This Nintendo “Smart Boy” Phone Concept Is AWESOME

News Richard Goodwin 10:13, 21 Jul 2015

Nintendo will release games for Android and iOS in 2015/16. But what about a bespoke mobile phone too?

The idea of Nintendo building a smartphone is as old as, well, the smartphone concept itself. As a company, Nintendo has taken a pretty hardline towards anything mobile: it’s not their bag, meaning if you wanted to play the latest Nintendo titles you HAD to buy Nintendo hardware. 

This was the official message for the longest time. But then something happened: Nintendo suddenly changed its mind and decided to start attacking the mobile space with smartphone-centric games based around its most famous characters and franchises. These games will start arriving in earnest within the next few months. 

But whether they’ll be proper Nintendo games remains to be seen. What’s more likely though is a stripped down, simplified screen-tapping affair similar to Angry Birds and its ilk. Not fully immersive 3D worlds and awesome controls via an external, bespoke controller. 

The idea of running Nintendo Wii U games on an iPhone or iPad or Android phone or tablet would be a HUGE deal but, sadly, it is something Nintendo seems intent on protecting –– at least for the time being. And this makes sense: it invests A LOT in its hardware and development of its titles. To just give them away for a pittance makes zero financial sense.  

Still, mobile’s are now extremely powerful. Couple this with the abundance of wireless screen-casting technology now available and the idea of a Nintendo phone, one that CAN run Triple A Nintendo titles and work with existing Nintendo hardware like the Wii U really does start to make sense (at least in my mind, anyway). 

And if it looked like this bad boy designed by a guy called Pierre, well, I’d almost certainly bit Nintendo’s hand off and throw my money at them. 

“In one image,” notes BGR, “Cerveau shows how the slot at the top of the device could be used for a multitude of additions, from a larger battery to increased memory to a 13-megapixel 3D camera, giving the phone a modular feel. In another image, Pierre has invented a low-power mode that would make the display look like a classic 8-bit display.”

Obviously, this is a concept and we all know these types of things mean jack in the cold light of day. But as a thought experiment it is very interesting. I’ve always wondered what a Nintendo phone would look like, and while this isn’t an official one, you could almost certainly imagine that if Nintendo did release a phone in a parallel universe at some point in space-time it might have looked a little bit like this.  

Now, About Those Nintendo Games For Android and iOS...

There is a god, apparently, and he/she has seen fit to work their magic on Nintendo execs in persuading them to bring their creative efforts and characters like Mario, Donkey King and Zelda to Android and iOS. Yes – that’s right: Nintendo is now actively developing bespoke gaming content for Android and iOS. 

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, told journalists: "This will allow us to build a bridge between smart devices and gaming consoles. It doesn't mean smart devices will eat away at gaming consoles, it will create an entirely new type of demand."

But these games won’t just be ports of existing titles like Mario Kart and Zelda; no, they’re going to be “completely new game experiences,” according to the company. Nintendo is partnering up with developer DeNA for the initiative and is looking to bring all of its best-loved characters and games to mobile. 

“To ensure the quality of game experience that consumers expect from this alliance of Nintendo and DeNA, only new original games optimised for smart device functionality will be created,” Nintendo said in a statement. But it’s not just mobile Nintendo is targeting. No –– the company is looking at all platforms and its planning on bringing them all together via the magic of social gaming. 

"Nintendo and DeNA also plan to develop an online membership service that is accessible from smart devices, PC and Nintendo systems, such as the Nintendo 3DS portable system and the Wii U home console. The membership service, which is targeted to launch in the fall of 2015, will be built on DeNA's extensive experience and capabilities in online membership services."

Speaking to Reuters, DeNA CEO Isao Moriyasu said that the company hopes to surpass the 3 billion yen ($25 million) it makes each month from Kaito Royale.

“We want to create games that will be played by hundreds of millions of people,” Moriyasu explained. “We want to create multiple hit games rather than aiming to succeed with just one powerful IP element. We haven't talked to Nintendo about targets, but at DeNA, our best-selling game brought in 3 billion yen a month, and we want to surpass that.”

Neither company has mentioned any specific details of what titles we can expect or when, but it is very likely we’ll see a slew of games announced throughout 2015/16, featuring characters like Mario, Zelda and Donkey King. However, reports suggest the first titles could be with us by the summer, meaning mobile users could be playing an entirely new, mobile-friendly version of Mario by the time the clocks go back. Other titles we can’t wait to here more about are Zelda and Pokemon. Ditto for a remake of Star Fox, a game that would be perfectly suited to handheld devices. 

Nintendo has reported a profit, the first time it’s made money for four years,” reports The Independent. “It made 41.8 billion yen (£230 million) in the year to March. The results reported today by the Kyoto-based maker of Super Mario video games and the Wii home console was better than its own forecast for a 30 billion yen (£164 million) profit. It was in line with the forecast in a FactSet survey of analysts.”

“Premium experiences” will, however, remain on Nintendo’s console, meaning these titles are likely to be stripped down affairs similar to titles like World of Goo and Angry Birds. But this doesn’t mean they won’t be any good. They’re just likely to be more casual compared to what you get on the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS

Damien McFerran, editorial director of Nintendo Life and KYM contributor, had the following comments on the news that Nintendo would soon begin releasing content for iOS and Android: 

“While it might seem like a massive U-Turn for Nintendo, bringing its IP to mobile is a very sensible move, and one which will benefit the company as a whole. It has already experimented with smart devices via its Pokemon franchise, and games on 3DS - like Pokemon Shuffle and Steel Diver - show that the company is exploring free-to-play concepts.

“With all of this in mind, moving to mobile was a logical next step, but it's not something to be nervous about. Just as Microsoft gave smart phone users Halo: Spartan Assault without impacting the core console Halo series, Nintendo can give mobile gamers a whole host of games based on its IP but still maintain the dedicated console approach it has used for the past few decades.”

Nintendo and DeNA will also create an online “membership service” that can be accessed on smart devices, PCs and Nintendo consoles, reports Wired. The service will launch sometime this autumn and will use "DeNA's extensive experience" in developing gaming platforms.

You now have permission to start getting very excited. 

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