Nintendo upgrades Super Mario Maker with keys and doors unlocking new game designs

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TIME Magazine: Why Nintendo president Satoru Iwata mattered…

TIME (by Matt Peckham):

Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata has died at only 55 years old after battling cancer for over a year. His unexpected passing marks the end of a wildly inventive and broadly celebrated 13-year stretch helming the iconic Kyoto video games company.

Iwata, born in Sapporo, Japan in 1959, was only the fourth person to lead Nintendo since its inception as a playing card company in 1889, and the first president unrelated to the founding Yamauchi family. His ascent to the topmost Nintendo position in 2002 was unusual as it followed a career in software engineering, making him one of the industry’s only corporate luminaries with substantial hands-on game creation experience.

In an exclusive interview with TIME this spring — Iwata’s last with a Western media outlet — he talked about how personally involved he remained in helping drive and evaluate the company’s hallmark unorthodox inventions. He called Nintendo “a company of Kyoto craftsman” and joking “this is where my background in technology is quite helpful, because it means that the engineers can’t trick me.

At Tokyo-based Nintendo affiliate HAL Laboratory during the 1980s and 90s, Iwata helped develop some of Nintendo’s most memorable games. That list includes Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64, the opening salvo in a critically lauded and financially lucrative fighting series starring Nintendo characters like Mario and Donkey Kong that’s since sold in the tens of millions for the company. After he was promoted to president of HAL Laboratory in 1993, he continued to work personally on the company’s products, including several titles in Nintendo’s wildly popular Pokémon series.

Iwata’s move to Nintendo came in 2000, when he assumed management of the company’s corporate planning division. Just two years later, then-Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi, who had helmed the company since 1949, decided to retire, allowing Iwata to step in and steer Nintendo through its most inventive period yet.

It was under Iwata that Nintendo ushered in the Nintendo DS, a dual-screen gaming handheld that succeeded the popular Game Boy, eventually going on to challenge Sony for the title of “bestselling games platform of all time.” Nintendo’s wildly successful Wii, now arguably the most recognizable video game system in the industry’s history, arrived in 2006, another Iwata-led gamble that paid incredible dividends following the company’s lackluster GameCube, which launched in 2001. And while Iwata’s critics often accused the company of reacting too slowly to industry trends, Iwata wasn’t afraid to enact radical change: after years of financial downturns (exacerbated by the company’s poorly received Wii U game console), he unveiled plans this March to develop games for smartphones and tablets. The world will now remember Iwata as the Nintendo leader who tore down the wall between the company’s heavily guarded iconic IP and non-Nintendo platforms.

But it was Iwata’s playful, almost mischievous and refreshingly candid personal style that so endeared him to the company’s fans. In 2011, he helped launch a video series dubbed Nintendo Direct, personally emceeing the company’s biggest surprises, often with quirky framing twists, like an effects-laden mock kung-fu brawl with Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé for E3 2014. At Nintendo’s E3 2015 presentation last month, he appeared as a Muppet designed by The Jim Henson Company.

Iwata’s other significant public relations innovation was “Iwata Asks,” a remarkable series in which Iwata interviewed members of Nintendo’s many development teams, delving into the anecdotal history of some of the company’s best loved projects. It was a Nintendophile’s dream come true.

Above all, Iwata established and maintained a decorous tone often at odds with his competitors. In lieu of visually splashy, clamorous stage-led events at annual game shows, Iwata chose charmingly simple, almost dignified presentational vignettes. When fans responded negatively to a new Nintendo idea, Iwata’s reaction was often swift and direct: after an upcoming Nintendo DS game built on a hallowed Nintendo franchise was waved off by fans at E3 last month, Iwata tweeted his thanks to fans for their feedback and promised to meet their expectations.

Iwata’s health problems were first aired just before E3 in June 2014, when Iwata, who had been planning to attend the show (I was scheduled to meet with him), mysteriously backed out. At the time, Nintendo said Iwata’s doctors had warned him against travel, but didn’t say why. A few weeks later, the company disclosed Iwata was battling cancer, specifically a tumor in his bile duct. At that point he’d had surgery, and his prospects sounded hopeful because the doctors had apparently found the tumor early. When he resumed appearing in Nintendo Direct videos following E3, he was clearly thinner, but seemed otherwise unfazed. Though he again missed this year’s E3, he remained publicly active to the end, participating in Nintendo’s last shareholder meeting just a few weeks ago.

President of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata passes away at 55

Nintendo has officially announced the passing of Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, on July 11 due to a bile duct tumor. During his time at the video game corporation, Iwata brought to life the epic RPG Earthbound (known by Japanese gamers as Mother 2) and the early Kirby series. The Gamecube and Wii U can also be attributed to his vision, while also ushering in the success of the DS and 3DS, both of which remain popular with casual and hardcore gamers to this day. He was 55.

People love Nintendo’s plastic Amiibo figures: Nearly 2.6 million sold

Engadget:

Nintendo has announced that sales of its Amiibo figures are “nearly double” that of Super Smash Bros. game sales on the Wii U. (Nintendo sold 1.3 million copies of the title in the tail end of 2014, and so math tells us that figure sales float around the 2.6 million mark, which is pretty incredible.)

Last month, Nintendo stated that figure sales were roughly equal to the game sales, meaning people apparently buying more figures now. Nintendo stated that some figures have already been discontinued, much to eBay profiteers’ delight. Naturally, a little bit of rarity can help give sales a lift.

Handheld gaming continues to rule in Japan

Handheld Gaming Continues To Rule in Japan

Kotaku:

So last week, the New Nintendo 3DS was released in Japan as was Monster Hunter 4G. Both highlight the obvious: Handheld gaming is still very big in the country.

Let’s be honest, home consoles still aren’t really doing spectacular in Japan. But they’re not dying by a damn sight. According to Media Create, Sony sold 11,697 PlayStation 4 units between October 6 and October 12. That’s hardly amazing, but to Sony’s credit, the console did outsell the Vita and the 3DS. Here’s how the hardware sales looked during that week:

1. New Nintendo 3DS XL: 164,756 units

2. New Nintendo 3DS: 70,050 units

3. Nintendo 3DS XL: 19,727 units

4. PlayStation 4: 11,697 units

5. PS Vita: 8,561 units

6. Nintendo 3DS: 7,340 units

7. Wii U: 6,309 units

8. PlayStation 3: 4,954 units

9. Xbox One: 809 units

10. Vita TV: 737 units

11. Xbox 360: 97 units

12. PSP: 67 units

While the Wii U really needs a jumpstart (Super Smash Bros. for Wii U?), Nintendo looks like it’s doing well with all its different portables. Yes, those numbers will drop off during the following week’s sales, but the software sales continue to be incredibly strong. Even the Vita is getting a good flow of titles that seem to be doing well.

Here’s how the software chart looked during that same period:

1. Monster Hunter 4G (3DS): 1,446,289 units

2. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (3DS): 76,392 units

3. Yokai Watch 2 (3DS): 57,583 units

4. Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix (PS3): 21,158 units

5. FIFA15 (PS4): 16,719 units

This is actually pretty good. Two console games in the top five—great news. But looking at the rest of the top fifty games, nineteen of them are Nintendo 3DS games, while nine of them are PS Vita titles. The rest are PS3, PS4 and Wii U games. Of course, these figures are for what are called “consumer games” in Japan and don’t show download figures for smartphone apps, which are also incredibly popular in Japan—and well, everywhere these days.

However, for those who like traditional gaming, it’s nice to see portable systems continuing to get new exciting titles.

 

Mario Kart 8 to feature vintage cars from Mercedes-Benz

Image of Mario Kart 8 to Feature Vintage Cars from Mercedes-Benz

 

Forget about the latest sneaker collab, Nintendo’s mainstay Super Mario franchise has teamed up with German carmaker Mercedes-Benz on the eighth installment of Mario Kart. For the new video game, players can download three different automotive classics from the Mercedes-Benz archives, including the 1936 W125 F1 Silver Arrows, the 300 SL Roadster from the 1950s, and the currently model GLA SUV in a convertible form.

What’s more is that this package will coincide with the launch of the “Mercedes Cup” – an online tournament in which players can race one another for world supremacy. The DLC is slated to release August 27 for the Wii U console.

 

Image of Mario Kart 8 to Feature Vintage Cars from Mercedes-Benz

Image of Mario Kart 8 to Feature Vintage Cars from Mercedes-Benz

Image of Mario Kart 8 to Feature Vintage Cars from Mercedes-Benz

 

Video

‘Mario Maker’, a video game featuring the ability to create, design, and play 2D ‘Mario’ Levels

Mario Maker is a video game by Nintendo for their Wii U console that features the ability to create, design, and play 2D Mario levels using the Wii U’s GamePad. The visual style of the levels can also be swapped around — an 8-bit Super Mario Bros. look and a new Super Mario Bros. U look were both shown at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2014.

Mario Maker is scheduled to release in 2015.

Link

Nintendo bundling Wii U with two games and an extra controller for $330 on May 30th

 

Engadget:

 

You don’t have a Wii U yet, right? You’re forgiven, and far from unique (in that respect, anyway — you’re a unique snowflake otherwise). Should the eighth entry in the Mario Kart series pique your interest, Nintendo‘s got a pretty fantastic bundle arriving at the end of May with a copy of the game, an extra Wii Remote Plus gamepad, and a free download of one of four games. All that stuff comes together in one box for $329.99 — a pretty great deal considering the Wii U system in the box costs $300 by itself!

The price isn’t a measure of Nintendo trying to save you dough, but one of a company struggling to make its game console relevant against growing competition from Sony and Microsoft. The PlayStation 4‘s sales are already outpacing the Wii U, at 7 million consoles compared to Nintendo’s 5.86 million (as of Dec. 31 2013); Xbox One isn’t far behind at 5 million.

With major third-party publishers like EA and Ubisoft largely abandoning the Wii U, Nintendo’s leaning on first-party software to sell the system. And that’s where this Spring’s Mario Kart 8 comes in, the latest entry in a series going back to the Super Nintendo era. Like Microsoft offering Titanfall bundled in with Xbox One, Nintendo is bundling a major, exclusive release with its console, and taking a hit on profits from game sales in favor of putting more Wii Us in more living rooms. The hope is, in the long run, more consoles in homes means more game / accessory sales (which is where the real money is for Nintendo).

The company also announced this week that it’s going to skip holding a press conference at E3, instead opting to host a Nintendo Direct video stream.

 

Check out this link:

 

Nintendo bundling Wii U with two games and an extra controller for $330 on May 30th

Link

Nintendo CEO outlines plan to move into health-related entertainment

Nintendo CEO outlines plan to move into health-related entertainment

Nintendo chief executive Satoru Iwata.

Boxed in by rivals in video games, Nintendo outlined its plan to redefine itself as a health-oriented entertainment company in the coming decade. In a letter to shareholders, Nintendo chief executive Satoru Iwata said the company plans to expand beyond games to make entertainment that improves “quality of life” for people.

It is a risky strategy to expand beyond video games at a time when its core business is losing money and rivals like Sony, Microsoft, and Apple are gaining ground on it. But it’s also the kind of “blue ocean” strategy that Iwata has tried before — something that worked with the Wii console.

Iwata talked about Nintendo’s history since its founding as a seller of Hanafuda, or traditional Japanese playing cards, 125 years ago. It innovated and shifted to becoming a toy company, then an electronic toy company, and then a video game company. Nintendo launched its first game console, the Nintendo Entertainment System, in 1983. Its Wii console in 2006 was a big success, but the Wii U has been a disaster, and the 3DS handheld isn’t selling as many as its predecessor, the DS.

So to adapt to the shifting market, Nintendo is expanding into health.

Vitality Sensor

The Nintendo Vitality Sensor.

 

As the business environment around us has shifted with the times, we have decided to redefine entertainment as something that improves people’s quality of life (“QOL”) in enjoyable ways and expand our business areas. What Nintendo will try to achieve in the next 10 years is a platform business that improves people’s QOL in enjoyable ways,” Iwata said.

Back in 2009, Nintendo hinted at a health entertainment strategy when it announced a “vitality sensor” that could measure your heartbeat and input that data into a Nintendo Wii game. But Nintendo never shipped that sensor.

He said that Nintendo will still remain focused on dedicated video game hardware and software platforms.

But he added, “We will attempt to establish a new business area apart from our dedicated video game business. We have set ‘health’ as the theme for our first step and we will try to use our strength as an entertainment company to create unique approaches that expand this business.”

Nintendo wants to expand its base of users, much like it did with the Wii, whose motion-sensing controller was so easy to use that it appealed to people who weren’t traditional video game fans. With its new health products and services, Iwata said that Nintendo wants to “create an environment in which more people are conscious about their health and in turn expand Nintendo’s overall user base.”

What has remained the same from the past is that we have always tried to create something new from materials and technologies available at that time, to position entertainment as our core business and to improve people’s QOL in enjoyable ways,” Iwata said. “We will continue to value self-innovation in line with the times and aim for growth.”

Check out this link:

Nintendo CEO outlines plan to move into health-related entertainment