Does Project Cafe's real, official name hint further at the return of hardcore old Nintendo?

In the same way that you've never owned an Ultra 64, Dolphin or Revolution, Nintendo's new home console, Project Cafe, isn't going to be called Project Cafe when it's sitting under your TV. Why? Because that would just be stupid. Its final name? There are several theories. Wii 2 and WiiHD are the obvious ones, but I seriously doubt they'll come to fruition. Beem and Stream are also knocking around, as a result of rumours that the console's similarly rumoured in-controller screens will stream the gameplay display into your very hands.

But now there's another name knocking around. A simpler, more concise one. One that may at first sound utterly ridiculous, but which with a but of thought suddenly starts to make a lot of sense. Sense that bodes very well for those of us hoping for a return to the hardcore old Ninty we grew up with.

Nintendo. That's the new suggestion coming from GameInformer. Not the Nintendo WiiStreamHDStarCubeBox64. Not even the Nintendo Nintendo. Just the Nintendo. Sound rubbish? Well if the suggestion is true, then I'm rather excited.

Why? Because as you might remember, when Nintendo unveiled the Wii, they made a point of emphasising that they wanted to distance their company name from the console as far as possible. It was not to be called the Nintendo Wii. Just the Wii. The Nintendo logo was barely anywhere to be seen on the machine, its packaging or its controller, and when it did appear it was in the form of either a barely perceptible white-on-white engraving or a nondescript grey shadow of its former bright-and-exciting red self. The Wii was a machine for the casuals, and Nintendo was separating its branding from the company's long-standing hardcore gaming legacy by as great a distance as it could.

But now a hardcore-specced HD console with a controller gimmick which doesn't alienate proper, traditional game design? With the word "Nintendo" not only back in its name, but making up the entirety of its name? That sounds like what we might be getting, my friends. And if it is, then by Gandalf's mighty beard, it's one hell of a statement of intent. More blatent and more meaningful than even Nintendo's step away from centre-stage with the Wii. Don't forget that before the Wii, every Nintendo home console had the company's name as an inseparable part of its official title. There was no officially (or even colloquially) monickered Microsoft Xbox, or even Sony PlayStation 2, but there was a Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo 64 and Nintendo GameCube (officially abbreviated to NGC).

Above: Four of these things belong together, four of these things are kind of the same...

Also, in much the way that "Hoover" became the default name for any brand of vacuum cleaner, there was a time when the dominance of the NES made the phrase "playing Nintendo" synonymous with gaming. I've discussed the reasoning for my suspicions of a new hardcore age of Nintendo before, but what do you reckon? Does this potential new name back up that thinking? Or am I being an excitable old fanboy who's set to be woefully disappointed when the whole machine turns out to be based around the Vitality Sensor tomorrow?

June 06, 2011