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Mario Finally Makes the Jump to Phones

Mario is officially going mobile. Nintendo has announced a partnership with mobile developer DeNA, which will create new smartphone and tablet games starring the company's beloved characters. Nintendo also confirmed that it is working on its next home console, and is planning a subscription service that will span both its own hardware and mobile devices.

While the prospect of officially licensed Nintendo games coming to mobile is exciting, don't expect to be playing blockbusters like Super Mario 3D World or a full-length Legend of Zelda title on your smartphone. "Only new original games optimized for smart-device functionality will be created," rather than ports of Wii U or 3DS games, Nintendo representatives said in a statement.

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As such, the products resulting from this partnership will likely be bite-size mobile experiences that are coated in a Nintendo skin. DeNA's games are generally always free-to-play, and span just about every conventional mobile genre, from puzzle to role playing. Given the company's pedigree, it's easy to imagine a tower-defense game in which you protect Donkey Kong's banana stash, or an endless runner that has Mario racing through Mushroom Kingdom.

Nintendo and DeNA are also working on an online membership service that's slated to launch this fall. Nintendo recently shuttered its Club Nintendo rewards program and promised that a replacement would be coming, so this new service could very well be that fill-in. Nintendo says that the service will be accessible from PCs, mobile devices and Nintendo's own consoles.

It remains to be seen whether this new program will simply be a streamlined version of Club Nintendo, which gave players free rewards for registering their games, or something more exciting that, say, lets gamers pay a subscription fee and access Nintendo classics from any device they like.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Nintendo reassured fans that it has no plans to leave the console space by announcing the development of its new hardware, currently codenamed "NX." Little is known about the upcoming system, though. When discussing the console at a news conference, Nintendo head Satoru Iwata promised to deliver a "brand-new concept," according to Kotaku.

Mike Andronico is an associate editor at Tom's Guide. Follow Mike @MikeAndronico. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+