With less than a week to go until E3 bears down upon us, like a giant elephant of gaming goodness, there's not too long left until we find out exactly what Nintendo has in store for us in its next gaming console, which we've inventively named the Wii 2. That said, there's not much fun in simply sitting around, twiddling our fingers waiting for Nintendo to spill the beans - so instead, we've decided round up all the rumours that are flying around the internet at the moment, and offer our verdict on how likely they are to happen. Come next Tuesday, we'll find out how right we were - and if you fancy watching the announcements as they happen for yourselves, why not have a bit of fun, and have a go at our Wii 2 Bingo - the perfect accompaniment for any press conference. Until then - on with the speculation!
Is a successor to the Wii definitely coming?
Yes. Nintendo themselves have officially announced that at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo - otherwise known at E3, which serves as an annual showcase for the games industry - the "successor to the Wii", which is all Nintendo have officially called it, will be shown. What's more, it'll be in playable form, with rumours of up to twenty titles available on the show floor.
Any idea about the name?
Rumours have been spreading about the console's name for some time now, but there's yet to be a single stand-out contender as the most likely moniker. The console's official codename is "Project Cafe", which may simply be a random term - but there's evidence that works either way. The Wii's codename was "Revolution", which pertained to how it was going to change the way we play games through making them more accessible, and adding motion controls, which may suggest that there's more to the codename than we think - perhaps hinting at a new, more social aspect of the new console? On the other hand, the 3DS didn't really have a code name ("Century" is the closest we've managed to find for it), while the console the Wii succeeded, the Gamecube, was codenamed "Dolphin" - which obviously had nothing to do with the console itself. Potential names that have been batted around include "Beem", the hilarious "Stream", and "Feel", and although IGN are backing the second choice, "Stream", we find it hard to believe Nintendo would follow up the "Wii" with a "Stream" - but that said, it'd at least be disgustingly logical. In our opinion, it's only the latter suggestion that has any real weight behind it, for reasons we'll explain with the next question.
Verdict?Wait until E3.
What's the controller going to be like?
Ah, now this is where things start to get a bit more interesting. Out of all the speculation about Project Cafe, the only thing that's actually come from respectable sources has been speculation about the controller. Allegedly provided by internal sources at trusted developers, information about the Wii 2's controller has been spreading like wildfire - and it sounds like nothing we've seen before. If the rumours are to be believed, the controller's set to come with a built in, 6 inch touch screen, along with all the usual buttons and triggers. While we're finding it hard to believe the size is accurate (that'd make each controller the size of a tablet computer), including a touch screen in the controller does make sense. It'd change the way you interact with games, in a familiar kind of way, whilst also providing, at the very least, a personalised interface on each controller. IGN have actually gone further, and suggested that rather than playing on the big screen, the console will instead stream the game directly to your controller's screen. It's an interesting idea if true, and one that would certainly revolutionise four player split-screen games - which should hopefully mean that they're a priority for Nintendo. In fact, several sites have speculated that the new console could be so powerful, it could effectively stream a different game to each controller, meaning up to four people could be playing different games, possibly in different rooms of the house, all from the same console.
Regardless of the uses, it's looking certain that the controller will feature a touch screen. In early January, Nintendo purchased the domain name, TouchTheGame.com, according to DotWeekly, which certainly seems to suggest some sort of touch functionallity. But while that certainly suggests that there'll be a touch screen in the controller, it's arguable that this just something we've all seen before - just a bigger, fancier version of the DS, right? Wrong. If rumours are to be believed, it looks like Nintendo could have something a lot fancier up their sleeve.
Verdict?A touch screen's almost certain, although we're not sure about the size of it
A haptic, textured touch screen??
That's right. Further rumours online suggest that the Wii 2 may sport something known as a haptic-feedback touch screen - a screen that changes its texture, and how it feels depending on the sort of surface it's meant to be replicating. While this may sound like something out of Star Trek, it's actually a real technology, as you can see from the video below:
It's hard to understand exactly how this technology works, but the technicalities, though intriguing, aren't really important here. What is important is that this pad delivers a stimulation to a user's fingers, in order to make the touch screen feel like a specific surface. The example above showed it can feel like bristles on a brush, or a rough, rock surface, but it's easy, and incredibly exciting to see how this could be applied to games. Imagine playing a detective game, like Pheonix Wright, and dusting for fingerprints you can actually feel - or running your fingers over a bookcase looking for a hidden switch. How about digging in a muddy puddle to find a clue, and being able to feel the mud - and how deep it is - being pushed aside by your fingers? The other application, and the one that would sell the console to pretty much anyone, is Nintendogs. Imagine having a virtual pet, that feels like a real one. Suddenly, stroking it wouldn't seem so silly - it'd feel real.
This could also add a whole new meaning to the aformentioned TouchTheGame.com registration, as it would fit so well, along with the rumoured name for the console, "Feel". It's strange, but pieces all sort of seem to fit - and while it certainly seems crazily futuristic and implausible, up until a few months ago, so did the 3DS. Whether were barking up the wrong tree remains to be seen, but you can certainly put two and two together, and come close to four.
Verdict?We're leaning towards a "Yes" for this one, although it could come back to haunt us.
The controller will feature a camera?
This one's almost certain. Amongst the rumoured controller functions, a camera's appeared in almost every list, apparently as a front facing one, that'll somehow manage to put you into certain games. Add to that the fact that a company named OmniVision have just confirmed in their financial results that they'll be supplying a camera to an as-yet-unannounced console, and we'd say this is definitely going to happen.
Will the online be improved?
In a word, yes, and this could be one of the most interesting announcements. A few weeks ago, Nintendo head honcho Satoru Iwata made some interesting comments about Nintendo's philosophy, and how they'd always looking to do things on their own.
When quizzed by investors during a briefing about Nintendo's reluctance to involve third parties in their consoles, or their aura of Jimae-shugi (doing things by one's bootstraps), Iwata-san replied, "honestly speaking, Wii's future could have been different if Nintendo had made better partnerships with outside companies in the field of network services at the early stages of the penetration of Wii... Although we have already put ourselves back on track, we would like to clearly differentiate what is our true strength from what we can basically do by ourselves but can be done better by more skillful outside specialists in order not to fall into that trap again. You may be aware of some features which I am implying now in relation to the future developments of Nintendo 3DS and Wii's successor system that we announced yesterday."
Through reading between the lines, we can acertain that it sounds like Nintendo may be looking to partner with an external company for the online aspects of the Wii 2/Project Cafe. Quite how this will all come together remains to be seen - but it certainly sounds interesting.
Verdict?Nintendo will definitely show a vastly improved online offering at E3. To keep up with the competition, they have to.
Any idea about a release date, or price?
Nintendo have been quiet so far when it comes to discussing any potential price point, and, if Nintendo's 3DS announcement was anything to go by, we doubt we'll get a solid answer at E3, either. Nintendo have, however, announced that the system will not be released during the current financial year, so the earliest - and most likely - release date would be April/May 2012. This is around the same time the Gamecube launched, and just after the 3DS's launch date of the 25th of March, so seems fairly likely.
Verdict?April/May 2012 worldwide release. No idea about the price.
And so, in one fell swoop, we've detailed practically every rumour that's currently floating around in the vast chasm of inventiveness that is the world wide web. With E3 just a week away, and Nintendo set to broadcast their 7th June press conference worldwide, there's not long left before we'll know the truth behind their next console. If you fancy having a bit of fun, head over to our Wii 2 Bingo page, print off the grids, and join us for the Nintendo press conference next week.