Sunday, April 24, 2011

Next Generation Already?

Just recently, discussions about the impending arrival of the Nintendo Wii's successor have flooded the Internet. In the past, I would get really excited about these kind of news but these days, my reaction to such things is less enthusiastic since I have gone through the new consoles cycle so many times before and that I am just happy with the state of things as they are. Sure, I always support progress and improvements both in the video gaming industry and in the way we humans live our lives but in regards to the former, is it truly necessary for us to keep buying new consoles every 5 years or so?

The one thing that can be worrisome about the arrival of a new console is its backwards compatibility functionality. We know that these consoles may not last a lifetime and to have continual support for them in the form of a functional new pieces of hardware should be deemed necessary. Supposedly, this upcoming new Nintendo console will be capable of playing all the Wii titles... But what about the Nintendo GameCube titles? Why can't newer consoles have the ability to play games from all of the company's previous console iterations - Nintendo had done this before with the original Nintendo DS. Shouldn't we as gamers be compensated for our undying loyalty to the console makers with the ability to play old games on our new consoles? This is the reason why I favor gaming on the Personal Computer more these days: Though it can be painful to keep up with the latest gaming rig requirements - which is really not the case anymore these days - you know that your previous investments will always be secured despite some minor operating system compatibility setbacks where eventual solutions may be just around the corner.

I really do wish that the current generation consoles would last another 5 years but that is not going to happen now. So the next Nintendo console may be able to output games at 1080p, well that's good but one thing that a lot of people seem to have forgotten is that the the art style of a game, and not necessarily the technology behind it, that is the predominant factor in making a game look beautiful forever. Isn't gameplay the most important part to video gaming? Remember, it was the ambition of 3D graphics that brought the ultimate demise of Sonic the Hedgehog because Sega forgot that new graphics capabilities are there to enhance only the visual aspect of a game, not alter the actual gameplay design. Can video games be more amazing-looking in the future? Of course they will and I am interested to see them looking better and better but at what cost? The console gaming industry should really be focusing on software innovation because you know that even in a future when gaming consoles can reach infinite graphical possibilities, there will always be developers who like to cut corners and make poor looking games. Since only a small fraction of games made utilizes the full potential of a console, it is easy to argue that producing a more powerful console for the consumers is not a necessity, but a mere luxury. Sadly, I don't think that this pattern will change for the better anytime soon - Though there is really no official announcement yet from Nintendo about their new console, the heavy rumors and the "information leaks" (two backhanded methods to gauge the response from potential buyers) are indicative that it is truly coming... So bring on the next generation consoles then.

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