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March 2015 Retro Gaming Article


As Nintendo breaches the smart phone gap, I think about their core strength in hardware

Nintendo has always been somewhat misunderstood. Consumers don't always see the genius through the thicket of preconceived notions. Nintendo blasted onto the scene in 1985 and rejuvenated the home video game market. Had they not brought the NES to market, who knows how gaming might have evolved.

Nintendo develops for mobile As for evolution, I'm not sure that mobile gaming is the pinacle (to date) of gaming's evolution. I see it as more of an offshoot. Don't misunderstand me, I think mobile devs hav created amazing games and work tirelessly to do so. But when I look at how it evolved, I find it odd that gamers are so willing to give up their large TVs to play games on a small phone screen.

I remember having all-night sessions on Atari and Nintendo consoles, but I can't look at a phone screen for nearly that duration. Thus, the nature of gaming has to shift to accomodate the lesser times people spend staring at a device.

Nintendo Goes Mobile

Many have wondered why Nintendo hadn't jumped into the mobile market long ago. Certainly they have enough IPs from which to hatch a successful plan. When looking at their success with handheld consoles, I think a lot of folks equate that to a likely success in the mobile arena. I hear people frequently making the assumption that a 3DS and a smart phone are similar - game-wise. This is not true!

No one wants to leave home with an armload of electronic devices. A GPS, phone, game console, tablet, etc... It's just too much. When looking at this array of devices, the phone is the device that we rely on most. I can call people, stay in touch and if my car breaks down I can call a tow truck. Try that on a GameBoy! Smart phones have become an increasingly vital device and continues on that track as more functionality is added.

Handheld Consoles vs Smart Phones

As owner of a 2DS and a smart phone, I can assure you they are very different devices when it comes to gaming... among other things. Smart phones are essentially mini computers and act accordingly. After about 18 months, most smart phones begin to degrade in speed until they become almost unusable without a backup and a factory restore. My 25-year-old Game Boy doesn't have this problem any more than my Atari Lynx or 2DS. Game consoles tend to be mostly closed systems, while smart phones are susceptible to all sorts of awful stuff from malware to app compatibility issues.

Look at the reviews of most mobile games - some games don't work on some models and other times there are other compatibility complaints. I love my 2DS and can attest that Nintendo does an excellent job in creating a hardware environment for their games. My smart phone is an essential device, but gaming with finger-swipes is no match for the controls on a 2/3DS.

Nintendo develops for mobile Mario Cosplay by LeeAnna Vamp The idea of StreetPass and it's integration with a variety of games, adds a layer of awesome that I haven't seen on my smart phone. Nintendo makes a wonderful product and delivers a compelling library of games.

Upon hearing of Nintendo's decision to enter the mobile market, I have no doubt they will be successful, but I feel their success will come from creating new games for mobile. Many people expect them to "dump" their renown IPs onto phones and collect big bucks. Those days are over. Everyone has to fight for every dollar.

Nintendo's reputation will certainly aid them, but creating games especially for mobile is a smart move and it's similar to how they design games that compliment their handheld consoles. Nintendo has a unique understanding of their hardware and the way games operate in that environment. This careful attention to detail should serve them well and elevate their games over much of the dreck that bogs down online mobile stores.

Nintendo has partnered with DeNA - a Japanese mobile developer. It should be exciting to see them release new titles and create a new market for themselves. If nothing else, Nintendo's entrance into mobile gaming adds a lot of credibility to the platform. Much maligned for low-quality and pay-to-win games, the mobile game industry may well benefit from a big player like Nintendo entering the marketplace.

Stay tuned! You never know what Nintendo might do :)

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