Another month has passed without a word from Nintendo about their tightly-wrapped upcoming console code-named ‘NX’ – yes, seven months before the announced March 2017 release date and the mysterious console still doesn’t even have an official name. But over the past several weeks, more information about the Nintendo NX has surfaced, mostly through unofficial sources scooped up by video game news outlets. So, like with other news bits surrounding the NX, take these with a grain of salt until Nintendo musters the courage to reveal something – anything – about their upcoming console.
A series of patent leaks details NX possible features
One of those, and perhaps the most informative, is the report that the Nintendo NX will be primarily a handheld console, with the ability to hook up to a TV to also function as a home console. Furthermore, the console will feature detachable controllers. You don’t have to spend a lot of time picturing how the setup will look like, because a quartet of patent leaks that recently surfaced can help you get a clearer picture.
- The first patent leak is the least surprising, describing "a portable game apparatus including a display and a camera provided behind the display” in the Background and Summary section. The only thing you need to take away from that leak is that the NX will feature a camera, similar to the Nintendo Wii U. Although, based on the images accompanying the patent, it looks like you will be able to control camera aspects using hand gestures transmitted via sensors on the device. Of course, we don’t know yet how that will incorporate into games.
And speaking of ‘reality’, there might be a chance the reason Nintendo had the release date on March 2017 instead of this year is because they’re looking to incorporate virtual reality (VR) technology on the NX, if this report last June is any indication. Virtual reality gaming became a hot trend this year with the release of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, so it’s safe to assume that Nintendo flirted or is flirting with the idea of a VR-equipped console, especially considering now that the NX will reportedly come with more powerful hardware than initially reported (more on this later).
- The second patent leak might suggest the NX will be sporting augmented reality (AR) technology. According to the Background and Summary of the patent, the device will “obtain a captured image in response to a shutter operation by the user to analyze a characteristic portion of the captured image obtained and to display, on the display, an image obtained by superimposing a virtual character over the captured image based on the analysis results”. Incorporating quirky features on their consoles is nothing new to Nintendo, which is exemplified by the Wii motion controller and the 3D feature on the Nintendo 3DS. The way the location-based AR mobile game Pokemon Go was received may have turned heads at Nintendo HQ.
- The third patent leak, courtesy of NeoGAF user Disorienter, details removable accessories which houses buttons that connects to the side of the device and transfers data via infrared instead of wires. This just may be the confirmation that the NX will really come with detachable controllers or at least peripherals. Based on the patent images, though, the shape of the removable accessories also comes with a rather awkward grip.
- The fourth patent leak, which is the most recent, is a bit similar to the third patent in that it directly involves controllers. The images supporting the patent very clearly suggest a modular controller setup that allows for various customization and setups, similar to Project Ara. If this holds true, you will be able to switch out different types of controller inputs on the device, such as swapping out the directional pad with an analog stick and even replacing the right-side buttons with another analog stick. Also, based on the images, the modular pieces appear to function via infrared, too.
The Nintendo NX??
The NX might be more powerful than initially thought
It was initially reported that the NX will be running with the Nvidia Tegra 1 processor, a very powerful mobile gaming-oriented processor. Of course, said processor is nowhere near the power of the AMD-powered PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but it’s actually more fitting considering the NX will be first and foremost a handheld console. But a recent tidbit suggests that while game developers are indeed using dev kits with the Tegra 1 on hand, it won’t be the processor that will be inside the NX at launch. Citing “sources close to the project”, SegmentNext reported that the NX will be powered by the more powerful Tegra X2 instead.
The Tegra X2 isn’t out in the market yet and it’s not yet confirmed whether it’s really called that. The Tegra 1 will already be two years old when the NX hits retail next year, so it makes sense that Nintendo opted to go with the more powerful one. The exact technical specifications of the Tegra X2 or at least ones that will allow the NX to be compared to current-gen consoles are not yet available. But if the Tegra X2 allows the NX to run games with quality close or on par to the PS4 or Xbox One while on-the-go, then you can already pencil in the console as a success.
Dragon Quest confirmed, Bethesda “looking into” NX
The NX will reportedly start things off with a bang during its first few months in existence, brandishing a new Zelda game at launch and new Mario and Pokemon games within six months. Fans of Nintendo’s intellectual properties probably peed on their pants at the revelation. Now, you can add another game hailing from a similarly popular franchise in the NX lineup: Dragon Quest XI. The game was initially announced for the NX last year by series creator Yuji Horii, but Square Enix, the series’ publisher, played the role of kill-joy, saying it was only being considered. However, in a magazine discussion translated by Gematsu, Horii confirmed that Dragon Quest XI will indeed arrive on the NX together with the 3DS and PS4 versions. The game is targeted for a May 2017 release, two months after the NX launches, but it’s entirely possible that Dragon Quest XI will accompany the NX at launch, too, alongside The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
In other news, Bethesda VP Pete Hines has been quoted in an IGN QuakeCon interview that the NX is “absolutely something that we're looking into and we'll see what comes of it”.
Of course, his statements don’t necessarily mean that one of their properties – Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and Doom – will eventually make their way to the NX. Hines could simply mean that they are gauging with interest how the NX will perform in the market and then make a decision from there. So don’t get your hopes up too high at the moment for a possible Fallout 4 port. Nintendo has similarly reached out for support from other well-known game studios, too. It’s plausible that other third-party developers are echoing the statements made by Hines. On a related note, Electronic Arts is still not sure on its stance on the NX, but the door is very much open, according to a Eurogamer interview with EA’s Peter Moore.
And that’s it for now. Tune in for more Nintendo NX news and rumors here at The Console Nerd. Check out the recent happenings surrounding the similarly upcoming PS4 NEO and Project Scorpio, too! The former is rumored for an official reveal next month, while the latter is lined up for a Holiday 2017 release, sandwiching the NX.