With retro-gaming love at an all-time high, what with Nintendo, Sony and Sega all throwing in mini versions of their older consoles to devouring crowds of gamers, Nintendo have jumped on the incredibly simple idea of turning your phone into a console.
Their are millions of mobile games. Some time-sinks, some thoughtless rubbish, some brilliant gems. Unfortunately, touch screen controls have always been a barrier with tactile buttons reigning supreme. It’s all too easy to play some of the best handheld games from Nintendo’s DS series as well as PSP and other consoles through emulators on today’s over-powered-for-what-they-do smartphones. They do provide a brilliant way to enjoy games, being always in your pocket or bag and always powered up.
There have been a number of third-party attempts to bring buttons back into the game but Nintendo, now with its more mobile phone friendly attitude, has filed a patent, found by Siliconera, for a folio-style smart phone case equipped with buttons on the outside and a window cutout to the screen. This, paired with an app, would allow gamers to play single screen Game Boy games with a far superior interface than all touch. The bonus is of course, you also get a case, so it’s always on.
While genius on paper, the most glaring issue is hard to ignore. Phones come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and even the ubiquitous candy bar shape come is different lengths, widths, heights and screen sizes. Nintendo could simply isolate the best-selling mobile devices and cater towards them, much like phone case-makers do, or partner with a major phone case company to release the device. They could also look at which phone has the most units out in the wild but I’d wager that those phone owners are not necessarily the target audience.
Hopefully, Nintendo make a smart choice here and don’t limit themselves to one platform and one retro-device. A universal app that would allow games from their previous consoles, including home consoles would allow for an ever expanding library of games releasing platform updates as time goes on. I’ve always wondered why there isn’t a Nintendo World: a digital arcade with different rooms added over time to add different eras of hardware and software rather than incredibly isolated and limited offerings like the NES and SNES mini and, most recently, the Switch Online NES offering.
Here’s hoping, because it’s an awesome idea.