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Nintendo registers new patent

For Virtual Console, possibly.

A patent granted last month to Nintendo by the US Patent Office may give new insight into the "Virtual Console" system in the Revolution, which will allow players to access the firm's back catalogue of titles on the new system.

Patent no. 6,955,606, provides details of a technology which allows a technologically superior console to play games from an older, technologically inferior device, using emulation software and a game selection interface.

Nintendo has previously announced that the Revolution will play a back catalogue of NES, SNES, N64 and GameCube titles, with games for the first three systems being made available for download online or bundled on Revolution game discs.

The system also has half a gigabyte of built-in flash memory for storing software, and according to the new patent, players will be able to select which game they want to play from a screen which lists series according to their specific franchises, and view additional information about it on a dedicated game screen for each title.

Older game titles can be played entirely on the Revolution's IBM PowerPC CPU, while for newer games - presumably 3D ones from the N64 and Cube - the emulation process will also pull in the power of the new machine's ATI-designed graphics unit.

One interesting mention in the patent is that some titles may offer updates to the original content, such as the ability to play as new characters or to upgrade the graphics of the title - although obviously, such changes will require re-coding, whereas titles which are identical to the originals will not.

Although the Revolution Virtual Console is certainly the Nintendo product most likely to feature the technology described in this patent, it isn't the first time that Nintendo has included emulation and game selection options in its products - the most recent to do so being the Nintendo DS.

The patent filing document suggests that it was originally filed in February 2001 and was only approved in October, suggesting that Nintendo has been planning the Virtual Console functionality for its next-generation system since around the launch of the GameCube.

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Ellie Gibson avatar

Ellie Gibson


Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.

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