As a kid, I grew up playing on Nintendo’s handheld consoles like the original Game Boy and the Game Boy Advance SP. And if you were a kid back in my time, if you didn’t have a Nintendo handheld (or Sega’s Game Gear), you probably had one of those portable LCD game devices (we incorrectly referred to them as Game and Watches) like those that Tiger used to produce. We even had what we called “brick games” back then – LCD gaming devices that mainly played Tetris offshoots.
Nowadays though, kids play games on tablets and mobile phones. I don’t know if it’s because the current and previous gen handhelds are pricey, or if it’s because parents are giving their old mobile devices to their kids, but it’s rare for me to see a kid playing games on an actual gaming device like a 3DS or a Sony PSP. Right now, kids are probably getting their first video gaming experiences on these tablets. Which is why I was very excited when Nintendo announced Super Mario Run – the first Nintendo game to be developed strictly for mobile (Pokemon Go is from Niantic and Pokemon Shuffle is just a port of a 3DS free to play game).
I’m not excited about the game itself – I don’t even think I’ll download Super Mario Run when it comes out. The Nintendo fan in me is excited about the exposure that Super Mario Run will bring to the Super Mario franchise. First, there is an audience for endless runners on the mobile market – when I checked the App Stores top charts (filtered for Games and Free) I saw Temple Run 2 at the 40th spot, Subway Surfers at the 47th spot and Zombie Tsunami at the 63rd spot.
Put a coat of Mario on an endless runner and people will get interested, be it parents downloading games for their children or those simply wanting to revisit their Mario-infused childhood. If a game like Zombie Tsunami can make it to the top 100 free games on the App Store (and Zombie Tsunami has been out for years now), I’m sure that a similar game branded with a more established franchise will do as well, if not better. But what I’m really excited about is the potential sales boost that Super Mario Run can bring to Nintendo’s existing consoles and Super Mario games. It might seem too overconfident to say that, but we’ve already seen what a popular mobile game can do to a franchise when Pokemon Go came out.
Pokemon Go is a game that, from my perspective, doesn’t offer a lot of depth in it’s current incarnation. But it blew up during it’s first few weeks, breaking mobile game records left and right. Back in August, several news outlets reported that sales for the 3DS were 80% higher in July of this year than the same time last year. Sales for Pokemon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby were also 80% higher, while sales for Pokemon X/Y (games that were released back in 2013) saw a 200% jump! Percentages can be misleading, but any sales increase for a game that’s almost three years old is great news.
And the same goes for Nintendo’s existing Super Mario games that are already available on the Wii U and 3DS. Not counting the different Mario spin-offs, you’ve got Super Mario 3D Land (Metacritic score of 90) and New Super Mario Bros 2 (Metacritic score of 78) on the 3DS. On the Wii U, there’s New Super Mario Bros. U (Metacritic score of 84) which offers multiplayer Mario platforming, Super Mario 3D World (Metacritic score of 93) and of course, Super Mario Maker (Metacritic score of 88). And then there’s that special Super Mario Bros. edition of the New Nintendo 3DS that’s out in the market which kids might start asking for this Christmas, after having a taste of Super Mario Run.
Despite being behind Sony and Microsoft this generation, Nintendo has always had an ace up their sleeves – strong franchises that have stood the test of time and can easily transition from one platform to another. And it looks like they’ve finally found a way to get back into the game, thanks to the still untapped potential of the mobile market.
What do you think about Nintendo’s foray into the mobile industry? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment or two below!