It was bound to happen sooner or later. With the software production lull that Nintendo has been in lately and the rumored Wii price drop, all signs are pointing to the behind closed doors planning of a new console.
Think about it, aside from games being developed for their DS and 3DS handhelds, Nintendo has been very mum on 1st party titles for the Wii. Sure, Skyward Sword is set to come out this year, most likely towards the Fall, but all Nintendo has really had recently is last year’s Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M. Also consider that Galaxy 2 is much like Super Mario Sunshine was to Super Mario 64 in that it took less to develop since much of the framework was alreaedy put in place by its predecessor. On the other hand, Metroid: Other M was the first Metroid title following the very successful Prime series, but it was developed by third party Team Ninja and Nintendo did not have nearly as much control or influence in the title. Even Skyward Sword, while certainly deserving of a full-fledged Legend of Zelda title, will use many of the mechanics established in Twilight Princess, much like Majora’s Mask borrowed from Ocarina of Time.
I’ll just come out and say it, a successor to the Wii is long overdue. In a gaming age where multiplayer matchmaking and high definition graphics are paving the way for 3D gaming and MMO sized games on the PS3 and Xbox 360, the Wii barely puts out 480p, has the restrictive friend code to be shared amongst others and is about as powerful as an overclocked GameCube. Even in the world of motion control, which Nintendo brought to the masses and helped the company sell units on their terms, has been one-upped by Sony’s Move and Microsoft’s Kinect, two different takes on motion control that are in their infancy but out the gate appear to have more potential than Wii Motion Plus could ever dream of.
There is no better time for Nintendo to think about the future than now. They’ve got the dominating handheld in the DS, the Wii was already seen as a massive success, and there are high expectations for their new 3DS. Here, Nintendo has the opportunity to do something that nobody has truly done yet, be first out the gates with a new console…while not playing the role of underdog.
So what do I want to see in the Wii^2, Super Wii or Super Wiitendo Entertainment System (or SWES…since I am a huge fan of the SNES)? The obvious improvements are already in the framework in adopting a stronger console that can outdo current generation consoles but still be able to grow over the next five to seven years. This console generation might just be the longest generation yet as developers have still yet to reach the upper echelon of what the 360 and, in particular, the PS3 can do. It has already gone on for six years and only now they’re talking of new consoles. HD graphics are a must with consideration for future technologies, Nintendo has to bite the bullet and include either hard drive storage or very impressive flash media and a solid Nintendo Network that can at least be comparable to the PSN and Xbox Live.
The biggest area of concern is how Nintendo will continue the success of Wii Motion and be able to evolve it past what Sony and Microsoft have done. Forget the Balance Board. Improvements to the sensors, camera tracking and voice sensing will not be enough. Microsoft really changed the game with its Kinect platform which has an absolute abundance of potential. The only way I see motion gaming improved past what Kinect has done is for special controllers that can be utilized in the Kinect space that truly satiate the gamer’s fast twitch reflexes. Kind of like what Sony’s Sharp Shooter does for Move, Nintendo needs to figure out how to marry the two technologies (without an ice cream cone ball at the end).
Lastly, what Nintendo will need to do, and they always manage to do this, is create some absolutely stellar 1st party titles and be able to provide a steady stream of these games. Gamers of the core and casual sects have always been happiest when Nintendo is releasing multiple quality titles deserving of the legendary Nintendo Seal of Quality.