Let’s not beat around the bush. We all know Nintendo’s legendary gaming status. We know about the Wii's insane success, not to mention the disappointment that was the Wii U.
We’re not here to talk about either of those; Nintendo’s ups and downs have been analysed to death elsewhere.
Instead, we’re going to look to the future - a future that will see Nintendo enter the smartphone gaming world, and one that will also bless gamers with an all-new console.
That console is currently only known as the NX, and it's a mysterious beast. Very little is known about it at this stage, but that doesn’t mean some rumours and leaks haven’t slipped through the net.
Here’s everything we know about Nintendo’s upcoming fun box.
So then. What exactly is the NX? Is it a traditional plug-into-your-telly console like the Wii? Or is it more of a flexible offering like the Wii U, which has a portable controller with a second screen for gaming in any room in your house?
Actually, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima has promised that the Nintendo NX won't be like the Wii or Wii U, but will instead be a "brand-new [gaming] concept."
Does that mean it couldn't be a hybrid of the two? A particularly interesting line from the leaked market research campaign that's provided us with most of the early NX info refers to how “gameplay flows between the Nintendo NX console and Nintendo NX handheld device”.
This sounds identical to the Wii U setup, but the ’NX handheld device’ might actually be a portable gaming machine, complete with a built-in screen and controls, that can operate and run games independently of the console itself.
In fact, a late July report by Eurogamer, gleaned from multiple sources, claims the NX will be a handheld portable console with its own screen and two detachable controller modules - one on each side of the display. A base unit or docking station, meanwhile, will allow you to easily connect the portable NX unit to your TV.
The 3DS is coming up on its fifth birthday, after all. Is it time for retirement?
Nintendo’s reputation for controllers is legendary. From the minimalistic NES controller to the winged N64 controller and Wiimote, the company’s pedigree speaks for itself. But NX could have something very different than the plastic-heavy offerings of the past.
The oval-shaped touchscreen device is nothing short of barmy, anyway, with two physical analog sticks popping right through the glass. The shoulder buttons seen from some angles were apparently clickable scroll wheels rather than flat buttons.
The idea behind the screen is for developers to create their own buttons, rather than flood the controller with controls not every game needs. That would have allowed for loads of flexibility, and potentially new styles of console gameplay, but would have been a big shift away from other console controllers.
It would also have made third party support very tricky - something that's hobbling the Wii U right now. Hopefully Nintendo has learned that making it easier for devs to port their games will keep its consoles in the race.
If Nintendo is going down the hybrid approach, then you could presumably take the controller on the road and still enjoy your games without the console.
A few days prior to those images leaking, another image was posted of a white version, complete with a touch interface running on the screen. The hoaxers were hoping that multiple images and sources would prove they were legit, but the truth came out eventually.
They might be fakes, but the pics do have some merit. They're a near-identical match for Nintendo's own patent drawing, which emerged back in December. There's still a chance Nintendo will adapt the design into something a bit more familiar in time for the NX launch.
If Eurogamer's report on the NX being a portable machine with detachable controller modules is accurate, it could be that, when you're playing on your TV, you detach the controller modules from the handheld NX (the report claims they bookend the screen), then clip them back together in order to control games from the couch.
The leaked survey mentions gameplay graphics that run at 900p/60fps, which is actually a step down from the Wii U’s 1080p graphics, albeit at a higher refresh rate.
With Sony almost definitely working on a 4K-ready PS4, and Microsoft looking at hardware upgrades too, it would make sense for Nintendo to make its next games machine pretty beefy too.
If it used off-the-shelf parts from AMD, it would make porting games between consoles a lot easier, too. Both the Xbox One and PS4 use AMD internals.
But wait! According to Eurogamer, multiple sources have confirmed that the NX will run on Nvidia Tegra technology - perhaps the Tegra X1 processor, which is currently found powering the Nvidia Shield Android TV console, Google's Pixel C tablet and, the sources say, NX development kits. The X1 is pretty powerful, but not in the same league as the PS4 and Xbox One's equivalents.
Eurogamer also posits - with a decidedly cautious tone - that the X1 in the NX development kits could in fact be a placeholder an upcoming Tegra X2. Nvidia hasn't officially announced anything about this being used in anything aside from its Drive PX 2 self-driving car technology, so it's definitely a big leap to suggest it's going to be the beating heart of Nintendo's next console. But if it were, it would make it a very powerful console indeed - something more akin to the PS4 and Xbox One than the Nvidia Shield.
Running on Android?
Japanese newspaper Kikkei said the NX could run a modified version of Android, which would let developers create casual games as well as big-name titles.
Nintendo was quick to slap that rumour down, though, telling the Wall Street Journal that there was “no truth to the report”. So that’s that, we suppose.
Shareable in-game achievements are a little more realistic. A Nintendo patent spotted by Nintendo Enthusiast shows a system for achievements and social sharing.
They haven't made it onto a Nintendo system yet, despite taking off in a big way on Xbox and PlayStation, so it's something that looks highly likely to make it to the final retail console.
Return of the cartridge
This might be hard to believe, but there’s a chance Nintendo could ditch discs for cartridges.
A patent filed in February last year outlines how flash storage-based cartridges can hold more data than disc equivalents, while being less prone to scratching. We don’t think many gamers would complain about the nostalgia factor, either.
Could it actually be true? We rather hope so - but only if Nintendo finds a way to keep the price down, and if it doesn't stop third party devs from bringing their games to NX.
Update 11/05/16: More fuel is added to the cartridge rumour fire. Macronix, the company which manufactures Nintendo's 3DS cartridges, has stated that it expects its profits to soar after March 2017 - around the same time the NX console itself could be launched.
Nintendo started sending out NX development kits late last year according to the Wall Street Journal, so we know that NX titles are more than likely in the works.
Obviously there’s no official launch title list so early before launch, but some developers have spoken up.
Square Enix says it’s considering the NX for Dragon Quest XI, and Super Smash Bros is expected too, after Kantan Games’ CEO Serkan Toto tweeted that it would debut with the NX console itself.
There's only one confirmed NX game so far, but it's a biggie - The Legend of Zelda. The former Wii U-exclusive got pushed back to March to coincide with the NX launch, with simultaneous releases on Wii U and NX.
That doesn't mean there aren't more on the way, though.
If its absence from E3 2016 left you pondering, Australian games retailer EB Games might have just given the game away on what's happening to the next entry in the Kingdom Hearts series. It briefly listed Kingdom Hearts III for the Nintendo NX platform on its online store this week.
The listing was rapidly removed, but not before a keen-eyed visitor snapped screenshots of its existence, alongside a placeholder price of AU$119.95.
Kingdom Hearts 3 listed for NX pic.twitter.com/X7Ivfk2C7K
— SuperMetaldave64 (@SMetaldave64) August 15, 2016
If the indications turn out to be accurate, this could well mean that Square Enix's action RPG is also heading to the NX as a flagship title - particularly given the series' recent presence on the Nintendo 3DS in Kingdom Hearts 3D.
VR for NX?
Nintendo famously beat the VR revolution by about two decades with the Virtual Boy... and it failed spectacularly due to the meager tech and limited game selection of its time. But will Nintendo give VR a fresh shot with the NX?
Digitimes believes so. The Japanese publication cites sources that say Nintendo may delay production of the NX to incorporate virtual reality functionality, given the rise of VR in the industry. It also claims the controller has a 5-to-7in display, and that the VR capabilities are being added to that.
Could it possibly be mounted into a headset like Galaxy phones with Samsung's Gear VR? Or are we looking at something more like the LG 360 VR, which has its own displays but is powered by the phone via a cable?
Whatever the case, we're a little surprised that Nintendo wants to battle the big VR guns, but maybe it's an eventuality given the current surge in excitement for the tech. Besides, president Tatsumi Kimishima told the Financial Times in February that VR is an "interesting technology" and that Nintendo is researching it again, although there weren't any firm plans for a consumer release then.
The report suggests that mass production of the NX won't begin until early 2017, rather than late this year, which could put Nintendo's plan to release the system by March 2017 in doubt. But until we hear anything official, we're still believing the spring target.
Confirmation from Pokémon?
Every Nintendo platform released in the last 20 years (excluding the Virtual Boy) has hosted Pokémon games in one form or another, so it's not that shocking that the NX will also have Pokémon games at some point. However, core Pokémon adventures have been limited to Nintendo's handhelds, and the NX's unique configuration could change that.
"The NX is trying to change the concept of what it means to be a home console device or a handheld device," said CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara to the Wall Street Journal. "We will make games for the NX."
Not only is it surprising to see the head of a partially-Nintendo-owned company speak so frankly about the NX's design and goals, but it gives us a hint that the NX may be a receptacle for more than just weird spinoffs and less-than-satisfying side games.
In fact, MCV reported last month that series developer Game Freak will design an NX Pokémon entry, making it their first game in the series to hit a home console. Let's hope, at least.
Price and release date
We might not now many specifics, or even if Nintendo is sticking with the NX name, but we do know when you'll be able to get your hands on one: March 2017.
Nintendo confirmed the NX would arrive next year in its annual financial results report.
That's later than early rumours suggested, meaning it'll miss out on a Christmas release, but that should give the big N plenty of time to nail down the hardware and get some games ready - something the Wii U is sorely lacking.