A lot of rumors have been going around for some time on Nintendo’s upcoming fabled console codenamed the NX. Since Nintendo was basically a no-show at E3 this year the rumors have only become more inventive as fans try to figure out what Nintendo is planning. It’s no secret that Nintendo is hurting, between smartphones killing the handheld market and the Wii U flop Nintendo needs a big win. Recently Nintendo has attempted to spread into new fields, like movies and app games, but it seems too little too late since every other developer has been doing that for ages. I have to respect Nintendo for keeping the NX such a tight secret so long though, most big secrets usually don’t make it this long. While most fans expect some news or possible reveal at September’s Tokyo gaming convention Nintendo may have finally slipped up and let out more than they wanted.
There have been plenty of rumors to date, my favorite was how the NX would replace both the Wii U and the 3DS by doing both functions. The recent patent for the highly anticipated Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild states that it will use both optical disc and ROM chips. Typically only the Wii U patents mention optical disc while the 3DS uses only ROM chips. Why Breath of the Wild needs both is interesting, of course it is possible Nintendo is just over compensating but that doesn’t seem to be the case this time. It is also possible Breath of the Wild could be coming out on some new XDS but very unlikely. Could Nintendo be trying to return to the days of the N64? The problem is that a single patent isn’t much to go on but there is more.
It was also discovered by fans that Macronix, the company that provides the ROM chips for the 3DS, is already talking about a huge year thanks to the NX. Not only that but supposedly they are developing a new type of chip utilizing flash memory (think solid state drives) that would be almost 3 times the capacity of the current 3DS chip. Does it make sense to return to using cartridges? In a technical sense blu ray and optical drives have hit the ceiling in what they can do. At most Sony and Microsoft can upgrade the hardware (which they’re both doing already) but there are still limits that optical drives can’t overcome. The N64 was functionally better back in the day because load times were non-existent and games didn’t need to be downloaded to the system like today. However, N64 cartridges lacked memory which easily allowed optical disc to take over with superior size and graphics. Using new technology like flash memory, games could have almost seamless gameplay and far outstrip current blu ray.
The main question is, can Nintendo make a profit off this or will Nintendo games become that much more expensive? As anyone who has purchased a decent size solid state drive will know, they aren’t cheap. Shrink that down to the size of a chip and put an entire PS4 or Xbox One game on it, that’s going to cost someone. The NX has to be a huge hit for Nintendo or they may have to pull a Sega and leave the console war all together. There are other questions however, like if the NX uses ROM chips will it even have an optical drive? If it doesn’t then the system could be relatively small, maybe even small enough to fit into the handheld gamepad, the only part of the NX seen so far. Some fans have suggested it may utilize both but there is no clear benefit to it and it wouldn’t be cost effective, something Nintendo is watching closely these days. Hopefully in September the NX will be revealed putting all the rumors to bed but the ROM chip idea seems to make the most sense right now.