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The Next Generation, Round one

Or "What will become of our plucky plumber in peril?!"

The first stones have been cast in the big fight that will determine the next system we buy. Major announcements have come of systems so powerful they couldn't have been imagined just 15 years ago. What will Mario's place be in the upcomnig system wars? Let's look into it?

First we examine what all three major players have done thus far in the next gen war. First out, from Sega, is the Dreamcast. Already released in Japan, the Dreamcast is comnig to America this fall with such sure-fire hits as Virtua Fighter TB, Sega Rally 2, and Sonic Adventure. Sega seems to have learned from at least some of their past mistakes, and with a pairing with Microsoft, they could be a conender in the system wars. Sega has dissapointed in the past, however, and they are suffering from an initial lack of software in Japan. Rushing out the system may hurt in the longevity department too. Still, it'll be competitive.

Later, we heard about Sony's Playstation 2, as it's being called right now. While very little is known about this, we have seen tech spec.'s and movies on it, and the developers are dropping their jaws at this things power. Supposedly the PSX2 can push enough polygons to render Toy Story in real time, an amazing feat! Sony has proven it has what it takes to survive in the video gaming arena, and with the backing of powerhouses like Squaresoft and Namco, Sony could reign supreme again. However, it is yet to be seen how well the machines immense power will be handled, and how many will flock to support it. This system is definitely the one to watch.

So... What is Nintendo's response to this pressure from all sides? "We'll announce something by the end of the year." That's it?!

I know it's Nintendo's style to wait and play it safe, but this is bordering ridiculous. Very little is knownfor sure about the N2000 right now, so I guess we'll just have to wait. This means Mario will have to wait as well. As Miyamato has said "[Mario's next game] may even be on a different system". Once Nintendo announces it's new system this year, it will be the practical end of the N64, and our chance of seeing more Mario on the 64-bit system afterwards is unlikely at best. This probably means that, yet again, we'll be caught waiting for Mario gaming goodness. (see The Big Wait for more on this)

What do we get for our patience? Most likely another trend setting game, along the lines of Super Mario World or Super Mario 64 in it's design and execution. But will that be enough? Can Nintendo really come back after a huge head start by it's competitors, even with a revolutionary Mario game? Nintendo 64 proved it was possible to come into a respectable second, but now that Sega has it's act together, Nintendo could be in trouble.

It's impossible to tell anything concrete this early. Almost all of this is just and educated hypothesis at the moment. Look for more guessing in "Round 2" when Nintendo actually announces it's next system.

For the latest developments in this war, check out Operation N2000

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