Category Archives: General

Nintendo Switch’s ‘dedicated smart device app’ to allow consumers ‘to play those connected experiences… while they’re on the go’

Nintendo.com:

Online lobby and voice chat

Our new dedicated smart device app will connect to Nintendo Switch and let you invite friends to play online, set play appointments, and chat with friends during online matches in compatible games─all from your smart device.

Reggie Fils-Aimé offered WIRED’s Chris Kohler soke additional color:

The reason for that is, it continues to reinforce our commitment to online, and do so in a way that will enable the consumer to enjoy their Nintendo Switch and to still be able to play those connected experiences—like Splatoon, like Kart, like fill in the blank—while they’re on the go. Instead of having some sort of bulky gamer headset, you’ll be able to do it right off your smartphone, put in your earbuds that you use for your standard mobile device. We think that’s a pretty sweet solution. That’s part of the overall opportunity that we see in a subscription service.

This is another novel idea. Perhaps it unburdens the Switch by offloading online communications and interactions to the smartphone, possibly conserving battery life and performance. Moreover, it seems to suggest that the Switch can continue online interactions when away from Wi-Fi.

It might also make for a nice Switch + AirPods experience.

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Reggie Fils-Aimé: ‘I don’t mind how you interact with our IP as long as you’re interacting with it every day’

Reggie Fils-Aimé, in an interview with TIME’s Matt Peckham:

TIME: Mr. Iwata once said of the Wii that he wanted it to be “something that you turn on right after turning on the TV.” Do you still think like that?

Reggie Fils-Aimé: I would say that our thinking has evolved, in that we envision the consumer having a direct experience with our intellectual property (IP) as the core foundation of the company. Meaning, I want you to love what you’re doing with Zelda, with Animal Crossing, with Smash Bros. Nurturing that love for the IP is the overarching objective.

How we will do that will now be executed in a variety of different ways. It’ll still be executed with a dedicated gaming system or systems. It’ll be executed through mobile. It’ll be executed through licensed merchandise. It’ll be executed in other ways, like what we are doing with Universal Studios. So it’s not so much changing the way you interact with your TV. It really is all about how you interact with our IP.

And part of the reason why this has evolved is, you talk to a lot of millennials, and they don’t really have the same type of engagement with their TV that I grew up with. They’re interacting with other screens now, and they’re just as happy interacting with those other screens. And so that has caused us to really continue refining our proposition. In the end, I don’t mind how you interact with our IP as long as you’re interacting with it every day.

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Nintendo Switch Presentation 2017 Impressions

On Friday, January 13 at 1 PM Japan Standard Time, Nintendo unveiled new details about their Switch “home” console. While hard tech specs didn’t make an appearance — I thought for sure Nvidia would have been showcased — deeper insight to the Joy-Con, play styles, and 2017 library were provided. Above all, what the keynote will be remembered for is an awkward Squid Researcher.

Nintendo Switch will launch in “Japan, US, Canada, major European countries, Hong Kong, and other territories” on March 3rd. It will retail in Japan for ¥29,980, the US for $299.99, and varying prices in the European territories. Software will not be region locked, which is an incredibly big move for Nintendo.

Pre-orders for the Switch went up after the event and appear too have quickly depleted.

Presentation

As a whole, the presentation felt backwards and tonally awkward. Without building any hype, Nintendo opened with launch dates and pricing. The Joy-Con demonstration as well as the trailers for first-party titles 1-2-Switch and Arms felt long-in-the-tooth. At least two of the presenters garnered “WTF” moments that also seemed to throw off one of the translators. And then there was Hisashi Nogami’s Splatoon 2 appearance as a “Squid Researcher”.

Nintendo makes cute games and they’ve done cute things during presentations, but they’ve never struck me as outlandishly awkward. The Splatoon 2 portion sapped the presentation of its professionalism, which feels odd to say as it’s a game about squid children shooting paint at one another. At it’s core, Switch is a toy. But it’s audience doesn’t treat it that way. Nintendo is a global company. It has been since the Wii, and certainly before that to its core, 30-somethings audience.

Even for the crazy toymaker, there has been something professional about their presentations, marketing, and — since the Wii — industrial design. The latter of which is present in the Switch. The system’s design is as plain as ever and comes in stark contrast to a squirt-gun wielding executive taking the stage.

Switch

Note the quotes around “home” in my intro. Early in the presentation, Nintendo stated that the Switch is a “home” console:

7:45: “Nintendo Switch is a video game system for the home.”

8:14: “Nintendo Switch has been designed to be a home console gaming system that gives you the freedom to change your play style.”

Within 30 seconds, Nintendo hammered on the idea that Switch is built for the home. It felted pointed and explicit. It’s an important point. The Switch is intended to be the dream: a home console you can take with you.

Modes of play include:

  • TV Mode: “Typical video game style.”
  • Tabletop Mode: “Play video games in front of a screen with others, wherever you like, even away from the TV.”
  • Handheld Mode: “Take it with you and play indoors, outdoors, or anywhere you like.”

On the point of battery life, Nintendo claims that the Switch will have two-and-a-half to six hours of battery life when in a portable mode. Nintendo.com gives the example “The Legend of Zelda™: Breath of the Wild can be played for roughly three hours on a single charge.” After October’s initial announcement and industry chatter after, I crossed my fingers that the Switch’s portable play would average three hours. At it’s minimum, two-and-a-half hours is a sweet spot. It may not get you through a flight from San Francisco to New York, but it shouldn’t need to. Studies show that 3 or more hours of gaming can being to have negative psychosocial effects.

The Switch will also offer  8-person local multiplayer in portable mode. Depending on adoption, this could be a killer feature. The capability alone screams that Nintendo is gunning for a new generation of portable gaming.

Last but not least, it was great to see Nintendo adopting USB-C. Color me shocked that Nintendo, the company that passed up HDMI on the 2006 Wii and was still using resistive touchscreens on the 2011 3DS and 2012 Wii U, would ship a device with the latest standard in USB technology.1

Joy-Con

These are impressive little gizmos with a funny name. From what I could count, they include:

  • 7 gameplay inputs (buttons) on each controller
  • Analog stick
  • NFC (shown on right, but presumably both)
  • Home button (right)
  • Camera button (left)
  • Accelerometer and gyro sensors
  • “-” (left) and “+” (right) buttons
  • Motion IR camera (right only)
  • HD rumble

The HD Rumble demonstration claimed that the sensation of a glass with one, two, or three ice cubes rattling as well as the glass filling up with water could be felt in a single Joy-Con. The best I could figure was that HD rumble include three independent rumble motors, allowing for altered effects.

It’s worth noting that when the Joy-Con are separated from the Switch itself, the right Joy-Con features a joystick in its center. I can’t imagine this feels great. I guess I’ll leave it up to a company that shipped a controller with an analog joystick in its center to make that call.

Games

We’ve known about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild since 2013. And the October 2016 announcement of Nintendo Switch teased a new 3D Mario game. Two staples we, without a doubt, knew we were getting. Even Skyrim was a fairly sure certainty for the platform.

1-2-Switch

The equivalent of Wii Sports for Wii and and Nintendo Land for Wii U, 1-2-Switch is Switch’s tutorial game. It looks extremely awkward, but I’ll blame that on the all to lengthy Mexican standoff demonstration. For better or worse, it was a solid reminder that Nintendo is a toy company.

Arms

Interestingly, Nintendo introduced a first-party fighter. But not just any fighter. In true Nintendo fashion, Arms is also a shooter of sorts. A fighter-shooter hybrid labeled as a “Fighting sports game.” It looks like it might even be fun without motion controls. Like other Nintendo franchises before it, it appears to feature a cast of (possibly) memorable characters such as Spring Man and Ribbon Girl. Will Arms be the next Wii boxing or Splatoon? What do you think of the name?

Splatoon 2

While Wii Remotes (how did they not go with “Wiimotes”?!) were available for Wii U, Switch seems like a much more natural fit for Splatoon. As far as motion control shooters go, I loved the feel of Metroid Prime 3 on Wii. It’s also nice to see Nintendo doubling-down on this new franchise.

Super Mario Odyssey

Mario is out of the Mushroom Kingdom, and seeming into the real-world. At least for some portion of the game. Super Mario Odyssey is meant to evoke “the excitement when visiting unknown countries for the very first time.” The visuals look incredible, relying heavily on shadows and environmental physics. This is in contrast to another visually impressive Mario game — Super Mario Galaxy, which used an opposite lighting effect on Mario, providing a white shine around his model. While the visuals and openness of Super Mario Odyssey look sunning, there is something discomforting about seeing the cartoonish Mario next to Sim-ish humanoids. I’m most looking forward to this game.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

I’ve always wanted to dive into the Xenoblade series, and this might be the title that does it. The art design is imaginative and the scale looks impressive. The blue armor and prominence of a helmet on one of the characters kept screaming “Mega Man” and had me scraping credits in search of any possible crossover. The one thing I couldn’t shake from this trailer was the scene of a character riding a lion-like creature. The frame-rate seemed very low and jittery. A similar jarring moment occurred during the Xenoblade Chronicles trailer in the Nintendo Direct 1.14.2015. (See my note mid-way down the page.)

Project Octopath Traveler

Boy, oh boy, does this game look great! Next-level Paper Mario meets Retro Final Fantasy? It’s titles like this that make me excited for the portability of the Switch. Something about retro stylings screams “personal” and “portable” to me.

Skyrim

I’ve been itching for a portable version of Skyrim since I tried playing on Xbox 360. Skyrim is a game to get lost in; to spend hours with. But to spend hours taking over the TV in our house would be unconscionable. Needless to say, I never got more than three hours into this game on Xbox 360. I’m very much looking forward finally working through this game on my own portable screen.

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers

There was a brief clip of a Street Fighter game during the final Switch video. Like others, I immediately thought we’d seen a glimpse of the Virtual Console on Switch. Alas, it appears to be a standalone version of Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers.

Mario Kart 8: Deluxe

I kept wondering if the glimpses of Mario Kart throughout the presentation were a new Mario Kart game. But they appeared too similar to Mario Kart 8.

Low and behold, Nintendo will be re-releasing Mario Kart 8 for the Nintendo Switch as Mario Kart 8: Deluxe with some extra bells and whistles:

  • Pop some balloons in the revamped Battle mode, complete with Balloon Battle and Bob-omb Blast.
  • Inkling Girl & Inkling Boy from Splatoon, King Boo, Dry Bones, and Bowser Jr. join the roster!
  • Players can choose a new Smart Steering feature which makes driving and staying on the track easy for novice players and kids even at 200cc
  • Returning items include Boo, the item stealing ghost, and the Feather, which gives you a high jump in battle mode.

Mario Kart 8 is one of the greats. Some of my fondest video game memories are of playing that game. (Not to mention, my fondest Zero Counts moment!) I wholeheartedly agree with Stratechery’s Ben Thompson:

Super Bomberman R

I don’t have much to say about Super Bomberman R. I was never a huge fan of the Bomberman series. I do recall playing a ton of Blaster Master Jr. on Game Boy. I mainly wanted call out my nostalgia and affection for Bomberman 64.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild is a Switch launch title. Nintendo presented this as huge news, but it comes off more as a confirmation to quell fan fears. Beyond that, not too many additional details were given. The new, extended trailer showed off the breadth of the open Hyrule as well as new and familiar characters. And while cartoony, the tone of the narrative seemed fairly adult.

My favorite part was the Vanilla Sky ending to the entire presentation. Open your eyes…

Bringing It Together

At the very beginning of the keynote, Shinya Takahashi gave a quick run-through of Nintendo’s past consoles. It had a nice Apple-y touch, focusing on the innovation and lessons of the past to brought Nintendo to the Switch:

  • Famicom (NES): Shipped with two controllers
  • Game Boy: Pioneered portable video games as we know them today
  • Super Famicom (SNES): Added X & Y and L & R shoulder buttons
  • Nintendo 64: Introduced the first analog joystick and rumble (Rumble Pak) to a controller
  • GameCube: Included a handle with the intention to be a home console could move from location to location
  • Nintendo DS: Touchscreen portable gaming
  • Wii: Brought motion controls to the mass market
  • Wii U: Enabled console gaming off the TV

Without question, Switch is another unique and possibly industry changing device. Like Apple, Nintendo often skates to where the puck is headed, defining industry trends. And without question, the biggest dream of all is being able to take your home console on the go.


1I am so thrilled that USB-C seems to be taking off like it is. Within months of Apple going whole hog on their MacBook and MacBook Pro lines, I’ve purchased a Drobo 5C and ROLI Lightpad Block that are also equipped with USB-C. Now I’ll be able to add Nintendo Switch to the mix.

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Sierra Sets Date for King’s Quest, Chapter 2

Polygon:

King’s Quest: Rubble Without a Cause, the second of five chapters in The Odd Gentlemen’s King’s Quest, will begin rolling out in two weeks, publisher Sierra announced today.

The episode will be available Dec. 15 on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in North America. It will launch the following day on Windows PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox 360, and in the rest of the world on PS3 and PS4.

[…]

The Odd Gentlemen is also changing up the way King’s Quest plays from chapter to chapter. Korba told Polygon that while A Knight to Remember was based on the open puzzle-solving structure of the first two King’s Quest games, Rubble Without a Cause is “more inspired by [King’s Quest 3: To Heir is Human]. It’s a bit darker and centers on an escape mechanic.” The Odd Gentlemen also added the ability to skip dialogue.

Interesting to hear that the gameplay style will change between episodes. The continued homages to the original titles are a nice touch.

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Nintendo Attractions Coming to Universal Parks

Ben Kuchera, Polygon:

Universal has theme parks in Orlando, Hollywood, Japan and Singapore, and it’s currently unknown which parks will be getting these attractions, or what the attractions with entail. The most recent large addition to Universal Orlando was the well-received Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the addition of Nintendo characters and rides could be a potent weapon against the competing Disney resorts.
It sounds like we’re going to have to wait a bit more details. “The immersive experiences will include major attractions at Universal’s theme parks and will feature Nintendo’s most famous characters and games,” the press release said. “More details will be announced in the future, as the Nintendo and Universal creative teams work to create specific concepts.”

After the success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I trust Universal to do a respectable job with Nintendo’s IP. While I often daydream about a dedicated Nintendo theme park, I don’t belive their IP alone is enough to engross visitors for a full day.

My wife’s immediate reaction: “Legoland is screwed.” Interesting that Universal seems to be playing LEGOs own game: license out massive, mixed brand IP for a variety of experiences, personalities, and worlds under a single umbrella.

I’d comfortably say that since the early 2000s, Disney resorts felt like the only go-to theme park destinations. Today there is certainly more reason to divide time bewteen multiple resorts.

With Disney’s admission prices skyrocketing, the inclusion of Marvel and Star Wars, Tomorrowland and Jungle Cruise films launching, and Universal’s expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter married with Nintendo attractions, the theme park industry is in for exciting times.

Also, very fun to watch Nintendo’s rapid expansion outside of the dedicated console video game market. For a company who’s traditionally been set on a singular market, they’ve certainly made some very quick moves outside of their comfort zone.

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Thoughts on Star Wars Teaser #2

  1. I could have sworn they were pulling audio from Return of the Jedi. (Mark Hamill still sounds youthful.) Until Luke’s line: “You have that power, too.”
  2. And if this is truly new dialogue, Luke state’s that his ‘father has it.” Has. Not had.
  3. It’s fun to imagine Vader is still around, but whether it’s clever audio splicing or Luke referring to the omnipresent (Force ghost*) Anakin, I say Vader is dead and gone.
  4. Finn is a trepidatious Stormtrooper recruit. The chaotic stormtrooper battle scene affirms his worries and he chooses to leave the Empire (or equivalent faction). This is the first time we witness the weight of war and death on soldiers in the post-prequel films.**
  5. I need to figure out a way to be a part of this upcoming series of Disney Star Wars films.
  6. I hate zoom. (1:28)

—– 

* Thanks for the heads up to @AlexandreSitbon. The term was slipping my mind.

** Correction: Sad Ewok.

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The Oral History of Steve Barron’s TMNT

March 30, 2015 marked the 25th anniversary of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. In commemoration, The Hollywood Reporter rounded up several cast and crew members to recount the making of the highest grossing independent film at the time.

The Hollywood Reporter:

Gray: I always thought it would be interesting to have someone who was coming out of MTV videos to amp this up visually. To make it a little bit younger. Director Steve Barron was suggested to us. We looked at his reel. He had done all this great stuff with A-ha. He had done “Billie Jean” with Michael Jackson. He had a very good visual style.

Steve Barron, director: I didn’t want to do something that was bloody. I didn’t want to watch that film. Funnily enough, Batman came out at the same time. It was that sort of tone I was already aiming for. The films that I loved, there was a sense of humor but a sense of peril as well. Of real peril, of grounded peril. Like something that had repercussions for what you did but had a wonderful sense of fun with it. I was a big fan of Ghostbusters.

[…]

Eastman: For an independent film, it was beyond our wildest hopes. We liked the final movie and we hoped people would like it, and [the fact] it did as well as it did was fantastic. Of all the versions of Turtles that have been optioned over the past 30 years now — and certainly in the entertainment arena — the first movie stands out as our hands-down favorite version.

If Barron’s TMNT is not my favorite movie, it easily slides into my top 5. I just wish Street Fighter would have been as successful.

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Square Enix Profit Doubles

Gamespot:

In the home console space, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX sold well, and catalog sales were also “strong,” Square Enix said. Meanwhile, the publisher added that Final Fantasy XIV and Dragon Quest X are “making favorable progress.”

Unrelated: Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMIX is what prompted me to sell my PS3.

To my surprise, an Amazon shipment notice informed me that the game was on its way. The pre-order had slipped my mind as I had placed it nearly a year prior. I was already on the cusp of pulling the trigger on a PS4 when this IGN bit put me over the edge. I stuffed my unopened Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMIX back into the post, traded-in my PS3 and Xbox 360, and picked up a PS4.

I have no doubt that these games will end up on PS4. Worst case, another reason to subscribe to Playstation Now.

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Club Nintendo Experiencing Heavy Traffic

Club Nintendo:

We’re experiencing heavy traffic at the moment, so accessing your account may take a little longer than usual and you may see display issues with your account when logged in. Please note that you’ll have until 6/30/15 to redeem your rewards. Thank you for your patience.

Yesterday, Club Nintendo announced a massive sale in conjunction with the discontinuation of the loyalty program, offering physical goods as well as Wii U, Wii, and 3DS downloadable titles at discounted redemption rates. I have since experienced issues a) accessing the page or b) signing in.

In May 2014, Club Nintendo experienced similar server strain due to heavy traffic generated by the Mario Kart 8 free game offer.

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Heroes of Might & Magic III HD Edition

One of my all-time favorite games has been re-released on Steam, iOS, and Android. I spent countless hours with Heroes of Might & Magic III growing up, and during my late-twenties nostalgia trip, had been itching to play again. The HD sheen doesn’t do much more than make the game look like what I remember playing, but I’m thrilled they kept the jagged animations around.

Steam | iOS | Android

[Via The Awesomer]

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