Dec. 12, 2014 | 4:52 p.m.
THE PLAYER My relationship with Nintendo is maybe not as healthy as it should be. This realization comes to me as the year draws to a close, when one is pressed to discuss the most innovative or thoughtful interactive experiences of the year. Games such as the haunting “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter” or the whimsically lonely “Broken Age: Act 1” are some that immediately spring to mind. These are titles that made the same sort of lasting impression as a TV season of “Orphan Black” or a movie screening of “Big Hero 6,” which was full of unexpected considerations on loss. Like the getting-by struggles at the heart of hip-hop act Run the Jewels, these are all examples of pop culture with layers, where revisiting is encouraged. Yet there is one Wii U game in heavy rotation that I […]
July 12, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.
THE PLAYER I had only known Eline Muijres for a few minutes before our first dance, and it wasn’t long before I became scared our movements were going to lead to more physical contact than is likely appropriate for near-strangers. So I let go of her iPhone. Muijres is a producer on “Bounden,” a mobile game that aims to teach players ballet — or maybe just inspire them to get closer, awkwardly. Either result is a win. Most dance games, such as the popular “Dance Central” or “Just Dance” franchises, have players moving in front of the TV, working off a sweat solo or goofing off at a party. “Bounden” is far more intimate. And potentially more revealing. Developed by Netherlands-based three-person studio Game Oven in conjunction with the Dutch National Ballet, “Bounden’s” challenge — the difficulty of being in […]
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 […]
June 10, 2014 | 11:19 a.m.
Nintendo, amid the news Tuesday of new games coming to its Wii U console for its beloved “Zelda” and “Star Fox” franchises, took a bold step away from tradition. Princess Peach, the oft-kidnapped damsel in distress at the core of its “Super Mario Bros.” series, received an apology. “Hey, look, I’m sorry about kidnapping you 80+ times, but my bad,” said a cartoonish, clay-like rendition of Nintendo’s main villain Bowser. Peach said nothing, offering the sullen bad guy little more than a cold shoulder as she swiped his last doughnut. Bowser’s response to such non-regal behavior? “I deserved that.” Who can blame her? One of Nintendo’s most formidable characters, with a jumping and gliding ability most of her non-dinosaur male pals could never muster, Peach has often been relegated to the role of the hostage. Yet time and time again over the course of a […]
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 […]
Aug. 28, 2013 | 10:44 a.m.
Nintendo is hoping a cheaper price and well-known video game characters such as Mario and Zelda will convince shoppers to buy a Wii U this holiday season. The slow-selling system will receive a $50 price cut effective Sept. 20, a discount that comes about two months before the release of new consoles from Microsoft and Sony. What is now known as the “deluxe” edition of the Wii U will soon retail for $299.99, down from its current $349.99. Since its release last holiday season, the deluxe edition of the Wii U has come packaged with a copy of the game “Nintendo Land” as well as a relatively robust 32 gigabytes of storage. Both will be included at the reduced price of $299.99. A more bare-bones version of the Wii U, one without the copy of “Nintendo Land” and just 8 […]
July 31, 2013 | 10:30 a.m.
Nintendo has two key advantages over any of its competitors in the game space. One, its core properties such as “Donkey Kong,” “Super Mario Bros.” and “The Legend of Zelda” are instantly recognizable to gamers and non-gamers alike. Two, all of those brands have all been shaped by Shigeru Miyamoto, a legendary designer who continues to challenge himself and the company he helped build. The prolific gamemaker, who works in some capacity on much of what Nintendo releases, returns this week as general producer of the patient, surreal strategy game “Pikmin 3,” one of the odder, more understated works of his career. Starring doughy astronaut explorers who need the help of workaholic, ant-like extraterrestrials, “Pikmin 3” resurrects a lesser-known Nintendo franchise that hasn’t seen a new game since 2004. It was a surprise when Nintendo revealed that “Pikmin 3,” a […]
June 18, 2013 | 12:36 p.m.
Nintendo’s Eiji Aonuma is seeing two major “The Legend of Zelda” titles through release in 2013 — “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD” for the WiiU and “The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds” for the 3DS — but with each project nearing completion, his attention is shifting to a project he hopes will completely reimagine the “Zelda” franchise. Though early in development, the first original “Zelda”-branded game for the Wii U is proving to be a creative challenge for Aonuma, the longtime overseer of the franchise. The Wii U, with its touchpad-like controller, offers game mechanics unlike any other system on the market — or coming to the market — and Aonuma intends to use them. “It’s not that anyone is telling me we have to change the formula,” Aonuma said. “I want to change it. I’m kind of getting tired […]
May 17, 2013 | 10:35 a.m.
This post has been corrected, as indicated below. “Sonic Lost World,” the latest adventure to feature Sonic the Hedgehog, will be released exclusively to the Wii U and hand-held 3DS consoles, part of a multigame agreement destined to boost Sonic’s presence on Nintendo’s next-generation system, Sega and Nintendo have confirmed. Although a release date has not been set for “Sonic Lost World,” the title is said to be a new action platform game. More information about the game is expected prior to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles during the week of June 11. Sonic will also topline another new title announced Friday, “Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games,” coming soon to the Wii U. Once intended to give Sega and its Genesis platform an iconic character to rival Nintendo and its famed Super […]
May 15, 2013 | 7:16 a.m.
Video gamers will soon have the opportunity to create their own superheroes for the DC Comics universe. Or turn Batman into a zombie. Or suggest Superman wear a pink cape and ride a unicorn. But don’t try to give Batman a gun. Some things will never change. This fall 5th Cell and Warner Bros. Interactive will release “Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure” for the Wii U, 3DS and PC. The latest in the Scribblenauts franchise looks to be an expansive, puzzle-based adventure that makes use of the heroes, villains and locations made famous by the worlds featured in the 75-plus years of DC Comics. And some of the not so famous, too. “For the first time in any game we have all the DC Comics characters,” said Caleb Arseneaux, a 5th Cell producer. “The entire roster — characters who appeared in […]