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Nintendo Patents Smartphone Emulation

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Late last week, the USPTO has published a patent filed by Nintendo earlier this year regarding emulation software. The patent is for Game Boy game emulators designed specifically for mobile phones, computers, airplane entertainment, PDAs and other similar mobile devices (such as tablets). This isn’t the first time Nintendo has filed patents of this type, and it’s unclear whether they have plans to expand older games to the mobile platform or if they are merely filing to protect their interests. However, it has the mobile gaming community abuzz again, so I thought I’d take a sec and fill you in.

For those of you who aren’t as tech-savvy about gaming, an emulator is basically software that pretends to be an older gaming system. When launched, it will open a separate window which will duplicate the gaming software and allow you to play older games right from your device without any additional hardware or software. Emulators can be downloaded from numerous places on the internet or from the Google Play Store and are available for everything from old NES systems to N64 or even PS2 systems.

Currently, Nintendo offers emulators on newer systems like the Wii, Wii U and 3DS for older SNES games and more popular Zelda games. This new patent, however, is aimed specifically at mobile devices. Personally, I find this pretty interesting as Nintendo’s president, Satoru Iwata, has been quoted numerous times in the last few months speaking against allowing Nintendo games on the mobile platform:

“Our games such as Mario and Zelda are designed for our game machines so if we transfer them into smartphones as they are, customers won’t be satisfied,” Iwata told Bloomberg earlier this year. “If customers aren’t satisfied with the experience, it will decrease the value of our content.”

A lot of gamers and tech experts are speculating that Nintendo is simply filing this patent to protect their rights and has no intention of moving to a mobile platform. I can’t say I disagree with the assessment and it would certainly be a surprising move, considering Iwata’s hard stance on the smartphone market. Still, it would be pretty awesome to see those classic games remastered and available legally through the marketplace (no jailbreak necessary!). I know I’d certainly be in line.