So recently, news regarding an official mobile and in-flight device compatible emulator for classic Nintendo games has been circling the internet, and I for one, welcome the possibility of our new Nintendo overlords.
In fact, if Nintendo is indeed planning to bring its games to a mobile platform, I believe it could very well change the gaming landscape on iOS and Android devices for the better. And considering how utterly awful 99% of the apps on those platforms are, I welcome the possibility of having a larger presence of real games on app stores.
See, the biggest problem with mobile gaming isn't that it can't be good, it's just that apart from rare exceptions like the Telltale ports and Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery, mobile games are often sub-par at best. With the low barrier to entry and retaliative ease of making a pay-to-win Unity or Game Maker title, it's no wonder the app markets are flooded with uninspired junkware and 1,000 “Flappy Bird” and “Minecraft” clones assembled in mere weeks.
What's worse, they're often tied to addicting and unfair gameplay mechanics that use every opportunity possible to separate the player from “one or two little payments” in order to simply enjoy the game. And yes, just as South Park depicted not too long ago, many of these apps are essentially slot machines designed for soccer moms and their five-year-old children, prompting iOS to drop the “free-to-play” tag for mobile gaming. It's a situation that worsens the field for devs and players a bit more with each passing day, but Nintendo emulator poses an interesting question:
What if that wasn't the case?
Imagine if instead of spending their allowance on Spacebux, kids were swapping pokemon on their mobile “pokedexes,” or helping Mario on his latest adventure, all without the pervasive, money-grubbing nonsense we expect from cell phone gaming. Sounds awesome, right? Call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure that most kids (and adults!) would collect shiny Charizards over sizable in-app purchase fees any day of the week. And if the massive download numbers of GBA and SNES emulators in both app stores (which we DO NOT endorse, fyi) are any indicator, the demand is clearly there. It just hasn't been supplied with anything official until now.
And yes, while people often blame Nintendo for being outdated and redundant at times, it's obvious with the new Open-World Zelda and Smash 4's open acceptance of competitive play, Nintendo is ready and willing to innovate when needed. And say what you like about their online multiplayer, the likelihood of them selling jump upgrades for “Mushroom Coinz” is practically nonexistent, as Nintendo has never condoned pay-to-Win gameplay. So imagine if Nintendo took the same approach they give their 3DS and Wii U releases, only on a smaller and more portable scale. New Super Mario Mobile? Pokemon Apple and Pokemon Droid? Super Metroid Portable Edition? You can keep that overly marketed Angry Birds nonsense, Rovio, I'd rather play with power.
And yes, while It's just Nintendo's backlog for now, just imagine the possibilities this change in platforms might bring in the near future. I personally feel that something as simple as a sprite-based Pokemon exclusive for mobile could prove that iOS and Android games can sell well and be popular without relying on the tired current model of social media hounding and e-begging.
And who knows? Maybe this'll change nothing and junkware will continue to dominate. Personally though, I feel that giving the app store a much-needed backlog of great Nintendo games can at provide a gateway to core gaming for our mobile and PewDiePie-obsessed younger gamers, even if it isn't on Nintendo's own hardware.