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What Is The Nintendo NX?

Nintendo just announced their next console, codenamed NX, but what is it? And will mobile games play a role?

During an announcement last week that Nintendo would be partnering with DeNA to create mobile games, Nintendo also revealed that they are working on their next home console.

Codenamed NX, Nintendo's next system "surprise gamers" according to Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. In the interview with Japanese Business outlet Nikkei, Iwata said simply expanding on existing hardware is "dull", and that Nintendo constantly aims to "surprise gamers" and "change each person's gaming life." Those are bold words but Nintendo are bold enough to say just that.

Iwata

You could go back as far as the N64, and look at Nintendo's strange decision to keep using cartridges of discs, and see that they have always been quirkier than Playstation or Xbox. This of course was solidified when they seemingly dropped out of the power race and opted to produce a more family friendly, motion controlled console in the Wii. Then came the Wii U, which is....baffling. And next we have the NX, which hopefully won't have Wii anywhere near the actual title.

So, considering the Wii was a huge leap of faith when released, and the Wii U was a pretty lame attempt at riding on the Wii coat-tails, it's hard to say exactly what Nintendo might do next...but I have an idea.

First off, it's important to note that the Wii U is not an anomaly because of its low sales figures, the Wii was actually the anomaly. Nintendo's home consoles have been dropping in sales since the N64, continued with the GameCube, then spiked with the Wii, and are back on their original trend again. So with PS4 and Xbox One breaking all sorts of console records, Nintendo could either attempt to jump back into the world of power, graphics, resolutions and the oh-so important frame rates, but that's highly unlikely, especially considering Iwata's comments about changing gaming and surprising people. No it seems Nintendo will continue their trend of innovation, which is obviously very hit or miss.

So what exactly will they do next? Well, I think it comes down to one very important factor, the DS. The Nintendo DS is the most successful handheld console of all time, by far, and continues to sell like hot cakes (the New 3DS XL outsold the PS4 in February). With such incredible sales on their handheld front, Nintendo would be pretty crazy not to do something more official about that.

The Wii U was a half-assed attempt at having a handheld as your remote controller and being able to use it when the tv is off, etc,. PlayStation have done a better job at making the PS Vita a peripheral to the PS4 than Nintendo have with the Wii U and its mammoth controller. The Vita can be used like a Dualshock, it can play PS4 games remotely over an internet connection, and many games have cross-buy, cross-save functionality. Nintendo could learn a lot from how Sony has made the Vita and PS4 sync.

Which brings me to the all-important answer, I think Nintendo's next home console will either feature a DS-style controller that can be used used as a handheld and play DS games, or the entire console itself will be semi-portable. The former seems the more likely option, that Nintendo would want a great handheld that functions as the main controller for the home console, therefore getting two systems into the hands of everyone that buys it.

The second option is more off the wall and unlikely but not impossible. Nintendo could opt to release something akin to Playstation TV. They could release a micro-console that contains both DS games and the home console games, which you can take anywhere, plug into any tv and play with the DS. Needless to say it would need to have a much larger memory than PS TV but it's a definite possibility.

The final thing to consider is the mobile games. The NX's development was revealed during the announcement of Nintendo's partnership with mobile-game developer, DeNA. This is a very smart move on Nintendo's behalf that allows mobile gamers, of which there are significantly more than console gamers, to get a taste for Nintendo's key franchises. Many hardcore gamers were disappointed by this news but the truth is that this doesn't hurt them in any way; they won't be making any less console games to cater to the mobile market. For once Nintendo seen a trend and jumped on it before either PlayStation or Microsoft and they deserve credit for doing so. So with that in mind, will the mobile games have any relevance to the next home console. Quite simply, I doubt it.

Iwata revealed the NX as a way of showing console gamers that Nintendo is still dedicated to the hardcore gamer and aren't abandoning the classic console business. It's not unlikely that the NX could feature some integration with the mobile games but probably nothing more than the way games like Watch Dogs and Dead Rising 3 have done so already. So if you were worried about mobile games rearing their ugly head on your home console, I wouldn't worry about it.

The key to Nintendo having another successful home console is for them to heavily integrate it with their amazing handheld, including cross-save and cross-buy functionality, and to have a much greater online presence and store. Nintendo seemingly fails to understand online gaming and the store on 3DS and Wii U is atrocious. This is something they need to fix with their next console, whatever that may be.

What do you think Nintendo's next console will be? What features would you like it to have? Let us know in the comments!

Published Mar. 25th 2015

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