Nobody saw Pokemon Go coming. Sure, gamers and Nintendo investors have been encouraging the company to get into mobile gaming for years, but who could have predicted the all-consuming cultural phenomenon that is Pokemon Go? Nintendo isn’t actually making that much money from the current outbreak of Poke Fever, but the game’s success proves classic Nintendo-exclusive series can be huge on mobile. It’s now on the company to pick their next mobile projects carefully.
So here are a few classic Nintendo series that could be as big as Pokemon Go, provided they’re done right…
I’m always surprised by how much nostalgia there is for humble ol’ Duck Hunt, but hey, the game came with almost every NES just like Mario. Making a Duck Hunt mobile game would be a snap — just do an augmented reality thing where ducks fly around the real world, and let people “shoot” them by tapping them with their finger. Games like Deer Hunter are already big hits on mobile, and Nintendo’s light, cartoony approach would have an even wider appeal. Who wouldn’t want to destroy some pixelated ducks while waiting for the bus or a movie to start? Let people blast that damn chortling dog and you’ve got a guaranteed hit.
The Legend of Zelda
People really seem to have responded to the way Pokemon Go turns the mundane world around them into a cuddly creature-packed land of adventure. A Legend of Zelda mobile game could tap into something very similar. While recent Zelda games have become more focused on intricate dungeons and puzzles, the first Legend of Zelda title was based on Shigeru Miyamoto’s experiences exploring the countryside and caves around his childhood home. As originally envisioned, Zelda was all about the thrill of discovery.
Building on the framework laid down by Pokemon Go, a Zelda mobile game could dot the map with treasures, secrets and monsters to slay. There could even be “dungeons,” in which players would have to solve simple puzzles under a time limit. Taking a page from the Dark Souls series, players could interact with each other by leaving hints around the map — point fellow players toward a secret area, or explain how a particularly vexing puzzle works, then get rewards based on how many people find the tips helpful. Tell me you wouldn’t want to go on this adventure.
Why hasn’t Nintendo announced a mobile Mario platformer yet? It’s the obvious thing to do, right? Well, maybe not. Precise action games like Super Mario Bros. don’t really work that well on phones, and how would you monetize the game? Traditional Mario actually isn’t a great fit for mobile, but Nintendo really needs to get their mascot on phones in some form.
Paper Mario is the answer to this conundrum. Nintendo’s RPG series is lighter on action, and thus more suited to phones. Furthermore, recent entries in the series have introduced a card-based battle system, and digital card games like Hearthstone and Clash Royale are a proven commodity. Let players buy cards with real money and Paper Mario could collect some serious coin.
So, what should Nintendo follow Pokemon Go with? How about more Pokemon? Genius! Pokemon Go‘s social features are great, but it doesn’t really do much with its augmented reality tech. Most Pokemon you encounter just sort of chill out on the sidewalk waiting to be caught. Imagine if Pokemon were more at one with their environments, though, and instead of catching them, the goal was to take funny and/or cool pictures of them. Sounds a bit like the N64 classic Pokemon Snap, doesn’t it?
Sure, some Pokemon Go players are already capturing some amusing screenshots, but so much more could be done with the picture-taking aspect of the game. Much like the original Pokemon Snap, you could print off stickers of your best shots at home using your printer and sticker paper. For those who don’t want to go searching for their own sexy Poke shots, the makers of Pokemon Snap mobile could set up “safaris” in various public areas. As you walk a certain path through the local park or zoo, Pokemon could pop out at certain pre-set spots like in the old game. Let people who aren’t interested in the RPG mechanics of Pokemon Go enjoy searching for the critters, too. Instagram would be nothing but Pokemon for months.
Animal Crossing on mobile is pretty much a no-brainer. From Fallout Shelter to Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, life sims have been a reliable hit on mobile platforms, and few, if any, of these games have offered the depth or persistent living world of Animal Crossing. Nintendo clearly agrees mobile Animal Crossing is a good idea, as they’ve officially announced the low-key life sim will be their next mobile project. Enough said.
Fancy augmented reality experiences like Pokemon Go are great, but a good portion of the titles that succeed on mobile are simple arcade-style action games. Think Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds. Sometimes folks just wanna do some mindless tapping.
Well, Nintendo’s Wario Ware series does mindless tapping better than anybody. Yes, that’s a compliment. The Wario Ware titles are broken up into hundreds of bizarre “microgames,” which last a few seconds at most and only require very basic input from the player. A push of a single button or direction on the D-pad. Despite the simplicity, most of Wario Ware‘s countless microgames are at least as engaging as Flappy Bird. Nintendo could just re-release a new microgame every couple of days and dominate the simple tappy game scene for years.
The general public loves digital pets, despite the fact that most of them are complete junk. Just look at the success of the primitive Tamagotchi, or, in more recent years, the barely-interactive Neko Atsume. Thankfully, Nintendo already has a much better pet simulator ready to go.
The most recent Nintendogs is over 5 years old, but it still blows the competition away in terms of graphics, animation, AI, and depth. Nintendo’s fuzzy friends actually feel alive, you can use your own voice to teach them commands, and train them into dog show-dominating badasses. Nintendo’s core fans may have already experienced all this, but trust me, a mobile Nintendogs would be your mom’s favorite thing. Selling Mario hats for virtual Shiba Inus could single-handedly ensure Nintendo never slips into the red again.
As I already mentioned, complex, action-heavy games like Mario, Metroid or Donkey Kong don’t work particularly well on mobile. The solution to that may be NES Remix. A series of games released for the underappreciated Wii U, NES Remix breaks classic 8-bit Nintendo games into bite-sized challenges. Rather than playing through an entire Mario game, you simply try to complete a tricky jumping challenge, or best a stage in reverse or with a different Nintendo character. Much like with Wario Ware, Nintendo could release a steady flow of new NES Remix challenges, giving players a taste of their classic characters, while the full games remain on the Nintendo NX or 3DS.
Those are my suggestions for Nintendo’s next big Android or ioS game. Got any bright ideas of your own? Share your mobile musings, below.