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Nintendo unveils Revolution controller

Unconventional one-handed gadget is designed like a TV remote "because that's familiar to everyone," company's president says. Testing out the new controller

2 min read
Nintendo surprised the game industry on Friday with an unconventional one-handed controller for its next-generation "Revolution" console.

Motion-detector sensors in the controller, which resembles a TV remote, allow players to control the game by wielding it like a sword, waving it like a conductor's baton or swinging it like a baseball bat, depending on the game, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said in a keynote session at the Tokyo Game Show.

"It's designed like a TV remote because that's familiar to everyone, including those who are intimidated by a two-handed controller," said Iwata. "Its intuitive form allows both experienced and new gamers to stand on the same starting line."

Nintendo, known for game characters such as Mario, Donkey Kong and Pokemon, unveiled its console, code-named Revolution, in May, and said it would launch in 2006. The console will give users access to more than 20 years of games from past Nintendo consoles.

The company had kept its controller under careful wraps, fearing its rivals would copy its idea.

Revolution will be competing with Microsoft's Xbox 360, which will launch in November, and Sony's Playstation 3, expected to launch next spring.

Nintendo dominates the $25 billion portable game industry, but its current GameCube console lags far behind market leader Sony's current generation Playstation 2.

Photos of controller

Nintendo's new controller is mainly operated by sensor, which it calls "a direct pointing device" even though it has a control pad and buttons. It also has an expansion to plug in a joystick-like second device.

"It's not a gimmick, and it's different," said Tokyo-based KBC Securities analyst Hiroshi Kamide. "It should get people interested," he said, although he added that he'd like to see the device in action in games.

Iwata said the Revolution console and controller was designed to increase the game market by drawing in new users of all ages who might be scared off by today's complex and fast action games.

"Our mission is to revive the gaming industry by increasing our user base," Iwata said. "If we can't do that, we might as well stand back and watch the market die off."

Iwata also said he hoped Revolution would give small developers an opportunity to create games for a next-generation console without the multimillion dollar budgets and years of development time required for today's top titles.

"Small developers can compete on creativity, not on scale or staff size...Nintendo is willing to help bring these ideas to life," Iwata said.

Iwata said he was looking forward to seeing how developers will use the pointer, which can be used for both quick action or slow, precise motion. A Nintendo video during the keynote even showed one player using the controller as a dentists' drill.

Story Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.