It seems like a stupid thing to say, but seriously, with talk of it being just a codename – why not just “Nintendo NX?”
The NX has been a codename for the last fifteen months for Nintendo’s new console.
A new concept? Sure, I can get behind something new, even if others feel compelled to play it safe and only go for the most basic, rudimentary angle of progress (graphical prowess, because that’s been working so well this generation hasn’t it?). A new gimmick? Why not? Nintendo is one of the few companies who can be directly associated with many of the developments that have allowed gaming to advance the way it does, both for the good of Nintendo – D-Pads, Analog Sticks, Default Controller Layouts and so forth, and sometimes against Nintendo; after all, had Nintendo done better with its partner in the mid-90’s, you’d all be gushing over the Nintendo PlayStation, since it was the break-up between Sony and Nintendo that directly led to the existence of the PlayStation itself. I’m down with the idea of a hybrid console that encompasses both handheld and home console – a unification that is long overdue, and seeing as Nintendo is the only name left in the handheld console market, one that makes a lot more sense now there is no significant competition. I’m more than down with a move to card-based media, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what those NX Games are like, moreso considering talk that so many Wii U titles were shepherded across to NX Development and Upgrades in the last year or two.
I’m down for Nintendo to be as experimental and crazy and wacky and goofy as it wants with this new console. But Haiogh-Yai Lounging By A Lakeside Hotel Pool, so help me Nintendo, I can accept almost anything from you now… except a name change.
Why is this important? Well, first up, brand recognition. Nintendo has often been a bit coy with its codenames, giving them names like Dolphin and Project Café. Which is fine, but those names don’t really speak for the consoles themselves; they’re sort of distractions, a means early on in covert communications about a secretive product or project. The NX, by contrast, is a name we’re now very much accustomed to after a years worth of discussion and hype. We know that “NX” means “Next Nintendo Console”, for better or for worse, however the case may be.
There is more to this as well. Think about this; NX – Nintendo X. The tenth main gaming machine line from Nintendo – and it is, if you discount Game and Watch and the Virtual Boy (does anyone count the Virtual Boy?). Perfectly apt name. Almost genius, in fact, when you consider the more universal approach between home console, handheld console and mobile that Nintendo has promised to be pitching at – X, as in Cross, as in “cross-play”, or a melding together of parts of a business entity that had for some reason in recent years become unusually fractured.
It’s also an unusually snappy name for Nintendo; a company that likes to have us talking about its naming policies. NX is a tad generic, but it’s descriptive – it sets out a purpose, a case to be made, a unification of Nintendo’s gaming empire. It slides off the tongue too – NX. There’s no faffing about, no stifling a giggle at unfortunate name associations like Wii (Either to pee or slang for a penis) and Wii U (The sound an ambulance makes. Wii-U-Wii-U-Wii-U…). It’s simple and straight to the point. And that’s great at a time many are exasperated with Nintendo trying so hard to be inventive and cute with how it names things. It’s a more marketable abbreviation. It’s not a hard sell. And it has no association with the Wii brand, which Nintendo was hoping would propel Wii U sales at a time that the drive behind the branding had largely broken down.
It also can be seen as “Nintendo Next” – a new, fresh step forward for Nintendo. In a period where we’re fussing over whether the PS Neo can be qualified as a next-gen console, there’s no disputing that NX has an air of next-gen to it; it just feels that way. It’s a powerful association and if I were Nintendo, knowing what I know about the state of Gen-8 as a whole, I’d be pushing the next-gen console angle for all it was worth. People want to get out of this generation for varying reasons, and here’s a new Nintendo console offering us just that. What are the chances?!
There are other more interesting elements to it as well. Take the letters themselves. N and X. Now, what happens when we merge the two together?
That, if I am not mistaken, is quite close in likeness to a lemniscate – or, for those not accustomed to the fancier name for it, an infinity symbol. Having it as a natural amalgamation of your clearly very sensible code name is almost comedic in its unbridled genius. Think about this; Mario Kart 8. An 8 is nothing more than a straight-up lemniscate. So Nintendo could get away with a port of Mario Kart 8, perhaps with a couple new batches of tracks, and it has a title already and waiting that fits in with the NX – Mario Kart Infinity. Now, admittedly, this being not long after the death of the Disney Infinity branding might be a bit of a sore topic, but there’s little question that there’s a certain logic at play here.
And as NX, you can also have it as two arrows pointing at each other. This could pull away, from the centre, on booting the console as a fancy transition effect. Or as part of opening the Home menu. Or any transition to an application on the console itself. It’s just an obvious thing to do – a way of tying everything together. If that is what Nintendo wants with bringing its whole operation together under one roof, more or less, then why not go the whole nine yards and make it all link together in some way?
Do I think Nintendo is aware of how perfect “NX” is?
I hope so, but I am not sure. After all, I’d argue one of the biggest failings of the Wii U was relying on the Wii brand, especially at a point the Nintendo DS was sailing towards 150 million sales units. The Wii U was, for all intents and purposes, a home-console DS that could have been dubbed the HDS. No confusion about whether it’s a new console or not, no silly comments about the name. But the benefit of hindsight is a curse we must all adhere to. Nintendo isn’t a company often known for its forethought; and sometimes, this is brilliant – and other times, just painstakingly infuriating for us all.
But if I were employed by Nintendo to market this new console, I’d put all my effort into pushing “NX” as the name. We’re used to it, it makes sense, it speaks to purpose, it offers branding potential and it’s actually quite modern by Nintendo standards – after all prior codenames, NX is a little more polished and refined. It’s also much easier to make logos for, requires little in terms of ink and/or material space and there’s a lot you can do with just two letters. It’s simple. And that’s important, because in some regards, it harks back to the DS – a much more successful period in Nintendo’s illustrious history.
Whatever it ends up being, I will be rather upset if Nintendo tries too hard to change “NX” into something else. It’s just… so utterly perfect. So brilliant. So inspired. So clever. Nintendo should take a moment, if it has considered a name change, to ask -why- it would ever want to do so? One of the greater criticisms of Nintendo is that it tries too hard. I kind of like the earnest side of Nintendo…
… but binning the NX tag would be Nintendo trying way too hard. Just let it happen naturally Nintendo. Keep NX. You won’t come up with anything better.