Iwata was an interesting part of the Nintendo legacy - he was at the helm through crazy growth and strong products like the Wii explosion, as well as the lackluster sales preceding and following. It'll be interesting to see what Nintendo does with someone new at the helm.
Eurogamer's got quite the story - the Secret Developers have taken a look into the pitfalls of developing for the WiiU, because apparently there are still programmers with enough of a masochist streak to do so.
But what about the rest of the world? How had other development studios faired? The story of what happened next is pretty well documented in the gaming press, but I'd like to highlight some interesting points that have been on my mind recently. Firstly, third-party support. Do you remember all the hype surrounding the Wii U launch? All those third parties showing videos of existing games that they were going to bring to the Wii U? Whatever happened to a lot of those games?
After the initial flurry of game titles a lot of the studios quietly backed away from their initial statements and announced, with minimal press, that they were in fact not going to make a Wii U version. The reasons behind a particular title not appearing on the Wii U are all pure speculation, but I personally think that a combination of:
Previous development experience using the toolchain and hardware put off development teams from making another title on Wii U.
The technical and feature support from Nintendo were lacking for third-party studios. There was a feeling internally that if you weren't a first-party development studio, you were largely ignored by Nintendo, as we were superficial to their profits. Internally developed titles would save Nintendo and we were just there to add depth to the games catalogue.
The sales figures for the Wii U console were not looking that good soon after launch. There was a lot of confusion in the general population around the launch as most people thought that the Wii U was some kind of add-on to the Wii, they didn't know that it was a new console. This lack of awareness probably contributed to the console not getting off to the start that Nintendo would have hoped and put off studio from developing on the hardware.
Same old Nintendo - you'd think they would learn something from previous console launches and their previous third-party exodus problems...
In the land of Houston, a reminder: the NES, for all that it had tiny storage and 8-bit graphics, still had some really great cinematic moments.
Time to relive some childhood.
It's weird to think about it now in an era of photorealistic graphics and completely immersive virtual reality set-ups, but even back when games sported art slightly less technically impressive than an average Sunday comic strip they were capable of moments of real cinematic genius. They could tell a story even with the most basic of electronic tools, and today we celebrate the ten that you never forgot.
A regular NES cartridge has been loaded with an actual breathalyzer mechanism, which Batsly says he bought from a hardware store. He hacked it into a corded controller that connects to the console just like a normal joystick. After blowing into it for several seconds, the game calculates how slizzered you?ve gotten and awards you with one of several ?results? screens like Buzzed Bee and Party Kitten. Best party game ever? Yeah, I?d say so.
This is a serious hardware hack - a group of researchers managed to rig up an old NES to accept input from an eye-movement sensor as controller input.
Of course, controlling a game with the direction you?re looking makes it pretty tough to look straight at the screen, which is why no one makes it more than halfway through level 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. in this video. But still, impressive work!
I bet by the end of the year, someone practices and beats the game playing handless, just to say they did it.
Because unauthorized channels or firmware may impair game play or the Wii console, updating to Wii Menu version 4.3 will check for and automatically remove such unauthorized files. In addition, there are some behind the scenes enhancements that do not affect any prominently-used features or menus but will improve system performance.
It was as if millions of Wii owners suddenly screamed out, "DO NOT WANT"...
The problem is unique to Nintendo. Owners of Microsoft?s and Sony?s game machines first create user accounts on the Xbox Live and PlayStation Network services, entering their credit card and billing details. If they upgrade their consoles to a new model, they can transfer the files using a USB drive or re-download them.
Nintendo customers have no such option. If you want to upgrade to a new console ? like the black Wii, or a Nintendo DSi XL with its larger screens ? you have to call Nintendo?s customer service department and hope that the company agrees to bend the rules for you.
Yes, it's a pain in the rear - and one more reason to be really, really careful about what you purchase for the Wii.
We have since obtained the legal documents filed by IA Labs which claim that company's chief technology officer Greg Merril met with Nintendo as early as December 2007 in order to discuss ?development of peripherals and related games for the Wii gaming system.?
During the same meeting, it is alleged that Nintendo's Genyo Takeda (from the company's Integrated Research Division) requested a ?review? of IA Labs' intellectual property and patents. According to the legal documents, Merril advised Takeda that he should ?review? specific patents relating to Wii Fit. Merril was allegedly told to liaise with Nintendo's Howard Cheng to further discuss IA Lab's intellectual property and patents.
It's almost here - Harvest Moon: Animal Parade has gone Gold and should be published in a few weeks.
Burlingame, Calif., October 27, 2009 - Natsume, a worldwide developer
and publisher of family-oriented video games, announced today that
Harvest Moon: Animal Parade for the Nintendo WiiT has gone gold.
Harvest Moon: Animal Parade will be released on November 10th at an
MSRP of $49.99 and is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB.
"Harvest Moon: Animal Parade continues the Harvest Moon series with
imaginative new characters, a huge variety of fun pets, and exciting
new challenges, " said Hiro Maekawa, President and CEO of Natsume.
"Players looking for a deep and rich Wii title this season should add
Harvest Moon: Animal Parade to their holiday wish lists!"
There's trouble in the once-prosperous village of Harmonica Town! Crops
aren't growing, the wind isn't blowing, and the five elemental bells
are missing. Only the power of the Harvest King can revive the land,
but he's nowhere to be found. It's up to the player to find the five
bells, awaken the Harvest King, and save the town!
Players will find plenty of exciting activities in Harvest Moon: Animal
Parade, including fishing, mining, cultivating crops, and caring for
wild and exotic animals such as penguins, pandas, and monkeys. Players
can take their exotic animals out for walks, teach them tricks, and
even ride them around town! When the circus rolls into town, players
will also need to help the ringmaster find the escaped animals.
Befriend the lion, giraffe, and hippopotamus, or the show is doomed!
As a bonus, players who pre-order the game at GameStop will receive a
limited edition plush duck. Quantities are limited, so hurry and place
your order before they're gone!
Big N have pushed an "update" to the system software for the Wii, which apparently targets "unauthorized" software (Homebrew Channel and other items) as well as rewriting something core to the system. Word over on Nintendo's forums, along with a lot of deleted/scrubbed posts, indicates that the update package for the core system file is none-too-clean and may be causing Wii's to brick.
Install at your own risk; my advice is to not bother if you value your Wii's functionality.
After price cuts by both rivals and the sagging economy, Big N's decided to cut the price of the Wii as well: they're also trying out a new strategy to get people to plunk down the increasing price of games.
The "New Super Mario Bros." for Wii will hit stores Nov. 15. It's the first title in the classic series that allows four users to play the game at the same time.
Customers can try this and other games at a "sampling tour" coming to three cities in October.
"Differentiating between thousands of [game] alternatives is nearly impossible," said Nintendo in a statement, adding that the ideal solution is allowing consumers to test drive the games before they plunk down cash for a game or system.
The consoles are aging, slowly but surely, and there are less game stores than ever. Time will tell whether this gambit pays off for Nintendo or not.
Rather than forcing players to comb the web for cheat codes and walkthroughs, the new help system is built directly into the game. If a player gets stuck, they'll have the option to pause play and allow the game to take over and play itself through any rough patches. Once they're out of the woods, players can hop back in and continue playing.
I for one wish they'd rethink this whole concept. You might as well just set the game to autoplay and go get some popcorn.
So I've tried to play the "transformative" Wii title "Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King" (and ain't it a mouthful just to say).
Let's just get this out of the way: this is one of the most boring, annoying, inane games I can think of. First play-through? That's all for unlocking the ability to do basic things, like tell people what to do. That's right, for the first 150+ days, you can't even get your adventuring parties organized properly.
Oh, but it gets better. Actually organizing things is about obliquely screwing around, rather than being direct. Want an adventuring party to all live next door to each other? No problem, just bulldoze their old houses without warning and build new ones for them. They'll happily move right in next to each other. Need a particular dungeon cleared? Set a board request for it and watch an entirely random group of adventurers report to try it, half of who aren't close to being level-capable, while your highest level adventurers all want to go clear out the newbie dungeons.
I mean, seriously. You don't even get to use all the options until a Game+ playthrough.
Do yourself a favor. Do NOT pick up this title if you value your sanity.
REDWOOD CITY, CA - December 3, 2008 - Hudson Entertainment, the North
American publishing arm for HUDSON SOFT, announced today FISHING
MASTER WORLD TOUR has gone to gold master. A sequel to the popular
FISHING MASTER, FISHING MASTER WORLD TOUR is published by Hudson
Entertainment and distributed in North America by Konami Digital
Entertainment, Inc. FISHING MASTER WORLD TOUR is scheduled to release
on January 6, 2008 for an SRP of $29.99.
The new FISHING MASTER WORLD TOUR offers players more than 200
different types of fish to catch, enabling them to reel in fish from
their native waters around the world in the first ever global fishing
game on Wii. Players now have over 40 different locations to fish from
in 7 different regions. Whether players are catching fish on Easter
Island, under the Golden Gate Bridge or on the Amazon River, they will
encounter numerous exotic locations in this fishing adventure.
Staying true to the first version's realistic controls, aspiring
Fishing Masters use the Wii RemoteT and NunchukT as they battle to
hook the fish on their line, just like in real life. Players must
move the Wii Remote left and right as the fish fights from the end of
the line and adjust their drag so their line doesn't break. Once
gamers have the basics down, they can try their newfound skills by
competing with friends via new enhancements made just for the sequel -
four-person multiplayer modes! In Wi-Fi mode, players compete online
against other Fishing Masters over who will catch the biggest fish in
various worldwide locations. Gamers will also enjoy local multiplayer
battle which enables them to play against their friends and family
members in a variety of different battle modes.
Additional new features in FISHING MASTER WORLD TOUR include 'Boss
Battles' where players can catch rare fish with exclusive boss battle
controls. A Deep Sea Fishing mode has also been added to allow
players to fish off the coast in places like Hawaii on the back of
trolling fishing boats. Will you be the first to hook the Big One?
Populous has shipped out for the DS at a pretty reasonable price tag:
Torrance, Calif., (November 11, 2008) ? Videogame publisher XSEED Games announced today that Populous DS has started shipping to retailers in North America for the Nintendo DS. Populous DS puts the power of the gods in to the palm of the players? hands.
Based on the original Populous PC classic from Electronic Arts, Populous DS brings a re-imagination of the classic game which pioneered the God simulation genre. The unique features of the DS improve upon the original as the touch-screen controls utilize the dual screens allowing players to manipulate 5 elementally-imbued gods, each with their own unique miracles, within an extensive single-player campaign. Within the multiplayer wireless mode, up to 4 players can unleash earthquakes, tidal waves and raging volcanoes to wreck havoc on opponents? lands.
The Populous DS game play is fresh for returning players as additional gods, each with their own miracles and demon counterpart, have been added, while returning fans will recognize the classic maps from previous editions of Populous in homage to this legendary series.
Populous DS carries a suggested retail price of $29.99 and is rated ?E10? for ?Everyone 10 and Older.?
As a fan of the original (played way back in the day on a 286 laptop), I'm looking forward to seeing how this holds up.
Namco/Bandai have kicked out the intro trailer for the latest Tales of Symphonia title; you can check it out here. Looks pretty nifty.
Minor press release as well:
November 7, 2008 - NAMCO BANDAI Games America today released the full animated intro video from Tales of Symphonia?: Dawn of the New World? for Wii?. The newly released video introduces players to some of the new and familiar faces and settings they will encounter in this highly-anticipated follow-up to the smash-hit role-playing game Tales of Symphonia for Nintendo GameCube?.
Set in a world overrun with corruption and despair, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World debuts a major new gameplay system for the Tales series. The game allows players to capture more than 200 unique monsters that they face in battle, feeding and evolving them into new fearsome forms. Featuring a massive cast of new and returning playable characters, Dawn of the New World offers complete freedom in creating a custom party that best suits the needs of each fast-paced, real-time enemy conflict.
GSW has an opinion column saying that Big N have screwed up by relying on the Wiimote and control schemes, rather than gameplay, to make games fun.
In other words, "too gimmicky."
The movement based controls of the Wii hearken to a completely visceral play session, becoming one with the virtual world in front of them. We all drooled at the opportunity to dive behind couches in our living room to escape gunfire, being able to replicate a real tennis match without leaving the house, or having a sword fight that was even more real and tactile than the ones we had as children with wooden sticks.
It has been a disappointment, therefore, to see our promised virtual experience reduced to shaking the controller.
The problem is that waggling the Wii remote does not, in itself, add to a gameplay experience. If I want to open a virtual door and am asked to turn the Wii remote instead of pressing a button, that doesn?t make the experience more immersive.
Aussie mag Gameplayer are offering up what they hope will be a "definitive" history of Nintendo - from their playing card days onwards.
Don?t believe us? Well we?re about to take you on a whistle-stop tour through the ins and outs, highs and lows, the laughter and tears of videogames? most prolific forefather. From playing cards to Pok?mon: we'll even show you how Mario can improve your sex life! Here?s the complete history of Nintendo.
1889 - A card game business specialising in stylish Hanafuda (flora) cards is set up by Fusajiro Yamauchi under the name of Nintendo Koppai. The business struggles until the yakuza decide to adopt the cards for their high-stakes gambling. The yakuza would demand a new pack at the start of every game and would look to Yamauchi to supply them.
Trivia - The name Nintendo is said to mean ?leave luck to heaven?.
If you need help with your sex life, this mario might be more help (warning: YTMND link).
Super Mario Galaxy has got to be the wierdest Mario game that Nintendo's ever come up with... and I mean that in a good way.
Super Mario 64 took the series and made it a leap of faith, moving from 2D to 3D. Mario Kart was always a fun series.
They kind of messed up with Mario Sunshine, because they killed existing play mechanics in trying to strap in the water-gun mechanic. Inside it, however, were a number of extremely-hard "micro world" setups which involved what basically looked like tinker toys... I think that was the basis, with a little relative-gravity twist, for what Mario Galaxy does. And on that level, where Sunshine managed only to be mediocre, Mario Galaxy goes back to the roots of Mario64 and offers up whatever worlds they felt like programming, with whatever little mini-games they feel like throwing in, and does it well.
The PSP is a platform that didn't really get the sell-through that they needed, so they accepted ports. When you accept ports, you're in trouble. You are going to end up with exactly that frustration--why is the game not as good? If you have a PlayStation 3 version of a game, the PSP version is going to be like the bastard stepchild of that game.
Oddly enough, the most fun games on the PSP are the old PSX titles I've loaded to mine... but even those suffer from the lack of discrete L1/L2/R1/R2 buttons. The analog hack is a clumsy fix at best.
Nintendo's working on taking a page from Microsoft's book - like Live on the 360, which was (poorly) imitated by Sony for the PS3, the Big N want to start selling downloadable new games.
Level Up got the scoop, though the product's a long way off:
What's more interesting is that Nintendo isn't only seeking WiiWare from established publishers and developers like Ubisoft and Sega. At a Nintendo developer's conference earlier this week, the company informed attendees that it was seeking from indie developers as well. Shorter, original, more creative games from small teams with big ideas; these are the buzzwords that you'll be hearing from Nintendo when its Wednesday announcement goes wide.
Yep. Sounds a lot like the new games that have popped up on Live for the casual gamer market.
But against the odds, Nintendo has become the company to beat in the games business, as the Wii flies off store shelves nearly as quickly as the company can make them. The buzz about the Wii has overshadowed the even greater success Nintendo has had with the Nintendo DS, a portable game player that is still selling briskly more than two years after its introduction.
The Kyoto-based company's unexpected strength is prompting broader changes throughout the industry as game makers that were caught off guard by Nintendo's strength -- including powerhouses like Electronic Arts Inc., the world's largest publisher of games -- hurry to beef up development of games that take better advantage of Nintendo hardware. "This has been a honeymoon with consumers like Nintendo hasn't had in a decade or more," says John Taylor, a veteran games analyst at Arcadia Investment Corp. in Portland, Ore.
The thought occurs, for those in Microsoft and Sony: it's about the games, people!
It's no secret I find the crop of Harry Potter video games to be incredibly lame - but perhaps, just perhaps, the Wii could do something nice for the franchise.
The Wii-specific controls for the game seem remarkably well put together. Once Harry's wand is drawn, the Wiimote can be used to directly control the spells you cast. Everything is handled through accelerometers; there is no pointing in the game whatsoever. Any of the game's spells can be cast quickly and easily, merely by a flick of the wrist. Thrust the Wiimote forward, and Harry will propel an object away from himself. Motion upward with both the Wiimote and nunchuk, and Harry will cause an object to levitate in the air.
Of course, most will just be ported junk. And that will be sad.
Now, publishers are scrambling to get titles to the 3.56 million U.S. and Japanese Wii owners who have made the machine the top-selling game console this year.
``Those companies are backtracking,'' said Anthony Gikas, an analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co. in Minneapolis. ``They're going to need to get their best-branded product on that platform. That will take a good nine to 12 months.''
Looks like the Wii may become a good home for adventure games; Adventure Company are starting out by kicking off Agatha Christie for the Wii:
TORONTO, Canada. March 19, 2007. The Adventure Company, a leading publisher of PC adventure games worldwide, today announced that its popular PC title Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None is under development for the Nintendo Wii?, set to be released in November 2007.
Written by Agatha Christie, the world?s best-known mystery author and Queen of Crime, this classic story is brought to a new generation on the Nintendo Wii. Appealing to a broad audience, this platform opens the door for adventure games on console.
Using the Wii?s original ?Wiimote?? controller, gameplay in traditional PC adventure games can be taken to a whole new level of interactivity. For instance, players will have the freedom to control their character?s actions, such as using a digging motion to unearth clues, or spinning the handle of a safe using the Wiimote; and the introduction of timed puzzles where, for example, players must race up a set of stairs from a boat docked below.
?We are very excited to take this new direction with our adventure titles and are certain that our fans will find Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None to be a perfect fit for the Nintendo Wii,? said Richard Wah Kan, President and CEO of The Adventure Company. ?Many PC adventure game fans are having a great time with the Wii and we?d like to be the first to deliver them games they love on a console they?ve embraced.?
The storyline revolves around ten people, all strangers to each other, who are invited to a lavish estate on an isolated island. Through a recording, their mysterious host accuses each of his ?guests? of murder and proceeds to exact justice by becoming judge, jury and executioner? The tension mounts and dark secrets are revealed as one-by-one the number of guests systematically dwindles according to the ingenious plan of the unseen killer.
The company found that Wind Waker's cartoon-like graphics were alienating the lucrative teen audience in North America, who would look games of that style and think they were for kids, he continued. With the Japanese market in the midst of the dreaded "gamer drift," and the North American market much stronger, Nintendo decided to give the US what it wanted--a realistic Zelda. He said, "We had to make a game that met expectations of fans in North America. If it didn't, it could mean the end of the franchise."
The decision was also made for Link to have the ability to turn into a wolf. "This kind of disruptive breakthrough was just what we needed for the staff to change their way of thinking."
"The Wii is a piece of s***!" Hecker began his talk, which was called "Fear of a Wii Planet." He blasted a few bars of Public Enemy to set the tone. Hecker said the Wii is nothing more than two GameCubes stuck together with duct tape, and that the console isn't powerful enough to provide the next-gen experience he has been waiting for.
Although he stated the system is "severely underpowered," Hecker noted that he wasn't simply referring to the Wii's graphical capabilities. He wants to spend a console's CPU making games more intelligent, and he has found the Wii doesn't have the power to process things like complicated AI.
I think he's not programming well enough; I've had a lot of fun with the games on the Wii.
CNN talks with Nintendo's most legendary game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, on how designing has worked, and on the future of games.
We had to draw Mario as a small character and at the same time, we had to make him look human. To do that, we needed to draw a distinctive feature for him, such as giving him a big nose. We gave him a moustache so that we didn't need to draw a mouth. It is difficult to show facial expressions with small characters. We gave him big hands. Since we were trying to create something distinctive in the character, it was natural to draw something like that. First, we created Mario with dots, putting together these distinctive features. Then I finalized with a drawing to show a final image of the character. So I didn't have any special theory behind the making of Mario. He evolved over the development process, followed by a final drawing of what I wanted him to look like.
Nintendo's next Wii channel to be added is - Voting!.
Everybody Votes is a simple little application. You register a "voter" (pick out a Mii), and then you can answer a few innocuous questions. You can also submit your own for consideration. Once you pick an answer, you can also predict which one you think will get the most votes overall. Your results are tallied, and you'll be able to brag about them. That's about it, actually. Weird, huh?
The idea was to take one industrial robot, add a laptop talking to a WiiMote, strap on a tennis racket, have it follow the swings that the user makes, and do it all in a few hours on a Saturday so we could get back to our busy schedules. Of course we had to put on a sword too, and if there was time, maybe an Airsoft gun. Also, we wanted it to fight people, but you can?t have everything.
Scott Ransoomair over at VG Cats gets the eulogy of the Gamecube just about right today.
Those familiar with Nintendo's history will notice the vast difference between this generation - the Wii - and the last generation, the Gamecube. Despite "we'll always have Smash Brothers", Super Smash Bros. Melee was always inferior to its predecessor, the original Super Smash Bros. for the N64 console.
Further, the Gamecube was the first Nintendo console that neither a Zelda title, nor a Mario title, nor a Pokemon title could save. The N64 had its issues, a rather silly control scheme being one of them, but it had some fun, good games to keep it going; not its whole library, but it was the N64 that gave us Super Mario 64, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Wave Race, Super Smash Bros., F-Zero X, and Goldeneye to name a few past favorite titles. And, of course, the little ones certainly enjoyed the Pikachu edition and Pokemon Stadium.
Looking back on the Gamecube, however, and what do we have? Super Mario 64 was replaced by Super Mario Sunshine, which is universally admitted to not be as good as its predecessor. Super Smash Bros. Melee added a host of new characters and moves, but at the cost of breaking game balance and weakening fan favorite characters considerably. F-Zero GX, farmed out to Sega, was a shadow of the fun that F-Zero X had been, and its multiplayer mode was a joke. Wave Race Blue Storm was dead on arrival; just a terrible, terrible game. The attempt to make numerous sports titles with Mario's face on them just aggravated an already unfortunate situation.
I own, I think, just four Gamecube titles today, and that's including the Ocarina of Time "re-release" disc that was offered for preordering Celda: The Wind Breaker. Every one of them plays on the Wii.
One of the interesting things of the Wii interface is that, when pointed at the screen, there's a moving dot or cursor (or in the case of Zelda: Twilight Princess, a little winged dot that's supposed to be a fairy I guess).
One of the interesting things of cats is that they like to chase laser pointers and similar items.
On a 50-inch screen, the mascots enjoy watching Zelda being played, and will occasionally go up to the screen and try to "catch" the dot.
Here goes: whoever manages to do this is either drunk, stoned, high, stupid, or deliberately trying to defraud someone.
I have looped my Wiimote cord around a metal staircase railing, grabbed the wiimote handle, and leaned back until the wiimote cord is holding at least half my body weight. The little strap did not break.
I have YET to manage to "fling" the wiimote. I fumble-fingered it once playing Zelda, but all that did was make me drop it, where it hung from the little cord strap around my wrist.
The dog has yet to learn the lesson of "don't try to get right under them while they're trying to bowl, you'll get smacked in the head by the wiimote," however.
Time for a few impressions on Zelda for the Wii. Review will come later this week, but until then:
- This is probably the most expansive Zelda game I've seen in a while. No chincy "walk in and fight a bunch of monsters in a single room" stuff like Wind Waker, no time spent idly sitting on an empty sea. The land is large, explorable, and most importantly, alive with enemies and people alike.
- Not for the younger set; while I'd be okay handing Ocarina of Time to a 5-year-old kid, I might think twice about setting this one in front of him. There's stuff in here that could give younger kids nightmares.
- Thematic elements? Again, the last time we saw something this great was Ocarina of Time. While I've been enjoying the portable ones like Minish Cap, Twilight Princess shines in a way that the gameboy Zelda titles just can't, or at least haven't of late.
- Sidequests: wonderful.
- Controls? While the Wii took some getting used to, it's now intuitive, and I think it'd be more intuitive for a less hardcore gamer. My one gripe is that "shaking" the nunchuck is for a spin attack, "punching" with the nunchuck is for a shield bash attack, and the sensors have demonstrated a singular ability to confuse the two on a regular basis.
Folks, the Wii is worth buying for this alone. And it's not the only great game on the console. I've also been enjoying Trauma Center: Second Opinion (which is a difficult-as-hell title, but great to play) and even enjoying Wii Sports, which is a perfect game to just pick up and play with your friends.
My one objection to Wii Sports is the golf game, because the sensors in the wiimote aren't quite sensitive enough to render a real golf swing. And yes, I've actually taped a Wiimote to my 9-iron to test this out.
Wii Sports - the graphics aren't anything tremendous, but all at once, it manages to show off the Wii's graphical capabilities while providing an entire group of enjoyable, fun titles. Tried out boxing against a friend, as well as the rest... it took him longer to adjust to the Wiimote than I did, even though all he had to do was swing it naturally; he kept trying to "jab" with it.
Curiously, even while it seems wireless and has the ability to detect pretty fine-controlled motions, a solid body (say, that of a medium-sized dog or a human) can block it off, which causes the Wiimote occasionally to "lose" the console while doing bowling.
Zelda: Twilight Princess? drool...... Ok, so Gabe/Tycho said that the graphics weren't all that hot? The graphics serve, and show a wonderful world. Having mentioned my earlier complaint with the inadequate cables and lack of retail availability for the network and component cables, I'm pretty sure now that the upgrade to progressive scan will clear up what issues I do have with the visuals.
Word to the wise: if you have multiple places you want to carry the thing (and big N even are selling carrying cases), invest in an extra sensor bar. Once it's glued in place (they included some extra sticky-tape, good move there), getting it off of the TV would just be painful.
Picked up the Wii this morning... been playing Wii Sports.
Console first impressions? Slick, slick console.
Bad first impressions? Nintendo didn't bother to ship either the component video cable (tv does progressive scan) OR the ethernet adapter to any of the local stores, so I'm having to wait to try those out until Nintendo ships them from their online store. Bad Nintendo, No Cookie.
Good first impressions? Even at 480i, in widescreen, the console is slick. Wii Sports isn't the most graphically impressive title, but it's fun to play in any mode.
I'll try out more games today and more impressions will come in as I can tear myself away to write them.
In addition to Wii, Nintendo also promoted its Brain Age game for the portable Nintendo DS, which includes a series of exercises that ostensibly help to improve brain functioning. To entice visitors, Nintendo employees walked the show floor wearing buttons that said, rather optimistically, ?Ask Me My Brain Age.?
Also, there are a number of third party titles that could show some promise including Madden NFL 07, Red Steel, Rayman Raving Rabbids, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, and Tony Hawk?s Downhill Jam. Although there are a number of third party titles slated for launch, if developers take the same port approach they did with the Nintendo DS launch, those games will become the exact same quality the DS third party titles were ? crap. Just like the Nintendo DS had an original control scheme, the Wii is just as different and developers need to realize that immediately or their games will flop.
But for now, the future is made up of many of the same promises and hopes I had when the N64 and GameCube were announced. I just hope I don?t end up being disappointed once again.
The worst thing that can happen to Nintendo is if players and developers start to see the system as nothing more than a one trick pony. ... The DS has already seen titles like Super Mario 64 of Mario Kart fail to take advantage of the dual or touch screen factors of the system, simply because neither feature would have added anything to the core experience. If developers find themselves heading back towards the classic controller, or gamers find all the titles are nothing more than graphically weaker versions of 360 titles with Wii-mote support bolted on, then Nintendo will very quickly find their beloved system relegated to the back corner of the games store, just as the GameCube is today.
Nintendo intends to announce today that every Wii will come with a game compilation called Wii Sports -- including tennis, golf, baseball and bowling -- meant to show off the machine's intuitive controls.
(Most consoles, including Nintendo's GameCube, do not come with games included.)
Midway's just let us know they are going to be making a Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy game for the Wii.
Chicago ? September 6, 2006 ? Midway Games Inc. (NYSE:MWY), a leading interactive entertainment industry publisher and developer, today announced the development of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy? for the Nintendo Wii?. Gamers can play as one of 15 characters from one of Cartoon Network?s top-rated shows in the adventure/fighting game, which is also scheduled to be available for the PlayStation?2 computer entertainment system, Nintendo GameCube? and Game Boy? Advance this holiday season.
"The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy is one of Cartoon Network's most popular programs and we've worked closely with the creator to ensure the game is full of Maxwell Atom's trademark look, feel and humor," said Steve Allison, chief marketing officer, Midway. "We are very excited to also bring the mayhem to Nintendo's next?gen console."
"We have a long and successful relationship with Midway and we are pleased to be partnering with them to bring The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy to this exciting and highly anticipated new Wii gaming platform," said Christina Miller, vice president of U.S. consumer products for Cartoon Network Enterprises.
The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy for the Nintendo Wii is expected to utilize features that are unique to the Wii system. This includes use of the split controls, motion sensing and more. The Wii version is intended to support both the GameCube and Wii controllers. The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy on the Nintendo Wii is also expected to include content?specific gameplay features that will be available only on the Wii platform. More details on these features will be released at a later date.
One last note of interest. Worried about that post-launch drought? Well, if we don't see 'em at launch, remember Super Mario Galaxy, WarioWare, Fire Emblem, Prince of Persia, Sonic, and of course Super Smash Bros. Brawl aren't very far behind.
Sonic? Don't care. Prince of Persia? Yes, definitely. Smash Bros? I certainly hope so.
And oh yeah, there's an Avatar game coming? This better be good, THQ, or I shall not forgive you.
Metroid's gameplay isn't beloved exclusively. Fans love the series' heroine, Samus Aran. Samus is hard to define as a character, which adds to her appeal. In the scrolls of the Chozo, the avian race that raised her after she was orphaned, she's recorded as The Newborn, and the hope of their depleted race. To the Galactic Federation, she's the protector of the galaxy. To Space Pirates, she's the Huntress, or a handful of vulgar alien words. To gamers, Samus is mostly an enigma. Unlike other game heroines, she hasn't spread herself and her secrets everywhere like a high school senior of ill repute. Samus' motivations still command respect and a certain degree of awe.
Personally, I thought Metroid Prime was nifty, but I still prefer 2-d Metroid.
For a game that didn't get much press, but was absolutely wonderful in storyline, sequels, eventually.
The outspoken developer continues on by describing how their plans for Eternal Darkness tie into Too Human, as well; the upcoming trilogy represents an evolution of the studio's concept for Eternal Darkness. Instead of holding off on sequel treatments, however, they've instead decided to plan an overarching three-part story from day one.
"We believe that an important part of making a trilogy successful is that each of its parts is self contained. Because we want each game to be a complete experience on its own, the major plot lines will be resolved at the end of each game," he concludes.
Here's a hint: they thumbed their nose at third parties, and it bit them in the butt.
Or as they put it:
Nintendo of America's executive vice president of sales and marketing Reggie Fils-Aime, in an interview found in the latest issue of Nintendo Power, admitted that the initial software lineup for the GameCube was simply not "diverse and strong enough from a first and third-party perspective." And compounding that problem, he said, was that the next wave of titles was far too slow in arriving.
In order to avoid repeating this mistake with the Wii, Nintendo said that it has already changed its strategy and has been far more open with its partners from much earlier on.
Personally, I'd love to see it for just $200. The lower the price, the better the market penetration and more staying power the console will have.
New York - Nintendo, which is trying to regain videogame market share from Microsoft and Sony, will likely sell its new Wii console for much less than its competitors' console prices. Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Post predicted Thursday that the new machine, which will be released this fall, will sell for $200, a move that could prompt software publishers to create more titles for the gaming system.
"The one topic we've considered and debated at Nintendo for a very long time is, Why do people who don't play video games not play them?" Iwata has been asking himself, and his employees, that question for the past five years. And what Iwata has noticed is something that most gamers have long ago forgotten: to nongamers, video games are really hard. Like hard as in homework. The standard video-game controller is a kind of Siamese-twin affair, two joysticks fused together and studded with buttons, two triggers and a four-way toggle switch called a d-pad. In a game like Halo, players have to manipulate both joysticks simultaneously while working both triggers and pounding half a dozen buttons at the same time. The learning curve is steep.
Think of "Xbox," "PlayStation," "Dreamcast"...heck, think of "Revolution." Nobody had to explain these terms to anyone, even though technically the Xbox could just as easily have been a funny type of packaging. The moment you have to begin to explain your branding in pedantic detail - which Nintendo is doing through both its spokespeople and its promotional material - you're screwed. If you're going to make your customers stop and think, it should be for a clever reason. Sony, for instance, made waves with its PlayStation Portable advertising, with phrases like, "Your girlfriends white bits here;" and although it made everyone scratch their heads, that was half the point.
The site explains: "Wii sounds like "we," which emphasizes this console is for everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. Wii has a distinctive "ii" spelling that symbolizes both the unique controllers and the image of people gathering to play."
"Wii" will have a good laugh about this for a while, I think.
This trend actually started off a long time ago, when the EyeToy was just a glimmer in someone's eye and the Revolution controller was an unforseen thought. The NES system, Nintendo's first foray into the console mainstream, received a couple of devices that were able to read motions to put a twist on gameplay. The first was an ill-conceived device called the U-Force, which used a two-way grid to read hand motions in a limited playfield. The reason I call it ill-conceived is, although it was a curious device, it took forever to figure out how exactly to use it for particular games.
About.com covers The real Super Mario Bros. 2, and why Nintendo chose to re-sprite Doki Doki Panic and pass it off in America as "Super Mario Bros. 2" instead:
Certain levels in Super Mario Brothers 2 have wind and rain. The onset of the rain can be quite sudden, sometimes appearing halfway through a jump over a pit. The resulting slowdown in your leap can cause you to die, but it's certainly no more annoying than the hurricane levels of Karate Kid. The driving gale can push Mario around a little, but it doesn't make the game frustrating to play. How much does it add to the game? I personally feel that the extra element of complexity adds to the experience, considering how simple the original Mario was. Additional complexity just feels like an evolution to the gameplay. That said, I'm not unhappy to see no wind in Mario 3, which evolves the gameplay in other ways, such as the ability to fly.
"The comments have been taken out of context," said the Nintendo spokesperson. "What he's actually saying is that we're not holding a worldwide launch just because everyone else is doing one too. It's just another re-iteration of the fact that we're not looking at what Sony or Microsoft are doing.
IGN's got some leaked Revolution specs and it's as anticipated - about twice as powerful as Gamecube, nowhere near what Xbox360 and PS3 offer, and no 720p support (though it ought to be noted that the Gamecube, and likely Revolution too, is 480p native).
Insiders stress that Revolution runs on an extension of the Gekko and Flipper architectures that powered GameCube, which is why studios who worked on GCN will have no problem making the transition to the new machine, they say. IBM's "Broadway" CPU is clocked at 729MHz, according to updated Nintendo documentation. By comparison, GameCube's Gekko CPU ran at 485MHz. The original Xbox's CPU, admittedly a different architecture altogether, was clocked at 733MHz. Meanwhile, Xbox 360 runs three symmetrical cores at 3.2GHz.
The company plans to encourage developers to take risks in the next generation, challenging them to use the Revolution's unique features to make smaller games anyone can pick up and enjoy. And Iwata said Nintendo (Research) will lead the charge in developing and distributing these sorts of games.
"If we can come up with an addictive, but simple title ? such as Tetris 15 years ago ? my attention should be focused on containing costs," he said. "So, I would make it available through the Virtual Console. I think the opportunity for ourselves will be much larger than software that costs $50-$60. ... Of course, there are a number of people waiting for a 'masterpiece' title. For those games, we'll utilized traditional distribution channels."
Read it for a great take on Nintendo's new strategy, appealing to consumers who don't want to blow incredible amounts of money. It also looks at in-game advertising, which is something we're seeing a lot more of lately.
When asked about Twilight Princess' progress, Miyamoto said everything coming along well, and that "because Revolution can run GameCube software, when you play Twilight Princess on Revolution you can take advantage of the Revolution controller."
Twenty years ago this week -- February 21, 1986 -- thousands of Japanese gamers played The Legend of Zelda for the first time, and their perspective on gaming was forever changed. Here was a huge world, a massive quest, an open-ended odyssey that demanded exploration. When we Americans first placed that golden cartridge in our Nintendo Entertainment Systems a few months later, we learned what our friends overseas had already discovered: Zelda was addictive. It was adventurous. It was ambitious. It was amazing.
And twenty years later, we're still addicted to its adventure and amazed by its ambition.
The obvious answer is first-person shooters, but I think that the question almost misses the point. Trying to shoehorn existing genres into the controller concept is not the exciting part of the new system, although I don't doubt we'll see some excellent interpretations of things like RTS games. To me, the promise of the new controller is that it allows new types of games. The question that should be asked is not "How can we do what we've been doing on this controller?" but rather "What does this controller allow that was not possible or not elegant previously?" Much like the DS games that would not have been enjoyable on any other system, I'm looking forward to the games that can only exist on Revolution.
You don't forget Glass Joe and that weird statue of Kraid that I could never seem to break down. We were all Nintendo junkies, and for a time, there wasn't anything more important than Contra's super code or imitating the face Great Tiger makes after he gets all dizzy and shit. Nintendo Power was a godsend to us kids. Unlike today's typical gaming mags, this one was written specifically for people with zero education and a likely inkling to jump into leaf piles. Aside from the occasional Weekly Reader, Nintendo Power was one of the only works of literature many of us could proudly claim to have read cover-to-cover. What a lot of people don't realize is that Nintendo was putting out little magazines for a long while before slapping on the 'Power' moniker and raking in zillions of subscribers. The first NES mag? The Nintendo Fun Club.
Revolutionreport gives us some ATi-borne info on the graphics chip in the Revolution:
Hollywood is a specific design and is in no way reflective of PC technology. Even when the Flipper chips came out, people were asking that question: "Is this a spin-off of something done on the PC?", and the answer is no. It is designed the same as the Flipper was -- from the ground up for a specific console. Totally different sort of architecture from what you might find on the PC. Certainly, there are some underlying values?you know, how you get graphics on the screen?that's there. It's not, for example, like we took a PC design and said 'oh, you know what? If we tweak this and test this, it will work in a console.' [That's] not the case.
Interestingly, it looks like they might try a "rental" system for some titles as well.
Game subscription. By paying a monthly subscription fee, you will be able to add a certain number of games to your personal game library each month. You will be able to play all of the games in your library, including those that you added in previous months, as long as you continue your subscription. Note that one subscription option would allow for 'unlimited' access to the Virtual Console library. This means you could play any Virtual Console game as long as you maintained your subscription. "
Possibly the most important part of Mario 64 was making sure Mario was easy to control. Before any of the levels had been created Mr. Miyamoto had Mario running around and picking up objects in a small 'garden' which he uses in all his games to test gameplay elements. "Alot of the animation was actually in there before any of the game" explains Goddard. "The Mario that he had running around basically looked the same as he did in the final version. Mario's movement is based on good physics, but you have bits on top that you plug in so you can do things you shouldn't be able to do.
While the show-within-a-show The Legend of Zelda saw release at the end of 2005, now the company has announced definitive details regarding the animated Mushroom Kingdom adventures. Twenty-four episodes of the show will be released in a four-disc set on March 28, 2006 and will include the bizarre live action segments featuring Captain Lou Albano as Mario and Danny Wells as Luigi.
Scientific journal Nature reported that Pok?mon USA, the subsidiary company of Nintendo established to control the Pok?mon brand in America, threatened to sue the cancer research center on the understandable grounds that equating Pok?mon with cancer was doing harm to the brand's image. Sloan-Kettering acquiesced to the company's demands and changed the gene's name to the more unobtrusive Zbtb7.
The premise of the article is that players are told at the start of Wind Waker that Hyrule was flooded when a hero failed to appear to prevent evil's return.
The Gods, in order to cleanse the land of evil, flooded it, leading to the world found in Wind Waker.
However, we now know - or think we know - that Twilight Princess will take place sometime between The Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker. So the question is, are the events described at the front of Wind Waker the events we'll be playing out in Twilight Princess?
Not sure how possible this is with the hardware difference... though it might help for older games getting retranslated.
Then again, that's bound to create similar situations that have occurred with multi-platform development currently, where companies simply emphasized work on PlayStation 2 and Xbox (where much of the money was) and left many GameCube ports to languish unpolished. With Revolution's interface providing a whole new obstacle, watching developers work around should prove interesting.
Tom Fulp (The Behemoth): I like to think new game types will be more common, while there is decent potential for enhancing existing games. You could control Dante in Devil May Cry with the analog stick, but swing the pointer like a sword to attack enemies and perform original combos. Some attempts to enhance traditional games will probably come off as cheesy gimmicks, while others could be tons of fun. I think the best games will be ones that have the Revolution in mind from the start.
One thing's for sure: The Revolution will not support high definition video, a marked divergence from the path Microsoft (Research) and Sony (Research) are taking. And it's not something the company is re-thinking, despite the fervent hopes of some hardcore gaming fans.
Casual and non-gamers, the company feels, are less interested in flashy graphics than enjoyable games. And the large files that go hand in hand with high definition video result in "almost interminably long" load times for games, said Fils-Aime, something that would also be detrimental to a mainstream audience.
"What we'll offer in terms of gameplay and approachability will more than make up for the lack of HD," he said.
I bet it still does 480p, since the Gamecube is 480p native... but lack of higher resolutions is an interesting choice for them.
Speaking at an IGN Live event about the 'freestyle' controller, Mark Rein told the audience: "Don't kid yourself - you're going to see more gimmicky, crappy, cheap, I-wish-I-hadn't-bought-it gimmick games based around that controller than you can ever possibly imagine.
"I guarantee you there's going to be lots of people who say the whole reason for this game is this controller, we made the perfect game for the controller. And all it'll be is about the controller, and not necessarily a great game."
Could be, might not. The DS is getting some nice games, but aside from Nintendogs, I'm not sure any of them really needed the stylus/touchpad to be done.
1up's halfway through their NES 20th anniversary bash, and plenty of the articles chide Nintendo for not being visionary enough when it counted - putting them at their 3rd place in the market today, with the handheld division being what really keeps them afloat.
The original Mega Man had style, charm and ragingly difficult game play, and it laid down the groundwork for one of the most popular (and sequeled) series in gaming history. Mega Man 2, however, had all these elements too -- and it was incredibly polished. A labor of love by Keiji Inafune and a team of dedicated Capcom designers, MM2 featured amazing music, phenomenal graphics, and gameplay that still feels fresh and exquisitely balanced more than 15 years and 50 sequels later.
People are unsurprisingly freaked out about what the television-remote-style controller means for traditional game genres, but gaming has arguably been hurtling towards a tangent like this for ages. The industry -- and surprisingly, Sega in particular -- has flirted with similar technology on and off since the NES days. Revolution simply represents the most logical, thoughtful application of the ideology. The existence of Mattel's infamous Power Glove means much more than just a failed accessory now.
In terms of whether or not the controller will benefit Nintendo from a financial standpoint, the response was fairly positive. Many noted that, of course, while Sony and Microsoft are going after the same market, Nintendo is positioning itself for a broader demographic. However, a few of those who replied wondered whether innovation would necessarily translate into financial success.
A large "A" button sits in the prime spot under your thumb on the face of the controller, with a "B" trigger on the back of the unit for your index finger. Otherwise the button configuration is an interesting mix of old and new: standard D-pad up top, near the power button (to turn the Revolution console on and off), Start and Select in the middle, on either side of the intriguing "Home" button (Nintendo wouldn't go into detail, but sounds like it has to do with navigating system menus, which will be important given the Revolution's promised WiFi connectivity), and two more buttons near the bottom labeled "a" and "b." These last two may seem uncomfortably low for your thumb until you turn the controller 90 degrees and it becomes just like an old 8-bit NES joypad, with the D-pad under your left thumb and "a" and "b" under your right. (Don't forget-Nintendo has promised downloadable versions of their classic games for the Revolution's "Virtual Console.") Nintendo mentioned the button names and their exact sizes could still change slightly before production, but what you see here is close to the final design.
EA?s frosty reception towards Nintendo?s Revolution plummeted by a couple of degrees today as the publisher?s Vice President Technology/New Platforms, Kazuyuki Hashimoto, confirmed that the US giant has yet to receive any concrete details on what the Revolution will bring.
That's a good thing, because their observations are mine too: as much as I'm enjoying the possibility of Mario Baseball and an upcoming Zelda, there aren't tons of games I look for on the Gamecube.
It?s getting to a point where Nintendo needs to start focusing all of their attention on the handheld market, because the company has lost sight of what it takes to make a console successful. The GameCube?s lineup this holiday season is extremely weak, and the poor sales that are sure to result might cause many major third-party publishers to hesitate in giving support to the upcoming Revolution console. Still, Nintendo remains a dominant force in the handheld market, and they?re showing no signs slowing down even with the competition from Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo DS should have a terrific holiday showing and consumers will likely embrace the less expensive Game Boy Micro. This holiday season could provide a glimpse into the company?s future: handheld dominance, console mediocrity.
Bad Nintendo, bad! This game has slipped down the calendar so many times it isn't even amusing anymore. First it fell from a June 2005 release down to August, then to October, and now it's dropped into next year. Here's hoping they're using this extra time to add online multiplayer support, because if not a lot of people are going to be even more disappointed.
Here's 1up covering an interesting Retro NES deck complete with dual slots (for NA and Japanese cartridges) and wireless controllers.
Not that I need it since my NES deck still works, but it's a really cool device.
Other stuff? What other stuff? "The hardware's actually much more powerful than the original NES. We'll support 16 colors instead of 4. We do support stereo sound, and we did write in a rumble protocol. We do have some future plans of releasing some new software, so we'll be able to produce better graphics, better sound, and have vibration. Our audio processing can play .wav files so we can have full-on music. We can do voiceover. The software can be quite complicated and upscale compared to the original [NES] software."
Existing NES and Famicom games will obviously not take advantage of these capabilities, but, as Strahle revealed, Messiah's ambitions go beyond even its impressive console: It wants to release new games, either through licensing and enhancing older titles or by creating new, original ones. "Who wouldn't want to have Contra with better graphics, stereo sound and vibration? " he asked, giving a purely hypothetical example. "We're also looking at doing our own software, brand new games. Any new software, if and when it comes out, will support rumble, stereo sound, all the goodies that are available now."
The news isn't all good at Nintendo, though, as the company has decided to delay its most anticipated game of the year. "Zelda: Twilight Princess" has been pushed back to a 2006 release, after the March 31 closing of Nintendo's fiscal year. The company is not committing to a launch date at this point.
The crazies over at N-Philes have gone in with gamesharks and opened up EVERYTHING in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Did you know that it is very likely that HAL prepared Super Smash Bros. Melee to allow up to SIX human controlled players to battle at once? True or not, indications from the debug menu appear that this is the case.
By altering Melee's code, six players can fight in the same arena at the same time. But get this ? all six can be set to humanly controlled characters! Clearly though, because the GameCube has only four controller ports, two of the characters cannot be controlled.
Self-serving questions of course, but still some good info in there:
NP: Judging by the success of Sonic games on GCN and GBA, Sega fans seem to have flocked to Nintendo hardware. Why do you think that is?
SJ: That?s a really interesting question. I think a lot of it is because of the demographic. There seems to be a good match there with the kind of player that Nintendo hardware appeals to. The Nintendo fan, I think, is very similar to the Sega fan of old. And I think Sega and Nintendo have similar software philosophies. A product like Sonic is very family-oriented. It?s all about entertainment rather than trying to be controversial or anything like that. It?s pure, good old-fashioned entertainment. So there?s a very similar set of values, I think, shared between Sega and Nintendo in that respect.
Looks like Metroid Prime 3 may be the first big-name title for Revolution, and 1up's got some teasers:
As you'd expect, Retro Studios won't delve into specifics about what exactly makes Revolution different from other next-generation consoles, but Metroid Prime 3 itself will reportedly take "advantage of a number of new features in the Revolution, including the controller." The rest of the interview, however, forgoes any more Revolution tidbits.
Nintendo EAD once went under the name of Nintendo R&D4. After the success of the Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda franchise, Nintendo began allocating more and more resources behind star designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. The group has since become the most popular and recognized Nintendo division by far. The popularity of the franchises has also become an incentive for Nintendo to use Shigeru Miyamoto as a public relations figure for the company. Ever since the 1990s, Nintendo EAD has been the biggest and most dominant group at Nintendo.
Looks like Nintendo's had a slow quarter: not surprising, it is summer.
Amazingly, Nintendo is the only one of the big three to post profits at all.
Reuters Japan passes on word from Nintendo of a 78.5% reduction in operating profits for the quarter ending June 30. Speculation from the news service on the reason for the drop makes perfect sense - the GameCube doesn't have enough exclusives, first-party and third-party, and sales of GBA SP and GameCube have been declining.
Speaking of Technology, Miyamoto-san confirmes that he?s looking to work more with Stage Debut, Nintendo?s face-mapping system and, on the Revolution controller, says, ?Well, of course, the idea is that the Revolution will sell and sell and sell so it becomes the standard in the industry. However, at least for the launch period...we designed the controller so it can play any of the different conventional styles. After all, we are talking about it playing games from our past machines. So don't worry.?
Those details, of course, we already knew. However, the now verified inclusion of Battle mode support over the internet will give kart combatants reason to cheer (co-op modes were, unfortuneately, ruled out.) Also, in a welcome series first, players will be able to select the same character with distinguishing marks coming from color differences and the displayed name of the racer.
The PSP has nothing like this coming... I'm happy to own a DS. Sony needs to pick up the slack and get some games moving!
Until today, Nintendo has said only that the Revolution will be released in 2006 in North America, without specifying any date. Iwata's comments indicate that the console could appear after the launch of Sony's PlayStation 3, which is currently slated for a spring 2006 launch in the US. Microsoft's Xbox 360 will arrive on store shelves during the 2005 holiday season worldwide.
In all honesty, launching later could really hurt, or really help, Nintendo.
I'd suggest they go with figuring out whether the two-month delay gives them a stronger package of launch-title GAMES. Launching with a Mario, Zelda, and at least one other franchise title would be a big boost for the system.
This follows recent moves from Nintendo, which have suggested that the company now considers the US more important for its profits than Japan, such as Nintendo's decision to launch its DS handheld in the US first.
"When Link gets off the horse and back down on to the ground, the action is going to be a bit slower," Aonuma points out. "And the reason for that, again, is that with realistic graphics you have to express the world realistically as well. You have to be able to feel the weight of Link's sword as he swings it."
They take on the idea that Nintendo floundered for not pandering to "hardcore" and "adult" gaming interests, something I've gone back and forth on.
There?s just so much flawed logic behind this misguided push for Nintendo to make games that target that coveted 18-34 year-old demographic. Why should Nintendo change gears? They make copious amounts of money; you never hear about the company being in the red, unlike legions of other companies out there that lean more towards games that focus on the various FPS, RTS, RPG, and 90 million other acronym driven genre games on the market. They?ve found a niche that works, and they?ve stuck with it. They aren?t the omni-present juggernaut that they once were, but with the sheer consistency of profits these guys pull in year after year, it?s proof positive that they?re doing something right. Why should Nintendo pick up the torch and start releasing GTA clones, or tap into some other M-rated hot commodity? They don?t need to.
When asked by the online tech journal about the fate of the fabled "Mario 128" (working title), Miyamoto said, "We think we want [Mario 128] on Revolution... The Mario team can't create too many games at the same time, so they're concentrating on the Revolution."
Wired News: The Japanese games industry is in trouble, as sales keep dropping. What is Nintendo doing to get things going again?
Shigeru Miyamoto: I don't really think it's a Japanese problem. I think it's an industrywide and worldwide issue. In fact, I'm surprised how well the U.S. has held up; I think the U.S. is more the exception rather than the rule.
What's happening with video games is the same thing that happens with anything new and interesting. At the beginning, everybody wants to see what it is. They gather around and check it out. But gradually, people start to lose interest.
The people who don't lose interest become more and more involved. And the medium starts to be influenced by only those people. It becomes something exclusive to the people who've stuck with it for a long time. And when the people who were interested in it at first look back at it, it's no longer the thing that interested them.
He's got some great insights into games, and I'm really looking forward to some of his newer titles. Of course, first I have to get my grubby fingers on a copy of Kirby Canvas Curse.
The specifications, which appeared on blog site Nintendo Centrium, suggest that the system will be powered by two 1.8Ghz IBM PowerPC G5 processors, a 600Mhz graphics chip from ATI and a 7.1 Digital Sound chipset.
The console will apparently sport 128MB of high speed 1T SRAM as main memory, along with 256MB of slower DRAM, while the graphics chip has 12MB of on-board high speed RAM. 6GB proprietary DVD-size discs, designed by Panasonic, would be used for Revolution's games.
Iwata does suggest that a reward scheme may be used where people buying new games get to download back catalogue games for free or discount prices. This could be the next-gen incarnation of the Nintendo Stars catalogue.
And why shouldn't they be? They've got a few nice tricks up their sleeves, such as the entire past library available for download.
Iwata noted the game market is still expanding in the United States, unlike the troubled Japanese market. However, he warned some disturbing signs are emerging there that indicate the industry there may be headed toward difficulty.
The gap between games that sell and games that don't sell is growing in the United States, and many people are wondering why games look alike, falling into the same categories such as action, sports and movie-inspired, Iwata said.
Nintendo is taking a different strategy through Revolution, which is expected to be less powerful than its competitors. It will blend more easily in the living room because it's only about the size of three DVD cases and has a wireless remote controller, Iwata said.
As long as it's at or smaller than the size of my VCR, I really don't care about the size - it's the games that make the difference.
That tears it. I'm buying Revolution the day it comes out.
F-Zero X, here I come.
According to an article in the latest issue of Japanese games magazine Famitsu, Nintendo will definitely offer every first-party title it's ever published for its three pre-Cube consoles for free download from day one.
"People sort of picked on us for not prematurely jumping into online or internet gaming," he mused, going on to point out that now the company has more to offer besides online gaming. Harrison then confirmed that past-gen, Nintendo-created titles will indeed be downloadable for free.
This is a clever move by Nintendo: regardless of the final power of Revolution and the frequency of new titles, Nintendo knows that its loyal fans will cry tears of joy over a free service that lets them download previous Nintendo classics straight out of the box.
Third-party developers could charge for the privilege to download though. Or, alternatively, they could offer downloadable classics as an incentive to buy their next-gen full price releases. Either way, classic Nintendo titles such as Castlevania and MegaMan may not be immediately accessible.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer had the chance to interview Nintendo's Satoru Iwata this last weekend, and they got some good answers out of him. Interestingly, he's entirely unapologetic for Nintendo's weakness among older gamers:
Q: The general perception is that Nintendo appeals to a younger audience. Will you try to embrace that, expand upon it, or move away from it in the next console generation?
Iwata: First of all, I've never once been embarrassed that children have supported Nintendo. I'm proud of it. That's because children judge products based on instinct. Everyone wants to appeal to people's instincts, but it's not easy. That doesn't mean we're making products just for children. We believe that there's interactive entertainment that people in their 60s, 70s and 80s can enjoy, so we're doing various things.
oddly enough, it appears that Link will have some kind of partner in crime that will actually ride him like a horse while he's in wolf form. This unknown and rather sinister-looking creature is a diminutive elflike thing. It appears that Link is at one point captured and imprisoned while in wolf form and that the new teammate, as yet unnamed, will help him bust out. Some of the wolf-form capabilities are revealed in the trailer, as well; you'll be able to climb walls and engage in combat while in wolf form (or perhaps just while your partner is riding Link). The final sequence of the wolf footage shows Link and friend taking on three shadowy forms and almost instantly taking them down with a series of rapid charges.
According to Nintendo, the console will be "about the thickness of three standard DVD cases and only slightly longer", making it closer in size to Sony?s diminutive PlayStation 2 and considerably smaller than the Xbox 360.
In a welcome revelation, Nintendo's pint-sized powerhouse will not only have DVD-playback capability but also backwards compatibility (something Microsoft has been mysterious reticent about).
The company also reassured gamers of the Revolution's hardware strengths, saying the console "will be packed with power that will enable it to wow players with its graphics." Similar to Microsoft, Nintendo has partnered with ATi for its graphics card and IBM for the processor.
A classic - no, REALLY classic - NES game's about to get a remake and head out again; either for the DS (which would have some interesting impact on the gameplay; it could use that touch pad really well) or PSP, we get A Boy And His Blob.
Press The Buttons has the commentary:
Now, fifteen years later, Majesco is bringing the series back. In the company's E3 press release a number of games are listed for the Nintendo DS and Sony PlayStation Portable, one of which is A Boy and His Blob. Which of the two systems the game is for isn't clarified (it could be one or both), but seeing as how Majesco tried to revive the series for the Game Boy Advance several years ago, I'm betting it's for the DS.
Well, it looks like Broken Saints has gone and posted its much-anticipated theory on what makes the Nintendo Revolution revolutionary. At the core of the theory sits how Revolution will display games: through a form of real-time 3D projection. That's right folks, along the lines of a classic 50s monster movie. Nintendo itself has stated that what it plans to use on Revolution isn't all that unique, only that it has never been applied to videogames. Taking that into account, plus recent patents filed by Nintendo, and it doesn't sound all that far fetched, argues Burgess.
It it's true, it could be interesting. The problem is that (barring their coming up with a technological miracle) it would have to either be a sold-separately screen or else based on HDTV technology, because half-scanline modes on NTSC sets would just give too many people headaches.
Eurogamer's got confirmation: the big Zelda leak was all true.
According to the preview, Link begins the game aged 16 in a place called Toaru Village (without his iconic green tunic, interestingly) and then grows up (and gets changed) as the game plays out.
Although play mechanics are said to be similar to Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker (with Z-targeting returning using the left trigger and automatic jumping still in place), fighting on horseback will play a major part for the first time, cuccos are back and, according to director Eiji Aonuma, the transparent water we've seen Link swimming through in screenshots will also eventually open the door to a new "sub-aquatic world".
Aonuma also revealed that this will be one of the biggest Zelda games ever, apparently two or even three times the size of Ocarina of Time with the potential for more than 70 hours of gameplay. We're always sceptical about these "X hours" claims, and it's not really quantified in the text, but it's sure to be appreciated by Zelda aficionados - assuming most of those hours aren't spent sailing around aimlessly, eh?
The store will take over the space that housed Nintendo's Pokemon Center in Manhattan's Rockefeller Center, the company said in a statement.
A Nintendo spokesman said the new store was under construction and more details on it would be disclosed in about two weeks.
"Visitors will enjoy two floors of all things Nintendo, such as games, merchandise, accessories, DVDs and trading cards for the wildly popular Pokemon franchise," the statement said.
Now, to some extent, the presence of a "world store" can be a good thing. They can use it as a venue for new product launches and a showroom for existing and new products - sort of a year-round version of what their E3 booth may look like.
But other than that, if they think the store itself is going to make tons of money, they're probably kidding themselves.
Despite the service continuing to function, Warp Pipe will no longer be providing support to its users; however between the forums and the GameCube tunnelling website, enough resources should be available to help when needed.
Expanding on his GDC keynote speech, Iwata commented on what he saw as an unexpectedly positive response from developers. He suggested that keeping down development costs was of critical importance to Nintendo, and as such the Revolution would use the same application program interfaces (APIs) as the GameCube.
"A goal of ours with Revolution is to expand the target market for games. The current consoles are constantly getting more complicated. The number of buttons on Joypads has been increasing steadily in recent years, for instance. Hardcore players can still manage, but for inexperienced people and beginners the degree of complexity is too big of a barrier."
The only logical conclusion, of course, is for Nintendo to make games less complex for non-gamers. How the company intends to do this is anyone's guess, and will be until the Electronic Entertainment Expo this May. Still, Iwata's recent comments hint at a system built on a foundation of supreme user-friendliness. The controller can't possibly resemble current models for the PS2, Xbox or even GameCube, since each one features a design that Nintendo now deems too complex.
I have no idea what they're going for with this one; if they drop the number of buttons too far, the idea of cross-platform games tends to die, and Nintendo ought to have learned THAT lesson after the failure of the N64 due to the low memory space on its cartridges.
Nintendo's latest handheld games device, the DS, also comes with a version of wi-fi built-in, and Mr Iwata said Nintendo will offer a free net connection service to DS owners, enabling them to play games against each other at no charge.
The Nintendo DS is now on sale in Europe.
Mr Iwata said that Nintendo has already sold four million of the devices in Japan and America, where it went on sale 16 weeks ago.
If it comes to pass, and *IF* they can get the third-party support to come back, Nintendo might be able to be more of a contender in the next generation.
Personally, I don't think Nintendo's necessarily in the wrong. While originally the ability to play music and movies on the PS2 and Xbox was nice, DVD players - true progressive scan, 720P DVD players - are so cheap now that I have a hunch many gamers would rather pay $60-70 less for their console and just use another device to watch movies on. Not to mention the wear and tear it'd save the DVD drives.
As you know, times have changed quite a bit since the late eighties/early nineties. As I'm writing this I'm pausing to glance at my four game racks and it's actually rather difficult picking out the Nintendo games from the Xbox and PlayStation logos that adorn those respective cases, and as I glance around my room and note how much more PS2 and Xbox stuff there is I can only ask one simple question: What the hell happened?
He goes through the basics - censorship, the Sony Playstation/SNES-CD debacle, N64's cartridge-driven problems, and the Gamecube's lack of a Mario title on lauch - but I think he's missing the point. I'll save that one for next week's Weekly Musings.
Filefront's got a preview of the upcoming Star Fox Assault, Nintendo's attempt to remove the taint of Star Fox Adventures from the franchise.
In the previous Star Fox games the vehicle based levels were mainly set on a rail, giving players only minimal control to which direction you were headed. In Star Fox Assault that has changed, putting players in an enclosed area and making it possible to travel in any direction. This however also means enemies can attack you from any direction, which makes for some very hectic gameplay.
Even though there aren?t two analog sticks to mimic the action of a game like Mechassault, there have been changes to the control scheme to help players out. In a lot of ways it is similar to Metroid Prime again where you can turn in any direction by using the analog stick, and then strafe by holding the X button. It does make for some quirky running and shooting moves, but is still fairly solid nonetheless.
Data gathered by the NPD Group through December 2004 shows that approximately 470,000 copies of Prime 2 were sold to GameCube owners. By comparison, the original Metroid Prime sold more than 722,000 copies during the same period in 2002. This is true despite the fact that the GameCube installed base has grown substantially in the two years since the original Prime was released, toppling more than 16 million users worldwide.
Some analysts believe that the lower sales count for Metroid Prime 2 is a direct result of a Nintendo that has largely skewed its games for a younger audience and alienated many older players. The T-rated Echoes, a dark and eerily atmospheric shooter with complex puzzles, was marketed to the teenage and up crowd, but anticipation for the product never seemed to gain an overwhelming amount of steam with the demographic.
Perhaps they were too busy playing Microsoft's Halo 2, which debuted shortly before Echoes and never looked back. The Bungie-developed first-person shooter sequel sold 3.6 million units for Xbox in the US through December 2004, in just two months matching life-to-date numbers for the original game, which released in 2001 and has remained an Xbox best-seller ever since. Incidentally, the original Halo sold 783,000 units during its first two months of release.
Sounds about right to me... Nintendo had better get the next Zelda out in better shape than Celda: The Wind Waker was released in.
Nintendo tie-ins have officially gone too far: the next DDR mix will be "Dance Dance Revolution with Mario" for the Gamecube.
As the title suggests, Dance Dance Revolution with Mario is a new installment in Konami's DDR dancing game series, featuring characters from the Mushroom Kingdom. Details on the game haven't been disclosed yet, but from the released images, DDR with Mario seems to play similarly to DDR, with familiar backdrops featured in the 3D installments of the Super Mario series.
As in other DDR titles released by Konami, gamers will play the game using a step-sensitive controller mat, timing steps with the beat as dictated on the screen. Aside from the standard dancing game mode, DDR with Mario will also feature various original mini-games as well.
A statement from Nintendo continues, "Argos is currently running a number of promotions of which Nintendo Gamecube is one. Nintendo Gamecube is still the best value home console on the market and Nintendo Gamecube is currently available in over 4500 stockists across the UK including HMV, Toys R Us, GAME, GameStation, Virgin Megastore and Woolworths.
"We have a very strong software line-up for Nintendo Gamecube in 2005 including Resident Evil 4, Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat and The Legend of Zelda."
Given that I have barely turned my Cube on in six months, and then to play a single year-old game... Nintendo had better step up and do something special with Zelda.
And I'm still waiting for an apology for Celda, too.
However today the Japanese publication, the Diamond Weekly, has alleged that the forthcoming Nintendo Revolution will not feature a d-pad or A and B buttons ? aspects that have become as synonymous to Nintendo as a certain moustachioed plumber.
If the report is to be believed then it backs up former claims of introducing new ways to play games; a concept that has been highlighted by the recent release of the Nintendo DS and their negative stance towards increasingly complex videogames.
Hint to Nintendo: it's not "new ways to play games" that you need, it's the most efficient and intuitive ways. For many games, the D-pad is exactly what you need. For others it's a mouse or trackball.
Heck, for some it's even that godforsaken touchpad.
Yes , yes, I comprehend the now obvious question. Why do I love them? If they have all this wrong with them then how could I possibly defend them? I'll tell you how - because of one question that arose in just such an argument very recently. Have Nintendo ever made a bad game? Of course they have... haven't they? This was what occurred to me on that day. Now, I'm not saying that I've played every game ever made by Nintendo but I have researched and found a complete list of all Nintendo releases and out of all of the ones I have played none of them were ever bad. For the record, no one in the office on that day could name a bad Nintendo game either. They are simply the masters of gaming. It's true that in principle they're often stuck in the past and as a result their releases are losing popularity with the modern wave of gamers but that doesn't in any way mean that their games are bad. After all, we all know how the best selling games are rarely the best and that many great games are commercially ignored. I'll also add that not only do they not make bad games but they often make absolutely incredible games.
The game, currently going by the title of "Harvest Moon: Song Of Happiness" will see more random events -such as wild dog attacks, occurring sporadically during your life as you once again take on the challenge of running a farm.
In a new twist, however, players will be able to take on the role of a boy OR a girl for this new outing, and the game will naturally be different depending on the gender you choose to play.
There is currently no European release date set for the game, but given the popularity of the previous title, we would expect that a European release is a given thing. With a projected release date of "Sometime 2005" in Japan, it is however, a little harder to predict when we will see the game in Europe. Watch this space, and sharpen your ploughs for the coming season, folks!
The Washington Post thinks that the Gamecube is entirely redundant as listed in their holiday buying guide this year:
This year, things are different. One console, the Nintendo GameCube, is clearly obsolete, with a diminishing supply of new titles. The other two -- PlayStation 2 and Xbox -- are far more competitive. After years of steady work by Microsoft to improve the Xbox's capabilities and the support from its developers -- getting Electronic Arts to write games for its Xbox Live online service this year was a huge coup for Redmond -- the Xbox is now the PS2's equal. Sony's console still offers far more titles, including plenty of PS2-only titles (like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas), but the Xbox delivers better graphics and has quite a few exclusive games of its own these days, such as Halo 2.
Nintendo sent a Cease and Desist letter to a site called SuicideGirls.com recently , because one of their members posted that they enjoy certain Nintendo titles. Since the site involves girls with piercings/tattoos sans clothing, Nintendo apparently was concerned about impact to their trademarks.
Supposedly the game's going to "revitalise" the survival horror genre as well; I'm not sure if this is really the case. While you can improve the graphics, and to some degree present different challenges, eventually it gets replaced with games (or at least control schemes) like Doom 3.
Gamecube Europe has the skinny: apparently, unlike Microsoft (who are trying to push the Xbox Next out the door by fall 2005 perhaps), Nintendo's timing their "Revolution" console to release just before the PS3 does.
They're running some editorials on nifty topics - "Gold" cartridges, rumors of finding the Triforce in Ocarina of Time, and more. For those who like history, they've got an updated history of the series as well.
Sort of a downer for Nintendo - Midway's announced that the Gamecube will see a port of Mortal Kombat: Deception but that it won't be here till 2005, well after PS2 and Xbox players get their hands on it.
CHICAGO ? August 26, 2004 - Midway Games Inc. (NYSE: MWY), a leading interactive entertainment industry publisher and developer, today announced plans to bring the latest iteration of it's world-renowned Mortal Kombat fighting game franchise, Mortal Kombat?: Deception?, to the Nintendo GameCube? in the first half of 2005.
Mortal Kombat: Deception takes martial arts-style fighting and the Mortal Kombat franchise to new heights with an innovative engine delivering intensely in-depth, blood-spurting action that will appeal to long-time Mortal Kombat fans as well as current-generation gamers. The game features powerful hand-to-hand and special weapons combat, four unique gameplay modes (Kombat, Konquest, Puzzle and Chess Kombat) along with all-new fighting combinations and multiple character specific fatalities.
Mortal Kombat: Deception is scheduled to ship October 4, 2004, for the PlayStation?2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox? video game system from Microsoft.
Gamecube Europe's got a surprising announcement: John Woo's only got the rights to negotiate with Nintendo to make a Metroid movie, not the rights to actually make one yet.
Producer Yoshio Sakamoto spoke about the matter. "There were some misleading reports before the E3 that Metroid?s production was confirmed. But to be accurate, it?s that the company that John Woo works for has gained the rights to negotiate with Nintendo of America to make Metroid into a movie. Metroid?s production hasn?t been officially decided yet, and there?s no release plans for it."
Bummer. On the other hand, this gives us a few more years to speculate on what actress will play Samus Aran.
The patent, number 6,769,989, was granted on 3 August this year, but is essentially a continuation of another Nintendo patent, 6,599,194, which was filed in April 1999.
The two patents detail a "home video game system with hard disk drive and Internet access capability", but the second filing adds provision for "substantially real-time" online multi-player gaming, connection via an online gaming service, support for online "player performance data", using the connection to download information and do so securely through an authentication process, and the communication across the Net of "audio input signals".
All of these components are well-established elements of modern online gaming, and have been available for PCs for some time. Nintendo's patents focus on "home game video systems", so it's more of an issue for rival console vendors than PC gamers. The PC world might provide the basis for a prior art claim, but it would arguably be negated by Nintendo's specific console-oriented implementation of the broader concepts.
Their thoughts? That Nintendo's new strategy of accepting that graphics have (their theory) hit the point where improved graphics power in consoles gives diminishing returns, and focusing instead on new ways of playing, is a good thing.
One side argues that it's a good thing - it's Nintendo doing what they've done best, carving out a niche, and allowing Nintendo and Sony to beat each other up while staying out of the fray. In some ways, this is similar to the Apple approach that has been rather successful (at least in making $$$) in recent years; accept that they're not #1 any more, but come out with must-have products for the partisans, and have enough broader appeal items like the iPod that you make a profit.
The other side argues that it's a bad move - it's in no way going to endear Nintendo to third party developers. True enough, but Nintendo already sort of did that with the N64 (going cartridge and not disc hurt them severely because the N64 had such limited storage space) and hasn't rebounded well with the Gamecube.
Really, the best argument for Nintendo sticking with their innovation side is the Gameboy. They've had tremendous success with what at the time was an iffy product, yet the Gameboy, its followups (Color, Advance, and SP), and innovative games and gameplay options for it have continued to bring in steady streams of revenue, and there's no shortage of third parties writing games for it.
I'd say, go for it Nintendo - just don't rely only one product when you're innovating. After all, having the Gameboy around was the only thing that saved you when the N64 and Virtual Boy both flopped so miserably.
Games Industry has a short blurb up: apparently, according to Satoru Iwata, Nintendo isn't interested in acquiring game developers and making them internal, instead going for the approach of building better relationships (read: repairing bridges they burned years ago when they were dominant with the NES and SNES) with external developers.
Nintendo's new approach to relationships with external developers would appear to be characterised by its deals with companies such as British studio Kuju Entertainment, which is an independent developer working on a major Nintendo property - namely the Advance Wars license.
It's an interesting proposition - on the one hand, they keep their licenses together, so if they lose a development company they can farm the next title in a series off on another, like Lucasarts has done with Knights of the Old Republic. They also keep things close to their vest, and if companies are poorly run, they aren't dragged down with them.
On the other hand, Microsoft's done pretty well with the exact opposite approach - Halo, Dungeon Siege, and tons of other Microsoft games came out of MS acquiring studios into the Microsoft umbrella. And so far, the games that came out of those arrangements have been pretty sweet. Halo would appear to be the ultimate example, with Bungie (the original Mac-Geek development house responsible for the Marathon series) kicking out what has become the ultimate staying power on the Xbox; from the screenshots, Conker: Live and Reloaded seems poised to make gamers forget all about the fact that Conker was the last fun gasp of the N64, and we can thank Microsoft's acquisition of Rare for that one.
Personally, I don't quite see their point. Yes, Nintendo has been down in revenues. Yes, in Japan the market itself has been down - and America's not moving up at quite the same pace it was four years ago.
But look at the economies in both places, look at the industries as they exist. Heck, one could look at the lengthening product cycles and the drop in number of new titles (and more to the point, new GOOD titles) being released.
I'll try their new console, that's certain. But I can't quite believe that the traditional console gaming experience is really in any sort of vast danger.