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Nintendo Revolution is the current codename for Nintendo's fifth home video game console and the successor to the Nintendo GameCube. The codename refers to the console's promised "revolution" of the video-game industry. For example, the console's controller, which can detect its exact location and orientation in 3D space, is a concept never before seen in mainstream video game consoles.
The system was unveiled at Nintendo's 2005 E³ press conference and the system's game controller was revealed at the 2005 Tokyo Game Show by Nintendo President Satoru Iwata during his keynote speech in September. In an interview with Sankei Shimbun, Iwata confirmed that the Revolution will be released in North America no later than Thanksgiving 2006 (November 23). Internationally, Nintendo is considering attempting a launch with no more than 14 weeks of difference between the first and last launching regions.
Nintendo has announced that more details about the system will be made public on May 9, 2006 at their E³ 2006 Press Conference.
Nintendo has announced that IBM has finished developing the CPU, codenamed "Broadway". IBM had previously developed the processor for Nintendo's current system, the GameCube. Nintendo has also announced that Canadian graphics card maker ATI Technologies is developing the GPU, codenamed "Hollywood", for Revolution. In an interview ATI's Public Relations Manager for Consumer Products, John Swinimer, confirmed that "Hollywood" has not been developed from PC architecture but developed specifically for the Revolution 'from the ground up'.
The Revolution will have built-in Wi-Fi, allowing certain games to be played online via a wireless link.
The Revolution has a flip lid which can be opened to reveal 4 ports for GameCube controllers and 2 memory card slots.
Additionally, again at E3 2005, Nintendo revealed that a small internal attachment (most likely a dongle) to be sold separately from the console will allow the Revolution to playback DVD movies.
The Nintendo Revolution is the smallest stationary console Nintendo has ever manufactured, described by Nintendo as being "about the thickness of three standard DVD cases and only slightly longer". The console will have the ability to stand either horizontally or vertically. The front of the console features a self loading media drive which is illuminated by a blue light and will accept 12 cm Revolution game discs and 8 cm GameCube game discs.
When the console was unveiled at E3 2005 the console was colored black. However, at the Tokyo Game Show 2005 when the controller was revealed, promotional material depicted a white console. Nintendo has since revealed three additional colors (platinum, lime green, and red), but none of these colors have been confirmed as official colors.
The Nintendo Revolution controller sets aside the traditional controller seen in other mainstream consoles in an attempt to appeal to a larger audience. The controller is shaped like a television remote control and is held with one hand. Due to its symmetrical nature, the Revolution's controller is able to be used by either hand, unlike other controllers.
The controller is also able to sense motion; a sensor placed near the television allows the computer to sense the controller's position in three-dimensional space. Other sensors in the controller itself allow it to sense its tilt and yaw. This allows players to mimic actual game actions, such as swinging a sword or using a flashlight, instead of simply pushing buttons. An early marketing video showed actors miming such actions as fishing, cooking, drumming, conducting an orchestra, shooting a gun, sword fighting, performing dental surgery, and what seems to be, a game of Super Mario Bros. with one handed play.
The controller also features an expansion port on its underside which will allow various attachments to be added to the controller. Nintendo has revealed one of these attachments to be a unit which features an analog stick and 2 trigger buttons. It will connect to the main Revolution controller via a short cord, and its appearance while connected to the main controller has led it to become dubbed "The Nunchaku". Nintendo has stated the aforementioned "Nunchaku" add-on may be bundled with the Revolution console.
Nintendo has also announced a controller "shell" which will resemble a traditional game controller called the "Classic-Style Expansion Controller". The Revolution "remote" will fit inside this shell which will allow gamers to play games using a traditional controller while retaining the "remote"'s motion sensitivity. According to Satoru Iwata, it is meant for playing "the existing games, virtual console games, and multi-platform games".
Despite the controller's similarity to lightguns which are only compatible with standard-definition cathode ray tube televisions, Nintendo has stated the Revolution and its controller will be compatible with all televisions including digital projectors.
Nintendo developer Shigeru Miyamoto, before exiting the stage of Japan's 2005 Digital Interactive Entertainment Conference, stated that "there are still secrets to this controller, and these will be revealed next year."
Nintendo has released very little detailed information at present concerning the technical specifications of the Revolution console. According to a recent interview with Nintendo's Jim Merrick, Nintendo may never release a complete system specification. Some details have however been released by Nintendo and other third parties involved with the console:
o IBM "Broadway" CPU
o ATI "Hollywood" GPU
o Unknown amount of RAM
o 512 MB built-in flash memory.
* Ports and Peripherals:
o Two USB 2.0 ports.
o Support for wireless controllers.
o 4 Nintendo GameCube controller ports and 2 Nintendo GameCube memory card ports (for backward compatibility).
o Optional USB PC-compatible 802.11b (Wi-Fi) wireless attachment.
o Slot-loading optical disc drive compatible with both 12 cm Revolution optical discs and 8.0 cm Gamecube optical discs (1.5 GB) as well as standard DVD discs.
o 2 Front-loading SD memory card slots.
* Built-in content ratings system:
o PEGI 3+, 7+, 12+, 16+, 18+
o ESRB EC, E, E10+, T, M, and AO.
o CERO All Ages, 12+, 15+ 18+.
o OFLC G, PG, M, MA15+
o Wi-Fi by Broadcom
o MPEG4 AVC (perhaps the free X264 decoder)
o Bink Video (free video library from Rad Game Tools)
o commerical MPEG2 image decoder
o Dolby AC3 (for DVD video playback)
o Advance Audio Codec (for DVD video playback and videogame audio)
o AD-PCM (older method of putting audio on DVD)
o OGG Vorbis (a free library)
Nintendo has stated that Revolution will be backward compatible with all GameCube software and most peripherals. The side of the console (or top if stood vertically) is the GameCube docking station, featuring four controller ports and two memory card slots compatible with GameCube Memory Cards and the Nintendo GameCube Microphone. The Revolution's slot-loading media drive accepts 8 cm GameCube discs as well as the standard 12 cm discs such as Revolution games, DVDs, and CDs. This is uncommon in slot-loading media drives, which typically only accept discs of a single size.
One of the most anticipated features of the Nintendo Revolution is its game download service, dubbed the "Virtual Console." Despite other rumors, Nintendo of America expects "Virtual Console" to be the final name of the service. Using this Virtual Console service, users will have the ability to download and play many or all Nintendo-produced NES/Famicom, SNES/Super Famicom, and N64 games for a small fee. More notably, some games may offer free retro downloads as a bonus for the purchase. Nintendo has also announced that games developed for the Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx 16 consoles will be offered via the Virtual Console download service. While not all of the Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx games will be offered, the "best of them" will be. This gives the companies a pool of over 1000 Sega Genesis games to choose from. Besides Sega and Hudson, Satoru Iwata stated that "a number of different publishers are now interested in participating in this virtual console system". Moreover, while the gameplay will be the same for all of the retro titles offered via the Virtual Console, Nintendo has stated that some of the games may be improved with sharper graphics or better framerates. In addition, gamers may be able to download games that were not originally released in their region, and some multiplayer games may be playable online, if it is technically possible. The Virtual Console service will not be used exclusively for retro games, however. Nintendo has stated that they are interested in using the service to distribute new, original content.
According to a Japanese press release, "all downloaded games will be stored on the 512 MB flash memory built into the system. To prevent illegal copying, downloaded games will feature a proprietary DRM system."
The Revolution will feature parental controls, prohibiting young viewers from viewing inappropriate content. This allows parents to set the age level of the system, and when a disc is inserted, it will read the content rating encoded on the game discs; if this rating is greater than the system's age level setting, the game will not load unless the user correctly enters a password to override the setting. For instance, a game carrying an ESRB rating of M for Mature, which is intended for those over the age of 17, will not play on a system that is set to only allow games rated E for Everyone (ages six and older).
This will be found in all systems released around the world; it is confirmed that the European units will use the PEGI rating system, North American units will use the ESRB rating system, units for the Japanese market will presumably use the CERO rating system, German units will use the USK system, and Australian units will use the OFLC system.
Hardware and specifications
* Nintendo has hinted that not every major feature of the Revolution, and specifically its controller, has been revealed. According to Nintendo of Europe's Jim Merrick, they "have not shared everything that there is to know about Revolution or its controller."
* An Ars Technica journal entry speculates that the controller may use a combination of IR and ultrasound to function, much like some existing, similar products such as "virtual whiteboards" and Nintendo's investment in Gyration, Inc. may also give a clue as to some of the technology used.
* Ars Technica has also speculated that the Revolution's CPU may be based on that "Xenon" chip in the Xbox 360. Since the "Broadway" chip is being developed by IBM, it is possible that it is simply a low-cost version of the Xenon, using only one or two cores instead of the three in the current Xbox.
* IGN.com claims to have received information from third-party game studios regarding the hardware specifications. Among their claims:
o The Broadway CPU runs at 729MHz according to Nintendo specifications.
o The Hollywood GPU runs at 243 MHz and is actually an integrated "system-on-a-chip" that includes "GPU, DSP, I/O bridge and 3MBs of texture memory."
o The system RAM is divided into 24MB of "main" 1T-SRAM and 64MB of "external" 1T-SRAM; access speed for both banks is the same.
o The console runs on an extension of the Gamecube Gekko CPU and Flipper GPU architectures.
* Nintendo has filed a patent for a method of playing games for older less capable systems on a more capable system. It seems likely that this relates to Nintendo's 'Virtual Console'.
* The Revolution will have connectivity with the Nintendo DS and the next Game Boy system. Nintendo Power magazine has said this is likely in its July 2005 issue. A reported interview with Shigeru Miyamoto seems to confirm this.
Games and developer support
* Mr. Miyamoto said in an EGM interview that he is thinking of making a Pikmin game for Revolution.
* NGC Magazine claims that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, when inserted into the Nintendo Revolution, will utilize its native "free-hand" controller. This claim gained further support after Nintendo of Europe's interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, in which he stated, "...because Revolution can run GameCube software, when you play Twilight Princess on Revolution you can take advantage of the Revolution controller."
* It has also been hinted that older games such as Kid Icarus will be on the Revolution as well.
* There is said to be 20 or so games ready for the launch of the Revolution