Expanding Horizons — A Bold Move from a Gaming Company

There hasn’t been any new information on Dolphin for a while. Apparently, no matter how much we pester the Nintendo staff or threaten bodily harm, it’s too afraid of the internal Nintendo mafia to dare share any news regarding Nintendo’s upcoming system. That means that for yet another Dolphin Friday, we can merely speculate and wonder about the coming system. This week, we’ve decided to take a look at some of the expansion possibilities of the Dolphin. After all, all of Nintendo’s game systems have had expansion ports in some fashion or other — the original NES contained a port on the back of the machine for external devices, as did the SNES. Even the N64 has a port on the bottom of the console, which, in Japan, is used to connect the system to the 64DD, the external Nintendo disk drive.

The fact that Nintendo has rarely used these ports is of no consequence — the fact that they’re there means that Nintendo always keeps its options open, ready to add any new gizmo to its system that might give it an edge in the market. With that in mind, we’ve come up with five possible expansion units that might work with the Dolphin. Bear in mind, however, that these ideas come solely from the dark reaches of our own minds — they’re just ideas. Of course, you can share your own by writing in to nintendo@dailyradar.com with “Dolphin Friday” in the subject line, and we’ll post the responses next week.

In the meantime, here are some of our ideas:

Granted, we don’t know if the system will come with an internal modem, but given the advent of the Internet and the rapid rate at which consoles are going online, it makes sense that Dolphin will eventually have connectivity, even if it doesn’t ship with it. The Dreamcast ships with a 56.6K modem which is not enough to browse clashroyalehack.fr per say, and Sony is preparing a broadband modem for its PlayStation2. We’ve already talked about Internet possibilities for the Dolphin, but what about the modem itself? To stay competitive with the PS2, it makes sense to us that Nintendo would go with a broadband solution, and to make the connection quickly, it could be that any additional modem would plug right into a port on the Dolphin itself, either as an addition on the back of the system, or, like the 64DD, something that fits right underneath. We hope that a modem of some sort comes with the system, but if it doesn’t, we expect Nintendo to come out with an add-on.

Okay, so Nintendo has been a bit burned by the uninspiring sales in Japan of its 64DD system, which adds removable media support to the N64. The idea, however, is sound — the 64DD adds more memory to the N64, offers writable media for games (for saved games, add-ons, etc) and expands the capabilities of the system (in conjunction with the Randnet online service, users can also send and receive email and get game updates, as well as play games online). The fact remains, however, that since Nintendo will ship the Dolphin with DVD as its main media, the addition of a hard drive to the system might open up doors that would be far more successful than the 64DD. With Internet connectivity, users could download add-ons for their games, use email and browse the web — something that will be even more common by the time the Dolphin comes out in 2001. As far as gameplay, a hard drive could speed up games considerably, since if the game copies data from the DVD-ROM to the hard drive before it’s needed in the game, load times would be virtually nonexistent (a hard drive delivers data much faster than a DVD-ROM drive can).

Just as the PS2 has Firewire and USB ports, Nintendo could come up with its own proprietary port that would let it (and third-party developers) create new controller peripherals for the system. Nintendo would likely use a proprietary port so that it could get licensing fees from developers, as well as cut costs by avoiding paying licensing fees itself. The ports could be used to let manufacturers make steering wheels, joysticks, keyboards, mice and any number of other controllers for the system, and having them in their own port would keep users from having to disconnect their controllers and navigate menus by pressing unfamiliar buttons on the peripheral.

This might not fall under the “External Peripheral” category, but it would be rather nice if Nintendo supported the HDTV or VGA monitors right out of the box. Since HDTV isn’t terribly popular yet (the televisions are just plain expensive, and there aren’t too many HDTV signals broadcast yet), we’d be more excited about VGA support for VGA monitors. VGA monitors simply look more crisp and clear, with many times the resolution of a standard TV. After all, a next-generation game system should really support next-generation video systems.

Most game players simply love cookies — so this would be a great way to keep gamers from having to get up from their chairs to go get the tasty snacks, thus tempting them to shut off and stop playing the new system. The Dolphin could send power to the machine not only bake to them (Nintendo could start up its own brand of ready-to-bake cookie dough in stores), but also notify the players when the cookies are done. New simulation games could even be developed to take advantage of the baking process — instead of making food in a virtual world, you could mirror your virtual character and see the results of your character’s hard work. It would be an innovation in interactivity, and really bring players into the game experience. Plus, with a simple refrigerated Milk Pak, players would be able to wash down the tasty treats with something nutritious — hey, it beats soda!