With all the talk of Nintendo’s future and the successor for the Wii U, it’s no surprise a new patent released today. While it’s hard to say exactly what it's for, it could be a glimpse into the future of Nintendo’s gaming devices, and it’s kind of weird.
While the patent isn’t under a Nintendo banner, the names listed are Nintendo employees, so it is from the company. “This application describes a game apparatus and an information processing apparatus comprising an operation unit,” reads the patent. This pretty much means this file shows a potential controller design for a console or some kind of handheld device. The controller looks sort of like the Classic Controller from the Wii days, but with a touch screen integrated in the center. On each side, there is a thumb stick along with bumpers on the top corners. Surprisingly though, there are no face buttons. one of the images shows one stick used for movement while the other is used for operation, while another picture shows the touch screen making up for the lack of buttons. The screen itself should be capable of an aspect ratio of 16:9, which is comparable to that of a widescreen TV. And while it was left off the designs, the device will feature speakers.
The interesting part of this device is the inclusion of an SD card slot on the top of the controller. The patent also reads that the slot could be used for a game cartridge. Since the DS, Nitnendo’s handhelds use a chip as the primary method to store games. Nintendo has mentioned in the past that the company wants to merge their home and mobile devices and even moved the two teams into the same building. This could be the first real showing of that new synergy the company is trying to create. The signs point towards this being the next generation of handheld devices, just by the interface. It’s too simplistic for the home market, but it’s a little too clunky as a handheld.
This design is really strange. I’m not too sure how I feel about the lack of actual face buttons. The concept of a more functional stick seems interesting, and the controller is an entire touch screen, so if needed, there is something, but physical buttons just work much better. Nintendo is playing it a little risky, but they never go the traditional route for their interfaces. However there is potential to alienate even more developers with this direction.
It is important to note that these are only patents. These kind of things make their way out all the time, and only a portion of them come to fruition. It’s interesting to see what Nintendo is up to in their R&D department, especially with the mention of a new console on the way. While it seems easy to pass off a lot of these ideas as strange or unneeded, Nintendo has a way of taking ideas that seem rough around the edges and making them work. So if this is the future for the Big N, I trust they will at the very least, make it fun.