The ‘Brand New’ Nintendo NX Concept Has Already Been Done
Although the Nintendo NX is scheduled to launch in March 2017, the device remains shrouded in mystery. That’s because Nintendo, against all reason, hasn’t revealed the thing yet, despite fans’ desperation to know what the Mario company has in store for us. Thanks to a seemingly endless tide of rumors, hints, and possible leaks, we have an idea of what the NX will be. Although Nintendo has said the NX is based on a “new concept,” if the rumors are true, it’s a concept that’s already been done.
According to the most reliable information, the NX will be a “hybrid” device that you can play either on your television like a standard home console, or like a handheld device that you can control when you’re away from your TV.
The way it will perform these functions, according to numerous rumors, is unusual. The NX will look essentially like the Wii U’s GamePad controller, meaning it will have a large screen in the middle, flanked on either side by buttons, analog sticks, and a directional pad. What’s strange is that the controller sections will apparently be removable. When you want to play the NX at home, you’ll remove the controllers and plug the device into a base station that’s connected to your TV.
All of this fits with the few things Nintendo has actually said about the NX. In an earnings report released earlier this year, the company called it a “brand-new concept.” In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the chief executive officer of The Pokémon Company — who presumably has full knowledge of the NX — said, “The NX is trying to change the concept of what it means to be a home console device or a hand-held device.” The thing is, other devices have already beaten Nintendo to it.
Not so new
If this is, in fact, what the NX is, the whole “brand-new concept” thing is a bit of a stretch, because several other devices have used that exact concept. The reason you might not have heard of them is because they didn’t exactly set the tech world on fire.
Take a look at the Razer Edge Pro, a gaming tablet that — you guessed it — comes with removable controllers. The controllers are attached to a case, but they can still be used when you put the tablet in its base station and connect it to an external display, like a TV or computer monitor. The Razer Edge Pro plays Windows PC games, but its design and function closely resembles the rumored NX. The only thing missing are the Nintendo games.
Another device that uses the same idea is the Morphus X300, an Android tablet designed with a focus on gaming. It has a HDMI port that lets you display your games on a TV, and it comes with two controller pieces that attach to the tablet magnetically.
If you already have a tablet and you want a gaming experience analogous to the NX, you don’t even have to buy a new tablet to do it. You can buy snap-on physical controllers that already exist, like these from GAMEVICE. Slap these on your tablet and load up Miitomo (or wait for Super Mario Run to come out in December), and it’s almost as if you’ve traveled forward in time and are playing the NX right now. OK, that might be a stretch.
Assuming the rumors are true, this “brand-new concept” Nintendo is gearing up to launch isn’t quite as new as the company would like us to think. That doesn’t make it any less brilliant, but it does mean other companies got there first.
Just because these other NX-like devices haven’t taken off in a big way doesn’t spell doom for Nintendo or the NX. The big difference is that they’re not made by Nintendo. Nintendo has a lot of clout in the gaming world, even if the Wii U failed to catch on.
It’s always been Nintendo’s first-party games that make their hardware special. If Nintendo wants the NX to be a killer piece of gaming hardware, it’s going to need to bring on the games. Judging by the only first-party NX game we know about — The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — it’s looking pretty good so far. And with only one device for all of Nintendo’s development teams to focus their attention on, I suspect we’ll be getting games aplenty once the NX comes out.