July 26th was a day like any other summertime Tuesday. Comic-Con had just ended, so it was probably going to be a slow news day. It was hot and muggy both outside and inside, and many a TSG news writer was sweating it out by their computer, waiting anxiously for the next gaming news tidbit or spontaneous announcement. And then, like a Snorlax released from its PokeBall falling out of the sky, the news hit, and everything changed.
According to reports from Eurogamer, the NX will be fully portable, will use cartridges instead of disks, and will feature two detachable controllers that can be removed from the “TV” controller to create a small screen and two small controllers — one for each hand, not unlike the Wii Remote and Nunchuk setup used for the Nintendo Wii.
Essentially, the design is somewhat similar to the video screen on the Wii U, except the player can remove the sides and use a stand on the back of the screen to place it on a surface in front of you, adding some much needed functional versatility to the Wii U design. While the console is portable, like the Wii U, it will still feature TV connectivity, and is not a “handheld” console like the 3DS.
The NX’s cartridges will be the first since the Nintendo 64. Cartridges provide a few inherent advantages over discs, which have been standard in console gaming since the early 2000s, notably that they are less fragile and generally last longer than discs. It’s also possible that with major advances in microtechnology, Nintendo may have developed a new and improved cartridge that provides advantages we don’t even know about yet. Additionally, it’s a savvy move as “retro” gaming becomes more and more popular in the mainstream, particularly for Nintendo, who has a lot to gain from embracing its past.
Unfortunately, the news isn’t all good — the NX will not be backwards compatible with any Nintendo system. While this isn’t surprising, considering the amount of focus that Nintendo has placed on digital downloads, as well as the switch back to cartridges, it’s disappointing as one of the best parts of Nintendo’s brand is regular backwards compatibility and accessibility to owners of older consoles.
“Officially”, however, this is still speculation — Nintendo did not comment on the leaked information, and has not made any official announcements.
The NX will launch in March of 2017, and appears slated to have a strong launch lineup, possibly including the upcoming Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and a port of the Wii U’s Super Smash Bros, among others.