TEMP Wii power thing

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So I started writing this without much focus, and now it's a bit of a mess. I'm basically going to completely restart with some more structure, but am putting this up so it will be saved as a past version of the page for reference. --- May 31, 2007, mostly. Also some August. Does more powerful hardware improve gaming and make new designs possible? Of course, but not as much as some people seem to believe. I contend that factors beyond the graphical and computational power are much larger. !The Past Game Boy. Weaker hardware than the NES, four grayscale colors, and a 160x144 screen to display everything on. Did this mean Game Boy games were doomed to the level of what Atari 5200 games had accomplished years before? Certainly not. Consider Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. Even with sub-NES hardware, their game design--and even graphic design--was more similar to their SNES counterparts than their NES counterparts. Mario had a rounder appearance, could travel across one game world map, and even had a spin jump. Link's Awakening looked and played like a grayscale Link to the Past. How is this possible? Simply because the games were made in the 90s instead of the 80s. Design norms had changed, those making the games were more experienced, and thus even with simpler hardware things were more advanced than they used to be. There's also the matter of game saving. NES Marios didn't have this, but as time went on it was frequently found even on the lowly Game Boy. It's a great example of a non-computational technology changing the scene. Another example of the same thing is Pokémon, a game that exploded on the Game Boy but simply wouldn't have worked on the NES. Why? The link cable. A non-computational technology addition that turned that game into a multi-million seller. Donkey Kong '94 is a simpler example. It does save your game as you progress, but as a very linear game it operates little differently than a password system does. However, being a game of the mid-1990s rather than the 80s, the game is much more varied than earlier Donkey Kong titles on more powerful hardware, and even without more buttons Mario can act in many new ways: handstands, double jumps, swinging on wires. A matter of design. Clearly the shift from 2D to 3D gaming is one of those big leaps that was important for gaming and added new game design possibilities, but in many cases the change was superficial. Consider the PlayStation Final Fantasy titles, or even Final Fantasy X. Graphics aside, the biggest change they had from what was possible on the SNES was that the game world was no longer restricted to being designed as a set of tiles viewed from the same viewpoint throughout the entire game. The FF games are actually another decent example of a non-computational technology changing things, in that much of the graphical hoopla for the PS1 games was about the pre-rendered backgrounds and video. Easy for a machine to display, but requiring large amounts of ROM space not previously available. However, the real additions to gameplay in that generation were still not exclusively computationally-driven. The analog stick allowed the new possibilities of 3D worlds to be matched with precision of control, and the advent of memory cards allowed for companies to design their games with long-term play in mind, without having to cover the cost of including save space in a cartridge. !The Present We've reached a point of advanced 3D graphics. Most computational-based improvements are graphical in nature. A faster processor doesn't so much allow for a further draw distance, more characters on screen simultaneously, or a higher possible frame rate. Processors get rated for what computations they can do and how fast; not how many characters they can draw in how many frames. What it does allow is for those things to be done while all graphical elements remain looking as good as (or better than) a previous genereration title did without those things. A previous generation game could've pulled off the extra characters, draw distance, and frames; but out of necessity the objects and game world would have to look simpler. Take a series like Dynasty Warriors, which on PS2 is well-known for its short character draw distance. It would have been quite possible for more characters to be shown simultaneously, but something else would have to give. A game like Pikmin would at times have over 100 characters on screen, so perhaps the ancient warriors would end up with a graphical complexity much more befitting a Pikmin. Physics is one thing that certainly can be greatly advantaged by having a faster processor. However, it's something that even on previous generation consoles has been done in a so-so, faked, or partial fashion as the case allows, so neither is it something exclusively doable on the most advanced machinery. Of course the more capable the hardware, the easier it is to allow for more superfluous but fun effects like accurate cloth motion or wind blowing leaves. Super Mario Galaxy uses different levels of gravity for its different planetoids, as an example of a game on even the computationally-weakest current-generation system using physics in a partial way towards a gameplay end. Non-computational improvements that have expanded gaming: Control improvements: D-pad, shoulder buttons, analog sticks, analog triggers, waggle, pointer, touch screen, mouse, keyboard Storage improvement: Silicon ROM increases, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, Blu-ray Saving: Password, carts with small saves built in, larger memory cards, built-in mass storage Multiplayer/communication: Link cables, four controller ports, online, wireless This is a bit subjective, but I've tried to rank the Nintendo system shifts in terms of how much it improved in the processor-based and non-processor based ways, judging each Small, Medium or Large. ||*|NES|SNES|N64|GCN|Wii Control|-|Large
Double face buttons, shoulder buttons|LargeAnalog stick|Small
Cs become stick, shoulders become analog|Large
Waggle and pointer Storage|-|Medium
ROM increases|Medium
ROM increases|Large
Full DVD Saving|-|Small
More common, but done the same ways|Medium
Addition of small Memory Pak|Medium
Much larger memory cards|Large
Built-in flash storage, SD card support Multi/communication|-|Small
Multi-tap used somewhat more frequently. Very small.|Large
Four controller ports|Small
GBA connectivity, very little online with accessory|Large
Built-in WiFi for online, LAN, and DS connectivity Processor-based|-|Large|Large|Large|Small|| Looked at in this way, though Wii's processor-based increase is the smallest, it has more large increases across the board than the shifts from NES->SNES or N64->GCN.