There is now good reason to believe that Nintendo is bringing back their venerable Nintendo DS franchise, Nintendogs.
A US patent has been filed by no less than Nintendo Co Ltd, with a description that matches many of the details of Nintendogs. The patent has been dated with the US patent office on January 17, 2023. The text also notes that Nintendo already filed a patent for the same invention in Japan on November 18, 2020.
Because of the technicalities of IP law, the word Nintendogs does not actually appear in the patent, but there is no mistaking what game is being described here.
The images show a dog appearing inside a phone screen, entering the space that is captured by the phone’s camera. Another illustration makes it clear that the dog is projected via a virtual camera, with a dynamic position that shifts to accommodate the position of the player and the phone camera itself.
Nintendogs is a pet simulation game built around the Nintendo DS and its features. Using the touch screen, you can pet your dog, and play with it by picking up toys and other items to interact with it. The virtual dog gets hungry and dirty in time, tracking the DS’ internal calendar and clock. You can use the microphone to call your dog and give it commands. Lastly, you have your dog interact with other Nintendo DS owners using wireless connectivity.
Nintendogs, alongside Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training, Wii Fit, and Wii Sports, were the epitome of Nintendo’s 2000s push for games for all players. In particular, the company pursued the blue oceans of families as video game players, building games around non-traditional, intuitive control schemes, and also making games and systems that would be affordable to families.
This direction from Nintendo predicted the trends the industry would later follow with games like Words With Friends, Just Dance, and Candy Crush Saga. Hardcore gamers may not necessarily call themselves fans of Nintendogs or Candy Crush, but within the industry, these names are respected as some of the most successful video games it had ever seen.
It is somewhat surprising that it took this long for one of these kinds of Nintendo games to be pushed towards the mobile space. They are a natural fit for smartphones and tablets, which are now the preferred platform for games like it.
Nintendo did state that their original intention entering mobile gaming was to get more attention for their characters, so they pushed Mario particularly hard. They also earnestly muddled in the very popular microtransaction based games other companies made fortunes in, with the likes of Fire Emblem Heroes and Dragalia Lost. Now that they seem to have moved on from these ideas, it’s a good time to reexamine the work they made when they started the push for casual games themselves, and what they can take from that to make original games on mobile now.