In just a couple of weeks from now, Nintendo will announce their next generation of gaming console at E3 2011. It is known to be more powerful than the current Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (PS3), but will it be a Wii 2, or a new console geared toward the hardcore gamer? We will find out soon enough. Is Nintendo really getting a head start on the next gaming generation or are they just trying to get their foot in the door before Microsoft and Sony trounce them with the announcement their new systems?

IGN guesstimated what the next Nintendo hardware would be and made a test system of their own. Click here to read about what they did.

I was a Nintendo fan since the original NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). I got excited as each new Nintendo was announced. Super Mario World and Starfox looked amazing on the Super NES. Super Mario 64 and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time took me by storm on the Nintendo 64. Finally, the Gamecube came out and I was in awe by the graphics in games like Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2 and Wave Race: Blue Storm. I didn’t think Nintendo could do wrong, but I could see Sony with their PlayStation 1 and 2 following along side. Being a Mac fan, I was even upset when Microsoft came in and swooped up Bungie and had them create Halo for the Xbox, instead of the Macintosh. Games on the Xbox and PlayStation consoles started to catch my eye.

When the current generation of consoles was announced, I didn’t know what to do. I was a huge Nintendo fan, but both Sony and Microsoft were showing some amazing stuff on their new consoles in 2005. I had never seen graphics in games like this before. Nintendo was still pushing their Gamecube, while Sony and Microsoft were wooing me with their fancy graphics, sound, and HD quality. Where was Nintendo? It was finally time for me to jump ship. I had two new consoles showing awesome games and now I needed to make a decision about which to buy.

Concept art for PS4. Don't go shopping for this now!

It was a hard decision at first but when Sony pushed back the release date of the PS3, I jumped on the Microsoft Xbox 360 bandwagon. I wanted it NOW, and didn’t want to wait. A year later, the PlayStation 3 came out as well as Nintendo’s Wii console. What a difference in technology though; the PlayStation 3 was a powerful system, like the Xbox 360, but the Wii was, as others put it, two Gamecubes duct-taped together.

The Nintendo Wii sold like hotcakes. I never really understood it but figured it must have been non-gamers that were picking it up. Its controller was like a familiar TV remote control. It was easy to pick up and play. Games were the staple Mario and Zelda games we grew up with and adding the motion controls made it a great party system. The only problem is that it didn’t sell as many games as the other two more power consoles. The attach rate for games was about 1 or 2 sold per console. For the PS3 and Xbox 360, the attach rate for games was quite a bit higher. Nintendo also failed with the hardcore gamers. Their online gameplay was terrible compared to the Xbox Live and even Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN). We wanted HD graphics and the ‘Wow’ factor that comes with it. We weren’t going to see Fight Night, Uncharted, or Gears of War graphics on the Nintendo Wii and that is what we wanted on our HDTV’s. Most found their Wii collecting dust after a few months.

Leaked images of the new Xbox 720. Okay, maybe not.

I did break down and get the Nintendo Wii about a year after it came out. I found I enjoyed the Wii Sports games as well as a few others… but that didn’t last long. I soon tired of the Wii and left it for my 12-year-old son to play. Hey, I figured it would give me more Xbox 360 time while he was on the Wii. Even he stopped playing it after a few months. Six months of Wii ownership was soon gone as I sold it and picked up the PS3. Now I had the best of both current generation consoles.

This brings us up to the next generation of gaming consoles. Nintendo is in first place only for announcing theirs first. We will finally see graphics just a bit better than we are currently seeing on the PS3 and Xbox 360. There will be some new controller that may even have a built-in screen. More storage will be available for game saves and downloads on the new system, and we may even have better online play without all the friends codes. Nintendo knows what has been working for Microsoft and Sony. They should have an easy time getting all their ducks in a row for this new console.

Nintendo fans will also want to see Mario, Zelda, and Samus in all their high-definition glory. Developers may even port over titles from the Xbox 360 and PS3 like Modern Warfare 3, Mass Effect 3, and Dead Island. For at least a couple of years, Nintendo may enjoy the plethora of games that can be easily made to work on all three consoles. But that will end once the next generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft are released.

Check out the Unreal Engine 3 Samaritan Real-Time Demo by clicking here.

We don’t know what the new PS4 or Xbox 720 (names I like to call them for now) will be capable of but we can look at current demos to see what is possible. Epic showed of a tech demo using the latest Unreal 3 engine at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2011. It needs much more power than any PC and graphics card can provide today, but it does give us some idea of what to expect from the next Microsoft and Sony consoles. When the PS3 and Xbox 360 came out, they were more powerful than any PC at the time. The personal computer then caught up and surpassed what can be done on these consoles. This should happen again with the next consoles from Microsoft and Sony.

I think all three of the next generation consoles will enjoy their own success. Nintendo fans will go gaga over the Wii 2 and it will probably gain some hardcore gamers who still love Mario and Zelda. Those of us wanting the next big thrill in gaming will be waiting for the newest Sony and/or Microsoft system. That may still be two or three years away, but the Unreal 3 tech demo gives us something to hope for. As for those who are going to run out and get the next Nintendo, remember that it is more power than the Xbox 360 and PS3… which will be over six years old when it is released. That’s not saying much.

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Update: Geek.com seems to have a video showing the new Nintendo Wii 2 at a developers meeting. Check it out here.

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