Nintendo's brilliant scientists are locked in their hollow volcano, feverishly bashing together a. While we're hearing that a in just a few weeks at the E3 gaming conference in Los Angeles, official details surrounding the new console are still thin on the ground. But rumours -- that's a different story! Here's what we've been hearing through the grapevine...
The Wii 2 will be HD
Game Informer was the first site to break the Wii 2 story in April, citing anonymous sources who claimed the next console -- which has taken on the curious moniker 'Project Café' -- would be able to run games in high definition.
Both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 can already do this, and by comparison the Wii looks frankly ropey, graphics-wise. But don't take this as a sign that Nintendo will definitely be cramming hi-def holly-jollies into its next console -- the success of the Wii wasn't down to its graphical capabilities, but its accessibility.
We'd think any new console would now be HD-capable by default, but frankly Nintendo's never taken much notice of what we think a console should be -- it's always happily marched to its own beat.
The controller will have a built-in screen
We're hearing this everywhere. The rumour goes that the Wii 2's controller will feature its own hi-def screen. Some sites report it'll be a touchscreen panel (akin to the lower screen on the Nintendo 3DS), and guesses put it at anywhere between 5 and 6.2 inches on the diagonal.
We've even heard that the screen will use fancy 'haptic' tech that enables the panel to feel like different things -- when you stroke the screen it could feel like a brush or like wood, for example. We're not sure how Ninty could possibly work that idea into a videogame, but the technology does exist, and the company has a history of adopting weird, unproven tech in its hardware.
It'll cater to hardcore gamers
We've also read that the controller will feature two analogue sticks, which would make the traditional gaming crowd very happy indeed, as it would prime the Wii 2 for intense first-person-shooter games. Myths abound that the new controller will also be slathered in buttons, shoulder-mounted triggers and a front-facing camera -- further inciting rumours that this console will see Nintendo welcoming die-hard, muscly-thumbed gamers back into the fold, possibly with an upgraded online service.
But we wouldn't count on it. Nintendo's secured a legion of wealthy casual-gaming enthusiasts with the Wii, and it will be very wary of scaring them off with an interface that resembles an air-traffic control deck. We're certain the new controller will keep the Wii's motion-control capabilities, and if it adds anything new it won't be a mass of buttons, but something more streamlined.
It's more powerful than the Xbox 360 or PS3
This could well be true -- a spot of computational one-upmanship is always welcome when new consoles are announced, and it aligns with the hi-def rumour. French site 01net reports the Wii 2 will pack a Custom IBM PowerPC triple-core CPU, an ATI R700-family graphics processor, and at least 512MB of RAM.
Nintendo's never made much of a song and dance about graphical grunt, but it's possible that performance-wise the next Wii could blow the current generation out of the water. There's something to consider though -- price.
The Wii's success can be largely attributed to its fairly low starting price. Consoles that pack in a warehouse's worth of spanking new tech are always pricey, and Ninty won't want to alienate the casual crowd with an expensive bit of hardware. So while the next Wii could outclass the Xbox and PS3 on paper, we'd be surprised if Nintendo opted for the most expensive components it could find.
The current Wii can run Gamecube games, so we'd hope the next Wii could at least run Wii titles. This one's pretty much a cert.
When we try to apply our feeble human brains to dreaming up a new Nintendo console, the best we can come up with is an HD machine, with a cool controller and great online play. But we're basically picturing an Xbox 360, and we doubt Nintendo is prepared to behave so conventionally. Here's hoping for something truly mind-bending when the Wii 2 is unveiled in a few weeks time.
We'll update this story with new rumours and more information as it becomes clear, but what do you imagine the Wii 2 will be like? We want your insane theories littering the comments, and our Facebook wall.