One of the many features that set Nintendo apart from other consoles is the Near Field Communication (NFC) which is built in to every Wii U GamePad controller. NFC is also one of the most neglected Wii U features. So far there are no games on store shelves that use the Wii U’s NFC capabilities. In a trailer released last year Ubisoft seemed like they were toying with the idea of including NFC in their new Rayman game titled Rayman Legends but it was later revealed to be a tech demo. Nintendo’s own Shigeru Miyamoto just discussed that games using NFC were in the works and could come out as early as this fall but it is a little disconcerting that it has taken this long. There are other games available that have used NFC tech outside of the Wii U and the GamePad but with such a lack of interest in NFC this could be a feature that gets largely dismissed by developers.
Many gamers are very familiar with the franchise Skylanders and the magic of transporting real world toys into virtual video game worlds. This magic is performed by using NFC which in this case is carried out using the ‘Portal of Power’. This game franchise has won the hearts of many gamers and has seen great success since it launched. Skylanders has even branched out and is transforming the gameplay allowing the gamer to mix and match figures in the upcoming Swap Force. Many people have reached deep in their pockets to snatch up these Skylanders toys and now Disney has also decided to jump on the bandwagon. Disney announced their own Skylanders style game called Disney Infinity in January. Infinity is going to include toy figures from many of their most popular franchises. Nintendo has a large range of characters, franchises, and items, roughly 30 years worth, which could easily be formed into their own little toy figurine army but what has taken them so long?
Just last week Nintendo announced their first game which incorporates NFC and associated toy figurines called Pokemon Rumble U. Pokemon Rumble U is due out in Japan on April 24, 2013 which a good start but also leaves the rest of the world waiting to see if we will also see Pokemon Rumble U or if there is something else in the cards for Nintendo’s worldwide audience. Don’t get me wrong, Pokemon is a franchise that would lend itself very well to NFC features and has plenty of characters to market a wide range of figures to an already very large fan base. There are a few other franchises within the world of Nintendo that I could see utilizing NFC but no other franchise comes to mind more than the extremely popular fighting game Super Smash Bros.
Super Smash Bros is one of Nintendo’s most popular titles and the next entry in the franchise, which will be releasing for the Wii U and 3DS, would be a great fit for NFC. With such a wide range of characters that are usually showcased in the series there would be an almost unending supply of characters to turn into little NFC figurines. Especially since the line up in Super Smash Bros games are usually limited to a certain number; the addition of NFC toys could expand the line up to include any characters that Nintendo would like to add in. This option becomes even more interesting when you consider that this could allow characters from other companies to show up in a Super Smash Bros match. Team Meat, developers of popular indie game Super Meat Boy, recently expressed interest in developing games for Nintendo if Meat Boy, their main character, showed up in a Smash Bros game.
“I want Meat Boy to be in Smash Bros,” says Team Meat’s Edmund McMillen. “That would be the one reason I’d really want to develop for a Nintendo console.”
“That would be amazing!” Tommy Refenes of Team Meat adds. “If they could guarantee us Meat Boy would be in Smash Bros., we would do something.”
On top of all of the character figures there could be a NFC toy line that are all based on items which could be used within matches. If NFC features were added into Super Smash Bros, it could open up the series to a whole new set of possibilities and could really push the series forward. The inclusion of NFC into some of Nintendo’s most popular titles like Super Smash Bros could end up becoming a huge cash cow for them like it has for Activision and the Skylanders franchise.
As of right now there has not been much information released on the title, except for the fact that it is currently in development. Many are hoping that we will hear more about Super Smash Bros this year and that maybe the game will show up in playable form at E3. Namco Bandai is currently working with Nintendo on the development on Super Smash Bros for the Wii U. If NFC is a feature that they have already included in the new Super Smash Bros, then it is likely that Namco Bandai characters could be some of the first NFC characters available alongside those from Nintendo.