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Is Wii “Next-Gen”? (Part 2)

October 9, 2006
by

wiicube.jpg

Frisby bit the bullet to write Part 1 of this and caught flak flak flak. Time for me to provide the cover fire.

This multi-part series was inspired by a topic i covered for Infendo a couple months back. However, Frisby took his own interpretation of what that was and ran with it. I had something completely different in mind, but his take on the subject brought some new things to light.

Most of what friz wrote was unclear, so i’ll clear that up.

The main idea he was trying to get across was that Wii is not a next-gen system. He’s exactly right. As far back as Atari, consoles and their follow-ups have been about improving graphics and their gamepads. This path of console evolution has been a narrow road with little leg room to differentiate. As proof, you can find tons of systems and system add-ons in the graveyard of gaming. There’s just some things you can’t do while trying to maintain the constant flow of updating features. You can add a bullet point here and there (like the tacked on PS3 motion sensing), but don’t get crazy. People expect a certain product to stay on that road because they would like their current system to be better at doing the same things. That’s why Xbox 360 and PS3 will be lucrative machines for Sony and MS and there’s nothing wrong with that.

New game consoles have had a criteria to abide by and still do. On GameCube, people couldn’t wait for Zelda and Mario because they were the next-gen sequels to great N64 games they played. Same went for PlayStation franchises. It’s an inborn expectancy that gamers harbor. Maybe you’ve forgotten (or chosen to forget) about this after all of Nintendo’s Wii hype and hoopla, but it’s there. Even with Wii, as different and new as it is, you’re expecting to see the staples of Nintendo history, and they’ll deliver because you’ll buy.


PS3 is next-gen. Xbox 360 is next-gen. Wii is not next-gen. “Next-gen” is the buzzword the industry uses to define new systems and it’s a strictly defined term. Fact is, next-gen to gamers means a bump in graphics, a push in processing, some new system features, a slightly modified controller, and the continuation of familiar franchises. Let’s be honest, PS3 and 360 can do amazing things. Sure, you may say it doesn’t matter to you now, but once upon a time, that’s all you knew or cared about. N64 was all about that “theater experience” with the realistic 3D graphics. PS2 was about emulating an interactive Toy Story. It all turned out to be bull, but you bought into it at the time. These new systems are just keeping with tradition – a tradition you’ve helped them keep – so why fault them?

Wii, on the other hand, took a left turn somewhere and confused the fuck out of everybody. What’d you do that for, Big N? Because monotony plagued the competing systems and has only allowed one clear victor for the past 10 years. Nintendo grew sick of it and tried to alter the battle plan with a test run on the handheld format. As you know, DS worked without killing off the Game Boy and that’s exactly what they wanted: A system that wouldn’t rain on the other’s parade while holding its own – that’s what Wii is.

Hence why Nintendo calls Wii a “new-gen” system. They pulled a DS, on a grander scale. DS isn’t a sequel to GBA, Wii isn’t the successor to GameCube. Because of this, Wii both intrigues and disappoints. The thing that’s most irritating with their decision is that now you have to choose between 2 extremes: the next level of graphics and processing advancement or a dope new way to interact. Can’t have both and there’s no use in pretending that Wii is the only way to play. Wii’s gonna have great games, but never something like what a PS3 can give you. MotorStorm = Excite Truck who? The reverse is also true. Wii Tennis = why bother with Virtua Tennis 3? The 2 worlds are separate and distinct enough to coexist and neither is wrong.

Nintendo isn’t taking part in the next-gen yet. They are skipping it for Wii. But you can bet your ass that all the next-next-gen consoles will be motion sensitive and HD ready, and all the next-gen handhelds will have fancy controls on souped up hardware with new features. Evolution and revolution will ride on parallel to each other until they eventually meet to form a new standard in the future. For now, give both a chance — just as long as you don’t confuse the two.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2006 3:08 am

    Good point, but I still have the same question in my mind as I did for “Part 1”: Is the term “Next-Gen” really an industry term? I think it was coined by journalists, bloggers, and consumers, not the industry… but I might be wrong.

    In any case, if the term really exists in the minds of MS, Sony, and Nintendo, each one of these is defining it in their own way: for MS
    it is the graphics and the online experience, for Sony it is the graphics and the multimedia capabilities, for Nintendo it is the user interface. I don’t think you can really pin down the “next-gen” term down to one definition, just like the term “New Age” could not define a type of music because it was a commercial terminology, not the artists’ terminology…

  2. October 9, 2006 11:51 am

    I’m still not to sure about this argument. The “next gen” of cars all still have a core combustion engine, but with different features and more fuel economy. Are they not really next gen, then?

    I think when you say Nintendo took everyone on a left turn, they really did take us into a legitimate “next gen.” Sony and MS have really only added new coats of paint since the PS1 and Xbox, with the exception of Live. Wii goes in and puts on an entirely new addition to the house.

  3. October 9, 2006 4:24 pm

    Being that Nintendo themselves are calling Wii “new-gen” rather than next, they are admitting they aren’t on the same playing field as MS or Sony, but at the same time are saying that they aren’t an extension of tradition like those 2 machines are.

    I think people have grown too attached to the term “next-gen” as a quality measure that they feel the need to call Wii next-gen, when it really doesn’t fit that description. The 2 butch consoles go to a “legitimate” next level, Wii goes to another level. It’s different — we agree on that, so why insist on giving it an antiquated label?

  4. October 9, 2006 7:37 pm

    First off, great article, and I understand where you’re coming from entirely. It was kinda funny when fanboys started going crazy over part 1, but I digress.

    To be frank, I think the argument about “next-gen” or “new-gen” is rather moot. New-gen is simply Nintendo’s marketing scheme to get the weight of next-gen expectations off of their shoulders. But to me and all of my friends who like to talk about games (we live in the philippines btw), the 360, PS3, and Wii are all next-gen. To waste time arguing with each other over the use of “next” and “new” feels like a waste of time.

    If that’s their new machine, then it’s the next gen. enough said.

    Oh, and I’m buying a Wii when it comes out, just so you know. 🙂

  5. October 9, 2006 8:49 pm

    Hey, thanks for the kind regards. I like your point of view, too. It’s pretty much how i see it and how everyone should. We just felt like we had to write this because everyone’s so staunch on calling Wii “the true next-gen” and this and that, kinda making fools of themselves. In the end, any new system that gets introduced released is next-gen, in the general sense of the term.

  6. October 14, 2006 8:04 pm

    keep in mind nintendo isnt going to be publishing a lot of games inntended to enthrawl audiences. Nintendo is giving you a system with games that will be flexible in the manner you can play whenever and not make playing video games all the time just to get satisfaction.

    They are going to give back time to the player to do something other than game.
    i think nintendo is new-gen and thats the first time i’ve heard that term, so -cool.
    and yeah your right experiences will differ on each console, but its a small choice to make if you know your game preference.

  7. Anonymous permalink
    November 30, 2006 5:49 pm

    i agree nintendo makes an advancement in graghics and 1 or 2 decent games seem bad(ps3)

  8. Anonymous permalink
    March 18, 2007 12:47 pm

    I think that the ps3,360 and wii are “nest gen” I’d realy like to see what the ture potential of the wii and ps3 because the games that are out now for the wii and the ps3 don’t show us the potential of the console I would like to see a wii game that has…

    good useage of the wii mote(wtih out feeling gimicky)

    longe epic game

    exsusive

    online play

    and solid good graphics

    and for the ps3…

    grate graphics

    online play that doesn’t suck

    good AI

    also Epic

    when we see games like this then we know what the ture potential of the cousole is and that is how we know what a next gen console is.

  9. Jon permalink
    July 16, 2007 12:42 am

    There are many flaws with this arguement. Nest gen in this article is being defined as “Fact is, next-gen to gamers means a bump in graphics, a push in processing, some new system features, a slightly modified controller, and the continuation of familiar franchises”… Here is my problem. “Last Gen” Was XBox, PS3, Gamecube, and just for good measure Dreamcast. Wii has better graphics than any of these systems (Check the numbers, they are slightly better than XBox which was last gen’s graphics leader), it has more processing power (same as graphics), new features (motion sensing), and a modified controller (Quite obvious), and continued franchises (Super Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, MArio Kart, etc)……. So Actually the Wii is more next gen from its previous generation than the PS2 was from PS1 according to this logic since the PS1 controller and PS2 are exactly the same..

  10. Jon permalink
    July 16, 2007 12:43 am

    *edit* “Last Gen” i meant to put ps2 not ps3

  11. July 16, 2007 2:16 am

    Actually, your argument is flawed if you say mine has many then only point out one. And even then you’re mistaken. On a couple things, really.

    So the identical controller is enough to throw the entire argument off, eh? Saying that the controller made the PS2 less “next-gen” at the time is short-sighted. Sony had perfected their Dual Shock design during the PS1, so when PS2 came there wasn’t much of a need to change it up.

    Secondly, Wii is not entirely more advanced in processing power than the Xbox. Learn it (click here, please).

  12. Ruben permalink
    July 16, 2007 2:40 am

    On the Dual Shock 2, every button (Even the D-pad) was analog. Well, except for START and SELECT, that is.

    It’s kind of a moot point though since the only game I can think of that used them properly was Metal Gear Solid 2.

  13. Jon permalink
    July 16, 2007 4:05 am

    I was merely saying that PS2 fails to meet one of the requirements you set forward to be next gen. It had no modified controller. Regardless if you believe it was perfect or not, it didn’t meet one specification you decided for a system to be next gen. Honestly we are at a point that the graphics now are so close to photo realistic that graphics mean very little. At this point would the next Next Gen (ie PS4 and XBox720?) be able to display any graphical improvements since we are so close to photo realistic? And if not what about after that? Or are we done with new systems forever? I doubt we’re done since Sony has already promised a PS4,5,&6. Honestly Next gen is the new group of systems that accomplish something new that the previous generations were unable to accomplish.

    Oh and if you really want to get technical with numbers here you go.. The origianl xbox has a cpu that is approximately 4Mhz faster on much older technology. It was a Pentium 3 / Celeron hybrid which does not preform as well as the Wii’s IBM PowerPC processor. So you may technically be right about processing power, by only 4 Mhz (Albeit on a far inferior processor), but the Wii does have the advantage in the GPU (Graphical Processing Unit) by 10Mhz with a better processor. So Technically the Wii can produce better graphics although it may fall short in processing power by a small amount. Oh and the Wii has far more internal memory and has more and faster ram. However all of this is irrelevant since the Wii’s processing and graphical power far out do its predecessor the Gamecube, therefore not in the same generation as it.

    And of course here is my documentation:
    Specs on 6th gen systems:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_video_game_consoles_%28sixth_generation%29

    Specs on 7th gen systems:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_video_game_consoles_%28seventh_generation%29

  14. Jon permalink
    July 16, 2007 4:19 am

    And to be quite honest with you if i were to show you Soul Calibur 2 on the Gamecube you would be quite amazed that the game by todays standards still looks great on a system that is now 6 and a half years old.

    If you have time look at this video. Its the opening to Soul Calibur 2 on the Gamecube… Look at the facial hair, look at the water, look at the sky, look at Ivy’s face and her lipstick (If you’ve never played before she’s the one in purple with the vine whip). Honestly tell me if that can be accomplished on a Gamecube, then where is that huge graphical leap that we should expect from this gen? That’s the problem with todays graphics, they are near photo realistic and its not the system that matters, rather its how much effort the developer puts into the graphics that matter. And on a side note, the system with the best graphics (numbers wise) has never actually won its generation. So obviously graphics arent the number one concern for consumers. The number one concern is gameplay.

  15. July 16, 2007 4:29 am

    “The number one concern is gameplay.”

    And obviously, Wii has tons of that. *snicker*

  16. July 16, 2007 12:54 pm

    Good post Rollin.

    I agree that, of course, the Wii is a ‘side step’ rather than a ‘step up’ although I wince at typing even those words because… what is ‘up’ is really the question, and its a personal one.

    I like that Nintendo is trying to innovate themselves out of the doldrums of the post-N64 days and for the most part it looks like a raging success, at least financially. The buzz was enormous when the Wii launched but that’s what made me nervous about it. We’ve all seen these buzzy products that gain steam *so* fast and then fall off a cliff.

    The real question is this: if Nintendo is basically ‘breaking out’ of their old core fanbase and finding new gamers, casual ones, then how much effort and development time are they going to devote to those old core fans when there’s so many new ones to cater to? This is summed up in the general reaction to the Balance Board.

  17. July 16, 2007 4:29 pm

    Sorry to burst your bubble, Jon, but that intro video is identical to the one on the Xbox (except for the Link bit), and it is all pre-rendered!

    The original Soul Calibur on Dreamcast did use all console-generated graphics for the intro, and it looked pretty good. Namco has always put their best graphical know-how on these series.

  18. July 16, 2007 11:58 pm

    This post has risen from the graaave! A testament to the longevity of inspired writing. 🙂

    Jon, those “requirements” aren’t requirements. They’re only what we as gamers have come to expect from a generational leap. That’s all the previous consoles have done prior to Wii, and even then Ruben has proven you wrong on the controller bit. Also, read the comments — the discussion is part of the editorial, too — cause you just restated one of my conclusions. I don’t get your point there about graphics, though. Seems like you digressed into a “gameplay v. graphics” argument that no one started.

    Wii Tennis = why bother with Virtua Tennis 3?” Wow, am i eating these words now or what (link).

  19. XRockStarDaveX permalink
    March 13, 2008 1:07 pm

    you must understand that the wii is not a next gen. the wii is nintendos prototype for their next gen. yes a prototype, just like the ps3. i dont cair what you say the ps3 is sonys prototype in the fact it was shiped about 1 and ahalf years early. any way nintendo will have a nexy gen capable of all that next gen suff when they want. they have over 35 designes pants for next gen sysyems. 35!!!

  20. Mr.Red permalink
    March 20, 2008 3:42 pm

    I say stop arguing and wait until the 7th generation is over. that way you can look at all the evidence (games,sales,online etc.) there’s really no point in yelling about consoles that are so “young”. for example, back when the ps2, GC, and xbox where the big consoles I thought that the GC was going to make it as top contender, will guess what ? PlayStation 2 got it and it deserved it. If you ask anyone who owns a game system, most likely your number one answer will be ps2. And really the wii is getting to that status.

    In my opinion Xbox 360 and PS3 are traveling on the same road, slamming on the gas trying to get to the goal faster. While the Wii is taking the other road which seems to be working for Nintendo.

    When speaking of top-notch titles the PS3 is plummeting fast with only MGS4: Guns of the Patriots and FFXIII to save its life. However the Wii and Xbox 360 are flying along nicely with little turbulence. Now for the “biggy” GAMEPLAY. I love the Wii’s gameplay it can fit with any genre of games while I find the Xbox 360 is more of a shooter and racing platform and the only concern I have with PS3 is its basically a copy of the PS2 controller with crappy trigger buttons. The Wii isn’t next gen neither is the 360 or PS3. They are all 7th gen which is NOW.

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