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Nintendo Wii HD / Project Cafe rumor roundup: What will E3 hold for the gaming giant?

Brian Heater
B. Heater|06.04.11

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Nintendo Wii HD / Project Cafe rumor roundup: What will E3 hold for the gaming giant?
We're a few days out from E3, that magical place where dreams are made and fanboys and girls from all walks of life are simultaneously appeased and slightly disappointed. Surprises are expected from all of the big three this year -- particularly Nintendo. How will the gaming giant top last year's 3DS debut? All signs point to the announcement of a Wii followup, which we've heard alternately referred to as the "Wii HD" and "Project Cafe." Rumors, leaks, and the occasional bit of confirmed information have been rampant in the months and weeks leading up to the event. We've weaved it all together into one handy guidebook, to make sure that we're all on the same page, come Tuesday morning.

Let's start with a genuine bit of information: back in April, the company's CEO, Satoru Iwata, confirmed that Nintendo is, in fact, working on an HD followup to the Wii that is most likely due out in 2012. A few days prior to that revelation, the requisite blurry images of console concepts surfaced, detailing controllers with embedded touchscreens that display the system's 1080p gameplay via a technology called Stream Screen. These certainly weren't the first concepts of the console we've seen -- and they were apparently first brought to light by the folks at 4Chan.

In May, controller rumors turned even more DSi-like, after an "insider" let slip that they would also pack front-facing cameras for snapping images, potentially letting users live out fantasies of having their heads pasted on Link's body. A few days later, Swedish tech site TechRate.se had the above images of the black and white plastic consoles, which seemed to line up with the earlier leaked concepts.

Halfway through the month, the above video, claiming to be footage from a closed developer meeting, popped up on YouTube, complete with similar blueprints and a plastic console more or less matching the ones we'd seen before, which the lady in the video keeps gesturing wildly at, seemingly for our benefit. The month wrapped up with a big reported spec leak, outfitting Project Cafe with a 766MHz AMD RV770 processor, 512MB of XDR2 DRAM, Blu-ray support, the long predicted HD video, and backward compatibility with both GameCube and Wii discs. More information can be found in the links below -- after all, you've got a few days to kill before the fun really starts.

Update: Well, that's one rumor down: the video above is apparently a fake, constructed to win a viral video award. [Thanks, Doug G.]

Update 2: Nikkei has stepped up with support for Kotaku's claim that Nintendo will embed a "roughly 6-inch" touchscreen into the controller of its next generation console when it hits the market in "mid-2012." The respected Japanese news source, credited with scooping DSi, DSi XL, and 3DS details ahead of launch, says that the controller will feature a camera and doubles as a portable game device. Fancy.
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