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The iPhone launch event this week was pretty standard fare for the most part. At least that's what I got from the tweets my friends were shooting out. People were also foaming at the mouth about the headphones of the thing, but I didn't pay much attention. To be honest, I haven't paid much attention to the iPhone since it first came out since I am, admittedly, an Android fanboy. I didn't expect to there to be anything for me to get hyped about. Boy, was I wrong. During the event, Shigeru Miyamoto came up on stage and I paid attention with wide eyes and a confused stare. Shigeru Miya-f*#king-moto!? What the heck was he doing at an Apple event? And then he made the announcement. Super Mario would be coming to iOS via the mobile game, Super Mario Run.
"We have created Super Mario Run to be perfect for playing on your iPhone."
The gameplay will be lovingly familiar to fans of the Mario franchise. The goal is to collect as many coins as you can as Mario runs across the screen. You tap the screen to jump and that's pretty much all you need to know in terms of controls. The game was optimized to be played on a phone so that you can play it with one hand so the other hand can be free to try and break your fall when you trip as you walk to the bus station.
Super Mario has evolved whenever he has encountered a new platform, and for the first time ever, players will be able to enjoy a full-fledged Super Mario game with just one hand, giving them the freedom to play while riding the subway or my favorite, eating a hamburger. - Shigeru Miyamoto
That's about as much I absored with regard to the actual game itself. In fact, that pretty much all we really need to know about the game since it's pretty cut and dry. However, that doesn't mean I'm not excited. What I'm excited for isn't the game itself, but what this game will mean in the long run for Nintendo and just for the gaming industry in general. Allow me to explain.
It's A Far Cry From Where We Started
My first phone was a Nokia brick that could only play one game, the only game I ever needed, Snake. My childish self thought that was a landmark achievement but since then mobile technology has grown exponentially with each iteration giving more than the last.
Except in the battery department, for some reason they think the current battery technology is enough to power the million apps we run at the same time (which is an incorrect assumption).
As for everything else, however, they've pushed the envelope each time and, I suppose, I would give credit to the iPhone in that regard. Every now and again a product will come in to wake up a market and force them to get off their butts and make something shiny. The iPhone was one of those catalyst, I feel, and it helped get us to where we are now. Now it looks like Nintendo is doing the same as it embraces mobile gaming full force and I am all about it.
The most exciting part is that this isn't some small accessory app that will go with a Super Mario game on a console. No, this is a full on Mario game that you can play on your freaking phone. If you had a cellphone when they didn't even have screens or, at best, a dot matrix display then you understand my excitement. This is a big step in mobile gaming, but it's also a huge bound forward in terms of mobile tech.
Reviving Old Classics With New Fans
I'll be honest, my interaction with mobile apps have been limited at best. For the most part, they've been small games that were designed to be played casually on and off. The fact that a full fledged game made a by a big game developer going mobile, to me, marks a major shift in attitude towards the platform. It's not even just that it's Mario game (even though that alone is awesome) it's the fact that it's happening at all. This has all the potential to send waves throughout the gaming industry and some developers who may have looked at mobile gaming with their noses turned up will be forced to take a second look.
With a move to richer mobile gaming, this gives people another avenue to dip their toes into gaming. Maybe they don't want to spend the money on console or can't really carry a handheld gaming device around for one reason or another. You always have your phone on you, don't you? With good, solid games available for your phone, being introduced to beloved classics has become that much easier. Mobile gaming serve as a good entryway for new gamers as Nintendo brings their core franchises to mobile. The more the merrier, right?
Super Mario Run represents the next phase of Nintendo’s expansion to mobile platforms.
A Catalyst for the Marketplace
After the success of Pokemon GO, a lot of companies have given mobile gaming a second look. Sony recently announced that they're going full tilt with mobile gaming as well so the market is definitely feeling a very dynamic shift. Square Enix is another example as they have a mobile tie-in game to their upcoming title Final Fantasy XV. As more and more developers and companies embrace mobile, that just means a much more enhanced and richer gaming experience for the fans. I'm not talking about gimmicky second screen stuff but full on gaming experiences that may stand on their own as part of the franchise or even tie into the overall universe of an upcoming game. It has the potential to make the gaming landscape that much more dynamic and I'm excited to see what people come up with next on the software side.
What it means for the cellphone is that it's become that much more central to your general existence (which is either good or bad). When phones started sporting better cameras, we took more pictures and carried separate cameras a little less. When the phone could play music, MP3 players slowly phased out since it was one less thing to carry in your pocket. Now game developers are taking a closer and much more serious look at mobile gaming as a genuine platform. Heck, it might even force cellphone companies to innovate as awesome games start taxing the battery life of their phones. I somehow doubt that last part, but I can dream.
Will mobile gaming slowly phase out handhelds? Only time will tell. For now, I'm just glad that I bought an external battery pack.