The instant smash hit that is Pokémon GO caused Nintendo’s stock to soar… before Wall Street realized Nintendo didn’t actually make the game, and is only getting a small portion of the profits. True mobile Nintendo games are coming, though, courtesy of a partnership with prolific mobile publisher DeNA.
The first two games to come from this mobile partnership will be based the fantasy-strategy series Fire Emblem, and casual lifestyle sim Animal Crossing. Those choices suggest that Nintendo may not bring its classic, blockbuster properties, such as Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and Star Fox, to mobile platforms any time soon.
Assuming that’s the case, we think Nintendo should dig into its extensive back catalog and grab some of its lesser-known and dormant series to expand its mobile presence. Here are ten games we think would play well on smartphones and tablets.
Advance Wars/Battalion Wars
Nintendo’s strategic battle series has roots that go all the way back to the original Famicom, but hasn’t been active since Advance Wars: Days of Ruin launched in 2008. The series’ turn-based strategy set up would be a great fit on mobile platforms, especially considering the series was already adapted to a (partial) touch interface on the Nintendo DS. It shouldn’t be too difficult to make an elegent system for managing units and positions through a completely touch-based interface.
Aside from some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos and spots in a couple of Super Smash Bros. games, jobs for the old “Robotic Operating Buddy” have been few and far between since its debut alongside the launch of the NES way back in 1985. Originally a novelty toy with a few basic interactions with on-screen elements for a pair of NES games, Gyromite and Stack-Up. But since Pokémon GO has proven that nostalgia is still marketable, and Skylanders and Nintendo’s own Amiibo have reignited the idea of companion toys, you could argue that the time is right for this little guy to make a comeback. Both of the original R.O.B. games could make decent casual mobile games, but we’re sure Nintendo and DeNA can do better.
Part Pokémon, part LEGO, Custom Robo players build tiny fighting robots out of collected parts, then duke it out in elaborate arenas. Though there hasn’t been a new one in almost ten years, the collection and upgrade mechanics would be ideal for a microtransaction-fueled free-to-play game. Add some AI in place of the real-time battles, and online battles could be played out asynchronously.
Mario’s dinosaur friend isn’t exactly hurting for exposure, but the lore that he (she? It?) has built up over the course of three decades could make sense in a mobile game. The Yoshis have an island. Yoshis lay eggs. Connect the dots and you can make a game about hatching, nurturing, and raising your own multi-colored dinosaur friends. And so long as you don’t cruelly use them for a double-jump, they’ll love you until you uninstall the app.
Originally released on the Gamecube, Pikmin is a Lemmings-style real-time strategy game where players direct tiny aliens to help you rebuild a crashed spaceship. While indirect control scheme would work well on a touchscreen, the premise could also support a free-to-play base-builder. Even a mobile puzzle game based on the multi-colored creatures wouldn’t be unwelcome.
Princess Peach and Princess Daisy
Even with equal billing in Nintendo’s ensemble games, such as from Mario Kart and Mario Party, Mario’s female co-stars still tend to spend more time being kidnapped than anything else. Super Princess Peach for the DS was the only time that the series’ leading lady got a title mention in over 30 years. A game starring the women of the Mario series — Peach, Daisy, Rosalina, and Pauline — would be welcome. We were think of something with turn-based combat anda story similar to the Paper Mario series, but we’re open to other ideas.
This one is a no-brainer. The original Game Boy Advance and Gamecube WarioWare titles focused on near-instant minigames that required lightning reflexes and timing. Subsequent releases on the DS and Wii U have already made good use of touchscreens, and the stage-building aspects of WarioWare DIY would make for an excellent social hook on mobile platforms.
Game & Watch
The simplicity and encapsulated nature of Nintendo Game & Watch portable devices make for great mini-games, which is probably why they’ve been bundled and re-released a few times as cartridges and digital downloads. Considering games like Frogger and Pac-Man have found life thanks to a little spit and polish on smartphones (see Crossy Road and Pac-Man 256), it stands to reason that the simple two-button Game & Watch series would do just as well on the App Store and Play Store.
Elite Beat Agents
Elite Beat Agents was a rhythm-based game for the Nintendo DS released way back in 2007. It’s based on (but not a direct sequel to) a Japanese title about overzealous and extremely serious cheerleaders. Though Elite Beat Agents isn’t that different from any other rhythm game – you tap, swipe, and draw along to the music – the wacky story of a government agency that helps people in crisis with singing and dancing seems just as compelling as Angry Birds or Subway Surfers.
There’s no specific aspect of Nintendo’s weird and wonderful suburban fantasy/sci-fi series that make it particularly well-suited to mobile platforms: We’d like to see this trilogy of trippy role-playing games come to mobile platforms because, with very few ports and fewer sequels, they remain criminally under-represented. Though it would take a little work, EarthBound, a turn-based RPG with a top-down perspective, could work well on a phone. Mother 3, the series’ highly praised third chapter, still hasn’t been released outside of Japan.
Square-Enix has been slowly releasing its entire back-catalog of role-playing games from the NES, Super NES, and PlayStation on Android and iOS, sometimes with upgraded graphics and gameplay features. Nintendo could learn from their example.