A Case For Less Power – Nintendo NX

Nintendo NX

The Nintendo NX has been a closely guarded secret for Nintendo for some time now. Outside of it being a video game system that will launch sometime in 2017 with a port of Zelda Breath of the Wild…. We really don’t know much. Well, the fine folks at Eurogamer got their hands on some potentially leaked specs on the NX and it largely seems to fit in the with the rumored narrative that the new console is both the successor to the Wii U, as well as a successor to the wildly popular 3DS, which is getting a bit long in the tooth at 6 years old, despite numerous hardware revisions and improvements in that timespan.

Here is a link to the Eurogamer story: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2016-07-26-nx-is-a-portable-console-with-detachable-controllers

I won’t go line-by-line and just crib the Eurogamer story. But, the long and short of it is that the NX appears to run on flash media carts. It will run on a version of the Nvidia Tegra X1 technology widely used in the tablet space. The NX will also dock into a device to throw the image up on your television. Also, interestingly enough, the NX will be able to split apart into small controller and screen segments to enable multiplayer.

All of these ideas sound interesting and weird in that totally Nintendo kind of way. But, the facts and figures that many people seem to be agonizing over is the graphics hardware and the fact that this system will be less powerful that both the Xbox One and PS4. Since the launch of the Gamecube, I would argue that Nintendo hasn’t been throttled in game execution by graphics hardware. They have been more focused on building new and different experiences with interesting control and experience mechanics. The Nintendo mindset and character/franchise lineup is full of bright and colorful franchises that can run in full 1080p and maintain 60fps on the existing Wii U. So, the more power that you throw at a Nintendo device, you are going to see diminishing returns. The hardware powering this device isn’t going to be what makes all of the people that left Nintendo in the past stand up and scream at the top of the tallest mountains that they just have to run out and buy that damn thing today.

Nintendo has been doing a good job of building new franchises in recent memory and the NX has the ability to bridge their latest creations on Wii U and 3DS into one powerful lineup on a single device that could really energize a market that has started to move away from Nintendo in a lot of ways. Long story short, I don’t think that utilizing tablet graphical tech will do anything negative for Nintendo at all. What it will do is allow them to cut the price of their hardware significantly. This will help them stay competitive in the modern landscape and lure in huge third-party publishers without developing high-powered and under-utilized hardware. A tactic their competitors have yet to latch on to.