Along with Nintendo’s introduction of the analog stick in 1996, Nintendo also introduced the perfect game to utilize the new controller mechanism. This game was Mario 64 and it changed the face of the video game industry from 2-D to 3-D. It achieved this by mixing great 3-D level design with the precise control made available by the analog stick. It was the first video game to have fully 3-D environments and characters. As such, Mario 64 opened an entire dimension of gameplay in video games that had yet to be experienced.
Mario 64 is still considered by many to be the greatest video game of all time. It would have to be to make the N64’s anorexic launch a success. Mario 64 was a title that changed the entire video game industry and has influenced many game developers and designers. This claim is well supported when you look at the video game market today. Mario 64’s design has become the blueprint to almost all of the 3-D console games that have followed since its release. When you look closely at titles such as Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, Sly Cooper, and even Mario Sunshine, the parallels to Mario 64 are unmistakable.
The touch-screen is the latest innovation that Nintendo has introduced to the portable gaming market by including it in the Nintendo DS. The two-screened DS system was launched in 2004 to a doubting public. Many thought that the DS was going to be a gimmicky system that would quickly be annihilated by the graphically superior PSP. Two years later, this perception has changed drastically. The DS has completely dominated the PSP in the portable video game market, largely because of the huge list of great games that use the DS’s unique and innovative touch-screen controls.
The DS uses the touch-screen for everything from moving your character around the screen to washing a virtual dog. There are several gimmicky games where the touch-screen interface seems tacked-on but there are also many games that benefit from the new control scheme. Games such as Trauma Center, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and Nintendogs were excellent examples of what kind of experience the DS touch-screen controls could produce. New games such as Animal Crossing: Wild World and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass continue using the innovative touch-screen in new ways. New quality titles aid in solidifying touch-screen controls as a lasting addition to video gaming and not just as another gimmick that is quickly forgotten.Motion-Sensing Controller
While there has still been no firm release date that has been confirmed for Nintendo’s new system the Wii, Nintendo has shown off the systems unique controller. The Wii system will most likely launch at some point in October or November of this year and will make use of motion-sensing controllers. While the Wii controllers may look similar to a television remote, they are truly innovative and are set to revolutionize the way we play video games. Each controller will be able to sense when and how the player is moving it. When the player moves the controller on the X, Y, and Z-axes, the Wii’s Sensor Bar will pick up this motion and convert it to an in-game movement. This means that players may be able to use their Wii controllers as a virtual baseball bat, tennis racket, golf club, character’s hand, etc. The possibilities of this motion-sensing control in video games are virtually endless.
While the Wii controller was originally the only motion-sensing console controller, Sony surprised everyone at E3 2006 by unveiling a motion-sensing controller of their own. Unfortunately for Sony, the timing of this announcement, the lack of software that supported it (only a Warhawk demo), and the similarities between their controllers and Nintendo’s previously announced motion-sensing controllers all seem to indicate that Sony maybe copying Nintendo’s strategy. While Sony’s “me too” motion-sensing controller may or may not have been inspired by Nintendo’s own motion-sensing controller, it is still a good sign for the video game industry as a whole. Now, two of the three major console producers have shown their support for having a player’s movements affect the way video games are played. As the rest of the video game industry clamors to copy or support Nintendo’s newest innovation, one can’t help but to see it as history repeating itself. Perhaps, but an important question remains: Will the Wii console be a success due in part to its innovative motion-sensing control? Only time will tell.