TOKYO - Shares of Nintendo surged as much as 18 per cent yesterday, propelled by an announcement at Apple's iPhone launch event of the debut of the popular game franchise Super Mario Bros on the smartphone.
Investors are betting the new game, Super Mario Run, will be another mobile hit for the Japanese company akin to the wildly popular Pokemon Go, as it moves away from its console-focused strategy and embraces on-the-go gaming.
"Launching a well-known Nintendo character on the globally penetrated iPhone is one of the best scenarios that investors have hoped for," Tomoaki Kawasaki, an analyst at Iwai Cosmo Securities, said.
Nintendo said it would launch the game initially on Apple's App Store in December.
The Kyoto-based firm did not say when it would be available for Android devices.
Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of the Mario character more than 35 years ago, gave a demonstration of the game on Wednesday.
He said yesterday that Super Mario had "evolved whenever he has encountered a new platform".
"For the first time ever, players will be able to enjoy a full-fledged Super Mario game with just one hand, giving them the freedom to play while riding the subway or my favourite, eating a hamburger," he added.
Games such as Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds captured the casual gaming population and Nintendo's console sales struggled.
It finally yielded to investor calls to release games for mobile devices last year when it announced a tie-up with mobile specialist DeNA.
Nintendo declined to comment on how revenue from the new game - which is free to download and play but some content has to be purchased - would be shared with DeNA.
It plans to launch two more mobile games in the year to March - Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem.