If sources are right, Nintendo's NX console is a cartridge-based tablet-y thing

July 26, 2016 by Kris Ligman

Mock-up shows a main screen with detachable controllers; TV integration.

Nintendo is staying tight-lipped about its upcoming NX console, except to say that it isn't intended as a replacement for its current hardware line. However, Eurogamer has done a bit of digging and claims to have gotten in touch with multiple sources to confirm a few of the basics for this new machine.

First: it's a portable handheld console with a single display and two detachable controllers, one on each side. So in theory you can hold it as one unit, or pop off the controllers to play from a distance, with a buddy or otherwise. If "at a distance" sounds at odds with "portable-sized screen," that's because it's meant to hook up to your television via a base unit or docking station. So you can carry the device with you, then come home and hook it up to the TV to play from the couch. Here's Eurogamer's mock-up for the device:

Via Eurogamer. Via Eurogamer.

Curiously, Eurogamer also reports that the console will use cartridges. You might say the days of printing games on physical media are in our rearview now, but Nintendo's 3DS still uses them, as does Sony's PlayStation Vita. It's assumed the device will have access to the Nintendo eShop as well, but -- again, according to reports -- the technology behind the NX is so different from past hardware that backwards compatibility is likely off the table.

As for the device's capabilities, Eurogamer's Digital Foundry reports that current software development kits (specialized consoles sent to developers to build and test their games) are running on the same model of central processor as the Nvidia Shield, a high-end microconsole. This doesn't necessarily mean Nintendo thinks of its hardware as occupying the same market as the Shield, but it does suggest something more powerful than Nintendo's present handheld, the 3DS, while less powerful than its HD home console, the Wii U. This is probably what Nintendo means when it says the NX isn't going to replace the Wii U: if anything, it's sounding more like Sony's Vita, something to replace the 3DS while supplementing the current home console.

There's no mention of cross-play between the NX and Wii U, however, which would make it a more natural extension of the remote play capabilities of the Vita and Wii U's own gamepad -- but heck, I'm just spitballing based on reports here. Remember, none of this has been confirmed by Nintendo, which has specifically declined to comment on press speculation. Even if most of it is accurate, it's not uncommon for hardware specs to change before their official announcement, or even between announcement and release.

The NX is presently due to launch in March, 2017.

Top image is just a normal Wii U gamepad.