Nintendo hasn't officially revealed its upcoming new NX video game console, but the rumor mill has churned for months regarding the exact nature of the hardware. Eurogamer is the latest to stir the pot with a report stating that the NX is a portable console with detachable controllers that also plugs into your home television for proper home console gaming as well. There's also talk that the NX uses cartridges rather than discs. I don't usually report on rumors, but this one is fun to think about, so I'll bite. Here's Tom Phillips at Eurogamer:
Considering NX's basis as a handheld first and foremost, the choice may not come as too much of a surprise - although we have heard the suggestion Nintendo recommends a 32GB cartridge, which is small when considering the size of many modern games.
Naturally, we expect digital game downloads will also be available. We were told Nintendo considered but then decided against making a system which supported digital downloads only.
There's a lot to like about this idea. Nintendo no longer needs to split development of a title to accommodate both handheld and home markets (The most recent Super Smash Bros. games for Wii U and 3DS which are essentially the same game but each tweaked and compromised in some way with their host platforms in mind say hello). Moreover, if publishers are interested in porting their popular games to the NX, suddenly there are handheld versions of, say, Overwatch, available for the same price as the home console version. Of course, that assumes that publishers would want to rework their games to run on the NX. It's been said for years that people buy Nintendo hardware to play Nintendo games, full stop, and with Nintendo going off in their own direction again, I doubt belief that will change much.
The 32GB cartridge size sounds bizarrely small in today's world of bigger games and larger storage mediums. Cartridges make sense if the system is portable; nobody wants to mess with easily damaged discs on the go (Sony PlayStation Portable, we're all looking at you!), but with today's big name games swelling to fit Blu-ray discs, it sounds like Nintendo does not expect for today's (or tomorrow's) truly massive games to fit on the NX. That's not too far removed from how the Wii U thinks small with its storage capacities in both disc media and hard drive size. Doing more with less is the Nintendo way, so I shouldn't be so surprised, but I hope there's a SD card slot included for on-board storage expansion. I put the largest SD card I had into my Nintendo 3DS on the first day I turned it on and have never needed to look back (whereas my Sony PlayStation Vita's overpriced proprietary 32GB memory card filled up early on and I have been swapping games on and off of it on a regular basis ever since, but comparing 3DS and Vita games is comparing apples and higher resolution oranges).
The most important thing that this rumored version of the NX must do, however, is support a clean and rapid suspend feature. When playing a large game like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the go, I need the game to immediately start up when I wake the NX. In that spirit, it needs to immediately go back to sleep at a moment's notice. The Nintendo DS and 3DS understand this; open the lid to immediately start playing, snap it shut to put it away with no progress lost. If I have a spare moment to play NX while I'm out and around, I do not want to waste part of that time waiting for the game to load, nor can I wait around when I suddenly need to stop playing and move on.
While backward compatibility with the Wii and Wii U (and presumably 3DS) is out with this product, I would expect and even demand that my existing Virtual Console library transfer to the NX cleanly. Nintendo has an account system now. It's long past time for Nintendo to know which games I've purchased as downloads over the past few years. Even if I need to pay that slight upgrade fee to bring my Wii U and 3DS VC purchases to the NX, I am not willing to start over buying NES and Super NES classics at full price all over again.
With all of this in mind, I could get behind this NX hardware. Unifying home and handheld gaming into a single machine would surely help Nintendo's business since they would only need to support one platform. However, here's hoping that the NX isn't giving into the compromises that can plague portable systems compared to their home console cousins. If the Ice Climbers can't appear on the NX version of Super Smash Bros. because the hardware is too weak, you know there will be hell to pay.