How I’d love to see Nintendo exploit iOS

Nintendo faithful, please don’t take offense at what I’m about to say. I’m not suggesting for one moment that Nintendo get out of the hardware business or port its most famous characters to iOS. I’m a card-carrying 3DS fanatic, and I’ll be first in line for Wii U.

But I also own an iPhone, and, here’s what drives me crazy:  thinking about the bazillion casual phone owners who think Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja (as good as they are) represent gaming’s creative zenith.

Nintendo could easily blow these people’s minds if they wanted to.

Do me a favor. Have you got a Youtube-ready mobile phone on your person right now? Please use it to bring up this gameplay video from Nintendo’s Rhythm Heaven Fever and view it. While watching, hold your phone in gaming position and pretend you’re playing along by tapping the screen.

Don’t you wish you could actually buy RHF for your phone right now? Try watching a few more RHF videos in this manner. This title could easily capture the hearts and dollars of casual gamers the world over.

Here’s my point: although 3DS is proving to be a hit, it’s never going to saturate popular culture like the DS did. The 3DS is for gamers of all ages (and kids who are smarter and more open-minded than their parents). The mass casual crowd has moved on to their phones, and most of those folks have no interest in purchasing a 3DS, a PSP, or any other dedicated gaming device…ever again.

Nintendo could continue to ignore them, but why? Why not use mobile phones to make as much money (eeeeasy money!!!) by taking their 2nd tier franchises like Rhythm Heaven and Brain Age to the people…and publicizing their own hardware in the process?

Everybody wins in this scenario. Rhythm Heaven would sell millions of digital copies and the casual gamers would be woken up to the fact that, yes, Nintendo still makes handheld games better than anyone. I’m sure a lot of those folks would be more inclined to look at a 3DS-exclusive new Rhythm Heaven title and possibly buy the Nintendo handheld for the experience.

I’ve made a similar argument before, but it seems to grow more pressing with each passing month; Nintendo could reap gold from the phone market, with very little R&D investment — and without endangering their core AAA franchises.

What do you think, readers? Could any harm come from Nintendo bringing Rhythm Heaven or Brain Age to mobile platforms?

Many thanks to Holly for her recent review of RHF, which got me to stop waffling and buy one of the year’s best games!