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Nintendo shows off Revolution

It's still tight lipped on specifics, but Nintendo has finally released the first pictures of its next generation console, the Revolution. The Nintendo Revolution will be two to three times as powerful as the GameCube, have online capabilities and will be backwards compatible.

It's still tight lipped on specifics, but Nintendo has finally released the first pictures of its next generation console, the Revolution. The Nintendo Revolution will be two to three times as powerful as the GameCube, have online capabilities and will be backwards compatible.

At Nintendo's pre E3 press conference held yesterday, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata proudly held a "Revolution prototype" aloft in his hand -- but did not hook it up to any displays or turn it on. The Revolution design didn't follow suit with its curvaceous competitors, the concave Xbox 360 and convex PlayStation 3.

In fact, its simple rectangular design could be easily mistaken for a modem at first glance. However, like its competitors, the unit can stand vertically or lay supine. The black console (other optional colours are apparently in the works) can fit snugly in a grey stand, where it is pitched upward at a slight angle for vertical positioning, or be removed and laid flat (and look eerily similar to Apple's Powerbook batteries).

By Nintendo's own admission, according to a report from USA Today, the system is two to three times as powerful as its current-generation console, the GameCube. Sony's PlayStation 3, announced yesterday, is reportedly dozens of times powerful than its predecessor, the PlayStation 2.

However, Nintendo told the newspaper "It's not all about having 'turbo power', It's about what you do with it." What will it have to work with? Iwata did not reveal many of the game's specifications, but he did mention Revolution will have 512MB of onboard flash memory, and be expandable with two SD memory card slots. Other details we know so far is that the console packs a customised IBM-developed CPU paired with an ATI graphics chip, a pair of USB 2.0 expansion ports, and built-in support for Wi-Fi Internet access.

And while Revolution's enigmatic controllers were not revealed, Nintendo has confirmed they will be wireless. Rumours have been awash that the controllers will be unlike any before, possibly losing buttons in favour of touch screens or incorporating some sort of gyroscopic functions.

Eschewing its previous business ideas, Revolution will be online-friendly, and support a broadband gaming service similar to that of Microsoft's Xbox Live. Its most significant contribution to online gaming will be the ability to download Nintendo's entire catalogue of NES, SNES, and Nintendo 64 console games. As for GameCube, titles have the potential to be downloadable, though it's not clear whether the games will be saved to storage devices or memory cards.

For those who would rather just pop in their hard copy of Mario Sunshine, Nintendo offers a simple solution: backward compatibility. As indicated before, Revolution, like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, will be able to play all the games from the current-generation GameCube, as well as DVDs through its blue-LED-illuminated front-loading media drive, though the unit will require "an internal attachment" to play movies.

Nintendo announced that it has "big plans" for the Metroid franchise on Revolution and that Mario and Zelda games are already in the works. Iwata also stated that Square Enix is working on a Wi-Fi version of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles.

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