Out with the Old
The popular theory of what exactly the NX will be is some form of hybrid handheld-at-home console. I’ve struggled to accept this for many reasons:
- Handheld devices are powered by batteries. Batteries at this time in our history are trash. I can’t get through 1 day without having to plug my phone into a charger. I watch 5 minutes of Youtube and my battery is visibly dropping percentages of it’s charge. To think that we can get PS4 quality in our hands is not only a ridiculously expensive proposition, but it would die faster than a Sega Game Gear folding proteins.
- Micro-consoles have failed. It was a fad popularized by the very public failure called Ouya. If someone plays a game on their TV they want hardware that will fill ever pixel with style. This takes horsepower that we have yet to see by any device on-the-go.
In with the New
So what’s the solution? Did Nintendo lie to us? Not at all, because the NX is not a console… It’s two consoles.
That’s right… soak it in. The NX is a concept that will replace both the WiiU and 3DS at once. It will be two consoles with compatible architectures and similar features that enable Nintendo to effectively develop one game for both devices. This means no more long delays or feature disparities for Smash Bros. No more Metroid Prime on home consoles while the handheld folks get Federation Force..
There will have to be a large graphical sacrifice, but if Nintendo delivers a handheld on par with a Samsung S5/6 or an iPhone 5/6 then we could be looking at some sexy handheld games.
This also opens the door to a true “cross play” and “cross buy” support, something that Sony has struggled to get down 100%. If Nintendo could sell handheld games that ran natively on their home console, this could be a huge win for them. It would drive sales of their primary market; handhelds, while increasing sales of home consoles for gamers who wish to experience their libraries on the big screen. What I wouldn’t give to project my Fire Emblem experience on a screen I don’t have to squint to read.. It could be amazing.
Dream with Me
Even if home console games would not run on handhelds, or would run at a significant performance cut like 30 fps handheld and 60 fps at home, I’d be a happy Nintendo fanboy. I think that it would be asking too much for all games to run across all platforms, but having unified architectures is an extremely attractive prospect. It’s an ideal that has been around for a long time, even when the, “one console future” was a topic of debate.
As a developer, this makes porting a much more affordable option. As a gamer, it means more first-party games, faster. This might be the first Nintendo console to not see a major drought for quite a while. If we imagine the release schedule of 3DS games added to the release schedules of major WiiU titles we’d have a fairly stuffed calendar to deal with.
It’s a tall order but… A man can dream.