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The biggest surprise to come out of Apple’s huge iPhone 7 event on Wednesday wasn’t a new device, or even a new Apple product. No, the announcement that shook the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco was the appearance of a certain plumber and his father.

That’s right, Super Mario is coming to the iPhone in a completely original game called“Super Mario Run.” And while that’s an enormous surprise onto itself — Nintendo is notoriously protective of its intellectual properties — it was the arrival of Mario’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto that sent the crowd into frenzy.

Despite the obvious shock of seeing Mario and Miyamoto take the stage at an Apple event, the legendary designer and current Creative Fellow at Nintendo said the company and Apple had been working together on the project for some time.

 

“It started when we were working on Miitomo (Nintendo’s social game for iOS and Android), or before that when Mr. [Satoru] Iwata (Nintendo’s late CEO) was still with the company,” Miyamoto said.

“Apple invited him to have a conversation about how the two companies could work together and they started working on “Miitomo” and then this opportunity came up,” he added

For years fans and industry analysts alike have been clamoring for Nintendo to bring one of its major intellectual properties to a mobile platform. The thinking was that doing so would not only provide an immediate financial benefit — the company’s stock surged by 24% following the Apple announcement — but draw in a previously untapped audience, as well.

 

But Miyamoto doesn’t believe the success of “Pokémon Go,” should be used as a benchmark for how fans will receive “Super Mario Run.”

“We’re excited and hopefully people will be excited, as well. But this game is different from “Pokémon Go” and we’re still interested in how people will respond to that, ” he said.

So why did Nintendo wait until now to bring its most famous character to a mobile platform? Well, as Miyamoto explains it, it was simply a matter of the technology finally reaching a point where Nintendo was comfortable enough to use a third-party device.

See, Nintendo, like Apple, is very aware of the importance of controlling its brand. And the best way for the gaming company to do that was to ensure its games only appeared on Nintendo hardware. But with advances in smartphone technology, and the potential windfall the company stands to make in sales, the timing was right for such a move.

“Certainly smart devices have their unique benefits: a persistent network connection and an individual account. And so we are looking at smart devices as an option going forward and we have more games in development for smart devices, said Miyamoto.