kottke.org posts about Nintendo

Bo Jackson's quarter-long runDec 12 2012

In this video, Bo Jackson's historic quarter-long run against the Patriots is recreated on Tecmo Super Bowl almost exactly. I tried to figure out how many yards he actually ran, but I can't count that high or fast. Apparently a Tecmo quarter lasts about 1:54 when the clock is allowed to run.

See also, You Don't Know Bo, the just aired ESPN 30 for 30 documentary. (via @sportsguy33)

What your favorite Nintendo game says about youDec 12 2012

Let's see, my favorite game was probably the original Legend of Zelda, so:

You have carried a piece of string cheese behind your ear for a whole day.

Not the whole day, but certainly longer than was socially or hygienically acceptable. (via @tcarmody)

Did blowing into Nintendo cartridges really help?Sep 25 2012

Ok, I'm gonna point you to the article discussing the whole thing but based on my years of extensive experience as a kid, I can tell you that blowing into the cartridge absolutely did work. Zelda in particular always needed a good blow before playing. (via @djacobs)

Shigeru Miyamoto to step down at NintendoDec 07 2011

Miyamoto, who is responsible for creating or overseeing the creation of Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and many other games, is stepping down from his role as manager of Nintendo's Entertainment Analysis and Development branch to work with a smaller team on smaller games with much shorter timelines.

"What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself," Miyamoto said. "Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small."

Miyamoto was profiled in the New Yorker last December. (via @shauninman)

Update: Nintendo says it was a misunderstanding.

"This is absolutely not true," said a spokeswoman for Nintendo. "There seems to have been a misunderstanding. He has said all along that he wants to train the younger generation. "He has no intention of stepping down. Please do not be concerned."

Metroid source codeOct 14 2011

Here's the entire source code + helpful annotations for the original Metroid game for the NES.

Labels corresponding to address values have been added to every line to make the code easier to follow for beginners interested in understanding the inner workings of a Nintendo game. The labels also make the code easier to debug if it is modified. At this time, the source code is still a work in progress but it is much farther along than the original document. The title page is completely documented. The intro routine, end routine, password scheme and sound engine are described in detail. About a third of the game engine is detailed and about half of each game area page.

(via @shauninman)

Wii 2Apr 21 2011

Project Cafe, or the Wii 2 as everyone else is calling it, is Nintendo's next gaming box. IGN has some details:

According to sources with knowledge of the project, Nintendo's next console could have a retail price of anywhere between $350 and $400 based on manufacturing costs, and will ship from Taiwanese manufacturer, Foxconn, this October, putting the earliest possible retail release anywhere between mid-October and early November.

Shigeru Miyamoto profiled in the New YorkerDec 13 2010

The New Yorker's Nick Paumgarten goes long on Nintendo's resident genius, Shigeru Miyamoto, designer of many of Nintendo's top games.

In his games, Miyamoto has always tried to re-create his childhood wonderment, if not always the actual experiences that gave rise to it, since the experiences themselves may be harder to come by in a paved and partitioned world. "I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish," he told me one day. "That's something that I just can't express in words. It's such an unusual situation. I wish that children nowadays could have similar experiences, but it's not very easy."

Koopa Soupa and Ganon LoafNov 09 2010

Meat cut diagrams for some of your favorite Nintendo characters.

Koopa Supper

Prints are available.

Super There Will Be BloodNov 03 2010

The Super Nintendo version of There Will Be Blood:

This is pitch perfect. What really puts this video over the top are the sound effects ("milkshake!") and that it doesn't go on too long.

The Super Mario Bros infinite 1-upOct 28 2010

In a recent interview for the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., Mario's baby daddy Shigeru Miyamoto revealed that the infinite 1-up trick was included in the game on purpose but that the minus world was a bug.

"We did code the game so that a trick like that would be possible," Miyamoto revealed. "We tested it out extensively to figure out how possible pulling the trick off should be and came up with how it is now, but people turned out to be a lot better at pulling the trick off for ages on end than we thought." What about the famed Minus World? "That's a bug, yes, but it's not like it crashes the game, so it's really kind of a feature, too!"

Javascript Nintendo emulatorSep 17 2009

This Javascript Nintendo emulator works amazingly well in Google Chrome. You can play Dr. Mario, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, The Legend of Zelda, etc.

I highly recommend you use Google Chrome to play JSNES. Thanks to its high performance canvas element, and a clever optimisation by Connor Dunn, it runs at full speed on modern computers. Mac builds are also available. Otherwise, it just about runs on Firefox 3.5 or Safari 4, but it's hardly playable.

We've come a long way from the days of the 5K Awards.

New Super Mario Bros. WiiAug 21 2009

Might have to dust off the Wii for this one: New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Features include four-player collaborative play (!!) and something called "demo play".

The game will also be the first game on the Wii to feature "demo play", where players will be able to pause the game, let the game complete the level for them, and resume play at any time by unpausing.

In my house, this was called the "give the controller to my 11-year-old cousin and let him show you how it's done" feature. I both hated and loved that feature. (via object of my obsession)

Punch-Out for WiiMay 11 2009

Punch-Out is coming to the Wii (@ Amazon)...the teaser commercial features Isiah Whitlock, Jr., who played Clay Davis on The Wire, as Little Mac's trainer. It's worth watching to hear Whitlock's comparison of comebacks and yo-yos. (thx, rob)

The Game Boy is 20Apr 27 2009

The Game Boy just turned 20; here are six reasons why it was so successful. Surprisingly, the list is not:

1. Tetris
2. Tetris
3. Tetris
4. Tetris
5. Tetris
6. Tetris

Tetris didn't start with the Game Boy, of course (Pajitnov created it for the PC in 1985), but the Game Boy made it mainstream. Ultimately, Tetris proved so popular that it quickly drove sales of Nintendo's handheld console into the millions. Tetris's grown-up gameplay also attracted adults to Nintendo's new platform, expanding Game Boy's potential audience beyond the usual adolescent NES set.

Somewhere, I still have an original Game Boy with a Tetris cart wedged into it.

Wii Balance Board reviewsMay 16 2008

The Wii Balance Board, the new exercise peripheral for the Nintendo Wii, was reviewed favorably by a number of people for the New York Times. A fitness professional at the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers gave it pretty high marks:

"Actually I think it's pretty good," she said. "You can definitely get a workout. When I started doing it, I realized all the activities were pretty much on point. There were some things I didn't like, like the alignment in a couple of places. But over all, I thought they did a good job and this will be a good tool for people who can't make it to the gym."

The Wii Balance Board will be released in the US and Canada early next week.

Update: Joel Johnson has a nice round-up of exercise-themed video game accessories, from the unreleased Atari Puffer to the Wii Fit.

Grand Theft Auto, circa 1985May 07 2008

Commercial for the little-known version of Grand Theft Auto for the circa-1985 NES. The Tanooki Suit is the best part. (via house next door)

Ooh, there's going to be a Dr.Apr 02 2008

Ooh, there's going to be a Dr. Mario game available for the Wii at some point, playable over the network. It's already downloadable via WiiWare in Japan...which should not be confused with the Virtual Console downloadable games even though the difference is really confusing.

Mario Kart Wii out soonMar 27 2008

Mario Kart Wii will be out in the US on April 27!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why so many exclamation points? Feast thine eyes on this:

This game has been announced as supporting the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service. This will feature online racing and battle modes, both of which are capable of up to 12 simultaneous players. It has also been confirmed that there will be online leagues, with international and local rankings. This will take place from within an entirely separate Wii Channel. This channel will also feature the option of sending saved time-trial ghost data.

IGN has several videos for your online viewing pleasure.

A pair of videos showing off WiiJan 03 2008

A pair of videos showing off Wii Fit, a balance board device for the Wii. Looks pretty interesting, although if it's marketed as exercise equipment, I fear it may not do so well. The board and a Wiimote in each hand could make for a pretty convincing skiing experience.

Update: Hmm, the Honda Fit and Wii Fit logos look pretty similar. (thx, dave)

Wailing Pull Stars of Super Mario GalaxyDec 03 2007

The latest installment of Super Mario has received plenty of notice for its revolutionary style of gameplay. But just as striking is the intricacy of its sound design. One convention of the game is a Pull Star, a floating anchor that Mario can grab with some sort of magical, musical force which, when activated emits a creepy, almost theremin-like wail, wavering just a bit before solemnly sliding down in pitch. This sound is one of those elemental formulas for touching an emotional soft spot. The other day I was playing a level with a series of Pull Stars in succession and my girlfriend implored me to stop, as it was making her sad, and not only because I'm a grown man playing a child's video game. Here is an example of the Wailing Pull Star (and a taste of the very Vangelis-like score scattered throughout the game).

Also: via Boing Boing Gadgets, footage from a live orchestra scoring session for the game. Mario's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto sits aside and supervises.

Also also: I noticed that the menu for selecting levels to play is a musical instrument in its own right, allowing the player to create melody with chord changes and everything. It's a subtle touch.

Nice interview with Nintendo game designer YoshiakiNov 28 2007

Nice interview with Nintendo game designer Yoshiaki Koizumi, particularly the bits about shifting from 2-D to 3-D Mario games and Mario Galaxy. The bulk of the gameplay in Galaxy takes place on spherical surfaces:

He explained that no matter how large you make the playing field, if you walk long enough you will run into a wall, and that will make you turn around, which makes the camera turn around and runs the risk of making the player lost. With a sphere, Mario can run all he wants without falling or hitting a wall... a useful concept for getting players totally absorbed in the moment. Koizumi added that the best thing about spherical worlds is the "unity of surface," and the "connectedness." Neither will the player get lost easily, or need to adjust the camera - by using spheres, Koizumi said, they had created a game field that never ended.

They also talk about the Galaxy's two-player (well, 1.5-player really) feature, which is a really nice way of getting a second passive player involved in what is essentially a one-player game. (via snarkmarket)

An appreciation of the Real Super MarioNov 12 2007

An appreciation of the Real Super Mario Bros 2. The game was released in Japan in 1986 but was considered too difficult/weird for US gamers and a different Mario 2 (based on a Japanese game called Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic) was released to the US.

In most games, you trust that the designer is guiding you, through the usual signposts and landmarks, in the direction that you ought to go. In the Real Super Mario Bros. 2, you have no such faith. Here, Miyamoto is not God but the devil. Maybe he really was depressed while making it -- I kept wanting to ask him, Why have you forsaken me? The online reviewer who sizes up the game as "a giant puzzle and practical joke" isn't far off.

The whole upshot is that RSMB2 is now available on the Wii Virtual Console as Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels. And for the record, I loved SMB2.

Nintendo-themed rap music video: Buy Mii aOct 28 2007

Nintendo-themed rap music video: Buy Mii a Wii. My favorite part is when he rhymes Nintendo with Shigeru Miyamoto. (thx, undulattice)

A list of resources for my recentAug 22 2007

A list of resources for my recent dive into the deep end of an infinite pool. Wikipedia page. Search inside @ Amazon. A Reader's Companion to Infinite Jest. Reviews, Articles, & Miscellany. The Howling Fantods! A scene-by-scene guide. Hamlet. Act 5, Scene 1. Infinite Jest online index. Wiki from Walter Payton College Prep (incl. timelines, chars, acronym list, places, etc.). Chronological list of the years in Subsidized Time. Notes on What It All Means. Character profiles by Matt Bucher. Character guide. Vocabulary glossary. Various college theses on IJ. Elegant Complexity: A Study of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest (sadly not out until Nov). Not entirely unrelated: map of the overworld for The Legend of Zelda, which I've started playing again on the Wii. Suggestions welcome, especially looking for a brief chronological timeline of the whole shebang, something like the chronologically sorted version of this but covering more than just when the scenes themselves take place.

Update: Just to be clear, this is my second time through the book. (Last time was, what, 4 years ago?) Trying to make more of a study of it this time.

Update: Suggestion from Ian: "Get 3 bookmarks. 1 for where you are reading, 1 for the footnotes, 1 to mark the page that lists the subsidized years in order." I'm currently using two bookmarks...will get a third for the sub. years list.

iPhone, Wiimote, or newborn baby: which has the best built-in accelerometer?Jul 30 2007

In the Kottke/Hourihan household, much of the past 4 weeks has been spent determining which has the most sensitive built-in accelerometer: an iPhone, a Nintendo Wiimote, or our newborn son.

iPhone Wii Ollie

The iPhone was eliminated fairly quickly...the portrait-to-landscape flip is easy to circumvent if you do it slow enough or at an odd angle. The Wiimote might be the winner; it registers small, slow movements with ease, as when executing a drop shot in tennis or tapping in a putt in golf.

Newborns, however, are born with something called the Moro reflex. When infants feel themselves fall backwards, they startle and throw their arms out to the sides, as illustrated in this video. Even fast asleep they will do this, often waking up in the process. So while the Wiimote's accelerometer may be more sensitive, the psychological pressure exerted on the parent while lowering a sleeping baby slowly and smoothly enough so as not to wake them with the Moro reflex and thereby squandering 40 minutes of walking-the-baby-to-sleep time is beyond intense and so much greater than any stress one might feel serving for the match in tennis or getting that final strike in bowling.

Dave Curry won the kottke.org CelebrityApr 16 2007

Dave Curry won the kottke.org Celebrity Mii contest back in December with a brilliant Zach Braff...he finally got the Zach Braff statuette from Fabjectory. Looks nice!

Not sure that there's a iron-clad sourceMar 26 2007

Not sure that there's a iron-clad source on this, but a new version of Katamari Damacy seems to be rolling towards the Wii. Katamari seems like one of those games that the Wii remote was made for.

Here's some JavaScript you can use toMar 13 2007

Here's some JavaScript you can use to make your web site work on the Wii. "Wiimote keycodes can be detected by JavaScript in the Wii Opera browser [but] I could not find a JavaScript library that facilitates handling these input events, so I created my own"

The Nintendo Wii, and the bowling gameFeb 23 2007

The Nintendo Wii, and the bowling game in particular, is a big hit at an Illinois retirement community (average age: 77). "'I've never been into video games,' said 72-year-old Flora Dierbach last week as her husband took a twirl with the Nintendo Wii's bowling game. 'But this is addictive.'"

I missed this somehow, but Nintendo hasFeb 21 2007

I missed this somehow, but Nintendo has an extensive series of interviews up on their site between Nintendo's president and the Wii development team. A fascinating look at the Wii's development process. (thx, zacharie)

Blah, got sick yesterday somehow, so thingsFeb 16 2007

Blah, got sick yesterday somehow, so things will be a little sparse around here today. Back to the TV. The Wii isn't fun when you're sick...the last thing I want to do this afternoon is stand up.

Putting the game back in video gameFeb 13 2007

Steven Johnson has written up some thoughts on the Nintendo Wii. His fifth point is especially interesting and I can't help quoting almost the entire thing:

Wii Sports trades the onscreen complexity of goals and objectives and puzzles for the physical, haptic complexity of bodily movement. Since the days of Pong, games have been simplifying the intricacies of movement into unified codes of button pressing and joystick manipulation. What strikes you immediately playing Wii Sports -- and particularly Tennis -- is this feeling of fluidity, the feeling that subtle, organic shifts in your body's motion will lead to different results onscreen. My wife has a crosscourt slam she hits at the net that for the life of me I haven't been able to figure out; I have a topspin return of soft serves that I've half-perfected that's unhittable. We both got to those techniques through our own athletic experimentation with various gestures, and I'm not sure I could even fully explain what I'm doing with my killer topspin shot. In a traditional game, I'd know exactly what I was doing: hitting the B button, say, while holding down the right trigger. Instead, my expertise with the shot has evolved through the physical trial-and-error of swinging the controller, experimenting with different gestures and timings. And that's ultimately what's so amazing about the device. Games for years have borrowed the structures and rules -- as well as the imagery -- of athletic competition, but the Wii adds something genuinely new to the mix, something we'd ignored so long we stopped noticing that it was missing: athleticism itself.

He's not exactly right -- for example, drifting in Mario Kart is difficult to do until you develop a "touch" for it and is not easy to explain to others -- but the Wii does take it to a new level.

A Wii-themed Valentine's Day card. "Will youFeb 13 2007

A Wii-themed Valentine's Day card. "Will you be my player 2?" More here. (thx, nicholas)

This just in: Conan O'Brien defeats SerenaFeb 02 2007

This just in: Conan O'Brien defeats Serena Williams at Wii Tennis.

Video: web designers Jeffreys Veen and ZeldmanJan 22 2007

Video: web designers Jeffreys Veen and Zeldman fight in Wii Boxing. More web designer Miis here and an explanation here.

Six weeks ago, a blogger began aJan 16 2007

Six weeks ago, a blogger began a Wii workout regimen to see if he could lose weight by playing Wii Sports. He lost 9 pounds and almost 2% body fat.

A California game company purchased the rightsJan 08 2007

A California game company purchased the rights to Line Rider and plans to release versions of the game for the Nintendo Wii and DS. (thx, selena)

Perched on top of Time magazine's listJan 03 2007

Perched on top of Time magazine's list of best video games for 2006? Wii Sports.

Odd gamesDec 27 2006

Over the holidays, Mike Monteiro discovered there was a Nacho Libre game for the Nintendo DS. Thinking that an arbitrary choice for a movie tie-in game, he started the DS Tie-In Games I Wanna Play group on Flickr to showcase other possible odd media tie-ins for the DS. Some of my favorite submissions so far include: The Passion of the Christ, Birth of a Nation, Empire, Remains of the Day, My Dinner with Andre (Bon Mot controller sold separately), Super Mario Bros, Learning GNU Emacs, Requiem for a Dream, The Cremaster Cycle, and Getting Things Done.

Here's a couple of ones that I've done: Dancer in the Dark and The New Yorker Draw Your Own Cover Electronic Entertainment (with noncompulsory coöperative mode), pictured below.

The New Yorker Draw Your Own Cover Electronic Entertainment

If you join the group, there's a Photoshop kit you can download to join in the fun.

Holy crap: playing the Wii on aDec 22 2006

Holy crap: playing the Wii on a huge movie theater screen!

Update: Here's how they did it.

Here's what kottke.org looks like usingDec 22 2006

Here's what kottke.org looks like using the browser on the Wii. The browser is from Opera and is available for free by going to the Wii Shop Channel, then Wii Ware, and then click "Download".

Real men Wii standing upDec 21 2006

Browsing the various Nintendo Wii forums around the web, I've noticed more and more people pratically bragging that they play the Wii sitting down, flicking their wrists instead of the beautiful and healthful full-body motion that nature intended. These couch potatoes shall not be suffered. For the Wii purist, I made this prototype for a tshirt:

Wii Shirt

A ladies version is also in the works, even though the pun doesn't work as well.

How do motion-sensing video game controllers (likeDec 18 2006

How do motion-sensing video game controllers (like the Wii remote) work? "The accelerometers used in the Nintendo controller are thinner than a penny, small enough to fit twelve on a postage stamp, and sell for under $6 a piece. They can accurately measure forces more than three times stronger than the pull of gravity in three directions - up and down, side to side, and forward and back."

Update: The folks at Spark Fun Electronics took the Wii remote apart to see how it worked. (thx, david)

Celebrity Mii Contest results!Dec 18 2006

From over 220 entries in the Celebrity Mii Contest, the judges have selected their favorite celebrity avatar created with the Nintendo Wii. And the winner is Dave Curry with his Zach Braff Mii:

Zach Braff

Judge Spencer Sloan of Goldenfiddle said of this entry: "What's beautiful about this one is the truth in this piece. Yes, Braff, you're a nose and some lip. Bravo to the artist for taking a risk." Judge Jen Bekman of the Jen Bekman gallery said of the Braff: "There is this eerily human quality - I mean it really looks like him, as a person, in a weird way." The Braff Mii was not the most faithfully rendered celebrity Mii but with a few broad strokes, Curry created something more than the sum of its parts and ventured close to art. Well done. As the winner, Dave will receive the Wii game of his choice and a 3-D statuette of the Zach Braff Mii provided by Fabjectory.

Here are some other entries the judges felt strongly about (i.e. the runners-up) with commentary:

Jack Black
Jack Black by both Brandon Erickson and Shane Walsh
Jen: "Faithfully rendered."
Spencer: "The artist really captured Black's unsettling feline qualities with confidence and skill, and for that he/she must be congratulated."

Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice by Alex Chang
Jen: "The Condi one looks like her and also is a caricature at the same time, embodying the devil-essence that surely corrupts her soul."

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Stephanie Goins
Spencer: "This one is like the Mona Lisa. I cannot escape her glazy stare, try as I may. She's perfect in every way."

Woody Allen
Woody Allen by Adam Preble
Jen: "Great, immediately recognizable, somewhat of an easy target though."

Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo by Adriana Tatum

Marlon Brando
Vito Corleone by Benjamin Lim
Jen: "Don Corleone came close to being my top pick before I decided that he too, was a bit too easy."

Steve Zissou
Steve Zissou by Mark Husson
Spencer: "Nice work on the hat, I guess, but the moustache is weird. Plus, no pock marks. And Stevie definitely needs him a frown."

Admiral Ackbar
Admiral Ackbar by Eric Eberhardt and Mike Boccieri
Spencer: "Admiral Ackbar is fantastic, obviously, because I immediately knew who he was, and maybe you didn't. I'm interested to find out whether the artist went in with Ackbar in mind or saw him in some of the available features. Very well done, indeed."

Klaus Nomi
Klaus Nomi by D.J. Ross' girlfriend
Spencer: "The Klaus Nomi is a strong work but possesses little confidence. This Klaus is all fear.
More timid mime than weirdo alien swagger."

And here are the rest of the finalists that the judges had to choose from. You may notice a few excellent cartoon entries...the judges felt that while they were worthy finalists, they did not merit the top spots because of a lower degree of difficulty involved in their construction (i.e. making a cartoon character with what is essentially a cartoon editor).

The rest of the finalists
From top to bottom, left to right: Velma from Scooby Doo, Hannibal Lecter, Jack Skellington from A Nightmare Before Christmas, Dick Cheney, Tom Cruise, Hulk Hogan, Jennifer Wilbanks (aka The Runaway Bride), George Costanza, Charlie Brown, and V from V for Vendetta.

Missing from the finalists are the multiple Michael Jacksons, Hitlers, Satans, Walter Sobchaks, Beatles, and Kim Jong Ils. So many Mii versions of all these people exist online that it didn't feel right including them in the final round because they were both too easy and too easily copied from elsewhere.

Finally, a personal favorite that didn't make it into the final round:

Dfw Tennis
David Foster Wallace by Nick Maniatis

I get the feeling that in the Maniatis household, there are a lot of Wii Tennis matches pitting Wallace and Hal Incandenza against Tracy Austin and Michael Joyce. Awesome.

Thanks to everyone who entered and to the judges for deciding amongst such a strong field of entrants.

I don't know how so many peopleDec 15 2006

I don't know how so many people are hurtling their Wii remotes across the room, but Nintendo has seen fit to recall the straps and replace them for free. To find out if you need a new strap (some remotes already have the better strap), check here. (thx, janelle)

Celebrity Mii Contest - last chance!Dec 13 2006

The Celebrity Mii Contest ends at 11:59 PM ET tonight (Wed.), so get your entries in!

Update: The contest is over and the results are here.

Missed this article from a few weeksDec 11 2006

Missed this article from a few weeks ago: Why you shouldn't buy the Nintendo Wii. I almost didn't have time to read this because I'm having WAY too much fun playing the Wii.

More on the Celebrity Mii ContestDec 11 2006

The Celebrity Mii Contest is going swimmingly, lots of good entries so far. Three announcements to make:

1. Mike Buckbee of Fabjectory has offered to make a physical statuette of the winner's celebrity Mii. So cool! The company currently does characters from SecondLife and SketchUp models, but they're branching out into making Miis and the winner's Mii statuette will be among the first that they produce.

2. I have extended the contest deadline until the end of the day on Wednesday, Dec 13. Lots have entered, but there's room for more.

3. Spencer Sloan of the excellent celebrity gossip site, Goldenfiddle, has agreed to lend his celebrity expertise to help judge the contest. I am working on getting another judge as well...stay tuned for further information.

That is all. Enter now!

Update: The contest is over and the results are here.

November 2006 sales figures for various video gameDec 11 2006

November 2006 sales figures for various video game consoles. The PS2 is still outselling the Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360. (via wonderland)

At least now we know what "Wii"Dec 08 2006

At least now we know what "Wii" stands for: it's the sound the Wii Remote makes as it flies through the air just before hitting your TV. Wiiiiiiiii!!! "For example, in Wii Sports bowling, the proper way to let go of the ball while bowling is to release the 'B' button on the Wii Remote -- DO NOT LET GO OF THE Wii REMOTE ITSELF." (thx, janelle)

Just the other day I was thinking, "Dec 08 2006

Just the other day I was thinking, "gosh it would be neat if they made a painting game for the Wii". But a Bob Ross painting game for the Wii? Holy crap!

I'm having a contest: use your NintendoDec 07 2006

I'm having a contest: use your Nintendo Wii avatar editor to make the best celebrity Mii. Deadline is Monday, Dec 11. Lots of good entries so far, send yours in!

Celebrity Mii contest!Dec 06 2006

The Nintendo Wii includes a nifty editor for making the avatars that you play with, which are called Miis. Here's a video demonstrating how the editor works. The editor is suprisingly powerful for how simple it is and almost right away, people began making celebrity Miis...early efforts included Michael Jackson and Liza Minnelli. Some of the best celebrity Miis I've seen are Spike Lee, Borat, Steve Martin, Amy Sedaris as Jerri Blank, and Charlie Brown.

Meg and I set out to do a John Lennon Mii last nght, but as soon as we saw these eyes, we switched to Paul McCartney:

Paul Mccartney Mii

Not too shabby for a few minutes work, but I know you can do better. So, I'm having a contest to see who can make the best celebrity Mii. The rules are as follows:

1. All Miis must be made with the Nintendo Wii editor, not this Flash editor (which is cool, but not the same).

2. No cheating! Make your own Mii, don't just copy someone else's.

3. I love your mom, but she's not a celebrity. Frances Bean, you can ignore this rule.

4. You retain exclusive worldwide rights to your Mii and its image, save for giving me permission to post it on kottke.org as part of the contest.

5. Judging will be done by me and possibly a panel of "celebrity" judges if I can scrounge some up. The family and friends of the judges can enter, but will be held to much higher standards than everyone else, just as in real life.

6. Only two entries per person. (And don't enter two in your own name and then have your friend email in two more. Pick your best two, send 'em in, and take your chances.)

7. Entry deadline is Monday, December 11th at 11:59 pm ET. The entry deadline has been moved to Wednesday, December 13th at 11:59 pm ET. I will announce the winner at some time shortly after that.

To enter, make your Mii, take a photo of it on the screen (make sure the Mii is clearly visible in the photo), and send a link to the photo to jason@kottke.org with a subject line of "Celebrity Mii Contest" (no quotes). You can also send attachments but because of my spam situation, I cannot guarantee that they will get through to me...send a link to your entry to make sure. There will be some still-as-yet-unspecified prize (I'm thinking a Wii game or something like that) awarded to the winner. Good luck!

Update: More information on prizes (including a cool Mii statuette for the winner) and judges here.

Update: The contest is over and the results are here.

My upside down Mii. I was tryingDec 05 2006

My upside down Mii. I was trying to make a Picassoesque Cubist Mii, but the editor isn't that functional so this is what I ended up with instead.

DarwiinRemote lets you use a Wii RemoteDec 05 2006

DarwiinRemote lets you use a Wii Remote as an input device for OS X. Take heart Windows users, WiinRemote is for you.

NES and SNES controller adapters for NintendoDec 05 2006

NES and SNES controller adapters for Nintendo Wii. Shipping in Q1 2007.

Wii: first thoughtsNov 29 2006

I got the chance this past weekend to play the Wii at a friend's house for a few hours. Here are some rough initial thoughts:

0. It's fun. Really fun. Like "baby laughing hysterically for no reason other than he's a baby and he's alive" fun. I haven't enjoyed a gaming system this much since a certain plumber and his green-clad brother ba-da-bum-ba-da-bum-bummed their way into our hearts.

1. Not only do I want to play it again right now (so badly) despite having to stand up and move around and stuff, I want to play it again right now (so badly) because I want to stand up and move around and stuff. Reminds me of my 15yo self; all he wanted to do was play hours and hours of basketball in my driveway.

2. With the Wii Sports Pack, Nintendo has made it possible for those who are not physically gifted to nonetheless discover and explore their athletic gifts (like manual dexterity, quickness, timing, etc.). Even your gray-haired relatives can excel at bowling: "It was her 1st time ever playing video games and she has a high of 155 so far. Wii rocks!"

3. Possibly the best thing about the Wii is that you don't really need to be told how to use the controller. The boxing game has zero learning curve (just punch!).

4. Nintendo is betting the farm that just like megapixels don't matter as much nowadays when buying digital cameras as lens quality, camera features, etc., the number of polygons your console's processor spits out at what resolution matters less than how fun the games are. As someone who's nonplussed by fancy graphics in video games, I'll take that bet.

5. The menu interface is a little clunky. Did they not have time to get it right?

6. The day it's possible to buy NHL '94 through the Wii's Virtual Console, my life, such as it is, will be complete.

7. I'm curious how much fine control is possible with the Wiimote after a couple weeks of practice. With a conventional controller, very tiny adjustments are possible by pulsing or tapping the joypad or joystick...you can easily move Mario right to the edge of the staircase or subtly adjust your direction your kart is pointed on the track. But I found it difficult being that precise with the Wiimote while playing Super Monkey Ball.

Now all I need to do is get my own. :)

Although Nintendo finds itself in third placeNov 27 2006

Although Nintendo finds itself in third place in the video game console wars behind Sony and Microsoft, the company is doing really well financially while Sony and MS are maybe breaking even with their efforts. "Nintendo knew that it could not compete with Microsoft and Sony in the quest to build the ultimate home-entertainment device. So it decided, with the Wii, to play a different game entirely."

Nintendo game developers Ken'ichiro Ashida and ShigeruNov 27 2006

Nintendo game developers Ken'ichiro Ashida and Shigeru Miyamoto talk about how the Wii was developed. "The consensus was that power isn't everything for a console. Too many powerful consoles can't coexist. It's like having only ferocious dinosaurs. They might fight and hasten their own extinction."

Players of the Nintendo Wii are gettingNov 27 2006

Players of the Nintendo Wii are getting more exercise than they bargained for; reports of "Wii elbow" abound. Making the supreme sacrifice, one gamer is "vowing nightly 'Wii workouts' to get in better shape". What a trooper!

Psychology of the Wii and PS3Nov 20 2006

Of all the news over the past few days about the launches of Sony's PS3 and Nintendo's Wii, the most interesting has been the differing responses of the people waiting to purchase the different consoles. While the launch of the PS3 was marred by violence (people robbed of their PS3s in mall parking lots, crowds trampling people in a mad rush for games, police needing to quiet unruly crowds waiting to buy with pepper bullets, etc.), the launch of the Wii was peaceful, with no reports of violence that I can find. This comment on Digg is typical of the sentiment I've seen expressed online about the two groups of fans:

Try working at a Circuit City... went in for a 7am meeting and got badgered by the losers. I have to say the "wii-tards" were much more tame than the "ps three-tards."

There are several obvious reasons for the PS3 violence: the PS3 was possibly more anticipated, their initial supply was more limited than that of the Wii, and the machine is more expensive. But the difference in reaction also has something to do with the goals of each company in regard to their respective systems and the types of people each system tends to attract. Nintendo is focused on play and fun: the Wii is the fun system...about people of all ages enjoying the process of playing games. The PS3 is more about competition, who wins, who loses, and who frags the most enemies in the most spectacular fashion; cutthroat survival of the fittest. These are generalizations of course, but I find it interesting that the Nintendo gamers, who are attracted to play and fun, didn't cause as much trouble as the PS3 fans, who are more into competition.

Update: On the other hand, a report from last night in line at the Nintendo store in Manhattan:

After we had waited in line for almost two hours, Nintendo World closed the store early (at 5:30) and instead of making the announcement themselves, the Nintendo World employees sent Rockefeller Center security out to intimidate the crowd into dispersing. It was surreal - on what should have been Nintendo World's finest day, they were closing early and sending out fake police to scare away their customers.

Nintendo not managing their own store = stupid.

Wii wordplayNov 19 2006

Nintendo released the Wii at midnight today. Predictably, bloggers and media outlets are having a bit of fun with the gaming console's name. Here's a sampling of headlines from newspaper stories and blog posts with Wii wordplay:

Gone with the Wii
Gamers Wii bit excited
Are Wii Ready?
Playtesters say 'Wii' to console war question
Wii Won't Rock You
And away Wii go
Gamers Go Wii Wii Wii All the Way Home
The things Wii do for love
'Wii'kend So Far
No Wii for Mii... for now :(
Wii were successful (barely)
Wii Are The World: War Of The "Hard To Resist" Game Consoles
Wii Will, Wii Will Rock You.
Oh Wii Oh...
A Wii bit of gougery
Come On Over and Wii'll Play!
Wii-lcome to the Twilight Zone
Wii would like to play!
What Wii can do
Only a Wii Bit of Excitement
PS3 Fans: "Wii are a bunch of idiots"
Wii Wish You an Early Christmas (If You're Famous Enough)
Be Kind to the Wii Folk
Wii Love It! All about Nintendo's new gaming console
A Wii-bit too late
Are Wii ready?
Wii Want to Play
Wii for Yoo and Mee
To Wii or not to Wii, that is the question!
A Wii Bit More

Oh, the humani'wii'. (Apologies...I'm so'wii'. (No, 'wii'lly. (I can't stop, send help! Hurr'wii'!)))

An imperfect metaphor many of you probably won't getNov 16 2006

Driving on the Interstate through the metropolitan tri-state area during a 1.5 hour downpour is like playing 700 continuous laps of Baby Park against 7 other players. I'm beat. (ps. It's a simile anyway.)

The story of TetrisOct 25 2006

The following is a great 2004 BBC documentary about Tetris, the man who created it, and the lengths that several companies went to in order to procure the rights to distribute it. Tetris - From Russia With Love:

Alexey Pazhitnov, a computer programmer from Moscow, created Tetris in 1985 but as the Soviet Union was Communist and all, the state owned the game and any rights to it. Who procured the rights from whom on the other side of the Iron Curtain became the basis of legal wranglings and lawsuits; the Atari/Nintendo battle over Tetris wasn't settled until 1993. There's an abbreviated version of the story, but the documentary is a lot more fun. A rare copy of the Tengen version of Tetris, which was pulled from the shelves due to legal troubles, is available on eBay for around $50.

Clive Thompson reports on the renewed interestMay 18 2006

Clive Thompson reports on the renewed interest in making photorealistic humans in games for the new consoles (Xbox360, PS3, Wii) and in the process venturing ever deeper into the Uncanny Valley.

Creating talentMay 11 2006

The Stev(ph)ens Dubner and Levitt report on some recent research suggesting that people who are good at things got good at them primarily through practice and not because of innate talent.

Their work, compiled in the "Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance," a 900-page academic book that will be published next month, makes a rather startling assertion: the trait we commonly call talent is highly overrated. Or, put another way, expert performers -- whether in memory or surgery, ballet or computer programming -- are nearly always made, not born. And yes, practice does make perfect. These may be the sort of cliches that parents are fond of whispering to their children. But these particular cliches just happen to be true.

The talent myth described here seems to be distinct from that which Malcolm Gladwell talks about in relation to talented people and companies, but I'm sure parallels could be drawn. But back to the original article...I was particularly taken with the concept of "deliberate practice":

Deliberate practice entails more than simply repeating a task -- playing a C-minor scale 100 times, for instance, or hitting tennis serves until your shoulder pops out of its socket. Rather, it involves setting specific goals, obtaining immediate feedback and concentrating as much on technique as on outcome.

"Deliberate practice" reminds me of a video game a bunch of my friends are currently hooked on called Brain Age. Available for the handheld Nintendo DS, Brain Age is based on a Japanese brain training "game" developed by Dr. Ryuta Kawashima. The game measures the "age" of your brain based on your performance of simple tasks like memorizing a list of words or addition of small numbers. As you practice (deliberately), you get faster and more skilled at solving these mini-games and your brain age approaches that of a smarty-pants, twitchy-fingered teenager.

Speaking of talented teenagers, this week's New Yorker contains an article (not online) on Ivan Lendl's golfing daughters. In it, Lendl agrees that talent is created, not born:

"Can you create athletes, or do they just happen?" [Lendl] asked me not long ago. "I think you can create them, and I think that Tiger Woods's father proved that. People will sometimes ask me, 'How much talent did you have in tennis?' I say, 'Well, how do you measure talent?' Yeah, sure, McEnroe had more feel for the ball. But I knew how to work, and I worked harder than he did. Is that a talent in itself? I think it is."

Translation: there's more than one way to be good at something. There's something very encouraging and American about it, this idea that through hard work, you can become proficient and talented at pretty much anything.

Ultimate screenshot collection of Tetris for theFeb 27 2006

Ultimate screenshot collection of Tetris for the Nintendo DS. Metroid + Tetris??!! Awesome.

The most popular video game in JapanJan 26 2006

The most popular video game in Japan isn't even a game...it's software for the Nintendo DS for improving your mind.

Very high on the list of thingsJan 18 2006

Very high on the list of things that don't need to be advertised is Tetris. Chances are you remember this Tetris commercial from the 80s anyway. "Use your thumbs, use your eyes, find yourself Tetrisized!"

As near as I can tell, SuperAug 23 2005

As near as I can tell, Super Mario Bros will be 20 years old on 9/13/05. Happy! Mario 20th.

Mariopedia is "an illustrated listing of virtuallyJul 06 2005

Mariopedia is "an illustrated listing of virtually every character, item, and enemy from the 'Super Mario Universe'".

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