Could Nintendo’s next system be their attempt at true virtual reality?
“I love the Power Glove… It’s so bad…” – Lucas
Who didn’t see the Power Glove in 1989’s The Wizard, and immediately felt like they were entering a new realm of gaming? Well, that feeling has continued popping up with every new Move and Kinect, making us less optimistic with each passing failure of interactive immersion. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have their fair share of hardware design to make you feel like you’re ‘in the game’, but they sadly remain ‘on the shelf’.
Nintendo recently revealed their newest console, known only as the NX, and states that it’s a completely “brand new concept.” This is nothing new from the world that houses Mario, Samus Aran, and Link, as Nintendo has shown they’re not afraid of new ideas.
So, back to the granddaddy of them all, the Power Glove, and why I feel Nintendo has always been incredibly ahead of its time. With the advent of Oculus Rift and PlayStation’s Project Morpheus, we are now truly getting to jump into the skin of our character, experiencing the world through a new set of digital eyes. So, we have the vision, but we’re still bound to using controllers and keyboards.
Now while the Power Glove wasn’t good at the time, technology has advanced quite a bit. Controllers and keyboards have always been a series of impulses directed to one finger or the other, so having a glove that could easily detect those movements would allow us to free up our hands and relax instead of holding up a controller. Also, think about the possibilities of using your hands to control independent limbs in games to solve puzzles or point weapons.
Since the Super Nintendo, the company has taken a back seat to providing top of the line graphics, and their consoles are always a departure from previous outings and the industry as a whole. The Wii U, a system that is doing less than favorable in the current market, was in itself an attempt to bring the benefits of a touch screen to gamers in a DS-type controller. This wasn’t nearly as popular as the Wii, which focused more on motion-sensitivity and making tons of cash.
I think Nintendo may be onto something, and I speculate they have been honing in on smoothing out all the hiccups. Releasing a new console, that supports Oculus and hand-motion controlling; it could be the game changer that Nintendo needs to re-establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
This also might explain why Nintendo is moving to Mobile services, offering a lighter alternative to gamers everywhere who prefer the touch screen gameplay Nintendo was hoping to offer with the Wii-U. The average consumer doesn’t have to wrap themselves up in wires or wear equipment just to play a little Mario, allowing Nintendo to focus entirely on this next step.
For those of you who think I may be reaching, remember Nintendo’s other massive failure the Virtual Boy and my theory may begin to make more sense. Obviously, Nintendo had the right idea about surrounding a player’s eyes in full immersion, but the execution was awful. I contend the Power Glove is the same situation but with a different appendage. Combine that with the Wii Balance Board, the Wii-mote, and being one of the first consoles to implement voice commands, and you may be looking at Nintendo’s build up to a magnum opus of pure virtual reality.
Of course, this is all conjecture, and my thoughts are only backed up by Nintendo’s history- but if there’s any company in this unfocused industry of DRM, television-integration and music services, Nintendo has consistently shown that gameplay and innovation are at the forefront of their business model. While not much has changed between the PS3 and the PS4, or in Microsoft’s camp, Nintendo is always bringing new ideas to the table, innovating while Sony and Microsoft respond with half-hearted attempts like Smart Glass and Move.
Other companies may have the graphical power, but their focus is being an entertainment center for the family, while Nintendo doesn’t even allow DVDs to play on their system that could easily do it. This is a prime example of how Nintendo is setting itself apart as a video game console, and not as an all in one home theater PC.
Nintendo is in the perfect position to introduce the world to virtual reality, considering the average consumer has no idea what an ‘Oculus Rift’ or ‘Project Morpheus’ is, but your grandma still plays Wii Bowling with her friends. Nintendo has a proven track record of bringing high-tech ideas to a trusting and familiar consumer level.
Nintendo’s been flirting, and it seems like it might be the right time for the leap forward we’ve been waiting for. We’re currently in one of the most unexciting generations I think most gamers have ever felt, and it’s been a long time since Lucas slowly turned after dominating Rad Racer, holding his gloved fist to his chest. Nintendo might be ready to release the power they promised to so many years ago.