Does the Nintendo NX Stand a Chance?

 Photo Cred: ReviewTechUSA
Photo Cred: ReviewTechUSA

Early last week, eurogamer.com released a story that according to credible sources on their end, Nintendos upcoming platform codenamed the NX, will indeed function as the handheld/console hybrid that has been rumored for a while now. Furthermore, they have also gone on to say that the console will support both downloadable games, as well as classic styled cartridges.

     Since this news broke, it has been chaos across the board amongst Nintendo fans, with those taking sides for those in favor of the concept as well as those against it. Regardless of whether or not the platform turns out to be something different than expected, or does fall in line with the classic Nintendo move of aiming at a “new way to play”, one thing is for sure: Nintendo is going to have one hell of a time trying to regain the message. With the NX having already been confirmed for March of 2017, I have to wonder when Nintendo is planning to get in front of the speculation and tell its fans what the NX actually is. With TGS around the corner, and a busy fall for triple-A titles, I can’t understand what Nintendo is waiting for since they are only risking being drowned out by market noise the further into the year that they go. 

      Nevertheless, the NX will be announced at some point, and Nintendo will attempt to fulfill our gaming wishes as they lay out the roadmap for the upcoming platform. While we have already covered the NX in previous articles in which we discuss what the console should be, we have not discussed the hurdles it will need to overcome if it turns out to indeed be the hybrid console we are now catching wind of. As expected, the Internet forums are filled with why the console will fail, however I want to offer the idea that if done right- the hybrid could actually succeed. Before you continue reading (if I haven’t already lost you), clear your mind of all previous assumptions and judgments of a console like this, and let’s consider the possibilities in front of us. 

     While many have said that they want to see Nintendo get back to “true console gaming” (whatever that means), we have to accept that after more than a decade of experiments (with some succeeding beyond expectations *cough* Wii *cough*) Nintendo obviously has no interest in trying to compete in the same space as Sony and Microsoft. I know it’s a hard pill to swallow, but life immediately gets better once you do. Now that we have all that out of the way, here are three moves that could really change the way that majority of people are looking at the forthcoming announcement, and bring back those that have lost faith in the Nintendo brand.

1.) Offer Solution to the Console/Handheld Separation

This seems the most obvious, but if you are going to give us a portably console, then make sure everything is on there. Offer the solution so that both past 3DS and DS games, along with the new games such as Zelda: Breath of the Wild, are both supported on the platform day 1. No longer will we have to see the audience split on where they want to play tent pole franchises like Smash Bro’s, but instead all can exist on one platform and on one network. Now you don’t have to try and coordinate with your friends where they will buy the upcoming Mario Kart, since it will all be on the same box.

2.) Offer all the Classic Titles & Make them Affordable (Dammit!)

While the WiiU was promised to offer this feature, it has been an incredibly slow rollout of Nintendo classics- and all at a premium price. I understand that Nintendo probably organized this gradual rollout to help fill the long periods without major game releases- after all 3rd party support is almost non existent on the platform now- this cannot be an issue on the new system. If they come out saying that there is a back catalog of 150+ games with 20 more being added every month of Nintendo Classics from every era, then that will get the public’s attention. Just look at the response of the NES Classic Mini announcement- the demand is there, all they need to do is act on it.

3.) Work w/ 3rd Parties & Indie Studios alike

What is probably the most important aspect of the upcoming platform, is for Nintendo to re-establish the faith that they once had with outside developers. If it is one thing that the WiiU taught us, it was that Nintendo couldn’t succeed on their internal dev studio alone. While I think the reality of us getting a new Zelda, Mario, and Metroid in the first year of the consoles life cycle is looking more and more promising with each passing month as the WiiU is left out to die with no software- this could instead turn out to be what the PlayStation Vita had always aspired to be. Imagine being able to move from Zelda: Breath of the Wild to an indie title such as Severed in a matter of moments, and all on the bus ride to work- that is a future that I could live with.

Regardless of what the (hopefully near) future brings, Nintendo has got a lot of speculation and hype to live up to now. It’s time to get out in front of it all, and let the fans know why they should be excited for the upcoming platform. I have every ounce of faith in the house that Mario built, and their ability to stir things up and blindside us with some great announcements- all they need to do now is remind us why Nintendo is a household name.

Dear Nintendo: This is your time to shine…

Dear Nintendo,

This year’s E3 was a blast. A month later, and still the multitude of games being released in the near future have me scrambling to figure out how I’m going to make enough time for everything I want to play. But there’s also something else that has been keeping my attention, and it’s not so much what was announced, but rather, what wasn’t announced. While Microsoft and Sony had strong showings this year, announcing new titles left and right; you showed up with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Now, while I enjoyed and am thoroughly excited about this release, I couldn’t help but feel your effort was underwhelming this year. And with the looming threat of Sony and Microsoft’s new console iterations set to contend with your upcoming console, the NX; I was expecting more of a presence from you. And yet, I believe Nintendo is in the best position to surprise everyone and become a contender in the console war once again.

Now before I go into what my hopes are on what you have planned, I must confess I rarely play Nintendo games. I’ve repeatedly bought, played, and sold multiple 3DS’s and my WiiU is put away in the box in which it came. While you will always be synonymous with home console gaming, to me, you have become background noise to the loud progressions of Sony and Microsoft. Now, you’ve responded to these competitors in the past by introducing new ways for the public to enjoy games; being the first to fully utilize motion controls. But rather than finding a different avenue than Sony and Microsoft, maybe it’s time to learn from your competitors to improve your overall product. Not saying they are better! But rather I think you can take bits and pieces from them and improve yourself for the better old friend. That’s perhaps the whole reason I’m writing you. To tell you the truth, we need to catch up with the rest of the gaming community and it needs to start with your hardware.

The major reason my WiiU remains in its box is due to the lack of third party support by game developers. More often than not, triple-A titles are released on your competitor’s consoles and you’re left high and dry. Simply, all of this comes down to your hardware not being able to run the same games as your counterparts. The WiiU wasn’t built to support what third party developers are making, and therefore you were left in the dust. But now, you have a great opportunity to finally come out swinging and provide the power that gamers and developers are used to at this point. By securing this vital aspect of your new console, you can begin to rely on what has always been your strength throughout your lifetime, your first party games. 

The major reason I still own my WiiU is because of the unique experiences that only Nintendo can offer. With the release of the NX, we have the potential to see modern iterations of some of the most beloved franchises in gaming. We’ve already glimpsed at the new Zelda game, but that is only one of the many series you have at your disposal. You have to capitalize on these and pump out some new content to feed our nostalgia. Modern updates to these classic franchises with current gen visuals is enough to have fans reinvigorated in the Nintendo brand. While I understand you have to protect these brands, that doesn’t mean we can’t see new versions of Metroid or Mario. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel- but instead polish and install new features, so I want to buy the wheel again.

I believe with the support of third party developers as well as your genre defining first party games, the NX can be the perfect place where a gamer’s nostalgia and wonder can coexist harmoniously. You have the experience. You have the opportunity. I know the majority of buzz is surrounding the PS NEO and Project Scorpio, but that just means you will take your potential fans by surprise. Take solace in the fact that everyone wants to see you succeed, and we will be celebrating when you do. But to reach that success again, you must catch up with our needs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sincerely,

                                                                                                Joe Fatani

Can the ‘Nintendo NX’ Keep Up With Neo & Scorpio?

 Photo Cred: Pocket-lint.com
Photo Cred: Pocket-lint.com

     Winter is coming friends… With the fallout finally clearing from the E32016 conference, we have a mostly clear vision of what the console market has in store for us as gamers. From the not-officially-announced-but-everyone-keeps-talking-about-it PSneo from Sony, to the busy 18 month period Microsoft has in store in launch not one but two consoles: Xbox One S & Project Scorpio. If it were not for the incredible showing that Zelda:Breath of the Wild gave us, most people would call that list complete and move on. However, we still have the forthcoming announcement of the Nintendo NX expected to launch March of 2017. With the official reveal imminent, one can only wonder if Nintendo still has what it takes to remain competitive in a market that seems so overwhelmed with Sony Microsoft products. After all if it is one thing that the WiiU taught us, it is that this is not the Nintendo of old.

     While there is still a ton that we don’t know about the NX, there are a few small facts that we do know. Late last year there were reports going around saying that the upcoming console will boast “industry leading chips” that should rival the power of current generation technology. However, this is was in reference to the PS4 Xbox One, not the upcoming Neo and Scorpio. If it is one thing that has been true about Nintendo platforms since the days of the N64, it is that they have trailed behind their competitors in platform capability and power. While they have found success in obvious ones like the original Wii, in today’s market where everyone is now looking at quicker platform iteration turnover just to keep up with changing technology, I can only hope that Nintendo sees similar success. 

     The WiiU was a clear indicator that Nintendo has to offer a system that appeals to not only the consumer, but to the 3rd party developers as well- without this, they will fail. Now don’t get me wrong, I adore the consoles that Nintendo has given us and I have owned a WiiU since day one (although it is definitely covered in an inch of dust right now). Before you take this as a Nintendo bash, I just merely want to see the publisher succeed. I grew up on their systems and developed friendships with most of the characters in their robust library of titles. The thing that I want to stress is that Nintendo cannot expect or afford to come out and have another half baked system launch with no 3rd party support. Nintendo is wealthy, but money does not last forever and businesses have overhead, they need to succeed with this upcoming console.

     Now I want to pass the question to you, the reader. What do you think it would take to win over the gaming community and court the 3rd parties once more? Are you already planning on buying the console? Or have you moved on from the platform, just waiting for their software to arrive on other consoles one day? Let me know in the comments below.

E32016: Who Won the Conference Battle this Year?

Wow… what an incredible few days for the gaming industry. Between every showcase, conference, game announcement, bad joke made, and awesome kimono wearing game developer on stage, it is needless to say that E32016 will be one to remember. That goes for all consoles, developers, and publishers involved: from us at The Gamer HUD, we say well done on another exceptional year.

Now down to business. Let me begin by saying, that this is solely my opinion and those that write for The Gamer HUD could have differing opinions. In other words, direct the hatred directly at me *Wink*. Since I think most can say that the argument will come down to either Microsoft or Sony, let’s address the others. To note: I have bolded each conference if you waned to skip sections.

EA kicked off the entire thing Sunday, with a one hour presentation showing us what CEO Andrew Wilson prefaced as “a quick glimpse into what we have in development”, truer words have never been spoken. In their 60 minutes, they managed to cover all known titles in development such as Battlefield1 and Madden NFL 2017. But the thing that made me a little frustrated with the conference, as I am sure it did to many of you reading this as well, they glossed over Mass Effect: Andromeda. Yes they showed someone drawing concept art of characters with small glimpses into the universe, with a short trailer at the end, but I can’t wrap my head around why they wouldn’t start the whole thing with a 5 minute gameplay demo; or something of that nature. Anything more on that front would have been welcomed. Instead they kept it high level and gave us a solid 10 minute “Making Of” look at Fifa 17 powered by the beloved Frostbite engine… Needless to say, there was some sadness in that conference for me.

Grade: C+

Bethesda had a solid conference, even though a good amount of it had been leaked before the show. Still managing to surprise and impress, they showed revivals like Prey, the highly anticipated Dishonored 2, and even managed to throw in an easter egg or two with the Wolfenstein: New Colossus imageI am glad that Bethesda decided to keep their conference this year at E3, even though many thought that it would be unlikely. But announcements such as Skyrim Remasters and Quake Champions, made for a solid showing. Well done Bethesda

Grade: B+

Ubisoft… if there is one thing that you cannot say about this conference, is that it was too short. Clocking in at almost 2 hours long, I can’t possibly imagine how anxious the audience was to get the hell out of there by the time Aisha Tyler closed out the show with some closing thoughts. On that note, we saw plenty. From promising games such as Ghost Recon Wildlands, to the highly anticipated South Park: Fractured But Whole, they had more than enough to keep us entertained. In a way I felt like Ubisoft suffered the exact opposite of what EA did, way too much content over a long (seriously, can’t hit this one home hard enough) period of time. If Ubisoft had packed that down into 1 hour, with no on stage interviews, dance performances, developer personalities, VR Exercises, and movie documentaries (did I mention that this conference was long?), this could have been an excellent show. They had all the right games there, just went overboard with it. Next year, just trim the fat and you will be set.

Grade: B-

Nintendo held their (now) annual Treehouse Live Event, headlining Zelda: Breath of the Wild. With the exception of a 45 minute Pokemon: Sun & Moon demo, Zelda was the only game that Nintendo felt the need to show off. Trust me, if you have been living under a rock for the last 48 hour hours, they made the right choice. Extensive play throughs from the beginning of the game, closer looks at the new game mechanics, a new beautiful world to explore (seriously, stop reading this and go watch a video of this- it’s that damn good), and the reveal of Voice Acting for the first time in the franchise, made for a solid showing. Although we didn’t receive any info on the upcoming Nintendo NX, this was expected since they had prefaced that the console would be revealed and detailed in a separate event. All around, Nintendo handled the situation well. They doubled down on Zelda and man did it payoff… Several Game of the Show awards will be going to that one. 

Grade: A-

Microsoft had once again, another phenomenal show. Ever since Phil Spencer took over the Xbox division, the companies dedication to serving the “Player” with games and community desired console features, never fails to amaze me. Coming out swinging for the fences with the announcement of the XboxOneS model, then immediately following up with games like Gears of War 4 taking the stage for a live gameplay demo, it was clear in just the first 15 minutes of the conference that Microsoft was not messing around. Announcements like Xbox Music Playlist feature, customizable controllers, and Looking For Group made it clear that they had been listening to player and community feedback. In the game lineup area, revealing Dead Rising 4, showing us more of Sea of Thieves, and giving us the reveal date for Inside (June 29th), Microsoft gave us 90 minutes of entertainment. You would be hard pressed to not see at least 3 announcements that make you excited for the future of this platform. And of course, ending the conference with the long rumored Project Scorpio announcement, would help make sure that everyone would be buzzing about next years official reveal. Although they didn’t go too far into detail of the console specs, they gave us a solid 2 minute video reiterating that the current iteration would not be replaced by this one and would actually boast to be the most powerful gaming console on the market. That is a huge promise to make, but one that I know that this Phil Spencer lead Xbox can fulfill. 

Grade: A

Sony… What a conference. To say that this conference was great, would be underselling it. Instead of leading the whole Horse and Pony Show out on stage and gave us buzz phrases like “Greatness Awaits” and all that jazz, they decided to let their games do the talking. And that made all the difference. With a short introduction from Shawn Layden and tribute the victims over the past weekend, we were greeted with a live orchestra and the reveal of God of War. A game that has been rumored for a while now, they walked us through a 10 minute gameplay demo of a different style of Kratos, leading many in the auditorium to applause. What followed was several more exclusive titles to the PlayStation Platform. Titles like The Last Guardian and its release date, a full gameplay demo of Horizon: Zero Dawn, a choice filled trailer for Detroit: Become Human, and Sony Bend’s Days Gone reveal. Nor did it stop there, Resident Evil VII, Spiderman from Insomniac, a Crash Bandicoot Remaster announcement, and of course walking Hideo Kojima on stage to show off the teaser trailer for the Sony exclusive Death Stranding. Yep, Sony delivered one punch after another, with no signs of slowing. Instead of overstaying their welcome (at this point in the show, I don’t think a single person would have minded another hour worth of content at this rate), they finished off with a final look at the gameplay for Days Gone, and filled that The Last of Us 2 post apocalyptic void in our hearts. PlayStation 4 has sold over 40 mill units to date, and Sony just gave a whole lot more people reason(s) to invest in the system. Well Done.

Grade: A+

Conclusion… You still with me? Good. Like I said before, this was a summary of my thoughts and opinions on the conference. Now before anyone goes calling me a fan boy of this or that, let me challenge you to keep one thing in mind. Every show gave us something to be excited for. Every single one. With the competition between industry giants like Xbox & Sony being as heated as it is right now- WE are the ones that win. So tonight as I boot up any one of my consoles, whether it be the Xbox One, the PS4, or have to wipe piles of dust off of my WiiU (Sorry, I had to), I will be smiling with anticipation for the things to come.

 

 

Why Nintendo’s E3 Strategy is Smart

The last time that Nintendo held a show case at E3 was 2012, the same year that games like Watchdogs and Gears of War:Judgement were headlining the game reveals. Since this time, Nintendo has built a strategy in direct communication with their hardcore audience via Nintendo Direct: prerecorded video pieces outlining everything “Nintendo”. This year will be no different, as they have made it clear that the only presence they will physically have in the hall is their E3 booth promoting one game only: The Legend of Zelda. Really at this point, that is the only game of theirs (announced) that matters.

While many view this as Nintendo recognizing that they cannot compete with the high level of game announcements from rivaling platforms or just a closer look at their lack of 3rd party support, I think it is much more strategic than that. 2016 is going to be the year where you will be hard pressed to go more than 3 minutes without hearing the term “VR” or the highly anticipated PSNeo or Xbox 1.5. My question to the individual ready to condemn Nintendo is this: would you really want Nintendo to announce a new platform around all that noise? 

It’s no secret that the WiiU was a massive flop, and Nintendo recognizes that. They would be crazy to try and introduce a new platform after the past missteps among two rivaling giants who together have somewhere around 60+ million units sold, especially when they have plans to iterate on top of that. Nintendo understands where the market is at, and this is why they are smart to pull back and keep their leading pony up front: The Legend of Zelda. Very few games have the same brand power that could hold its own against titles like Call of Duty or Battlefield, and most of those other games reside in the same stable as Zelda. 

If I was the man behind the curtain making all of the marketing strategies at Nintendo, I would continue the path they are on. Double down on the Zelda name, and build hype around the new platform they will reveal later this year at their own event. I would announce no more than 7-10 key titles for launch window, with promise of 3rd party support. Finally, E3 2017 I would steal the spotlight of the show with an announcement as the “Year Nintendo Comes Back to E3”. 

Never forget how smart Nintendo is. While I will be the first to say that I don’t think they will ever have the market dominance that they once had, there will always be a need for their product. While the skeptics will throw stones and say “Nintendo is dead”, I would remind you that they are as smart as a fox, and it’s only a matter of time till they remind us why. 

What do you think? How would you handle the E3 situation, or would you ever go back? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Is the Nintendo NX another “Gimmick”?

In an interview with Asahi Shimbum, Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima has described the upcoming platform as “a new way of playing games, which I think will have a larger impact than the Wii U.” It is no surprise that their next console will have a new feature that they would claim could change the way games are played, this is the same company that created the rumble pack along with other industry changing innovations. 

The question that Nintendo will have to answer, after the downward spiral of the Wii U, is why should the average gamer care? Nintendo will always have their hardcore fan base that will buy their product, however the Wii U proved that they cannot survive on this pool alone. In a day that Microsoft and Sony rule the gaming space (from a console perspective), it could prove rather difficult to find their footing once again. Will the NX be the next Wii? 

While Nintendo has confirmed that they will not be showing off the new console this year at E32016, they did go on to say that they would be holding a separate event for the introduction of the platform. What do you think, can they make noise in the console market again? Or do you want to see them move to a primarily software based movement onto other platforms? Let us know in the comments below.