As I awaken from my Christmas hibernation, I awake blinking in confusion at a world that appears to be announcing a new Game & Watch device. NVidia have declared they are releasing a handheld gaming system known as Project Shield, for Summer this year. And it looks... well...
It looks like the morbid result of some The Fly-like teleportation accident. A store brand 360 controller was attempting to teleport itself across the room, but unbeknownst to it a DSi XL had flown into the pod. Watch the terrible results as its life falls apart.
What I'm saying is: it looks ridiculous.
However, this Android-based device is going to apparently be capable of streaming your PC games, they say. Hence our interest. The top is a five inch touch screen, running at 1280x720 (so pretty much the same as any current Android phone screen), while the bottom half is a mimic of the 360 controller, housing a (just announced) quad-core Tegra 4 processor. Which means it'll run console-ish games on its own, and being an Android device, is capable of streaming PC games onto the screen. However, according to the Verge's press release, this requires a GeForce GTX 650 or higher.
Able to run Steam's Big Picture mode, this means you can run your library of console-friendly games over the device, using your wifi. So, er, much like you can on any other Android device you've hooked a controller up to. Although clearly without the immediate hassle of hacking the root access to let you do it. (However, it does look uncannily similar to the results of using GameKlip.) Of course, bluetooth controllers already exist for Android devices, although they tend to look a little wanting.
The massive disadvantage here is that they're stuck together. If they price is right (they've yet to announce it) the top screen could make a nice, cheap touch-screen Android device, unencumbered by being a phone too. But from the details released so far, you're going to have to lug that daft full-size controller around with it all the time. This looks especially odd if you've a phone that already boasts decent graphics, since you could just clip it into something like MOGA's bluetooth controller and have the best of both worlds. Although in fairness, most higher-end Android phones will have the Tegra 2 or 3 chip, rather than the 4. But that's something that's unlikely to be the case for the next generation, of course.
It will also stream to your TV via an HDMI output, which if the price is sensible in one fell swoop renders daft projects like the Ouya entirely redundant, becoming an extremely portable little gaming console for sure. And it becomes perhaps the tidiest way to get your Steam games streamed onto your lounge television.
It all depends on the price, really. And since they haven't announced one, you could assume it's not a press-friendly piece of information. Oh, and whether you'd be willing to be seen in public with one. I think what most mystifies me is the size of the screen - 5" displays really just aren't that conducive to gaming, and with the vast real-estate of the controller beneath it, you have to wonder if something bigger couldn't have been included. Break the mould and put out a 6" display, a compromise between a phone and a mini tablet.
Personally I'm going to need an image of Geena Davis looking terrified of it before I can be convinced.
And huge kudos to Mark Brown for pointing out this: