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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Nintendo - a Revolution in Simplicity

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Nintendo - a Revolution in Simplicity

By: Ken Gardiner

Nintendo's agenda with the next generation in the console wars is to open their markets to non-gamers. This untapped demographic includes women of all ages and men over the age of 35. The Nintendo DS is a prime example of their strategy. Games like Nintendogs and the yet to be released Electroplankton utilize gameplay simplicity at a level that works seamlessly with the unconventional DS control scheme. These games are not intimidating, Nintendogs has you playing with puppies using a simple simulation style interface, and Electroplankton lets you create techno music by swirling amoeba-like creatures using the stylus. This simplicity can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It would appear that Nintendo took notice to the fact that women like to play touchscreen games and simple yet addicting online flash games via sites like For the most part there are not an overwhelming number of women who play Unreal or Halo. When gaming does not involve intricate button combinations, shoulder buttons, etc., you can reach a wider audience.

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Since the introduction of the Revolution controller there has been a lot of discussion about what Nintendo is trying to accomplish. The odd device resembles a remote control for your television, has Nintendo steered themselves into over simplification? Early demonstrations of the controller show incredible potential. Nintendo hasn't shown all their cards yet, expansions are planned for the controller that plug into a port on the bottom of the controller. Perhaps there are some unique "hidden" features that lie ahead. The Revolution will not be a “port system” per se, it has potential to have more exclusives due in large part to the way the controller functions. Many of these games are destined to take advantage of the simplicity with simple and creative gameplay.

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There will be a variety of simpler themed games for the Revolution, Gamecube's successor also has to overcome the obstacle of being considered a “kiddy” console. Just by the appearance of the Revolution, I would think they have shed some of that image. Nintendo first unveiled the sleek black piano-finish console at E3 2005. Many people were surprised at how sleek the blue LED clad unit looked. Later they introduced plans for other colors as well, ipod white, lime green, fire engine red and platinum. The mature looking Revolution makes Gamecube look like a toy. Hats off to Nintendo for their mission of making games for everyone. Let's hope they don't keep their eye on the demographic that made the video game market what it is today - the 18-28 year old male. Playstation 2 had GTA, Xbox had Halo and Nintendo gave Link and image makeover. Zelda: The Wind Walker was a great game but changing Link the elfin warrior into a cute, frolicking cartoon child was a bit much to stomach for this key demographic. In the next generation let's hope Nintendo expands on their more mature adult franchises such as Metroid, Eternal Darkness and Capcom's Resident Evil.

At this point it's a game of wait and see. The demonstrations at TGS 2005 definitely have people talking. Developers are intrigued, now it's up to Nintendo to deliver the goods. By maintaining costs on the console Nintendo could very well find the Revolution sharing shelf space with the PS3 and or the Xbox 360. If the games live up to the promises it will open up a whole new way to play videogames.

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