Since the recent reports that Nintendo is getting the Wii 2 ready for launch the rumour mill has kicked in to overdrive. While this author normally ignores rumours about Nintendo - a company that is perhaps more jealous of its secrets than any other in the industry - multiple respectable sources are now releasing different, yet sometimes overlapping tidbits about the Wii's successor. While this doesn't necessarily confirm that all these tidbits are true, it strongly suggests that Nintendo has a new console on the verge of being announced. After all, when readying a new system, a console maker has to release information to many parties - game developers and publishers, hardware manufacturers, and more - and at some point the information out there will reach a critical mass. Something has to leak. And let us not forget that there is precedent for journalists getting the jump on Nintendo - the 3DS's official reveal had to be moved up because of leaks to the media.
Of course, without any official word from Nintendo, all this has to be taken with a grain of salt. I would be pilloried (and rightly so) by our readers if I didn't say that. But let's face it, these rumours are engaging; whether or not any (or all) of this stuff has any substance to it, speculating about future consoles is good fun - if it weren't, there'd be no rumour mill, would there? So for those who love to wallow in some unabashed scuttlebutt, follow along after the jump.
Retro Studios Is Working On Wii 2 Games
Let's start with what is entirely expectable. Retro. These are the people who made Donkey Kong Country Returns and the Metroid Prime triolgy. If anyone is to be entrusted with Nintendo's newest baby, it's these guys. In fact, a launch title from Retro Studios has got to be on Nintendo's radar. Indeed, according to Paul Gale Network Retro Studios is quoted as saying it's working on a Wii 2 project that "everyone wants us to do." What is this project? Who knows. Retro's not letting on.
Rockstar Is Also Working On Wii 2 Games
Less of a lock than Retro Studios, but 01net (link is en français, but Gamer UK digests it in English) reports that Rockstar is working on Wii 2 games, and that Nintendo wants to win back some of the audience that Sony and Microsoft have dominated over the past few generations. Of course, Rockstar has some history releasing on Nintendo consoles, and there's no reason to see why Nintendo wouldn't want them to release a game early on in the Wii 2's life cycle, so file this one under the "could well be" category. It makes sense on paper, but who knows?
The Wii 2 Is Codenamed "Project Café"
This one also comes from 01net. Whether or not it's important what the alleged console is allegedly codenamed, other news outlets have picked up this name - so for now it's part of Wii 2 lore.
Wii 2/Project Café Will Feature HD Graphics And Be Backwards-Compatible With The Wii
Just about every report out there is running this story. I wouldn't even call it a rumour. With HD now standard in most homes, it's pretty obvious Nintendo will catch up to the new norm. Failure to do so would just be silly. Just like failing to leverage the Wii's library and enormous popularity would be...well, unimaginable. In fact, Nintendo's CEO Satoru Iwata asserted that any new Nintendo home console has to be more than just an HD-ready Wii:
"If asked if making the Wii compatible with high definition -- just making it compatible with high resolution -- will get players throughout the world to buy it, I would of course say, 'Do you think it would sell with just that? It needs something new.'"
The Wii 2/Project Café's Horsepower Is...
01net claims to have a solid idea what the new Nintendo console will have under the hood, and while this kind of detail may smell like speculation, the Globe and Mail points out that 01net had the hardware specs for the NGP before it came out, too. Also, if we are to believe that the Wii's successor is being announced at this E3, then developers must know about it's basic hardware specs at this point.
So, according to 01net, the new console's hardware architecture will be similar to that of the Xbox 360, with a triple-core Power PC CPU and an AMD graphics processor with on-board shading. As 01net's writers point out, this will allow for easy porting of existing 360 titles for developers new to Nintendo, and the familiar architecture will make it easier for developers used to the 360 to get a handle on the new Wii. How much more powerful the new console will be than the 360 is not clear, however. 01net suggests it will be marginally so, while CVG's sources claim it will be more powerful than either the 360 or PS3, and IGN states:
Our sources have said the the console is significantly more powerful than the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and that Nintendo's intent is to recapture the hardcore market. Another source said it is capable of 1080p resolutions.
The Wii 2/Project Café Controller Is...
This is where the BS sensors have to be turned to high. Okay, they should always be on high, but here you have to set them to really, really high. Before the release of the N64, the GameCube, and the Wii, much of the buzz concerning each console had to do with the controller. Nintendo has a habit of designing controllers around the games it intends to make, and other console makers have a tendency to follow Nintendo's lead in this area (with the obvious exception that the GameCube controller borrowed much from Sony's Dual Shock controller). In fact, Nintendo has a habit of revealing its new systems before revealing the controller. After the success of the Wiimote, rumours will be thick on the ground regarding its successor. While the same "developers must be given at least general details before starting to make games for the new console" logic applies to the controller as it does to the hardware, the amount of falsehoods, idle speculation, and flat-out dreaming that accumulates around an unreleased Nintendo console's interface is usually so extreme that even solid rumours have to be presumed guilty before being proven innocent.
IGN and 01net both report that the new controller will look something like a GameCube controller with a 6-inch screen (which may be a touch screen and may be HD) built in. Players will be able to stream games and content to this screen.
Technobuffalo suggests that this may be what the new controller looks like. However, fake mock-ups are all too common at this stage in a console's life cycle, so I wouldn't place any bets on it. [via: Crave Online]
How this jives with Nintendo's less-is-more policy when it comes to making intuitive controllers is yet to be seen; however, the specs and picture could be envisioning the merger of two Nintendo staples - the DS's touch screen mashed between a nunchuck and Wiimote. In fact, it's awfully reminiscent of an early Wiimote design blended with a DS. That being said, the intuitive simplicity of the Wiimote is what propelled millions of new bodies to flood in to the gaming market. The logic of reverting back to a more complicated-looking controller design is problematic - so either this rumour is false, or there's more to it than meets the eye.
So there you have it folks. If anything's certain it's that Nintendo is well along in developing its successor to the Wii - just as Sony and Microsoft have to be in development of their new consoles - and that rumours will continue to fly until the day it's released.