Nintendo will demonstrate the successor to GameCube, dubbed N5 by the media, at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2005. That's according to a report from the Japanese Mainichi Shimbun, backed up by quotes from a senior Nintendo spokesperson.
Following an article in Nihon Keizei Shimbun earlier this week, Nintendo has been working hard to rebuild confidence in its next-generation plans. Japanese PR chief Yasuhiro Minagawa said of comments in the troubled report, "It was supposed to mean that Sony and Microsoft are expected to release their next-generation consoles from 2005 to 2006, and we also won't be releasing one until that period."
Meanwhile, Nintendo issued an ironclad statement to US journalists yesterday declaring "Nintendo is staying in the console hardware business and still plans to launch our next home console in the same timeframe as our competitors." The statement also touched on the GameCube peripherals/expansion plans Nintendo tried to reveal earlier this week that prompted the first eruption of N5 withdrawal rumours.
However so far nobody at Nintendo has refuted this latest report in Mainichi Shimbun, and the quote from a senior source is quite sturdy. "Like our Nintendo DS portable game machine, our home game machine must offer an experience that can be enjoyed by adults, children, or women. We would like to show this at E3 next spring." The report also states that the console will focus on "new types of gameplay" rather than the cutting edge technologies Sony and Microsoft are expected to promote.
Granted, you might reasonably have guessed Nintendo planned to demonstrate or at least discuss a new platform at E3 2005, given their newfound insistence that they will launch in the same timeframe as their competition, but to see it in black and white is an encouraging thing. Strongly worded refutations may ward off this round of rumours, but the seeds of doubt have been growing for far longer than just one week. With this latest revelation, perhaps Nintendo hopes to silence them completely.
In terms of what we can expect from N5 however, it's a little harder to say. When it comes to the next-generation of games consoles, you have to wonder how the big N plans to instigate "new types of gameplay" on a wide enough scale to power a leading games console. You also have to wonder about its lack of concern with cutting edge technology. Although the market is clearly receptive to well-marketed consoles, even if they're technological back markers (say hello, PlayStation 2), taking on Xbox 2/Xenon and PlayStation 3 with inferior technology and - let's face it - dwindling third party support is never going to be an easy task. Nintendo is an unpredictable company that sometimes makes inspired choices, and its games are sometimes legendary, but as far as a new platform goes we'll be waiting quietly to be convinced this time.