Archive for the ‘Nintendo’ Category

Hands-on: Switch’s NES controllers offer unmatched old-school authenticity

December 13th, 2018
Now you're playing with power.

Enlarge / Now you're playing with power.

Playing old-school games on the Switch thus far has been a choice between various control compromises. You can use two Joy-Cons held in two hands, but the tiny buttons and lack of a true d-pad make this setup less than ideal. Holding a single Joy-Con sideways eliminates the d-pad completely and forces you to curve your grip around a hand-crampingly small control surface. A Switch Pro Controller or various third-party solutions can solve these problems, but they come with relatively high prices and some added features you don't need for classic games.

Enter Nintendo, which is offering subscribers to its new Online service the ability to buy two wireless, Switch-compatible replica NES controllers for $60 (on top of the $20 a year subscription). After spending a few hours testing the little guys (just before pre-orders start shipping out) we found them to be competent, authentic throwbacks with some important limitations.

Truly authentic

Anyone with fond memories of gripping an NES controller in their youth will be happy to hear that Nintendo got the authenticity darn-near perfect with these replicas. Everything from the sizing to the tactile feel to the springiness of the buttons and the d-pad is practically indistinguishable from a brand-new NES controller you might have bought three decades ago. This isn't that surprising, since the wired NES Classic Edition controllers had the same level of fidelity, but it's still nice to see.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, NES, Nintendo, Switch | Comments (0)

Nintendo ends controversial YouTube revenue-sharing program

November 29th, 2018
Uh, Mario, that thing you're so proudly presenting doesn't exist anymore, dude.

Enlarge / Uh, Mario, that thing you're so proudly presenting doesn't exist anymore, dude.

For nearly three years now, creators who wanted to make money from videos that included footage of Nintendo games had to go through the onerous approval and content requirements of the Nintendo Creators Program, which also gave Nintendo a 30 percent cut of any ad revenues. Today, Nintendo announced it would be halting that program at the end of the year, in favor of a new set of "basic rules" for video creators. If those rules are followed, Nintendo now says, "we will not object to your use of gameplay footage and/or screenshots captured from games for which Nintendo owns the copyright."

The guidelines, as written, encourage creators to use Nintendo content in videos with "that include your creative input and commentary." Direct, unedited videos of Nintendo game footage without such additional content "are not permitted," Nintendo says, unless they are shared through "system features, such as the Capture Button on Nintendo Switch."

That's a requirement that could impact the popular genre of YouTube longplays, which capture hours of direct gameplay footage for countless games.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Nintendo, online content, video, YouTube | Comments (0)

Microsoft wants Azure to be the multiplayer server solution for every platform

November 14th, 2018
<em>Sea of Thieves</em> is a game already using Azure for its server hosting and scaling.

Enlarge / Sea of Thieves is a game already using Azure for its server hosting and scaling. (credit: Rare)

Microsoft today launched a preview of PlayFab Multiplayer Servers, a new Azure-based service giving game developers dynamic, on-demand scaling of multiplayer servers.

Microsoft bought Seattle-based PlayFab earlier this year with a view to using it to expand Azure's reach in the gaming world. PlayFab is building all the cloud-based infrastructure needed for today's games: matchmaking (using the same algorithms as Xbox Live to try to group players of similar skill together), leaderboards, server hosting, player identity/profile management, commerce, and so on. Broadly speaking, the intent of PlayFab is to let games developers focus on their games, taking care of the server-side work for them. PlayFab's services are platform agnostic, and Microsoft has preserved this aspect: there are SDKs for Xbox, Windows, PlayStation, Switch, iOS, and Android.

At the time of the purchase, PlayFab ran atop Amazon's AWS. Some parts still do, but others have moved to Microsoft's own Azure. The Multiplayer Server feature, released in preview today, is one of the services on Azure. Microsoft has more Azure data centers in more parts of the world than Amazon or Google, which in turn means that Azure servers should generally be closer to where the players are. This should ensure lower latency and a better gaming experience for games on those servers.

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Posted in azure, cloud, development, Games, Gaming & Culture, microsoft, Multiplayer, Nintendo, playfab, PlayStation, servers, Sony, Switch, Tech, XBox | Comments (0)

Mario Segale, namesake for Nintendo’s mascot, dies at 84

November 2nd, 2018
Jumpman, circa 1981, before the Segale-inspired renaming to "Mario"

Enlarge / Jumpman, circa 1981, before the Segale-inspired renaming to "Mario"

Mario Segale, the Seattle real estate and construction business owner who inspired the name for Nintendo's famous mascot, passed away on October 27 according to reports from The Seattle Times and The Auburn Reporter. He was 84 years old.

Segale owned the business park housing Nintendo's American arcade operation in the early '80s, when the company was busy converting thousands of disused Radarscope cabinets to play Donkey Kong. At the time, Nintendo of America President Minoru Arakawa and other executives were trying to come up with an Americanized name for the game's player avatar, who was still referred to as "Jumpman" at that point (a name that appears on early Donkey Kong cabinet art).

As the story goes, when Segale came to Arakawa to demand payment for a late rent bill, inspiration struck.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Mario, Nintendo | Comments (0)

Nintendo recommits to “keep the business going” for 3DS

October 31st, 2018
Can't afford a Switch? Mario has a suggestion for you...

Enlarge / Can't afford a Switch? Mario has a suggestion for you... (credit: Nintendo of America)

In the age of the Nintendo Switch, the company's older 3DS handheld tends to get the short end of the stick in terms of press and player attention. But Nintendo has maintained that it's not going to abandon the dedicated portable, which showed surprisingly resilient sales as recently as this January.

In a recent financial briefing, Nintendo recommitted to keep selling and supporting the 3DS, and the company explained why the eight-year-old system continues to have a place next to the Switch.

Nintendo 3DS is set apart from Nintendo Switch by its characteristics as a handheld game system that is lightweight, price-friendly, and highly portable. Affordability is the strong point that positions Nintendo 3DS in a niche clearly separate from Nintendo Switch. In the grand scheme of things, Nintendo 3DS has a prominent position as the product that can be served as the first contact between Nintendo and many of its consumers, and for this reason we will keep the business going.

Keeping the 3DS around as a form of "entry-level" Nintendo hardware makes a lot of sense. The New 2DS XL now retails for just $150—half the price of a new Switch—and that's with a copy of Mario Kart 7 bundled. And until major Nintendo franchises like Pokemon and Metroid come to the Switch, the 3DS represents the best way to enjoy them in relatively modern forms.

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Posted in 3DS, Gaming & Culture, Long Tail, Nintendo, portable, sales, Switch | Comments (0)

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a great introduction to tactical RPGs

August 28th, 2017

Enlarge

It’s a bit odd that Mario’s first completely fresh appearance on the Nintendo Switch isn’t a traditional run-and-jump platform game but a novel foray into the tactical RPG genre. It’s even odder that Mario has to share that debut with Ubisoft’s incredibly annoying (yet ostensibly popular) Rabbids. Oddest of all, Nintendo’s iconic mascot largely takes a back seat to those over-the-top, screaming humanoid rabbits in the game.

Sure, Mario might get top billing in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. All told, though, it feels like Mario and crew were thrown into an existing Ubisoft game midway through the process. The game’s plot, to the extent that it exists, uses a stolen “SupaMerge” device that literally fuses crazified Rabbids with well-known Mario antagonists like Donkey Kong and Piranha Plants, while merging “good” Rabbids with good guys like Mario, Luigi, and Peach to create completely new unholy abominations. There’s also an intelligent Roomba named Beep-o that explains all this with a lot of wordy exposition that the other characters’ wordless vamping for the camera can’t really convey.

While Mario staples like coins and mushrooms make appearances, Ubisoft’s characters and design aesthetic seem to win out most of the time. Heck, the Mario characters can’t even jump without help from an ally, which is practically treasonous in a Mario game. This isn’t really a knock against a title that maintains strong (if silly) visual and gameplay themes throughout. Just don’t go in expecting a Mushroom Kingdom adventure in the vein of the Paper Mario or the Mario and Luigi games.

Take your positions

Anyone familiar with the positional battles in a game like XCOM, Fire Emblem, or Final Fantasy Tactics will recognize the same essential DNA in Kingdom Battle. While there are some perfunctory and simplistic coin-collecting and block-pushing puzzles forced in between the fights, the bulk of the game involves taking turns moving characters around a grid-based map so they’re in place to attack the enemy while avoiding the incoming counter attacks.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Mario, Nintendo, rabbids, Switch, Ubisoft | Comments (0)

SNES Classic Mini: Quick preview by someone who has never barrel rolled

August 22nd, 2017

Sebastian Anthony

I have an awkward confession to make: growing up, I never owned a SNES. I had a NES, but then no other console until the N64: my dad brought an Olivetti 8086 PC home from the office, and I was much more interested in learning how to use MS-DOS than play games. Imagine the collective chagrin, then, when I was first to receive the SNES Classic Mini, rather than Kyle, Sam, or Mark.

All this is to say: forgive me if I don’t do the SNES and its hallowed history justice. I am vaguely aware of what a barrel role is, but I have never performed one. The purpose of this story is to give you a good idea of what’s inside the Mini SNES box, and to tell you about a few other special features that haven’t been widely publicised. More in-depth coverage from one of the aforementioned Nintendo fanboys will follow.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, mini snes, Nintendo, SNES, SNES classic | Comments (0)

Expect more gaming nostalgia after Crash Bandicoot’s revival success

August 4th, 2017

Enlarge / Sweet hat, Crash.

Crash Bandicoot generally doesn’t get the same kind of love as classic gaming mascots like Mario and Sonic in gaming’s nostalgia-obsessed zeitgeist. So the success of the recent Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy re-release is taking even publisher Activision by surprise, and it has the company thinking about reviving other classic properties.

N.Sane Trilogy was the top-selling game globally for the month of June, Activision said during a recent conference call, despite being only available on one console for two days of the month. The game was also the most downloaded title on PSN for July, according to Sony, results that “outperform[ed] even our most optimistic expectations” as Activision put it. That success is even leading to what’s probably the first ever example of some popular Crash Bandicoot-themed memes.

“We knew that there was a passionate audience out there for Crash—full disclosure, myself among them—but we had no idea…” Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg said in an earnings call yesterday. “It’s hard to tell if that’s a vocal minority or that’s a real mass audience until you put something out there. Crash has surpassed all of our expectations by a pretty wide margin.”

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Posted in Activision, Gaming & Culture, Nintendo, Nostalgia | Comments (0)

Super NES Classic pre-orders start later this month

August 2nd, 2017

Is this an SNES Classic Edition in a normal-sized hand, or a normal SNES in a giant-sized hand? (credit: Nintendo)

Though it was announced over a month ago, US retailers have yet to begin offering pre-orders for the Super NES Classic ahead of its September 29 launch (though international pre-orders are already being flipped for inflated eBay prices). Now, Nintendo is promising via Facebook domestic pre-orders will start “late this month” at “various retailers.”

After insufficient supplies led to quick sellouts and high resale markups for the discontinued NES Classic Edition, Nintendo is again promising that more systems will be available for the Super NES Classic’s retail tenure. “A significant amount of additional systems will be shipped to stores for launch day and throughout the balance of the calendar year,” the company writes. That follows on previous statements from Nintendo promising “we will produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition.” The NES Classic Edition shipped 2.3 million units.

Nintendo’s announcement follows a retail fiasco last week in which Wal-Mart mistakenly offered Super NES Classic systems for pre-order then was forced to cancel those pre-orders. “We know this is incredibly disappointing to those customers and we apologize for the mistake,” the retailer said in a statement. The mistaken listing sold out within minutes late on a Friday night.

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Posted in Classic, Gaming & Culture, Nintendo, SNES, super nes, super nes classic | Comments (0)

Niantic cancels European Pokémon Go gatherings after Chicago fiasco

July 31st, 2017

Enlarge / Much of Europe will have to wait for Niantic’s planned Safari Zone events.

Niantic’s first attempt at a live Pokémon Go gathering in Chicago last week went so badly that attendees are organizing a class-action lawsuit after shoddy cell reception prevented most of the 20,000 attendees from playing the game during the paid event. In the wake of that fiasco, the Pokémon Go developers are postponing long-planned similar events in Copenhagen, Prague, Stockholm, and Amsterdam that were set for the coming weeks.

In a statement, Niantic said the European “Safari Zone” events originally scheduled for August 5 and 12 would be pushed back to some time in the fall “in order to guarantee the best possible gameplay experience for European Trainers.” Other events planned for France, Spain, and Germany will still take place in September, however, and a “Pikachu Outbreak” planned for Yokohama, Japan will still take place in August.

The Safari Zone events were billed as a chance for European players to catch Pokémon that rarely or never show up in the region and to team up for multiplayer battles against Raid Bosses. “As a special surprise, we understand that some Pokémon that are rarely seen in Europe will be appearing soon in certain European cities for a brief time,” Niantic writes by way of apology. “We apologize for any inconvenience and hope you understand that our priority is to ensure a great experience for Pokémon Go Trainers in Europe and around the world.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, niantic, Nintendo, pokemon, pokemon go | Comments (0)