With Nintendo recently announcing Super Mario Run for the iPhone, it seems that they are committed to entering the mobile gaming market. Nintendo have also previously confirmed that Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem games are coming to mobile phones in the future.
While the first official Nintendo cellphone game, Miitomo, quickly ran out of steam, their second title would go on to change the face of mobile gaming. Pokémon GO has become a cultural phenomenon, one that has managed to spread out from gaming and into mainstream society, in an unprecedented way. Most of this success can be attributed to Niantic, the developer of Pokémon GO (Nintendo actually had very little involvement in the game’s success), but you can bet that GO‘s success convinced Nintendo to get with the times.
With over thirty years of classic gaming franchises to choose from, we are here to lay out what we want next from Nintendo in the mobile gaming market. From the bounty hunter Samus Aran, to the hero of Hyrule – here are the fifteen Nintendo properties we need to see on the iPhone.
There is a common consensus among Nintendo fans as to what game series they want revived. The number one choice is Metroid. While they just released Metroid Prime: Federation Force for the 3DS, most fans don’t consider it part of the series due to the lack of Samus Aran as the lead and it being a co-op shooter. The fans want Samus back as the protagonist, and for her personality to be restored as the unflinching badass that she was before Metroid: Other M.
While a 2D Metroid in the style of the original trilogy of games would be difficult to accomplish on a touchscreen (those games were hard enough with a joypad), the Metroid cellphone game could go in a different direction. A Metroid Prime style shooting game that used gyroscopic controls would work well on the iPhone.
Nintendo have also proven in the past that a touchscreen 3D Metroid would work. This was the case with Metroid Prime: Hunters on the Nintendo DS, which used the stylus as a means of moving your perspective.
With the incredible success of Pokémon GO, the lead contender for the next Nintendo property to make its way onto cellphones is the Pokémon series. While Pokémon GO is a very entertaining title, it is barely representative of what Pokémon actually plays like. Pokémon GO is basically a mix between following directions on Google Maps and flicking the screen.
If Nintendo figure out a way to mix the current Pokémon GO game with elements from the mainstream titles, then they would have an even bigger hit on their hands. Can you imagine a game where every country is broken up into “regions”, and has the eight gym’s spread across the land? You would have people travelling cross-country in order to beat the eight Gym Leaders… like in the actual Pokémon world.
Even if Nintendo got lazy and just ported the old Pokémon games onto phones (with a few token added features), then they would still make a ton of money off all the Pokémon GO enthusiasts, who need something to do while the servers are down.
13. Dr. Mario
The Dr. Mario titles allow you to play as Mario while he earns a malpractice lawsuit – shoving pill after pill down a patients throat, in order to kill the colour coded viruses inside their body. The game is very similar to Tetris, and involves matching coloured blocks in a line of four in order to destroy enemy virus blocks that fill up the screen. It’s a very fun & addictive game that lends itself well to short play sessions, making it a perfect game for the cellphone.
As the game is very close to Tetris, it should work very well on an iPhone. How do we know this? Tetris is already on the app store (and has been ported to pretty much every phone/video game system at this point). While Nintendo owned the rights to Tetris ports for a long time, the original rights finally returned to its original creator, Alexey Pajitnov, in 1996. As such, Nintendo have pushed the Dr. Mario titles more due to their ownership of the concept (whilst still allowing Tetris games on their systems).
12. Punch Out
The Punch Out series has had few releases across its thirty year run. The games that were released all left an impression on players that still lingers to this day. Punch Out has so many fans that Little Mac, one of the recurring protagonists in the series, earned a spot in the latest Super Smash Bros. games.
Originally appearing in the arcades, Punch Out is a series of boxing games that mix fast paced action with rhythmic movement. The games are best known for their roster of wacky foreign stereotypes who act as the antagonists, and for real life boxer Mike Tyson’s celebrity endorsement as the brutally difficult end boss of Punch Out on the NES.
A new game in the Punch Out series would work well on a phone, due to the relative lack of button inputs that are required. The original Punch Out had four buttons for dodging (left, right, block and down) and three punch buttons – one for each arm and one for the super uppercut. The Punch Out games were all about timing and learning the patterns of your opponents, so that you can survive their brutal assault before delivering a punishing counterattack. This would be very easy to accomplish on a touchscreen.
11. Duck Hunt
From games that people remember fondly, to the game that people love to hate – Duck Hunt.
The original Duck Hunt title is technically a big selling game for Nintendo, due to it being a pack-in title on certain Nintendo Entertainment System bundles. While Duck Hunt was a fun shooting game, the thing that most people remember is that dog… and his mocking laughter every time you missed. Even thirty years later, people still hate that hound. That hatred has at least made him iconic, however, as he has appeared in the latest Super Smash Bros. games, and even had a cameo in the Adam Sandler movie Pixels.
A modern Duck Hunt game would be relatively simple on the iPhone. Nintendo could make a shooting game based around tapping the ducks/clay pigeons as they appear. While the original game was difficult due to aiming the NES Zapper at a TV screen, this new game could compensate by making the targets faster, and requiring pinpoint accuracy from your fingers in order to score a hit.
10. Golden Sun
Nintendo systems have held many classic RPG series over the years. Despite this, they developed surprisingly few JRPG style series (like Final Fantasy) of their own. If you don’t count RPG spinoffs of other series like Mario & Luigi or Paper Mario, then Nintendo really only has three to their name, Pokémon, Earthbound (also known as Mother in Japan) and Golden Sun.
The Golden Sun series consists of three games released on the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. They were a mixture of turn-based RPG style battling, and Legend of Zelda style puzzle solving in dungeons. One important feature of the games were the “Djinn”, magical spirits who not only helped you in battle, but provided new supernatural abilities outside of combat, in order to help you solve puzzles.
Even if Nintendo were to just make straight up ports of the games for the iPhone, they would work very well. The turn-based battles would be very easy to accomplish with a touchscreen, as would the dungeon delving (due to it being more about the puzzles). A brand new game in the series that made full use of the capabilities of a high end cellphone would be even more welcome.
There are many different kinds of Kirby games that have been released over the years. The mainstream Kirby games are all platformers, where you devour your enemies whole in order to use their powers. There are also more experimental titles, such as Kirby’s Air Ride, that involving racing around a 3D environment, and Kibry Tilt ‘n’ Tumble, a Game Boy game that had a built in accelerometer, that allowed players to move the console in order to move Kirby.
Alongside all of these great games, there is another style of Kirby game that is begging to be adapted for cellphones – the style used in Kirby: Canvas Curse and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.
In the “Curse” Kirby games, you draw a line of magical paint across the touchscreen that Kirby would follow. You had to navigate Kirby through obstacles and enemies using your limited supply of paint to get by. These games would be very easy to port onto a touchscreen based system. A new game that used this control method, but was also made for a smaller screen, would be even better.
8. Star Fox
The many reported control issues with Star Fox Zero on the Wii U have proven that Nintendo might be overthinking the concept of Star Fox. What was originally a simple idea wrapped up in impressive visuals and a memorable cast, has somehow been messed up by Nintendo’s desire to innovate in areas where it was not needed. The things that Star Fox Zero could have used to make the game stand out from its predecessors, like an open environment that allowed for multiple ways to accomplish missions, were cast aside in favour of a needlessly complex control scheme.
Beneath all of the fancy 3D visuals, Star Fox has always been an on-rails shooter. While the games usually offer multiple routes throughout a level, each of the routes still require you to follow a predetermined path to the end, whilst surviving enemy assaults. This game style could easily be combined with gyroscopic controls and a single “shoot” button, in order to create a new Star Fox title on the iPhone. You just make the game take place from the view of the Arwing cockpit and don’t look back.
7. Brain Age
In 2005, Nintendo had the crazy idea of adapting a book based around mathematics into a video game. This book was Train Your Brain: 60 Days to a Better Brain, which was a massive success in Japan. The book was based on the research of one Dr. Kawashima, whose research revealed that answering math equations and reading words aloud every day would make your brain more active.
So how did Nintendo turn this book into a video game? They turned Dr. Kawashima into a floating head, and made him the figurehead of a series of games intended to make you smarter.
The Brain Age series adapted Dr. Kawashima’s work into a game. You now had nearly infinite random math questions & words to read aloud, rather than the finite amount printed in his book. The game asked you to write your answers down using the touch screen, and would have you speak the words into the microphone. These games would work easily on the iPhone, and having it with you all of the time would make you more likely to keep up with your brain training.
The Pikmin games are one of Nintendo’s most critically acclaimed series. This is despite its relative youth compared to its contemporaries (the first Pikmin game is just over fifteen years old). The Pikmin games mostly cast you as Olimar, an astronaut who has crash landed on a strangeplanet. He must command a group of plantlike aliens called the Pikmin in order to find the pieces of his ship and make his way home.
A true 3D Pikmin title would be very difficult to accomplish on a phone, as the mainstream Pikmin games can be tricky to play (even with a control pad that has two joysticks). Nintendo offered a solution to this problem in their last Nintendo Direct – a 2D Pikmin game.
This new Pikmin game looks similar to the old puzzle game Lemmings, where you overcome obstacles through controlling minions that possess unique abilities. By controlling the various coloured Pikmin using the touch screen, you can use their individual powers to overcome the harsh environment. A similar game could easily be made for the iPhone.
5. Rhythm Heaven
Rhythm Heaven is one of Nintendo’s newest properties, with the first game being released in Japan in 2006. When the series made its way to the Nintendo DS, it got a major push that involved an advertising campaign starring Beyoncé.
The Rhythm Heaven series is based around musical minigames. As the name implies, a strong sense of rhythm will help you proceed in these games. You will need some musical timing ability in order to help you interview a pro-wrestler, catch fruit that tumbles endlessly down a flight of stairs, or cut up logs for a group of creepy cat people.
This style of musical game, that mixes tense challenge based on your natural rhythm with comedic scenarios, would be right at home on the app store. Most of the activities only require one or two buttons, making it an easy fit for a touchscreen.
4. Advance Wars
Here is a series that is well overdue for a revival.
With Fire Emblem being one of the few series confirmed to be coming to cellphones, the next logical step would be to resurrect the Advance Wars series. While Fire Emblem is a tactical RPG series that focuses on a fantasy setting and the relationships between its cast of characters, Advance Wars has a modern setting based around warring countries. Advance Wars is a turn-based strategy series, that has a large focus on capturing bases in order to earn money, so you can build new units to send into combat.
The original games in the series (known as Nintendo Wars) never left Japan. It wasn’t until the Advance Wars titles on the Game Boy Advance that the series had an English release, earning it a huge cult following in the west. The last title released in the series was Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, a game that abandoned the light-hearted story and colourful visuals of its predecessors in order to focus on an angsty cast and a post-apocalyptic scenario. If Advance Wars is to return, then it needs to bring back the charming style & entertaining cast that won its fanbase in the first place.
3. Game & Watch
The Game & Watch series of handhelds represent Nintendo’s first entry into the video game business. Nintendo started out as a playing card manufacturer, before Gunpei Yokoi (that man who would create the Game Boy) convinced company president Hiroshi Yamauchi to finance a line of LCD based gaming handhelds. This led to the creation of the Game & Watch series, and started Nintendo onto its destiny as one of the giants of the video game industry.
Despite how primitive the games may seem in comparison to modern titles, Nintendo have always been proud of their history. This is why Mr. Game & Watch (a basic drawing of a man that appeared in many Game & Watch titles) has appeared in several Super Smash Bros. games.
While the Game & Watch series are very basic (usually only requiring two buttons), they represent some of the most addictive and challenging titles in the Nintendo library. In the past, Nintendo has released collections of Game & Watch games on their more recent consoles. A complete collection of the whole series would make for an excellent addition to the iPhone’s library of games.
2. The Earthbound series
The Earthbound/Mother series consists of three highly regarded games, all of which are known for their quirky sense of humour and their curious Japanese take on America. The first two games were released on the NES and SNES, and have received English language versions. The third title was released on the Game Boy Advance and has yet to be released – officially – outside of Japan. With the series consisting only of turn-based RPGs, they would be very easy to adapt to the touchscreen style of play. With the massive potential audience of the iPhone available to them, Nintendo might finally be convinced into translating Mother 3 into English and releasing it in the west.
There is actually a strong precedent for 16 bit-era RPGs coming to phones, mainly from the developer Square Enix. The companies formerly known as Squaresoft & Enix (before they merged) released lots of great games on early Nintendo systems, and have ported most of them to phones in recent years. Titles like Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and most of the mainstream games in the Final Fantasy & Dragon Quest series have all made their way to cellphones. There isn’t anything stopping the Earthbound/Mother series from doing the same.
1. The Legend of Zelda
With Pokémon GO already on cellphones and Mario & Animal Crossing on their way, that leaves one huge Nintendo franchise unaccounted for in terms of mobile games – The Legend of Zelda.
It is fair to say that a 3D Zelda in the same style as Ocarina of Time would probably be too difficult to pull off a touchscreen device. There is a style of Zelda game that would work well on the iPhone, however. The ones that used the top-down perspective, like A Link to the Past on Super Nintendo. You may think that such a style of game is antiquated, to which there is only one response – A Link Between Worlds.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a top-down Zelda game on the 3DS that achieved major critical acclaim. Just how acclaimed was it? It competed for numerous Game of the Year awards with The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V. Two of the most important video games of all time were fighting for awards against a 2D Zelda title on a handheld system – that’s how good it was.
As Nintendo proved with Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, a touchscreen based Zelda game is well within their abilities. A new top-down Zelda title would likely be a huge success on the iPhone.