Thus far, Nintendo has done a remarkably good job of avoiding 'feature creep' on their consoles. The Wii launched as the most conservative product in the last wave of console wars. It isn't capable of heavy-duty graphics rendering and it can't even push video of greater than 480i. Nintendo focused instead on the gameplay- in providing something new and exciting for a different gaming demographic.
And it worked. For years the Wii was almost impossible to find in stores. Nintendo's recent financial troubles are a major reversal from the Wii's early days. Now, with a new console debuting at this year's E3, the all-father of gaming is eyeing a very different strategy. This time, they're going for power.
Early rumors tip the Wii 2 as supporting 1080p or 1080i video, as well as 8 GB on-board storage. The new disks will hold up to 25 GB, putting them in-line with a single-layer Blu-Ray disc. But the most exciting rumor about the next Wii concerns a "tablet" controller that the console may launch with. This controller would act sort of like the DS's secondary touchscreen.
It's easy to envision uses for such a feature. It could hold your map and inventory selection in an RPG or act as a control pad for games controlled by multiple finger inputs. An accelerometer and gyroscope would turn it into a functional motion controller. Depending on the controller's hardware, it might even be able to act as an e-reader or display 'classic' games on its own.
I may be getting over-excited here, but this rumor has the ring of truth about it. Now that Sony and Microsoft have both entered motion-controlled gaming, Nintendo needs a new gimmick to make their product stand out. The Wii was such a blockbuster- in part- because it offered a totally unique gaming experience. The Wii 2 with tablet controller has the same potential. It opens up new avenues for gameplay, AND has the potential to act as a home entertainment hub.
If Nintendo goes with a tablet controller, there's no reason they couldn't also use tablets as controllers. They could put up Android and iPad apps that allow you to connect your tablet to the Wii 2. What a selling point that would be! Sony plans to embrace the tablet 'revolution'. It isn't hard to imagine Nintendo doing the same thing...in a much more creative way. Tying their business in some way to iOS and Android isn't a bad idea either. If you can't beat your enemy, get so tight with them that they can't kill you without hurting themselves.