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Nintendo launching smartphone service alongside 'Mario Kart 8'

Nintendo launching smartphone service alongside 'Mario Kart 8'

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The Wii U appears to be a failure and Nintendo is in the red, but the company is planning to try a few new things to kick the console back in gear. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata just announced that the company will launch its first smartphone service alongside Mario Kart 8, which arrives at the end of May. Tentatively dubbed "Mario Kart TV," it will let users watch both official and user-generated videos and follow rankings from the game via desktop, phone, and tablet using a cross-platform web interface.

The company also intends to finally capitalize on the NFC reader in the Wii U GamePad by launching the Nintendo Figurine Platform, or NFP. It promises to let you interact with toy figures a la Skylanders and Disney Infinity, except you may also be able to carry them across different Nintendo games. The company will share more details at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June, and bring the first set of figures to market this holiday season.


According to Iwata's presentation, the company also intends to release an NFC adapter for the Nintendo 3DS handheld, and will issue an update to the Wii U that should decrease the system startup time by a full 20 seconds.

Nintendo had previously promised to build companion "service" apps for its games, and take more advantage of NFC, in a January presentation. Last year, it launched a downloadable Pokemon title in Japan which also uses NFC figurines.