By Liam Brand and Cameron Allan
Rumours and speculations have been spreading like wildfire for the past year about a mysterious new console from Nintendo. Though very little has been officially confirmed by the company themselves, there’s still plenty of information to be known about the “Nintendo NX”.
Nintendo’s President, Tatsumi Kimishima, wanted to make it clear that the NX’s intention is not to replace the 3DS or Wii U. However, plummeting sales of both the Wii U and the 3DS suggest that a new console would very naturally replace the previous generation. It seems reasonable to assume that the NX will work alongside these consoles, but be very distinct from the two. According to The Wall Street Journal, there will be a large focus on making the device powerful and portable, with a console component along with it. How powerful you ask? The hardware is expected to be on-par with that of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
A cleared patent on a “Supplemental Computing Device” from Nintendo, also hints at an interesting concept that would likely be implemented in the new console. The idea behind this patent is for an additional device to be hooked up to a primary game console.
Among the many patents that Nintendo has claimed, another one that stuck out suggests that the company is leaning towards a digital-only platform. The patent reads: “An example system includes an internal hard disk drive storing a program and/or data, a communication unit transmitting/receiving a program and/or data via a network, and a processor executing a program stored in the hard disk drive to perform game processing […] The example system is not provided with an optical disk drive for reading out a program and/or data from an optical disk.” This idea didn’t work out so well for the discontinued PSP back in 2009, but perhaps the modern age will be more forgiving.
The most recent big news related to the Nintendo NX came in the form of a recent financial report from the company. This report confirmed two major details: The NX will be released March 2017, featuring the upcoming Legend of Zelda game as a launch-title. As of now, LoZ is the only game to be confirmed, but fans can rest assured knowing that NX dev kits have long since been distributed to several game developers who are currently working on major releases for the console.
Other than that, the future of the NX seems quite unclear.
The conceptual, non-casualty producing (don’t quote me on that) war between the tripartite division of console superpowers has seen gamers across the globe join up the ranks and swear their allegiance to their favourite corporate entity, and it’s not likely to end anytime soon. The NX has Nintendo fan boys the world over struggling to maintain their giddiness, and although I understand why, I’m still slightly reluctant to join them in their anticipation.
Aside from somehow managing to play almost every Zelda and Mario title that Nintendo pumps out, whether I own the console it runs on or not, I can’t honestly call myself much of a Nintendo fan. Nintendo purists, stereotypically speaking, have characteristically low standards when it comes to both titles and consoles that are chosen to be released, constantly justifying hardware, graphics and features that lag about a generation behind from their Xbox and PlayStation counterparts. Although gameplay quality has always been on par with the other two consoles, it’s quite refreshing to see that Nintendo is now finally placing emphasis on making a system that has equally as powerful hardware as its competitors on the market.
Additionally, although the console certainly is distinct, Kimishima’s firmness in claiming that distinctness, urging people not to call the NX a 3DS or Wii U replacement, does show that Nintendo is weary, or even in acknowledgment, of this correlation possibly existing. Although its hard to dispute that Kimishima’s statement is true regarding the absence of relatedness between drops in sales of the two previous Nintendo consoles, and the coming release of the NX, it may have something to do with the fact that there has been a recent surge of information and hype surrounding the console a whole year in advance of its release.
The NX’s hybridized nature, serving both handheld and console functionalities with supplemental computing power, could potentially prove to be quite difficult and taxing on the player. Although an interesting feature assuredly, the supplemental computing power feature, I fear, might render the gaming experience to be significantly poorer in quality for those who decide to abstain from using the feature out of lack of a steady internet connection, or simply, out of personal preference.
Talk surrounding the NX’s discontinuing of disks, in fact, avoidance of disk usage as a trend in modern gaming as a whole, is an annoyance factor as well. Emphasis on digitally downloaded games means a massive amount of taxing on memory space, so if Nintendo is seriously considering going this route, I would hope that they are capable of supplying enough internal memory space to hold a decently sized library of games at one point in time.
Lastly, Nintendo’s recent history of failures in the console market doesn’t exactly leave me feeling confident in their ability to produce a major commercial hit. Although entirely speculative, I am still slightly apprehensive about the possibility of the NX following suit with the relative insuccess of its predecessor, the Wii U.
In sum, in depth information on the NX is still quite elusive. Further clarification on certain provisions from the big dogs at Nintendo is still needed before anyone can make predictions about how fantastic or mediocre the console will ultimately be. So while everyone is boarding the NX hype train, do yourself a favour, and wait for the next stop. Theres still a whole lot we don’t know.