Consoul's Blog Consoul Games: April 2006

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Wii all have our theories.

So Nintendo's Wii announcement has really set the gaming world ablaze. Love the name or hate it, you've got to hand it to Nintendo - in the lead-up to E3 2006, everyone is talking about Wii. They've created the kind of buzz money can't buy.

So much so, that some people are claiming the whole Wii name is a PR stunt, and that the real name of the console-formerly-known-as-Revolution will be revealed at E3 in a little over a week. The proponents of this rumour point to the fact that Wii does not appear to be a registered trademark in the USA or Japan at all. Having searched the US and Japanese trademark websites myself, it is true that "Wii" is not listed. I don't believe the rumour though. I'm of the belief that Nintendo lodged the name Wii as a trademark around the time of the announcement, and it simply hasn't been processed and listed on the websites yet. The name Wii is real and here to stay if you ask me. In fact, the more I think about the name Wii, the more sense it makes to me.

I've heard plenty of rumours about the Revolution project over the past two years, and most of them were completely false. Most of them. Some of them turned out to be correct. As many of you would know, the rumour of the motion-sensing controllers was being spread on the internet long before it was officially announced. As good as Nintendo are at keeping secrets, the people in the know are only human, and it's inevitable that a certain amount of leakage will occur.

Ever since the unveiling of the Revolution prototype about a year ago, I've had the distinct feeling that Nintendo have a big rabbit up their sleeve. The motion-sensing Wii-mote/Ninchuk controllers and backwards-compatible virtual console concepts are great, but I can't shake the feeling that the real secret hasn't been let out of the bag yet. The (let's face it) bizarre name Wii has only strengthened my suspicions that there will be a big surprise revelation from Nintendo at the forthcoming E3.

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To my mind, there are many questions that seem to have been left conspicuously unanswered. First of all, what is behind the front flap? Does it not seem a bit strange that there's a big door on the front of the console and no-one is talking about what's behind it? We know the games don't go in there, we know that controllers and memory cards don't go in there - so what's in there? Next, the controller itself: like the remotes we're all familiar with, the Wii-mote has a dark translucent panel on the end of it...but are we supposed to believe the remote works by infra-red? Infra-red game controllers are history. There's something else behind the dark panel, but what? Finally, if the console launch is only months away, doesn't it seem odd that we haven't seen any game footage at all, and only a handful of still images from devkits have appeared online? Why are Nintendo holding out on us?

Allow me then, to indulge in my grand unified theory. Here's an idea for your consideration that draws on various technical details and some of the other rumours I've heard over the past two years:

"I always thought that games would eventually break free of the confines of a TV screen to fill an entire room. But I would rather not say anything more about that."
-Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo guru.

"The Revolution will not be televised."
-Gil Scott-Heron, poet.

The console will not be connected to a television. Wii is a display device itself. The front door on the console conceals two compact projection devices, that together are able to project a stereoscopic 3D image, visable without the need for visors or headsets. As I have seen with my own eyes, this kind of naked-eye 3D display technology already exists, and looks stunning, though it hasn't yet been used for video game applications. See this page on (Physical Optical Corporation) for more details.

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Wii games will be displayed in 3D on a screen positioned between the player and the console. The stand that the prototype consoles have been shown on angles the front of the console upward for projection purposes. Beyond simply showing a 3D image from a given angle, the screen can act as a 3D "window" onto the game world, changing perspective by tracking the position and alignment of the controller. Nintendo patented this concept in US patent 6908388, which details "a game system and a game program allowing a player to feel as if a three-dimensional game space is tilted in accordance with a tilt of a game device". This process is made possible in part by a camera built into the end of the controller, which can also used for capturing player movements and transposing the player's face into the game. This is a modified version of the 'Ningen copy/Manebito' Gamecube camera accessory that was trademarked but never released.

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The name Wii is a pictogram. Nintendo have already explained the symbolism of the double i, representing the controllers and the people gathering together, but what of the W itself? The capital W is made up of two "V" shapes, that represent the twin projections.

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So that's my theory for what it's worth. I could be utterly wrong. I probably am. Regardless, as Nintendo of America's PR Manager Matt Attwood said in a recent interview with Game Informer, "I would say 9:30 in the morning on Tuesday of E3 will be filled with surprises and I would just show up...[snip]’re going to be very surprised."

I for one, can't wait. E3 2006 begins in just over a week.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Wii. Are Nintendo taking the piss?

Nintendo have just officially announced the actual name of their next-gen console, that has until now been known as Revolution.
Wii (pronounced "we"). You heard me. You can certainly count on Nintendo to be different.

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Here's what they have to say about it [from]:
"While the codename "Revolution" expressed our direction, Wii represents the answer. Wii will break down the wall that separates video game players from everybody else. Wii will put people more in touch with their games... and each other. But you're probably asking: What does the name mean?
Wii sounds like "we", which emphasizes this console is for everyone. Wii can be easily remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii.
Wii has a distinctive "ii" spelling that symbolizes the unique controllers and the image of people gathering to play.
And Wii, as a name and a console, brings something revolutionary to the world of video games that sets it apart from the crowd.
So that's Wii. But now Nintendo needs you.
Because it's not really about me or you.
It's about Wii.
And together, Wii will change everything.

Marketing disaster or not? No doubt the name sounds better if you're Japanese or French. Whether the western gaming world can suppress it's tendency toward toilet humour enough for the new name to be taken seriously is anyone's guess. The Playstation and XBox fanboys who constantly referred to Nintendo's last home console as "Gaycube" are going to have a field-day with Wii. I have no doubt that the console itself will be excellent, but for a product designed to "break down the wall" and attract the biggest possible audience, I think the name has put up a barrier that some potential customers will have trouble getting past.

Nintendo are going to have to proceed carefully and watch their wording at E3 next month. Satoru Iwata should probably avoid talking about "waving his Wii wand" and let Reggie Fils-Aime lead the crowd in a chorus of "Wii will rock you" instead. While the launch date has not yet been announced, there's sure to be some pant-wetting excitement when Wii is released later this year.