Top 5 interesting Nintendo gadgets with patents but never released

Nintendo has a long history of filing patents for innovative gadgets, some of which have never been released to the public. Nintendo’s story dates as far back as 1889 when its founder, Fusajiro Yamauchi started producing cards. For almost 75 years, Playing Cards was Nintendo’s sole business. However, the company eventually expanded to tabletop games when it released the Nintendo Ultra Hand in 1968. Four years later, the company launched Beam Gun (Kôsenjû), an electronic game with a light gun that has photo-sensitive cells. A few years later, the company released Computer Othello and the handsome Color TV-Game consoles. These were its first microprocessor-based electronic games which it released with Mitsubishi Electric. Nintendo did not just popularize video games, it was inventing it. However, one downside of innovation is that several trials and possible good products never make it to the market. At best, they end up being patented.

Nintendo gadgets

Despite this, Nintendo has a long list of good games with which the company has made good money. However, our focus today is on patented innovations that we feel would have made a mark in the market but never hit the market. Here are five intriguing Nintendo gadgets that were patented but never made it to market.

1. Nintendo Playable Game Boy Smartphone Case

Patent Info

  • Patent No: US20180275769A1
  • Patent Filed: March 2018
  • Patent Granted: August 2020

One of the patented gadgets that never saw the light of day is the Nintendo Playable Game Boy Smartphone Case. This technology has patent number US20180275769A1 This device was designed to resemble a classic Game Boy but with the ability to function as a smartphone case. The case featured physical buttons and could play Game Boy cartridges, providing a nostalgic gaming experience on the go.

Nintendo gadgets

The patent description reveals that the case can transform a cellphone into a Game Boy as it neatly clicks into place. Near the top of the case frames, there is a window that acts as the Game Boy display. However, the rest of the front of the phone now contains the control pad and buttons A and B.

While this tech may be clunky, this was our humble beginning, the era of push buttons. So far, smartphone games are an obvious successor to the great Game Boy. However, if Nintendo develops new games for Android or iOS, the playable smartphone case would play into the hands of Nintendo nerds and hipsters. It could a sense of pleasure to the hyper-efficient world of mobile technology.

Nintendo gadgets

2. Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons with Hinges

Another interesting patent that was never realized is the concept of Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons with hinges. This technology has patent number JP2019146737AThe design would have allowed the Joy-Cons to fold, making them more compact for storage and travel. The hinged Joy-Cons could have potentially offered a different gaming experience, but this idea remained a patent and was not developed into a consumer product.

Nintendo gadgets

The hinges on the right and left control panels would have allowed gamers to flip the controller (some parts) at an angle of 20 to 30 degrees. This design would have given gamers more options for comfort since gaming in one position for long hours could be hectic.

3. Nintendo Wii Football Controller

The Nintendo Wii Football Controller is another patented gadget that never made it to market. This technology comes with a patent number EP2090346B1. This unique controller was designed to resemble a football and would have been used for sports games on the Wii. The patent showcased a motion-sensitive football-shaped controller that could have added an extra layer of immersion to sports gaming, but it ultimately remained a concept.


Running on the spot is common knowledge, however, playing football (American) on the spot is not. A few years after the launch of the first Wii machines, Nintendo filed a patent for “an actual physical football, equipped with a motion sensor.” This device would have made it possible for users to simulate play. Gamers would be able to run, dodge, and throw all on the spot without actually running or throwing.

“[T]he game playing public generally expects a football video game to provide a reasonably accurate model of at least some aspects of the actual game of football,” argued Nintendo’s patent.


“Most game players will expect a football video game to be played on a field 100 yards long marked off in 10-yard increments, with two opposing teams each having 11 players. High realism is in high demand.” 

4. Nintendo Portable System with Interchangeable Controls

Nintendo also patented a portable gaming system with interchangeable controls, allowing users to customize their gaming experience by swapping out different control mechanisms. This technology comes with patent number US20140121023A1. This concept aimed to provide flexibility and cater to various play styles, but it never materialized into an actual product for consumers.

Nintendo filed a patent for a handheld portable game device comparable to the 3DS a decade ago. The interchangeable control pads were novel at the time. Gamers may hypothetically slide a button unit, joystick, or cross key in and out of their slots, reconfiguring them or even replacing them with game-specific controls.

This type of modular control could increase accessibility and ergonomics. They would, however, dramatically expand the capabilities of a portable device with limited onboard “real estate.” As new games required them, developers could create new knobs and switches. Connecting additional ports allows you to create more adaptable controls, such as a slider for a portable music studio.

5. Nintendo Wii Inflatable Horseback Riding Peripheral

One of the more unconventional patented gadgets was the Nintendo Wii Inflatable Horseback Riding Peripheral. The technology has patent number US8277327B2. This unique accessory was designed to simulate horseback riding for Wii games, providing an immersive experience for players. However, this inventive concept remained a patent and was not released as a consumer product.

Back in 2009, Nintendo said“It would be desirable to provide an inexpensive, convenient way to realistically simulate, in the home, riding on horseback or on other animals,” 

Nintendo’s inflatable cushion is designed to sport several sensors that would detect the player’s bob and weave as they interacted with dynamic 3D film of passing fields, hurdles, and so on. One hand controller would act as the reins, while another handheld gadget would allegedly represent a riding whip or a Colt Single Action revolver.

Final Words

While these patented gadgets showcase Nintendo’s innovative spirit, they have made it to the market. Despite the creativity and potential of these ideas, they remain as interesting glimpses into the world of Nintendo’s unreleased innovations. One common question will be “Why have these innovative products not made it to the market”. The short answer to this question is “In the tech business, brands make very careful and thoroughly thought out decisions”. You can’t just roll out a product into the market because it is “innovative”. The market has to be ready for the products and potential users need to accept their worth.

As of now, Nintendo has filed for 8,505 patents globally but only 69% of these are  active. This means that the patent has been granted or they have not expired. However, Shinya Takahashi, Nintendo’s general manager of development said that the company is not driven by a desire to fence off its ideas or to invent for the sake of inventing.

“The thinking that guides us is: what can we do to pleasantly surprise players?” he told The Guardian. “It’s not that we’re consciously trying to innovate; we’re trying to find ways to make people happy. The result is that we come up with things other people have not done.”

Disclaimer: We may be compensated by some of the companies whose products we talk about, but our articles and reviews are always our honest opinions. For more details, you can check out our editorial guidelines and learn about how we use affiliate links.

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