Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Impressive insights

If you play games and/or have any gut reactions to the Nintendo Revolution controller, read this. It says a lot of interesting things about genre evolution and decay, as well as pointing out that really every innovation in gaming input--at least on the consoles--was Nintendo's idea first. Let's look at a few:

DDR dancepad - started as Nintendo's Power Pad back in the 1980s

The analog stick - Nintendo did it first on the N64, then Saturn and Dreamcast added their own, but Sony skipped right ahead to having two, a likely response to the C-buttons and their eventual evolution on the GameCube into the analog C-stick.

Triggers - Super Nintendo had them first.

D-pad - a Nintendo creation

Controller design and button layout - pretty much started that on the road to where it is now. The Turbografx-16 controller was almost identical, and Sega just added another button for their Genesis controller.

There were a few fumbles along the way, though. People smirk at the mere mention of the Power Glove, Virtual Boy, R.O.B., and some redundant iterations of the Game Boy. Still, though, this pattern of leading the charge on input invention explains why Nintendo says they're in the hardware business for good. Without keeping tabs on how their users interact with the games, and more or less govern what games arrive on their platform, they wouldn't BE Nintendo anymore. For the first time I see how Nintendo never took its eye off what games ought to be, while Sony and Microsoft want standardization, big quantities of "units sold," and are more interested in "product" than "entertainment" or "games."

Danc, thanks for your insights.

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