Feature

What We Want From Nintendo’s HD Console

by Ben Reeves on Apr 21, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Since we broke the news about Nintendo’s next console late last week, the Internet has buzzed with rumors and speculation about what Nintendo’s next console will actually be like. But will it have the features that gamers actually want in a console? Join the Game Informer staff as we explore the qualities this system will need in order to become the best home console Nintendo has ever produced.

Deliver On The X Factor
One thing seems consistent with Nintendo: when other folks zig, Nintendo zags. Whether it’s a console with a motion-based controller, a handheld with two screens, or a peripheral that lets you take grainy pictures with the original Game Boy, you never know what to expect from Nintendo. There has been a lot of speculation on what extra features Nintendo’s next HD console will have – a Kinect-like camera, 3DS tethering, an iPhone-like app store, etc. – but Nintendo probably has some ace in the hole idea that the rest of us still haven’t dreamed of. Often this creative spirit has worked in the company’s favor. Developers took to the DS’s unique features and created a library of exciting titles. On the other hand, products like the Virtual Boy have fallen flat on their face. Even the Wii’s motion-based controls have been derided over the years for being too gimmicky. The problem with the Wii wasn’t that Nintendo wanted to do motion controls (motion controls can be fun), the problem was that Nintendo sacrificed certain control standards for the sake of one good idea. Hopefully this doesn’t happen again. Whatever this X factor is for Nintendo’s next console, I hope the company has learned how to utilize that feature for the benefit of its games without making any sacrifices. —Ben Reeves

Innovate With New IP As Well As Old
Obviously first-party software is where Nintendo has always shined, and there's no reason to believe it will be any different with their upcoming HD system. Still, the publisher had a few missteps with the Wii that should be corrected. Nintendo has produced a lot of unique IP in the last few years...but it a lot of it has been mini-game collections meant for the new, more casual audience. This is all well and good with stuff like Wii Sports and its follow-up, Wii Sports Resort, but titles like Wii Play and Wii Music almost made Nintendo look like a cynical, money-grabbing corporation, an image they’re traditionally good at dodging. Those titles featured lackluster game design in a sense that was really out of character for Nintendo. Surely the people who created Mario can come up with games that help introduce a new audience to gaming without making them as soulless and dumbed-down as some of the (admittedly, extremely high-selling) Wii games were?

New hardware also provides the perfect excuse to bring back and reinvent series like Pikmin, Earthbound, and F-Zero, but I hope that Nintendo continues to innovate with new intellectual properties. The reason that many of Nintendo’s franchises, such as Pokémon, Star Fox, and The Legend of Zelda, became popular is that they used the technology of their day in creative ways. With its next console, I’d love to see Nintendo introduce some original concepts that will be as inviting to new players as the Wii’s library has been while featuring a layer of depth and creativity that Nintendo has become famous for. Oh, and don't let Team Ninja work on any more Metroid games, please. —Phil Kollar

Court More Third-Party Developers
Nintendo has a notorious track record of dropping the ball when it comes to third-party game support. I want to erase all the watered-down Call of Duty Wii ports and other handicapped titles from my memory. The only way Nintendo can do that is by ensuring that their high definition console hosts versions of games that are on par with the competition. Nintendo fans deserve to be able to look forward to third party franchises like Elder Scrolls, BioShock, and Mass Effect and should anticipate games from huge developers like Capcom, Rockstar, and Konami. Nintendo went toe to toe with Sega back in the SNES/Genesis days with titles like Mortal Kombat and Earthworm Jim; a return to that business structure would be beneficial to consumers. Of course, much of this hinges on Nintendo’s HD console including a reasonable, dual-analog stick controller. —Tim Turi

Put A Versatile Controller In Our Hands
Most of Nintendo’s marketing around the Wii’s launch was based on the unique capabilities of its controller. While the novelty of swinging a Wii remote to hit a tennis ball helped the console become a huge seller right out of the gate, its weaknesses were apparent soon afterward. I don’t expect Nintendo to return to a traditional controller with their new console, but I’d like to see traditional controls made available for all games on the system (and not in some half-baked fashion like the Wii’s Classic Controller). Two analog sticks should be standard, and you should be able to hold it in your hands like a traditional controller. Two motion controllers connected by a cord just don’t work well for every type of game. If Nintendo is dead set on using motion controls with its next console, I’d like to see a breakaway controller that comes together when you’re playing a game with traditional controls, and separates when you need to engage in motion gaming.

Early rumors suggest that the controller may have a built-in HD screen. This is an odd thing to picture, but then again, so was the concept of a two-screen portable. Nintendo could open the door to a whole slew of gaming possibilities we’ve never seen before if it adds a touch screen to its next controller. Imagine changing menu options from your controller or sending messages to friends on a tiny touch screen keyboard. Having map overlays, equipment lists, and health information on a controller display would also help many games maintain a clean HUD. The Dreamcast’s VMU wasn’t a huge hit, but it was fun to secretly pick football plays on your controller. Little touches like that could separate Nintendo’s next console from its competition. The problem with a built-in HD screen is cost. It’ll be great if Nintendo can include the screen and keep it affordable. I don’t want to spend $80-100 to buy an extra controller. —Dan Ryckert

On The Other Hand…
To me the most important thing is a controller that’s based around maximizing gameplay for the consumer and the games on the system. No gimmicks. No tricks. This will simultaneously make it easier for developers to create analogous experiences that are on par with the other systems, and it will also mean they can concentrate bringing their triple-A titles to the system instead of spending fruitless time and money researching waggle gimmicks that lead to gameplay dead-ends. While a more traditional controller isn’t a sexy feature – and it’s one that merely brings Nintendo’s system up to date with the competition – Nintendo still has its excellent first-party software to use as a difference-maker for this new console. —Matthew Kato

Hit Us With Some Hefty Hardware
The thing I most want to see out of Nintendo’s next console? Next-gen power. That’s it. I don’t care what kind of controller it uses, whether it can connect to other Nintendo products, or if it can do my laundry. I just want a Nintendo console that rivals whatever Sony and Microsoft are dreaming up. I’m tired of the fact that the first thing I do when starting a Nintendo game is resign myself to sub par graphics and scaled down gameplay because the Wii lacks the horsepower of modern consoles. Sure, some developers have overcome these restrictions and made great titles, but think of what those games could have been like if Nintendo’s console had some real power under its hood. Mario and Zelda games felt epic when I was growing up – I want their next-gen sequels to wow me in the same way. Imagine what it would be like if the next Zelda game looked more graphically impressive than Uncharted 3. New hardware also provides the perfect excuse to bring back and reinvent series like Pikmin, Earthbound, and F-Zero. The recent rumors of Nintendo’s new console have been promising – let’s hope the final product sports the kind of muscle people are alluding to. —Jeff Marchiafava

Build A Better Online Experience
As Microsoft and Sony have proven with Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network, the key to creating a strong online component is a low barrier of entry, strong community tools, and a robust marketplace. For its next console Nintendo needs to embrace this reality and stop lagging so far behind. The first move? Replace the over-protective friend codes with a suite of parental controls and make it easy for players to find one another and join multiplayer games. Developing a more robust online marketplace by tapping into its vast back catalog with HD versions of classic Nintendo titles seems like a no-brainer as well. If the company plays its cards right, it can bring its dedicated community of fans together like never before and leverage their hunger for all things Mario and Zelda to create a huge new digital distribution revenue stream. Expanding on the system’s suite of multimedia tools – such as Netflix, Pandora, and Hulu – would also go a long way towards making Nintendo’s next console a entertainment destination platform. —Matt Bertz

Give Us A Hard Drive With Room To Breath
Nintendo needs to manage mass storage in a smarter way than the PS3 and Xbox 360. There has been talk that Nintendo is considering incorporating a Blu-ray drive as its optical format, which would be a great move. It makes sense to leapfrog over the aging DVD format at this point in the disc’s lifecycle. Sony has bragged about not having to split games across multiple discs, and it’s logical that Nintendo would try to follow suit.

The next component is more critical. Rather than divide its platform across multiple SKUs of varying capacity and capabilities, Nintendo would be wise to release a single version of its next hardware – with some kind of large-format built-in storage. There are nearly half a dozen versions of the PS3 and Xbox 360 floating about in the world. Not only is this confusing for customers, but if you buy a version of a console with diminutive storage capabilities you might find yourself having to upgrade your hard drive a few downloads down the road. If Nintendo is serious about competing with the PS3 and 360, it should fully embrace the world of downloadable games and DLC. In that arena, SD cards simply won’t cut it. —Jeff Cork

Give Us All The Bells And Whistles
I'm sure Nintendo will come up with an insane/compelling gimmick for its new console, but my hopes for the system involve bringing it in line with Xbox 360 and PS3. This thing better have 1080p, an Ethernet jack, built-in WI-FI, HDMI, and optical outs to support surround sound, and traditional dual stick controllers in addition to a motion control option. I don't care if the disc format is Blu-ray or not, but it would be nice if it could play movies this time around. It should use USB sticks as a portable storage option instead of SD cards. Backward compatibility with Wii games is a must (preferably with upscaling), but lose the GameCube controller ports. And make controller synching not such a pain in the ass!—Bryan Vore

There you have it, everything we think Nintendo’s next console needs to succeed. Did we miss anything? What do you think Nintendo needs to do to make its HD console number one?