The Next Generation

Each of The Big Three have now released images and details of their next consoles. Microsoft appear to be aiming at the hardcore online gamer, Sony at the home media centre owner and Nintendo at the Existing Nintendo Fan. So far, so predictable.

It will come as no surprise to regular readers that the Nintendo Revolution is the one I have my eye on. I was going to write an article on each console giving my first impressions of their designs, but decided it wasn’t really justified; all three are much of a muchness, frankly. The Xbox 360, though a clear improvement on the design disgrace of its predecessor is still aiming itself squarely at the hardcore online gamer and has a launch title list comprised mostly of sequels and other assorted tedium. The Playstation 3 appears to be another attempt by Sony to create an All-Encompassing Generic Media Centre Unit of the Future after the failure of their PSX, and is big, ugly and bulbous with a strange Spiderman-style typeface used on the case and a thin, smooth, possibly useless controller. Considering that Sony claim the Playstation 3 isn’t even a games console, the design of the machine is far less of a slot-away media centre design than the Playstation 2 was. The Nintendo Revolution is the smallest of the three, and is neat and sleek and…well, that’s about all you can say about it. It’s the nicest design by virtue of not having much of a design at all.

I can’t say I’m excited about any of them. My thoughts on the Xbox have been noted before and not much has changed; the next Xbox still holds little appeal though at least the design of the console has improved. The Playstation 3…I don’t know, I may just wait for the PSThree instead and hope they release one which has lost some weight. I’m not aware of any PS3 games either, so hard to tell whether I want one at all; I’m certainly not interested in any all-singing, all-dancing media centre. As for the Nintendo Revolution, well, I’m still not sure what’s to be so revolutionary about it, with the only interesting detail revealed so far is that their back catalogue, from the NES to the N64, will be downloadable.

I’m concerned about Nintendo, trading yet again on past glories. Though I like the idea of a console that can play Nintendo’s entire back catalogue, even though it deprives me of any justification for buying a NES, SNES and N64 off ebay, I’d also quite like to see new games and new technology. Nintendo also revealed the Gameboy Micro; I love it and will happily own one if they’re cheap enough, but in terms of form the GBA SP pretty much had things nailed, with it’s sleek protective clamshell design, and the only reason I no longer own one is because the DS screen displayed GBA games so much better — the Micro would appear to have a proper backlight so all’s well there.

Perhaps I’ll build up more enthusiasm once I’ve seen a few more launch titles, but at the moment it appears to be just more of the same. Still, at least the DS is a bit different.