Square Enix’s consideration doesn’t shed any more clues on just what the NX is.
It was just thrown in at the end of today’s Dragon Quest announcement-a-thon: Dragon Quest X and XI would be coming to the NX. As happened the last time a Dragon Quest announcement was made, Square Enix immediately walked it back by stating that the project was under “consideration”, but it seems to be a pretty much open secret that whatever the NX is, it’ll have at least two Dragon Quest games on it.
But as much as we want to think this gives us some idea of what the NX would be, there’s too many variables in play to narrow down the possibilities.
Putting aside Dragon Quest XI for a moment, even Dragon Quest X coming along doesn’t mean much, since there’s already a way to play Dragon Quest X on the 3DS in Japan. Sure, it’s essentially a streaming solution, but DQX runs natively on the Wii. In both cases, it’s functional if not very elegant. A handheld more powerful than the 3DS should be able to run X natively. If the PS4 version announced at the same conference gets localized, there’s a chance we might be able to play it in North America and Europe. (Not going to happen - Ed.) So we shouldn’t read too much into X’s status.
The nature of Dragon Quest XI’s details – 3DS version that plays with choice of a 3D or 2D world and a PS4 version running on Unreal Engine 4 – set off alarm bells. Surely the NX supports UE4, right? It better, for the sake of the system, but XI’s wildly divergent consoles gives two potential porting paths. If the NX OS port is for Japan, then it’s destined for Nintendo’s next handheld since we know that will sell in Japan. In that case it’d be far easier – and less expensive – for Square Enix to port up the 3DS version. If they decide to port the PS4 version to Nintendo’s next console that runs NX OS, it’s not going to sell as well in Japan because Square’s efforts to revive consoles there can only go so far, and the Western sales of Nintendo consoles that aren’t the Wii have historically trended down so you can’t use “Console version for the West” as an excuse to bring the game over. Odds are pretty much even that the port works out one of those ways, and we know it’s releasing after 3DS/PS4 launch, which could come as late as March 2017 in Japan. (The launch is set for the fiscal year containing Dragon Quest’s 30th anniversary, so April 2016 – March 2017, and it will be simultaneous.)
Or for all we know, we’re getting both. And if that happens, I’ll be the first to ask if the Final Fantasy 7 remake launching “first on PlayStation 4” is coming second to Nintendo’s new console. The Dragon Quest team gets to go off the reservation from Square Enix’s plans (see: Dragon Quest VII and VIII localizations), but their statement today still leaves a boatload of question marks about Nintendo’s next platforms. And if those platforms underperform, there’s always the possibility of Square Enix cancelling the NX port plans. At this point, all we can do is wait for more details from an eternally-silent Nintendo.