NEW FANMADE 2D ZELDA GAME

Nintendo recently showed off a 2D version of Zelda they used to develop the interactive world of Breath of the Wild, their latest Zelda release. To the dismay of fans, Nintendo said they would probably never release the prototype.

Naturally, a fan is taking matters into his own hands. Designer Winter Drake has released his own version of the 2D game, which he’s currently dubbing “Zelda: Breath of the NES” over at itch.io.

Kotaku recently interviewed him on the project:

“This project is still in its early stages…I’ll be adding more areas with distinct elements and atmospheres, puzzle elements for dungeons, and lots of ways to creatively kill enemies.

“I don’t feel the need to be bound to BOTW’s exact structure,” Winter Drake said. “For example, one of the original items in the game is a ‘Byoki Berry,’ which the game tells you is poisonous to humans. However, if you drop a Byoki berry near some Octorocks, they’ll flock to it ignoring everything else, allowing you to trap them, kill them, or sneak by.

“I have a lot of plans for original features in the game, and although I’d like to capture the spirit of BotW and NES Zelda, I’m not restricting myself to be perfectly faithful.”

Will Nintendo shut him down?

“When a lot of people hear about this project, they jump to worrying about a cease and desist from Nintendo,” Winter Drake told Kotaku. “While I’m going to stay hardworking on Breath of the NES for as long as I can, if Nintendo asks me to stop using their IP, I do plan to continue development with my own original characters. I’m having way too much fun creating this world to just give up.” 

You can follow the game’s development on Drake’s twitter.

BEWARE EMULATOR SCAM

The US Federal Trade Commission issued a warning last week regarding fake Nintendo Switch emulators advertised online. All emulators at this time are scams, and trying to download one may infect your machine with shareware.

The FTC’s warning reads:

If you can’t get your hands on a Nintendo Switch gaming system, you may think an emulator is the next best thing. Think again. Online ads for emulators, sometimes with Nintendo branding, say they can run Switch’s games on your desktop. But there is no legit Nintendo Switch emulator. It’s a scam.

Even worse, when you try to download a Nintendo Switch emulator, you can install unwanted applications on your computer. These apps give you misleading information about computer problems that aren’t really there, then ask you to pay to fix them.

Other times, when you go to an emulator site, you get a link to a survey that you must complete to get a code to unlock the emulator. Again, the emulator doesn’t really exist. Don’t give personal information and don’t sign up for anything requiring your credit card information. You’re still not getting an emulator.

What can you do to avoid this scam?

  • Don’t download anything that says it’s a Nintendo Switch emulator.
  • Don’t complete a survey to get an “unlock code.” That’s a red flag for a scam.
  • Keep your security software current. Set it to update automatically. Installing unknown programs can lead to malware.
  • Play Nintendo Switch at your friend’s house until you’re able to buy the real one yourself.

And if you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, report it to the FTC.

Emulators allow users to run gaming software on their PC as if it were a specific console.  For instance, Cemu allows PC users to run ROMs of Nintendo Wii U software. ROMs are a digital copy of a game. While emulators are legal, roms exist in a legal grey area. The general rule most people follow is that if you use a ROM, you should own either an official physical copy or an official digital copy of the game.

The NES Classic and the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS Virtual Consoles all use emulators to run older games; Xbox and PlayStation consoles capable of backwards-compatibility do the same. Emulators have also enabled tech-savy users to boost a game’s performance and run titles like Super Mario 3D World in 4k @ 60fps.

NES CLASSIC DISCONTINUED, SNES SPECULATION

NES Classic

Nintendo has stopped production of the NES Classic Mini to the shock and horror rage of fans who have yet to get their hands on the mega-popular nostalgia machine.

Nintendo of America (NOA) provided the following statement to IGN:

“Throughout April, NOA territories will receive the last shipments of Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition systems for this year. We encourage anyone interested in obtaining this system to check with retail outlets regarding availability. We understand that it has been difficult for many consumers to find a system, and for that we apologize. We have paid close attention to consumer feedback, and we greatly appreciate the incredible level of consumer interest and support for this product.”

Nintendo Famicom Family Computer

Discontinuation Temporary?

Nintendo of Japan (NOJ) also announced discontinuation of their version of the console, the Famincom Mini. Famitsu via Kutaku reported:

“Production of this product is ending temporarily. When manufacturing resumes, we will provide information at another time on this homepage.”

The possibility of production resuming in the future was mirrored by Nintendo of Europe’s (NOE) confirmation of the discontinuation in their region:

“We can confirm that we are no longer manufacturing the Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System. If production resumes in the future, an update will be posted on the official Nintendo website.”

Fans and haters alike blasted Nintendo for the decision, and bloggers and newsies have been offering speculative answers to the question on everyone’s mind: WTF?

Speculation

Eurogamer reports that “sources close to Nintendo” claim an SNES Classic Mini–based on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System–is on its way. This information is not verifiable at this time, and Nintendo of Europe has not responded to queries on the matter.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System Second Edition

This does offer us, however, the most reasonable explanation to date as to why Nintendo would discontinue a wildly successful product. If the success of the NES Classic took Nintendo by surprise as they claim, then it is wise to stop chasing last year’s shortage and focus resources on meeting demand for the SNES Classic later this year. It’s better to let go of a mistake than repeat it.

Accusations that Nintendo artificially creates  demand by limiting supply are as alive now as they were in the 80’s. I was personally pretty miffed upon learning of the discontinuation myself, and understand consumers’ frustration.   But when I considered the games that may be included on an SNES Classic–Mario World, Super Metroid, Chrono Trigger, Yoshi’s Island, A Link to the Past, Mario RPG, Secret of Mana–I realized it will likely have even broader appeal. A second supply shortage (technically third because Switch) in the span of a year would be wise to avoid.

As the statements from NOJ and NOE suggested, they can always bring the NES back out of the vault ala Disney. Meanwhile, some would-be-buyers are responding to the product’s lack of convenience and affordability with a solution of their own.

AMA WITH FORMER NINTENDO GAME-MAKER DYLAN CUTHBERT

Some highlights from Dylan Cuthbert’s recent AMA on reddit:

“WAY back in the 1980s I started my professional career at Argonaut Software in London before being scooped up and shipped out to work at Nintendo’s HQ in Kyoto. My time there basically launched my career: X, Star Fox and its (unreleased) sequel Star Fox 2! All fully coded in assembler!

“From there I jumped across the Pacific and started working for Sony America on the just-launched PlayStation. You all played the Phil Hartman voiced Playstation game Blasto right? RIGHT? Just lie to me and say it was great. I also designed the now legendary PS2 rubber ducky tech demo (look ma! no polygonal models) and made Ape Escape 2001 (Piposaru 2001).

“For the past fifteen years or more I’ve been living the dream back in Kyoto with my company Q-Games. We have made the Pixeljunk series, X-Returns, Star Fox Command, Star Fox 64 3DS, The Tomorrow Children and a lot more. A lot more actually!

“Talk to me about Nintendo, Sony, Japan, or all the crazy things we do at Q-Games. Ask me anything really. Let’s get silly.

“PS I am not married to Shigeru Miyamoto’s daughter! Don’t ask me that.”

On the Nintendo Switch:

“I think the Switch is awesome – perhaps the res could have been higher but maybe that would have resulted in a smaller screen to keep the cost down. The idea is very cool though and I’m playing Zelda (of course). I’m sure Nintendo must be thinking about StarFox for Switch but we aren’t involved in that (I must admit it would be fun to do though!).”

“Being originally from England, how did you find adjusting to Japanese culture and life? I know many talented programmers move to Japan for the big dream of working for Nintendo, but how was your experience, outside developing and programming?” (Question by reddit user shinto29)

“That was a long time ago, but I loved it. Especially after living in Northern London which is quite err… dystopic, at least it was in the late 80s/early 90s. When I arrived in Kyoto it was like I had found utopia! hehe I wasn’t a “fanboy” of Nintendo when I first came, as they didn’t really have a presence in the UK back then, but I soon became one after playing the unreleased prototypes of Mario World, Pilot’s Wings and F-Zero that they showed us. They even let us take the F-zero cartridge back to the UK with a prototype SNES! I doubt that would happen these days! 🙂 The Japanese culture is very friendly and out-going, especially in Kyoto and that warmed me up to the people and the place instantly. I decided in that first week I visited that I wanted to live there. Apart from rent the cost of living is very low and the cafes and restaurants are cheap, yet the food is fresh and delicious. There is a lot of energy everywhere you go and interesting things going on almost daily.”

“What was the most daunting thing about working for Nintendo? What are you most proud of accomplishing post-Nintendo?” (Question from reddit user MrTalida)

“The “hospital” nature and stuffiness of Nintendo’s offices. The people inside are warm and friendly but that environment needs a work over! 🙂

post-Nintendo I’m most proud of The Tomorrow Children, we managed to create a unique style of game that crosses over a number of genres (including Animal Crossing to some extent), whilst at the same time introducing new technology. However I’m proud of PixelJunk and our DSiWare series of games too.”

Read the full AMA on reddit.

 

 

 

SWITCH IN STOCK THIS WEEKEND AT TOYS”R”US

Nintendo Switch will be back on shelves Sunday, April 9th at Toys”R”Us.

According to a statement from Nintendo:

Toys“R”Us is bringing Nintendo Switch back to store shelves this weekend. On Sunday, April 9, all locations nationwide will have new inventory of the console. Quantities will be limited and since we know they sell quickly, customers should get to their local store before the doors open at 10am on Sunday.

BGR confirmed this with Nintendo. They also mentioned Gamestop’s expensive family bundle:

“Alternatively, you could have ordered the new “family bundle” that GameStop is now selling. It costs $460 and it ships with three games as well as the Breath of the Wild expansion pass. 4/7 shipments of that Nintendo Switch bundle are sold out, unfortunately, but you can still order it now and it’ll ship out on 4/12.”

Nintendo Switch has been sold out since its launch March 3rd, leaving desperate fans with little option other than buying one at a much higher price on Amazon and eBay. Even some retailers are taking advantage of the situation, according to conversations on Reddit.

Get ready to stand in line this weekend! You can head to Toys”R”Us’ Nintendo Switch page here. Pre-orders are not currently available. Or, if you don’t mind paying a premium, check out Amazon or eBay.

3 NEW GAMES ON SWITCH E-SHOP

Three new games became available for Nintendo Switch on the eShop this week: Lego City: Undercover, Vroom in the Night Sky, and Graceful Explosion Machine.

Lego City: Undercover, $59.99

Price:

Profile from Nintendo Switch eShop:

Join the Chase! In LEGO CITY Undercover, play as Chase Mccain, a police officer who’s been tasked with going undercover to hunt down the notorious–and recently escaped–criminal Rex Fury and putting an end to his city-wide crime wave. With two player co-op, friends can explore the sprawling open-world metropolis that is LEGO CITy, with more than 20 unique districts to investigate, car thieves to bust, hilarious movie references to discover, vehicles to drive, and hundreds of collectibles. LEGO CITY Undercover brings together witty, original storytelling with signature LEGO humor to create a fun-filled experience for players of all ages to enjoy.

For those interested, NintendoLife posted a Switch/Wii U comparison video here.

 

Vroom in the Night Sky, $9.99

Profile from Nintendo Switch eShop:

Vroom in the Night Sky is a “Magical Bike Action Game”. The features of this game are Fantastic feeling, Speedy feeling, and Realistic feeling using HD Vibration.

There are various night skies in this world, and it is the work of Magical Girls to collect Stardusts. You become a Magical Girl, “Luna”, and ride a Magical Bike to fly around the night sky and collect Stardusts!

The Magical Gate is floating in the night sky. IN order to open the gate, you need to collect the necessary number of Keystars floating in the night sky. By collecting Keystars faster and entering the gate, you can get more Stardusts.

By manipulating the motorcycle technically, the number of Stardusts you can get increases. Try various actions and challenges to collect Stardusts. By using the collected Stardusts, you will be able to get a new Magical Bike. If you get a powerful Magical Bike, you will be able to more easily collect Stardusts!

A quick glance at the interweb seems to indicate reviews are negative for Vroom. Read Pocketgamer’s review here.

 

Graceful Explosion Machine, $12.99

Profile from Nintendo eShop:

Skillfully pilot the Graceful Explosion Machine, a fighter ship armed with a ludicrously overpowered quad-weapon array! Lost in deep space, you’ll shoot, dash, and combo your way through jewel-hued alien worlds, fighting crystalline enemies to find a way home.

The GEM fighter is the most advanced single pilot fighter in the galaxy, offering price controls, nimble movement, and devastating firepower.

  • A blisteringly intense side-scrolling arcade shooter experience
  • The quad-weapon array gives the player four unique and devastatingly powerful weapons at all times
  • 30+ levels across 4 unique worlds
  • Visuals bursting with vibrant color, bold lines, and geometric enemy designs
  • Analogue and digital synthesizer driven soundtrack
  • Extensive branding and stats for each level encourages replay to perfect the game’s combo sstems
  • Score attack mode: a finely-tuned experience for wracking cup big scores!

Check out Metacritic’s review here. Consumer reviews look positive.

INTERVIEW: FORMER NINTENDO DESIGNER OKAMOTO

Gamesutra published an interview with Mokoi Okamoto about his time working at Nintendo from 1999 to 2008. Here’s an excerpt:

“My first impression after entering Nintendo was that the company was, surprisingly, a big traditional Japanese company. There were many elderly employees who had been working there before they had ever launched their first video game console. All employees had to submit a daily report on paper every day, in 1999, when each of us had a PC on our desk!

“A few years after I joined, our president Hiroshi Yamauchi stepped down in favor of the young president Satoru Iwata. He would dramatically reform the old Nintendo, analyzing the problems of the company one by one.

“First, he moved a part of EAD into a different department that was called SPD. That was the team that created development environments, and which also worked together with overseas game studios. In this way, he created an environment such that Miyamoto could concentrate on only his studio’s titles.

“Second, he promoted personnel changes and information exchanges between departments in the company. Believe it or not, members of the departments that developed Game Boy Advance games did not know the technical detailed specifications of GameCube, and vice versa. I’m not kidding.

“Like the great warlord Oda Nobunaga, Yamauchi wanted his vassals to compete with each other. Nintendo once had three hardware development departments plus EAD. Each of these three departments had its own game development team, and Yamauchi made the leaders of these departments compete with each other. This resulted in successes like the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy, but the departments never shared information with each other.

“Iwata reformed many parts of Nintendo, but tried to utilize and activate the good old parts as well. This was a good decision. One of the reasons is that he was originally an employee of another company, and had not worked at Nintendo before. Old-fashioned Japanese firms trust and love the members who have worked there for many years. “Who is Iwata?” the older members would ask.

“However, he had his comrades in the game development teams, who had worked together with him for a much longer time since he was an excellent programmer at HAL Laboratories, which had worked closely with Nintendo on game designs. As president, he needed to increase the number of comrades who agreed with him and calm those who didn’t.

“This was the hardest game Iwata ever played, but he beat it. I think that Yamauchi had a great genius for picking up talents. Remember that it was him who discovered both Gunpei Yokoi and Shigeru Miyamoto.”

Read the full interview at Gamesutra.

SWITCH BUILD COST EST: $257

Based on Fomalhaut’s teardown, Nintendo’s Switch is estimated to cost $257 to manufacture. VentureBeat broke the story, reporting that the processor, touchscreen and dock make up $167 of the cost. A pair of Joy-Con cost $45.

The system retails for $300. Docks and a pair of Joy-Con can be purchased separately for $90 and $80 respectively.

Polygon’s report goes a little deeper and compares manufacturing costs across platforms with the help of AllThingsD and ISH. At launch, the PS4 cost only $18 less than its retail price; the Xbox One, $28 less . PS4’s DualShock 4 controllers have  an estimated manufacturing cost of $18; Xbox One controllers cost  $15.