Archive for the ‘Nintendo’ Category

Console makers seek to avoid 25% price bump driven by Trump’s trade war

June 26th, 2019
This could all be 25% more expensive if the Trump administration's latest Chinese tariff threats go through.

Enlarge / This could all be 25% more expensive if the Trump administration's latest Chinese tariff threats go through.

With the long-running trade war between the United States and China continuing to escalate, the Trump administration is now threatening to institute a 25% tariff on an additional $300 billion in goods from the country, a move that would cover almost all Chinese exports. In light of that threat, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony issued a letter today asking the administration to exempt video game consoles from any such tariff plans.

The seven-page letter, signed by the business affairs VPs of the three major console makers, argues that any tax on game console imports would "injure consumers, video game developers, retailers, and console manufacturers; put thousands of high-value, rewarding U.S. jobs at risk; and stifle innovation in our industry and beyond."

Since game consoles are sold at or slightly above the cost of manufacture, the cost of any import tariff would have to be passed directly on to "extremely price sensitive" consumers, the letter argues. "A price increase of 25% will likely put a new video game console out of reach for many American families who we expect to be in the market for a console this holiday season," the letter says.

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Posted in Business, Gaming & Culture, microsoft, Nintendo, price, ps4, Sony, Switch, tariff, tax, Trump, Xbox One | Comments (0)

Super Mario Maker 2 review: A great sequel, playable on a better console

June 26th, 2019
The swinging crane makes for some interesting puzzle options.

Enlarge / The swinging crane makes for some interesting puzzle options.

When I reviewed the first Super Mario Maker in 2015, I lamented that the game didn't debut years earlier as a Wii U console launch title. No other game before or since so easily showed off the benefits of that 2012 system’s tablet controller and online community features. And though the Wii U’s retail life fizzled shortly after Super Mario Maker’s release, a dedicated community of makers and players kept their aging consoles plugged in, carefully pushing the game’s course-making systems as far as they could go with truly inventive and imaginative levels.

This week, Nintendo is finally bringing a Mario Maker sequel to a platform with a healthy future ahead of it, rebuilding the game for a Switch tablet that can also be played on the go. The long-awaited sequel brings enough new features and quality-of-life improvements to justify the impending permanent loss of literally millions of levels created for the first game. But the package is still missing some key features that have me worried about how easy it will be to discover quality levels after launch.

One of the biggest additions in Super Mario Maker 2 is an offline Story Mode. Seemingly inspired by the similar (and excellent) course collection in the wholly offline Super Mario Maker for 3DS, Story Mode here comprises over 120 pre-built courses, all made with the game’s construction set.

In this, Story Mode acts as an extended tutorial not just on individual building parts, but on how to build those parts into a quality course. Most of these courses aren’t long, and most aren’t all that challenging for those with some Mario experience, but they’re built with the kind of guided care and internal thematic consistency that you don’t reliably find when playing random online levels. Spending a few hours working through them is great inspiration for your own course construction efforts.

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Posted in Ars Approved, Features, Gaming & Culture, Mario, Nintendo, nintendo switch, super mario maker, super mario maker 2, Switch | Comments (0)

Cease-and-desist transforms Mario Royale into DMCA Royale

June 25th, 2019
Mario? Who is Mario? My name is Infringio, and I'm a completely original character.

Enlarge / Mario? Who is Mario? My name is Infringio, and I'm a completely original character. (credit: Inferno Plus)

Web-based game Mario Royale attracted quite a bit of attention last week by taking Nintendo's well-known mascot and placing him next to 74 other human-controlled doppelgangers in a race through level designs taken directly from popular Mario games.

Given Nintendo's litigious reputation when it comes to fan games, it's perhaps no surprise that the "game got DMCA'd," as creator InfernoPlus noted in a comment on the game's YouTube trailer over the weekend. InfernoPlus himself didn't seem all that surprised. In an interview with Vice last week, he said he "anticiapate[d]" a letter from Nintendo. "I’d say it’s [a] 50/50 [chance of attracting Nintendo's legal ire], maybe more, because it got so big all of a sudden. If [Nintendo] does, I can just re-skin it."

Now, that's precisely what's happened. Following a June 21 "DMCA Patch," the game that was Mario Royale is now DMCA Royale. While the gameplay is unchanged, the game's music, sound effects, and in-game sprites have been replaced with much more generic versions—including a new player character named "Infringio."

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

Are these the first pictures of the “Switch Mini”?

June 19th, 2019

In 2019, we've seen rumor after rumor after rumor after rumor that Nintendo is planning to release a new, smaller version of the Switch in the near future, possibly without the original system's signature detachable controllers. While Nintendo hasn't announced anything officially, some new listings from Chinese accessory manufacturer Honson have reignited the rumor mill surrounding a redesigned Switch system being potentially in the pipeline.

Honson's Nintendo Switch Mini landing page showcases 11 different products, including a variety of bags, carrying cases, hard shells, and a screen protector. One page promises a "professional design to perfect fit Nintendo Switch mini." Similar product images were posted to the company's Facebook page a week ago.

All of these products are listed as "out of stock" on Honson's own website (the company told NintenDIY that they'll be available starting next week). But some Honson products "for Nintendo Switch mini case" are already available for bulk order through Alibaba right now, complete with customized packaging and logo options for large bulk orders.

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

Switch Zelda sequel, Animal Crossing headline Nintendo’s E3 event

June 11th, 2019

LOS ANGELES—Nintendo announced during a Nintendo Direct presentation Tuesday morning that a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is now in development. No release date or target window was announced.

A short teaser trailer for the game showed Zelda and Link exploring a dark cave together, lit only by torchlight, in an art style that seemed extremely similar to the Breath of the Wild engine. That suggests the possibility of a two-player mode for the upcoming sequel, though Nintendo offered absolutely nothing in the way of gameplay details. The teaser also included a zombie-style creature that turned his head with a violent cracking sound, seemingly in response to their presence.

Nintendo also announced a slight delay for its previously announced Animal Crossing game, now titled New Horizons and targeting a March 20, 2020 launch. A short trailer showed a camping theme for the game, with your tent-residing villager building fires on the beach, fishing, hanging laundry out to dry, and rolling up snowballs in the winter months. Tom Nook is also there to demand an egregious payment for your stay and help you craft items at a workbench as well. Shots of multiple villagers running around the same campsite also suggest that multiplayer gameplay will be supported.

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Posted in Animal Crossing, E3, e3 2019, Gaming & Culture, Nintendo, Zelda | Comments (0)

Belgian loot box decision takes down some of Nintendo’s mobile games

May 22nd, 2019

Nintendo has become the latest publisher affected by a 2018 decision by Belgium's Gaming Commission to treat games with randomized loot boxes as an illegal form of gambling. The publisher announced that mobile titles Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes will be shut down in Belgium on August 27. In a published statement that was translated by Eurogamer, Nintendo of Belgium chalks up the move "to the current unclear situation in Belgium regarding certain in-game revenue models."

Fire Emblem Heroes lets players summon new heroes via a "gacha"-style mechanic that provides random characters to assist in battle. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp also offers randomized boxes of "fortune cookies" that can contain some of the game's most valuable items. Both would seem to be a clear violation of the Belgian Gaming Commission's 2018 ruling, which prohibits titles that offer variable in-game items via "games of chance."

Blizzard, Valve, and 2K quickly removed or altered games for the country in the wake of the ruling, and EA gave up a legal fight against Belgian regulators in January. It's not clear why Nintendo took so much longer to be directly affected by Belgium's decision or why these game removals don't also apply in the Netherlands, which has ruled similarly against loot boxes.

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Posted in Animal Crossing, fire emblem, Gaming & Culture, Nintendo | Comments (0)

Super Mario Maker 2 news dump: Finally, Mario gets an online-versus mode

May 15th, 2019

With only six weeks to go before launch, Super Mario Maker 2's new and updated features have mostly emerged thanks to tiny teases. That changed on Wednesday with a whopper of a Nintendo news video that revealed, among other things, the series' first-ever online-versus mode—and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the series' first online-subscription requirement for some of its content.

The game will launch on June 28 at a standard $60 retail price, though Nintendo will also sell Super Mario Maker 2 as a $70 bundle with a 12-month Nintendo Switch Online subscription code. If you're already a paying NSO member, that code will stack on top of however-many months you've already purchased (currently $4/mo or $20 for a 12-month subscription).

That bundle will hit store shelves for good reason, as Nintendo will gate much of the original Wii U game's content behind a paid-online requirement—including the ability to upload custom-made levels and to search for and download other users' creations. Should you wish to play a slew of custom levels offline, SMM2 will support offline play for any levels you've already downloaded to your Switch. As of press time, Nintendo did not clarify whether the game will require any routine online check-in to access those downloaded levels after, say, being offline for over a week or canceling a NSO membership.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Nintendo, nintendo switch, super mario maker 2 | Comments (0)

Pokémon characters have their own pea-sized region in brain, study finds

May 6th, 2019

The first Pokémon game was released in 1996 for the Nintendo Game Boy.

Detective Pikachu, the first live-action film inspired by the classic Nintendo game Pokémon, hits theaters on May 10. So it's timely that a new paper has just appeared in Nature Human Behavior, concluding that people who avidly played the game as children have developed a unique cluster of brain cells devoted to recognizing the hundreds of different Pokémon species.

It's well known that human beings are remarkably adept at visually recognizing faces, words, numbers, places, colors, and so forth thanks to a constellation of regions—small clusters of neurons about the size of a pea—in the temporal lobe, located just behind the ears. Those regions show up in the same place in most people, despite differences in age, sex, or race. There's even a so-called "Jennifer Aniston neuron," (aka the "grandmother cell") discovered by a UCLA neuroscientist in 2005, whose primary purpose seems to be to recognize images of the famous actress. Similar neurons have also been found for other celebrities like Bill Clinton, Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, and Kobe Bryant.

"This is quite remarkable, and it's still an open mystery in neuroscience why these regions appear exactly where they do in the brain," said co-author Jesse Gomez, a postdoc at the University of California, Berkeley, who conducted the experiments while a grad student at Stanford University. One way to answer this question, and determine which of several competing theories is correct, is to study people who, as children, had a unique experience with a new type of visual stimulus. If those people were shown to have developed a new brain region dedicated to recognizing that new object class, that would offer useful insight into how the brain organizes itself.

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Posted in gaming, Neuroscience, Nintendo, pokemon, science | Comments (0)

Game with hidden Ruby interpreter pulled from Nintendo Switch eShop

May 1st, 2019

A video demonstrating A Dark Room's hidden Ruby interpreter, which still works in previously downloaded copies of the game.

Last week, developer Amir Rajan revealed an interesting Easter egg hidden in the Switch version of A Dark Room, an inventive text-based adventure that was ported to the console early last month. If you plug a USB keyboard into the system and hit the "~" key while the game is running, you get a functional Ruby interpreter suitable for coding simple programs directly on the console.

This weekend, though, Nintendo decided to remove the game from the Switch eShop, leading Rajan to tell Eurogamer that he "deeply regret[s] how this has blown up."

In a Mastodon thread revealing the Easter egg, Rajan said the hidden in-game coding environment was "an attempt to capture the magic of coding in its purest form." In a world of complicated, Internet-connected, IDE-based game engines, he writes that he wanted to "show the next generation that magic does exist in this world. That you can create something from nothing."

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Posted in a dark room, Gaming & Culture, Nintendo, Switch | Comments (0)

Report: Cheaper Switch coming by June

April 24th, 2019
Report: Cheaper Switch coming by June

Enlarge (credit: Mark Walton)

A new, cheaper version of the Switch will be released by the end of June, according to one "person familiar with the matter" cited in a recent Bloomberg report. That's the most specific time frame yet for the still-rumored release of a redesigned version of Nintendo's system and coincides well with the E3 expo, a major gaming convention in June.

A Nikkei report earlier this month suggested the new unit would be available in the fall. That report followed a Wall Street Journal report from last month which said the cheaper redesign might arrive "as early as this summer, complete with reduced features and, possibly, no ability to dock to a TV."

Bloomberg also echoes Nikkei in suggesting that a "more powerful version" of the system, rumored by the WSJ, is not currently in the works. But a more "modest upgrade" to the standard Switch hardware could be coming before the end of the year, according to Bloomberg's sources.

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