Making a Mario game for mobile isn’t a “a recipe for printing money”

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Earlier this year, Nintendo announced a partnership with DeNA to bring its long history of revered properties to the mobile space – meaning that yes, Nintendo games would soon flood smartphones and tablets. Since that announcement, they’re regularly re-iterated that they won’t just be porting its games to a new platform – so you won’t be playing a remake of Super Mario Bros 3 with fiddly touch controls on your phone.

They have since announced their first mobile game, Miitomo, a free-to-play mii-centric title that’s a weird social-networking game in the vein of Tomodachi Life. It’s something that by itself, doesn’t inspire much confidence. You’d imagine that all Nintendo would have to do is put the famous plumber in a mobile game, throw in some mictransactions, and sit back as they watched the cash rolling in. But that’s not happening, says Nintendo of America’s top brass, Reggie Fils-Aime.

“Unfortunately, there’s a simplistic mentality out there, that ‘Make a Mario game for smart devices’ is a recipe for printing money,” he said. “And it’s not. It just simply is not. It’s that Kyoto craftsmanship mentality that says whatever we’re going to do, it needs to be a wonderful experience for consumers.

“Our strategy is not to port games developed for our dedicated systems to smart devices as they are. We have to develop new software experiences that give people the opportunity to interact with Nintendo IP and that matches the play style and control of smart devices.”

Putting something like Mario on to a smartphone without carefully considering the controls and inputs would work; you need the software to make sense of the hardware it’s running on.

“We know that Mario and his ability to run and jump, to transform based on different items, that’s been optimized for a play-control approach that doesn’t exist for smartphones. And so for us, it’s not simply taking existing games and porting them over to smart devices as the answer. Our answer is to create new compelling experiences that leverage what smart devices do best.”

“We will absolutely continue our traditional maxim of developing software that matches the hardware,” said Fils-Aime. “We have looked at the limitations of software design on mobile platforms, and worked within those parameters. A 3DS game that requires the full manipulation of joysticks and multiple buttons can’t be exactly replicated on a touch-screen mobile device.

“Our strategy is not to port games developed for our dedicated systems to smart devices as they are. We have to develop new software experiences that give people the opportunity to interact with Nintendo IP and that matches the play style and control of smart devices.”

Fils-Aime reiterates that the Nintendo games you’ll play on your mobile devices need to be meaningful, and not hurt the company’s revered intellectual properties. Link’s Rupee Runner may not be happening after all.

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Last Updated: December 14, 2015

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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