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Nintendo president challenges developers to create bold new games

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MUMBAI: Interactive entertainment firm Nintendo president Satoru Iwata spoke to more than 3,500 video game developers gathered at the annual Game Developers Conference in San Jose, California a few days ago.

He dwelt on the need for the industry to take a fresh approach to the creation of video games and to expand the market beyond traditional video gamers. He provided further background, anecdotes and strategy behind the company's innovative and unique controller for their next home console (code-named Revolution).

He said Nintendo will provide developers with the tools they need to disrupt the traditional methods of game creation, much as the company already has.

These tools include the controller for Nintendo's next home console. This lets users control the action on their television screens through the motion of the controller itself. The controller lets game developers create new kinds of gaming experiences, ones that enhance the experience for hard-core gamers while making video games more accessible and less intimidating to novices. The new forms of innovative software that can be created by any size developer will be made available for download via Revolution's Virtual Console service.

He said, "This new approach is like stepping onto an unexplored continent for the first time, with all the potential for discovery that suggests. No one else can match the environment we're creating for expanding the game experience to everyone. Our path is not linear, but dynamic."

Iwata also announced partnerships with Sega and Hudson to offer downloadable access to their classic games via Revolution's Virtual Console. Revolution owners will be able to relive their past gaming glories from the Sega Genesis console by playing a best of selection from more than 1,000 Genesis titles, as well as games sold for the TurboGrafx console (a system jointly developed by NEC and Hudson). These games join Revolution's access to 20 years of fan-favorite Nintendo games from the NES(R), Super NES and Nintendo 64 eras.

Iwata also revealed for the first time that a new game called The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass would be released for Nintendo DS later this year. Iwata, a game developer himself, revealed behind-the-scenes stories about the development of three key initiatives.

For the industry leading Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, internal engineers and developers overcame a series of hurdles to make the system seamless and flexible enough to allow players to choose to play wirelessly either with friends or against unknown opponents.

The Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection reached one million unique users in just 18 weeks, nearly five times the adoption rate
of the leading online game console network. He described a pivotal meeting in coming to agreement on development of the incredibly popular "brain games" in Japan. A leading Japanese scientist attached a sci-fi-looking wired helmet to a Nintendo staffer and then visually demonstrated stimulation of brain activity as the staffer played prototype software.

Finally, he described the hundreds of sketches, dozens of prototypes and company-wide collaboration that led to the final form of the unique Revolution controller system, which resembles a traditional TV remote control. He called the related research and manufacturing costs of the new control system "our method to disrupt the market...realizing a new way to connect a player to his game."

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