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Nintendo Announces First Mobile Game: Miitomo

MiitomoExpectations were high yesterday when word came out that Nintendo was set to announce its first mobile title at an investor briefing.  The gaming community held its collective breath waiting for a Super Mario or Pokémon title, but instead the company shared its vision for a free-to-play social game with optional microtransactions called Miitomo based on a fusion of the Mii characters and the curiously popular Tomodachi Life for the 3DS.  It's due out in March 2016.  No Pikachu for you!  But you know what?  That may be for the best.  Jeremy Parish at USgamer explains:

While Nintendo hasn't shared full details on the workings of Miitomo, it's easy enough to make some educated guesses based on early screens. As the name suggests, Miitomo makes use of Mii avatars, seemingly with the ability to mingle with the avatars of other people and interact directly with the player. That sounds, not coincidentally, a great deal like Tomodachi Life, a connection alluded to in the app's name. Tomodachi Life became a solid success upon its western release last summer, but it's been a monster hit for years in Japan. Goofy, fun social apps (most recently Line) tend to be far more popular in Japan than in the west as well. Combine the two and a massive hit seems practically guaranteed, at least in Japan. It's less of a guaranteed slam-dunk in the U.S., but the Nintendo factor should at least grab people's attention.

Nintendo's stock dropped following the announcement and the community complained that this wasn't the Pokémon Red port they'd just assumed would happen if everyone wished really hard, but Miitomo could work well for the company.  Nintendo aims to draw mobile gamers into its own hardware ecosystem, and apps like Miitomo could do just that by whetting appetites and sparking curiosity about what Nintendo has to offer on its hardware home turf.  Japan will eat this up, but North America and beyond could be a harder sell beyond app-loving kids seemingly born with an iPad in one hand.  The company's new NX project is moving forward and I'm sure that it would love to capture some lapsed Wii owners to bring them back to the world of Nintendo.  Like so many other things in this industry, we'll just have to wait and see what happens.  However, to all of you out there who have complained that you want to play Pokémon on the go, then I have good news for you.  Nintendo already sells a product that will let you do that.  It's called a Nintendo 3DS and it's in stores now.

Super Mario World Comes To MSX

Super Mario World on MSXVideo game enthusiasts can do some intriguing things given enough talent and time.  Consider this project to bring Nintendo's classic 1991 Super NES release Super Mario World to the 1983 MSX computer platform, for instance.  Sure, it features fewer colors than the source material, degraded music, and other changes to fit the limitations of the platform, but that's the point.  Check out this video of a work-in-progress sample of the game in action from last year.  The finished version is slated to be displayed at a MSX exhibition in the Netherlands in January 2016 where it will be made freely available.  Demakes such as these are always interesting to see, and since other famous games associated with Nintendo hardware such as Castlevania and Contra have appeared on the MSX, why not Super Mario?

(via Reddit)

The Legend Of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes Almost Included Nude Link

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force HeroesNintendo's new multiplayer-focused The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes for the 3DS features a number of useful and unique outfits for Link to wear from a Zora suit to a Hammer Bros. costume to Princess Zelda's exquisite dress.  However, a much more inventive and scandalous costume was considered for Link during the development process.  Bob Mackey at USgamer recently interviewed director Hiromasa Shikata, and one of the discussion topics involved ideas cut from the final game.  For a while, the developers considered sending Link out into the world without any costume at all.  If there's a Zora suit, why not a Birthday suit?

USg: Were any costume ideas for Tri Force Heroes left on the cutting-room floor?  

HS: I can think of one right off the top of my head. That would be one that was inspired by the folktale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” which as you know is the story of the emperor who thinks he’s wearing something of the highest fashion, but he’s actually—when other people look at him, he’s not wearing anything. They thought that would be a great idea for an outfit, but they weren’t able to come up with an implementation that would—they weren’t sure how to wrap up that whole thing as one good feature spec, you know, “How could we actually implement that neat idea as something that’s relevant to the game?” They unfortunately weren’t able to come to a conclusion, so that never made the cut.

It's an interesting idea, but how could that be portrayed without turning the game into a localization challenge outside of Japan?  Nintendo has sent its heroes out without clothes before (consider Ness appearing in just his baseball cap in Mother 2's Magicant realm which was changed for international release in EarthBound by dressing him in his pajamas instead), but I think it would be much more effective to use that "Emperor" idea and have Link appear to the player as wearing an amazing, majestic set of the finest robes, but when he talks to other characters, they treat him as if he's not wearing anything at all.  The player never actually sees any skin.  That raises the question of what the other players controlling the other Links see, however; which side of the fourth wall are they on?  Moreover, what special status effect would this suit offer that makes it worthwhile compared to the other costumes?  This is a complicated idea and I can see why it went unused in the end.

Watch The Compellingly Terrible Back To The Future Part II And III Demand Sacrifice

Back to the Future II and IIIJust to put the capper on yesterday's big Back To The Future day festivities (you listened to the new Power Button episode, right?) let's check in on the Laser Time Shit Show as the brave crew dares to play through the awful Back To The Future Part II And III for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  I've written about this game before where I called it "compellingly terrible" and- well, I'll just quote myself here:

The graphics in this game are some of the worst I've ever seen on the NES. Sprites lack detail and animation, the level colors are drab green and flat, and the music is monotonous and contains piercing beeps from time to time. Somehow the creators also licensed the Huey Lewis and News song "Back in Time" and a poor rendition of it appears in the game. The play control is sloppy and the different sectors all resemble one another, providing no change of pace during the game. Worst of all is that the game lacks a password or save feature, so the entire game must be completed in one sitting if one wants to win.

Now you can see for yourself why this game is simultaneously horrible and fascinating.  Godspeed, Laser Time crew, and thanks for the shout out to PTB during the show.  The Internet will never forget your sacrifice.

Hang Out At Club Mario Maker

Club MarioNintendo's Super Mario Maker for Wii U has already seen players create over one million levels, but since so many of those creations are painful garbage, how does one know which levels are worthwhile and which are worthless?  My old friend Joey Davidson is doing some Super Mario Maker curating these days with his new Club Mario Maker catalog of hand-picked levels.  It's just getting started, but so far there are several stages worth exploring and he's continuing to add new picks as time goes by.  Check it out, add some levels to your playlist, and help do your part to keep the Mario Maker ecosystem healthy.

Power Button - Episode 187: Where We're Gaming, We Don't Need Roads

Power ButtonToday we celebrate the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown came to that far-off future date October 21, 2015 from the year 1985, and to commemorate the occasion properly, Blake Grundman and I invite you to join us for a thorough discussion of the many Back To The Future video games that have been released over the years spanning some only-in-Japan obscurities to a pinball table with unusual artwork to the recently re-released Back To The Future: The Game.  We have lots of stories about the film trilogy, the games it spawned, and so much more.  Make like a tree and listen to the show.  It's your density.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

The Legend Of Zelda: Symphony Of The Goddesses Brings Hyrule Melodies To The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

The magical evening that is a performance of The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night to perform a medley of memorable and iconic songs from the classic Nintendo video game series.  While the performance was a stirring and chilling as always, what really struck me was that this aired on a late night talk show.  I've been watching late night talk shows since the later days of Johnny Carson and early days of David Letterman and I don't believe you'd ever have seen music from a video game performed on their programs (especially Carson, given the era!).  Jay Leno's Tonight Show would never have booked this.  It's enchanting to see video game music taken more seriously by the mainstream.  Now, which show will be the first to book Video Games Live?

Power Button - Episode 185: The Ups And Downs Of DLC

Power ButtonDownloadable content is a harsh creature.  Sometimes it adds to favored games in amazing new ways, but then there's those occasions when an overpriced season pass fails to deliver anything worthwhile at all.  On this episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I discuss the best and the worst DLC to cross our paths and offer suggestions on how publishers and players can both benefit from a better model for expansions.  Batman: Arkham Knight, Assassin's Creed: Unity, Red Dead Redemption, and Mario Kart 8 are just some of the games that go under the microscope.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

Super Mario Advance 4 e-Reader Levels Recreated In Super Mario Maker

E-13 Chill Cavern

Once upon a time in the distant past of 2002, Nintendo released an odd accessory for the Game Boy Advance called the e-Reader that allowed players to scan special cards into the device in order to unlock extra features in certain games.  One of those games was the GBA remake of Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario Advance 4, and those special cards brought new GBA-exclusive levels into the game under the collective hub known as World-e.  Unfortunately, due to the expense of the e-Reader and the scarcity of the cards, many Mario fans have never played these lost levels.  The Internet's unending cadre of Nintendo fans have found ways to keep these levels alive over the years through emulation, but now there's an easier way to bring World-e to the masses: Super Mario Maker.  There's a list of course ID numbers over at Reddit for twenty-five e-Reader levels recreated in Nintendo's Super Mario course creator.

E-1 Wild Ride in the Sky: 2B4B 0000 007B 5343

E-3 Bomb Volley: FE1E 0000 007B 53BC

E-4 Pipes O'Plenty: F5F3 0000 007B 546E

E-5 Bombarded by Bob-Ombs: 1209 0000 007B 559D

E-6 Magical Note Blocks: 4388 0000 007B 5682

E-7 The Ol' Switcheroo: 8F1F 0000 007B C071

E-8 Piped Full of Piranhas: 6078 0000 007B E3D8

E-9 Swinging Bars of Doom: 7742 0000 007D F093

E-10 Para Beetle Challenge: 656C 0000 007E 1CC9

E-11 Magical Note Blocks 2: B3DB 0000 0080 4E1C

E-12 Airship 1: 660E 0000 0081 0A27

E-13 Chill Cavern: A8C9 0000 0081 33FA

E-16 Castle a Go-Go: BC9E 0000 0082 FFF5

E-17 Frappe Snowland: 3245 0000 0083 25D7

E-18 Frozen Fortress: A403 0000 0084 0A35

E-19 Brick Maze: 2967 0000 0085 E914

E-21 60 Seconds: 3A6B 0000 0087 5003

E-22 Ropeland: 81A6 0000 0087 E28E

E-24 Clear Skies: B111 0000 0084 2101

E-25 Koopahari Cavern: 637A 0000 008A CB63

E-26 Aqua Bars of Doom: 3305 0000 008B 706A

E-27 The Gauntlet: EF71 0000 008C BC39

E-28 Hammer Bro. Ship: 240D 0000 008E C639

E-29 Bowser's Airship - Part 1: 1E56 0000 008F 0485

E-30 Bowser's Airship - Part 2: FFD8 0000 008F 9487

Not everything in World-e is properly represented in Super Mario Maker as some of the required elements are unavailable (such as Super Mario Bros. 2's vegetables), but this is as close to things as we're going to get for now.  I love when the fan community just won't let go of something like World-e and does whatever it can to spread the word about it.  I'd always hoped that Nintendo would integrate the World-e levels into a Virtual Console release of Super Mario Advance 4, but since that isn't happening, bringing the levels to life in Super Mario Maker is the next best thing.

Super Mario Maker's Worst Kaizo Has Nothing On This Level

I've seen some terrible levels created by the community in Super Mario Maker that abuse invisible item blocks, flood the screen with an unbeatable wall of enemies, and require tricky precision jumps.  I've seen springboards that demand perfection.  I've even seen a stack of Bowsers advancing towards me with nary a power-up in sight.  However, nothing that I've seen in Super Mario Maker approaches the level of contempt and hatred for the player that this Super Mario World hack entitled Item Abuse 3 commands.  Watch as for eight minutes Mario endures impossible jumps, Muncher hordes, underwater hell, chocolate lava pain, and P-switch madness.  To complete Item Abuse 3 demands skills beyond what a human possesses; this performance was a tool-assisted run that makes use of every game engine quirk, glitch, and secret trick that the original game had to offer.  If Bowser ever wants to really stop Mario in his tracks, he'd hire hack creator PangaeaPanga to design his next castle.

(via Reddit)