Nintendo is about to put out its first mobile game. Here are five predictions for what to expect now and in the future…
For years Nintendo has resisted calls to put its popular franchises on smartphones and other consoles. But earlier this summer, the Big N finally relented and announced plans to team with mobile developer DeNa in order to bring five games featuring different properties to mobile platforms by April 2017. And the first game is due by the end of this year, meaning it should be announced any day now.
Nintendo is a notoriously secretive company, and also prides itself on surprising gamers, so predicting what shape these games may take is kind of a stab in the dark. It’s likely that any games they put on smartphones will try to innovate, but also make you want to pick up Nintendo’s systems for richer gaming experiences. Keeping all that in mind, here are five game ideas that would make sense for Nintendo and get gamers excited to see the Nintendo logo when they load up a game on iPhone or Android.
5. Super Mario Endless Runner
Sonic has an endless runner. The Minions from Despicable Me have an endless runner. Even Forrest-freaking-Gump has an endless runner. Endless runners are fairly cheap and easy to develop, fun in short bursts, and confoundingly addictive as their consistent popularity on smartphones can attest. If Nintendo just wanted to make a few hundred million dollars as quickly as possible, firing up the classic 8-bit Mario engine one more time to make an endless runner on smartphones would be the surefire way to do it.
Of course, that’s almost too obvious for a company that has experimented with Tetris games that can measure your heart rate while you play. Mario will almost definitely show up in a smartphone game at some point in the next year or so, but if Nintendo took the endless runner route, they would probably make a game where you control Mario by blinking or singing to him at different volumes.
4. Smash Bros. Character Customizer
Super Smash Bros. has long been a fan-favorite, and Nintendo has made sure that the latest edition for Wii U and 3DS is going to take all of your time and by giving you the ability to customize each character’s moves and transfer them to Amiibos that can be trained and leveled up the more you play. Pity the poor completionist who feels the urge to track down every last Amiibo and fully level up all 53 currently-available characters.
If Nintendo just wanted to dip its toe into the smartphone market and see the reaction, the company could release a simple app that would just let players customize their Smash Bros. characters’ attacks and change the costumes of the Mii fighters. The app might also include a couple very basic mini-games for testing out the characters or possibly even leveling up Amiibos. Throwing Amiibo functionality in the app might mean a good amount of transferring data between the figures, a console and a smartphone, since very few mobile phones can currently read the NFC chips in the figures, but then again Nintendo has shown in the past that it isn’t above making a needlessly complicated transfer a part of its regular user experience.
3. Pokemon Light
The internet almost had a meltdown last month when Pokemon GO, a free-to-play augmented-reality Pokemon-catching game for smartphones was announced. Pokemon GO isn’t one of the five games that Nintendo and DeNa plan to release for mobile, so an entirely separate new Pokemon game could also be on the way. Nintendo could go the Square Enix route and release a port of an older game for $15-20, and it would probably still sell millions of copies because gamers are dying to play Nintendo games on iPhone and Android.
But again, that’s too simple for Nintendo. If a second Pokemon game hits smartphones in the next few months, expect it to be an app for keeping track of or leveling up Pokemon, because Nintendo still wants gamers to plunk down big money on a 3DS for the “real” Pokemon experience. If Nintendo is feeling particularly ambitious, it might release a game with very light story elements that would feature 20-30 Pokemon for gamers to choose from and battle.
2. Animal Crossing Building Game
In preparation for Fallout 4, Bethesda released Fallout Shelter, an iOs and Android game and virtual crack simulator that tasks players with building the perfect vault and keeping its residents happy and prosperous. That’s basically the plot of every Animal Crossing game already released. Just replace the mutants and nuclear fallout with furries and sunshine.
Anyone who has spent a little bit of time with one of those games knows how ridiculously addictive it can be to go fishing and collect flowers for just a few more precious bells just to buy a stupid new lamp for your villager. All Nintendo would have to do is simplify it a bit and put it in two dimensions to make a mobile game that would enthrall players and make them want to get the full version on 3DS. Nintendo could even just modify its latest game, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer a bit since it’s not quite a full-size Animal Crossing game. This is the one idea on the list that would make a lot of sense for Nintendo and actually result in a really great mobile game too.
1. Super Mario Maker Port/Companion App
Even for a company used to making hits, rarely has a Nintendo game been as universally praised as Super Mario Maker. The game not only lets you finally make the Mario levels you’ve been planning in your head since you were a kid, but it lets you do it with incredibly intuitive creation tools. When you’re done, you can post your levels to the internet for others to play, or try some of the best in the world that other users have created.
Nintendo could put some of the level-making tools in an app so you could make levels on the go and upload them to the Wii U later, or port a version of the game to smartphones. Even if it only used one of the four art-styles available in the console game, it would be one of the best platformers on mobile and put Nintendo on the map in the world of smartphone gaming.
Nintendo’s announcing their first game tomorrow. What do you think? Will it be one of the five we listed? Something else? Let us know in the comments, or join the conversation on Twitter at @NewRockstars!