For a long time, industry commentators have suggested that
Nintendo should bring their franchises to Tablets and Smartphones.
However, with Mario Kart 8 pushing game and console sales
it seems that there has been method in Nintendo’s perceived
This still leaves some particular genres Nintendo excel at
absent on Android and iOS platforms. Happily, it seems that other
developers are picking up the slack. One such title is Castaway
Paradise from Stolen Couch games, that draws a lot from
Nintendo’s island life simulator Animal Crossing.
From the screen shots you can immediately see that it looks
almost identical to the Wii and 3DS game. It even includes
Animal Crossing staples like fishing, bug collection and a
rich array of time limited items to decorate your home with.
Play it for longer though and you soon start to notice other
similarities. Planting the correct foliage is essential to attract
certain wildlife like in Viva Pinata. The home making in
the game feels similar to designing homes in The Sims.
There are also farming mini-games like Harvest Moon.
Castaway Paradise out last week and had a strong
response from families and disbelieving fans of the original
Animal Crossing games, I approached Studio Head Eric
Diepeveen to find out more about how the game came to be, and
whether Nintendo were likely to issue a take-down request.
Diepeveen spoke about the idea to create the game. “We thought
to ourselves, what kind of game can we create that doesn’t exist on
iPhone and iPad platforms? Why wouldn’t we make [an Animal
Crossing] type game because there are millions of people who
love those games but can’t play them on PC, iPad or Android. So in
2002 we started development on Castaway Paradise.”
I asked whether this had drawn attention or criticism from
Nintendo. “Nintendo is great, we showed them the game about two
years ago and they immediately liked it. I can’t speak for Nintendo
because we have no affiliation to them, but if you look at games on
3DS, Gamecube and Wii there are a lot of Mario Kart clones
all licensed by Nintendo. They love their IP and they will protect
their IP but they are not threatened by other developers mimicking,
or being inspired by their IP.”
I asked Nintendo what its perspective was on the game but they
declined to comment at this stage.
This made me wonder whether the fans of Animal Crossing
may present a bigger challenge to get onboard. “The fans are great.
Obviously they love Animal Crossing and are right that it
is a great game. But we are not trying to create Animal
Crossing 4, but a game inspired by it and The Sims
and Harvest Moon.”
The game is currently soft launched on iOS in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and
Vietnam. It will be getting a full release worldwide later this
year as well as being planned for Steam and Android.
This made me wonder if it could come to the Vita. “We are often
talking to Sony and the last time we showed it they were definitely
interested.” The game is developed on Unity so it wouldn’t be an
insurmountable amount of work to make that happen if there was
enough desire demonstrated by that market.
Making money is obviously a driver for any developer. Stolen
Couch Games has an interesting financial model. The game is free to
play but offers a VIP subscription track that unlocks special items
and makes progression easier.
“Most players won’t spend a dime. For a few dollars a month you
get a lot of extra content. You also get a 20% discount on all
items and unlimited water for farming. Each week you will get
Although this is slightly unusual I like the predictable aspect
of this model. It means you very clearly know in advance how much
you are spending rather than racking up more and more
micro-transactions. I’d be keen at seeing this used in other
The game is still having features and items added on a daily
basis and online play is also being considered. Special days will
also offer limited edition items like those that pop-up in
Diepeveen summarises the offering as “games as a service. We
will continue to support this game for years to come. We constantly
listen to feedback and improve the game. The map feature for
example is something that was voted for by players.”
I ended our conversation by asking whether Castaway
Paradise may leverage the “toys to life” genre with physical
toys that unlock content like Skylanders, Disney
Infinity or Amiibo. Again Diepeveen is thinking outside the
box here, “we want to turn that upside down. Wouldn’t it be awesome
if you could press a button and we would 3D print your character
and mail it to you.”
Beyond its initial similarities to Animal Crossing, a
fresh financial model, ongoing development and player led features
make Castaway Paradise an intriguing proposition for both
players and other developers. It deserves to do well.