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kottke.org posts about Nintendo

The Game Boy is 20

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 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 reviews

posted by Jason Kottke   May 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 1985

posted by Jason Kottke   May 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.

posted by Jason Kottke   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 soon

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 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 Wii

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 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 Galaxy

posted by Adam Lisagor   Dec 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 Yoshiaki

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 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 Mario

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 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 a

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 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 recent

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 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?

posted by Jason Kottke   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 Celebrity

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 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 source

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 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 to

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 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 game

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 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 has

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 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 things

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 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 game

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 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 you

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 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 Serena

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 02, 2007

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

Video: web designers Jeffreys Veen and Zeldman

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 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 a

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 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 rights

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 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 list

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 03, 2007

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

Odd games

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 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 a

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 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 using

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 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 up

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 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 (like

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 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)