SPOnG's news coverage captured Nintendo's E3 pre-event as sagely as one could hope for. In an odd year for the lynchpin of videogames, 2005 saw two new consoles and nothing at all at the same time.
Revolution. Revolution. The mutterings echoing from the Hollywood and Highland complex in West Hollywood two days ago were akin to the speak-easies of 1959 Cuba. The complaints that followed perhaps had more to do with the caliber of attendees Nintendo still permits through its doors, with hoards of 16 year-old "CEOs" clearly disappointed at the lack of personal next-generation walk-through opportunities.
This illustrates a problem with Nintendo's conferences in the run up to every E3. Show a Zelda video – grown men and their CEO counterparts cry. Don't fully explain your new console in absolute detail and they all cry again. Harder and longer.
This year Nintendo's E3 comprises a re-alignment of the DS, a new revision of the Game Boy Advance and the promise of something special in the future. And this would usually be fine. The problem is that Sony and Microsoft have presented a much more tangible offering, with finalized hardware, rolling video demonstrations – even removable fascias for their yet-to-be-released hardware. In response Nintendo seemed to offer only a prolonged mystery.
SPOnG today had one-on-one access to the Nintendo Revolution. And as our friends in Kyoto say, Touching is Good
. We sat in a room with six hardware units which we were able to pick up, pass around and generally explore. The console has a few surprises that were not evident in the shots posted on the day the machine debuted. There are two flaps on the top, one which surprisingly houses four wired GameCube controller ports. As you will know, the Rev is fully compatible with GameCube hardware, so it's fully understandable these ports are included, though the significance of their inclusion must not be overlooked. They are there because this machine has a new controller. It's not a gamepad. It is, according to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, "A Revolution".
Another flap shows twin solid state storage drives, another flap, the important and ominous-looking one on the front, would not open."There's a clue there," we were told by senior Nintendo staff today as we pawed the hardware, which we could power on and off and fully examine. "That's the Revolution, right there." The collective SPOnG mind boggled.
And that about covers our hands-on with Revolution, as far as you'll get right now, not being a developer of software for the machine. It exists as a computer in a box. It hooks up to your TV and goes online. It will play almost every single home console game ever created. And it has what better be a really impressive secret up its sleeve. And even now, SPOnG has absolutely no idea what that might be.