Nintendo is in a bad place.
Its last console, the Wii U, tanked. As such, the company is rocketing away from it on the way towards its next console.
But even though Nintendo is down-and-out, the Japanese video game giant remains beloved. Millions of fans the world over are anxiously awaiting Nintendo’s next console. We’ve got good news: it’s almost here. Here’s everything we know!
Nintendo hasn't offered an official name, nor a description, nor really any other major details. Late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata first mentioned the console during an investor presentation in March 2015:
'As proof that Nintendo maintains strong enthusiasm for the dedicated game system business, let me confirm that Nintendo is currently developing a dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept under the development codename 'NX.' It is too early to elaborate on the details of this project, but we hope to share more information with you next year.'
From the beginning, Nintendo has insisted that the NX will be a 'brand new concept' in the world of gaming. But what does that mean?
Late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said the console is not intended to simply replace the Wii U or handheld 3DS console.
Iwata also commented on the different ways that 'dedicated game systems' are played in Japan and elsewhere, with handheld devices being much more popular than home consoles nowadays in Nintendo's native country. With that in mind, Nintendo wants to 'create a new platform that will be accepted by as many people around the world as possible.'
Based on those statements and reports from industry insiders, the popular thinking for a while has been that the NX will do something to bridge the gap between home consoles and handheld systems.
With Nintendo remaining tight-lipped about the Nintendo NX, it was only a matter of time before someone leaked information. That came via an extensive report from Eurogamer in July, which pegs the system as a home/handheld console hybrid -- small enough to take with you, perhaps in your pocket, but powerful enough to power TV-based gaming.
According to reports, Nintendo's next machine can either play games on a television or on a handheld unit. Its horsepower will reportedly sit somewhere between the Wii U and PS4 / Xbox One.
Which is to say: It's more powerful than the Wii U but not as powerful as the current standard-bearers from Microsoft and Sony.
This comes from Eurogamer's Digital Foundry, a respected source of technological know-how for video games. Sources told Eurogamer that the console will be powered by an Nvidia Tegra chip. That means it's using internal hardware that you're more likely to see in a tablet than a conventional game console.
The PlayStation 4 / Xbox One are about to get beefy upgrades anyway, so Nintendo's continuing to opt out of the hardware wars.
In June, at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (the world's biggest gaming show), Microsoft announced Project Scorpio, a beefy upgrade for the Xbox One. It will ship in late 2017, and though it isn't a brand new console, it is supposedly the most powerful game console ever.
A similar upgrade is coming to the PlayStation 4 in November -- the so-called PlayStation Pro console.
You shouldn't expect the NX to directly compete with Project Scorpio. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime suggested during the show that it will fall in line with the company's games-first, graphics-second philosophy.
This is predictable, given Nintendo's recent history. The Wii U isn't much more powerful than the last-generation Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles, and the Wii was closer to the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox in terms of power. If the NX follows the same cycle, don't expect it to be more powerful than (or even equal to) the base Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles.
Right now, only a handful of games have been announced for the NX. Primary among them: 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' and 'Just Dance 2017.'
'Breath of the Wild' is the stunning next game in the long-running Nintendo series, which features an enormous open world and much more freedom for the player than any previous 'Zelda' game. It will launch simultaneously for NX and Wii U in 2017.
'Just Dance 2017' is the latest in the supremely popular series of motion-controlled dancing games that come out every year. The NX might support Wii controllers or have some other motion controller support to work with this game, but it can also be played using a mobile app that turns your phone into a motion controller, so maybe not. Maybe the whole system is a motion controller. WHOA.
'Dragon Quest X' and 'Dragon Quest XI,' the two latest installments in the much-beloved Japanese role-playing game series, are coming to NX as well.
Don't assume that the NX will use discs like the Xbox One and PS4. It's been rumoured that the console will instead use cartridges like the 3DS. The reason why Nintendo might choose to do that is full of highly technical jargon.
Put simply: It's possible that a console could actually read modern cartridges faster than discs, meaning you wouldn't have to wait an hour for a game to install after you buy it. Of course, the NX will almost certainly just let you download games like the Wii U already does. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here.
The Wii, with its easy-to-explain motion controls and charming lineup of games that included 'Wii Sports' and 'Super Mario Galaxy,' is one of the best selling game consoles ever. The Wii U has failed to find much of an audience, with plenty of casual observers not being aware that it's a new console instead of an attachment for the Wii.
This time around, it would make business sense for Nintendo to try and recapture some of that Wii magic. It sounds like that might be what they're doing, at least according to Allain Corre from Ubisoft, the company that makes 'Just Dance.'
'We have done a lot of products and successes with Nintendo in the past, and we believe that the NX will recapture a lot the lapsed Wii players,' Corre told MCV.
It remains to be seen if that means the NX will go back to the emphasis on motion controls and casual games the Wii had, or if they will take a different approach to try and win back people who normally don't play video games. As the Wii demonstrated, there's plenty of money to be made by doing that.
Nintendo's finally revealing the new Nintendo NX console on Thursday, October 20 at 10 a.m. ET. Using the (ridiculous) image above of Super Mario peeking around a curtain, Nintendo America's Twitter account announced as much this week. Nintendo's promising a three-minute trailer to reveal the system -- you can watch the stream right here.
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