In March 2017, Nintendo will reportedly do what every other console and tablet maker has failed to do: Give us a console that seamlessly moves between portable and stationary gaming. Tom Phillips at Eurogamer reports that the new console will be a tablet with controllers on either side that can be detached from proper Wiimote-style gesturing. The tablet could also connect to a TV for more traditional console gaming. Eurogamer also says that the device will run on an Nvidia Tegra chip and will use cartridges like that yellowed SNES game at the bottom of your closet.
The latter claim is startling, since it immediately bumps up the size of the tablet. You can’t have something sleek like a Surface, or even an iPad, when you need a port big enough to handle a cartridge.
The former claim about the Nvidia Tegra chip isn’t as new, but it’s much more intriguing. Back in May rumours began circulating that the Nintendo NX would have a Tegra chip in it. The Tegra K1 being in the very excellent Nvidia hybrid console, the Shield tablet, and the 4K-capable X1 appearing in the Shield set top box. The X1 is a great chip that provides some fantastic power for gaming with PS3 quality graphics and above. So it would be the perfect sort of chip for a new hybrid console.
However, the X1 will be two years old by the time the NX comes to market, and unless you’re Apple, it’s suicide to put such an old piece of hardware into a brand new machine. In a second report that dropped today, Eurogamer suggests that the NX will actually be running the unannounced but almost certainly incoming Tegra X2, which would have similar graphics capability to the X1 but use a lot less power. Again, that’s perfect for a hybrid console.
This would also help Nintendo distinguish itself from competitors like Sony and Microsoft. While those companies are releasing souped up consoles to tackle 4K and VR, Nintendo is focusing on something absurd. Both the Nvidia Shield tablet and the PS Vita have already proven that people have no desire to plug their portable games into the TV, and the lacklustre sales of the Wii U suggests that people don’t really want to lug around an enormous controller and console either.
Could the promise of more Mario and Link really change gamers’ mood? And could the graphics pushed out by Nvidia’s next-gen processor be enough to compete with the eye candy offered by the Playstation and the Xbox?
We’ll have to wait until March to find out. Though Nintendo is expected to announce the new console in the next few months. Meantime, we’ve reached out to both Nintendo and Nvidia for comment. Nvidia has not yet responded. Nintendo declined to comment.