A number of you (one is still a number, right?) have written in asking for my thoughts on the next generation of gaming consoles. While I’m not quite finished with this generation yet (or the last several, for that matter), this appears to be a pressing issue on the souls of our loyal readers, so I feel it is my duty to have it a go. Even if I would rather just play Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt than most of the Xbox 360’s launch titles.
If third-party developers actually try to do something with the Revolution’s new-fangled controller, you could see some great things with Nintendo’s upcoming console. Entire new genres could be forged, entirely different ways of thinking about the videogame could be developed. Or, at the very least, we could see a stateside version of Kenshin Dragon Quest.
But, based on the DS, there’s a good chance this won’t actually happen. Developers haven’t been too keen on the innovative portable yet; just look at the shelves of your standard gaming store. You’ll see a few ports of old games with poke-at-the-screen minigames thrown in, a few racing games that devote an entire screen to the map, a few games comprised entirely of poke-at-the-screen minigames, and a dating sim. They’re not even trying.
If developers work against the controller, forcing it to work with the same old genres and games we’ve seen rehashed a hundred times over, the Revolution won’t be anything special. Well, unless you consider games too awkward to control to be particularly special, that is. If developers find one nifty trick and repeat it ad infinitum in all of their games, the Revolution won’t be anything special. It’ll just be another failed gimmicky console. The only way it’s going to be anything special is if developers have the courage to actually be creative for a change, and if publishers actually let them develop something other than Burly Men Kill Aliens #3469.
The back-library idea, at least, is brilliant. It’ll be even better if we can purchase any Nintendo game on-demand via their online service; but even just offering older games as bonuses with newer titles is great. How many of you would purchase Paper Mario 3 just to get your hands on a souped-up Super Mario RPG?
The other two consoles, as you might’ve seen, just look like more of the same. Same old games with newer graphics. Same old uncreative games with slightly newer graphics. That might have worked in the last few generations, when each new generation brought along a superb leap in graphical elegance; but that leap is growing smaller and smaller every time. And if you look at the responses to the graphical prowess of these two new consoles so far, they’ve been lukewarm at best.
Of course, more of the same might be for the best. It’s worked over the last several generations, whereas systems that have tried to innovate (Virtual Boy? DS?) haven’t been so successful. The public hasn’t shown that it likes to “change the system” very much, and with good reason: The innovation has to actually be good, not just innovation for innovation’s sake.
Personally, I’ll be buying a PlayStation 3, and then a Revolution. I figure with the PS3 I’ll be able to get most of the great non-Nintendo tiles out there, since you know pretty much every game is gonna be released for both it and the 360. Just like in this generation, where there wasn’t really a point to owning more than one system unless you felt some dire need to play both Halo and Super Smash Bros. Melee, and couldn’t be bothered to make chums with someone who owned an Xbox.
I won’t be getting Xbox 360 when it comes out, or ever, unless it manages at least five console-specific titles that are worth owning.
I’m not holding my breath on that one.
I don’t know if anyone remembers this, but a few months back I wrote about how, eventually, the industry’s gonna reach a point where it can increase the power of its consoles all it wants and make the graphics as pretty as it wants, and it’s not going to matter anymore. Nobody’s gonna care anymore. They’ll have seen it all, or at least all that’s worth seeing.
At that point the company that succeeds won’t be the one with the sleekest system, or the coolest marketing campaign, or the hottest E3 booth babes—it’ll be the one that actually tries something different, and tries it well.
Think we’ve reached that point yet?
P.S. Congratulations to GC writers Travis Comb and Matt Wright for gettin’ hitched this month! Well, not to each other, but still.