News Article

Nintendo and Retro Studios Speak on Resistance to Going Mobile

Posted by Tim Latshaw

"I want Nintendo games to be played on Nintendo hardware."

Some Nintendo fans may be sick of hearing about it, but talk of Nintendo's potential if it decided to shift some work to iOS and Android devices still perks the ears of a number of investors. The jury is asked to consider the financier who suggested a model where players would pay 99 cents to make Mario jump a little higher, because that should never be forgotten. Ever.

Gamespot took the question of a Nintendo mobile presence to two gaming bigwigs: famed Nintendo producer Kensuke Tanabe and Retro Studios CEO Michael Kelbaugh, both of whom had a hand in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

Tanabe does not believe a Nintendo mobile transition could be as simple as dumping its game roster on mobile devices, requiring a great deal of effort to keep the "feel" of these games, if at all possible to do so:

With games like Mario and Donkey Kong, the control input is such an important part of that. I think if you're trying to replicate that feeling of control that you have traditional to those games, translating those to a smart device, that's just a really, really difficult task.

Tanabe admits that new games could be created especially for mobile platforms, but expresses no interest in pursuing that route:

Of course I'm not ignoring the fact that the marketplace is flooded with these devices and that there are a lot of games created specifically for them. Personally, as I mentioned earlier, I don't have a curiosity of or feeling of needing to create or wanting to create games for those devices. I want Nintendo games to be played on Nintendo hardware.

Kelbaugh, in contrast, has a bit more lax an approach to the possibility. As head of a second-party company firmly rooted in software, he says Retro's focus is on making excellent games regardless of which platforms Nintendo chooses to support:

What we're focused on is just making a great game. Wherever it ends up, that's not our decision, so I think we need to concentrate on making great content and let Nintendo decide what box they want to put it in, how they want to package it. Watching this whole debate going on right now...I don't give it a whole lot of thought just because I'm concentrating on making a fun, great game and hardware's always kind of a revolving target, I guess.

While the likelihood of Nintendo delving into mobile platforms — beyond its dedicated app service — still appears to be unlikely at this time, it's interesting to see the approaches people in different positions take toward it. Hypothetically, would you be interested in a mobile game developed by Retro? Let us know in the comments.


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User Comments (33)



LAA said:

Don't really understand the push to get Nintendo games on mobile...
Who else does it? Sony/MS may make games essentially to promote the full title, but I don't think Nintendo would like that. I would like to think they would want to put their full effort into every title they make.

Then again, stuff like NES Remix took next to no effort at all and they have the cheek to charge a bomb for it.

I think something like NES Remix would be awesome on mobiles or their classic titles. Making brand new titles for mobile though, I hope not. The most I'd like to see in that area is perhaps some sort of companion app, and even then there isnt much point, its what the gamepad is for.

Instead of pushing for mobile, I'd much rather they be pushed for...region free, account locked purchases, achievements, party chat, messaging, 3rd parties, etc.



alLabouTandroiD said:

What we're focused on is just making a great game. Wherever it ends up, that's not our decision, so I think we need to concentrate on making great content and let Nintendo decide what box they want to put it in

Could it be that Tropical Freeze initially was planned as a 3DS game but when Nintendo saw that the Wii U keeps on struggling they just gave the 3DS a port with a bonus world instead and moved the new game to the Wii U?
Would they have made more use of the GamePad and implemented a better co-op mode if it was meant for the Wii U from the getgo?
I can't help but think that way.



AltDotNerd said:

After the Philips CDi the Mario and Zelda games, Nintendo vowed to never again allow one of their games on someone else's console.



Sean_Aaron said:

Of course I'm interested in good games and if Nintendo decided to publish something of interest on iOS I'd have a look, but I just can't see why they'd want to.



AltDotNerd said:

Nintendo takes great pride in the games they make, especially the control scheme to their games. The only Nintendo franchise that could play well is Pokemon. You can't get the same control for Mario, DK, Zelda, Metroid, and etc on a touch screen.

Plus, the mobile market is like the Coney Island of video games: cheap games, cheap prices, cheap quality, and 99% of the games feel like rip offs.

If ANYTHING, Nintendo could develop a brand new franchise that would be ideal for touch screens, if not market their own mobile device.



FritzFrapp said:

Nintendo could test the mobile waters with some of their lesser known DSiWare games: excellent games that deserve a second shot on a new platform, such as NST's Aura Aura Climber, or Intelligent Systems' Link 'n' Launch. They wouldn't require much effort to get up and running on iOS or Android, they're one-offs so there would be no risk to a franchise, and have gameplay suited to touch devices.
However, as I'm certain that Iwata realises, any success would surely increase the clamouring from investors for bigger IPs to debut on these devices. I don't envy the Nintendo board on this one – whatever they decide to do, the ramifications will be huge.



Kosmo said:

When the cream of smart gaming is Candy Crush and Angry Birds, I don't think it can be consideredas a viable hardcore gaming system. It rather feels like the Atari 2600 at the time, having overly simplistic games. If Smart gaming does evolve, it could be worth it, but right now, it's like it was porting an arcade game to a home system in the 80's: total crap, a bad idea, and purely for money.
And don't even get me me started on the micro-transaction stuff. It's evil.



McHaggis said:


"After the Philips CDi the Mario and Zelda games, Nintendo vowed to never again allow one of their games on someone else's console."

That's not really the same thing (and they didn't really vow anything, they did what they had to at the time to get out of their deal with Philips). Nintendo didn't develop those games and had little or no creative input for them. What people are debating is if Nintendo should themselves develop games for other platforms.



Beechbone said:

You can't port Nintendo platformers to touch devices. However, it is possible to create brand new experiences on phones and tablets (see excellent Rayman Jungle Run) but still it's impossible to hit the Nintendo quality and joy of playing as far as platformers go. Does anyone want Mario auto runner?



DreamOn said:

Nintendo makes most of its money selling plastic not software. Manufacturing is the core of their product planning. Software helps makes their plastic sell so why would they want to help sell someone else's manufacturing?

And what do you do when your plastic isn't selling? Manufacture a new plastic product, see QOL product line.



unrandomsam said:

@Beechbone Yes you can. The version of Sonic 1 / Sonic 2 on Android is the best version. (Better than the 3D Classic) and it supports real controls. They could only support their own pro controller if they wished.



Beechbone said:

@unrandomsam Yeah, controllers are nice thing for mobile platformers but only a handful of players will use it and when designing a game you have to assume that most people will use touch controls. Also take into account different screen resolutions and aspect ratios and hardware. It's a lot more pain than developing for one fixed system.

I always had a problem with gaming on phones because you basically obscure large part of the screen with your fingers. It's less of an issue on a tablet but holding a tablet is not that much comfortable, at least compared to say Wii U GamePad.



AlexSora89 said:

Personally, my current mobile is a Sony Ericsson Xperia Play (I just love gaming THAT much). And I think a "Nintendo Phone" could take the mobile market by storm, provided Ninty allies with someone, that is - namely, anyone that's not Nokia (Microsoft) nor Sony Ericsson (Sony). I wouldn't count on Samsung because of how fragile their phones are (and Nintendo's hardware is notoriously tough).



Daz-brum said:

I hope Nintendo continue to show everyone else how games are suppose to be FUN colourful and entertaining... Go Nintendo



bigtig said:

just make a nintendo party game for mobile... a collecion of minigames like mario party but featuring characters from all franchises like smash bros. DONE! now you have a game that is playable with a touch screen and advertises all your ips! youre welcome nintendo... money me please!



Andy92 said:

What about a Mario game, in which Mario run to the finish line and you have to tap the touch screen every time you want to Mario to jump?. I´m OK with Nintendo expanding to the mobile market while they don't forget the handled and the home market.



fredtoy said:

Nintendo software on Nintendo hardware. It's their business model. Apple have a similar business model and I don't see anybody making a fuzz about it.



skywake said:

If it was built for 3DS originally then surely they would have something for the second screen. When a Wii U game comes out with the bottom screen in 4:3 rather than 16:9 THEN we'll know for sure that it's a game that started on 3DS.



andreoni79 said:

@Beechbone You're right. I'm sure people would spend 1 or 2 bucks for a Mario Runner (and then a Yoshi Runner, a Donkey Runner, a Samus Runner...) and they would be useful to promote the series on WiiU.



Ralizah said:

Thank goodness they're resisting this. It might bring in temporarily profitable revenue streams, but the hit to their brand would be massive. First party Nintendo stuff going to any other non-Nintendo platform would put them on the path to becoming a software-only company. I think the people demanding that they release their stuff on mobile markets know this as well. For whatever reason, a lot of people seem excited by the prospect of Nintendo failing.



Sanqet said:

I hope they never go multi format like sega as it would cost a fortune to be able to play all there games if they gave certain formats an exclusive game maybe Zelda for ps5 or Mario for Xbox that's why nintendo games for there own console will always be the best way to go for the fans of the company even if they sometimes get it wrong with the hardware like the wii u



JosieC84 said:

I dislike using touch based controls to move around because they don't respond as well as physical buttons. Suppose Nintendo could release a Pokemon version of Bejeweled would cool. Donkey Kong Freeze saga sounds nice. How about Angry Kongs?



SphericalCrusher said:

You know, I'd much rather play games than speak about the future of the industry, Nintendo, etc... as I've stressed over this when I shouldn't be — but I for one, do not want to see Nintendo move any core game to mobile. I don't mind them making specific apps there, but you gotta admit, there's a huge difference in quality when comparing mobile games vs 3DS and Vita.



GraveLordXD said:

@unrandomsam I'd hate to pull out my phone to play sonic then a controller from my other pocket just to play a game then have my game get interrupted from a phone call after all that. phone games to me are worthless and I personally will never take them seriously for a deep gaming experience
A tablet with nice buttons to me would be a better option



Bolt_Strike said:

I don't think Nintendo should become a THIRD PARTY mobile developer, the people that keep suggesting Nintendo should go third party are either complete idiots or feel threatened by Nintendo's existence in the first place.

However, I don't think going mobile altogether is a bad idea, I think if they can make their own mobile platform. If they can create a device that allows you to play Nintendo games and mobile games as well as have good internet services, a variety of apps, and multimedia features, they could draw in both typical Nintendo gamers and bring back the casual audience. Which really is more a matter of upgrading services than hardware.



Kolzig said:

As I've said before, the only thing Nintendo needs to do on Android and iOS is an app that combines the eShop for remote purchases on 3DS and Wii U and Miiverse app. As a bonus they could make some sort of Mii creator functionality into the app and then you could send those characters to your or friend's Wii U/3DS.

They don't need to do anything else on mobile. As someone said before, Pokemon is the only franchise that could work on mobile, but it would need to be some sort of lightweight game or app since phones and tablets are not really usable for any games that require precision inputs, touch screen buttons are horrible.



supermario182 said:

when mario 64 DS came it, there were a ton of sweet touch screen mini games you could unlock, and this was in 2006. everyone of those games could still easily sell millions of copies at .99 on phones.

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