It’s tempting to wade into Apple’s new iSlate tablet and its potential gaming ramifications this week, but we’re not going to. Why? Because it’s not every day that Saturo Iwata casually blurts out details about Nintendo’s next handheld console.
The latest version of Nintendo’s most successful console ever, namely the DSi XL, hasn’t even been released in Europe or the US yet, but it’s clear a successor is already well underway.
Nintendo’s King Koopa relayed details of the DS’s inevitable successor to Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun this week, with all of the coy concealment of a man talking about what he had for breakfast that morning.
“[It will have] highly detailed graphics.” Iwata remarked, “and it will be necessary to have a sensor with the ability to read the movements of people playing.”
So basically, the DS2, or whatever Nintendo chooses to call it, will be an HD version of the Nintendo DS with tilt controls. We can only speculate that it will retain the majority of the current DS’s current features, but we sincerely hope it does.
The evolution is an obvious one. The new handheld will incorporate the Wii’s extremely successful motion sensing capabilities and address one of the console’s most common downfalls – its lack of graphical punch.
So does this mean that Nintendo’s next handheld will have the PSP’s enviable pixel pushing powers, the DS’s killer touchscreen and D-pad combo and the iPhone’s innovative tilt controls?
Comparisons are perhaps not the most useful way to understand Nintendo’s curious design ethos. There’s no doubt that the big N is very aware of what the competition is up to, but that doesn’t mean that the next Nintendo handheld is simply going to be a hatchet amalgamation of all that has come before it.
The games industry is a frequently inconsistent place and few of the many adages attached to it survive long enough to become well known. The one that has, however, is the one that should be the first and last line of any gaming history book: Never underestimate Nintendo.
The DS made mental arithmetic, cooking, and puppies part of the mainstream gaming landscape, while simultaneously attracting girl and granny gamers with an effortlessness that its competition are still desperately trying to emulate.
So what surprises does Nintendo have in store for us next time around? Introducing more in the way of practical applications, or branching even further into the educational realm, could be potential avenues of interest.
That said, bringing about the sort of game changing shift that the DS instigated is a trick that even Nintendo probably won’t be able to pull off twice in a row. Based on Iwata’s loose-lipped comments it looks like Nintendo, though taking the path less trodden as it always does, will opt for a less dramatic diversion from established gaming trends next time around. This is a good thing as far as Pocket Gamer’s concerned. After all, who wants innovation for innovation’s sake?
It’s encouraging that Nintendo has not forgotten that good old fashioned gamers still make up the overwhelming majority of its loyal fanbase. Better still, while Nintendo has indeed spent the last four years broadening its, and in turn gamers’, horizons, Iwata’s revelations hint at a Nintendo no longer as averse to the seductive lure of pretty HD pictures as it was prior to the release of the Wii.
There’s probably still a lengthy wait before Nintendo even thinks about announcing the DS’s official successor, but Iwata’s strong hints are the best late Christmas present ever and will give everyone plenty to discuss for months to come.
Now, what was that about an iSlate?
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