Patent Pending: novel systems in video games

We all know gameplay cannot be patented, though people can uphold their trademark or brand.

But novel systems in games can be patented. I’m ambivalent to patents in general, I can see the cases for and against.

It’s also an absolute legend that Mikito Ichikawa (MNM Software, aka Mindware Corp.), with a little help from Nintendo, prevented SEGA getting a patent on “viewpoint change” in 3D games. Thank goodness!

So, this thread will display patents found for novel systems in games.

To find them

  • you generally have to search the patent database for developer names
  • usually the game name is not mentioned, and is frequently not obvious
  • you have to decipher through reading the description and looking at the images


Actionloop DS

  • unlocking extra levels in a Polarium Advance save game
  • (does this also work with Polarium DS to Polarium Advance?)

Kid Icarus: Uprising

  • AR card scanning

Kid Icarus: Uprising

  • Fiend’s Cauldron" difficulty setter

Kid Icarus: Uprising

  • silhouette player character when close to virtual camera

Kid Icarus: Uprising

  • touch screen aiming

Kid Icarus: Uprising

  • weapon sharing/fusing via StreetPass


  • multi player “effects” system of one game window affecting the other two

(MaBoShi) Flametail (aka Trailblaze: Puzzle Incinerator)

  • collect all the letters in the name of a power-up to gain that ability

Magical Puzzle Popils

  • mirroring of certain data from game memory to battery backup memory to ensure game state is always saved and up-to-date in case of power loss

Polarium (Chokkan Hitofude)

Wakugumi - Monochrome Puzzle

  • rings system

These were found by other people, when I created a similar thread on NeoGAF in 2015:

Katamari Damacy




Cool idea. I had a whole Tumblr of game patents which I haven’t updated in ages. Mostly focused on physical design (controllers, systems, ect) as those were more interesting to me


Very nice!

I find this whole concept very unpleasant! Especially as most gameplay mechanics are so derivative. Warner Bros successfully patented the Shadow of Mordor Nemesis system:

Granted it was a good idea, but it is simply a loss to gaming that idea is locked to WB and only ever used in that seemingly now dead series. An otherwise fairly unoriginal open world action game - borrowing heavily from Ubisoft games.


But a developer could do something similar.

Copying it exactly isn’t much fun, and obviously puts you in a tricky legal position.

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I don’t know - could they? My concern would be that anyone who wanted to implement a system whereby your interactions with an NPC procedurally alter that character and create a unique relationship with the player would run the risk of getting WB lawyers sniffing around.

A lot of programming problems have a fairly obvious set of solutions, so you’d have to probably work hard to not use some of the stuff they outlined in the patent. I think the smart choice is to just avoid that kind of game mechanic and not take the risk.

It seems to me that almost every fundamental mechanic in gaming was at some point “novel”, like where would Shadow of Mordor be if someone had patented climbing up towers to reveal parts of the map, or having all your enemies standing around in circles attacking you one at a time while you counter? :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m a glass half full kind of guy… I think if you want to do something enough you’ll find a way.

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