Nintendo NX Release Date May Have Leaked

What do We Know About the NX?

Last week, a Reddit user found a reference to the date March 4, 2017 (04/03/2017 in Europe) on Nintendo’s European product page for Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Amiibos.

Although the leak seems credible, especially since the NX is scheduled to release in March, there are a few reasons the March 4 release is suspect. First of all, it relates to Amiibo. It makes sense to release an amiibo alongside its game, but Nintendo has released amiibos months after their accompanying games, and the Wii U version of Twilight Princess already includes an amiibo which will work with Breath of the Wild.

Second, the date could be a placeholder. This is a common method used by retailers when a product hasn’t been released yet. A placeholder often lets customers pre-order a product despite an official release date being unannounced.

Now then, let’s go over what we do know about the NX. The NX’s existence was revealed at a March 2015 press conference by late Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata. Iwata described the project as “a dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept.” Nintendo confirmed soon afterward that the NX will launch in March 2017, although it wasn't shown at E3 this year.

The console is rumored to be a home/portable hybrid console, and the rumors were confirmed by Eurogamer in July. Eurogamer’s report says the NX will be a powerful handheld with its own screen and two detachable controllers for on-the-go multiplayer. This handheld will attach to a base station at home for playing on a TV.

“The console is rumored to be a home/portable hybrid console.”

Eurogamer’s report also suggested that the console would use cartridges and digital downloads for games. Supposedly, the console will use NVIDIA’s Tegra mobile processor and a new operating system (not simply Android, as earlier rumors had said). Nintendo doesn’t seem to be competing with Sony and Microsoft in terms of raw gaming power, instead aiming for portability and hardware innovation.

There are many factors in determining a console’s success during its lifecycle. First-party games, third-party support, pricing and more will be key in Nintendo’s newest console, but the greatest factor in the NX’s launch might be the controller.

“The greatest factor in the NX’s launch might be the controller.”

Nintendo’s Wii revolutionized motion in gaming, surpassing 100 million units sold, and inspiring Microsoft and Sony to do the same. Their Wii U was much less successful despite a killer offering of first-party games, with Nintendo failing to immediately establish the Wii U’s tablet controller as a crucial part of the system. The bulky tablet and its short battery life is hit or miss even in first-party games. A second screen, a companion app, a treasure map, or just a controller; third parties often found it difficult to take advantage of the tablet’s features.

So what do we know about the NX controller? In August, Let’s Play Video Games confirmed Eurogamer’s reports and added that the console’s controllers would support motion controls with the same accuracy and fidelity as the Wii’s MotionPlus controller. The controller will alo feature a vibration force feedback similar to that of the HTC Vive controller. NX will also support current Wiimotes, which will be compatible with certain multiplayer games, but Nintendo hopes to phase out the Wiimotes during the NX’s lifecycle.

Back in August, rumors circulated from Let’s Play Video Games that the NX would use a split directional pad. For those who haven’t noticed, Nintendo has used a proprietary solid directional pad since the original Nintendo, and the NX seems to be breaking tradition. The controller may also include a share button, similar to the the PlayStation 4’s Dualshock 4 controller. A share button will capture images and video for sharing with social media sites Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Miiverse, and allow storage on external media.

Always one for innovation, Nintendo might replace the familiar shoulder buttons with clickable scroll wheels, like the ones seen on mice. Last week, NeoGAF discovered a patent which describes the aforementioned replacement. The added functionality may be good for games with lots of menus, skipping back and forth in video apps, and might bring about some interesting control schemes.

All these rumors may be concerning for fans of the Zelda series, but Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma says the differences between the two versions of Breath of the Wild will be minor. In a roundtable discussion with GameSpot, Aonuma stated, “The users will be able to have the same experience with the NX version as they will with the Wii U version.” This is not surprising, as the Wii edition of Twilight Princess was graphically identical to the Gamecube version, with the exception of different controller icons.

That’s all we know for now, but the NX is scheduled to be officially unveiled sometime in September. If you’d like to hear more of our thoughts on what it will take for Nintendo to succeed, check out our Nintendo NX podcast.