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Seven Ideas For Nintendo On Mobile

by Dan Ryckert on Mar 17, 2015 at 07:08 AM

In light of Nintendo's announcement of a deal with DeNA for development of new Nintendo games on mobile platforms, we've went back to an earlier story on ways that the company's franchises could make the jump to mobile.

[Original story published on January 24, 2014 at 04:36 PM]

If you’ve been on the internet over the last few weeks, you may have heard that Nintendo has been going through some rough times. The Wii U is putting up pitiful sales numbers, and even the popular 3DS is selling considerably less than the publisher expected. Debates have been popping up regarding whether or not Nintendo should swallow its pride and consider putting some games on mobile platforms. Whether it’s a good business decision or not is a completely different issue, but here are some ideas for what they could do if things move in that direction.

A Mario runner

This is the most obvious pick. Mario has been at the top of the platforming heap for decades, and there’s no reason that Nintendo couldn’t translate a boiled-down version of his turtle-stomping action to mobile devices. Besides the obvious “tap to jump” mechanics that would be used to crush Goombas and avoid bottomless pits, you could also tap and hold to control his flight with Super Mario World’s cape (think Tiny Wings) or hover with the Tanooki suit. 

Strategy games

Games like Final Fantasy Tactics and XCOM have successfully been ported to iOS, and there is no reason the same can’t be done for Nintendo properties like Fire Emblem and Advance Wars. No twitch skills are required, so the experience would be largely the same. In addition, asynchronous multiplayer could be a fantastic addition to the formulas of those games.

Port old games that make sense

Besides making new titles with touchscreens in mind, Nintendo could also look to its past titles that would translate well to phones and tablets without much tweaking. Excitebike is simple, and Zapper games like Hogan’s Alley and Duck Hunt could be modified to work with touch controls. Games like Super Mario Bros. and Zelda require a bit too much fast-paced input to be controlled with a virtual d-pad and buttons, but others like Earthbound or Mario’s Picross would work. 

A portable party

We’re well aware that many gamers hate the Mario Party series for its simple minigames and over-reliance on luck. That said, the games have historically sold well and clearly have their fans. Imagine having a game board on an iPad, with players controlling their character’s actions on their smartphones. Being able to hide your screen would allow for some clever minigames like Nintendo Land’s Mario Chase or Game & Wario’s Fruit.

A new Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

Most Donkey Kong games wouldn’t be a good fit for mobile. The original games and the Donkey Kong Country series both require twitch controls that simply wouldn’t work. That said, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat was a lot of fun and was playable with some damn bongos. Just put some big circles in the bottom corners of the touchscreen, and you’ve got yourself all you need to send DK on another banana-grabbing adventure.

Pokemon companion app

When Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver released in 2010, it came with a pedometer called the Pokewalker. By walking around throughout the day, players could earn new Pokemon and level them up. A companion app could run in the background on your smartphone throughout the day, and GPS location services or a pedometer of sorts could gauge how much you moved around. It could be a fun way to interact with your Pokemon file throughout the day, and wouldn’t require putting anything more in your pockets than you already do. On top of a companion app strictly for Pokemon, this same system could be used to earn 3DS play coins.

A new Punch-Out!!

One of the first big-budget iOS games was Infinity Blade, which controlled like a more advanced version of the NES classic Punch-Out!!. While the original NES version is a bit too fast-paced for mobile, a new Punch-Out!! with a slower battle system like Infinity Blade could work well. I can imagine it would be a lot of fun to repeatedly tap the screen to gut-punch King Hippo as his dumb pants fall down.