Lately, I’ve been thinking about what a next-generation Nintendo handheld could offer to the public. We’ve seen major western third party publishers quickly abandon both Sony and Nintendo’s handhelds, but thankfully, there are still plenty of smaller independent developers supporting those platforms and digital storefronts. Since small developers are responsible for most of the eShop’s content, I asked them to share their views on Nintendo’s handheld future. (Side note: I would like to thank all of the developers who took the time to contribute their thoughts for this piece.)
Over the past month, I asked roughly 30 game developers: “What would you like to see from a future next generation Nintendo handheld?”
Here were their responses to that one specific question.
Manfred Linzer — Shin’en Games (Nano Assault Neo, Art of Balance, FAST Racing Neo)
“First of all, we think it would be wise to unify the mobile and console platforms. There was already some talk about that from Mr. Miyamoto, and it would be certainly a step into the right direction. Of course mobile chip-sets can’t compete with desktop chips in terms of bandwidth, but already by simply using a lower resolution for mobile than on desktops, it could make it happen. Using 480p compared to 1080p means already nearly 80% bandwidth reduction.
A priority for a new handheld should be a GPU on par with the Wii U GPU, in terms of capabilities, but not necessarily bandwidth. Also its’ multicore setup would make sense on handheld platforms. This would already allow Mario Kart 8 or Nano Assault Neo visuals on a handheld, which would make everyone pretty happy I guess. More important than GPU and CPU specs would be a new form factor. Merging physical and touch controls into something unique and exciting is something that we would love to see from Nintendo.”
Lorne Lanning — Oddworld Inhabitants (Creator of the “Oddworld” series)
“I could see Nintendo adapting a more open platform mobile OS (I.e. Android) and improving upon its capabilities in the premium gaming specific areas. This would allow them to benefit from all of the connected, social, and service benefits (for free) while allowing their special focus to take the OS to new levels in AAA mobile gaming.”
Mario Castañeda — Prismatic Games (Hex Heroes)
“Considerably more RAM: The 3DS has 128 MB and the N3DS 256MB, neither of which are enough to run Unity. If the next gen had something like 1 to 2 GB of RAM, indie development on the system could include Unity and therefore hugely expand the library.
Handheld-Console Integration: We’ve seen the 3DS used as a controller for the Wii U in Smash Bros. Even before that the Gameboy Advance connected to the GameCube for a few games. It’s time to create a handheld that works hand-in-hand with the control. This connection shouldn’t just be for a controller, but also for streaming handheld games to your TV.
Universal Games: Buying the latest Mario vs. Donkey Kong game will allow you to download the game on both the Wii U and 3DS. This is a similar model to Apple’s “universal” apps, where one purchase can be downloaded to all of your iDevices. Apple makes this easy because apps are created using the software, and the devices run the same operating system. Nintendo is making some headway on this front, but they can take a cue from Apple to go all the way, especially with Virtual Console releases.”
Edward Di Geronimo Jr. — Saturnine Games (Antipole, Turtle Tale)
“I’m a huge fan of the physical design of the 3DS. I love the 3D screen and having the secondary touch screen, so I wouldn’t change too much about it. I’d prefer it if it both screens had a 16:9 aspect ratio. I’m not a big fan of dual analog controls, but I think having two good circle pads would attract more developers, so it’s worth considering. These are all minor concerns though – I’d rather make compromises here to have a sturdy device that fits well in my pocket than have a big, fragile looking device like the Vita.
The technical side is a different story. The 3DS has the weakest CPU of any modern gaming platform by a large margin. Tools like Unity or Monogame just aren’t feasible on the 3DS. You have to design a game around the 3DS hardware, or it just won’t run well on it. The next handheld really needs a giant leap in CPU power to reduce the time it takes to make games, and to make cross platform development easier.”
Julius Guldbog — Image and Form (Steamworld Dig, Steamworld Heist)
“I’d personally love to see:
– New improved 3D screen that lets you interact with the 3D objects in some way.
– Haptic feedback touchscreen
– Streaming features. Play the game in HD on your TV at home and on your small screen on the move.”
Alex Preston — Heart Machine (Hyper Light Drifter)
“Better screens. After having played on my beautiful Vita (OLED) and iPhone screens for years, it’s difficult going back to such a low-quality set of displays on the 3DS.”
James Fletcher — Mobot Studios (Paper Monsters Recut)
“Nintendo has more than proved that the amount of pixels on a screen doesn’t affect game quality but… Sometimes I just cringe going from something like an iPad then picking up a 3DS XL. I guess I would have to say a better screen would be nice. Maybe something more on par with at least 720p on a screen that size would be a huge plus.
I also think some sort of family share would be great. We have kids and that means four 3DS systems in our family. Sometimes we just pass on an eShop title because I don’t want to have to buy it four times to keep the peace. As a developer, the easier it gets for people to make purchases from the shop, the better!”
Julio Moruno — EnjoyUp (Abyss, Chrono Twins DX, La-Mulauna *WiiWare version*)
“Most important for us is to be able to work from the start with development tools like Unity, which has been great in order to focus work on the game itself instead of spending time on technical details. As a player, great games from Nintendo, as always. To me they’re the best in the market.”
Jason Canam — Drinkbox Studios (Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition)
“I think a next-gen handheld is a good place for Nintendo to improve on their network and user account systems. Having handhelds and consoles on a unified account system that eases and encourages the use of both platforms together would be a huge improvement. And the template already exists, what Sony has done with the PlayStation Network and how the Vita and the PS3/PS4 work together is a great starting point. It’s nice to see that Nintendo is “baby-stepping” their way along this path, with Mario vs Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars being cross-buy for Wii U and 3DS. I’d love to see all Virtual Console games go cross-buy & cross-play, as a standard.
Nintendo is only behind in the technological sense, as they’ve been making fun handheld-console interconnected experiences for a long time. The GameCube and the GameBoy Advance had some really interesting and unique gameplay features over a decade ago. The problem was having to find connection cables… which doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but I’m sure it kept most players from trying out games like Pac-Man Vs. (one of the most fun games ever), Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles or even trying out the Tingle Tuner in Wind Waker. Removing the barrier of needing extra peripherals and cables and streamlining the network to make connecting your handheld to your console much easier will allow Nintendo to make some pretty cool stuff.
I remember when Metroid Prime (GCN) and Metroid Fusion (GBA) came out on the same day. My mind can’t even handle thinking about what would happen if a next-gen console Metroid game and a next-gen handheld Metroid game launched on the same day… and the games interacted together in a really deep & meaningful way. I’d love to see (or develop!) that.”
Tim Dawson — Witch Beam (Assault Android Cactus)
“As a consumer I worry about battery life but as a developer what I want is improved development tools. Nintendo has made great strides opening up the eShop to small and indie developers, and the Wii U supports Unity and other game engines that small teams use. It would be great to see their next generation handheld follow this trajectory.
Expanded online integration, both in terms of the way downloadable games are discovered and played, is also something that’d be appreciated. In terms of hardware, I want to see Nintendo be bold again – they’ve already committed to hardware that prevents simple ports, so rather than standardizing control schemes and resolutions, I want them to go all in and do something that allows games that can’t be thought of yet.”
Collin Van Ginkel — Two Tribes Games (Toki Tori 2, Edge, Swords & Soldiers, RIVE)
“Currently we don’t focus a lot on portables, so I don’t have super strong opinions. Aside from the obvious things like having a better touch screen and internals, I think Nintendo’s weak spot is the OS. It’s maybe a bit weird to point that out for a device purely meant for booting up games, but they give the impression that there was no grand plan behind it all.
Also, there is a scenario in my mind where Nintendo’s handheld and console would converge into a single device, which I would applaud. But that might be a bit too soon from a technical perspective and make the portable too heavy or underpowered (or both ;).”
Jean-Francois Major — Tribute Games (Mercenary Kings, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Wizorb)
“We’d love to get on Nintendo platforms. That’s where we first started in the industry, and the handheld devices have always been fun to tinker with and try to find a way to achieve your end goal. What is stopping us from moving to the 3DS right now is our technology. But we’re working hard to remedy the situation.
If I had one thing to improve on Nintendo consoles, it would be the eShop. I can never seem to find what I’m looking for on there. I find it odd that in the 3DS vs Vita handheld “battle”, the Vita has a hard time getting retail shelf space but is doing great on the downloadable games front, while the 3DS is the complete opposite. This can be a concern when your business model relies solely on online distribution.”
Jools Watsham — Renegade Kid (Moon Chronicles, Xeodrifter, Mutant Mudds)
“That’s a really tough question. Nintendo does not typically do the norm or what might be expected of them. That’s one of the reasons I think we all love them so much. They’re creative. They try to innovate and their focus is on the user experience.
When I first saw the Wii U at E3, I thought it was a home console and a handheld in one – allowing users to leave the home with the GamePad. Obviously, I was wrong. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo did adopt a system with some kind of method for users to utilize their new Nintendo console at home and on the go.
What I would like to see in Nintendo’s next “handheld” is really just refinements of what we already have with the 3DS, but with the power to present graphic fidelity close to that of the Wii U so when viewed on a TV screen it looks suitable.
I am not sure if the technology already exists or if it is affordable for Nintendo to incorporate this, but a wireless connection from the handheld to send the signal to a TV set of your choosing would be wonderful, so the handheld essentially becomes the controller for the “home console”, much like the GamePad is now for the Wii U. Other players would also be able to wirelessly connect their controllers (Wiimotes, etc.) to the handheld for multiplayer action.
Having a single system that is both a handheld and a home console will enable developers (and Nintendo) to focus their attention on one device for development, while hopefully capturing two markets in one glorious swoop. The 3DS is already inching towards to closing the gap between home consoles and handheld, and seeing Nintendo take the leap to seamlessly combine these two markets would be exciting for players and developers.”
Jason Cirillo — Totally Choice Provisions (Woah Dave!)
“I think what I’d like to see more than anything is, essentially, a new machine in the Game Boy (or Game Boy-Like) family. What I mean by that is a strong, rich 2D single screen game experience, but with all the modern bells and whistles.
More than hardware, I’d like to see a far better Nintendo Network really. Something with cross-buy because being asked to buy the same NES or SNES games over and over again is insulting and infuriating. I want a central location for friends, achievements, trophies, etc. I feel like Nintendo can make any hardware they want and make it attractive and competitive, but what really kills the Nintendo experience for me is the archaic and paranoid way that the company approaches anything relating to the online experience.
Just give me a Nintendo handheld that has the online capabilities of any modern console!”
James Montagna — Director/Designer at WayForward (Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, Adventure Time 3DS)
“It’s easy to get caught up in technical aspects of what Nintendo’s next handheld could be… but that’s not really how Nintendo rolls, is it? This is a completely blind guess, but I hope I’m not far off in theorizing that Nintendo’s future is as sleek as it is playful. Picture something with the look of a slim Wii U GamePad, in a variety of bold colors. A handheld that fits into every lifestyle, made to be as ubiquitous as a phone or tablet, but filling a unique role in a way neither of those devices can.
Perhaps what sets it apart is a great emphasis on social play. People gather in circles at parties, conventions, and restaurant tables to play together. All instantly connected by their proximity! Short burst sessions, seamless switching of games. Imagine a Pokémon trade followed by a quick round of Super Smash Bros., all before the train reaches its stop. Entirely new play styles could emerge if the handhelds detect the position and motion of others nearby. Visions of a couple playing some sort of AR ball-volleying game in real space between their two devices, which function as paddles. It’s a party happening all around you, and having Nintendo’s new handheld means you’re invited.”
Austin Ivansmith — Director/Designer at WayForward (DuckTales Remastered, Mighty Switch Force HD)
“One of the things I love about Nintendo is that they are the epitome of a phrase I (think I) coined: “Give people what they don’t know they want.” With each iteration of Nintendo’s handhelds they did things I wasn’t even sure I wanted, or liked, until I had it in my hands and realized how great it was (shoulder buttons, dual screens, touch input, etc). So really I hope Nintendo surprises me yet again with whatever they make, but the one thing I know I do want is simple: I would like access to the awesome case designs available to Japanese consumers.
In North America we get the short end of the stick in terms of designs and colors for consoles, especially for handhelds. Everyone throws out phrases and figures about “American consumers won’t buy it” quoting age old adages like armchair marketing gurus. It’s that same mentality that gave us Mega Man box covers featuring airbrushed dudes instead of the more “anime” styles of Japan. It gave us airbrushed Street Fighter characters in a GamePro magazine poster insert, which to this day is horrid. And it gives us things like the Game Boy Advance SP where an Onyx lid is slapped on a Platinum base (it seems backwards to release that as your “unique” console and say that Americans don’t buy the special editions).
This mentality even goes as far back as the Super Nintendo where North America had a weird half crescent with four ellipses in negative space over gray scanlines, and Japan and Europe have the four colored circles corresponding to their color controllers (which was also in-game in Super Mario World, and I had no idea what it was when I played it as a kid!) And yes, the Famicom and NES had different looks, but lets be honest, the NES was a far superior hardware design and is the exception to the norm.
We live in a global market now and our tastes are less regionally divided than they were decades ago before the internet was even a thing. Obviously an easy answer would be to remove the region locking of devices, but I’d really love to see Nintendo embrace the notion that American fans have a more diverse taste than we once did (or were perhaps wrongly perceived to have), and to be given the same choice in hardware designs as Japanese and European markets.”
Kynan Pearson — Creative Director at Bluepoint Games (Previously: Metroid Prime series, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Halo 4)
“I’ll be buying Nintendo’s next handheld regardless of new features or functionality because I have had great experiences with Nintendo’s portable systems and software and I can’t imagine that changing.
I would really like to see Nintendo work towards unifying their home console and handheld platforms. In the most basic terms, I hope that anything I purchase on their next handheld can be played on the console with a single purchase. (Cross play/cross buy/cross save).
I’d love to see their next handheld include a console mode option allowing you to play games on the go or push the output to your big screen TV when playing at home. Ever since I first saw the Wii U Gamepad and the Wii U hardware, I was hoping you’d be able to take the Gamepad on the go. I know there are technical limitations that may prevent this from being possible, but I would have loved to see a new Nintendo handheld take the form of a smaller, improved Wii U Gamepad with the Wii U hardware built in so you could just play Wii U games while you travel.
That being said, I think their new console needs a new iconic name and identity that doesn’t rely on the Wii or DS branding. It would be great if they chose to simply call it “the Nintendo” or something else that won’t get confused with earlier systems. Nintendo tends to incorporate radical new ideas or gimmicks in their hardware so I fully expect to be surprised by an aspect of the next handheld.”
“I hope Nintendo continues to allow more third party studios to utilize their franchises/characters in spin offs or direct sequels. I’m hoping we get so see studios like Platinum Games or CyberConnect2 get to take on games featuring major Nintendo characters so we get more big releases than Nintendo is able to do internally. By allowing external studios to take on things like Zelda, Mario and Metroid, Nintendo’s flagship teams would be able to develop unique and risky original projects. I’d love to see Nintendo finally take on building a Pokémon MMO. This could be the software that drives people to the next Nintendo portable system.
It would be nice to see Nintendo actively pursue third party publishers/developers to make new sequels or reboots of classic franchises that were once associated with the NES and Super Nintendo. The “New Super Mario” series, “Donkey Kong Country” series and “Zelda: A Link Between Worlds” prove that classic style games can be very successful in the modern world. I’d love to see Nintendo funded/supported sequels to series like Megaman, Castlevania, Super Ghouls and Ghosts, Double Dragon, Actraiser, Contra, Blaster Master. Etc.
Wishful Thinking: I’d love to see Nintendo do something revolutionary with independent developers and the community. Nintendo is now supporting the creativity of their fan base by allowing them to create levels and content for one of their most beloved franchises in Mario Maker. Imagine if there was a portion of the eShop dedicated to” fan games” where indie developers could release and charge money for unlicensed games based on Nintendo properties. There would be a clear separation between official releases and fan games and Nintendo could take a generous cut of the earnings.
This would accomplish many things for Nintendo –
- It would drive independent devs and potentially major studios to Nintendo’s new hardware en masse.
- It would create a completely new and disruptive market, which is something Nintendo has seen major success with.
- The higher quality fan releases would rise to the top and Nintendo could even help promote the better fan games with a “Nintendo’s Picks” section.
- There would be unexpected and creative uses of Nintendo characters and worlds.
- Nintendo would be able to pluck new talent from the community.
- There would be tons content to keep players happy in the community between major official releases.
- Nintendo could potentially promote a fan game to an official release if something stellar is made.
- There is already a huge selection of fan games that could quickly be ported to the next Nintendo handheld.
There are many risks associated with such a bold and unexpected move by Nintendo, but they could completely change the playing field in the entertainment industry in the same way Apple was able to with the introduction of the app store. Nintendo could put policies in place to prevent inappropriate usage of their franchises. The community could be used to help them enforce and police games prior to their release. Think of how many creative and talented Nintendo fans there are in the world. Imagine how much they could create with a little support, encouragement and incentive.”
Lau Korsgaard — KnakNok Games (Affordable Space Adventures, Spin The Bottle)
“I want Nintendo to go crazy. It should be a lightweight, thin, flexible screen that you can fold out to board game size. You flip it out of your pocket, unfold it and BAM! you have a digital board game. Controls would be touch or voice commands or alternatively with the small buttons, and the joystick on the accompanying Nintendo Watch.”
Nic Watt — Nnooo Games (Cubemen 2, escapeVektor, Pop)
“We at Nnooo love working on different platforms, and Nintendo is one of the closest to our heart. They make such exciting and innovative hardware, and I am sure they will come up with amazing new ideas we haven’t even thought of! The way they take seemingly boring tech and make it exciting is always something we relish seeing when their new hardware launches. A good example of this is Streetpass. Wireless communications are not exactly the most exciting sounding technology but when Nintendo got its hands on it suddenly they come up with a cool, fun, whacky way to exchange data without even needing to stop, open your console and speak to the other person!!
Things that are really close to my heart that I would love to see more of on future games consoles are:
- Big screens. I love the Nintendo 3DS XL screens they make content look so exciting!
- Being able to play with friends on the same console. The Wii U Gamepad is set up so that one player could sit at one end and another player at the other that could lead to really interesting versus games
- Virtual Console overload! I love all of Nintendo’s old platforms and games and being able to play all of them in one place would be super sweet!
- GPS could be an interesting addition when combined with AR. I can think of a Spirit Hunting game that would certainly benefit ha ha!
Areas which could be interesting and a lot of people are talking about are:
- One console or OS which can connect to the TV and be portable. Being able to make a game once and it work on portable and TV would be neat! Particularly when friends come round with their machines for multiplayer!! It would be like Gamecube Zelda Four Swords all over again!
- More Streetpass space. I love Streetpass and being able to do it more would be amazing!
- The tools Nintendo provide are really great to work with. Making things as easy as possible for developers to use will mean more and more features of the system will get used.”
James Saito — Co-founder of Fuzzy Wuzzy Games (Armillo, Medal of Honor 2: Heroes)
“As smart phones get more popular, it becomes more difficult for stand-alone gaming handhelds to maintain its market share. Also, one of the features I love about the 3DS is its street pass, but it sometimes gets difficult to want to carry the 3DS with you at all times just for street pass.
I’m veering a bit away from the main question, but what I think Nintendo can do is create something that compliments phones rather than competes. As a developer, I tend to want to focus on the technical side of things, but perhaps what might be more interesting is to think on how Nintendo can approach the market differently. So instead of focusing on handhelds, perhaps Nintendo can make their own smart watch. I’m thinking that it might have a screen the size of a gameboy micro with collapsible buttons – but it can be anything. To make it appealing to phone users, it can interface with popular mobile phones on tasks such as receiving notifications, but it’ll also be Nintendo’s own, complete with street pass, NFC (amiibo!), heart rate monitor, step counter (play coins!), and Nintendo’s own games.
In addition to that, Nintendo can also make another handheld where the watch syncs with the handheld and transfers any new street pass data so you don’t have to carry your handheld everywhere you go. The watch becomes the street pass hub. Perhaps the current 3DS can work this way as well.”
Axel Droxler — Dreadlocks (Dex, Divinity: Original Sin)
“Aside from the obvious technical improvements and higher specs, which automatically come with each new console generation, there are two aspects I believe Nintendo’s next handheld should focus on.
First, the 3DS’s successor has to focus on social aspects and connectivity between players. There must finally be a proper, unified account system, allowing a player’s friend list to be shared across multiple Nintendo consoles. Features such as direct messaging, voice chat, matchmaking – which have been taken for granted on every competitor’s device for years now – should be seamless and operate on the console level. Having these features readily available would allow developers to focus on other multiplayer functionalities. Innovations such as StreetPass and Miiverse are great, and I would expect more emphasis on that front too, in order to bolster the community.
Second, it should be made easier to port games from other platforms, be it its home console (Wii U or its successor) or mobile. Bringing the Unity 3D engine, for example, to the next handheld would allow a lot more indies to take a crack at developing for it. In our case, porting “Dex” would be a lot easier, cheaper, a no-brainer really.”
Greg Wiggleton — Zenfa Productions (ZaciSa’s Last Stand)
“Some of the things I would like to see for a next-gen Nintendo handheld would include more power, ram and increased resolution. But that is likely what most of us like would like. What I would really like to see happen, is see the Nintendo Web Framework and Unity programs of the Wii U make itself available to the next Nintendo handheld. This will enable indie developers like me a better chance at creating new indie games for the platform.”
Christopher F. Arnold — Nami Tentou Mushi (Ping 1.5 +)
“I’m hoping to see some other new innovative feature in the next 3DS. Even if people think it’s just a gimmick, like the gyroscope, I personally enjoy having those unique ways of playing. I’m hoping that both screen sizes are the same size rather than the bottom being a bit smaller. Support for the existing engines like Unity3D, Unreal, and others. The only way to support other engines would be to make it a bit stronger of a portable system though since those engines have their overhead. Maybe an audible notification sound that developers could make use of. Like if you got a letter on Animal Crossing, a sound could go off and you could check. Or if you got a Miiverse notification about a certain game that you wanted to know about, it would make a sound too.
My last thing would be to make Miiverse not interfere with gameplay so much. It takes a long time to share something on Miiverse with the 3DS. I’d like it to be as simple as hitting some sort of share, type in message/draw/attach picture, then hit send and then it goes into the back memory into a message queue to upload, allowing you to return to game versus waiting for posting.
I don’t have too many desires for their next handheld because I’m still happy with the quality of the content hitting the Nintendo 3DS. I don’t feel it’s hardware creates too much of a barrier except for indies who aren’t familiar with coding.”
Mike Aschenbrenner — RCMADIAX (Super Robo Mouse, Blok Drop U, Pentapuzzle)
“From a developers perspective, I’d love to see Nintendo partner with Unreal, Unity, and CryEngine to bring their tools to the handheld. Having this wide option of development tools would not only help their existing developers, but it would also bring in those that skipped the 3DS this generation. I also believe they should carry over the 3D screen, with the new eye tracking mechanic of course. While using the “NEW” 3DS models, I can say I am now able to comfortably play with the 3D effect on. Other features I would like to see are dual sticks, a single large screen (think Vita), and a larger amount of internal memory.
To be honest, I’d rather see Nintendo make a portable/home hybrid console instead of individual machines. This will lessen the work load on their development teams, and we can get games that we can experience at home and on the go.”
Syrenne McNulty — 4 Corner Games (I’ve Got To Run! Complete Edition)
“I could go on about the obvious requests – cheaper devkits, easier to use tools, more powerful hardware, etc. – the clichés that I’m sure everyone is expecting. What I would like to see from Nintendo’s next handheld is a continued integration of the StreetPass system, but with more thought put into those who cannot regularly StreetPass one another. I would love it, as a consumer and as a developer, if built into the system firmware, there was an option to connect to the Nintendo Network once a day to randomly StreetPass with someone else’s data somewhere else in the world.
As a developer, I am averse to including StreetPass in my projects, because the likelihood of two players both owning my niche downloadable software – and having StreetPass turned on (especially with the cap on how many SP titles can be active at any one time), while both StreetPass each other in person – does not warrant the effort to design and implement unique features that take advantage of this aspect of the hardware. If Nintendo allowed players to StreetPass through the internet, it would broaden the scope of the feature itself – especially for those living outside of metropolitan areas in Japan – and would help developers justify inclusion of features that utilize this great communication tool.”
Ole Ivar Rudi — Rain Games (Teslagrad)
“I’d love to see their next handheld play a double role as a standalone device and as a successor to the Wii U gamepad. Speaking as an indie dev, Unity support and similar architecture between systems would make it a lot easier to make handheld and console versions interact in interesting ways.
One of my favorite things with the current generation of hardware is how much better the digital distribution and storage situation has become. On console, physical media still feels practical as you’re likely to keep your console and game collection relatively near each other, but having a size-able amount of eShop games stored on my 3DS without having to lug around a bunch of cartridges feels like a revelation. I’d definitely like to see them keep developing in this direction, and shipping the next handheld device with a decent amount of on-board storage would help that along considerably.
Dual analog or at the very least a camera nub would be a welcome addition, especially if cross-platform play is on the table. More ergonomic L/R buttons would be nice too, even if that would probably demand an increase in thickness. There’s nothing wrong with the diamond face button configuration, but it’d be interesting to see them move away from it again like they did with the Gamecube. That was a wholly unique and great controller.
I’d love to see Nintendo embrace a capacitive touchscreen. The price point is low enough that it’s feasible to include one by now, and it would certainly help if they want to catch the attention of people who are more used to playing games on smartphones. While play-testing Teslagrad on the Wii U with a range of people, I noticed that a lot of the people who tried it didn’t really understand how the resistive screen works. Barely anyone bothered using the stylus, for instance.
A higher resolution screen would be very welcome! Not necessarily full HD or anything, the mid-resolution Wii U screen looks great for its size and pixel density.
From a user point of view, I’m probably one of the few who would prioritize better battery life over performance. As much as I love the 3D effect on the 3DS, I almost always turn it off to preserve the battery. That’s probably one of the major price raisers though, and you want hardware to have a low barrier of entry. Look at the success of the 3DS after the price drop compared to before!”
Paul Watson — Curve Studios (Stealth Inc 2, Fluidity Spin Cycle)
“We all love the 3DS here (I’m pretty sure everyone at Curve has one – it takes an age to clear out my Streetpass hits every day) and while the hardware could move forward in several small ways, it’s mostly solid.
But for indie developers, one of the most important features on a gaming device is the store (in this case the eShop), as it’s where people discover – and hopefully decide to play – our games.
Nintendo have done some amazing work in the past year to foster indie creativity, and 2014 has seen some amazing independent games turning up on both of their consoles – now all we need to see is a platform for them to show them off to players. Compared with the Wii Shop Channel, the Wii U eShop was a huge step forward, so I’m confident that Nintendo are moving in the right direction. I think whatever comes next is really going to show off Nintendo’s curative abilities.”
Jeff Luke — Tic Toc Games (“Adventures of Pip”)
“My dream Nintendo next gen Handheld is a unified platform handheld. What I mean by this is one that has the same OS and development environment as their next gen console. Obviously their console would be more powerful, but imagine for a minute being able to play the same game on both console and handheld with features exclusive to each way of experiencing it.
Using the handheld as a second screen controller (like the Wii U GamePad) but then transferring your save to your handheld for on the go gaming is really where I see the future of Nintendo. I think the Wii U was the testing ground for the experience. If they can truly unify the console and handheld experience, they will spark that revolution they have been talking about for years.”
David D’Angelo — Yacht Club Games (“Shovel Knight”)
“There isn’t anything I ever want to see from Nintendo — by that I mean I love being surprised by them! I expect whatever they create is going to serve some unique gameplay vision they have in mind for the next generation. I’m sure the system will be inspired by a future Mario or Zelda game design. I simply can’t wait to jump on and see whatever crazy idea they come up with next!”
Jeffrey Brown — Currently: Senior QA at Signal Studios, (Formerly: Microsoft Project Coordinator, Nintendo Product Tester)
“Software / OS type features: I’d like to see more cross-buy options between Nintendo’s next handheld and home consoles. Nintendo should reward their most dedicated customers by offering cross-buy features on a lot more of their software. I’d like to see more Social Media Share features implemented into the system. Expanded Miiverse features, and the ability to capture and upload video to popular services like YouTube and Twitch.
Hardware Features: Note – Unfortunately, I have not had an opportunity to test out the NEW 3DS system yet, so Nintendo may be solving some of these issues already.
If the New 3DS C-Stick is still not an ideal second analog option, then I’d like to see a second Circle Pad or two full analog sticks on the next system. Unless I’m mistaken, the 3DS touch screen can still only register one area (tapped) on the screen at one time. From a design and gameplay standpoint, it’d be nice if they added multi-touch at the same time for the next handheld. HD Graphics would be expected by the next Nintendo handheld, especially if the system doesn’t debut until 2017 (or later). I also expect the next system to have larger storage capacity. 4GB doesn’t seem nearly enough as the game industry continues to move more and more to Digital Downloads. I’ve personally upgraded my 3DS XL to have 32GB.
Backwards compatibility, for at least the 3DS games would be nice to have. Although, this feature seems to be less and less important for newer systems lately. If they keep a similar format for their games, it makes sense. If they need to cut costs, then omitting backwards compatibility wouldn’t be the biggest loss. I’m a pretty big fan of the clam-shell design that Nintendo’s handhelds have carried since the GBA SP. I’m expecting they will stick with this design. My biggest uncertainty for Nintendo’s next handheld system is whether they will keep the Dual Screens and 3D effect. Or will they go in a completely different direction? I like the two screens from a game design standpoint.
The DS added two screens and the 3DS added the 3DS effect. What big design change will Nintendo come out with for their next handheld? That’s my biggest question right now.
Lastly, an appropriate price point. I think a lot of the features I’d like to see, make this sound like the system would be quite expensive. Ideally, costs for these features will be a lot less by 2017-2018, and Nintendo can stick to around $200 for their next handheld.”
Luis Anton — PlayMedusa (RainSandStars, Oddy Smog’s Misadventures)
“Anything they may throw into a new handheld should grant more freedom to game designers to create new game mechanics, and that comes with new ways to interact with the console. A better GPU and the full pack of sensors is quite obvious (multiple touches, gyroscope, GPS, camera, microphone, two sticks, buttons and triggers). The new 3DS already has most of those.
But I think they have plenty of room to investigate games being aware of what the user is doing. The new 3DS is already able to track faces, and they could go a step further. With sensors similar to Kinect or Leap Motion (that is, depth sensors, mainly), faces could be detected and modeled in detail, which would lead to a wide range of biometric information: gender, facial expressions and eye tracking.
Knowing where the user is looking at is a full input sensor by itself, and a pretty interesting one indeed! Properly done, it could even mean the end of the need for a stylus. Look at a point on the screen, press a button. Imagine a Mii in the bottom-left corner waving at you. You look at it, it detects that you are doing so and greets you. ‘Oh, hi!’. Creatures that move when you blink or when you are not looking directly at them… Imagine the kind of puzzles a Zelda game could implement involving eye tracking… phew! It’s not science fiction with current technology!
Sure, what I expect from Nintendo is not better hardware or such novel input methods, but their games evolving towards interactive cartoons. That’s Nintendo. But that eye-tracking feature would be quite a nice thing to explore. Then comes interactive holographic displays and mind control. But that’s for 2020.”