When high quality games are discussed, it doesn’t take long for a Nintendo game to become part of the conversation. To my knowledge, Nintendo have been creating high quality games since Jumpman was introduced in Donkey Kong (1981).
My first thought when I think about Nintendo is how delightfully playful their games feel. The entire screen is filled with playful polygons dressed in familiar saturated colours. The use of high contrasting colors was initially a consequence of hardware limitations, but eventually a deliberate and consistent choice to remain energetic, lively and family friendly.
The family friendly appeal however, doesn’t explain the enduring perception of high quality. This of course, relates more to game feel and mechanics. A classic Nintendo game feels tight, responsive and immediate, and the mechanics are brilliant – and is in my opinion, where the game truly shines. The player is given a limited repertoire of actions to manage, which the player quickly learns to master. But just as the player feels in control, the environment changes, forcing the player to relearn and adapt. This creates a rapid loop of skill mastery, which stimulates our brain and basically makes us feel good. Few games manage to do this as successfully and efficiently as Nintendo.
These good feelings associated with playing a Nintendo game is why we keep coming back, and also why their games are still appreciated more than 30 years later. Which brings me to Nintendos superior dedication to backwards compatibility, Virtual Consoles, and finally to the Nintendo NX.
I consider the Wii U to be the most complete game system available. It can play the entire catalogue of Wii games, several of which are truly classics! It supports all the controllers made for the Wii, and adds the GamePad which opened the door for assymmetric gameplay. Currently, the Wii U Virtual Console supports games for Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64 and recently the Nintendo DS.
If the Wii U wasn’t launched when and how it was, it might have sold better. But primarily I think consumers were a but weary of buying a second underpowered Nintendo console; especially as rumours about the new Playstation and Xbox were so completely focusing on processing power.
Nintendo’s next console, nicknamed NX, could fix this.
Nintendo NX to the Rescue!
This is what I’m thinking about the NX which we’ll likely see in 2017, or if they rush development, already for Christmas 2016, but I doubt it.
The NX will be given enough polygon pushing power to match the PS4. It might have an overlapping hardware architecture with an “NX Portable” widescreen gaming system to enable code sharing and speed up cross-platform development.
For the NX to retain backwards compatibility with the Wii U, which it has to in my opinion, it needs to support all the official game controllers. Personally I love the GamePad, and I hate the idea of seeing it dethroned and made optional, but if replaced by a dual-retina clamshelled NXP, then I’m all for it!
I’m also hoping that the NX will support multiple NXPs being used simultaneously. This should be possible as the NXP will be a client running the game itself, not a streaming device with game controls.
I’m hoping that the NX has native support for Wii U games, and that the Wii Virtual Console is available at launch – with several classic titles.
Finally, Nintendo should focus on getting third party involved from the get go, with at least a couple of high quality games in the launch lineup. The games don’t have to be exclusive to the platform; the important thing is that developers can target the NX without cutting corners, and show their dedication at launch.
I hate to see the Wii U go, but I love the idea of the NX having the power to support the fidelity seen on the Xbox On and PS4 at a time when both of them should have found their groove.