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Monday gamer fix: Can Nintendo turn things around?

Iconic game giant has put out some stinkers lately, but they may have a plan to reclaim their throne
Nintendo has been a mainstay in the video game industry since the release of the NES in 1985. But the Big N hasn’t been doing so hot this past couple of year, banking on nostalgia to keep its head above water. Nintendo Entertainment

Nintendo has been a mainstay in the video game industry since the release of the NES in 1985. But the Big N hasn’t been doing so hot this past couple of years. The company released the Wii U in 2012, a new system that gave us the gamepad – a controller with a screen in the middle that was meant to augment gameplay in new and exciting ways. 

Sadly, it never lived up to its expectation and no game truly took advantage of the second screen until recently. But even with the console falling short of its dynamite predecessor the Wii, there were still plenty of fantastic games released for it. 

But sadly, what started out as a steady stream of games throughout the year, has been reduced to a trickle. What this usually signifies is that a system is near its end. And for Nintendo, this is absolutely true. 

Last year, at the same time as they announced they would enter the mobile market and develop games for smartphones, Nintendo announced the codename of their next console: NX. They announced the name in order to reassure their fans and investors that they would continue to make hardware and games to support it. But just those two letters made people start looking towards the future. 

The Wii U was clearly a failure and no game or added feature was going to change that. So gamers sat patiently and waited for Nintendo to announce some news on the NX and what kind of box it would be. We now know that it will hit shelves in spring of 2017, most likely in March, and will receive "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" alongside the Wii U. 

Other than that, all we have to go off of is a bevy of rumours, leaked patents and insider information. Most of this points to the NX bridging the gap between handhelds and consoles.

Nintendo currently has two pillars: the handheld 3DS, with two screens and glasses-less 3D, and the Wii U, the aforementioned console with a tablet screen stuck in its controller. The NX – if you believe rumors and speculation – could be both. The controller would also be the handheld, which could be detached from the system and taken with you as you explore the wide-open world. 

It’s a very cool concept, and one that would change how games are approached, which is something Nintendo has been trying to do for years. The Wii managed this for a brief time, but people quickly fell out of love with wagging their remotes at their TVs. But being able to stop playing a game on your couch, switch the experience to the handheld and keep on playing is a very tantalizing idea — that only works if both systems have nearly identical hardware.

You can use the Wii U gamepad screen to play games without the need for a TV, but the screen isn’t an HD display, making every game look darker and less impressive. This wouldn’t work if the NX were pitched as one unit that can function as two. The graphical fidelity needs to be seamless across both devices, letting players experience their favorite Nintendo franchise from the comfort of their own home or on the go. 

The other thing Nintendo needs to hammer out is their online network. Currently, online accounts are linked to the console, so if you lose or break your machine, you have to make a new account and repurchase every digital game you already spent your hard-earned cash on. 

This isn’t how Xbox and PlayStation do it, which just makes Nintendo look like it’s behind the times. And they are.

We need to be able to make one account that can be transferred and shared across platforms and systems. It just makes more sense than creating an entirely new profile for every single machine you purchase from the company. 

These are criticisms Nintendo has faced for years. It's a company that's very slow to change. They heavily rely on nostalgia mixed with new ideas and try to survive without any third-party support (no "Call of Duty," "Assassin’s Creed", etc.). Some see the NX as the company returning to its roots, reclaiming the gaming throne, and reminding everyone who has ever picked up a controller why Nintendo is a household name.

But we still have a little bit of a wait until that happens. So what can you play from Nintendo this summer while you wait for the NX to finally reach store shelves? Well, there’s Pokémon Sun and Moon for 3DS, and not too much other than that. You can hop around a new Paper Mario game, explore the two new Yo-Kai Watch games (essentially Pokémon games where you collect spirits instead of colorful critters) for 3DS, or stumble through a new 3DS Mario Party, but there isn’t anything groundbreaking. 

Strangely enough, the Nintendo holiday release I’m most excited for isn’t actually anything new. The company is once again banking on nostalgia and releasing a new version of the classic NES. Called the NES Classic Edition, it’s a small box with 30 classic NES games preloaded onto it. It’s essentially a fun way to replay some of the best games ever made. And at the low asking price of $60 it isn’t hard to see why thousands of Nintendo fans cannot wait for November, now. 

It’s a great way to get your Nintendo fix while you wait for their next big offering to come out in the form of the enigmatic NX.

The future isn’t certain for Nintendo. They don’t have many big titles coming out; their next console is announced, but still a complete mystery, and people are beginning to lose hope in the company that made most of us gamers to begin with. 

Hopefully, we’ll find out every last detail of NX soon enough and the gaming giant will reclaim its throne. 

Matthew Herst is a Carleton University communications student, video game journalist and’s resident geek writer. Yeah, this guy love’s video games. Besides, you can also find his work on Follow him on Twitter @supergurst.


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