Nintendo loves a good patent and after the monster year of gaming that was 2023, it should come as no surprise that the company has more in the pipeline. Instead of looking to the future, however, the recently revealed patents appear to concern mechanics that we already know about, potentially putting certain Super Mario Bros. Wonder and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom features under legal lock and key (thanks, Automaton).
The following patents were highlighted in a recent Hatena Blog post from user naoya2k. The post notes that the patents were submitted earlier in 2023, but were only made publicly available towards the end of the year (between November and December).
So, what are they all about? The first patent that naoya2k highlights seems to relate to Super Mario Bros. Wonder, specifically its ‘Ghost’ mechanic when playing in multiplayer mode. Originally submitted in August 2023, the document outlines the game’s respawn feature whereby a downed player can attempt to make contact with an item (be that another character or a standee) to come back to life.
Translated from the original Japanese, there is a chance that some precise wording has been lost in the process, though naoya2k’s analysis suggests that the patent defines the ‘ghost’ mechanic as taking control of a temporary character until an acceptable respawn point is reached — something that anyone who has played Wonder’s multiplayer mode will surely recognise.
You can find this patent in full here.
The other patent highlighted in the blog post was made public on 12th December 2023 and appears to once again concern Tears of the Kingdom.
You might recall that this is by no means the first TOTK-related patent that Nintendo has submitted (such is the consequence of releasing a game filled with so much newness), though the recently spotted one in question looks to focus on Link’s Ultrahand ability and its specific applications. The following (translated by Google), gives a summary in the legal tone that we are used to seeing in patents such as this:
Provided is an information processing system that can improve usability when connecting virtual objects to generate an object made up of a plurality of virtual objects
In short, the patent appears to concern TOTK’s mechanic in which a player can select one item and move it close to another to ‘glue’ them together and act as one.
The patent can be read in its original Japanese here.
While Nintendo is prone to releasing a lot of patents, it is worth bearing in mind that even those which are approved are normally to do with the specific implementation of the feature rather than the mechanic itself. It does always look a little aggressive, yes, but this isn’t to say that there’s no room for Ultrahand-like features in games to come.
What do you make of Nintendo submitting patents for these features? Let us know in the comments.