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kottke.org posts about Nintendo

Celebrity Mii Contest results!

posted by Jason Kottke   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 people

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 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!

posted by Jason Kottke   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 weeks

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 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 Contest

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 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 game

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 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”

posted by Jason Kottke   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, “

posted by Jason Kottke   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 Nintendo

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 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!

posted by Jason Kottke   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 trying

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 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 Remote

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 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 Nintendo

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 05, 2006

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

Wii: first thoughts

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 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 place

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 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 Shigeru

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 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 getting

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 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 PS3

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 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 wordplay

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 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 get

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 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 Tetris

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 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 interest

posted by Jason Kottke   May 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 talent

posted by Jason Kottke   May 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 the

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 27, 2006

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

The most popular video game in Japan

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 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 things

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 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, Super

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 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 virtually

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 06, 2005

Mariopedia is “an illustrated listing of virtually every character, item, and enemy from the ‘Super Mario Universe’”.