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Jim Merrick Revolution Controller Interview

by Jonathan Metts - September 16, 2005, 10:03 am PDT
Total comments: 26 Source: Eurogamer

The Nintendo Europe executive gives new details about the controller's development and potential, and he explains how we'll be able to play multiplatform games.

In an interview with Eurogamer (link above), Jim Merrick, Senior Director of Marketing for Nintendo Europe, talks in depth about the newly revealed Revolution controller. Some of his comments include brand new information. Here are a few samples:

Eurogamer: So how long has the controller been in development?

Jim Merrick: It's a difficult thing to pin down. I mean, two years ago, Iwata was talking about making a fundamental change in the marketplace and reaching new audiences. And of course, the minute we finished work on the Gamecube, we were thinking, 'Where do we go from here?'

I really started seeing references maybe a year ago - the developers started to get information, and then prototypes, and now they're working with what you saw today.

Eurogamer: So when will we get to play [the games], exactly?

Jim Merrick: Put it this way. Without making a commitment, if I went to E3 2006 and didn't end up playing the Revolution, I'd be very disappointed...

Eurogamer: How is the controller going to work with games that aren't designed specifically for the Revolution - multi-platform titles and so on?

Jim Merrick: We're producing a classic-style expansion controller, based on traditional designs like the Gamecube controller. It's like a shell with a hole in the top into which you slot the freehand-style controller, and then you can play third-party ported games, and retro Nintendo games you've downloaded.

So there's that option - but even while it's inserted into the classic-style shell, the freehand controller will still be able to sense positioning and so on, so there are more options too.

There's a lot more where that came from, so be sure to read the entire interview at Eurogamer!

Talkback

Bill AurionSeptember 16, 2005

A very awesome interview...

It proves that traditional games will not only be enabled, but will allow the same control as PS3/360 games PLUS the Revolution motion sensing...I'm aiming this at Ian and other nay-sayers, who are being ignorant dopes who are proclaiming that the Revolution can't do anything but play gimmick games...(Iwata said HIMSELF that Nintendo will never give up traditional, "epic" games, so don't try using that argument either)

vuduSeptember 16, 2005

So you have:

(a) the basic remote controller
(b) the analog nunchuk
(c) the button nunchuk
(d) the classic-style expansion contoller

How much is this thing going to cost??

Bill AurionSeptember 16, 2005

I'm guessing the Remote, Shell, and Analog will be packaged with the main system...

Ian SaneSeptember 16, 2005

If I have to buy an attachment to play traditional games then no third parties will make traditional games. This traditional controller attachment will get no praise from me unless it is included with the console and included with every controller sold in stores thus ensuring that 100% of the userbase has it.

I also want to see some traditional games from Nintendo first. That's what I care about. If the traditional games are just from third parties I might as well get a PS3 where I know the third party selection will be WAY better.

People said the DS was capable of traditional games too but Nintendo hasn't sold me one yet. Nintendo's focus is a bigger issue than the controller itself. I don't like Nintendo's focus on the DS so I haven't bought one yet. Nintendo can include all sorts of attachments to make the controller traditional game friendly but if their big launch title is Warioware I'm not interested.

Bill AurionSeptember 16, 2005

It's called PLUGGING IN YOUR GAMECUBE CONTROLLER, Ian... -_-

Ian SaneSeptember 16, 2005

"It's called PLUGGING IN YOUR GAMECUBE CONTROLLER, Ian"

It's called NOT EVERY REV OWNER OWNS A CUBE, Bill. If not everyone has it then most third parties won't use it. That's just how things are.

PaLaDiNSeptember 16, 2005

If Nintendo packages this in with the console then it isn't even an issue.

So how about we wait and see.

Bill AurionSeptember 16, 2005

Seriously, we have a new way to play games and all Ian is worried about is pricing on peripherals that won't be decided for months...

ViperVisorSeptember 16, 2005

Gamecube controller for the GC games.

THIS IS AWSOME NEWS

They need to make the Basic Shell as close the the standard (MS/SONY) as possible to make ports easy. Analog buttons and all.

The shell can't be that much sense the rumble will be in the remote and they can build of GC controller and not for scratch like GC was.

ArtimusSeptember 16, 2005

This is very disappointing. Sure it means there will be ports, but it also means third parties can keep shelling out the same crap over and over again. Splinter Cell 15! Woohoo. Madden 2008! Woohoo.

If there's going to be a revolution then let's have one. Not this catering to people like Ian who don't have one ounce of originality in them. The mainstream will be led to the best games.

tForceSeptember 16, 2005

Yo Ian, as someone pointed out in another thread, there are games that REQUIRE memory cards for the PS2, but I don't see third parties b!tching about that. There are multiple light gun games on the market that REQUIRE a light gun. People buy additional controllers just because it's a different color, for crying out loud. Honestly, if the standard controller is up to par w/ the PS2 and XBox controllers (that is, not yet another "innovation" with buttons all mapped on the bottom and a breathalizer used to move), I wouldn't mind shelling out $25-30 more for the controller... and I'm sure most serious gamers would concur.

The thing is, the market has changed. People are spending $400 for cellphones! Little kids in elementary school carry cellphones with them, have their own laptops, and own iPods. I'm not sure what market Nintendo is trying to win over... those afraid of technology, or those hoping to embrace it. The ones afraid of technology are the OLD people... and I don't see ANY reason of trying to get them. I wouldn't mind the new controller paradigm if Nintendo said they wanted to advance technology more than trying to bring in the uninitiated.

Nintendo has been innovators (so far as the gaming industry is concerned). The first with the analog stick (N64, sans Atari), the first with rumbling(N64), the first to use solar light (GBA, Boktai), the first to use a touchpad as an innovative gaming control (DS, sans PDAs), first to use a mic (Famicom, though it was dropped for the NES) and the first to use a camera (Game Boy Camera, anyone?). Let's not forget the first 1st Multitap (NES, Four Score), pad peripheral (NES, Power Pad) and Light Gun (NES, Zapper). If I recall correctly, they are also the first 1st party to produce a wireless RF controller (GC, Wavebird). Hopefully, this will be another innovation in the same vein... rather than falling in line with the Virtual Boy (which I enjoyed for the most part) and 64DD (I still wish that came out here).

Ian SaneSeptember 16, 2005

"there are games that REQUIRE memory cards for the PS2, but I don't see third parties b!tching about that."

Every single game uses it though. It's very exceptional. I can't think of any other accessory that was universally bought and used by people. Special controllers have always remained niche.

couchmonkeySeptember 16, 2005

It's not that Ian has no originality, it's that he wants third party support, and that isn't going to happen without adoption of the shell controller. I think Ian wants Nintendo to realize the shell controller needs to be heavily adopted to keep companies like EA and Ubisoft developing for Revolution, and I agree. You guys may be happy playing a system of 90% first party games and 10% third party games, but I'm not. Yeah, I can go multiplatform, but I'd rather nt.

Having said that, I think it's an exaggeration to say third parties won't develop for the system period. They will definitely develop for the launch and for some months after that. We could lose them later on though, if Rev gamers are required to pay an extra $20 to play a lot of third party games.

PaLaDiNSeptember 16, 2005

"I can't think of any other accessory that was universally bought and used by people."

No? How about the Dual Shock, Ian? Is that an exception too? Because, I mean, a whole controller instead of just an expansion... wow, nobody's gonna buy that.

tForceSeptember 16, 2005

Well... some could argue the Playstation was the ultimate accessory =p

Seriously though, how about the six-button Genesis controller or the Dual Shock (as Paladin mentions). Or how about the network adaptor for the PS2? What about XBox Live? The majority of games support both the network adaptor and XBox Live. In many cases, the bulk of the game requires the ability to go online. However, not everyone is online... let alone on broadband (which is required for XBox Live and might as well be required for the PS2, since modem is generally unplayable). This is similar to the Chicken or the Egg problem, except it's more clearcut. The Chicken is the controller. The developers are the egg. The controller is there (according to Merrick). Whether it is an included accessory remains to be seen. However, assuming it's not, people will buy it if developers utilize it. Developers will utilize it if people buy it. So far, it seems like the developers are coming first, as many have developed for XBox Live and the PS2, which got people to buy adaptors or buy XBox Live. The cost for multiplatforming in this coming generation remains to be seen, but if it's on par with the current generation, it would not be a huge risk to develop "standard" games on the Revolution. If Nintendo sells 5 Million consoles (which isn't absurd), and a very miniscule 1% of people buy the adaptor (which isn't very likely to be so low), that's still 50,000 potential gamers... which I'd venture to say is a larger user base than the N-Gage. Ouch.

odifiendSeptember 16, 2005

A couple things on my mind:
1) Does anyone even see any inputs for a GCN controller? Or is this going to be a strictly wavebird experience? In which case none of my GCN controllers will work...
2) The prices of the periphials are a huge deal. There are already two confirmed - standard shell and nunchuku analog stick. Not to mention the remote. These things need to be dirt cheap for this to fly or multiplayer gaming may be on the decline.
3) Commercial completely changed my mind about the whole thing. face-icon-small-smile.gif

FroSeptember 16, 2005

The console has 4 GC controller ports on top under a flap, which we've known about since E3, so every gamecube controller, bongos, DDR Mario Mix mat will work with Rev.

PaLaDiNSeptember 16, 2005

odifiend, there's ports for GCN controller on top of the Revolution console. You can use the bongos if you feel like it.

odifiendSeptember 16, 2005

thanks, i was away around e3 so i completely missed the smaller details.

ViperVisorSeptember 16, 2005

No memorey card if you don't want to move a file physically to another console. Thats from e3. That saves you $30.

trip1eXSeptember 16, 2005

Yeah the downside is developers will be able to take the lazy way out. But it's probably for the better. Those that want to put the extra effort forth to take advantage of the new technology can do so and there games will probably sell the better for it. Those that don't can do the same 'ole, same 'ole which in some cases will be ok too.

Quote

Originally posted by: Ian Sane
"It's called PLUGGING IN YOUR GAMECUBE CONTROLLER, Ian"

It's called NOT EVERY REV OWNER OWNS A CUBE, Bill. If not everyone has it then most third parties won't use it. That's just how things are.


Nintendo can continue to sell GC controllers for people who buy a Rev but didn't have a GC.

Ian SaneSeptember 16, 2005

"Nintendo can continue to sell GC controllers for people who buy a Rev but didn't have a GC."

I know but then there's still no guarentee to third parties that everyone will have some. Plus having to buy two different sets of controllers sucks. That seems less innovative and more of a scam to get people to buy more stuff (a common and well earned criticism of connectivity).

ShyGuySeptember 16, 2005

If Ian wanted just 3rd party support, he'd be happy with the DS. face-icon-small-wink.gif

I can't imagine Nintendo not including the controller shell. It's too vital for them to make money off of the downloads.

"Hey, I'm gonna buy $30 worth of SNES downloads for my Revolution, wait, I don't have a controller for them? eh, forget it then."

They would be losing money if they don't include the shell.

Odifiend: Yup, Revolution has four GameCube controller ports. Here's a pic:

Revolution's GameCube Ports

And if you're wondering, yes those GC ports are aligned the right way so that you can plug in four Wavebird sensors. That's one of the first things we investigated.

If Nintendo doesn't include the Classic Shell with each Revolution controller sold, they're idiots. What third-party in their right mind is going to port a game over to a system for which people will have to shell out extra money to even play the game properly? I wouldn't put this past Nintendo though...their lack of concern for accomodating third-parties has always baffled me.

I was thinking how the Classic shell is going to emulate, say, a PS2-style controller, and then it hit me - the "remote" will plug sideways into the shell using the attachment port on its bottom. At that point the shell could completely remap the controller's buttons to whatever buttons it has. Looking at the remote, it has the following buttons:

- Select/Start/Home
- Small a/b
- Big A
- B-Trigger

That's a total of 7 buttons. Combine this with the 2 Z-buttons on the Analog attachment and that's 9 buttons total. The Gamecube Controller has 8 buttons (L-Trigger, R-Trigger, Z-Trigger, A, B, X, Y, Start)+Analog Stick+Camera Stick+D-Pad. XBox360 and PS3 will have 10 Buttons+Analog Stick#1+Analog Stick #2+D-Pad, whereas it looks like the Revolution Classic Shell will have 9 buttons+Analog+Motion Sensor for Camera+D-Pad.

So the Revolution Classic shell could potentially have one more button than the GameCube controller, but I doubt all games will use the motion sensor so it'll probably wind up being 8 still. Nintendo looks like it will still be the odd man out in the controller button department.

DjunknownSeptember 16, 2005

Quote

I wouldn't put this past Nintendo though...their lack of concern for accomodating third-parties has always baffled me.


In this case, they'll have to go the extra 10 miles, if you catch my drift. They have to show that this is indeed the wave of the future, as well as offering incentives. In the Iwatat0n presentation towards the end, he mentioned that he welcomed small developers to make games for the rev, and that they'll help them out (at least according the translation from irwebcasting). So that's a start.

So yeah, traditional controls from the get-go face-icon-small-thumbsup.gif

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