Nintendo Revolution

The Nintendo Revolution

The Nintendo Revolution is the current codename for Nintendo's fifth home video game console and the successor to the Nintendo GameCube. The codename refers to the console's promised "revolution" of the video-game industry. For example, the console's controller, which can detect its exact location and orientation in 3D space, is a concept never before seen in mainstream video game consoles.

The system was unveiled at Nintendo's 2005 E3 press conference and the system's game controller was revealed at the 2005 Tokyo Game Show by Nintendo President Satoru Iwata during his keynote speech in September. Nintendo has stated the console will be launched in 2006. In an interview with Nikkei Business, Iwata stated the Revolution will be released after April of that year, and that they are considering attempting an international launch with no more than 14 weeks of difference between the first and last launching regions. In a later interview with Sankei Shimbun, Satoru Iwata confirmed that the Revolution will be released in North America no later than Thanksgiving 2006 (November 23). Because releases are nearly always on Tuesdays due to it being the day that things are shipped, this means a November 21 release date. Nintendo has announced that more details about the system will be made public on May 9, 2006 at their Eł 2006 Press Conference.

Nintendo has been coy with release of information regarding the Revolution, leaving some media outlets with the idea that Nintendo was not prepared or did not have the intention to compete with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation 3. Top executives at the company denied this and insisted that they were simply protecting their intellectual property from imitation by competitors before the system is released.

Confirmed hardware


Nintendo has announced that IBM has finished developing the CPU, codenamed "Broadway". IBM had previously developed the processor for Nintendo's current system, the GameCube. Nintendo has also announced that Canadian graphics card maker ATI Technologies is developing the GPU, codenamed "Hollywood", for Revolution. In February 2000, ATI acquired ArtX, the company responsible for the GameCube's GPU. Many of ArtX's employees were former employees of Silicon Graphics, the company responsible for the Nintendo 64 graphics chip. It had previously been speculated that the "Hollywood" GPU was based on the Gamecube's GPU or existing PC hardware. However in a recent interview ATI's Public Relations Manager for Consumer Products, John Swinimer, confirmed that "Hollywood" has not been developed from PC architecture.

As of March 2006 the specifications for the Revolution's GPU and CPU have not been released. In an interview with Dutch game magazine [N]Gamer, Jim Merrick, Nintendo's former head of European marketing, said that they may never be.


The Revolution will have built-in Wi-Fi, allowing certain games to be played online via a wireless hotspot or through a wireless router. Nintendo has also provided a device that will be able to connect the Revolution online via a Windows XP computer, a USB port, and a Broadband connection as an alternative to buying a Wi-Fi router. This device was released specifically for the Nintendo DS portable but will also work with the Revolution. Nintendo has also announced that the consoles will be able to connect to one another wirelessly for LAN (Local Area Network) applications. Along with this comes the ability to use "Download Play". Currently featured in the DS, this allows for multiplayer network games to be played across multiple systems with only one copy of the game being played loaded into a participating system. It has also been suggested that the Revolution will feature connectivity between the system and the DS. Recent patents suggest that downloadable DS content is a possibility.

Memory and game storage media

Nintendo has confirmed that MoSys, whose 1T-SRAM memory technology was used in the GameCube, will again provide the RAM technology for the Revolution console. The goal of 1T-SRAM is to combine the speed of SRAM with the capacity and price of DRAM. The new 1T-SRAM has very low power consumption while maintaining a rate of speed and functionality close to SRAM and allowing for the density of DRAM.

At E3 2005 Nintendo announced that the Revolution will use proprietary 12 cm optical discs as the storage medium for Revolution Games. Whether or not these discs shall retain the GameCube's discs' level of proprietary protection (having been completely nonstandard) remains to be determined. Also, 512MB of internal flash memory will be available for game saves and various other files, such as game downloads from previous consoles. The Revolution has a flip lid which can be opened to reveal 4 ports for GameCube controllers and 2 memory card slots.

Additionally, again at E3 2005, Nintendo revealed that a small internal attachment (most likely a dongle) to be sold separately from the console will allow the Revolution to playback DVD movies.


The Nintendo Revolution is the smallest stationary console Nintendo has ever manufactured, described by Nintendo as being "about the thickness of three standard DVD cases and only slightly longer". The console will stand either horizontally or vertically. The front of the console features a self loading media drive which is illuminated by a blue light and will accept 12 cm Revolution game discs and 8 cm GameCube game discs.

When the console was unveiled at E3 2005 the console was colored black. However, at the Tokyo Game Show 2005 when the controller was revealed, promotional material depicted a white console. Nintendo has since revealed three additional colors (platinum, lime green, and red), but none of these colors have been confirmed as official colors.


The Nintendo Revolution controller sets aside the traditional controller seen in other mainstream consoles in an attempt to appeal to a larger audience. The controller is shaped like a television remote control and is held with one hand. Due to its symmetrical nature, the Revolution's controller is able to be used by either hand, unlike other controllers.

The controller is also able to sense motion; two sensors placed near the television allow the controller to sense its position in three-dimensional space. Other sensors in the controller itself allow it to sense its tilt and yaw. This allows players to mimic actual game actions, such as swinging a sword or using a flashlight, instead of simply pushing buttons. An early marketing video showed actors miming such actions as fishing, cooking, drumming, conducting an orchestra, shooting a gun, sword fighting, performing dental surgery, and what seems to be, a game of Super Mario Bros. with one handed play.

A digital directional pad is positioned at the top of the controller face, with a large button labeled "A" directly below it and a trigger on the underside acting labelled as the "B" button. Below the A button is a row of three small buttons labelled from left to right: Select, Home, and Start. Towards the bottom of the controller are two additional buttons labeled "X" and "Y". To the right of each of these buttons is a label faced, so that when the controller is counter-clockwise, would label the 'X' button the 'B' button and the 'Y' button the 'A' button. This is the same layout as the original NES controller, implying that the controller will be able to be turned and used to control NES games via the Virtual Console.

The controller also features an expansion port on its underside which will allow various attachments to be added to the controller. Nintendo has revealed one of these attachments to be a unit which features an analog stick and 2 trigger buttons. It will connect to the main Revolution controller via a short cord, and its appearance while connected to the main controller has led it to become dubbed "The Nunchaku". Nintendo has stated the aforementioned "Nunchaku" add-on may be bundled with the Revolution console.

Nintendo has also announced a controller "shell" which will resemble a traditional game controller called the "Classic-Style Expansion Controller". The Revolution "remote" will fit inside this shell which will allow gamers to play games using a traditional controller while retaining the "remote"'s motion sensitivity. According to Satoru Iwata, it is meant for playing "the existing games, virtual console games, and multi-platform games". An IGN article titled "Understanding the Revolution Controller" discusses the "shell" and includes a mock-up of what the shell might look like.

Despite the controller's similarity to lightguns which are only compatible with standard-definition cathode ray tube televisions, Nintendo has stated the Revolution and its controller will be compatible with all televisions including digital projectors. An Ars Technica journal entry speculates that the controller may use a combination of IR and ultrasound to function, much like some existing, similar products such as "virtual whiteboards" and Nintendo's investment in Gyration, Inc. may also give a clue as to some of the the technology used.

Nintendo developer Shigeru Miyamoto, before exiting the stage of Japan's 2005 Digital Interactive Entertainment Conference, stated that "there are still secrets to this controller, and these will be revealed next year."

Technical specifications

Nintendo has released very little detailed information at present concerning the technical specifications of the Revolution console. According to a recent interview with Nintendo's Jim Merrick, Nintendo may never release a complete system specification.

Some details have however been released by Nintendo and other third parties involved with the console:



Ports and Peripherals:


Built-in content ratings system:





Backward compatibility

Nintendo has stated that Revolution will be backward compatible with all GameCube software and most peripherals. The side of the console (or top if stood vertically) is the GameCube docking station, featuring four controller ports and two memory card slots compatible with GameCube Memory Cards and the Nintendo GameCube Microphone. The Revolution's slot-loading media drive accepts 8 cm GameCube discs as well as the standard 12 cm discs such as Revolution games, DVDs, and CDs. This is uncommon in slot-loading media drives, which typically only accept discs of a single size.

Virtual console

Nintendo has announced that Revolution will have the ability to play many or all Nintendo-produced N64, SNES/Super Famicom, and NES/Famicom games. Games specifically developed for the Sega Genesis and for the TurboGrafx console will also be playable on Nintendo Revolution. The software may be recompiled or emulated but will be offered via the Nintendo online download service. Satoru Iwata refers to this feature as the "Virtual Console". According to a Japanese press release, "all downloaded games will be stored on the 512 [MB] flash memory built into the system. To prevent illegal copying, downloaded games will feature a proprietary DRM system.".

It was also said that although the game play would stay the same, it would be possible "that with Revolution, we may be able to see the old games with new looks." This may be compared to the 1993 SNES release Super Mario All-Stars, a single cartridge containing four classic Super Mario Bros games with updated graphics. However, Jim Merrick, a European Nintendo president, claimed N64 games played on Revolution will have a better frame rate, but that there would not generally be any other significant graphical improvements. If the technical aspects of Revolution also go well, "Nintendo is discussing the possibility of having older games like Mario Party playable online." Merrick has also said it's possible that users will be able to download games from others regions, a feature important to European gamers who could download (for example) Super Mario RPG (which was never released in Europe) from an American server.

Although no specifics have yet been released, there will be fees associated with the "virtual console" service. Nintendo has suggested that they may give some of the downloadable games away with Nintendo products or through other special offers. It is unknown what titles will be available, however, a selected number of games from the Genesis library will be made available, while undisclosed amount will come from Hudson. Nintendo itself could release more than 200 potential titles (and if, as has been rumored, the Revolution is indeed compatible with the Game Boy Player accessory, then over 90 percent of Nintendo's back catalogue could be playable on the system, excluding Virtual Boy software).

Nintendo recently filed a patent on the interface of the virtual console, suggesting that it will be a full emulator, as opposed to using re-written games, and that it may be possible to have extra features such as new characters added to the game.

An official survey conducted for Nintendo of America by marketing company Zanthus may give an idea what the "virtual console" could look like and how it might function, along with potential (but not official) prices.

At GDC 2006, Sega has announced that they will be providing titles from SEGA and Hudson as part of the Virtual Console system on Revolution. With a game library of more than 1,000 titles for the Genesis, Sega is planning to provide a "best of" selection for gamers, enabling them to relive their favorite titles.

Parental controls

The Revolution will feature parental controls, prohibiting young viewers from viewing inappropriate content. This allows parents to set the age level of the system, and when a disc is inserted, it will read the content rating encoded on the game discs; if this rating is greater than the system's age level setting, the game will not load unless the user correctly enters a password to override the setting. For instance, a game carrying an ESRB rating of M for Mature, which is intended for those over the age of 17, will not play on a system that is set to only allow games rated E for Everyone (ages six and older).

This will be found in all systems released around the world; it is confirmed that the European units will use the PEGI rating system, North American units will use the ESRB rating system, units for the Japanese market will presumably use the CERO rating system, German units will use the USK system, and Australian units will use the OFLC system. It is unknown what effect this will have on importing and playing games from one region on another region's machine; since Nintendo's consoles are also region locked, it is likely that whatever method importers use to circumvent the regional lock-out would have to override the parental lock-out as well.

Some politicians have expressed that they are pleased with the concept of hardware based parental controls. For instance, an article listed on Nintendo's website claims that the governor of Washington, Christine Gregoire, feels that it "gives parents more information and more control over what video games their kids play and at what age."

However, this may prove unreliable as most current parental control systems have a relatively easy way to reset the password, in case one forgets the password. This method is usually, in fact, in the instruction manual, and therefore, almost anybody could bypass a parental lock. Details are currently unknown. This feature is included on the Xbox 360 and will be present on the PlayStation 3 as well.


Developer support

A playable Revolution

A near-final Nintendo Revolution console will be unveiled at Nintendo's pre-E3 press event, which is slated for 9:30 a.m. Pacific time on May 9, 2006. The venue will be the Kodak Theatre—home of the Academy Awards—in Hollywood, California.

Rumors and speculation

Hardware and specifications

Games and developer support

Absence of "true" high-definition support

Online arguments commenced when Nintendo of America's Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Perrin Kaplan, announced there would be no HD support for their upcoming system. Kaplan stated beautiful graphics and innovative game play could be achieved without HD and that abstaining from the technology would help keep the cost of games down. In reaction, major Internet-based magazines like organized letter writing campaigns to protest against Nintendo regarding the decision and urging consumers to take action.

It has been confirmed that the Revolution will support 480p (a.k.a. EDTV, currently the native output of a standard NTSC DVD), as did the GameCube, and the lack of true HD support (720p/1080i) is not yet a final decision. Regardless, the support of 480p will still mean an improvement in graphics quality when properly hooked up to and viewed on an HDTV set (or any digital [non-analog] set, i.e. DTV or EDTV sets), when compared to viewing on an analog (480i-only) television set.