Yeah, I think it was obvious this was coming. I really sometimes wish Nintendo would stay out of the news for a while…
I’m going to do something pretty radical in this piece. I am going to presume that the recent screenshots of a Nintendo NX controller are a hundred percent legit. And I’m going to try and contain myself and not point out whoever took the more recent ones needs to bloody get a decent duster, some Pledge or whatever and clean that horrible coffee mug stain off his desk. You’re a PROFESSIONAL! Honestly, don’t you have a little pride in your work to maintain the cleanliness and dust-free-ness of your work area? Or even your home office? For the love of Ulysses Skinny-Diving in the Carribean in a skimpy two-piece bikini, it’s just gross. Haven’t you heard of a coffee coaster? Hell, just get any crappy game you don’t play any more and use that to put your mug on! I mean really, it’s just really na-*yoink*
Ahem. Sorry about that.
But anyway, I am going to take a moment to just assume those screenshots are real. That yes, that really is the new Nintendo NX controller – or perhaps, part of it. I am going to do this for two reasons – the first, it’s more fun to presume that just as Nintendo is running around in a blind panic trying to set up the E3 showing of the NX barely registering that a hugely significant reveal has already happened. And secondly, because that coffee mug stain is going to give away whoever owns that desk or work station and chances are good that “confidential property” will also be tethered to an NDA. And they have a really solid photo of a desk with a pretty unique stain to catch whoever it is and fire their backside.
See, there are other reasons to maintain a good level of cleanliness!
It also means we can discuss the idea of that controller design and its patent. I held off last time because patents are generally filed with basic mock-ups; rarely do they translate into the finished product in the same way this has, so it’s often a little redundant to talk about what, if anything, can be learned from a patent. And presuming this leak is real means we can also stop reacting about its design and instead focus on what – if any – redeeming features it has. So I’m going to run down the list here…
First up – it looks good. Aesthetically speaking, it’s a sleek and modernist design with minimal fluff and frills. It has the screen, two sticks, some shoulder buttons and a camera at the bottom. Early talk also suggests some haptic feedback, as well as the usual Nintendo inclusions of a gyroscope, speakers and a headphone socket. For the size of the device, you have to doff your cap to the engineers at Nintendo once again; that’s a lot of stuff to get into a small and surprisingly slimline controller. I am often staggered by what the engineers over at Nintendo are capable of, and this is no exception. So full marks on that.
Conclusion – It looks nice, so I say Yay!
Next is the shape. Now, I’m no fan of the oval shape – a few months ago, I was linked to some potential mock-ups using the Vita as a base over at the NintendoLife forums. And I thought they were really very nice. I’m not entirely sure what the oval shape brings to the table in terms of a console controller; it just seems like a strange choice of shape, because you’d lose a lot of potential screen space and what is on the sides would be obscured by your hands anyway, making those bits to either end between the edge and the nub pointless in terms of having any serious screen presence. With the nubs inserted so into the controller… yeah, this seems a bit stupid.
Conclusion – Wasted space on each end. NAY, says I!
As I mentioned earlier, sounds like the usual Nintendo stuff is in here. Camera, gyroscope, haptic feedback, nubs and a headphone socket. The shoulder buttons, we are assured, are scroll-wheel ones; which is an idea I still think makes sense in the long run, and good on Nintendo giving it a go. The big question obviously comes down to the screen itself; a typical resist-touch screen will never work with most games, least of all most of Nintendo’s own franchises, so we must presume that it’s multi-touch. But that’s information that is critical to the feature set, because it is, in itself, the most critical part of this whole controller design – to program multiple buttons onto the screen.
Conclusion – I have to say, “Eh…”, at least until there’s more information on the type of touchscreen.
That’s a heck of a lot of stuff in a relatively small controller, and if that is a multi-touch screen, then that controller is NOT going to run cheap. The question is, what kind of expenditure would we be talking for a second controller? Are we talking £40 for a new PS4 controller, or £125 for an XBox Elite controller? Sadly, though I’d love to be proven wrong on this, this kind of tech isn’t going to run on the lower end of the spectrum, which likely means we’ll be pushing Elite controller costs for one additional controller. Which wouldn’t be so bad if it was an actual handheld… but something tells me this isn’t, and won’t, and that kind of blows.
Conclusion – This isn’t going to be cheap or cost-effective to make. So sorry, Please Understand – Nay.
An earlier screenshot from last week did have an image of an actual game on the screen! Let’s look…
And to that my proposal is…
Okay, taken up way more than usual allocated space for this, but can I just say… HOLY BALLS THAT IMAGE IS TERRIBLE! It’s so low-resolution, and just… ugh, no on this front. I don’t care that it’s just some Android-based software. It looks nasty and it gets all the nopes I can muster. (GIF credit goes to the Full of sandwiches video via Cheezburger.com)
Conclusion – Nay, nope, nuh-uh, not a chance, no way, nein, negative nine thousand.
And that’s the problem with leaks, isn’t it?
Chances are, Nintendo would showcase this with something pretty grandiose. I’d dare suggest something like the upcoming Zelda game or something, because it’d need good press. And I’m not altogether against the idea of this kind of controller – as much as we gamers complain, smartphone gaming has been improving in recent years and a decent controller with a good customisable interface might be an interesting idea.
It’s so easy to react to the lack of buttons – I get that. I like my buttons too. I really do. But it’s a cheap stab and it doesn’t cut to the real meat of this slice of silliness. For all the impressive engineering that it must have taken to get all of that into something that looks like an alien smartphone, I can’t get beyond the idea of wasted screen space (why not just make the screen centralised at that point and I dunno… save a few pennies?), janky low-resolution screen (even the Wii U leaks had sharper images than that!) and the questionable variant of what kind of touch screen the controller will have. And I can only presume this is going to be expensive.
All of which are much, MUCH better reasons to have a downer on this leak, right? I mean, Sweet Merciful Azathoth, dare we complain about valid issues with a controller leak than flip our collective faecal matter over it lacking buttons? That, for me, is the LEAST of this controllers problems…
But on the other hand… it could of course still be an elaborate fake. It’s possible. It’s so on-point to the earlier patent filings that I’d be quite alarmed, if genuine, that no-one kind of had the balls to point out something to obviously dumb as the screen that will be covered by a players hands and thumbs, due to where the nubs are located. This is meant to be a full commercial product and they couldn’t even spot that problem?
When all is said and done though… it looks nice, but I don’t think it’ll work in practice. I’d rather like Nintendo to just up and rubbish these mock-ups, but right now this is how I see what is happening at Nintendo HQ in preparation for E3;
And if they weren’t panicking before – if these leaks are real… you can bet your ass they’re reacting that way now.
Oh, and photo guy… please clean your damned desk. Please.
UPDATE: According to NintendoLife and its occasional contributor Liam Robertson, the images are NOT LEGIT. So… uhh… sorry to have wasted your time.
… but seriously, hand me a microfibre cloth and some Cif, because if the photographer isn’t going to clean his desk, I’m going to have to…
UPDATE 2: Both have now been verified as fake by their own creators. I have to say the black version is an impressive piece of workmanship; 3D Printed and constructed, and I certainly wouldn’t mind one just for display purposes. Hey, I’d buy one.
… if only so the guy can afford some cleaning materials. I’m really not going to let that one go, am I?