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Five years after the frenzy of ‘NX’ becoming a switch

This week marked five years (yikes) since the mysterious Nintendo ‘NX’ became the Switch. It was quite a big deal and, for Nintendo’s relief, was well received. Let’s face it, the response was no worse than the Wii U E3 when most of the follow-up questions were, “So is the tablet an add-on for the Wii?” There’s little doubt that the original video did a pretty good job as an initial reveal and proof of concept.

The trailer got a bit iconic and meme-worthy. Yes, there were photogenic people in very nice houses doing their best, wondrous faces, people casually playing with strangers in airports, it works. It also had the famous rooftop party scene that was endlessly parodied and joked. Well, I haven’t been to a rooftop party with switch action (we don’t have a lot of rooftop parties in Scotland to be honest) but I’ve seen people do a switch at a wedding and in a pub or two have played so it happened.

It definitely amused people on social media. It had a pretty smart tune too – nice, White Denim; It’s pretty cool that it actually says Ha Ha Ha Ha (yes).

Aside from the photogenic cast and slightly goofy scenarios, it’s worth noting that the trailer also advertised the game itself well. The concept was widespread and leaked, but the transition from dock to portable game and the simple cleverness of the Joy-Con controllers was still a lightbulb moment that gave us cause for optimism. Let’s not forget that Nintendo is also smartly “unveiling” games (though Nintendo hasn’t officially announced them for a few months) and shows ongoing clips from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (though we knew it was coming) on ​​’NX ‘), Skyrim, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey. It was perfect for getting people talking.

Don't worry Wii U, we still love you
Don’t worry Wii U, we still love you (Image: Nintendo Life)

The cyclical hype before the reveal

Looking back on Nintendo’s reveal in October 2016, it’s pretty funny to see how similar that hectic period was to the downright boring “Pro” Switch rumors that seemed to peak in the E3 season this year. Rumors for years, some of them feasible and others clearly made up? Check. Nintendo is constantly evading and avoiding to say something? Check. Ever more desperate and eager fans are bombing the company on social media? Oh yeah, CHECK.

The context was a little different, however. For one, the Wii U was really doomed for a few years by then. There is a lot of talk of “mistakes” in gaming, but while many of us have a soft spot for the system, it was truly a disaster for Nintendo. Lifetime hardware sales totaled 13.56 million units; in contrast, the most recent switch count is 89.04 million. Well, in that era there was also the 3DS, which hit 75.94 million units over its lifespan. So when you combine the two systems of this generation, it’s interesting how close the numbers are. Of course, the Switch keeps going and is still selling strong numbers despite declining demand. When all is said and done, the Switch will have sold a fair bit more than the Wii U and 3DS combined, and apart from a few sluggish 3DS releases in the early stages, Nintendo only had to focus on one major line of hardware, not two.

The first mention of the 'NX' in March 2015
The first mention of the ‘NX’ in March 2015

2016 was a relatively difficult time for the company, when “NX” was a code name and the concept had not yet been revealed. The run-up to the unveiling of the concept, let alone its publication, was endlessly long. Under pressure from investors due to the problems of the Wii U and the fact that 3DS was not on par with the monstrous success of the DS, the company’s former president Satoru Iwata first mentioned the ‘NX’ in March as a new ‘dedicated gaming platform’ 2015. That started the online frenzy that follows every piece of new hardware that comes out of Nintendo’s headquarters.

Nintendo said next to nothing for well over a year, letting rumors and leaks (one or two of which were real) fill the void. Nintendo finally confirmed a release window for March 2017 – just before the end of fiscal year, the same tactic we saw at 3DS – but still didn’t show the concept. As you know, E3 2016 only had one game, Breath of the Wild, but it was the Wii U version. Nintendo didn’t let itself be rushed and it made the Internet almost unbearable. “Where’s NX?” “What is NX?” “Is Nintendo? doooooooomed? “

Of course, we’ve done our best to cover up rumors that we trusted or could verify, and we’ve dealt with many “why didn’t you”. Emails for the rumors which were clearly nonsense. The volume increased and Nintendo’s message was simple: “We have nothing to share yet”.

We have (presumably) enjoyed looking back at some of our editorials, right before the revealing. In this one, we wondered how Nintendo would unveil the ‘NX’, and of course the company hasn’t taken any of those approaches. It was about the viral trailer drop, somehow, but tweeted once just a few hours before the video. Not quite a stealth drop, but not a million miles away.

Just a few weeks earlier, we had written that NX was testing the patience of fans, which means it had been tested too our patience. Again, Nintendo had officially said next to nothing about the NX, so the atmosphere on the Internet at that time was out of control. Do you think the discussion about “Switch Pro” will be annoying? It has nothing to do with this late NX period.

Perfect eyesight required
Perfect eyesight required (Image: Nintendo)

In the end everything worked out

Ultimately, the first teaser was received pretty well, and Nintendo’s PR machine came to life as it revealed more information about the system and everything that was connected to it. Then in mid-January 2017 there was a shrill live presentation for the system and lots of games; that sparked pre-orders, previews, and a deluge of information. A few months later the system was in the wild.

And ultimately, it was a resounding hit for Nintendo that helped bring it back to the heart of popular culture and contribute to a win not achieved since the DS and Wii eras. Transition to a hybrid strategy of handheld and home console in one, developed by Satoru Iwata. was developed and initially implemented way back In early 2013, Nintendo allowed it to flourish and reclaim its place at the top of the hardware business.

It was typical Nintendo hardware, too, as it was the concept, gameplay capabilities, and exclusive library that made its success more popular, leaving Sony and Microsoft to battle for graphics performance and teraflops. And whatever Nintendo does next, the reasonable money will be for future hardware that is similar – modest power consumption, less graphics capabilities than other systems, but games, and a “catch” to stand out from. If you hope that Nintendo will produce a tablet-sized device with the equivalent of the current generation PS5 and Xbox Series X, you will be disappointed.

However, if Nintendo has new hardware to share, there will be a lot of buzz, reporting, and testing thanks to the company’s remarkable success over the past 4.5 years.

And considering that it all started with actors pretending to hack Super Mario Odyssey on a rooftop.


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