In recent years Nintendo has produced some innovative products with established technology, endured some sniggers and confused coverage, and then seen the idea mimicked and reproduced by others. The idea of touch screens in gaming was rather fresh when the DS was unveiled, and some mocked the waggle motion controls of the Wii — touch screen gaming is huge nowadays (though not clamshell designs aside from the 3DS) while Sony and Microsoft jumped onto the motion bandwagon once Wii sales figures came through.
While the Wii U's had tough beginnings and is banking on a major revival starting at the back-end of this year, its concept of dual screen gaming in the home console space is gradually coming to the fore. We're seeing more integration of games with separate tablet apps, with Microsoft going with SmartGlass and Sony going for a mixture of tablet apps and Vita cross-platform support. What they don't offer is fully integrated, bespoke tablet-style options out of the box, like the Wii U; yet a project on Kickstarter, Cross Plane, is very much taking its lead from Nintendo's system.
As you can see in the image above, its design is pretty close to the Wii U, bringing to mind the JXD S7300 GamePad 2 tablet; unlike that device, this isn't a standalone tablet but is actually mimicking the GamePad's off-TV feature for multiple platforms. It's been in progress for two years — not long after the Wii U was revealed at E3 2011, but that may be coincidental — and has Jon Jandran on board, who's known for producing portable retro systems. The backing video does show SNES and N64 emulators running on the Ouya; that's naughty.
Its aim is to provide mirroring (off-TV play) for the Xbox 360, PS3, Ouya and PC, with plans to try and do the same with the Xbox One and PS4. It uses cartridges that utilise bluetooth (PS3, PC and Ouya) and alternative wireless connections (for the 360), which communicate with a HDMI transmitter plugged into the system; it has a wireless range of about 20 feet at present.
What it doesn't do, of course, is anything beyond that core function. What you're doing is shifting the TV or monitor display to the device within that range, whereas there won't be asynchronous multiplayer, motion control or second-screen gameplay; it's basically a limited range handheld for home consoles and PC. Its Kickstarter campaign is asking for $350 for the unit and one of the cartridge options, or $410 for the unit and both cartridges.
Aside from freeing up the TV for others, we're not quite convinced this is worth the price tag that's being demanded. Consumers will decide, of course, and perhaps from Nintendo's perspective imitation is a form of flattery.
Do you think there's any real point to this device, especially at this price? How important to you are the GamePad's other features and gameplay options beyond simple off-TV streaming? Sound off in the comments below.