Update: A report by the Wall Street Journal lends credence to this rumor.
"A person familiar with the matter said NX would be a handheld-console hybrid that would be compatible with its own smartphone games," wrote WSJ's Takashi Mochizuki. "A Nintendo spokesman declined to comment on the details of NX."
the important distinction is "compatible", which carries a number of different meanings. The rumored NX is essentially an updated Nvidia Shield Tablet in a single form factor, so the potential to directly play mobile games is there. But it's also possible that the system may simply have hooks and connections with Nintendo's mobile games.
Greetings to you on this beautiful July 26, year 01 in the Age of Pokémon. When you started your daily routine, you probably expected to hear more news about our glorious Pocket Monsters regime (and yeah, there's still plenty of bizarre news about Pokémon to "GO" around), but here's something you probably didn't expect: A boat-load of news about Nintendo's mysterious follow-up to the Wii U, the NX.
Earlier this morning Eurogamer dished on the system. The information it garnered reportedly comes from multiple sources close to the console, but not from Nintendo itself. In other words the info on tap is probably quite accurate, but nothing's etched in stone until Nintendo officially comes forward about its console (which might happen in September, according to one of Eurogamer's sources).
Here are the juiciest bits of the report:
- I called the NX a "console," but that's sort of a misnomer. It seems the NX is more of dedicated portable that can hook up to your TV. From Eurogamer: "We've heard the screen is bookended by two controller sections on either side, which can be attached or detached as required. Then, when you get home, the system can connect to your TV for gaming on the big screen. A base unit, or dock station, is used to connect the brain of the NX - within the controller - to display on your TV."
- The NX is powered by Nvidia's Tegra X1 mobile processor, which can currently be found in Nvidia's mobile SHIELD gaming device. Most of Eurogamer's sources are in agreement about this, though one source suggests the X1 is actually a placeholder for Tegra X2. The X2 is very new tech, so this rumor is suspect. Eurogamer's Digital Foundry goes into detail about what we might expect from an NX powered by the X1. Specifically:
- If the X1 is indeed powering the NX, then the handheld-hybrid will be more powerful than the Wii U, but less powerful than the PlayStation 4. Nintendo is therefore sacrificing power for portability, which is Nintendo's way.
- The NX is cartridge-based. Nintendo had considered making the NX a download-only system, but discarded the idea. Say, Nintendo – if The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild NX is technically a cartridge game, what do you say to a little gold-plating? You know, for tradition's sake?
- There are no plans for backwards compatibility.
- The NX runs on an operating system of Nintendo's own make, not on Android as previously suspected.
- Nintendo is aware the marketing for the Wii U was a dog's breakfast, and is therefore going for a simple, clean message with the NX: "Take your games on the go."
There's a lot to take in here, and some of Nintendo's reported decisions just raise more questions about its plans for the future. At first read, the news about the NX possibly being less powerful than the PlayStation 4 is worrying. After all, the Wii U's lack of horsepower kept third-party developers away from the system, and that was one of the biggest reasons the system tanked. Right?
Well, yes and no. Third party developers were initially excited about the Wii U, but dabbed when it became clear the Wii U wasn't destined to become a fraction as popular as the Wii. And that was made obvious rather quickly. The Wii U's launch line-up was bereft of exciting games, and most of them neglected to demonstrate why the system's game pad was necessary. Even New Super Mario Bros U didn't look different enough from 2009's New Super Mario Bros Wii to turn many heads.
But as the Wii U chugged along, it gradually became a showpiece for some of Nintendo's very best work. Splatoon. Mario Kart 8. Super Mario 3D World. Super Smash Bros Wii U. They're all incredibly well-built, and they managed to move millions of Wii U units by themselves, even after it became clear the Wii U was never going to be able to compete with the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One sales-wise.
Nintendo's franchises and characters are still amongst the most recognizable in the world. They still sell. Look at the hype surrounding the NES Mini if you need proof. And right now, Nintendo itself is quieter than a Wiggler in a cocoon. If the company is indeed working on a killer launch line-up for an affordable system that's marketed simply as "Hey! Play great Nintendo games in the car and at home!", then Nintendo is probably going to be all right.
Will Nintendo reap huge profits, though? Maybe. Maybe not. But remember, it's a small, specialized company that requires less to stay afloat compared to Sony, Microsoft, or Apple. And the NX won't be sold at a loss.
At any rate, it seems like Nintendo is going to keep on doing its own thing through the next generation. Depending on what you want out of the company and video games in general, that will either thrill you or prompt you to heave a weary sigh.