of information was revealed exclusively to me, writing on behalf of Der Spiegel. Here´s the translated excerpt from the article:

´Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess´ will still be released for the current console, the Gamecube. A sword fight however would be more than suitable for the Revolution controller. As we reported already yesterday, Miyamoto let this one slip, much to the PR people´s surprise. "Let me put it this way," Miyamoto says. "When you are going to play ´Twilight Princess´ on the Revolution, you are going to be able to use the Revolution controller. I can confirm that you can shoot arrows by utilizing the remote control."

In order to illustrate, he points his hand at us and fires a few imagniary arrows in our direction. He probably forgot that this piece of information was supposed to remain a secret.

If you can, please check out the entire article. As I said before, I will post the transcript as soon as my other articles are online.

EDIT My second article is now online. It was written for the online part of Die Zeit, Germany´s most reputable weekly paper. If you are able to read German, please check it out. I will now post the interview as soon as I can.

EDIT Thank you all for your patience. Here is the interview in full. Please be advised that Miyamoto´s answers (through a translator) are verbatim. Not all parts make perfect sense. For a number of answers, I will consult Japanese native speakers in due time and, hopefully, will be able to clarify a number of points.

On a legal note: You are free to republish this entire interview or quote from it, as long as you do not alter the content in any way and you also absolutely must cite the appropriate sources by copying and pasting the following HTML code alongside without alteration:

Sources: <a href=,1518,406471,00.html>Der Spiegel</a>, <a href=>Die Zeit</a>, <a href=>RTL II News</a>

The interview itself has been conducted on behalf of these three major news outlets. Please appreciate that there are copyright issues attached to this interview and, as a consequence, failure to give appropriate credit might result in legal action. Thank you.

What does receiving the French knighthood mean to you? Do you feel that the French are more open-minded to accept games as a part of their culture?

When I first heard about the possibility of receiving this important award, I was kind of embarrassed to tell you the truth. I had been making videogames for so many years but all the time was working with so many friends (…)
Since the French government is now going to recognize videogames as part of their culture, I thought it would be good for the whole industry if I received the award.

A prestigious cultural award for videogames - even nowadays that´s an unlikely combination to a lot of people. Are videogames really more than just mass entertainment and a way to pass the time? Surely, videogames cannot compete with books, on a cultural level?

I think it’s hard to compare videogames with any existing arts or culture actually. I think videogames are something brand new. For example if we look at the so-called arts, literature as a whole, those are created by some authors and painters, but when it comes to the recipients, all we are supposed to do is listen to the music, looking at the arts, reading the books. That’s all we are supposed to do. It’s just one way. But what we are dealing with here is videogames, which is interactive entertainment, which is an unprecedented form, I believe.

What I’m trying to do is make players as creative as possible. More specifically we want players to think about what next move he or she is going to do. So this kind of interaction as a whole is going to make the whole videogames. What we are offering is just part of that. We need the active participations from the users. So that’s why I say that videogames are very different. And a pretty new format which has no comparison with any existing format.

I understand that some people believe that it’s just a waste of time. But for those who are actually playing with the videogames they are having some significant importance because they are trying to be creative, they are going to become artists themselves by playing with videogames. If we are talking about that aspect of videogames, I think we can call it part of the culture already.

With Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong, you created some of the best known franchises. But that was two decades ago. Your most recent characters, the flower people in the quirky game Pikmin for example, failed to have the same impact. Is the cutie-pie appeal dead?

For example, when I think about the reason why Mario is enjoying such longevity in terms of sustained popularity by so many people all around the world. I think it’s simple. The reason is that Mario has appeared in videogames, which is very interesting for the game players.

If we created characters called Mario as itself and tried to advertise that as the character for nothing, then we will not have this success with the popularity of Mario. Mario has been enormously popular all around the world for twenty or so years. Simply because people can relate the new videogames with the name of Mario. Because whenever we come up with a new format of hardware or new applications to make existing hardware more unique, we are trying to make Mario as the character which is appearing in this kind of software application.

I think people relate to Mario as if it is the character to show you the new digital entertainment and actually we have been trying to do that intentionally. So if you ask me if there is no competition with Mario as the character, it’s hard to tell. Mario as the character itself I do not think has been that popular. Mario has never appeared in those kind of software titles. My point is that I always try to cherish Mario as a character, so he always trying to do with best acts when I request him to appear in a new digital entertainment formats.

The latest Mario game, the new Super Mario Bros. for DS, is basically a side scrolling Jump ’n Run. Why return to the good old times of 2D platformers?

I think that’s a tribute to the hardware, namely to the DS-Platform. With the success of Nintendogs and Brain Training and many other unusual software application - we call them the Touch Generation titles - a number of the people who are purchasing DS are the people who have not played with videogames before. For them Nintendo DS has turned out to be their very first videogames machine in their lives that they can buy.

Looking at its size, the Revolution is hardly bigger than the original Xbox controller. Just how portable is it going to be? Where will Revolution take gamers?

I don’t think that we can call Revolution a portable videogame machine. I don’t know how to characterize it. Just an example: in Japan, whenever electronic makers are trying to advertise their refrigerator product line, they hardly talk about how many things the fridge can contain or how powerful the cooling function is. They are talking about how less electric consuming the average is. And another example from racing, Honda for one is inventing more efficient engines. Yet there most profitable machine is not a racing machines or their engines after all, it’s a compact car called Fit.

Similar things can be said about console games machines. Of course, in terms of current technologies, Nintendo could have made Revolution somewhat different machines. In other words we could make it a state-of-the-art with beefed up processing power. But we have not opted to take that course. Nintendo has been thinking in terms of how each family member is thinking about videogames nowadays. We wanted Revolution to become the machine that each family member feels like touching it, want Revolution to sit comfortably next to their TV sets. And to do that we wanted Revolution to be compact and less noisy and we want Revolution to have the look that would not intimidate people, but rather encourage people to touch it.

You yourself said that there is still a last secret to the console. There are even rumours of 3D visors and projectors. Just how big is that last secret? Will the console really be able to deliver, given such high expectations?

I am sorry that I can’t tell you that. What I can tell you is that revolution is not going to be that kind of difficult machine to handle. Whenever we are talking about secrets, the secrets created in order to let people feel like I can touch it, I want to play with it. That’s all regardless of their past gaming experiences. The secrets are always there for them to feel that this is a machine; I really want to play with it.

At the recent tourism fair in Germany, the travel industry is gearing up to cater for the pensioners, giving them names like Silver Travellers. You are targeting Silver Gamers with your puzzle game Brain Training. Is this a one-off or do you want to see the revolution find its way into old people’s homes?

In Japan we are already having that kind of phenomenon, whereby a lot of the elderly citizens are already enjoying Brain Training, Europe is yet to have that. But soon you are going to have a similar experience and we are hopeful that European people, including senior citizens, will be enjoying the Brain Training software application. In Japan that is already the case. Starting from Brain Training and Nintendogs, now Animal Crossing is selling extremely well. Against the original sales expectation, Animal Crossing is enjoying four times more the original expectatons, topping two million sales in a few weeks of the launch.

Now, talking about Revolution, because Revolution is a home console, which is supposed to be connected to a tv set, which is supposed to be in the living room of each family household, we really hope that we can do even more than what Nintendo DS has been able to do, so everybody feels comfortable for the Revolution to be connected to an ordinary tv set all the time.

The TGS trailer shows a sword-fighting game. Will we be able to swing the master sword at launch? Revolution controller functionality has been practically confirmed for Zelda twilight princess.

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is GameCube software and GameCube software can run on the Revolution. Utilizing the new Revolution Controller you may be able to have some new sensation. Even in comparison when you are trying the Twilight Princess on the GameCube.

Let me get this straight. You are saying that Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess will have Revolution controller functionality?

Let me put it this way. When you are going to play Twilight Princess on the Revolution, you are going to use the Revolution-Controller. I can confirm that you can shoot the arrow by utilizing the game remote control.

Sources: Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, RTL II News
Thanks to: Product_Number_18

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

PlayStation3 to launch in November

The PlayStation3 will launch in Japan in November, the Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun has learned. This news comes only a few hours ahead of Sony´s conference, where the announcement will be made official. 1up has the story.

There aren't many details out right now, but Sony says issues over the finalization of copy protection technology related to their Blu-ray disc drive is the cause of the delay.

When asked for a comment, a Sony Computer Entertainment America spokesperson only went on record saying that SCEI has not issued any official statement itself yet.

While Europe had expected the PS3 to launch here no earlier than 2007, gamers in the States will be shocked at the prospect of Sony´s console missing out on the christmas season. I have always been expecting a delay of the PS3, but I never would have guessed a launch in Japan as late as November. The late launch also suggests that it´s too early for Sony to announce a price yet.

Source: Nihon Keizai Shimbun , 1up
Thanks to: Extreme Tech

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sony to steal virtual console concept?

Sony Computer Entertainment International may host a press conference this week and reveal more details about its upcoming console PlayStation3, Ferrago reports. The event is rumoured to take place in Tokyo on March 15th.

The conference (...) was hinted at by a Koei executive at an unrelated event. Koei chief Kiyoshi Komatsu stated that 'some details' might be made available then (at the conference on the 15th).

This showing would come less than two weeks after the PS3 was notably absent from SCEA´s recent retail event in Florida. Also, the wording merely suggests the possibility of such an event. If it is to take place at all, it may still only be for developers and may not include any news that will be made public.

Whenever news about Sony´s newest offering is heading our way, we are sure to be presented with an online service eerily similar to Nintendo´s virtual console, has learned.

Reports from development sources close to Sony Computer Entertainment are indicating that the firm is planning a major digital distribution service for game content, which could be a key element of PlayStation 3 - or even of a relaunched PS2.

Several senior developers have confirmed to that they have spoken informally with Sony about the question of digital distribution on consoles, although these discussions were described as being "purely about technology, not business models" by one source.

However, even the technology discussed could be very revealing regarding the Japanese giant's plans for the coming years - with one source from the development arm of a major third-party publisher claiming that Sony has been discussing the technical feasibility of providing PSone and PS2 titles over digital distribution with them.

This move would quite obviously be an attempt to copy Nintendo´s announced download service of games from its first three home consoles, dubbed as the ´virtual console´. Of course, all console manufacturers have stolen ideas from one another at some point. The virtual console could even be compared to Microsoft´s ´Xbox Live Arcade´, which was announced at the same time as the virtual console. But Microsoft´s concept is based on minigames, whereas Nintendo´s is offering their entire back catalogue. If Sony would copy Nintendo´s specific idea, they might lose credibility as a market innovator (which they undoubtedly are, given ´Eye Toy´ and ´Singstar´ for example). Well, we will all be wiser by the 15th, that´s for sure.

EDIT The SCE event is confirmed. reports that SCEI confirmed that such a conference is to take place and will be open to media and analysts as well as developers.

The conference, which has been widely rumoured to be the venue for new PS3 announcements since last week, will take place at 3pm local time (6am GMT) in Tokyo tomorrow, and will be open to media and analysts as well as to Sony's publishing partners.

Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi is set to address the conference, which will be the last possible venue for major PlayStation announcements in Japan before SCE's worldwide studios chief Phil Harrison's keynote at the Game Developers' Conference in San Jose next week, and probably the last chance for the firm to reveal PS3 details before its year-end on March 31st.

Although some commentators have suggested that the event may not include exact launch details since it is a relatively low-key conference, Sony can hardly afford to wait until E3 to announce further information regarding PS3, since it has as recently as last week claimed to be sticking to a launch timescale which will see the console appearing in Spring.

Further, the release of press material (screenshots mostly) for a number of PS3 games seems to have been scheduled for tomorrow, obviously in sync with the conference. So games are likely to be shown.

Source: Ferrago,
Thanks to: Joystiq

Saturday, March 11, 2006

IGN takes dev kit for a test-drive

IGN has just had some hands-on time with an earlier type of Revolution development kit. Here´s the rundown:
Revolution will definitely operate as an extension of the GameCube hardware. These preliminary kits include only a wired Revolution controller, a wired nunchuck attachment and a wired motion bar, which some studios have labeled the "wand." (...) The wired Revolution controller is inserted into a control socket on the GameCube hardware. The nunchuck unit connects to the freehand-style controller via a makeshift Ethernet cable. And the so-called wand plugs into a Memory Pak slot on the GCN development hardware. A software solution undoubtedly resolves any initial compatibility issues. Studios have been told by Nintendo to experiment from there.

The freehand-style remote included in the preliminary kit is neither as well produced nor as finalized as the slick hardware Nintendo has showcased in official photos. It's not wireless, for starters. But even from a visual standpoint, it's different, sporting a grayish color and a flimsy, plastic-like design. It's much lighter in the hands than we had anticipated, which makes sense given that it doesn't use batteries. The unit is powered through its wired connection to the GCN development hardware. The final, wireless controller will need batteries, which should give it some weight.

One attribute about the controller that may be difficult to ascertain from photos is its size. For as many times as we've seen it in various videos and pictures, we're surprised at how tiny the device feels in the hands. The freehand unit is much smaller than the remote that ships with the premium package of Xbox 360, by comparison. Despite how small it is, it's very natural to hold. The peripheral offers extremely intuitive access to the A button, D-Pad and underbelly B-trigger, all of which are properly labeled. Interestingly, the A and B buttons located beneath the mysterious home key are labeled twice: A and B in capital letters and again in lowercase letters. We're not sure why. The buttons themselves are clicky, not unlike those found on a Game Boy Advance SP.

The nunchuck unit is snugly held in the opposite hand and the Ethernet wire connecting it to the Revmote is obviously far from final. The two shoulder buttons on the development nunchuck unit are not labeled.

Finally, there's the motion sensory bar, which is a thin black device in the shape of a baton that sits on a tiny stand near or on a television. Nintendo has stated that this bar is a prototype and therefore the unit that ships with the basic developer kit shouldn't be considered final in any way. It is about a foot long and relatively unobtrusive, except for a wire that extends from one side and plugs into the GCN dev kit's Memory Pak slot. (...)

Most software houses working with this kit have only a vague idea about what to expect from Revolution where horsepower is concerned. Studio sources regularly reiterate previously reported projections that the hardware will be roughly twice as powerful as GameCube. Development insiders we've spoken to seem unconcerned with power and instead focused on the gameplay possibilities that the new controller may help realize.

Unfortunately, they were unable to test any games. Sorry for the recent lack of updates, by the way. I am quite busy and preparing for the Miyamoto interview next week.

Source: IGN
Thanks to: Product_Number_18

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Revolution to feature microphone peripheral

I have finally had time to look at Yanko´s blog in more detail. In a recent post, he makes a persuasive case for the Revolution featuring microphone input.

In a number of patents, he has come across an audio input other than the game disc. He has cleverly illustrated this by colouring in the various parts of the patents´ diagrams. The conventional input is shown as red, the additional input as blue.

He then comes to the conclusion that the only feasible answer is that the additional audio input must be a microphone peripheral of sorts. Please have a look at his article.

Source / Image source: Yanko´s blog

Revolution a semi-portable?

In an article about Square Enix denying recent rumours about ´Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles´, Eurogamer reminded me of a most interesting quote by Square Enix president Yoichi Wada:

We would like to strongly support Nintendo’s next-generation networking plans. The Revolution may embody a new platform beyond a portable or console, which makes possible a new structure in the network gaming system, changing the ways communities are built and supported. This is the kind of direction we’ve envisioned, and we will challenge ourselves to provide immersive interactive content in response to what Nintendo offers.

This quote is as old as it is overlooked. It is confirmation of the Revolution being neither a portable, nor a home console. This effectively means that the Revolution will be portable to some extent, since it will not be a classic home console. And Wada also confirms that Nintendo´s online plans will take advantage of this portability aspect. The only question is: If the Revolution will not be a portable either, where will it take us?

Source: Eurogamer

Saturday, March 04, 2006

PS3 didn´t arrive at destination

It seems like a contradiction in terms, but the PlayStation3 was nowhere to be seen at the ´Destination PlayStation´ event. The event in Miami was solely for retailers. All attendees had to sign non-disclosure agreements, yet it has become clear that the PS3 was a no-show. Here´s commentary from three news sites:

It now appears that Sony is holding off showing off the PS3 until the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo--aka E3--in May. A source familiar with Sony's strategy confirmed the move on condition of anonymity. "Retailers talk too much," the source said. "They decided to keep it under wraps until E3." That bit of information casts some doubt over exactly what will be shown during Sony Computer Entertainment executive Phil Harrison's keynote address at GDC 2006, which is titled "PlayStation 3: Beyond the Box."

This could be interpreted as another data point supporting the theory that the PS3's launch schedule has slipped. Or it could just be all part of a master plan to catch the world by surprise with a surprise unveiling. Either way, our impatience grows.

Although not a massive surprise, attendees, all of whom were bound with promisingly tight non disclosure agreements, expressed disappointment en masse at the information blackout.
“It was hinted that we should attend to see 'something special'” one executive at a major US retailer told SPOnG today, “and everyone expected to see at least something [of PlayStation 3] over the three days. Like, videos or something... Anything... Even the most senior in attendance were kept in the dark.”

In a statement, Sony has defended its decision, saying a PS3 showing was never planned. The above quote does suggest otherwise, however. At any rate, Sony has always been good at hyping the press about secret unveilings which turned out to be plain irrelevant.

Source: Gamespot, Joystiq, SPOnG

George Harrison speaks to IGN

George "Mario will never start shooting hookers" Harrison is confident that the Revolution can outsell its competitors. Nintendo of America´s Senior Vice President for Marketing and Corporate Communications has spoken to IGN´s Nintendo minute.

We want to expand the total game market to people who've stopped playing regularly, or who've never played before. But that's only half the goal. The other half is to bring compelling new experiences even to the most avid gamers. If we achieve both goals, yes, there's no reason we can't compete favorably with any competitor. (...)

We don't believe graphic realism will be the deciding factor of success for the new consoles. It's like saying Van Gogh's paintings are 'graphically inferior' because they're not photorealistic depictions. But more importantly, remember how the PSP was marketed: as a device to bring the console experience to handhelds. In many ways, we've done that -- but I wonder right now whether they believe that's enough. (...)

Revolution's success will come from the fact that it'll bring a similar blast of creativity to the industry, while also lowering development costs. We'll have new and classic franchises, downloadable access for 20 years of great games and a controller that raises the bar for interactivity. It's this range of appeal that will make Nintendo a leader, both in terms of sales and innovation.

Again, pretty bold comments from Nintendo here. It´s interesting to note that Harrison, too, believes that the DS´s success will be mirrored by the Revolution. Like the DS, it may not be the most powerful console around, but its originality will more than make up for that, they believe.

Source: IGN
Image source: Nintendo press server

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ask Shigeru Miyamoto

On March 15th, I will be able to interview Shigeru Miyamoto, inventor of Mario and senior managing director of Nintendo´s Entertainment Analysis and Development Division (EAD). Miyamoto is currently on press tour to promote the new ´Super Mario Bros.´ coming out on DS. He will also talk about Revolution, to some extent.

I am currently compiling questions for the interview. What would you ask him? Feel free to leave suggestions, if you want. It makes me less likely to leave anything out and perhaps you will get your question answered.

Image Source: Nintendo press server