An official patent from Nintendo, Ambrella and The Pokémon Company filed on March 7th went public today; the patent details a new Pokemon handheld device. Specifically it is an “information processing apparatus, information processing system, information processing method and recording medium”:
The inventor is Norio Matsumura, director at Ambrella who has worked on many Pokémon games in the past. It seems that this portable system would support NFC/RFID figures and IC cards (smart cards) for gaming, with Pokémon as the priority. The abstract of the device is as follows:
An example system includes: a contactless communication unit for performing contactless communication with a data storage medium having a contactless communication function; a data acquiring unit for acquiring data stored in the data storage medium by the contactless communication unit; a display processing unit for displaying at least one content stored in a content storage unit and a content according to data acquired by the data acquiring unit on a display unit as selection objects; a selection accepting unit for accepting selection by a user for a content displayed by the display processing unit; and an information processing unit for performing information processing pertaining to a content, which is an object of selection accepted by the selection accepting unit.
Later on, some additional excerpts describe an example game that would take advantage of the technology used:
Next, an example of a game, which is realized when the processing unit 10 of the game machine 1 executes the game program 91 according to the present embodiment, will be described. In the game of this example, the user collects a plurality of characters, which can be a player character, in the game. The user selects a player character from the collected characters. The user operates at least one of selected player characters at the operation unit 13, and fights or competes with an enemy character, for example. An enemy character may be operated by the processing unit 10, or may be operated by a user of another game machine 1 in the case of an online match game.
When a player character attacks and beats an enemy character in the game in this example, the user can acquire the enemy character with a constant probability. The user can select the acquired character as a player character. When the user acquires a specific item in the game or when a specific event occurs, for example, the user can acquire a new character. Information related to a character acquired by the user is stored in the secondary storage unit 16 as a possession character list, together with saved data of the game or the like.
In the character growth screen, the user can increase status, such as an offensive power and a speed, of a character using the operation unit 13. The user increases the status and then causes the game machine 1 to load the dedicated FIG. 5 of a corresponding character, so as to update the status data 53b stored in the storage unit 53 of the dedicated FIG. 5. The processing unit 10 of the game machine 1 accepts an operation to increase status by the operation unit 13 and increases the status of the character. Thereafter, the processing unit 10 displays a message to prompt the user to perform an operation to load a corresponding dedicated FIG. 5. In the example illustrated in the figure, the game machine 1 displays a message “Touch Character Having Status to be Grown” on the lower right of the display unit 11 or, in other words, in the vicinity of a position where the contactless communication unit 21 is mounted.
Although an example of a game wherein a player character operated by the user attacks an enemy character has been described in the present embodiment, it is to be noted that the game content is exemplary and not restrictive. Although the game machine 1 in the present embodiment is designed to add a character to be selected as a player character by performing contactless communication with the dedicated FIG. 5 or the IC card 6, a content to be added as an option by contactless communication is not limited to a character. For example, a stage to appear in a game, or a weapon, an item or the like to be used by a player character may be added. Similar technology can be applied to an application other than a game. For example, an electronic book may be additionally displayed at a bookshelf, which includes a plurality of electronic books arranged therein, in accordance with contactless communication with an IC card or the like, so as to allow the user to select an electronic book to browse. Similarly, a content such as a moving image, a still image or music may be treated. Moreover, the game screens illustrated in FIGS. 3 to 8 are exemplary and not restrictive.
Looking at the descriptions, the similar game mechanics and the gallery of images below using animals to represent “characters,” it becomes clear that the patent is referring to Pokémon. It’s an interesting idea, and one that would surely turn fruitful for Nintendo, as very few franchises hold the drawing power of Pokémon.