Archive for the ‘Nintendo’ Category

Happy 30th B-Day, Game Boy: Here are six reasons why you’re #1

April 21st, 2019



Thirty years ago this week, Nintendo released the Game Boy, its first handheld video game console. Excited Japanese customers snatched up the innovative monochrome handheld by the thousands, which retailed for 12,500 yen (about $94 at 1989 rates) at launch—a small price to pay for what seemed to be an NES in your pocket. Nintendo initially offered four games for the new Game Boy: Super Mario Land, Baseball, Alleyway, and Yakuman (a mahjong game), but the number of available titles quickly grew into the hundreds.

Later that year, the Game Boy hit the US at $89.99 with a secret weapon—Tetris as its pack-in game. Selling over a million units during the first Christmas season, the Game Boy proved equally successful in the US, and that success was by no means short-lived: to date, Nintendo has sold 118.69 million units of the original Game Boy line (not including Game Boy Advance) worldwide, making it the longest running dynasty in the video game business. So in honor of the Game Boy's twentieth (Editor's note: now thirtieth!) anniversary, we give you six reasons why the Game Boy dominated the handheld video game market during most of its astounding multi-decade run.

1. Tetris

It's common pop-marketing knowledge these days that every new hardware platform needs a "killer app" to truly succeed. In the Game Boy's case, Tetris filled that role perfectly.

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Posted in consoles, Game Boy, Gaming & Culture, Nintendo, Portable gaming | Comments (0)

Report: Cheaper “Switch Lite” will be dockable, come in the fall

April 18th, 2019
A miniature version of the standard Switch dock.

Enlarge / A miniature version of the standard Switch dock.

A new report from Japanese news service Nikkei (Google translation) suggests a rumored "less expensive" version of the Switch will be available this fall. The report also suggests that the new design will not be strictly portable, as some have suggested, and will still be able to dock to a TV set for larger-screen play.

Nikkei's report adds a bit more context to rumors most recently reported by the Wall Street Journal in March regarding Nintendo's plans for two new Switch models in the near future. The second model, according to the WSJ report, would be a more expensive, "enhanced" version of the system with improved hardware power and other special features.

Public translations of Nikkei's report suggest that an "overhauled next-generation model" could actually replace the current Switch and bring enhancements "including usability, improved image rendering, and changes to the operating system, among other things." But Nikkei's development sources suggest that the next step in hardware power may still be in the early planning stages at Nintendo, with no one assigned to lead "conceptual development" as of yet.

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

Report: Nintendo planning two new Switch models

March 25th, 2019
Report: Nintendo planning two new Switch models

Enlarge

Nintendo has plans to release two new models of the Nintendo Switch "as early as this summer," according to a Wall Street Journal report citing "parts suppliers and software developers for Nintendo."

One model would be a higher-end system with enhanced hardware akin to the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro, though not as powerful as either, according to the report. The other would be a "cheaper option" intended to replace the aging Nintendo 3DS, whose sales have finally started to collapse.

This cheaper Switch would reportedly cut costs by losing features such as controller vibration. That's a move which would render portions of games such as 1-2-Switch and Super Mario Party unplayable, but Nintendo "judged the new Switch models won't need the vibration feature because there wouldn't be many games released using the full benefit of it," according to a quoted supplier.

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

Unknown NES wrestling game discovered, beaten 30 years later

March 12th, 2019

After all this time, you might think we already know about every NES game made during the system's '80s heyday, but to this day collectors are still discovering and preserving one-of-a-kind prototypes that were produced but never released for the system. The latest example of this gaming history trend is UWC, a surprisingly complete prototype wrestling game made in 1989 by obscure Japanese developer Thinking Rabbit (perhaps best known for block-pushing puzzle game Sokoban) and published by defunct Japanese company Seta.

The name might sound familiar to classic wrestling fans, as UWC was the acronym for the Universal Wrestling Corporation, which later grew into World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Thus, the UWC prototype includes digitized versions of real wrestlers, including Ric Flair, the Road Warriors, and Sting, as part of what was apparently planned to be a fully licensed game. A completely different, officially licensed WCW game was released in the US in 1990 from publisher FCI, which could explain why this UCW prototype never saw an official release.

Unlike previous long-lost NES finds like Bio Force Ape, Happily Ever After, and SimCity, UWC was never even announced for the system, much less released to retailers. The only reason we know about it is a discovery by NES collector Stephan Reese. He says in a recent YouTube video that he obtained the game from a former Nintendo of America employee who held on to a prototype that was submitted to the company for review. "They gave it to him to test because he was a wrestling fan," Reese says.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, History, Nintendo, preservation, uwc | Comments (0)

Dealmaster: Nintendo discounts a bunch of Mario games for “MAR10 Day”

March 10th, 2019
The many faces of Mario.

Enlarge / The many faces of Mario. (credit: Collage by Aurich Lawson)

Today is March 10, and for fans of video games and calendar-based puns, that means it’s time to celebrate gaming’s favorite plumber, golfer, race car driver, doctor, boxing referee, and typing instructor: Mario.

Nintendo has declared this date “Mario Day” for the past few years (March 10 = Mar10 = Mario), but today the company is once again paying homage to its most famous character by launching a number of discounts on games featuring the little guy.

The deals include $20 off the following Mario titles for the Nintendo Switch:

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Posted in dealmaster, Mario, Nintendo, nintendo switch, Tech, video games | Comments (0)

Nintendo to smartphone game makers: You can only gouge our players so much

March 6th, 2019
If CyberAgent Inc had its way, this game would have tried to squeeze more money from its players.

Enlarge / If CyberAgent Inc had its way, this game would have tried to squeeze more money from its players. (credit: Nintendo / CyberAgent Inc.)

Here at Ars Technica, we've scrutinized Nintendo's smartphone games with a frank conclusion: they're often brutal about microtransactions. "Free-to-play" games like Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and Dragalia Lost all revolve around a variety of in-game currencies, and they don't take long to poke players with paid shortcuts to either save time or unlock more loot boxes.

But as it turns out, those games could have been worse—at least, according to one Japanese smartphone game maker who blames Nintendo for reduced revenue.

Wall Street Journal reporter Takashi Mochizuki took a Wednesday opportunity to review one game maker's financial reports: CyberAgent Inc, maker of smartphone games like the Nintendo-published Dragalia Lost. This report, published at the end of January, made vague allusions to a single smartphone game dragging the company down. Quoting from the company's own English-language press release:

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

Pokémon Sword and Shield will hit Switch in “late 2019”

February 27th, 2019

Following a brief teaser back at E3 2017, Nintendo and the Pokémon Company finally gave the world its first look at the next entry in "the main series of Pokémon RPGs" this morning. Named Pokémon Sword and Shield, the games will hit the Nintendo Switch in late 2019, the company said.

In a short announcement video, Nintendo revealed the three new starter Pokémon for these eighth-generation games: Grookey, a "mischievous" chimp with "boundless curiosity"; Scorbunny, a fiery rabbit that's "bursting with energy"; and Sobble, a "timid" water lizard that fires attacks while hiding in water.

The games will take place in the Galar region, a new environment with countryside, cities, plains, and mountains to explore. "The people and Pokémon live here, and they work together to develop the industries in the region," game director Shigeru Ohmori said.

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

Bowser will replace Reggie Fils-Aimé as Nintendo of America president

February 22nd, 2019
Promotional image from a video game featuring plumber Mario being threatened by malevolent turtle Bowser.

Enlarge / If your name is Mario and you work at Nintendo of America, watch out. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

After 16 years at Nintendo of America, president, COO, and famed spokesperson Reggie Fils-Aimé will retire from his roles this year. His last day is April 15, at which time he will be replaced by senior VP of sales Doug Bowser, according to a press release.

Fils-Aimé joined the company in 2003 as executive VP of sales and marketing before becoming its president and chief operating officer in 2006. For years, he has been the public face of Nintendo in the United States at press conferences and online marketing streams, and he has become the personification of the gaming brand for millions of consumers, players, and onlookers. He became the subject of numerous memes, and he sparked the "my body is ready" meme popular on Internet gaming forums.

A new age of gamer memes seems to be upon us, though, because his replacement bears the same name as the primary villain of the company's beloved Mario video game franchise. Doug Bowser has been with Nintendo since 2015, when his title was vice president of sales. He was promoted to senior VP in 2016.

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Posted in bowser, Gaming & Culture, Mario, Nintendo, Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils Aime | Comments (0)

How did Yoshi’s Island music end up in an official US gov’t Web game?

February 20th, 2019
A shot from the EPA's <em>Recycle City Challenge.</em> Not shown: The <em>Yoshi's Island DS</em> music that played in the background of the game.

Enlarge / A shot from the EPA's Recycle City Challenge. Not shown: The Yoshi's Island DS music that played in the background of the game. (credit: EPA.gov)

A flash game available on the Environmental Protection Agency website since at least early 2017 made surprising use of copyrighted music from Nintendo's 2006 game Yoshi's Island DS.

Recycle City Challenge is an extremely simple educational Flash game that asks players to answer basic questions about how to reduce waste and energy use. But yesterday, fan site Nintendo Soup was among the first to publicly notice that the Web game used a looping version of Yoshi's Island DS' "Underground" theme in the background.

The music, which played in a version of Recycle City Challenge accessed by Ars as recently as this morning, has since been removed from the live version on the EPA's website. You can still hear it in this Internet Archive copy of the site, though, and compare that directly to the same song on the Yoshi's Island DS soundtrack. Perhaps not coincidentally, a file named "yoshidsunderground.mp3" containing a copy of the song in question was in a music subfolder on the EPA website (as cataloged in this Internet Archive link) until earlier today.

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Posted in copyright, Gaming & Culture, law, Legal, music, Nintendo | Comments (0)

Why is this copy of Super Mario Bros. worth $100,000? We asked a buyer

February 15th, 2019
Of the millions of copies of <em>Super Mario Bros.</em> ever sold, this is the rarest and most valuable known to exist.

Enlarge / Of the millions of copies of Super Mario Bros. ever sold, this is the rarest and most valuable known to exist. (credit: Wata Games)

A sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. for the NES has sold for $100,150, setting a new record for the video game-collecting market and perhaps ushering in a new era for the valuation of gaming rarities.

Before you go searching to see if that old cartridge in your attic might be your gateway to riches, note that this copy of the game is so valuable primarily because it’s one of the earliest known copies of the game, and in near-perfect condition. The box in question comes from Nintendo's extremely limited "test market launch" for the NES in New York City and Los Angeles starting in late 1985 (no one actually knows the exact date). These copies didn't come in the usual shrink wrap but were instead sealed with a small matte or glossy sticker (this handy guide outlines the many different Super Mario Bros. box variants released between 1985 and 1994).

Deniz Kahn—CEO and cofounder of game-grading service Wata Games, which evaluated this specimen—estimates that only 2,000 to 10,000 copies of each of the 27 test market games were ever made in this sticker-sealed style. That makes finding even an opened box decades later rare enough. Finding one with the sticker seal intact is even rarer; Kahn estimates only a few dozen exist across the whole test-market line.

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Posted in collectors, Gaming & Culture, Nintendo, Rare, Super Mario Bros. | Comments (0)