Wii-design? Wii-make? Wii HD?
Is Nintendo planning to release a smaller, cheaper Wii?
I have a secret. I believe something about the Wii no one else is talking about. Everyone is busy buzzing about the next Nintendo console. All anyone has to do is mention a “Wiiii,” “Stream,” or even just the “Wii HD,” and people go absolutely crazy over controller designs, console designs, rumored upcoming titles, rumored developers, and all of that. My secret is different. See, I believe we're going to see a Wii-make of the Wii pretty soon. And yes, that's the last time I'll use the “Wii-make” pun.
Looking back at earlier consoles, any successful Nintendo system has received a redesign late in its life. Originally we saw the top-loading NES with the RCA port removed, and new controllers shaped like those of the SNES. The redesigned system itself resembled the SNES.
Look kind of familiar? This NES design borrowed from the SNES.
In 1997, Nintendo released a revision to the SNES. The new model was smaller and removed extraneous ports, including an RF modulator port, requiring purchasers of the remade SNES to stick with composite video or buy an RF adapter. One of the ports removed rendered this model, as well as its Japanese counterpart, incompatible with the Satellaview, a Japanese-only peripheral designed to download and play a few specific titles.
The remodeled SNES removed the eject button from the console.
The N64 is the odd console out of this group. The closest the N64 came to a redesign was Hey You! Pikachu!'s blue console, the massive variety of colors the N64 was released in over the years, and the Expansion Pak, which allowed the console a little bit more RAM. In one sense, the N64 probably had the widest variety of color choices out of any other Nintendo home console, but a redesign never occurred. The life cycle of the N64 was much shorter than that of the consoles before it.
Does this even count as a redesign?!
The GameCube only saw a minor change: for its revision, the digital out port was removed. Nintendo did license out GameCube technology to Panasonic so they could create the GameCube/DVD hybrid known as the Q, but I don't consider that Nintendo's redesign.
This wasn't even designed by Nintendo, though some might call it a redesigned console.
Nintendo's handheld consoles have also followed this trend. From the Game Boy to the DSi XL, we've seen many revisions regularly, often to reduce the handheld's size or add in/improve features. The Game Boy Color is the only Nintendo handheld since the Game Boy line began that I can't recall having a later revision. Even the Super Game Boy had a sequel of sorts!
The Game Boy Light, a rare Japan-only backlight version of the Game Boy.
With all that considered, it seems reasonable that a revision of the Wii is on the way. I'm expecting to see something smaller, cheaper, and perhaps more consumer-friendly. Why? Because for some reason, retailers like Toys 'R' Us, Best Buy, and others have recently been marking down their Wiis despite rumors of a price drop in mid-May. As best as I can recall, retailers tend to keep their consoles at the MSRP except when in a price war or when they expect the console not to sell. There's no price war going on, and as far as I'm aware, Nintendo hasn't forced retailers to carry a massive number of Wiis, to the extent that most couldn't be sold at the MSRP.
The Game Boy Micro, a late addition to the Game Boy Advance family.
Oh, and why aren't there rumors circulating around developers and publishers about this console redesign? Quite simply, for game design purposes, the device will still be a Wii. Also, don't expect any additional HD out ability from a Wii remake; as mentioned above, Nintendo typically removes relatively unused components and hasn't added low-use features, provided we don't count accessories like the Wii Motion Plus.
Will we see a second version of the Wii? Only time will tell.
What will change? We'll probably see something removed in regard to the GameCube memory card slots, and perhaps there will be more on-board memory. While I'd imagine the ReWii will continue to use a slot-loading disc drive, I'd imagine it might not even be compatible with GameCube-sized mini-DVDs. Potentially, this Wii could output in higher definition resolution, but it's unlikely Nintendo would add in the feature. I think, really, Nintendo's main goal will be to flatten out the Wii to make it sleeker and smaller. Sure, we'll have lots of tiny Wii jokes, but fun and games aside, I'd like to see a new, redesigned version of the Wii by Nintendo and we probably will soon. If history is any indication, it will even give us a glimpse of Nintendo's yet-to-be-unveiled next-gen console.