Revolution confirmed for 2006; will play DVDs

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Speaking to GameSpot several weeks ago about the imminent launch of the Xbox 360, Robbie Bach, Microsoft's chief Xbox officer and senior vice president, weighed in on the next-console race. He said he largely saw the next several years as a two-party conflict between Microsoft and Sony.

"Nintendo is good and cute...and there's nothing wrong with that," he said. "They'll be a competitor, but in a different category almost. I don't think they have the same ambition that either Sony or Microsoft does in the more mainstream interactive entertainment space."

Bach's words were presumably based on Nintendo's long-standing policy that game consoles should be for games, period. This philosophy was at the core of the company's current-generation console, the GameCube, which uses a proprietary three-inch disc format, versus the DVDs used by the PlayStation 2 and the current and next-gen Xboxes.

However, it appears that will soon change. In a statement on its official Web site, the company "stated loud and clear that [it is] not to be overlooked in the next-generation home console race." Nintendo announced that its new console, code-named the "Revolution," will play DVDs and be backward compatible. "Nintendo's legions of loyal fans will be happy to learn that Revolution will be backward compatible, playing both Nintendo GameCube three-inch discs, along with its own standard, double-layered DVD discs in the same self-loading media drive," said the company.

Speaking of DVDs, Nintendo also mentioned that the Revolution "will be about the thickness of three standard DVD cases and only slightly longer." This would make it the Japanese game giant's smallest console to date, as well as making it barely larger than Sony's new slimline PS2, which is about two times as thick and about an inch-and-a-half longer than a DVD case. Like the PS2 and the Xbox 360, the new Revolution will be able to lie on its side or stand on one end for horizontal or vertical display.

Unfortunately, Nintendo's statement, which appeared strategically timed to deflate some of the hype surrounding the Xbox 360's unveiling, had few other specific details. It reconfirmed details revealed in Nintendo president Satoru Iwata's 2005 Game Developers Conference keynote address. Namely, it reconfirmed that the Revolution will be "wireless Internet ready out of the box" and will be powered by an IBM CPU and an ATI GPU.

That said, the statement concluded with a tantalizing tease for Nintendo fans. "There's much more to Revolution that will be revealed over the coming months," it read, "but the combination of its compact size, wireless Internet, backward compatibility, quick start-up time, and quiet, low-power operation add up to the start of a great game system."

Nintendo also confirmed what has been long suspected...that the Revolution won't arrive until next year. The last line of the statement read, "Get ready for the Nintendo Revolution in 2006!"

By Tor Thorsen -- GameSpot.