The Wii U is in trouble. Nintendo failed to come within striking distance of lofty sales projections, third-party developers are few and far between, and even a well-reviewed Mario game. It’s bad news for the big N. Luckily, even if this console is a failure, Nintendo has two things that will help it move on in the future: a still-recognizable, beloved brand, and a boatload of cash. And so, naturally, people have begun to start talking about the next Nintendo console.
Whatever Nintendo’s next box is, it’s not coming out for a while, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from churning. Most recently, “Nintendo News” claims to have gotten its hands on the specs for this new console, which will be called “The Fusion.” It should all be taken with a massive heaping of salt, as even Nintendo itself probably hasn’t finalized any of this.
The idea of a “fusion” concept that bridges the gap between Nintendo’s handheld and home consoles is right in line with what we’ve heard in the past. It would allow Nintendo to parlay some of its continued handheld success into a broader market, and Satoru Iwata hinted the company was working on something like that last year:
“In terms of our platform integration, as I explained to you a short while ago, we are not saying that we are planning to integrate our platforms into one. What we are saying is that we would like to integrate software development methods, operating systems, and built-in software and software assets for each platform so that we can use them across different machines. This means that if we manage to integrate our platforms successfully, we may in fact be able to make more platforms,’ he said in an earnings call.
It’s not unlike what Sony is trying to do with Vita and PS4: two machines that are meant to co-exist in a tightly bound hardware ecosystem. Here, it could work in reverse. While the Vita is largely designed to play second fiddle to the PS4, the main Nintendo console might be the one to benefit most from the company’s increased handheld visibility.
Erik Kain has argued in the past the the best solution to the travails of the Wii U would be to just get on with another console. He suggested a “Super Wii” with hardware chops to match current-gen, an optional gamepad, and all the Nintendo characters we know and love. I think the company needs to be careful about stacking generations too quickly — a sort of “sorry about that, how about this one?” console would be very frustrating to Wii U owners. But all in all, it might be best to strike halfway through this generation with some killer hardware.