Nintendo on Tuesday released version 10.0.0 of the firmware for its Switch and Switch Lite gaming consoles. In addition to the new features the firmware adds to existing Switch devices, there was something else: a reference to a new piece of hardware, dubbed "nx-abcd." The internet promptly went wild speculating about what that new designation could mean.
Looking at Nintendo's existing naming conventions, that model number refers to something wholly new, rather than an update to a current Switch product. Reverse engineer Mike Heskin speculated on Twitter that the information and DRAM profiles the firmware alludes to for the new hardware suggests "a secondary display of sorts being added exclusively on this model." Which could mean either a headset (AR, VR or MR), or a secondary display of the sort Nintendo offers on its 3DS line.
VR intrigued — Tech and gaming website TweakTown went as far as creating a mock-up image of what a Switch headset might look like. Considering the Joy-Con controllers already support motion controls, it's not entirely far-fetched, but using the Switch display in a VR-style headset in its current form would suffer from the dual problems of being heavy and pretty low-resolution (720p) for mixed reality use.
Even with its current light foray into VR with its Labo cardboard accessories Nintendo's avoided adding straps or other hardware for handsfree use, and it kept the accompanying games short so that users don't have to hold the display up for extended periods of time. If, however, the display was slimmed down and given a resolution boost, a headset suddenly wouldn't seem so foolhardy.
Could it be a Switch DS? — TweakTown concedes that this is all conjecture, and that nx-abcd could end up referring to something else entirely, or never come to fruition at all. But one of the most appealing versions of its daydreams imagines a secondary screen for the existing Switch that would give it 3DS-like powers, as imagined by hardware hacker Mike Choi in his Switch DS mock-up. Considering Nintendo's said it won't update the current Switch lineup this year, this might be the more likely option.
Or even be a TV-only Switch — There's even speculation that Nintendo could release a TV-only Switch that would offer an entry-level solution priced below the $200 Switch Lite (recently made available in a delightful shade of coral.) Whatever Nintendo's got in store, you can bet there'll be more leaks nearer the launch of anything official, and reverse engineers and fans alike will continue digging for any slivers of information they can.
Oh yeah, and if you're wondering, the new firmware brings additional features to the existing consoles, some of them long requested by users, including the ability to transfer data between the internal memory and a microSD card, and the option to remap buttons, which is great for older games users may have played on different systems where the button layout was different.
As much as we'd like to know what Nintendo has in store, for now, we're just happy we can remap the shoulder buttons and mash them for a change... and that we got a Switch before the price-gouging started, otherwise we might've had to build our own.