Nintendo’s NX console could be a phone, a dud, or a return to form

What is Nintendo’s NX and do we already want it?

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Though it’s slowly opening up, the videogame industry is still pretty closed to anyone over a certain age. Most console games are firmly targeted people aged 10-to-30, and that’s the way its been for a long time. This is part of why so few videogame console developers have managed to stick around for more than 20 years. People grow up, and as they move forward, the game brands and consoles that they once loved often look childish and obsolete to them. Meanwhile, new generations growing into a love of the medium often see the consoles producers that the older generation enjoyed as passé, or worse, for “old people.”

That’s part of why it’s such a miracle that Nintendo has been able to remain so popular for so long. It’s been 32 years since the NES first exploded on the market, and since that time, we’ve seen multiple generations of gamers grow into Nintendo, grow out of them, get nostalgic for them, get sick of that nostalgia, and then fall in love with them all over again. Regardless of how often you play Nintendo games now, almost everyone has strong feelings about them. Here’s a sample of a roundtable discussion among Destructoid staff about Nintendo recent announcements of a new game console, partnering with DeNA for smartphone games and services, and a lot more. 

Darren Nakamura

What do we know about it so far? Is it a phone? Will Bill Platt buy it because he is a Nintendo phoneboy?

Chris Carter

We have no idea Darren. People are jumping the gun and calling it a “console.” It’s not necessarily a console but it could very well be one. I think it will be like Xperia Play and work with everything.

While Puzzle & Dragons and other mobile titles have slowly chipped away at the market they had cornered for decades, Nintendo remained steadfast, noting that the software would speak for itself. Unfortunately, it hasn’t spoken loud enough to sell the Wii U, despite the fact that the 3DS is killing it right now. Maybe Nintendo really does need to change and look to the future. If the NX is some kind of smartphone, it could be the change they need to start dominating like they did in the Wii/DS days again.

On the other hand, this whole thing makes me think that maybe said change is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to a temporary state. Did the Wii U fail because it didn’t adapt to current standards of gaming and push smartphone integration? Or did it fail because the name and design are confusing, Nintendo still isn’t getting better at courting third parties, and the console itself isn’t enticing enough to really sell-through the amount of units required to make the shareholders happy?

While a hybrid device could be a cool idea, I’m dubious of the ability of Nintendo to sell it, or, as their heads likely want, to outsell Apple and Google’s iOS and Android devices. If it’s new hardware replacing the Wii U, I’ll likely buy it to keep playing exclusives. If it’s a companion-like device, I’m undecided.

Papa Niero

NX sounds a lot like a handheld to me. I agree with Chris: we only need to look at the recently released Puzzle and Dragons: Mario Gangbang Edition to see the 3D writing on the wall.  Nintendo makes great handheld hardware and their great games aren’t on every brand of smartphone to the chagrin of shareholders. They need another “guaranteed to print money again year,” so the NX has to be a portable system of some kind, and they can’t make the DS any bigger without calling it a tablet.

My best guess is some kind of bastard baby of the Wii U and the DS LL. Basically, it’s going to be two iPad Minis made of white plastic, with a genius assortment of launch games you sort-of already bought 10 years ago. Nevertheless, it’s going to be inexplicably fun and sold out on launch day.

If I was boss, the NX will be a games app exclusively for Apple devices… period.  Apple recently filed a patent for a home button that transforms into a joystick. They need to make like Voltron before the technology to revive Steve Jobs is developed to stop the deal.

Andy Dixon

RIP Bill Platt. I can’t believe his amiibo tower collapsed and killed him. Actually I can believe it.

I really hope this is a (mobile?) platform for existing devices and not a new console. I feel like the Wii U is barely hitting its stride, and the last thing Nintendo needs right now is to piss off the few people who bought that hardware by announcing its replacement already.

Conor Elsea

Has anyone posited that Nintendo may be making a phone? Because I’ll take the long shot bet here and say Nintendo is making a phone.

Kyle MacGregor

This announcement sure was NXpected.

Occams Electric Toothbrush

NX sounds like the first name of one of those cantina aliens from Star Wars. N’x Kraylota.  It’s got like a yak face but with lady bug colored eyes.

Claire Sharkey

Sounds like the name of the prescription cream I use on my….nevermind.

Papa Niero

I’d love a Nintendo phone, even if it was kind of gimpy. Hell, Yahoo Mobile is a legit carrier in Japan. A Nintendo phone is probably unlikely but I wouldn’t say it couldn’t happen. As I recall that was the main complaint about the original DS.

Kyle MacGregor

A Nintendo phone would be a dream. Lets hope Chris is right. Just parrot Sony’s Xperia Play design (but actually support the damn thing) and I will buy that in a heartbeat.

Andy Dixon

Plus, they could make it look like a Game Boy or NES controller… just like the two iPhone cases I have.

Darren Nakamura

I would buy an Android phone with a Nintendo d-pad on it.

Steven Hansen

Nintendo’s coffers are Wario full, so it’s not like the company is in danger, but it does need to make money at some point and the Wii U, while it could have some life, likely won’t make an early-3DS-style turn around. With the release of the New 3DS — and the US excuse for only releasing the New 3DS XL, to not confuse the 3DS product line any further — it doesn’t seem like Nintendo would be working on a new handheld. Unless it is actually a phone.

But if it’s a phone, does Nintendo need the DeNA partnership to make mobile money? Seems like someone at Nintendo just going, “fine, do it, don’t make us look bad, do make us money,” with regards to offloading mobile development of its IP to DeNA. A Wii U replacement would irk some folk, but remember “console cycles” have never been as “let’s release together” regimented as the PS4 and Xbox One recently were. And if it’s not even going to be announced until next year, maybe released end of 2016 or early 2017. Well, 4-5 years from the Wii U isn’t too far from the 5-6 year average.

I’m looking forward to the Nintendo INXS, so long as it will play classic songs like “Just Keep Walking” and “To Look At You,” along with whatever new songs INXS records under this new partnership.

Jordan Devore

Just in terms of first-party Nintendo games, I already feel like my Wii U has given me enough entertaining hours to justify the relatively inexpensive purchase, so bring on the new thing (eventually). But don’t drop the screen-in-a-controller gimmick. The Wii U GamePad rocks.

Laura Kate Dale

The GamePad really does rock, I feel I got my moneys worth from the Wii U, but yeah, I think the timing lines up for this to be it’s replacement.

The fact Nintendo is announcing a partnership with a smart phone game developer to me is reason enough to assume this is not a phone announcement and the relatively recent release of the New 3DS is enough for me to assume this is probably not “just” a new handheld announcement. Nintendo’s home console market is right now clearly the one least profitable and with the smallest chance of any overnight improvement.

My bet is this is in some form or another the device that replaces the Wii U, be it a more standard home console or a console/handheld hybrid. I think all we get at E3 2016 is that a Wii U successor is coming, very little other info. E3 2017 we actually have new hardware and launch titles at the show etc. I think we’re still over 2 years from actually seeing this NX in action, maybe 2.5 years from release, but I think this has to be Wii U replacing in one form or another.

Papa Niero

Good points, on the Wii U successor speculation. A new console would be exciting, but I can’t imagine the market would stomach it. I’ve been waiting for the Nintendo Revolution since 2005. That hasn’t happened since the 64.

Let’s take a look at the Nintendo DS’s design changes over the years.  Can they really sell us three more of this gadget over the next 6-7 years without radically changing the game?

Robert Summa

If they’re calling it a platform, then is it at all likely they they will create a Steam-like platform that will work on all devices? I mean, if he is specifically saying platform, then that doesn’t mean hardware to me.

If they made a tablet that also had other proper functionality besides games, then that would be more attractive to me than the Wii U. If they’re not going to engage in an arms race with the likes of Sony and Microsoft, then it only seems logical that they might do this. Frankly, I would support it.

Mike Martin

If they put Mario on my tablet and PC, I’ll be an incredibly aroused man. My only reservation about all this is their account system. They absolutely have to overhaul it and make it an umbrella, with all purchases tied to the account, not the system.

Papa Niero

I think I’m trying to talk myself into believing that it is hardware and not a platform. Nintendo is awful at platforms. If you disagree, please time how long it takes to get to the title screen of a classic Wii title on the Wii U, and how much you love friend codes.

Steven Hansen

Nintendo won’t even put Super Mario World on my 3DS.

Mike Martin

Or Mario RPG! *throws peanuts at 3DS*

Darren Nakamura

Perhaps it has something to do with the closure of Club Nintendo. Nintendo did hint that something similar would be coming in its place. Maybe this platform will be an umbrella account, and it will automatically add stuff to your collection to put toward rewards. Wishful thinking, maybe.

Mike Martin

It almost sounds too logical and forward thinking for them. I truly hope they are doing that though.

Robert Summa

If it’s just another console, then I think that will be a huge disappointment and I don’t see Nintendo doing that. I’m already hyping myself up on it being a tablet. They disrupted the market with a Wii, surely they aren’t going to do another GameCube or Wii U.

Jonathan Holmes

Like I said in the news video, Nintendo is like Richard Dreyfuss from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. They are not a normal Dad. They are a Dad who makes mountains out of mashed potatoes. Some people think that they’re silly, that until they just shut up and eat their potatoes, they’re doomed to fail. They must not know that those mashed potato mountains have lead to the company extraterrestrial levels of success more than once.

The Wii, DS, NES, and Gameboy were all totally alien for their respective eras and they went on to be the company’s most popular consoles, and some of the best selling videogame hardware of all time. The Virtual Boy was a little too mashed potatoes for its own good, but other than that exception, Nintendo does better with risky, unprecedented consoles than with more conservative, derivative hardware.

So maybe the NX will be a literal mountain of mashed potatoes, allowing you to peer into it’s buttery hole to discover endless worlds of fantasy and adventure. Or maybe it will be a phone, or a computer, or a Steam-like service that allows you to play their games on phones or computers and everything else. As long as it plays great videogames, I’ll be happy.

Steven Hansen

And all the latest INXS hits.


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