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Jim Merrick

Nintendo's head of European marketing talks Revolution, innovation, competition and more in part one of our interview

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You've talked about bringing down barriers in order to reach a larger consumer base, but don't you worry that you might simultaneously be putting up barriers and putting off your existing audience with Nintendo's move away from traditional gaming?

Jim Merrick: You're right - any time you say "I'm creating something for new users", there is a subliminal message that says for the existing users, "I'm forgetting about you, I'm ignoring you". I think that's one of the elegant things about this controller - it offers so much for an existing gamer. The capabilities to directly, precisely target things, pointing in a much more natural way than using analogue control. If you play a first-person shooter, using what we call the nunchukk controller - the little analogue stick on a pigtail - you can never go back. It is so easy to target someone over here, an enemy over there, duck behind something then run across an open area, strafing and shooting as you go. It is the first-person shooter's dream controller and it can be used in a lot of other ways.

At E3, you said that the Revolution would include ports for GameCube controllers. However, we've now heard that Nintendo intends to deliver a controller cradle housing the new input device for certain games. Is this true and does it mean you've done away with those GameCube ports since we last saw the console?

Jim Merrick: We'll go both ways. The four ports for the GameCube controllers are still on the top, you can use your Wavebirds controllers and existing wired controllers - and that's great because if you've got GameCube games, you've probably got GameCube controllers too so there's no reason not to use them. Not only for GameCube games either - we have something called the Virtual Console which allows you to download N64 games, Super Famicom games - what am I going to do with those? NES games are obviously easy - you just flip the controller on its side and you're there. For other games, and even for today's games, we're not trying to say that the existing controller designs are not useful, there are many great games that play very well with existing controllers.

We will offer what we call the Classic-style controller which is based on the more traditional controller - or at least as traditional as you can get in an industry that's only twenty years old. Basically, it has a hole that you slot in the free-hand controller so that brings wireless communications, rumble pack and other features and you just slot it right in there. It's an easy and presumably - I don't have any pricing yet - inexpensive way to give you another controller option. So we're really excited about having this expansion port on the controller - you start realizing there's all kinds of things we can do. One of the reasons we didn't show it at TGS though was we haven't completed the design yet - it's not completely signed off.

There's been a lot discussions about what kind of features does it have to have to support N64 games and GameCube games and NES games, and what a third party might expect on a cross-platform controller because, let's face it, every hardware manufacturer wants third parties to write games exclusively for them and take one hundred percent advantage of what's unique on their platform - but, in reality, third parties have to write cross-platform - and there has to be some commonality between them, or at least they'd like it to make their job easier. That said, there are good examples, such as the Sims 2, which really uses the DS' unique features and it certainly is a cross-platform game.

The Revolution obviously offers a significantly different experience for developers and not just end users, in terms of the machine's potential for creative challenges. What sort of feedback has Nintendo had from developers who've had chance to get their hands on the new controller?

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