This week the gaming world has paid its respects to Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, who passed away on Monday from a bile duct growth. He was aged 55.
Iwata had a long and illustrious history with Nintendo, working as a programmer at HAL Laboratory on titles including Earthbound and Balloon Fight, before succeeding Hiroshi Yamauchi in 2002 to become only the fourth President of the company. During his tenure the company enjoyed great success with the DS and Wii consoles, while Iwata himself received praise for his hands-on approach to the role; regularly hosting Nintendo Direct announcements and highlighting the work of developers with ‘Iwata Asks’ interviews. In recent years he took a voluntary 50% paycut in response to Nintendo’s falling profits, and following E3 less than a month ago he publicly apologized for what was perceived by hardcore fans as a disappointing showing. While fighting illness in recent months, he also announced Nintendo’s intention to get into the mobile games sector. Continue reading WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 13TH -19TH JULY→
The company responsible for the design of the Xbox 360 controller have been bought by virtual reality developers Oculus. Carbon Design, based out of Seattle in the USA, have reportedly been working with Oculus for over a year on unannounced projects, but it is expected the formal deal will be completed by the time Autumn rolls around for a as of yet unrevealed fee.
In a live video stream aired earlier this morning at 11am GMT, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata announced to the world that Pokemon will be entering into its sixth generation with two new games – Pokemon X and Pokemon Y. The games will be in 3D (a first for the handheld games in the series) exclusively on the 3DS handheld console, and for the first time the games will be getting a synchronized worldwide release later this year, in October 2013.
The video showed off the three new starters for the sixth generation, as well as two new unidentified legendaries which will presumably act as the mascots for the two versions. The video also showed snippets of gameplay, including what appears to be a much more cinematic flow to battling. You can watch the video in HD via the link below.
What do we reckon then? It was inevitable that the series was going to make the transition to 3D at some point; I was surprised that Black & White 2 were available on the DS. What intrigues me the most is how quickly the new generation has come around – usually there is a bigger gap between titles. Here’s hoping they don’t rush it for the October release date.
Nintendo have finally revealed the all important pricing and release details for their new console, the Wii U. Announced by company CEO Satoru Iwata on the official Nintendo website last night, the basic Wii U will cost 26,250 yen (£210/$338), while the black Premium model will be slightly pricier at 31,500 yen (£252/$405). The console will be released later than the anticipated November date, on the 8th December.
Both models will come packaged with a Wii U GamePad, a Wii U GamePad stylus, an HDMI cable, and AC adapters for the system and controller, while those who shell out for the Premium model will also nab a Wii U GamePad charging stand, Wii U GamePad playing stand and Wii U stand. The Premium model also has a memory capacity of 32GB compared to 8GB on the standard model. Mr Iwata also revealed some of the system specs which have been kept very secret up to this point. The memory reserved for games is 1GB, the same figure used to run the internal operating system, and game discs can hold up to 25GB of data (roughly the same as an average Blu Ray disc).
Doesn’t sound too bad yet does it? Well here’s the news that will kick your teeth in – the Wii U Gamepad has been priced at 13,340 yen, which at current exchange rates would be nearly £107. The initial prices for two of the launch games don’t appear to be particularly inviting either – New Super Mario Bros U has been priced at 5,985 yen (£48/$77) and NintendoLand (the game which attracted a great deal of derision at E3 this year and many people thought would be a bundle game) is 4,935 yen (£39/$66). Those exchange prices aren’t set in stone, but when you factor in costs such as VAT that will be applied when they go on sale we have to assume that Wii U games will be costing more than PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Also, I pity the poor person who breaks a Gamepad and has to buy a new one; I’m no mystic, but I would have a pop at guessing that the damn expensive controllers may well be the Wii U’s downfall in the future.
So now you know how much it’s going to cost – are you going to buy one?
UPDATE: After posting this article, Nintendo confirmed the details for European customers. Strangely we will be getting the console before its native Japan as it will go on sale on November 30th. NintendoLand has also been confirmed as a bundle game with every console sold.
Up until around midday yesterday, E3 was running smooth as you like. As then Nintendo pulled a major cat out of the bag by announcing that they would be showing off a special pre-recorded broadcast by president Satoru Iwata at 11pm GMT, showing us a bit more on the new Wii U console. Around 80,000 people watched the stream live on Nintendo’s website, including myself to see what new tricks the Wii U has to play with. The video has since been re-uploaded for those who missed it, but if you don’t particularly desire watching Iwata talk for half an hour, here’s the main headlines summed up from the video:
The Wii U tablet, the focus of much attention when the console was revealed at last year’s E3, has undergone a slight change in aesthetics. Most importantly, the circle pads have been replaced with two analogue sticks which can be clicked in, a NFS system has been added on the left hand side, some of the menu buttons have been moved to the right hand side for easier access (including one which lets the tablet act as a tv remote), and the back of the tablet has been modified to be more ergonomically friendly. Check out the image below for a before and after screenshot. In homage to the original NES controllers, the tablet has been officially named as the ‘Wii U Gamepad’.
Most surprisingly, Iwata then revealed an entirely new controller in the form of the ‘Wii U Pro Controller’, which closely resembles a hybrid of the current PS3 and Xbox 360 controllers. The idea is that the Pro controller will allow for simultaneous two to four player games to be played on the Wii U, as only one Gamepad can be connected at any one time. All accusations of design stealing aside, this controller will allow the Wii U to function as a games console for those who do not desire the gimmick of the tablet screen, and will probably be the controller of choice for games like Mario Kart and the next Super Smash Bros. Good decision on Nintendo’s behalf
The big change in Nintendo’s strategy for the Wii U however, is connectivity. The Wii was highly effective at getting people together to play in the same living room, but its capacity to connect beyond that was awful (the internet connectivity in particular is woeful compared to PSN and Xbox Live). The Wii U looks to change all that, with the big marquee being the all new ‘Miiverse’. Acting like an enormous forum using Mii’s, gamers can see what other people are playing, share thoughts and offer tips on games by leaving messages (which can be typed on hand drawn using the Gamepad’s screen) and connect in several other ways. Crucially, it will not just be limited to the Wii U, as the service can be accessed also on the 3DS, PC and *gasp* smartphones – for those of you who may be unaware, that is an enormous change in strategy as Nintendo are usually fairly secular in how they operate with other companies. The Miiverse will be at the forefront of Nintendo’s first real push into the online market; Iwata’s concluding note on the subject was that it will be the first thing people see when they switch on the Wii U console.
In other stuff, the Miiverse concept was demonstrated by one of the most poorly acted sequences I have ever seen, notable only for the appearance of a grandad offering help on how to beat a zombie, and the ‘Non Specific Action Figure‘. Within seconds of thier appearance both were trending and will no doubt have turned into a meme in the time I have been asleep overnight. Go to 12:40 in the video link above to watch the segment in full.
It was a crafty move indeed by Nintendo to get this information out ahead of Microsoft and Sony’s conferences (which in case you need reminding start at 5:30pm and 2:30am GMT today), as on Wednesday they can now focus almost exclusively on games that will be available on the Wii U. Expect a new 2D Mario, a new Zelda, a new Metroid and several other surprises. It should be a cracker