NX: The Need to Succeed
The Nintendo NX is only a name at this stage but fan theories, rumours and speculation have run rife ever since the revelation of the systems existence in March 2015. More will be revealed in 2016 but with so much chatter surrounding the path that Nintendo should go down, I too sat down and mulled over what Nintendo should be doing with their next system. I of course don’t have any sort of insight into what they’re up to, I don’t even profess to operate on a level close to some of the brilliant minds working there, but as an avid fan of Nintendo’s but also as someone who acknowledges their recent flaws, I know that there is change required. Without procrastinating any further these are some essential things that I believe the currently codenamed NX needs to have in order to be a success.
Nintendo has never cared too much about having the most powerful system on the market, the Wii remained low powered and SD while the big boys, the PS3 and Xbox 360 all brought HD visuals and much more grunt to console gaming. The Wii U had an opportunity to get the jump on the Xbox One and PS4 but instead entered the game boasting parity with PS3 and Xbox 360, immediately setting the system on the back foot once Sony and Microsoft entered the fray with their newest hardware. As it is still early days for both the PS4 and Xbox One, if Nintendo can introduce the NX to the masses with comparable specs to their competitors then it will go a long way toward changing gamer’s perspective of Nintendo systems and in theory this will mean that Third Parties will look upon the NX more favourably during development. Time to join the rest of the crowd on this front Nintendo.
Off to the Races
Recent Nintendo systems have not gotten off to the greatest of starts. The Wii had Twilight Princess, a port of the Gamecube version of the game and Wii Sports; Super Mario 64 DS led the Nintendo DS’ lacklustre launch line-up that consisted of it and a demo for Metroid Prime Hunters and little more of any note. The Nintendo 3DS had perhaps the worst of all Nintendo’s recent launches with Pilotwings Resort and Steel Diver heading the way. While the Wii U improved things with New Super Mario Bros Wii U, ZombiU and NintendoLand it too hardly wowed fans, and it served to be Nintendo’s latest launch day failure. With the NX, Nintendo needs to hit the ground running; talk continues to surround the possibility of The Wii U bound Legend of Zelda migrating to NX, Pikmin 4 is reportedly nearing completion it seems like the NX is already on the right path. Complement those AAA First Party titles with some killer Third Party software and the NX is off to a start that may allow it get some traction with consumers.
Competitive Online Functionality
Nintendo has always had a family first focus, an admirable quality, but it has meant that by cutting out features such as voice chat from online multiplayer games like Mario Kart 8 or Splatoon, they have arguably made the games worse than they could have been had it not been for this omitted feature. Their online infrastructure, while much improved with Wii U could also do with more polish. The e-shop has quite a clean layout but is hardly as functional as it should be; finding the latest releases is tougher than it ought to be and even when buying a game there are far too many hoops you must jump through before you can finalise the transaction. Nintendo must get their act together in the online space, bringing them in line with the best of the best. Nintendo can still have a community and family focus but leave that to the developers to choose what suits their games on a game-by-game basis.
Pay-off for Amiibo buyers
There are a large number of bulk Amiibo buyers who have expressed concern over the future of the Nintendo’s toys-to-life initiative. Their concerns are founded because a lot of money has been poured into the figures by fans, and many feel as though they’re yet to see full pay-off for their investment. Nintendo should be bringing Amiibo with them to the NX, maybe creating that Skylanders styled Nintendo game that makes the Amiibo that fans have purchased infinitely more valuable. Amiibo can be the gift that keeps on giving, but that’s providing Nintendo chooses to support it – a simple decision that can earn a massive bucket of goodwill with fans.
On the Fly Gaming
While the NX is expected to be the replacement for the Wii U, the 3DS is also getting quite long in the tooth. It’s already been speculated about, but to some the most important potential feature of the NX is the ability to take home console games on the road with us. That’s why I want the NX to take the form of both a home console and portable gaming system. Whether that means that like the Wii U the console has a screen in it, or another alternative that can then be taken for gaming on the fly. It will require some technical wizardry but if Nintendo can pull it off then who knows what is possible.
There’s nothing particularly ground-breaking about many of the things I’ve outlined in the list above, but it seems that over the course of the last decade Nintendo have lost track of some of the fundamentals and in turn have lost the trust of many of their most hardened supporters. Execute on some of these basics and it’s not unreasonable to assume that many of those fans will come flocking back. We’ll see how it all plays out, but the prospect of Nintendo at full flight should have gamers, regardless of their preferred system salivating, because a competitive Nintendo means creativity is flowing through the industry once more. All remains to be seen in 2016.