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Mario Takes a Bite of the Apple

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As a loyal fan of both the Cupertino boys and the Big N of Kyoto in the past 30 years, today is a historic day. These two giants – one focused on design and the marriage of hardware and software and the other focused on game design and gameplay – have finally joined forces for at least limited time on the iPhone. The end result of this business collaboration – Super Mario Run will be released on iOS platforms first in December. The game is basically New Super Mario that has been re-engineered for ease of play on the iPhone.

What does this collaboration mean for the loyal fanboy like me?

A Couple of Thoughts

…on today’s historic handshake:

The Nintendo Direct method sure didn’t help Shigeru Miyamoto today on stage. Both the Mario / Zelda creator and Bill Trinen seemed out of practice since the days when Nintendo actually took the stage for a live E3 press conference. They were both noticeably nervous and didn’t have the advantage of the pre-filmed Direct. This setting seemed more suited for Reggie Fils-Aime.

On the flip side, the House of Mario got a taste of what a company like Apple does on a regular basis – dropping megaton announcement after megaton announcement. Nintendo fans are always disappointed after every E3 press conference in the past twenty years with the exception of maybe two presentations: (1) the announcement of Twilight Princess to end a press conference; and (2) the presence of the GameCube trio of excellence at one E3 – Metroid Prime, Super Mario Sunshine, and the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.

The Nintendo NX system rumored to be released in March and the rumors that it will use the Tegra X2 chip are now going to be interesting. If Nintendo benefits from the release of Super Mario Run in December, does it scrap the NX in favor of full-time development on iOS? Does it partner with Apple on making the Apple TV the formidable gaming device we all know it can be?

Nintendo was also rumored to be working on fitness devices a few years back. It didn’t quite get the adaptation of fitness it did with the waggle-waggle Wii console. Imagine what it can do today in fitness with a device like the Apple Watch or the Apple TV?

Nintendo is going to be an even more interesting business partner for Apple in four years. The closing ceremonies in Rio a few weeks ago gave a nod to the games’ next destination in Japan. The video, which had a lot of Japan’s celebrities, ended with everyone’s mustached plumber as the big recognizable star. Apple knows this. Imagine 4 years from now when Mario / Nintendo are going to be a major presence at the games and the only way to play them is on iOS devices.

Finally, Nintendo owns major intellectual properties (IPs) beyond Mario. This year’s E3 show stealer was Nintendo’s lone entry to its dying home console – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Now think about what else they have on their resume:

  • Metroid
  • Donkey Kong
  • Splatoon
  • Mario Kart
  • Fire Emblem
  • Animal Crossing
  • Starfox

Do you get it now? Nintendo’s biggest strength are its IPs and I didn’t even mention its controlling stake in Pokemon.

Can you imagine if Apple wanted to make the Apple TV a relevant gaming device and they decided to make the Nintendo collaboration a little more permanent? On the flip side, Nintendo fans who were crying for more horsepower would get it with the Apple TV. Nintendo would also be able to compete with Sony and Microsoft in the console wars again.

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