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.

Get some Nintendo on your Sony with these PS4 skins

PS4 Nintendo

RocketNews 24:

As odd a concept as it may sound to some, had the 1991 deal between Nintendo and Sony gone off without a hitch, not only might the PlayStation brand as we know it today not even exist, but gamers the world over might be able to play titles like Super Mario 3D World and Wii Sports on Sony-made hardware. Instead, with Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft all vying for our hard-earned cash, console gamers are faced with a choice: choose a platform to invest in or live on nothing but baked beans for a year and buy them all.

If you’re a Sony fan and have already picked up a PS4, no doubt you’re as pleased with your purchase as we were with ours. But there’s no denying that Nintendo’s creations have a certain appeal to them, and few of Sony’s first-party characters could ever compete with Mario et al. Thankfully, third-party retailer LUCKY D has you – and your PlayStation – covered, as they’re selling sticker skins for PlayStation 4 featuring everything from Pikachu to Evangelion‘s Asuka.

We’ve seen all manner of limited-edition PlayStation 4 case designs since the console’s arrival just over a year ago. Besides the beautiful real-wood PS4, few have really caught our eye, though, and for those who picked up their console at launch it can be irritating to see alternative designs coming out just months later.

LUCKY D, however, has a solution. With their “PS4 Skin Seals” PlayStation owners can deck out their console with all manner of alternative designs. Nintendo fans especially will be pleased to learn that the Japanese retailer stocks two special skins which permit the unholy matrimony of Nintendo and Sony to take place, offering a sticker set featuring Mario and friends, and another which turns your PS4 into everyone’s favourite yellow lightning rat, Pikachu.

According to their Amazon JP listing, the stickers come in pieces, covering the PlayStation 4 console itself, DualShock 4 controller, and even the tiny touch panel on the controller’s front. It looks like the stickers wrap right around the PS4, too, giving the underside a splash of colour – something which those who stand their console vertically will no doubt appreciate.

▼ Mario and pals

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▼ LUCKY D is also offering this rather sexy Black Rock Shooter skin,

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▼ a tremendously cool skin featuring Asuka from Evangelion,

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▼ Boob pillow-cum-virtual idol Super Sonico,

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▼ and this Kantai Collection skin, which is sure to please fans of all things moe.

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The skins retail for between 3,200 and 3,672 yen (US$27-31) on Amazon JP. We’re sorry to say that our favourite of the lot, the yellow Pikachu skin, is already out of stock, however, so you may want to bookmark that page and check back regularly. As for whether these things are officially licensed, or how long Nintendo will allow the LUCKY D to use their characters on stickers designed for a rival console, only time will tell, so if you’re looking to add some Nintendo to your Sony, you may want to move quickly.

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.

 

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.