May 17, 2005 11:05 AM PDT

Nintendo's big E3 surprise comes in little box

LOS ANGELES--Nintendo, once the unrivaled king of the home video game business, released details of its planned new game console and unveiled a new mini-portable device called the Game Boy Micro.

Nintendo's crowded event at the Kodak Theater here was aimed at taking back some of the buzz captured by Microsoft and Sony, each of which unveiled powerful next-generation game consoles within the past week. But Tuesday's display of the tiny new game player, smaller than an iPod Mini, took many by surprise. (Click here to listen to News.com reporter Rick Shim's audio report from E3.)

The mini-console is aimed at a generation of game players increasingly accustomed to carrying tiny cell phones loaded with games in their pockets--something that's nearly impossible to do with the larger and more powerful PlayStation Portable from Sony.

Nintendo Revolution

"No matter how tight your jeans are, the Game Boy Micro will fit in them," said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of sales and marketing. "We created the portable game space and we're not moving out."

As for the new Nintendo console, it's still known by its code name, "Revolution." It will be significantly smaller than its rivals', about the size of several stacked DVD cases, and will come in several as-yet-undetermined colors.

The Revolution will play DVDs, have built-in Wi-Fi and an SD memory card slot, and 512MB of flash memory. Executives said Nintendo would offer a free online gaming service, helping to accelerate the move of console gaming to the Net.

Company executives said the console will be released in 2006. The cost, which was not disclosed, may partly depend on how Sony and Microsoft price their consoles.

The Revolution is critical for Nintendo, which has fared the most poorly of the three major console companies over the past few years.

While retaining significant loyalty among a core audience, particularly younger children and fans of a few Nintendo-only titles such as the "Zelda" series, the company has seen its share of the market plunge.

According to Jupiter Research, Sony led in the United States with 43 percent of the games console market at the end of 2004, followed by Microsoft with 19 percent, and Nintendo's GameCube with 14 percent. Nintendo's Game Boy still dominates the handheld gaming market, although Sony's new PlayStation Portable has raised a serious threat to that crown.

Nintendo's new console will be built around a new IBM processor and a graphics chip from ATI. The company did not initially provide detailed specifications on the guts, however.

The company is taking a less technology-focused approach than Sony and Microsoft, which are touting the processor-heavy, high-definition quality of their graphics. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata alluded to the spiraling costs of developing games for the other platforms, and said his system might compete differently.

"Development costs are pushing into eight figures, and developers are endangered," Iwata said. With the Revolution, "big ideas can prevail over big budgets," he added.

Much of the response to the console, as with its rivals, will depend on what games will initially be available. Executives said that a Super Smash Brothers title would be available on the Revolution, as well as titles using familiar characters and franchises such as Mario, Zelda and Metroid.

The Revolution will be backward-compatible with games created for the GameCube, and fans will also be able to download games from earlier consoles, the company said.

The Game Boy Micro will have the same processing power and play the same games as the Game Boy Advance SP. At 4 inches wide and 2 inches tall, with a 2-inch screen, it will weigh about 2.8 ounces, or about the same as 80 paper clips, the company said. It will be released this fall.

Richard Shim reported from Los Angeles. John Borland reported from San Francisco.

8 comments

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Nintendo has the right idea
Simplicity in design yields far more freedom than the most technically sophisticated monster machine. Nintendo has a proven record of constantly evolving how the game is played and it looks like they're sticking to their guns. I look forward to what's to come.
Posted by Bob_Barker (167 comments )
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It's called research.
"Mario Baseball" and "Super Mario Strikers" are to be available for the GameCube- not as a launch title for the upcoming system. And as to the "as-yet-undetermined colors" (I'm assuming you just messed up and meant as-yet-determined), check the image here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://cubemedia.ign.com/cube/image/article/615/615258/e3-2005-nintendo-conference-photos-and-details-20050517014150936-000.jpg" target="_newWindow">http://cubemedia.ign.com/cube/image/article/615/615258/e3-2005-nintendo-conference-photos-and-details-20050517014150936-000.jpg</a>

Great to see C|Net is on the ball as always.

[Edited by: admin on May 18, 2005 10:57 AM]
please, no swearing.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Thanks for your comments
Hi Douglas,

The reporter doesn't say that the titles you cite will be launch titles; he notes that they will be available when Revolution launches. As for colors, Nintendo execs showed the console in various colors, which they said weren't final.
Posted by LeslieKatz (143 comments )
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A True Revolution
Nintendo will surely revolutionize video games with their new hardware. Just wait until the controllers are released!
Posted by Mr. Miyamoto (7 comments )
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Re: A True Revolution
I just hope they're a bit more initially appealing than the GameCube ones. I have no problem with the GCN controllers nowadays, but at first I didn't initially like the design, mainly because of the seemingly miniscule B button the odd placement of the C-stick.
Posted by musicman2059 (5 comments )
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certainly not evolution
perhaps Nintendo would do well to embrace evolution and not tout what is by and far not a revolution. the last round of consoles showed the gamecube far lagging. this was for a number of reasons: first the lack of dvd, games that don't appeal to the broader audience, and no focus on the technical quality of the system. Nintendo has proven before and now yet again that though they think they know what the public wants: they don't! Americans (Nintendo's core audience) don't want the promise of another 10 mario party games or even a real mario game, they want to know they bought a system that will through and through carry the software they desire. American's like tech specs whether they translate to a better machine or not. Xbox had the best hardware of the three during the last round and look: they were second and a measely second at that. Marketing to the desires of your audience is a must. Courting the developers is a must. People don't want a system that doesn't carry the big titles. Focus on your audience... the NES is gone. Nintendo needs to wake up and realize (much as sony was forced to do after the fall of the walkman) that the world doesn't want your offering so you must try something new.
Posted by mortis9 (370 comments )
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Re: Certainly not evolution
And you're right about that. Nintendo went into GCN development determined to keep it all about video gaming, and not adding on some of the extras like DVD or CD capabilities. Although I think Nintendo is starting to realize that (since it will have DVD playback with an optional extension) I think they still don't get the picture completely. (And it goes to show since you'd have to buy the extra DVD capabilities, which means either they've lost money from the GCN ordeal or they are trying to make more to catch up.)

And it shows. Where are all the big third party names for Nintendo? Konami, although they aren't as big, doesn't produce for them, Square-Enix crates games for the GCN and GBA but they are of poor quality, Rare left them, Namco -tried- to get into it but went back to being nearly PS2 exclusive after Tales of Symphonia sales disappointed them, (and I heard they were reluctant to develop Star Fox: Assault for Nintendo) etc.

Nintendo has shot themselves in the foot, and now they really need a way to get out before they end up like Sega did.
Posted by musicman2059 (5 comments )
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Whats wrong with you?
You're saying that nintendo should not appeal to the developers. So, Since its going to cost developers $100,000 to $999,999 on Revolution, and almost $1 Billion on XB 360 and PS3, which would you pay for? And another thing. Gamecube is much better technically than XBOX and PS2. It loads a heck of alot faster than PS2, and it still has a slight edge over xbox. I think that Nintendo is still #1, and with the revolution having more 3rd party support than previous Nintendo systems, this will help out alot.
Posted by grr_roar_man (1 comment )
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