Pulse Cannon (9.20.05)

Well now hows that for timing? I’d love to say that was planned but really, last weeks column was not inspired by inside knowledge of Nintendo revealing their controller. At any rate, someone out there likes me, as I wasn’t sure what to write about this week. Thankfully you get something interesting.

So, Nintendo has revealed their Revolutionary controller. The official non-fanboy reaction on message boards everywhere was, and I quote: “WTF???? Nintendo loses again!” The official fanboy response on those same message boards was “OMG! Awesome!!” Now, I’ll admit at first I was in the non fanboy camp when it came to the controller, but it is far too early to say never. As in my hands will never touch that remote they call a controller, or I’ll never buy such a useless controller. Why won’t I take that stand? Well obviously it’s the games stupid. Or more to the point, the current lack of games that have been shown off. Sure there were tech demos to give you an understanding, but you won’t be playing those when you bring the Revolution home. When I see what Nintendo intends to do with the controller, or more importantly perhaps what the third party’s intend to do with the controller, I’ll make my stand.

So does this controller answer my call for innovation that I issued last week? Many of the features sound promising, that I will grant you. Motion capture, dual wielding with different attachments for different games, wireless ala Wavebird, not to mention the ability to dock the controller in a sleeve that more closely resembles a standard controller.

But this is not exactly what I was hoping for. A controller that makes me exercise is a controller I’m not likely to use, to be honest. Yes I’ll admit it, I’m a lazy bastard. I like not having to lift weights to build up the stamina to play games for hours at a time. So that’s at least part of the controllers revolutionary design hurting it more than helpings.

Another problem is the decision to once again reduce the number of buttons on the controller. Yes they can release an adapter that gives you more buttons but thats more money I’m not interested in spending. And yes it’s true that many games will enable the Gamecube controller to be used instead of the Revolution, but that’s missing the point of having a new controller. And third party’s have already abandoned the Gamecube, why would they move to the Revolution to use the exact same controller?

Of course, the new controller does have some things going for it. When turned sideways it bears a healthy resemblance to the old NES controller, which will be quite handy for those games you download and play on your spiffy new console. Nintendo also intends to re-release the N64 controller with Revolution (and possibly Gamecube, since they use the same port) hookups. And while I doubt Nintendo will offer it as a standard feature, you may be able to use the controller as a universal remote once some hackers get their claws into it. I’m only being slightly facetious when I say that too.

What the Revolution will really have going for it is the games that Nintendo will make for their new controller. Will the rest of the industry say that theres a big enough market there, I don’t know. Sega spent two generations making “innovative” when they should have been making “money”. Nintendo has more money to burn, but does that mean they should? Of course, somebody has to take the first step towards improving the way games are controlled. I’m just not sure this is the right first step. It might be a doozy…Pulse Cannon offline.