June 28, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.
THE PLAYER In late May, Mario and Luigi were sitting on a couch on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Not the real Mario and Luigi — they aren’t real, of course — but caricatures of the Nintendo brand icons. The joke that afternoon was that the famous video game duo were not brothers but were, in reality, gay. Their true relationship had remained a secret, revealed only after an online campaign forced Nintendo to apologize for not including same-sex marriage in its just released game “Tomodachi Life.” You can, however, create a character in your likeness — a Mii, in Nintendo parlance — or the likeness of your boss or your ex or Daenerys Targaryen, and you can write them an opera song that is an ode to gay marriage. They will also fall in and out of love, sometimes with […]
Nov. 27, 2013 | 2:03 p.m.
This month saw the release of two high-end home video game consoles from Sony and Microsoft. But competitor and long-standing game powerhouse Nintendo has a surprisingly effective countermove: cats. Yes, cats. The Italian caricatures of Mario and Luigi, who may be the closest thing the video game medium has to a Mickey and Minnie when it comes to brand awareness, have returned in the Wii U exclusive “Super Mario 3D World,” now with the ability to morph into feline form. It’s one tweak among many, and it turns out that putting paws on the plumbers more than livens up a trusty formula. Mario and Luigi now chase rabbits, climb trees and attack enemies with claws out, a number of seemingly small design changes that when taken as a whole results in one of the more inventive Mario adventures. Like the […]
Oct. 12, 2013 | 7:00 a.m.
The new Nintendo handheld device the 2DS seeks to solve a puzzle that may not, to the casual games observer, seem in need of a solution: How does a company get more games in kids’ hands? Nintendo has stressed in promotional materials and interviews that the 2DS, available today, is a budget-friendly gaming device that is geared toward first-time players, most notably children. Yet in crafting a gadget that looks like an entry-level tablet rather than an ultra-sexy gaming machine, Nintendo has managed to walk the line between a toy-ish contraption and an accessible way for people of all ages to game. When it was first unveiled in August, the 2DS raised some eyebrows among Nintendo fans and the gaming community. After all, the company’s current portable gaming machine, the foldable, dual-screen 3DS, is doing quite well for itself. The […]
May 09, 2013 | 2:23 p.m.
Nintendo this week again turned to its ever trusty Italian plumber for its latest puzzle game, “Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move.” A download-only title, “Minis on the Move” is a deceptively undemanding game that makes use of the company’s environment-shifting “minis” brand. For those who missed previous installments, the minis are diminutive, wind-up figurines that represent well-known Nintendo characters. They walk forward, they don’t stop and it’s up to the player to control and tinker with the paths in front of them. That about covers the basics, but not the details. What follows are five reasons to give Nintendo’s latest a shot. There’s more variety than expected. “Minis on the Move” consists of a primary puzzle game and a host of mini-games that players can unlock as they advance through the game. The main concept is extremely simple. Players […]
March 26, 2013 | 7:00 a.m.
Not every hero gets to go home to a princess. But Luigi, the Pluto to Mario’s Mickey, has long had more modest ambitions. The younger half of Nintendo’s core brotherly duo, Luigi rarely gets top billing. It’s not, after all, the “Super Mario & Luigi Brothers” that many of today’s gamers were raised upon. So unlike his famous brother, who has a fetching royal companion and an army of toad-like creatures at his side, Luigi’s castle is a middle-class home with a wooden picket fence, wide-open drapes, no noticeable security system and a TV that looks plucked from the early-’80s, when the Mario Bros. made their Nintendo debut. At least that’s where he’s seen lounging at the outset of “Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon,” the 3DS sequel to a 2001 GameCube title. When we meet Luigi he’s asleep, a beverage at […]
Feb. 14, 2013 | 1:35 p.m.
Nintendo declared 2013 to be the “Year of Luigi” on Thursday, putting Mario’s perpetual sidekick in the spotlight with several new game announcements. Addressing Nintendo fans by way of one of the company’s “Nintendo Direct” addresses, President Satoru Iwata donned a Luigi hat of his own, applauding the nearly 30-year-old character’s patience sitting in Mario’s shadow. “Luigi has appeared in many games since then, but most of them in a supporting role. And even though he has appeared in so many games, he is still timid after all of these years,” Iwata said, keying off more details about the upcoming 3DS game “Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.” Set for release March 24, “Dark Moon” is the sequel to the original “Luigi’s Mansion,” which debuted alongside the GameCube in 2001. Nintendo mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto, in his first Nintendo Direct appearance, touted the […]