What’s All the Fuss About?
As the next generation of home video game consoles takes form, gaming freaks and geeks worldwide eagerly await the arrival of Nintendo’s next video game system.
This next system would be their fourth home (opposed to hand held) video game console; following in the footsteps of the Nintendo Entertainment System (or "NES" circa 1986), Super Nintendo (or "SNES" circa 1991) and most recently, the Nintendo 64 (or "N64" released 1996).
A System After Nintendo 64?
All game consoles either fail or succeed. Those that fail are generally forgotten (except to the hardcore) and the company's that produce them move from hardware to software, as demonstrated by Atari, 3D0 and now Sega. On the other hand, the consoles that succeed are succeeded. The Nintendo 64, with all its ups and downs, will give way to another Nintendo game system. Nintendo's most recent home console, N64, suffered from many problems, yet overall can be considered a success.
However, nothing lasts forever.
The average lifespan of video game consoles are 5-6 years (with some exceptions, i.e., Nintendo's handheld Gameboy) putting N64 into its twilight. With the death of Sega's Dreamcast, the arrival of Sony's Playstation 2 and the fact that both Microsoft's XBox and Nintendo's GameCube are set for launch in early November, it's obvious that the new generation wars are about to truly begin. This is not to say that Nintendo is simply caving into "peer pressure" from its competitors; they are simply preparing for the times.
In a time where technology is rendered obsolete on a daily basis, Nintendo has actually been conservative in introducing new hardware.
Wasn’t the N64 a Failure?
Although the N64’s popularity in its homeland of Japan did not meet Nintendo’s expectations, NCL (Nintendo Company Ltd.) has remained a very successful company with operations all over the world, aided greatly by the success of their Gameboy consoles and popular Pokémon franchise.
In the US, N64 sales have continued to rise since the system’s launch in September, 1996. In late 1998, N64 sales finally perked in Japan as games like "Pocket Monster Stadium," "The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time" and others were released. Nintendo faced stiff competition from Sony's Playstation and (in Japan) Sega's Saturn. N64 was frequently criticized by the media as well Nintendo 64 has been a successful system overall. By no means did it spell the doom of Nintendo.
Recent troubles aside, Nintendo retains its long tradition of quality games and beloved characters, as Nintendo-fans everywhere wait with anticipation for the next step in the Nintendo revolution.
When did Nintendo confirm work on a new system?
Months before Nintendo had given any official word on its next-generation console, NOA's Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Peter Main dropped some hints in a speech he gave at the February, 1999 Toy Fair in New York.
"...Indeed, new systems - including one from Nintendo -- will eventually supplant the current ones.
But history would also teach us that that isn't going to occur in any meaningful sense until the fourth quarter of 2000 or more likely 2001."
When Did Nintendo “Officially” announce its Next System?
Official word didn’t come until months later, when at Nintendo’s pre-E3 press conference in 1999, Howard Lincoln shocked the audience by stating the following…
“While Nintendo's focus clearly remains fixed on the N64 -- we happen to believe that it has many more years of profitable life, both for our retail partners and for our company -- I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of Nintendo's plans for the future.
Let me raise the curtain just a little on Nintendo's next home video game system. One that we are targeting for worldwide launch at the end of year 2000….”
What followed was the exciting first official details of Nintendo’s next console. Excerpts from Lincoln’s address at the pre-E3 ’99 press conference are utilized throughout the FAQ. Lincoln’s speech in its entirety can be read here.