At the moment, all signs in the games industry are pointing towards Nintendo announcing a brand new home console, the successor to the Wii, at the world's largest games show, E3, which kicks off in June.
It started with a throaway comment from THQ President Brian Wilson, at a Goldman Sachs conference, when the head honcho confirmed that they "don't expect new hardware any time soon from either Microsoft or Sony". With Nintendo, on the other hand, he was a bit more guarded: "It's difficult on Nintendo - we'll let them announce their new hardware."
Then came an interview with Super Street Fighter 3D producer, Yoshinori Ono in an interview with Eurogamer, which went as follows:
Eurogamer: Do you see a future when you'll be able to play Street Fighter on a home console and then transport your profile onto a handheld when you leave the home and continue playing? Is cross-platform play between home and portable consoles possible?
Yoshinori Ono: Yeah, I think we're probably three months too early to answer that question. But if you're going to be at E3, see you there.
From that, it would certainly seem that Ono-san was referring to a potentially brand new home console, but it wasn't exactly that blatant. Then, almost over night, things started to heat up.
Suddenly, website GameInformer put up an article quoting unknown sources, claiming that a Wii 2 was definitely in development, and would be being announced this year at E3. Since then, practically every sign it's possible to read - from the poor Wii release schedule for this year, to rumblings from all over the place - are suggesting an E3 reveal for the Wii 2.
As with the Wii, "inside sources" have confirmed to sites across the internet that the revolution with the console's sequel will be in the control scheme, as the controller sounds like nothing we've ever seen before. Said to house a 6.2 inch touch screen, along with two analogue sticks, and eight buttons (which are presumably the normal four buttons, plus two shoulder buttons and triggers), the controller sounds like an intriguing, if not expensive prospect. Also said to house a front-facing camera, and come with full motion sensing capabilities, we can't help but wonder if perhaps these "confirmed sources" are being a little bit too hopeful - and we can't even begin to imagine how it'd all fit together!
As for how it'd work, opinion seems to be divided. Some people have pointed out that this would be a great way to get four-play split-screen to work, as you'd each have your own personal screen, which would revolutionise playing games together. Nintendo have always been big on local multiplayer, so the idea of the company aggressively going after it like this has us very, very excited indeed. More recent rumours suggest that each handheld could work like a "virtual console", meaning that up to four people could be using the Wii 2 at anyone one time, doing completely unrelated things, and potentially even playing different games, as the console streams the output to your controller.
Luckily for those of us who aren't quite ready to leave our Wiis behind, the console's said to be fully backwards compatible with Wii, and possibly even Gamecube games and controllers, in that traditional Nintendo manner, which means you won't have to leave your balance board behind just yet. The Wii 2's also rumoured to house a Blu-Ray drive, which would certainly make sense, and would help make Nintendo's new console a more powerful media machine, if it could be used for watching HD video as well.
As time's gone on, the rumours have got more specific, as sites presumably try to out-do eachother for exclusives. The latest rumours claim to even pin down a price and release date for the console, claiming it'll launch between mid-October to November of this year, and cost between $350-400 (£211 - £242, exc. VAT). We remember what happened with the 3DS launch rumours though, so we're refusing to get too excited.
Whatever happens, with the way everything's going, we're 99% sure Nintendo have something big up their sleeves - as someone once said, there's no smoke without a fire. The stars have all aligned - now all we're waiting for is Nintendo to show their hand.