Today, it’s common for players to be able to pet the dog in video games, but it wasn’t always this way. Players had to demand the ability to pet those adorable pooches, and then one day, Nintendo had the brilliant idea of making a game where all you did was pet dogs.
Enter Nintendogs, one of the finest virtual pet video games to ever grace the twin screens of the Nintendo DS. Released in 2005 to millions of dog lovers all over the world, the game would prove popular enough to receive a sequel on the subsequent handheld console, Nintendogs + Cats, further improving the virtual pet experience by adding felines.
Curiously, we haven’t seen a follow-up of Nintendogs on the Switch despite the newest Nintendo console having a touchscreen. However, a newly approved patent points to Nintendo bringing its Nintendogs franchise to an even bigger platform.
As spotted on the Gaming Leaks & Rumors subreddit, USPTO patent number 11,557,104 B2 was filed under the category "storage medium storing information processing program, apparatus, system, and/or method." The patent application was filed by Nintendo back in November 2021 and approved on January 17, 2023.
The abstract for the patent describes how "a virtual reference plane and a virtual camera are updated based on detection of a characteristic portion in a captured image." You can then place a "virtual object" into the image along with a "virtual camera," allowing the user to view this virtual object from multiple angles while still appearing as though it's in a real-world location.
Long story short, it's a mobile augmented reality thing similar to Pokemon Go, but instead of just overlaying a virtual Pokemon on your camera screen, this would actually let you specify a spot on the image where your "virtual object" would live regardless of where the player moved in the real world. And what image did Nintendo use for its "virtual object?" An adorable puppy of course.
I have to point out that patents don't necessarily mean a game announcement is coming, and although these patent diagrams sure look like mobile Nintendogs, nowhere in the patent does Nintendo ever mention Nintendogs. But this patent does tell us that Nintendo is at least thinking of Nintendogs, which will have to be good enough for now.
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