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The 7 - Video Games - Various Nintendo DS/Game Boy tidbits
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#1 Posted on 2.2.05 1402.15
Reposted on: 2.2.12 1402.23
All courtesy of IGN:

I'm not down on the DS. I'm just waiting to see its true potential realized. As for the next Game Boy, which I'll call Game Boy Evolution since this seems to be the popular title for it, I'm extremely optimistic.

Actually, based on things I've heard, the paths of the DS and GBE have intersected already. Sources claim that the idea for the next Game Boy took flight right about the same time GameCube launched. The device was merely supposed to be a portable GameCube. Nintendo was hoping to create a synergy between the two platforms. However, for whatever reason -- probably an inability to miniaturize the GameCube at a consumer-friendly price -- the Game Boy successor was abandoned. Instead, Nintendo opted to use an old piece of tech: a hardware dubbed Nitro that was originally developed to be an update to the Game Boy line during the PS1 era. At former NCL president Hiroshi Yamauchi's suggestion, the tech was enhanced with a second screen and later a touch-sensitive interface. Thus, the DS was born.

What's interesting is that work on Game Boy Evolution is allegedly further along than most of us would probably guess. And more intriguing still, sources claim that Nintendo is once again trying to make the machine a portable GameCube.

If that comes to fruition, I will likely be singing the praises of Game Boy Evolution from the very start. It would be an amazing accomplishment. The machine would have a potential library of 500 games from launch. Imagine being able to play Wind Waker, Metroid Prime, Resident Evil 4, Wave Race, and Pikmin on the go. It's a Nintendo fan's dream come true.


There's been talk of the next generation Game Boy, which shouldn't be surprising considering that even when the Nintendo DS was revealed, Nintendo has always stood by the statement that the DS wasn't the next Game Boy, and that work was continuing on the future of the Game Boy line. Matt seems to feel that the next Game Boy system, strongly hinted for an announcement at this year's E3 show, will be a portable GameCube. My theory is a little closer to reality: it will most likely use GameCube technology, but it won't play GameCube games. The graphics chipset and hardware, still pretty damn impressive, will, if we've been hearing the rumors correctly, be shrunk down and be made power conservative, which would certainly bring the Game Boy branding in line with what Sony's pushing with the PSP.

But why am I saying it won't it play GameCube games? Well, first of all, games for the GameCube weren't made with conservation in mind. Many titles constantly read the disc for data, and that motor would cause a severe drain on the power of the unit, something Sony's frowning upon in the world of the PSP. Two is multiplayer: In Super Smash Bros. Melee, how do you get four systems to talk to each other wirelessly in a way that will "trick" the software into thinking it's playing off one unit with four controllers? It may be technically possible knowing the hardware skills of Nintendo engineers, but I'd guess that they'd leave something like this out of the realm of possibility.

But on the positive side, if Nintendo goes the way of using GameCube technology for its next system, much of what developers have created engine-wise can potentially be moved to the handheld with very little cost. And the GameCube has already proven itself worthy enough to emulate hardware as powerful as a Nintendo 64 (think Ocarina of Time) which makes it a bit more feasible for Nintendo to revive existing properties on the Game Boy "Evolution" (or whatever they're going to call it) for low cost game software. And, of course, it enables Nintendo to re-issue existing GameCube games as upgraded "remixes," much like what the company has already done with Super NES titles on the Game Boy Advance.


I remember interviewing Nintendo of America's Perrin Kaplan and then-NOA technical director Jim Merrick about a future Game Boy using GameCube discs and they both just looked at me with smirks on their faces. I'm sure this has been a Nintendo plan all along, but, of course, it's easier said than done. The challenge to using GameCube games in any future handheld is that many of these titles were designed for console play, where things like battery conservation were not issues. Lots of GameCube games stream data, which is a no-no for disc-based handheld games as it eats up battery life. Nintendo would have to find a way to deal with this potential problem if it were to go that route.


Technical savvy Nintendo DS owners have indeed been poking around the DS hardware to see what sort of WiFi capabilities the system has, and in fact, just a few days after the system shipped several people with the necessary equipment noticed that PictoChat was actually sending the DS system's MAC address out wirelessly via 802.11. MAC addresses are, like an IP address, an identifier attached to pretty much any networking equipment, but unlike IP addresses, a MAC address is permanent/hardwired to the hardware. So it's just a matter of time until someone cracks the DS broadcast code and enables games to broadcast over the internet.

In the meantime, however, there's been rumblings at Nintendo that indicate that the company will finally unwrap its DS online plans very very soon. As it goes, Nintendo left the keys to the WiFi car in the hands of the third-party developers, but the third-party developers didn't want to drive it without Nintendo making the engine. So, as a result, if we've been hearing things correctly, Nintendo will finally and very, very soon, reveal its own "Xbox Live" like service for developers to adopt. And the first game out of Nintendo to use this service will be one of those massively killer Nintendo brands that people have been wanting to play online for years...


Nintendo has said on several occasions that the DS is the third pillar to GameCube and Game Boy. There's no doubt in my mind that a true successor to Game Boy is therefore in development. Probably well into development, even. And that makes the DS a bigger enigma.

I just got off the phone with Craig Harris, who runs our DS channel. I asked Craig if Nintendo has slowed development on Game Boy Advance now that DS had arrived, and he said yes, absolutely, that only a handful of GBA games were underway by the company through the end of the year. He added that its DS lineup is far larger. He also noted that many of the developers previously hot on DS have now cut back on games for the platform in favor of working on PSP, but that's another mailbag entirely.

I get the feeling that what Nintendo says and what the company actually does are two different things. It said that the DS was the third pillar, a machine that would complement the GBA. And then it pulls back support on GBA and focuses on DS.

So what happens to DS when the successor to Game Boy finally arrives? My guess is exactly the same thing: in other words, reduced support for the DS in favor of making games for the new Game Boy. DS owners get the shaft. This is not a good strategy. It dilutes Nintendo's market and confuses consumers. And I really think Sony is going to capitalize on it.

The successor to Game Boy could be the best thing ever. But it's not here yet. The DS is. That being the case, I think your point is moot for now, though it may be valid soon enough. Nintendo can take out a full-page ad in USA Today and proclaim in bold lettering that "DS is not competing with PSP." Nobody's going to believe that. Of course it is! They're both portables and they're both likely to sell in the same price range. How are they not competing? Nintendo said the same thing about GameCube, PS2 and Xbox, if you'll recall. Please note that GameCube is today lumped into the same category as the other consoles. It is not its own market. The simple truth is that no matter what Nintendo says on the topic, consumers are going to view DS and PSP as competitors and many of these consumers will likely choose one or the other, not both. As a consumer, I believe that right now PSP is the better machine. If Nintendo hopes to keep its market, it needs to convince buyers like me otherwise. And since the successor to Game Boy Advance is nowhere to be found, at least not yet, that's really not an option.

Nintendo is betting that consumers want innovation over technology. That concept is at the root of DS, although whether or not the device is truly innovative is, as I stated in last week's mailbag, entirely debatable. I'm not buying it. I believe that in a decade where consumers will pay $400 for an iPod, undemonstrated "innovation" takes a backseat to technology that gets the job done correctly. So unless Nintendo shows me why DS is truly innovative, or releases the Game Boy Next, not only do I believe Sony will with PSP be the handheld market leader in four years, but I'll also wager that the portable will redefine the handheld demographic, effectively aging it up and attracting a wider audience. If this turns out to be true, Sony will have done exactly what Nintendo set out to do and grab gamers normally uninterested in videogames. But it will have done it by transforming an existing market and not catering to an unproven new one.


If you've taken your DS with you to the public, you know that the thing practically sells itself to the people who see it being played. I mean all kinds of people. The two-screens is the eye-catcher for most. Then they see the owner touch the bottom screen. Bam, you've got 2004's sell out Christmas gift.

I see PSP doing well for a while. But I think it's a mistake not to take history into consideration just because it's Sony. I think the PSP's biggest downfall will be the games. That is, if they succeed in living up to the system's capability. I don't think you'd disagree that these games will cost a lot to make. So this means that either the games sell great at a high price or they sell great at a low price. Failure of high sales, I believe, will ultimately drive developers to another system.


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#2 Posted on 2.2.05 2252.08
Reposted on: 2.2.12 2252.54
A lot of this article, namely the parts where they describe the DS as a separate entity, not a continuation, remind me of one thing; Virtual Boy. Last time I saw one of those things was on a shelf at a Goodwill, of all places. There were no games with it, and finding them is like finding a needle in a haystack, so I passed on it.
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#3 Posted on 2.2.05 2325.14
Reposted on: 2.2.12 2328.03
Sheesh, I remember playing a Virtual Boy demo at the Incredible Universe store soon after it was released. Both the Virtual Boy and the Incredible Universe store have since gone the way of the dinosaur-- to the former, good riddance, to the latter, awwwww!
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#4 Posted on 3.2.05 0245.10
Reposted on: 3.2.12 0246.00
    Originally posted by Lexus
    A lot of this article, namely the parts where they describe the DS as a separate entity, not a continuation, remind me of one thing; Virtual Boy.

To be fair, the biggest complaint about the DS (library issues aside) thus far is pixel burnout. There's no illness or temporary loss of the ability to see the color red either. Plus it hasn't been a commercial failure either.

I tried Virtual Boy one time, and my biggest complaints were that red was the only color and that the 3D in Virtual Boy Tennis sucked. But there were a lot more issues with it than can be explored in ten minutes at Target.

As for the Portable Gamecube, hey, I'd love it, but I'll beleive it when I hear something more solid than rumors about Nintendo's Gameboy development team.
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#5 Posted on 4.2.05 1400.14
Reposted on: 4.2.12 1400.14
I refuse to believe the DS isn't the next step in the Game Boy. I mean, why would they allow backward compatibility with GBA games, if they intended to continue the GBA?

I'm one to believe that Nintendo has officially retired the GAME BOY name, in an effort to show the world that handheld, portable gaming isn't restricted to kids playing Pokemon anymore.

Oh, and I'll defend the Virtual Boy. I loved the system :-D
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#6 Posted on 9.2.05 0948.10
Reposted on: 9.2.12 0949.39
    Originally posted by SOK
    I refuse to believe the DS isn't the next step in the Game Boy. I mean, why would they allow backward compatibility with GBA games, if they intended to continue the GBA?

    I'm one to believe that Nintendo has officially retired the GAME BOY name, in an effort to show the world that handheld, portable gaming isn't restricted to kids playing Pokemon anymore.

    Oh, and I'll defend the Virtual Boy. I loved the system :-D

I think we'll see the Gameboy name pop up again- there is too much money to still be made on it to not use it. *Everyone* knows the Gameboy name, even the biggest non-gamers. It's kinda like Sony, they'd be stupid to drop the Playstation name now. My completely uninformed guess would be that it will pop up around the time of the debut of Nintendo's next console so that it will connect to that. However, I really don't see it just being a portable Gamecube. There would be no software sales for it whatsoever because everyone would just be playing their gamecube library on it. Software sales are usually what drive a console makers profits, and I don't see Nintendo putting out a portable unit that doesn't require you to buy specific games for it. The most I think we can hope for is backward compatibility, which there probably will be.

As for the DS, I really do see it as a "third pillar" that will continue to be supported. Though I see that support diminishing after the next Gameboy. I'm not knocking the DS- I love mine, and am counting the days till Warioware Touched comes out next week

(edited by Eradicator on 9.2.05 0954)
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