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Nintendo NX: What we know about the specs, price and release date of the next Nintendo game console

Here's everything we know about when the NX will be unveiled, what it will look like, and how the legendary gaming company will try make us say "wow."

Nintendo

Editor's note: On October 20, 2016, Nintendo announced the Switch, formerly codenamed the Nintendo NX. The Switch, slated for release in March 2017, is a handheld system, gaming tablet, and dockable console, all in one. Check out CNET's coverage of the announcement and preview of what's to come.

The long-awaited Switch looks exactly like rumors (see below) said it would. It's a hybrid of a handheld system, gaming tablet, and console. You can watch the full launch trailer on Nintendo's YouTube channel. And according to Nintendo's announcement, here are some of the highlights:

  • Two "Joy-Con" controllers convert the tablet into a Wii U-like game pad; the controllers can detach and, with a kickstand, the tablet turns into a tabletop game system
  • It's portable like a Nintendo 3DS, but larger
  • The Nintendo Switch Dock turns the system into a TV-connected console
  • A variety of publishers have signed on to work on Switch games including Ubisoft, Konami, EA, Capcom, Bethesda and Epic
  • Chipmaker Nvidia says it's supplying the innards.

The original collection of rumors about the Nintendo NX follow.

Nintendo occupies a special place in the gaming universe. Since the introduction of the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1983, the company has honed its reputation as a legendary manufacturer of novel, innovative games, platforms and technologies. Since the original Wii era, however, the Nintendo bandwagon has stalled a bit, as the company's newer platforms have lagged behind Sony's and Microsoft's in sales. Nintendo's Wii U and 3DS devices, though characteristically different, lacked the broad appeal of their predecessors, which were able to cultivate traction far beyond the company's hardcore fan base.

That's why all eyes are on the company's next platform, the Nintendo NX.

The NX was first mentioned in March 2015, coinciding with Nintendo's announcement that it would enter the smartphone game market. This timing was intentional; Nintendo was sending a signal that it would remain committed to the console space, even as it dipped its toe in the smartphone waters. In an interview with Time in December 2015, new Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima said that the NX would deliver "a different and obviously a new experience" and that the company is "not building the next version of Wii or Wii U. It's something unique and different." Before his death in July 2015, former Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata told investors something similar -- that the NX would be a "new concept" and not "a simple replacement" for the 3DS or the Wii U.

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The company has remained relatively tightlipped since then; there was hardly any mention of the NX at E3 this year. But, as is its custom, the online rumor mill continues to churn out a steady supply of speculation, theory and outright hoaxes. We will be actively cultivating this hearsay in the space below.

Editors' note: This story was originally posted on April 6, 2016, and last updated on July 26, 2016.

Announcement and release dates

Having made the modest promise to reveal more information about the NX in 2016, the company has delivered. "For our dedicated video game platform business, Nintendo is currently developing a gaming platform codenamed 'NX' with a brand-new concept. NX will be launched in March 2017 globally," the company said in its fiscal year earnings report, published on April 26. (Nintendo also tweeted the news.)

A report last year suggested that Nintendo would begin pilot assembly of the NX in October 2015, with mass production scheduled to kick off in May or June 2016; clearly, that did not pan out. And though we had entertained -- even dared to hope, perhaps -- that Nintendo would pull a full Beyonce, and suddenly deliver a new console this summer, now we know: we'll be waiting until next year.

In any event, true to form, Nintendo will roll out its next console in its own way and on its own timeline.

Form Factor

According to a dramatic report from Eurogamer in July 2016, the Nintendo NX will be a portable game system with its own screen -- not a stationary console anchored to a TV. According to the report, which cites multiple anonymous sources, the Nintendo NX will use a docking station to connect to a big-screen TV set, but the handheld device will house the primary processing power, akin to the Game Boy and Nintendo DS.

This kind of talk is not unprecedented, however. Months ago a NeoGAF reported that the NX would feature a screen controller that would support remote play of console-based games. The poster reported that the controller would not have "processing capabilities" per se though it would support "basic OS functions to access the NX console from anywhere." (This user also reports that the NX would use a "Polaris-like GPU.")

Also backing this claim is a Forbes report by Paul Tassi, who reports having heard of a similar concept: "instead of remote play streaming back to the NX, the screen handheld actually has some aspects of the game transferred to it completely." Tassi suggests that the NX's "main gimmick" is a controller with a display that lets you play games remotely.

nintendo-nx-patent.jpg

An illustration from Nintendo's patent application from June 2015.

In December 2015, reports surfaced of Nintendo employees filing a patent for a new game controller. Though it remains unclear whether such a controller could be related to the NX, the patent filing includes a description of buttons that could be assigned for specific purposes like adjusting for right- and left-handed players. Another part of the application describes a controller that would display whatever images are being shown on a TV screen.

In addition, Eurogamer's report contains two other hot potatoes: that the handheld's controls will be detachable, allowing players to set the NX screen down on a table and play from a distance away, and that it will use cartridges instead of optical discs.

Games

The April 2016 earnings report also revealed that Nintendo has further pushed back the new Legend of Zelda game to 2017, despite previously saying it would launch this year. The game will be available on both the Wii U and the NX. In a sense, this is a replay of the release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which was originally designed for Nintendo's GameCube but delayed until 2006 to correspond with the debut of the Wii.

The Legend of Zelda's Wii U version was Nintendo's main focus at E3 this year; the new Legend of Zelda game is also coming to the NX, but was not shown publicly at the show. A NeoGAF user reports that Luigi's Mansion 3 is now in development for the NX, after being started as a Wii U game.

Under the hood

In a vacuum of verifiable facts concerning the NX's specs, conjecture abounds. Having been "verified" by Reddit moderators as a person with connections to Wii U developers, in March 2016, user "untypedhero" published a list of possible NX features including x86 architecture, Nintendo server data backup, support for a second screen, compatibility with ports of current generation games, smartdevice app interactivity and some kind of involvement with the My Nintendo reward program.

Pricing

The stumble of the Wii U is at least partly attributable to high pricing (it has since come down from originally loftier levels). Given this, there has been a broad expectation that Nintendo will price the NX competitively, perhaps even below cost, to persuade its dormant fan base to invest.

In a Q&A session with investors, however, Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima's countered the notion that the NX would be sold at a loss (like the Wii U was in 2012). "We are not thinking of launching the hardware at a loss," he said. "When Wii U was launched, the yen was very strong. I am assuming that situation will not repeat itself. Selling at a loss at launch would not support the business, so we are keeping that mind in developing NX."

With its previous generation of consoles, the DS and Wii, Nintendo came out of the gate with very aggressive pricing; they cost $150 and $250, respectively. At this point, however, we simply don't know enough about the hardware or specs to surmise what they will cost at retail.

Scroll down for a reverse-chronological look at the latest rumors.

July 26, 2016

Nintendo's secret new console might be handheld -- not stationary

The Nintendo NX might be more like a Game Boy or Nintendo DS than a traditional game system.

June 2, 2016

Nintendo's E3 2016 plans include Zelda Wii U, Pokemon Sun/Moon Demos, and more

Here's what you can expect from Nintendo at E3 2016 later this month.

May 16, 2016

Fresh Rumors Continue To Paint A Picture Of Nintendo's NX 'Gimmick'

A source alleges that Nintendo's next console will feature a screen controller that can be used to play your home console games remotely.

May 5, 2016

Wii U was 'disappointing to everybody,' including Nintendo, GameStop CEO says

The CEO of big-time retailer comments on underperforming system, says NX "sounds exciting."

May 2, 2016

Nintendo didn't want to 'rush' NX launch, says system won't be sold at a loss

New details emerge about Nintendo's upcoming system.

April 27, 2016

Nintendo's NX game console coming next March

The gaming giant sets a launch date for the Wii U's replacement and pushes back yet again the release of the new Legend of Zelda game.

April 27, 2016

Legend of Zelda Wii U/NX release delayed to 2017

Nintendo confirms dual-console release; game will be sole focus at E3.

March 25, 2016

Rumored NX controller images confirmed fake

The creators of the images have come forward to admit that the controller shots, though inspired by a real Nintendo patent, are indeed fake.

December 10, 2015

Nintendo files patent for unique, free-form touch controller

Whether or not it's related to the NX remains to be seen.

December 3, 2015

Time: 14 things Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima told us

New Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima spoke to Time about the company's future.

October 28, 2015

Nintendo unveils its first smartphone game

The Japanese video game giant behind Super Mario and Legend of Zelda will make its first foray into iPhones and Android devices with Miitomo.

October 16, 2015

Nintendo NX is a console/mobile hybrid, has 'industry-leading' tech, report says

Report also claims software development kits are now being sent to developers.

March 23, 2015

Nintendo: No, we're not killing off the Wii U

The company reportedly says it has no plans to end production of its gaming console, refuting a story from Japanese newspaper Nikkei.

March 17, 2015

Nintendo will make games for phones, new 'NX' system

A deal with mobile publisher DeNA will see the firm's beloved characters coming to smart gadgets, as Nintendo also reveals the codename of its "entirely new concept" gaming system.