Revolution controller: Am I the only one?

20 09 2005


At the Tokyo Game Show, Nintendo revealed the new controller for their next generation console – the “revolution”. Mainstream, fun, gaming for everyone. Innovation, and ideas. Well personally I would call this the nail in Nintendo’s coffin. People seem to confuse innovative with different. Its a remote control. Yes it has a gyroscope. Yes it is instantly recognizable, but people don’t want games to be the same as ….. fill in blank.
Games is about control, it is about difference, its about fun.
The biggest revolution of the next gen, will be wireless controllers. Paraphrasing Jonathan from Giant (and lego star wars success) “People will pick up a controller, flick to their xbox, play 30/60mins of games, and switch back to tv or web” controllers uncoupled from the black/silver box under the tv will change the ways games are played. CABLES=GEEKS=UNCOMFORTABLE.

Ok people don’t like controllers, or remotes, my wife scans 100’s of channels to get to 257 rather than remember the number, or use favorites. But this will alienate Nintendo from the “Games Industry” there will be MS and Sony in interactive media big budget space, and Nintendo games – bongos, fishing, zelda, and dogs. A new market, a niche, an innovative playground for technical ideas perhaps, go on say betamax, or laser disc.

So personally (back on topic) the controller will mean more fun for Nintendo fans (and there are a lot of them), more Zelda rubbish, but really the mainstream will not be picking up a remote plugged in to a joystick. The future is more and more looking like a 2 horse race for the interactive gaming market.

The Facts, IGN news
* D Pointing. Sensors understand up, down, left, right, forward and backward.

* Tilt Sensitive. Controller can be rotated or rolled from side-to-side.

* Buttons Included. Has a trigger on its backside, face buttons, and a D-Pad.

* Multifunctional. Has an expansion port which can be used with different types of controller peripherals. Analog stick with two trigger buttons planned for left hand.

* Wireless. Totally wire-free. Currently there are no details on the max distance, source or power, or otherwise.

* Rumble Built-in. Included as a standard in all the controllers.


Ok a few others who are more polite:
David Perry
President, Shiny Entertainment

I’ve been fielding interview questions on this new Nintendo controller for a while now, and besides the obvious stuff, I’ve been personally hoping for Nintendo to offer custom game interfaces.

Meaning when a developer designs a game, they can very easily design their own interface at the same time. Their interface component would then (at a very low cost) be included in every game box. (Imagine a small “interface’ block that clips in the front of a normal controller.)

The main controller (not looking like a remote control) would be designed so you simply plug in the component that came with the game.

Nintendo talked about controllers having too many buttons and turning off non-gamers.

Fair point, but if they honestly have a problem with too many buttons, then this solves that too. For example, on the faceplate that comes with a simple game, they could actually get rid of all unused buttons by not replicating them. If however I want a more complicated game with 10 buttons and a throttle slider on the faceplate for a Mech game, no problem.

This solution covers many needs.

The faceplate can also contain artwork (for that game) and tips, like “FIRE” written under the fire button. Trust me, that will help newbie gamers!

Can you imagine how excited, and then let down I felt when I found out Nintendo nearly delivered this!

I feel a lot of innovation in the original arcade games was increased by the freedom of designers to create new interfaces for their game at the same time. Think Pacman vs. Tempest vs. Missile Command vs. Star Wars vs. Lunar Lander. All radically different but the interface definitely added to the fun.

After toying around with this Revolution remote control, and after fighting my grandparents off it, my prediction is that people will be looking to buy a “normal” controller to plug in.

So thanks Nintendo for trying. I actually respect the effort a lot!

People that know me, know I love big thinking and I LOVE innovation, but I still dream of the day when hardware manufactures stop trying to surprise game developers and actually invite a group of them to brainstorm on the hardware.

It would be a great marketing scoop for them (being designed by the top ten game designers in the world), but it would also deliver a bloody cool console / controller.

Oh well, just five more years and we can try again.
—Really good point from EGM

Demian Linn
Reviews Editor, Electronic Gaming Monthly

It’s a risk, but it’s a smart risk. If Revolution launched with just a conventional controller, it’d offer competitive graphics and Nintendo first-party games—in other words, it’d be in about the same position GameCube was in this generation. But now, Revolution may appeal to more casual or even non-gamers, along with core gamers who are looking for a genuinely new gameplay experience. If Nintendo can really bring a large chunk of non-gamers into the fold, it would be huge—but that’s a big question mark.

Nintendo has always excelled at making its games just feel right from a control perspective, and I’m sure its first-party games are going to do some amazing things with the new controller. Not so sure about third-party publishers. The DS has attracted some good third-party exclusives, but Revolution titles will require a much bigger investment. I hear Nintendo will also offer a “sleeve” that you can slip the main controller into, which will allow for a more traditional button layout; that is absolutely necessary, and it better come in the box. I’m all for innovation, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, throw the baby out with the bathwater, or…well, I can’t think of another cliché that works here. Revolution owners are going to love their gyroscopic rhythm-action-fishing games or whatever, but that doesn’t mean they won’t want to play Splinter Cell again.


David Cole
President, DFC Intelligence

Despite its reputation for being old school, Nintendo has quietly been one of the most innovative major game companies in recent years. The new Revolution controller definitely fits the innovative bill. My 13-year old son really got his interest aroused, he said “this is crazy, they are using a remote control to play games.” We will have to reserve full judgment until it is tested with actual games. However, the concern with something new like this is that it will appeal mainly to an enthusiast crowd and alienate the mass market who can be very reluctant to change their comfortable game playing habits.

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