There’s nothing more emblematic of growing up in the late 1980s/early 1990s than crowding around the TV with your siblings and/or friends on a Friday afternoon, popping a cartridge into your NES/Super NES/Nintendo 64, then playing until your corneas fused together, only to be snapped out of your reverie by your mom telling you the school bus was outside waiting for you on Monday morning. Where’d the time go? Most of us did this for decades. Hell, I still do it. Add it to the laundry list of reasons why I don’t get laid.
Unfortunately, those days are gone. We’re old. We have to work. Every time you stare down at your phone while sitting on the train/bus/toilet, moving bricks from one side of the screen to the other, trying to get to 2048, as advertisements bombard you at every turn, don’t you wish you were playing Super Mario, Pokemon Red/Blue or The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past? Well, your wish might come true, folks.
Nintendo, the 125-year-old gaming giant that shaped your childhood, announced earlier today that they’ll be taking their talents to the mobile gaming market, partnering with a Japanese company called DeNA to bring such beloved franchises as Mario, Zelda and Pokemon to an iPhone, iPad or other device near you. This is a huge about-face from their earlier stance of refusing to bring their games to mobile platforms, out of fear that it would threaten their traditional, console-based business model, ie: Selling the new Mario Kart for $60 on the Wii U.
Granted, the move makes a ton of sense. Remember the Wii, which dropped in 2006? That thing was EVERYWHERE. You had one, I had one, your grandparents had one, everyone just wanted to take the remote and whack the tennis balls around. It was the ultimate boon for casual video game fans. You know what those people are doing right now? Sending you Candy Crush requests on Facebook. Back then, we didn’t have iPhones. Now they’re are the ultimate platform for casual gaming. As the “Freemium Isn’t Free” episode of South Park taught us, companies can make money hand over fist on those stupid “free” games, so why shouldn’t Nintendo get a piece of the estimated $25 billion pie that is mobile gaming?
This is, however, a slippery slope. Nintendo’s gotta be careful. Let’s say they develop a brand new Mario game for iPhone, and it’s free, or cheap, but you only get 5 lives. You lose all your lives, you can play again…in 20 minutes, per life. Almost two hours to get back to full life capacity. Or how about a Pokemon game where you can only get more advanced items, like Ultra Balls, by getting “Poke-Gold,” which costs $0.99 real world money. Or a Zelda game where you pay real money for better weapons to get through dungeons. Is that the world we’re about to live in?
There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this. I’d rather pay $10-20 once to play a classic game like “Super Mario World” or “A Link to the Past” on my iPhone than see Mario and Pikachu hawking advertisements and trying to sell me packs of extra lives. I think Sony put “Uncharted” on the iPhone, Rockstar put a ton of “Grand Theft Auto” games on there, including “San Andreas” and “Vice City.” Sonic the Hedgehog has been on there for ages. Hopefully, Nintendo and new mobile partner DeNA will give us some cool older games for our iPhones, and some badass new ones that’ll make us all forget about Candy Crush, Trivia Crack, or whatever garbage “free” game we’re all addicted to this week. .