With the announcement that they’re releasing a brand new system called the Nintendo NX, Nintendo have made it clear to the world that they have no intentions of backing out of the market of dedicated gaming systems.
Whilst this is in some ways a relief to know, Nintendo have left us with very little information on the NX itself other than that it is a ‘brand new concept’ which really could be anything. But that makes the entire thing more exciting; Nintendo are giving us the opportunity to speculate and if there is one thing the internet does well, it is to speculate with such outlandish imagination and severity of expectation that everyone will inevitably be disappointed in some way or other when the final product is eventually revealed.
The main question is, what will this system actually do? There’s been some murmuring that Nintendo might create a Virtual Reality system and join the VR revolution, but this seems highly unlikely. As much as VR is being pushed as having the capacity to be a social experience, it just doesn’t seem to fit the ethos of Nintendo.
Gathering families and friends together in one room to enjoy games has always appeared to be the aim for the company, so it’d surprise me if they decided to venture into a system which required one player locking themselves away inside a pair of goggles and becoming the Ganon of the living room.
After announcing their intention to foray into the world of smartphone and tablet gaming in partnership with the Japanese firm DeNA, it also doesn’t quite fit that Nintendo would release another purely handheld console. This in conjunction with the fact that the Wii U is performing incredibly poorly in its sales, leads me to think that the home console might soon be hooked off the shelves to be replaced with a console that will be more attractive to consumers.
Considering this, in which direction could Nintendo possibly go? I’m reminded of the wise words of Kang: ‘we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!’ Essentially, Nintendo cannot go purely forward and lose their most popular first party games franchises and image that they bring, nor can they stay where they are with underperforming systems. It seems to me that Nintendo need to spin up what they, and perhaps other games consoles, already have.
If Nintendo were to do this, a likely but difficult to achieve outcome is a console which can be used inside at home and on the go. With the Wii U Gamepad’s touchscreen display, Nintendo created a way for gamers to play games directly from the controller without having to rely on the TV.
It’s an excellent feature for homes where the TV is in high demand and the odds are not always in the favour of the gamer. Currently you have to be reasonably close to the Wii U console in order to play the game on the gamepad, but if Nintendo were able to extend this feature, to develop it to the point where you could leave your home with the gamepad and carry on playing they would certainly be twirling their players towards a freedom yet to be achieved by other console developers.
Judging by past console specs, it would be unwise to suppose that Nintendo will be able to manufacture a system that would rival the power of a PlayStation or an XBox, but it’s not something we have ever needed from them; Nintendo do not need a multimedia system, just solid console-only commitment.
If they were able to develop a controller that enabled you to play away from home that didn’t have the infuriating tendency to lag like Remote Play on the PS4 via the PS Vita, they could be on to something that would trump the other consoles.
Another possibility is some form of Nintendo TV accessory, an easily transportable hub that will enable users to access a backlog of all those incredibly popular old Nintendo games with options to cross buy and remote play on the gamepad or the 3DS. However, if they’re as unwilling to port their old games onto such a system as they seem to be when it comes to their mobile gaming plan, it might be time for Nintendo to embrace more third parties.
Third party exclusives are becoming few and far between these days as developers push to have their games ported to as many platforms as possible, so it seems perfectly possible that if Nintendo were willing to negotiate and develop an appropriate system, they could improve the diversity of their releases as well as having their signature first party developments.
When it comes to the release date, nothing is set in stone. Late 2016 to early 2017 seems likely as I’m not sure the Wii U could survive on the market for more than 2 years. Promisingly, third party Square Enix have announced the first games for the NX system to be the previously released Dragon Quest X and the upcoming Dragon Quest XI, slotting them in for a 2016 release.
This does seem awfully soon and I can’t help but wonder if they’re counting their Yoshis before they’ve hatched by giving us a game release before Nintendo gives us a console release date, especially considering Nintendo President of America Reggie Fils-Aime stated they wouldn’t be speaking more about the console until 2016.
Then again, taking this information alongside Nintendo’s fairly lacklustre E3 presentation could indicate that development of the new NX system is firmly underway and moving more quickly than we anticipate.
Speculation aside, it’s nice to see Nintendo reaffirm their commitment to creating games focussed consoles and it’ll be interesting to see what they have up their sleeves, for better or worse.
Main image: © iStockphoto/abalcazar