Project Cafe maid

Gimme.

Since April 14, 2011, rumours regarding Nintendo’s next generation console, codenamed “Project Café,” have been rapidly accruing. On April 25th, Nintendo officially confirmed that development of the system was underway. What follows is my attempt at the most detailed picture of the machine possible, culled from the rumours and reports that have come out.

This was a living document which I regularly updated as more information came to light regarding Project Café. With the official unveiling of the system, called Wii U, I have begun work on a new report, which can be found here.

Reveal and Release Date

Image: Nintendo.

Nintendo made a minor announcement of the new system on April 25, 2011. The company also announced a more detailed reveal is to come at E3 2011, June 7-9, 2011.

Nintendo’s announcement simply stated that the console would be released in 2012. Recent rumours suggest that the system is headed for a June 2012 release date. What regions this refers to is unclear.

Price

Based on manufacturing costs, a price has been estimated at between $300 and $400. This could change depending upon how much or how little Nintendo seeks to profit on the hardware itself. The controller is estimated to cost $26 to manufacture, and may sell for as much as $80.

Controller

The more traditional components of the controller are said to be a directional pad, two joysticks, four face buttons, and four trigger buttons. The controller is supposedly equivalent in function to a Wii Classic Controller or PlayStation DualShock 2.

The controller is also supposed to include motion and pointer functionality greater than that of the PlayStation Move. This will be made possible by two sensors mounted on the front of the controller. These sensors would make the use of the sensor bar obsolete. A front-facing camera is also said to be included on the controller.

Additionally, the rumours are relatively clear that the controller will include a six inch touch screen with a resolution of roughly 800×500 (early reports that the screen would be “HD” and multi-touch have been dismissed). The screen is said to run length-wise between the traditional controller components. Sources claim the mock-up posted above is close to the actual design.

The system will supposedly be able to stream content to this screen, even without the TV being on, but will not be able to run content without the system. Whether this would include the same content that would be shown on the TV is unclear.

System Hardware

The system is rumoured to be capable of outputting at HD resolutions, including 1080p.

Rough ideas as to what the system’s power might resemble have ranged from approximately equivalent to the X-Box 360 to well beyond that of the PS3.

More specifically, sources claim the system houses a triple-core PowerPC processor and an AMD ATI GPU, branched off from the R700 series developed in 2008 with 512MB-1GB of RAM. This would put the system’s overall graphical capabilities ahead of the PS3 and 360, but how much is unclear. Depending upon the specifics, Project Café could be a full generational leap ahead of the PS3 and 360 graphically.

Rumours now hint at a physical design roughly the size of the original XBox 360. The system is said to resemble a “modernized” Super Nintendo. Whether this is the Japanese or North American design is unclear.

Software

It has been reported that Ubisoft, Activision, and Electronic Arts already have development units.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has called the upcoming system “fantastic,” and is especially impressed that his company will be able to reuse assets from their 360 and PS3 efforts. These statements suggest porting from current HD systems and cross-platform development for Café is likely from the company.

Tecmo Koei CEO Yoichi Erikawa has stated that he would like his company to have launch titles ready for Café.

Less reliable sources also claim that Square Enix, Capcom, Sega, Konami, Rockstar, and Namco also have development kits and are working on games for the system. Specifically, Rockstar is said to be working on Grand Theft Auto V for the system, hoping to make it as a launch game release. Capcom is said to be working on a Resident Evil game.

Yet more shaky rumours claim that Nintendo is working on a StarFox game for the system. Retro is said to have been one of the first to receive a development kit. Rumours suggesting that Retro is working on a new Eternal Darkness have been dismissed. Some suggest the studio may be working on a sequel to Donkey Kong Country Returns. Weak rumours of a Super Smash Bros. title in development have also made the rounds.

Nintendo may also be planning to hold back on its first party releases during launch as a way to give more space to first party developers. This is supported by the claim that the company is trying to build broader third party support than its consoles have received in the past few generations. Some have claimed that Nintendo is aiming for a more “hardcore” gamer market this time around. This may be a statement on the hardware itself, or the third party support the company is aiming to land for the system.

Nintendo has announced that games for the new system will be playable at E3. Rumours suggest both first and third party titles will be shown.

Backward Compatibility

Rumours indicate the system will be backwards compatible with the Wii and possibly even the GameCube.

It is unclear if the system would interface with the controllers of these old systems, or if its new controller would function in their places.

Storage

Rumours now suggest the new system will lack a hard drive, but feature 8GB of flash memory. This would be supplemented by support for SD cards.

Format

Project Café is said to run 25GB optical discs based on Blu-Ray technology. It is unclear if the system would play Blu-Ray movies.

Online

No rumours have commented on online functionality.

Name

Image: Nintendo.

The system’s codename is “Project Café” as confirmed by its use on Nintendo-run developer support site WarioWorld.com. The above image was found on the site.

Word is that Nintendo is mulling over several possible names, one of which is “Stream.” This would fit with the system’s theme of streaming content to the screens built into its controllers. Another rumoured name is “Feel,” which aligns with the touchscreen nature of the controller. Fans have variously dubbed the system “Nintendo HD,” “Wii HD,” “Wii 2,” and “Super Wii.”

Posted: April 16, 2011.
Updated: April 19, April 22, April 25, May 5, May 24.

Project Café: The Comprehensive Report (updated May 24)

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