Nintendo, the renowned gaming company, is no stranger to filing patents for their innovative ideas. After a remarkable year in gaming in 2023, it is not surprising that Nintendo has more in the pipeline. However, the recently revealed patents seem to revolve around mechanics that we are already familiar with. This raises concerns that certain features in popular games like Super Mario Bros. Wonder and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom could now be under legal lock and key.

In a recent Hatena Blog post by user naoya2k, several patents filed by Nintendo were brought into the spotlight. These patents were submitted earlier in 2023 but only became publicly available towards the end of the year, specifically between November and December. Let’s dive into the details of these patents and explore their potential impact on the gaming industry.

One of the highlighted patents discovered by naoya2k focuses on Super Mario Bros. Wonder and its ‘Ghost’ mechanic in multiplayer mode. Originally submitted in August 2023, the patent outlines a unique respawn feature. When a player falls, they have the opportunity to make contact with an item, such as another character or a standee, to come back to life. This patent defines the ‘ghost’ mechanic as taking control of a temporary character until reaching an acceptable respawn point, which would be familiar to anyone who has played Wonder’s multiplayer mode.

Another noteworthy patent surfaced on December 12, 2023, and pertains to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (TOTK). Nintendo has previously submitted patents related to TOTK, given its innovative gameplay elements. The newly discovered patent focuses on Link’s Ultrahand ability and its specific applications. In simplified terms, the patent aims to improve the usability of connecting virtual objects to create an object composed of multiple virtual objects. This mechanic allows players to select one item and merge it with another, creating a cohesive entity. The patent, with all its legal jargon, can be examined in its original Japanese format.

While it is common for Nintendo to file numerous patents, it is essential to note that approved patents typically revolve around the specific implementation of a feature rather than the mechanic itself. Although the sight of these patents may be alarming, it does not mean that there will be no room for similar features, like the Ultrahand ability, in future Nintendo games. It is crucial to distinguish between legal protection and stifling innovation in the gaming industry.

Nintendo’s recent patents have raised eyebrows in the gaming community, as they seem to address mechanics already present in popular titles. However, it is essential to approach these patents with caution and not jump to conclusions about their implications on future game development. As the gaming industry continues to evolve, patents play a role in safeguarding innovative implementations rather than restricting creativity. Only time will reveal the true impact of these patents on Nintendo’s future games.


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