Hey DeNA – we hear you’re going to make Nintendo games for our smartphones and tablets. How exciting!
But wouldn’t it be terrible if you screwed it all up?
As Nintendo fans, we’ve taken some time to think about what we’d do if we were you. Nintendo has given you free range to pick from any of their IPs to create new games. There are some that make sense for mobile, and there are some that don’t.
If we wanted to wow the public with our initial line-up, these are the 7 games we’d make first:
If you’re looking for your flagship property, this is it. Kart racers have performed remarkably well on mobile, often with tilt controls that feel like a perfect fit for the genre. But how do you monetize it without making everyone angry? Easy: do it like a MOBA.
Give players a different selection of free racers to choose from every day, and let them spend money to keep the ones they want. Give us plenty of courses to enjoy for free, and — like Nintendo has with Mario Kart 8 — create exceptional new tracks that we’ll be happy to pay for down the road. Design it beautifully, sell it fairly, and you’ll show the world that DeNA knows how to handle a Nintendo property right.
Arguably Nintendo’s most under-rated franchise, the Rhythm Heaven games are a perfect mash-up of music-based rhythm-play and micro-game silliness. They’re the original “one-tap” music games, making them a great fit for mobile. Heck – we gave Planet Quest five stars mostly because it felt like a Rhythm Heaven mini-game. That’s saying something.
Similarly DeNA, give some serious thought to doing something with the equally wonderful WarioWare IP.
Donkey Kong’s Crash Course
A big, beautiful challenge that was meant to showcase the tilt capabilities of the Wii U Gamepad, Donkey Kong’s Crash Course might just be the perfect formula for a mobile Nintendo game. Players will tilt their device to navigate gigantic, increasingly difficult obstacle courses while taking the laws of physics into account.
Give us the first course free and release new ones every 6 weeks at 99 cents. These would be an absolute must buy (at least for gamers like me).
While few traditional “gamers” obsess over them, brain-training games are huge on mobile devices. As a perennial top performer in the education category, Lumosity has over 60 million members. And Brain Age for the Nintendo DS? That’s the game that started it all.
It doesn’t matter that the science behind these might just be junk — Brain Age provided a fun and unique challenge when it debuted in 2005, and it can do the same thing a decade later on your phone.
Even better, a mobile Animal Crossing could complement the existing franchise rather than strive to replace it. Make this a separate island and connect it to the 3DS game (possibly using the “online membership program” you have in the works, DeNA). That way gamers can find items and complete quests on the go that will enhance their primary Animal Crossing experience in New Leaf (or whatever Animal Crossing game Nintendo is working on next).
Dogs are great, but if you live in an apartment or hate cleaning poop off your rug, they’re not the ideal candidate for companionship in every situation. That’s where Nintendogs comes in.
Taking the idea of a “virtual pet” to its ultimate conclusion, Nintendogs (and later, Nintendogs+Cats) proved to be a huge hit with DS owners. Giving mobile phone gamers an excuse to bring their puppies out to play, be fed, and bathed throughout the day is something that should help create the sort of “stickiness” that game developers are endlessly in search of on touch screen devices.
As is the case with Animal Crossing, we’ve seen a few mobile games try to recapture what Nintendo does best with Advance Wars, but none have been able to perform at the same level. Advance Wars offers charmingly accessible turn-based strategy fun.
Give players an educational single player campaign and push-based multiplayer where they get to make four or five moves at a time. Sell me unique armies to use against my friends, like Hero Academy does. There’s a market out there for free-to-play with a more strategic bite. If done right, Advance Wars stands a good chance at being its leader.
And Whatever You Do, DON’T MAKE A POKEMON GAME
If you want to make Pokemon Trozei or Pokemon Puzzle League (actually, please make Pokemon Puzzle League), knock yourself out. But as far as traditional Pokemon RPG gameplay goes, do yourself a favor and stay as far away from it as you can.
In fact, the same should be said for any of Nintendo’s main franchises. You’re not Nintendo, and you shouldn’t try to be. Make a mistake here and gamers will tear you apart.
Don’t believe me? Try charging $0.99 for a pack of 10 Pokeballs and see how quickly your credibility erodes.
At its very core, Nintendo is about fun and quirky titles that everyone can love. Focus on that — focus on what makes Nintendo games great rather than what IPs are popular, and this partnership will be a big win for both companies.