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Reports Claim That the Nintendo NX Is (Mainly) a Handheld Console

Look at the company's past successes and the decision to make the NX a hybrid affair, for home and mobile play, makes perfect sense.

by Mike Diver
Jul 26 2016, 2:57pm

'Splatoon' is one of the Wii U's best games, and it didn't need a whole bunch of grunt under the hood to both look and play fantastically. Screenshot courtesy of Nintendo

The Nintendo NX is a portable console featuring its own screen, with detachable controllers for TV play, says Eurogamer—as does, in the wake of said linked article, everyone else with a website that needs games content feeding into it.

Eurogamer claims that "a number of sources" has given it the console's basic spec. According to that report—which we have been unable to confirm so far—the NX is both capable of being played on the move and plugged into a TV via a special docking station, where those controllers come into the equation—and that the March 2017–due system will be powered by Nvidia's Tegra processor, a chip designed for mobile devices like the Shield Android TV console.

That means that the NX is unlikely to be rivaling the PS4, now or in its "NEO" guise to come, in terms of graphical punch. But given how the next Zelda game, Breath of the Wild, coming to both the NX and the Wii U, looks totally gorgeous anyway, I can't say I'm bothered, personally. Nobody who owns a Wii U found that its shortcomings in the power department affected their enjoyment of stone-cold classics like Splatoon and Mario Kart 8, Super Mario Maker, and Bayonetta 2. Great games don't need to look like a million dollars when they're precision engineered to play like perfection.

What we're looking at with the NX then, I guess, is almost the opposite of what the Wii U offered: on-TV play that can come off it when necessary, with many games playable perfectly well on the GamePad. Only the NX will allow you to leave the room and take Breath of the Wild away from your sofa and onto the bus. Which makes perfect business sense when you look at Nintendo's fortunes in the hardware market.

So this definitely wasn't the NX, then.

As a home console force, Nintendo's on the slide—the Wii U's no contender whatsoever, sales wise, versus the PS4 and the Xbox One, and both of those systems are soon to receive updates (the aforementioned "NEO" and Microsoft's "Project Scorpio" Xbox, the latter of which is out late 2017). But in the handheld sector, it reigns supreme. The company's DS models, discounting any 3DS models, sold in excess of 150 million units. The Game Boy range? Almost 120 million. To date, the 3DS series has racked up close to 60 million sales. In comparison, Sony's PSP—the PlayStation Portable—sold 82 million, while the current-gen (but effectively dead already in terms of first-party support) PlayStation Vita has shifted substantially fewer, some way south of 20 million.

'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' is coming out in 2017 for both the Wii U and NX (Wii U screenshot via Nintendo.com)

Numbers are boring, though—what's not is having fun, and that's clearly what Nintendo wants to emphasize with the NX. It's a solves-both-problems option for Nintendo fans old and new, allowing flexibility between play times and spaces and selling itself on the very simple, understandable premise of being able to take your games, your favorites, your fun, wherever you like. Games will come on cartridges, not discs, just like in the Game Boy days. (Oh man, those cool plastic cases, all contoured like that, how I coveted them.)

The NX isn't a direct PS4 challenger, then, but something else entirely, a truly new venture for its makers that looks to capitalize on Nintendo's strengths while paying little mind to its competitors exchanging blows in the still-going-strong graphical arms race. More details are expected in September when, according to the Eurogamer report, the console will be officially unveiled.

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One massive downer about the NX—that is, if Eurogamer's piece is accurate—is that the system's all-new operating systems means it won't possess convenient backward compatibility. So there'll be no playing Chinatown Wars or Aliens Infestation on this machine, unless they're downloadable via the eShop. The only comment Nintendo itself is offering on any of this information right now is, basically, no comment.

Long(ish) story short: I am well up for the NX, I think, and if this is the NX, thank you very much.

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