So We Now Know What the Nintendo NX is… Sort Of… Maybe…
I have spoken a lot about Nintendo over the past few months. First, I wrote an open letter to the Big N about where I thought the NX should be heading, which you can read: here. I also wrote a commentary piece about how Nintendo is being perhaps too secretive about their plan for Fiscal Year 2016 and how they are metting out information about their new gaming device codenamed the NX, which you can read: here. Finally, I touched upon their E3 2016 presence (or in some cases lack thereof), which can be read: here. If you read all 3 of those links, then you would probably agree with the following statement: I have been critical of Nintendo this year. To be fair, Nintendo has made some marketing decisions in 2016 that if not completely wrong, they were definitely at the expense of their long term fans. They delayed the NX launch and the release date of the new Legend of Zelda game to next year, along with announcing zero new AAA first party console games for the rest of the year, supposedly because they will be used for the launch of the NX, which Nintendo is guarding with a secretive fervor that is hitherto unforeseen in the video game industry before. That was until last week when Eurogamer, GamesIndustry (which is listed purely for source confirmation), and the Wall Street Journal blew the lid off of this whole NX thing with some carefully vetted information leaks. The information leaked is apparently backed up by a large number of insider sources, to the point that Digital Foundry did a run down of the system specs, and what it means for the games that you will likely see on the NX.
For the purposes of sources, here are the original links:
Wall Street Journal: Lacking ‘Pokémon Go’ Effect, Nintendo Swings to a Loss (you will need a WSJ account to read the entire article)
The video from Digital Foundry is very well put together, and makes some excellent points while raising some even more interesting questions.
My take on the leaked info: My initial guess is that most of this information is true-ish. There have been rumblings that Nintendo has been working on a hybrid console for a while now, so this lines up with that narrative fairly nicely. I don’t think this was an actual “scoop” leak. This was likely a controlled leak designed to give Nintendo a bit of consumer reaction before the big unveil in September. The report indicates that the big N is ramping up their marketing machine, and seeing as how the Wii U marketing was an absolute mess, it makes total sense that they want to hear the concerns and complaints up front so that they can be sure to communicate a proper response during the NX’s initial showing to the public. I am less certain about the design of the NX. Eurogamer’s art looks good, but remember that art used for the purposes of patents and concept renderings are not usually indicative of the final product. Within the last 6 months, Nintendo patented a controller for the NX with this art:
Source for the aforementioned patent is: here. Whereas both designs look very Nintendo-ish, I’m just not sure that Nintendo would allow the final version to be shown, even in a controlled leak scenario. Again, I think Nintendo is using this information to collect data. This, if my controlled leak theory is true, is the best thing Nintendo has done all year. People are talking about Nintendo and the NX again, and most of the chatter I hear is positive. As far as the NX being a portable that can dock to become a TV console, I think that is pure genius. I love the idea of taking a full AAA console game on the go with me at any time. If Nintendo has finally found a way to accomplish that experience on a portable with a solid battery life, then I think the NX will be a very sweet console indeed.
In case Nintendo reads this: First of all, hi my Nintendo homeys. Don’t let some of my previous posts fool you. I love you all, almost like family… and just like family, you lot can do some pretty aggravating stuff. Regardless of the highs or the lows, I still love you. That being said, I have a few key things that I’d like to bring to your attention about the NX. It’s likely too late to change much on the NX, and this stuff may already be packed into the unit, but for the purposes of putting it out there, I submit these 3 small things that I would like to see in or for the NX:
- Mobile LTE Network Connection: if the NX is going to have mobile apps such as Pokémon Go, as well as multiplayer games like Super Smash Bros, then it needs to have the option that allows the consumer to pay for mobile LTE data for the device. Clearly, the unit will have Wi-Fi, but that connection will not help you catch Pokémon out in the wild, or lay the smack down in Smash Bros during a lengthy road trip. Put a mobile connection in the unit and allow the consumer to decide whether they want to pay for the service or not. Also, make the plans reasonable through whichever mobile carrier you partner up with.
- Make sure your online experience is on point: I know this seems like a no-brainer, but the Wii U and 3DS are still woefully behind the times in terms of e-shop, online features, and multiplayer. Fix this for the NX. More robust multiplayer options, matchmaking, party chat, streaming, and social media capabilities will be crucial for the NX’s success. ‘Nuff said!
- New IP: Seriously, Nintendo needs some new blood. I love Mario, Link, Samus, Starfox, Kirby, and the whole classic Nintendo IP crew. Splatoon was a step in the right direction, and was proof positive that Nintendo can successfully launch brand new IP. More new characters and gaming worlds and less reliance on the re-imagining of classic franchises (Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Kirby Planet Robobot, Kirby Tilt N Tumble, Kirby Star Stackers, Kirby Mass Attack… you get the picture). Bring at least 1 new epic RPG, 1 new multiplayer shooter, and 1 new action platformer to the mix. Besides, Smash Bros needs some new blood after all.
In the end, I want what I always want from Nintendo: a stable, well built gaming device that plays great first party content and is healthily supported by a strong variety of third party titles. Nintendo is in a strange place right now. Both their console and portable devices are waning in a huge way. They need the NX to be a big hit, and the only way that is going to happen is if the NX catches the eye of the gaming consumers with a perfect balance of performance, price, and quality software (both 1st and 3rd party). I have little doubt that the performance and the 1st party software will be amazing, but I do have major concerns about 3rd party support and ultimately the price tag on the NX itself. It will be truly interesting to see what Nintendo unveils in September. Hopefully, the big N can make their products “print money” again.