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Super Mario for iPhone set to hit app store in December

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TOKYO: Shares in gaming giant Nintendo jumped more than five percent Wednesday after details of the launch for its keenly awaited new Super Mario game for iPhones were released, hot on the heels of the Pokemon craze.

Kyoto-based Nintendo said it would release Super Mario Run worldwide for Apple’s iPhone and iPad through the App Store on December 15.

The firm’s stock price soared as much as 5.5 percent at one point before easing slightly to close up 2.77 percent at 25,550 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Super Mario, which dates to 1985, is one of Nintendo’s best-known and most instantly recognisable brands.

It is so associated with Japan that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in August appeared at the Rio Olympics’ closing ceremony in the moustachioed plumber’s red hat and blue overalls to promote Tokyo’s 2020 Games.

The full app would cost $9.99 in the United States and 1,200 yen ($10.95) in Japan, although limited elements of the game would be available for free.

Nintendo’s shares more than doubled in July — making it more valuable than Sony at one point — as its Pokemon Go game exploded into the public consciousness, being downloaded half a billion times.

However, because the firm did not own the licence to the game — that is owned by San Francisco-based Niantic — its success had little impact on the firm’s bottom line.

But while its share price has dipped back slightly over the past few months, it is still up two-thirds from lows seen before the emergence of Pokemon Go.

– ‘Can’t wait’ –

Neil Campling, an analyst at Northern Trust Capital Markets, hailed the company’s approach of enticing gamers in the same way as other mobile game successes as “a great strategy”.

“To set a low incentive and then a low total cost when engaged could set Nintendo on a differentiated path, which ultimately could be a game changer,” Campling said.

The game will be introduced for Android-based devices at a later date.

Social media reaction in Japan to the game’s price was positive.

“Once you pay 1,200 yen, you don’t have to pay extra money,” one fan said on Twitter. “That’s cheap. Can’t wait.”

Nintendo has already said that any potential earnings impact from Super Mario Run has already been factored into its forecast for the present fiscal year.

Nintendo warned last month that its operating profit would come in at 30 billion yen for the financial year, about one-third less than an earlier forecast, while sales would also be lower than expected.

After years of refusing to move into the smartphone sector, Nintendo — which also created the Donkey Kong and Legend of Zelda brands — announced last year it was teaming up with Japanese mobile specialist DeNA to develop games for the handsets based on its host of popular characters.

And in March, the company released its first mobile game “Miitomo” — a free-to-play and interactive game that allows users to create avatars — as it tries to compete in an industry that has increasingly moved online.

However, it remains committed to its console business and last Thursday launched a palm-sized version of its 1980s-era games console the Famicom, while it also plans to unveil another device early next year.

— Bloomberg News contributed to this article —

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