Nintendo has had better years, but they’ve certainly had worse. The release of Pokémon Go and the first look at the upcoming Zelda has kept the gaming giant from becoming the laughing stock of the industry. Outside of these two games, a mobile commodity they licensed out to Google and the hope of a long-awaited savior that is three years too late, Nintendo failed in providing fresh and innovative experiences to their marketplace. The Wii U, Nintendo’s inventive but message confused console, has all but died. Their popular Nintendo 3DS portable gaming system, with its five skews and celestial designs, is finally seeing a decrease in support as well.
We still don’t know much about Nintendo’s new console codenamed NX, but we have it on decent authority that it is hitting store shelves in March of 2017. This isn’t a rumor; Nintendo announced this launch window at their E3 presentation this year. But they still have yet to officially reveal the NX even though it is supposedly only six months from release. It has also been quite some time since Nintendo has announced an important release date and stuck to it.
So fans, analysts, journalists, and conspiracy theorists are trying to piece together the mystery of the NX, their efforts aided by rumors and leaks.”The NX is trying to change the concept of what it means to be a home console device or a hand-held device,” Tsunekazu Ishihara of The Pokémon Company told The Wall Street Journal. Everything else we’ve heard is just as vague, at best. Here’s what we (think we) know:
The NX will be a handheld console with detachable controllers that can also be plugged into your TV. It will possess processing power more or less in line with the base models of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. We also know some of the games confirmed for release including the new “Just Dance” game and of course “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.”
Instead of occupying the home console and handheld gaming spaces with two different machines, Nintendo is seeking to create a platform that is omnipresent in the video game hardware ecosystem. With just one system that doubles as both a portable and home console, no longer will Nintendo and other developers have to decide which of Nintendo’s consoles to develop for. Developers seem to like the hardware so far and I’m sure Nintendo fans, who buy everything Nintendo waves in front of our faces, will appreciate having just a single console beast to feed. All these things sound great, but it’s a lot to hang our hats on since Nintendo has not officially revealed what the NX actually is. However, we can at least draw some conclusions about the NX from two recent presentations where the Big N shared some plans for their future.
During their most recent online Nintendo Direct presentation on Sept. 1, they gave details on the upcoming games for the 3DS family. The announcements were considered by most, including myself, to be underwhelming. The uninspired game offerings through the first quarter of next year have the musty scent of a dying console. And I’m not talking about the Wii U, which Nintendo has abandoned completely save for a Paper Mario follow-up to the worst game in the once beloved series.
What we can glean from this is that Nintendo is trying to put the 3DS to bed. No more heavy hitters for their handheld likely means that they’re saving their big games for the NX. This is promising for the unannounced console, but also necessary for the NX to have any fighting chance of winning back the millions of gamers disappointed by the Wii U. 3DS owners have hundreds of amazing games to entertain them in the meantime.
During the Apple Keynote on Sept. 7, Shigeru Miyamoto, father of my childhood, walked out on stage to announce Nintendo’s first fully-featured mobile game called Super Mario Run. Super Mario Run uses the same engine as their New Super Mario Bros. series but is adapted to allow users to play with a single hand. For a fixed price, it is a game that I look forward to downloading when it drops first on iOS this December.
The announcement of Super Mario Run is significant beyond the fact that we can finally have a highly polished Mario experience on our phones for the first time in history. Nintendo is officially taking a deep dive into mobile gaming, and if Miitomo is any indication, they are preparing for a future where the Nintendo games you play on your phone somehow integrate with experiences on the NX. The implications of this are either scary or exciting depending on how you look at it.
Nintendo fans are loyal to the point of being brainwashed; I am a recovering member of the Church of Nintendo. I still have faith, but I now allow myself the grace to question their decisions. It would be easy for Nintendo to take advantage of their loyal fanbase by offering incentives to sink money into their mobile games in order to receive rewards in their core NX titles.
Whatever the NX is, it can be detrimental for Nintendo if it doesn’t succeed. I like what I’m seeing so far and, let’s be honest, I’ll be the guy in line for the midnight launch like I am every time Nintendo graces the world with a shiny new toy. Although I’m quenching my own expectations, I truly want my favorite video game company to sweep the world off their feet again. Like an anime fan on prom night, I’m hoping they sweep me off mine too.