Note: Be patient and read all the details—I promise there’s some good stuff here—and let me know what you think.
First: Think of the NX as basically being a Wii U console stuffed directly into the current Wii U GamePad (either pretty much exactly the same power as a Wii U or a little bit more powerful if necessary). The main differences would be making the screen 1080p, having 3D without glasses, adding multi-touch to the screen (which would work with both the stylus and multiple fingers), and adding analogue to the main triggers. Physical NX games would come on small cartridges of some kind by default, and there’d also be replaceable/expandable memory in case you wanted to store a whole bunch of digital games and other content locally, as well as the option to use an external HDD and possibly cloud storage as well. The system would also come with a tiny dongle that you could plug into your TV allowing you to play all of your games directly on the big screen too (no console box necessary). Everything else would pretty much stay the same as the current Wii U GamePad, including the likes of NFC support for amiibos. That’s basically the NX as I see it.
All the cool stuff is in the details however. . . .
Right out the gate you could basically emulate/play digital versions of games from ALL of Nintendo’s old consoles, both home console and handheld. Old NES, SNES, N64, GC, GB, GBC and GBA games run on the system exactly as you imagine they would but in digital form, which you’d download and/or stream from the new unified account system and service Nintendo is developing.
To run Wii games you’d download/stream them like all the other “retro” games, and for any of them that use full motion/pointer controls you would use a proper Wiimote by pointing it at the sensor bar that’s directly built into the NX (this is already built into the current GamePad and would be on NX too), and you could either stream the game to the TV or view it directly on the GamePad (a bit small and awkward but still possible). So for some Wii games you would still need to own/buy actual Wiimotes, which isn’t really surprising given the unique controls of most Wii games, and at least you don’t have to own/plug-in a separate sensor bar.
For DS/3DS the 1080p screen would be used to emulate the two-screen DS/3DS setup directly on the NX screen, and because of the size and resolution it would pretty much be just like looking at a normal size DS/3DS (regular, not XL/LL). The fact the NX screen would be both 3D without glasses and touch capable means it could mimic all aspects of the DS/3DS on that single screen. A lot of this would also be done in firmware/software, so it all displays correctly. If you want, you could also stream the top screen to the TV, or use any other multi-screen variation/setup that’s currently available for running DS games on Wii U now. The 3D no-glasses could even be used to emulate Virtual Boy games too. 🙂
To run Wii U games it would simply do what the current Wii U and GamePad do, with the main game content being displayed on the TV, streamed via the dongle, and all the map and touch screen stuff or whatever on the NX screen. Obviously any games that have off-TV play could similarly be played directly on the NX, just like they are now when played directly on the Wii U GamePad.
The new NX would also be compatible directly with the current Wii U and could be used as a secondary GamePad (or third and forth too), which will be a feature that will be activated on Wii U via a firmware update. And because the NX is obviously able to connect to other NX systems for multi-player games (say up to four at a time), you would also similarly be able to use up to three of them with the Wii U now too, allowing you to play four player games on Wii U, where one person uses the Wii U GamePad and three other people use NX systems, so each person could have a custom screen but at the same time the TV could display another view of the action. Think of a Madden game where each player can call plays on their controller in secret by drawing on the screen, with the main action on the TV, or something like 4 player local multi-player Splatoon, with one person playing on the GamePad and the rest on NXs, and the TV showing an overview of the map. And, since the NX systems are basically self contained Wii U consoles, it wouldn’t take much processing power for the main Wii U to handle a four player game like this since each system is basically a portable Wii U and would be doing its equal share of the leg work (unlike now where it would basically be impossible to have 4 GamePads on Wii U).
The whole Wii U/NX/TV setup where you have three NX systems plus the Wii U and its GamePad is obviously a very rare scenario as most gamers would just use four NX systems for multi-player. But, for anyone that already owns a Wii U, it means they can use it in place of another NX system, which is a nice bonus, and it means they now have the ability to play new multi-player games on Wii U where each person actually has a proper private screen (poker and Scrabble would also be fun, with the cards or letters shown on the individual player’s screens and the main deck or board shown on the TV). This also means that any current Wii U owners would continue to see plenty of game support into the foreseeable future too, as by default basically all NX games are Wii U games as well and visa versa (except for a couple of small extra control options like multi-touch and analog on the triggers). This is great for anyone that already owns a Wii U and wants to continue to be satisfied with it. It means the Wii U, by the end of its lifespan, will likely be far less of a flop, if at all.
The final thing here, and something that I think would basically tip this over the edge and turn it from pretty amazing into a revolution in the industry: I would include a complete creation suite with every single NX system at launch, in-the-box day one, for FREE. This would be something like the old Mario Artist series for 64DD combined with the intuitiveness, immediateness, and playfulness of the awesome Super Mario Maker. It would allow people to use the NX controller and stylus/touchscreen directly to draw/paint art (including sprite/pixel art and textures for polygons), create music (a bit like Mario Paint’s music mode), create animations, create/edit movies (using the camera and other features of the NX), make proper 3D polygon models, create mini game levels, and even make full video games (anything from NES level up to N64 probably, and maybe even a bit beyond). All these creations could be shared among all NX users via Nintendo’s new single connected service, and Wii U owners too (possibly even 3DS owners as well in some cases), where those people could then play and enjoy them or modify them even further, as well as just share them to the general Internet and on sites like YouTube (if it’s a video or animation they made).
(Above is an example of one of the packages in the old Mario Artist series for 64DD for reference, in this case it’s Polygon Maker)
Just imagine all that content, some of it potentially brilliant, being made by all NX users and available to all other NX users from the get-go, maybe even with a marketplace where people could sell certain content as well (like the cool new SNES-style game they’ve just made). This suite would also be added to the Wii U and 3DS too, via that firmware update I mentioned earlier, so it really is one complete unified and connected system/service that works across all Nintendo’s main consoles. And again, it means current Wii U and 3DS owners get a bit more life and satisfaction from their systems.
“Basically”, you have a single self-contained portable console, at least as powerful as a Wii U, that can [digitally] play games from every single console Nintendo has ever made with very little hassle. Games on it can also be shown directly on your TV. And, for some of the more convoluted stuff, like Wii motion-centric games, you can basically use your old Wii controllers directly on it. It even works as an extra controller/GamePad for anyone that has a Wii U too, and by default means the Wii U is going to see proper game support for at least another whole generation as well. The whole unified/connected service will work on NX but also be added to both Wii U and 3DS too (via a firmware update), so that all three systems now share many software/firmware and online features such as using a single account for everything and for cross-buy/play on many of the titles. Then the cherry on top is the entire creation suite built into the console from day one, out-the-box, and available for every single Wii U, NX, and 3DS owner to use and share for free.
Now, imo, THAT’s how you sell people on the idea of “a controller with a touchscreen”, or in this case the NX—it’s basically what I think the Wii U should have been from the get-go.
Nintendo would gradually cease manufacturing of any new Wii U and 3DS systems entirely and go forward with only the NX as its single consolidated brand-new handheld/console hybrid. Although it would obviously continue to support the other two consoles in terms of firmware and software in multiple ways for quite some time, as part of the unified strategy I mentioned earlier.
So, what we have is a single focussed vision for a new Nintendo home-handheld gaming console and fully unified online/offline service that combines all the strengths of both Nintendo’s current platforms and eliminates almost all of their separate weakness at the same time (as best I can think of anyway)—and goes a ways beyond that too. It’s basically win-win for both Nintendo and gamers imo.
To me, this is a system and solution where I don’t think it would matter one bit how powerful Sony’s and Microsoft’s next consoles are; it would be so different and compelling a concept that they simply couldn’t touch it if their new systems are just more of the same but with extra power. And, the ability to use the NX as both a serious gaming console (handheld and home) as well as a sophisticated content-game creation/authoring tool would lift it well above all the current smartphones and tablets as well. If this system wasn’t lapped up by both gamers and third parties (certainly indies) out the gate then I doubt anything Nintendo could do at this point would be a notable success.
Unless it did a VR headset. . . .