Nintendo NX: what we’d like to see & release date rumours – Expert Reviews
Nintendo’s next console, currently codenamed the Nintendo NX, is on its way. Announced on the same day as Nintendo’s new mobile partnership with Japanese game giant DeNA back in March, all we know about the Nintendo NX so far is that it will be “a dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept”, with more details to follow in 2016. However, that won’t stop us (or indeed the internet at large) from speculating what the Nintendo NX might entail, or indeed when it will arrive, as there are plenty of features we’d like to see on Nintendo’s new console that didn’t make it onto Wii U. Here’s everything we know about the NX so far:
Release date – July 2016?
The Nintendo NX may be arriving in July 2016. According to Digitimes, Nintendo has apparently given the go-ahead to its supply chain partners Foxconn and Pegatron to start pilot production of its new console in October. Sources close to the project said that these orders are then expected to be finalised in February or March next year, with mass production beginning in May or June in preparation for a July launch window.
This would certainly make for a compelling E3 conference for Nintendo next year, which always takes place in early June, but given that both the Wii and Wii U launched just before Christmas, we wouldn’t be surprised if the NX came slightly later in the year. There’s also Nintendo’s remaining hit titles to consider, as the next Legend of Zelda game is due to arrive next year and is still (as far as we know) in development for Wii U. Of course, there’s always a chance Nintendo could release the game simultaneously on both consoles as it did for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on the Wii and GameCube, but so far Nintendo’s given no indication this will be the case.
Operating System – Android NX?
Nintendo consoles have always used proprietary operating systems that have been developed in-house at Nintendo, but a report emerged from Japanese newspaper Nikkei last June that the NX will apparently break with Nintendo tradition and use Google’s Android OS as its main operating system. While a Nintendo UK spokesperson told Expert Reviews that Nintendo “does not comment on rumour or speculation”, the company has since told the Wall Street Journal that “there is no truth to the report saying that we are planning to adopt Android for NX.”
According to Nikkei, an unnamed person familiar with the matter said, “[The NX’s] operating system is loaded with Android,” citing that it would help “speed up getting all game developers on board.” The unnamed source also said that it would help development expand across multiple platforms, such as smartphones, tablets and other devices, which would certainly fit in nicely with Nintendo’s recent plans to release games on mobiles.
The source also went to say that the reason why Nintendo might be adopting Android is because the Wii U is not compatible with other game consoles. This makes it harder for developers to port games over for multi-platform titles, and it makes it difficult for them to make back their development costs. There’s some sliver of truth in this, as the PS4 and Xbox One now both have very similar hardware, so porting titles across isn’t as tricky as it used to be. However, moving to Android would hardly make Nintendo’s current situation any easier, as it would still be the only major console manufacturer using Google’s operating system.
Nikkei has been generally been quite reliable as far as previous Nintendo rumours go. Last year, the newspaper reported that Nintendo was planning on putting promotional mini-games on smartphones, which Nintendo promptly denied, only to announce plans to release full-blown games on smartphones in March. Likewise, months before it announced the 3DS XL, Nintendo denied Nikkei rumours that it would be releasing a larger version of its 3DS console. There’s still a possibility the NX may run Android given Nikkei’s past track record, but we won’t know for sure until Nintendo unveils the new console next year.
What we’d like to see:
Given it was announced at the same time as Nintendo’s imminent foray into mobile gaming, the NX could well be some form of handheld successor to the current 3DS. However, when you consider Nintendo’s just launched the New 3DS, which has a more powerful CPU and improved 3D head-tracking technology, we think it’s more likely to be the next Wii U replacement, so we’ve tailored most of the entries in our most wanted list with a new home console in mind.
1) An integrated Blu-ray player
Nintendo’s always maintained that it’s a game developer first, hardware manufacturer second. It’s never been about creating a one-stop entertainment hub to take over your living room in the same way as Sony or Microsoft have done, but there’s no denying that a built-in Blu-ray player is now an expected core component of any modern games console.
We’re beginning to see more online streaming services on the Wii U, such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video (and Crunchyroll for any anime fans out there), so a built-in Blu-ray on the NX is surely the next logical step to make sure the console remains as appealing as possible when it eventually launches. If not a Blu-ray player, then our next entry might go some way to make up for it.
2) Downloadable GameCube and Wii Games on the NX eShop
We’ve already seen some Wii games starting to appear as direct downloads on the Wii U eShop, so it only stands to reason that more should follow on the NX. GameCube games are also a must, as these haven’t been available to download on any of Nintendo’s home consoles so far (something we thought would be a dead cert when the Wii U was first announced). Whether they come as traditional downloads or through a PlayStation Now-style subscription model is neither here nor there – we just want to replay some of those GameCube classics that we missed out on the first-time round.
Even better, Nintendo could stand to take a few lessons from both Sony and Microsoft on this front by introducing a completely new subscription service that gave players a couple of free games every month, ranging from one or two old NES or SNES classics, an N64 or GameCube title and then either a Wii or Wii U game as the main event. That way, we wouldn’t have to cry into our wallets every time we had to fork over £5 to play Super Mario Bros. 3 on a new console.
3) A better Club Nintendo
Nintendo’s already announced that it will be replacing the existing Club Nintendo rewards scheme with a new cross-platform membership service which will be co-developed with DeNA, Nintendo’s new mobile partner. Nintendo’s also said that it will “form one of the core elements of the new [NX]”, so it will be interesting to see how that develops when Nintendo reveals new details about the console next year.
Whatever it ends up like, though, we hope the new scheme will mean better gifts than what ended up on the now-shuttered Club Nintendo, and that you won’t have to save up quite so many points to get them. As much as I love my NES notebooks and limited edition Super Mario Galaxy and A Link Between Worlds soundtracks, it’s crazy that the only game vouchers on offer, for example, were still largely only available for the Wii and DS. This needs to change. If we could also do it without filling in tedious surveys every time we register a game as well, that would be much appreciated.
4) Virtual Boy resurrected as an AR headset peripheral
Microsoft’s going to have HoloLens, Sony’s got Morpheus and PC gamers have Valve and HTC’s Vive to look forward to, so Nintendo definitely needs to up its game on the augmented and virtual reality headset front. Enter a newly designed and re-imagined Virtual Boy headset that builds on Nintendo’s augmented reality tech in the 3DS.
Like HoloLens, this could let you project games onto a nearby wall in all its Full HD, or maybe even 4K glory (we can dream, can’t we?) if someone else was using the TV, effectively replacing the Wii U’s low-res GamePad screen. It could also allow you to bring certain games into your living room, paving the way for full home console versions of Genius Sonority’s The Denpa Men series, for example, or (fingers crossed) the long-awaited return of Chibi Robo.
Admittedly, the original Virtual Boy was a universal flop back in 1995, but that was partly because its horrible red vector graphics made everyone feel incredibly nauseous while playing it. The other problem was price, but since then Nintendo’s usually managed to sell its hardware at a much lower cost than the competition, so hopefully this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
5) Video capture and screenshot sharing on social media
The Wii U’s Miiverse is a wonderful place, but really, we all want to be able to share those screenshots of our best gaming moments on Facebook and Twitter as well as Nintendo’s own social media hub. A few Nintendo games, such as Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Tomodachi Life, have already begun making inroads into this thanks to the 3DS’s Image Share feature, but we’d like to see more of this integrated across the entire NX console, allowing you to share both images and small video clips with your friends with almost no effort on your part.
6) Vitality Sensor reborn
The Wii’s Vitality Sensor never made it into production, but it was meant to be able to measure your pulse and detect how tense or relaxed you were (i.e: how your sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves work in accordance with your automatic nerves), potentially give horror and fitness games a new lease of life.
Originally announced at E3 2009, all news about its potential release suddenly went very quiet until 2013 when Nintendo finally admitted defeat on the project. According to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, it wasn’t working as the company had originally expected and (unsurprisingly) it didn’t have as many application uses as they once thought. However, Iwata also said that Nintendo “would like to launch it into the market if technology advancements enable 999 of 1000 people to use it without any problems, not only 90 out of 100 people.”
Could we see a reborn Vitality Sensor with the NX? The technology’s certainly there, as there are more fitness trackers and smartwatches available to buy now than we know what to do with. With this in mind, a resurrected Vitality Sensor could take the form of a small wristband rather than the prototype’s unwieldy finger clamp. Whatever happens, it would certainly fit in well with the NX’s inevitable version of Wii Fit, as the current Wii U Fit Meter could really do with a proper heart rate sensor to make its calorie counting more accurate.
7) A proper Pokemon MMO
Pokemon Colosseum on the GameCube (pictured above) was arguably one of the last great 3D Pokemon games, but what fans really want – what they’ve been hankering for ever since the very early days of Red and Blue on the Game Boy – is a proper Pokemon MMO. Maybe, just maybe, the NX will finally make Pokemon trainers’ dreams around the world come true with the announcement of a cross-platform, play-it-anywhere 3D open-world online Pokemon game. You could have your own personalised trainer, real-time battles, group battles, live Pokemon in the field – it all makes perfect sense.
It would feed in brilliantly to Nintendo’s new mobile strategy as well, as you could relocate all the PokeNav Plus features from Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, such as Super Training and Pokemon Amie, to your smartphone, allowing you to tinker away at the slightly more mindless stat and friendship boosting part of the Pokemon experience. This data would then sync across your 3DS and NX system when you get back home, allowing you to pick up where you left off with new and improved stats. You could also access your own personal Pokedex through your phone and plan your next set of captures by pin-pointing certain locations.
3DS owners could also undertake certain quests in a potential single-player mode as well battle other trainers across the world over Wi-Fi, or locally with their friends. Then, you could all go on quests together when you’re playing on the NX, capturing legendary Pokemon as a team or taking on whatever new dastardly Team group are wreaking havoc across the land. Simple!
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