As the winds of the video game industry have shifted around the flagpole that is Nintendo, the old master of gaming has held steadfast and seen its fortunes rise and fall like the cresting of a tide.
But as entertainment scratches its chin and ponders a future filled with virtual reality, 4K resolution, and controllers you can have intimate relations with, Nintendo will have to do something pretty radical in order to keep pace, especially seeing as their flagship console, the Wii U was such an unlucky failure.
Playing The Long Game
Being the first to release a system at the beginning of the eighth generation of video game consoles, Nintendo had to suffer the ignominy of watching their competitors completely trounce the Wii U, with considerably more powerful pieces of tech and having full support from third party companies such as EA.
Though that came as a major blow for Nintendo, under the late Satoru Iwata's tutelage the reeling console saw some of the greatest games of this generation released. Games like Mario Kart 8, Splatoon — which was a radical shift in tone for ol' Ninty, Super Smash Bros., Super Mario Maker and Bayonetta 2 to name but a few.
But as the Wii U's time in the sun begins to fade, all eyes are pinned on the mysterious NX and whether it will be the right step for Nintendo to take in the Battle for the Living Room.
According to new Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima, the NX will be unlike anything we've seen before, which is indeed something we've all heard fall out the mouths of hardware makers, but when Nintendo says something like this, you have to pay attention.
The console is said to run games at 900p and 60fps, and be competent with streaming 4K video at 60fps — which would be a world first for consoles and a monumental statement of intent.
Game Boy Of The Future
Also touted as a 3DS killer, the NX is rumored to have the most technologically advanced controller in gaming history, which has led to even more talk about the system being a hybrid of console and handheld devices.
The controller's patents revealed that the device's entire faceplate will be an elliptical touchscreen with space for two thumb sticks, obligatory shoulder buttons, and a card slot on top.
And this incredible tech could be made possible if Nintendo does indeed use hardware giant Sharp's infinitely malleable free-form touch display technology, as also rumored.
If this does come to pass, the experiment posed by Wii U's GamePad will have been completely worth the effort despite the derision from devs. The NX's controller could legitimately turn out to be the next step for the Game Boy. But how it would work when a considerable distance away from the console leaves a lot to the imagination.
Maybe gameplay could be streamed to the controller via 3/4G or wireless signals, but that means extra cost, or maybe you could load the game onto the controller via the card slot, and go about your day with this touchscreen madness in your bag?
Console Of The Future
Rumors about the NX console itself make it sound as if Nintendo is fixing up something modular and very interesting. According to these sources, the NX will need a secondary device for other people's NXs in order to perform to an even higher standard. Meaning the console would connect to the cloud and draw processing power from the fan base. Isn't that wonderfully metaphoric?
The diagram above details how the NX shares the load with other NXs, or a supplemental device, in order to boost processing power.
Let Battle Commence
Nintendo finally attempting to catch up with the times is great and all, but all of this could be in vain if the console has no third party support, no stand out launch titles, and a high retail price.
But after more rumors have been circulating about Nintendo meeting with EA to discuss bringing its sports franchises to NX, one could speculate that things are looking good on that front at least. Especially since EA has had NX dev kits for some time now.
And as for first party launch titles, there's a damn good chance that the latest Zelda will be pushed back to release with NX, which would be a masterstroke seeing as the Wii U is pretty much dead, and imagine the look of that game on a new console with an all new chip set!
Nintendo could be set to make waves in cinemas, theme parks and dentists' chairs, but in order to win the Battle of the Living Room, the NX has to be affordable. But with all this new, groundbreaking tech that's being lauded, I don't see that happening.