Now that it’s been confirmed that the rumored Nintendo NX console is actually in development, with reports suggesting that it will be being manufactured by October, many are looking towards the new console to deliver in the ways that the Wii U didn’t.
While I fell in love with many games released on Nintendo’s current console, there were a number of unavoidable issues with it that led to it garnering mediocre sales, causing Nintendo to speed up development on its successor. With that being said, let’s take a look at the mistakes Nintendo made with the Wii U that they could learn from when developing the NX, and what features I would personally like to see introduced on the new console.
A Comprehensive Virtual Console
Nintendo’s back catalog puts those of Sony and Microsoft’s to shame. While those in attendance at E3 were hooping and hollering over the news that the Xbox One was going backwards compatible, I was left asking myself just how many Xbox 360 games I’d still want to play. I mean, I loved the console (at least until its embarassing final couple of years in which everything was dropped in favor of ramming the Kinect down our throats), but the majority of its best games have either since had sequels/are going to have sequels that will render them obsolete, can still be purchased on other platforms such as the PC, or have had remakes/remastered versions of them put into development for the Xbox One.
But then you’ve got Nintendo. With a huge library of first- and third-party games dating all the way back to the ’80s, Nintendo’s library of games is unrivaled. Unfortunately, their Virtual Console has always been a pretty lackluster way of bringing these games to the owners of their later consoles, and only in the latter portion of the Wii U’s life cycle did they appear to make a concerted effort to change that around. If Nintendo unveiled the Nintendo NX and, along with a selection of brand new games, they also revealed that there would be 50 – 100 ports of old Nintendo games available on a revamped, potentially rebranded Virtual Console, a LOT of Nintendo fans would be happy.
I’m not just talking about the typical selection of games such as Super Mario World and Mario Bros. 3, either; I’m talking a mixture of popular classics, games that never released in the US such as Mother 3 and, maybe if Nintendo hooked up with SEGA again, even old Genesis, Dreamcast and Saturn games could make the cut. While Nintendo doesn’t have the third-party support to pull off a PlayStation Plus style monthly membership in which free NX games are dished out monthly to subscribers, releasing a selection of old Nintendo games each month would certainly keep interest levels high and ensure that, if the NX fell into that Nintendo console trap of not having very many new games released on it for an extended period of time, there would still be plenty of games for owners of the console to play in the meantime.
A Dedication to its Unique Selling Point
I really enjoy the Wii U and I’ve fell in love with plenty of games that have released on the console, but the one thing that’s baffled me about it was how little effort Nintendo put in when it came to showcasing how the touchscreen Gamepad controller could positively impact upon its games. It’s telling that since the console was released, the game that has made the most use of the Gamepad is still one of its launch titles, Nintendo Land. It’s also telling that Nintendo Land is still a staple of any evening in which I invite a few friends ’round to play a video games, much like the way Wii Sports was always on heavy rotation with the Wii – only the Wii actually had other games that took advantage of its motion controllers.
The Wii U needed more games like Nintendo Land, but instead Nintendo mostly pushed the controller into the background of its first-party games, giving up on it due to the plethora of criticisms it received regarding it being too “gimmicky.” While that wasn’t the case, and the controller actually had a bunch of ways in which it could have potentially been inventively applied, Nintendo seemed to side with the general consensus and swiftly give up on trying to prove the merit of the Gamepad. If Nintendo is to introduce a new, unique controller for the NX, which the company is prone to do, then hopefully they back it up with an array of games built specifically with that controller in mind.
A Greater Emphasis on its Online Features
Nintendo’s library of games is far more kid-friendly than those of their peers, but they still have a huge selection of adult fans who follow the company from console to console. As one of these adult fans, I’ve found myself consistently disappointed when it has come to the mediocre online functionality incorporated into their games. I loved Mario Kart 8, but the game would have undoubtedly been in rotation for far longer on my Wii U if Nintendo would have granted me the ability to talk with my friends in-game whilst racing. Instead, the company cordoned off voice chat into the pre- and post-match lobbies, a nonsensical decision that meant that I couldn’t taunt my rivals during a race, instead having to wait for a brief window in which I could do so after each round.
Nintendo has always been reluctant to introduce voice chat due to the problems it could potentially present for its younger players, and that is completely understandable. However, allowing voice chat between players who are on each others’ friends lists seems like a no-brainer, and them not doing so has always come across as them being stubborn to adapt. The Wii U was a console that would have greatly benefited from Nintendo loosening its shackles when it came to online play, with it boasting three games in the form of Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. and Splatoon that could have easily become some of the most beloved online games of this console generation had Nintendo had not resisted against allowing communication between players.
I hope that the NX represents a change in attitude from Nintendo when it comes to online multiplayer, and while I agree with their decision to not introduce youngsters to the world of vile vitriol that is online chat, I do feel that by introducing the minor addition of allowing people on each other’s friends lists to chat in-game, the whole online experience will be improved monumentally. Who knows, they may even introduce party chat!