Nxt is considered a 2nd generation crypto currency. With all the alt coins that alter parametes such as hashing mechanism, time between blocks, starting difficulty, and so on, Nxt brings much much more to the table and was designed this way for a number of reasons. It's proof of stake model makes it less susceptible to 51% attacks whilst it is designed to support large transaction volumes, something which the traditional Bitcoin and its clones have as a potential flaw. Nxt allows the creation and exchange of custom tokens, coloured coins and assets on the Blockchain.
In 2016, the NXT team announced the launch of Ardor, the Nxt 2.0. The platform will allow users the same features as Nxt and additional tools like sidechain support for asset issuance and more. The destribution of the ARDR token was done through a snapshot process, which is the reason for the price spike during late 2016.