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On the Nintendo NX Rumours

I grew up on a diet of Nintendo. From the combination of an N64 and GBA, through the Gamecube and the GBA SP - shout out to Four Swords - and finally to the Wii and the DS. I do own a 3DS, but the only game I have is Super Smash Bros., because everyone needs that in their life. Zoinking makes for a great stress reliever.

Nintendo have always reached a gold standard of IP, be it Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda or the timeless Mario Kart. However, it’s fair to say that from a hardware perspective, they have been playing catch up in terms of power for many years now. The Wii was plastered with the tag of a ’motion sensitive Gamecube’, with the Wii U coming in-between the PS3’s and PS4’s benchmarks. For the “serious gamer”, Nintendo’s power just wasn’t cutting it.

Graphical advancements were slow, and this was reflected in Nintendo’s handhelds. With the 3DS offering little increase in power, just the 3D visuals, over the original DS.

For the loyal fans, Nintendo has an obligation to at least give them the chance of gaining an experience in the same region as on competitor consoles, and it seems as though - from early rumours - the NX is not set to right this wrong.

The NX

The Nintendo NX, is set to be the Nintendo’s next entry into the home console market. But is it? Rumours have pointed towards the NX being a powerful handheld with a TV dock, coming in less powerful than the PS4.

—pauses for ’What the %@&!s?

Just let that sink in. You’re a Nintendo fan that has been waiting for the next home console that is releasing three full years (or more) after current generation consoles, and it’s coming in less powerful. Sony and Microsoft are set to give their lineup power boosts through the Neo and Scorpio respectively, pushing the boundaries for console gaming even further. Nintendo? Oh, they’ve made a handheld you can plug into the TV.

Now of course, I’m sure many will be glad to take their gaming experience on the go, but the majority I suspect will want to play at home, getting the full immersive experience. I love my Vita, but it’s an entirely different experience than the PS4. The screen of course, is infinitely smaller, the sound isn’t bold, and there’s always the issue with glare when it comes to gaming on the go. Many PS4 experiences wouldn’t have been half as impressive if they were able to be played on the Vita, Uncharted 4 being the perfect example.

The NX, is said to have detachable controllers, and a portable screen. I would imagine it to be something similar in size to the Wii U controller, where the sides detach. Tom Phillips shared the below concept on twitter:

A simplified NX concept

My first worry is that it’s too big to be a handheld console. Sure it doesn’t seem that much bigger than a 9.7” iPad, but the fact that the controller is not part of it makes me think that actually playing it on the move could be difficult. I refuse to believe that anyone is going to draw an NX out of their bag on the bus and start playing it with it propped up on their lap…

For me, Nintendo hasn’t learnt from the relatively poor sales of the Wii U. The Wii cashed in on a gimmick, which I think wrongly fuelled the egos of those at Nintendo into thinking that they were magical innovators. The Wii U proved that they aren’t, and the strong sales of PS4 and Xbox One have shown that people appreciate the classic formula.

Nintendo, also seem set to rely on cartridges as their physical media. The capacity of these cartridges will surely limit what can be achieved from development. Many current generation games are over 50GB inside, with many requiring further installation onto an internal drive. I'm not sure how Nintendo can achieve the same standards as competitors using a much smaller storage architecture.

For Nintendo to try another gimmick is a risky strategy. I may be wrong, but I don’t see this being a Wii scale success. Hopefully, a small success will see them retreat from the hardware production market, and the outsourcing of their exclusives to other consoles.

Good News for the Vita?

It’s not all doom and gloom though, The NX good spell a renaissance for the Vita, or development of a more powerful handheld by Sony.

If the NX defies all expectations and becomes a huge seller, and industry game changer, do you think Sony will stand still? No. If Nintendo prove that there is a market for a high powered handheld, you can bet you bottom dollar that Sony will try to cash in on this.

However, with the way that the Vita sold, i.e. not as well as Sony had initially envisaged, the market suggests that handhelds aren’t what people are after. The major reason behind this decision, would be the advent of iOS gaming. Everyone has a smartphone already, why buy another device?

I’m curious to see how the NX fares, and how much of these rumours will be substantiated in the coming weeks and months. I would like to see it succeed, Nintendo deserve to have a strong platform for their wonderful IPs. However, I wouldn’t mind if that strong platform, ends up being a home console with Sony branded upon it…