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This week's Project Cafe rumor round-up

by: Sean Colleli -
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Another week, another handful of rumors about Nintendo's next home console. This time we're hearing that it will sport an R700 AMD GPU, with a TriCore PPC and at least 512MP of RAM, making it slightly or even significantly more powerful than the 360 and PS3. Once again word is that Project Cafe won't have an internal hard drive but rely on a smallish 8GB of internal flash and SD card extensibility, which I still think is no big deal. Solid state, no moving parts is the future after all.

Once again it's being reiterated that the controller will have a touch screen that is at least 6 inches diagonal but now we're hearing reports that (thank god) it won't be using some kind of virtual, customizable touch screen button layout that reproduces all legacy Nintendo controller button schemes or any other possible setup. Nope, rumor has it that this baby has the traditional assortment of good old fashioned buttons, triggers, shoulders and sticks that we've come to know and love.

Now things are getting a little murky and moving into the realm of wishful thinking. Nobody is saying the console will output in holographic 3D (remember those rumors when the Wii was still Project Revolution?) but there are rumblings that Rockstar will be front-lining the launch with a big opening game. The biggest hearsay says Retro Studios, fresh off their work on Donkey Kong Country Returns, are developing a sequel to Eternal Darkess: Sanity's Requiem. Yeah, probably not happening. But Nintendo does own the rights, and with Silicon Knights dragging their feet on...well, whatever it is they're doing these days, I'd love to see the Metroid Prime people finally give us another Eternal Darkness.

My main concern is the very likely trend that Nintendo is moving to retake the core gamer demographic. Their recent hardware and software has been less gimmick focused and more core game-centric. I still haven't picked up a 3DS due to the price and dismal battery life, but you have to admit it's geared toward more robust gaming experiences, and by all indications so is Project Cafe. Last year, as Sony and Microsoft were finally piling onto the casual minigame bandwagon, squandering the awesome technical prowess of Move and Kinect to fart out lame Wii Sports imitators, Nintendo was getting back to its roots with Mario, Metroid, Kirby and Donkey Kong.

Maybe Nintendo came to the realization that casual games weren't the future of consoles, but instead portable multimedia devices like phones and tablets. If they re-focus on their fans then Nintendo will be doing exactly what they're good at: making great games that only they know how to make, on weird, crazy hardware that only they could dream up. I'm not getting my hopes up by a long shot, but it would be nice for a return to the SNES days when I could sink my teeth into most everything Nintendo released.
As we get closer to E3 and the promised unveiling of Nintendo’s mysterious Project Cafe, the air is thick with rumours. Fortunately, there are people who have carefully collated all the news that’s fit to print.

Backwards compatibility, the type and amount of memory, and just what the controller will look like are all being discussed over at NeoGAF, where Cheesemeister invites you all to “sit back, grab a cup of Hot Coffee and discuss any and all rumors” on the topic.

At the moment, “credible” rumours include:

New console using a R700 AMD GPU
Also using a TriCore PPC similar to the one in X360
Minimum of 512MB RAM
25GB Optical Disc & 8GB of on-board flash
No built-in HDD included, SD card dependent
Controller has a 6.2″ touchscreen on it
Controller also has the standard set of controls & buttons (d-pad, dual analog, 4 face buttons, 2 shoulders & 2 triggers)
Controller also has a camera & gyros/accelerometers
Backwards compatible with Wiimote
More powerful than PS360 (significantly or just a tad bit is undefined)
Production starts as early as October 2011

Another section lists “reasonable” rumours dealing with dev kits, Rockstar Games, friend codes, launch dates and the potential price point for the console.

Then, of course, there are the things that even the rumour-mongers themselves admit are out of left field. Gamers are getting more than a little excited that one such story circulates around a sequel for Eternal Darkness, which Zelda Informer claims is being developed by Retro.

When you’re done reading the multi-page thread, pop over to the Nintendo World Report forums for a different perspective, consolidating all published rumours since September last year. As the posters themselves admit though, you are advised to “bring your own salt”.