QUOTE(warmaster_670 @ Oct 2 2008, 03:43 PM)
ya...the SNES and N64 were so innovative.....
TwistedSymphony is right -- Nintendo tends to see their most success when they take chances.
SNES included a small scaler which could do those cool mode-7
texture-map rotations and perspective changes, which were pretty cool at the time. They also included extra data-lines for the cartridge port which allowed later games to include the Super-FX
RISC coprocessor in select games (e.g. Star Fox
, Yoshi's Island
). I'd say that was pretty innovative, and offered some distinction against the Genesis (i.e. MegaDrive).
N64 mostly innovated at the controller, with true analog 'thumbstick'
and a trigger style button on every controller. (The Atari 5200 previously had tried analog sticks but they totally sucked.) Sony quickly aped them with two
analog sticks jammed into their newest PS controller. Nintendo then released the rumble pak
attachment for a moderate level of force feedback at consumer prices, which at the time was amazingly innovative. Too bad the expensive ROM-cartridges and nightmare programming environment sunk the N64. N64 marked the beginning of the controller-input arms race.
Virtual Boy was incredibly innovative, if headache-inducing. I actually owned one of these once upon a time. Cost contraints caused the unit to be overly bulky and the processor was rather slow. A lighter more portable unit might have has more success... who knows. An expensive failure on the market, but still a great footnote in gaming history. You can't claim Nintendo doesn't try.
GameCube was always underappreciated. Nintendo had lost a lot of developer support from high N64 cartridge costs and years of tyrannical control over third-party software releases. GameCube had a surprising amount of power for its small size, and rectified a couple of cost issues with its cute tiny optical discs and a much, much better programming framework for developers. To consumers, as Twisted points out, it seemed like the -least- innovative Nintendo console but cost controls saved Ninty's backside. Each unit sold at a (small) profit, on top of the normal software licensing fees.
Wii was a cheap upgrade of known, established hardware with a really cool input device. Hence the cliche: "It's like two Gamecubes taped together!" Which is silly because Wii is the smallest fully-functioning game console I've ever seen -- tinier than even the 'Cube itself. Nintendo also relaxed their controlling attitudes toward developers, which has brought some companies back to them but also means tons of shovelware.
If I were to try and describe Nintendo, I'd say they try to offer -value- and innovation. They also tend to have exceptionally high quality. Nintendo has always been very price sensitive (N64 lesson learned!), and ultimately it has helped them survive while competitors stumble and die off.
Sony was innovative with the original Playstation. They carried momentum with the awkward PS2, which still allowed developers to escape Nintendo's brutal software release tyranny. Microsoft was able to come in and woo some folks -- Xbox was more like the "me too" box, lots of port-over games, but Microsoft's excellent programming tools and straight-forward hardware were attractive. Xbox360 has secured a strong position, despite rushed problematic hardware design because it offers fairly quick game builds with good Return of Investment (ROI) for publishers. PS3 seems to be Sony's attempt to make the biggest, baddest, most-everything console at any cost which also happens to have quirky difficult hardware -- in short: Sony lost their minds!
(Disclaimer, I haved owned just about every console so I'm trying not to be too biased. Currently I have Wii and PS3 along with an original Xbox.)This post has been edited by Verity: Oct 4 2008, 04:30 AM