Revolution: Worth the Wait?


posted 6/24/2005 by Sean Colleli
other articles by Sean Colleli
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Nintendo’s finally getting into the DVD race, with an add-on device for the Revolution. Yes, it’s something extra to buy, but I doubt that it’ll run for much more than thirty bucks. Nothing has been revealed about this doohickey other than it’ll play standard DVD’s (go figure), so I can’t really give an opinion right now. Just remember that Microsoft pulled this fast one with the Xbox (remember the remote that "unlocked" the DVD player?) so I don’t think that making the player a peripheral will hurt Nintendo in the long run.

The GameCube was the "solitary" console of the current generation. It had very limited online capability, while the PS2 and Xbox created small, teeming communities of online gamers. The ‘Cube had only two true online titles (Phantasy Star Online and its sequel, C.A.R.D.), and a handful of LAN capable games. Developers scoffed. Competitors snickered. Xbox fans guffawed...ahem. The reason for this is clear after a closer look, and again ties into Nintendo’s core strategy: online wasn’t easy on the GameCube.

Think about it. Xbox live required the kit and the headset, and a monthly fee. Sure, Halo fanboys went hog-wild for the service; that was a given and exactly what Microsoft was aiming for. Nintendo opted out of this line of though for the same reasons Microsoft carried through with it: that kind of online only attracted a hardcore audience.

The Revolution’s online service is targeting a mass audience, people from all walks of life, from the casual gamer to the hardcore. To make it appealing to so many different people, Revolution online will be seamless. It will be fast. And most importantly, it will be totally free.

The Revolution will not have an Ethernet jack; rather, Nintendo is basing its new service on a WiFi system, running 802.11b and 802.11g wireless. The possibilities are tantalizing. Gamers will have the ability to download a staggering twenty years of Nintendo content, titles for the NES, SNES and N64. First party games are certain, while second and third party software might require some negotiating (think Rare and Perfect Dark).

These past titles will not be free, but they will still be cheap and easy to download. Nintendo has hinted at special limited-time offers of free software and contest-oriented rewards. With this new service, Nintendo plans to create an online community the way it should be, with easy access to gamers worldwide and software that reflects this sense of community. Nintendo is entering the online battlefield in a big way.

Here’s where Nintendo will really make or break the Revolution. Everyone knows that a console with no games is a doorstop, and Nintendo learned this lesson the hard way with the GameCube. Remember the launch list? Rogue Leader was about the only game I was excited about, and I’m a Star Wars geek so that kind of follows. Mario was nowhere to be seen, and his bro Luigi was stuck in a short, bare-minimum kiddy adventure that primarily involved sucking ghosts. Thank god that the phenomenal Smash Bros. Melee showed up, or the Cube might’ve died before it got off the pad.

It turned out that Melee was the key. It gave the Cube enough steam to keep going, and sated fans long enough that they waited for Zelda Windwaker and Metroid Prime. Thankfully, Nintendo took notes and they’re following up on the Revolution.

Smash Bros. 3 will be the new console’s flagship title, and it makes perfect sense. Why have one or two mascots at launch, when you can have all of them? Melee contained a staggering twenty five playable characters that spanned Nintendo history, and its sequel will undoubtedly have more. With all of its unlockables and secrets, Melee chronicled twenty years of gaming, so it was a sure-buy for Nintendo fans. It was also damn fun, and ranks as one of the greatest party games of all time.

I have no doubt that the third installment will be an instant hit. It will push the already wide boundaries of Melee, and it will be online. Online Smash Bros. It’s a revolution in and of itself.

Added to that are Mario 128 and Metroid Prime 3. I’m already salivating, but we can expect a new Zelda not long after launch, and a new, yet unnamed intellectual property. Let’s hope it’s not another garden simulator. Still, keep in mind that the Revolution won’t just be a "masterpiece" console; Nintendo promises small, quirky independent titles too. To quote Satoru Iwata, "the Revolution will be a place where the best ideas win, not the biggest budgets."
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