Let’s begin by stating the obvious: Rumors are just that — a rumor. None of this information has since been verified by Nintendo, though the source (EuroGamer) and other media outlets have been beating this drum for months now.
As things stand, the Nintendo NX will be pulling double duty as both a home console and a portable handheld. It’ll allegedly have a primary game screen with detachable controllers on the left and right sides, so just imagine the Wii U’s GamePad if you could pull it apart in sections.
There’s also talk that it’ll have a separate docking unit that transforms it in to a more traditional home console that plays on your TV. This would allow us to pause our game of Mario or Zelda, remove the NX from the dock, apply the controller segments to the sides of the display screen, and continue our game on the go.
Another noteworthy part of the rumor is Nintendo’s decision to revert back to cartridges. My guess is that they’ll be similar in size to what we’ve become accustom to on the 3DS and PlayStation Vita, with a possibility of supporting standard SD cards to expand storage opportunities. At least that’s what I’m hoping, should these rumors prove to have weight behind them.
Inside the box (again, allegedly) isn’t your standard AMD chip, which is currently used by the PS4 and Xbox One, but rather the most powerful tablet chip available, the NVIDIA Tegra X1. This seems to be causing the most fuss, as it would already put the NX below the PS4 and Xbox One in terms of raw power — and both are already confirmed to be working on more powerful versions of their respective home consoles.
Digital Foundry (part of EuroGamer) published a video to their YouTube channel analyzing the NX’s potential performance with its rumored NVIDIA Tegra X1 chip, referring to is as a Wii U GamePad-meets-NVIDIA Shield Android TV.
I’ll post the video below so you can see for yourself.
In the video, Richard Leadbetter states that if the rumors are true, we should think of the NX as a more souped-up last-gen console. Those of you who were hoping Nintendo would create something more competitive (power-wise) will no doubt be sorely disappointed, and should this rumor be true I don’t see the company’s historical lack of third-party support correcting itself in the near future.
However, it’s important to remember that the NX may act as both Nintendo’s new home console and their new portable handheld. Consumers would no longer have to purchase two different consoles, since the NX can be removed from its dock and then played on the go.
With that in mind, raw power isn’t the console’s selling point. The fact that we may be able to finally play a core Pokemon or the next Fire Emblem game on our HDTVs, or take experiences like Mario Maker and Splatoon with us on long road trips, or commutes to work, becomes its shining star.
Since the Nintendo 64’s release in September of 1996, Nintendo has failed to offer the most powerful console on the market — though the GameCube was more powerful than the PlayStation 2, it was out-shined by the original Xbox.
Nintendo opted to go with the more expensive, less optimal cartridge on the N64, while the PlayStation and Sega Saturn showed what could be done using compact discs. They then opted to forgo DVD support on the GameCube, which proved to be a huge selling point for Sony’s PS2. The Wii neglected HD gaming and overall power in favor of a more accessible, motion control-based console, which proved to be a wise decision from a financial standpoint. However, its lack of power lead to a library that, while consisting of wonderful games, became ultimately buried beneath a colossal amount of forgettable shovelware.
Then we have the Wii U’s poor marketing, which speaks for itself.
I’ve had a lot of time to accept Nintendo’s lack of desire to create traditional home experiences, as we move from generation to generation, instead focusing my attention on what Nintendo does best: make games.
What I’m getting at is that it’s been a while since Nintendo focused on providing powerful, traditional home consoles. If these rumors prove to be true, that fact isn’t changing anytime soon.
The concept of a hybrid home console/portable handheld is intriguing in itself. Nintendo dominates the handheld console market, so there’s a good chance those DS and 3DS gamers will purchase the NX strictly from a to-go perspective. They want new Pokemon, Fire Emblem, Professor Layton, Phoenix Wright, Animal Crossing, and Yo-Kai Watch games, just like core console owners crave a new, expansive 3D Zelda, a new Metroid, Splatoon, and Super Mario Bros.
We really could have one console to rule them all, as long as you’re a fan of Nintendo’s variety of exclusives.
The NVIDIA Tegra X1 will doubtfully entice third-parties in to bringing multi-platform games like Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Assassin’s Creed to the NX, considering it’s less powerful than the current model PS4 and Xbox One. On paper, that sucks. But the reality is that few people purchase Nintendo consoles to play these types of games.
For example, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 sold a woeful 410,000 copies on Wii U worldwide. The same game went along to sell nearly 14 million units each on PS3 and Xbox 360. Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed III moved just 360,000 units on Wii U, as opposed to ~6 million each on PS3 and Xbox 360.
Unsurprisingly though, during their E3 2016 presentation, Ubisoft confirmed the release of Just Dance 2017 on NX. This series typically murders in terms of sales on Nintendo platforms.
Let’s ask ourselves an honest question, though.
Theoretically, if the NX is more powerful than the Xbox One and PS4, and it receives third-party support for major cross-platform releases, how likely are you to actually buy those games on the NX over the other two? Seriously consider the question.
For me, that answer is never.
I’ve been invested in PlayStation and Xbox for a while now, as proven by my decent Gamerscore and Trophy level. The idea of just up and leaving those two to play a series I’ve never, ever thought of playing on a Nintendo console will rarely, if ever, cross my mind. Indies like Shovel Knight, sure. Something like Dark Souls? No.
Knowing that the NX will most likely release with less power under the hood than both current standard home consoles is fine by me. I like the idea of console-quality handheld gaming, especially if I can experience something like Super Smash Bros. or Mario Maker on the go. On the home console side, I want to play those beefy Pokemon and Fire Emblem games on my TV where I can sit comfortably on my couch and not squint at a tiny display screen.
This alone has me excited for the NX, be it still a rumor.
What about you? If the rumors are true, does the concept of a non-traditional hybrid console turn you away? Sound off in the comments!