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New WarioWare? Advance Wars?? ‘Metroid Dread’???? Nintendo’s E3 kicked ass.

New WarioWare? Advance Wars?? 'Metroid Dread'???? Nintendo's E3 kicked ass.

Even with E3 only happening in the most technical sense, Nintendo fans have got to be happy. The Japanese publisher delivered with exciting announcements at its Tuesday showcase.

The headline is unquestionably Metroid Dread, a new 2D game in the Metroid series and the first such Metroid game coming to consoles — yup, this one’s for Switch — in almost 20 years. There’s also a new WarioWare, bringing Nintendo’s oddball minigame marathon emceed by Mario’s arch-nemesis to the latest hardware.

We also got a big time deep cut with a remastered collection gathering together the first two Advance Wars games. If you’ve never played this superb turn-based strategy game — blissfully easy to learn, but lots of complexity beneath the surface — then you’re in for a treat.  Read more…

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E3 2021 catch up

If you’re like me, you spent the weekend longing for the mixed bag that is downtown Los Angeles during E3. I’ve got fond memories of fish tacos, The Last Bookstore, watching playoff basketball in garishly lit hotel lobbies and, of course, video game press conference after video game press conference.

For a second year in a row, the show’s gone all virtual, owing to…well, you know, that pesky virus that has defined the past year and a half of our lives. Last year’s show was canceled altogether (though a handful of companies still kept to the schedule). Show organizers simply didn’t think they would be able to pull together a digital event — and frankly, it’s probably for the best that they understood those limitations.

The 2021 event, which kicked off on Saturday, marks the first all-virtual version of the event. For the time being, it’s also the last. Mayor Eric Garcetti kicked off the show by announcing that E3 would return to the LA Convention Center in 2022.

Gaming had a banner 2020, and while growth has slowed, as parts of the world look forward to a post-pandemic life, things are still growing. Some well-timed numbers from NPD this morning point to a 3% year-over-year growth for May 2021, as spending on gaming rose to $4.5 billion. Year-to-date, things are up 17%.

The timing of last year’s canceled event was certainly unfortunate from a hardware standpoint. Console refreshes are massive events at E3. 2020 gave us the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Announcements were relegated to Sony and Microsoft’s own events. That meant the companies were able to draw things out — revealing small details, piece by piece, rather than saving everything for the big show. It’s a strategy that lends itself much better to virtual presentations and blog posts than it does big conventions.

Congrats to @XboxP3 and the whole team on a great showcase. Great time to be a gamer

— Hermen Hulst (@hermenhulst) June 13, 2021

Sony is sitting this one out, too. While it’s entirely possible the company will be holding a big, virtual State of Play event at some point this summer, it won’t be tied to E3. Still, some Sony execs like PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst used the opportunity congratulate Microsoft on “a great showcase” on Twitter. So that’s a nice thing.

Thus far, Microsoft is the only one of the big three to present at the event. Nintendo will be holding a Treehouse event tomorrow. The Switch Pro could be on tap for the event, with an upgraded OLED display and internals. That would likely also mean a bunch of upgraded content for the new version of the four-year-old console.

Microsoft, meanwhile, went big on games. Understandable, given the recent launch of the Series X. And, let’s face it, these virtual events are perfectly suited for playing a whole bunch of trailers. The company showcased 30 games (and a fridge) in all. Of those, 27 will be part of the Xbox Game Pass, in case you had any doubt about what the future of gaming on the Xbox will look like. The event was framed as a combination Xbox and Bethesda showcase, having acquired the publisher earlier this year.

“Our growing family of 23 studios is devoted to advancing the medium we all love,” the company writes, “so we were happy to share that now through the end of the year, you can look forward to back-to-back monthly releases coming to Xbox Game Pass on day one, led by a record five new titles from Xbox Game Studios this holiday, including Halo Infinite.”

Highlights include:

Halo Infinite got a trailer and some in-game multiplayer footage. The latest version of the beloved Xbox mainstay is arriving this holiday season.

Starfield will be arriving November 11 [deep breath] 2022. The expansive space title will be an Xbox exclusive at launch.

Forza Horizon 5 will arrive in November. The latest installment of the popular racing series is set in Mexico.

In a no-brainer crossover event, Sea of Thieves will be teaming up with Pirates of the Caribbean for gameplay featuring Captain Jack Sparrow and others.

Age of Empires IV got an extended trailer and release date: October 28.

Battlefield 2042 got its first gameplay, including a sweet new wing suit.

Microsoft’s Flight Simulator will be hitting the new Xboxes on July 27th, along with a Top Gun expansion pack. That’s in honor of Top Gun: Maverick, which is apparently still coming out at some point.

Square Enix also held its customary big showcase on Sunday. The publisher will be releasing a bunch of new Marvel titles. Highlights include:

The long-awaited Guardians of the Galaxy. The adventure title is set to launch this October.

Marvel’s Avenger, meanwhile, will be getting the Black Panther-themed expansion pack, War for Wakanda. That’s arriving in August.

It wouldn’t be a Square Enix event without a Final Fantasy spinoff, right? The perennial favorite RPG is birthing Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin, which arrives on a slew of different platforms next year.

Ubisoft, meanwhile, made waves on Saturday with a first look at the new Avatar adaptation, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Extraction is due out on September 16. Originally titled Rainbow Six: Quarantine, the name was changed for obvious reasons.

Capcom and Take-Two will showcase tonight, followed by Nintendo Direct and Bandai Namco tomorrow. On Thursday, EA is set to hold its own Play Live event. Meanwhile, here’s some video of that new Xbox fridge. Who said there wasn’t any new hardware?

 

Nintendo’s gonna teach kids how to make games on a Switch

Nintendo's gonna teach kids how to make games on a Switch

Game Builder Garage feels like a crucial step forward for Nintendo.

There were some chuckles directed at the company’s Labo experiment, with its focus on folding cardboard and using physical objects assembled by players themselves to enhance simple games. But those paper creations belie an energizing leap for a company that has traditionally leaned hardest on its intensely familiar stable of beloved series.

Nowhere is the shift more evident than in Labo Garage, the build-what-you-want mode that lets people play with the same kinds of tools that make stock Labo projects work. Now Nintendo is forging ahead with that concept, ditching the cardboard and delivering a Switch game cartridge that carries all the tools one might need to build an entire Switch game. Read more…

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Leveling the playing field

Williesha Morris
Contributor

Williesha Morris has been a journalist and freelancer off-and-on for over a decade. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, playing video games or chatting about the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In 2011, a product developer named Fred Davison read an article about inventor Ken Yankelevitz and his QuadControl video game controller for quadriplegics. At the time, Yankelevitz was on the verge of retirement. Davison wasn’t a gamer, but he said his mother, who had the progressive neurodegenerative disease ALS, inspired him to pick up where Yankelevitz was about to leave off.

Launched in 2014, Davison’s QuadStick represents the latest iteration of the Yankelevitz controller — one that has garnered interest across a broad range of industries. 

“The QuadStick’s been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever been involved in,” Davison told TechCrunch. “And I get a lot of feedback as to what it means for [disabled gamers] to be able to be involved in these games.”

Laying the groundwork

Erin Muston-Firsch, an occupational therapist at Craig Hospital in Denver, says adaptive gaming tools like the QuadStick have revolutionized the hospital’s therapy team. 

Six years ago, she devised a rehabilitation solution for a college student who came in with a spinal cord injury. She says he liked playing video games, but as a result of his injury could no longer use his hands. So the rehab regimen incorporated Davison’s invention, which enabled the patient to play World of Warcraft and Destiny. 

QuadStick

Jackson “Pitbull” Reece is a successful Facebook streamer who uses his mouth to operate the QuadStick, as well as the XAC, (the Xbox Adaptive Controller), a controller designed by Microsoft for use by people with disabilities to make user input for video games more accessible. 

Reece lost the use of his legs in a motorcycle accident in 2007 and later, due to an infection, lost the use of his upper body. He says he remembers able-bodied life as one filled with mostly sports video games. He says being a part of the gaming community is an important part of his mental health.

Fortunately there is an atmosphere of collaboration, not competition, around the creation of hardware for gamers within the assistive technology community. 

But while not every major tech company has been proactive about accessibility, after-market devices are available to create customized gaming experiences for disabled gamers.

Enter Microsoft

At its Hackathon in 2015, Microsoft’s Inclusive Lead Bryce Johnson met with disabled veterans’ advocacy group Warfighter Engaged

“We were at the same time developing our views on inclusive design,” Johnson said. Indeed, eight generations of gaming consoles created barriers for disabled gamers.

“Controllers have been optimized around a primary use case that made assumptions,” Johnson said. Indeed, the buttons and triggers of a traditional controller are for able-bodied people with the endurance to operate them. 

Besides Warfighter Engaged, Microsoft worked with AbleGamers (the most recognized charity for gamers with disabilities), Craig Hospital, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and Special Effect, a U.K.-based charity for disabled young gamers. 

Xbox Adaptive Controller

The finished XAC, released in 2018, is intended for a gamer with limited mobility to seamlessly play with other gamers. One of the details gamers commented on was that the XAC looks like a consumer device, not a medical device.

“We knew that we couldn’t design this product for this community,” Johnson told TechCrunch. “We had to design this product with this community. We believe in ‘nothing about us without us.’ Our principles of inclusive design urge us to include communities from the very beginning.”

Taking on the giants

There were others getting involved. Like many inventions, the creation of the Freedom Wing was a bit of serendipity.

At his booth at an assistive technology (AT) conference, ATMakers‘ Bill Binko showcased a doll named “Ella” using the ATMakers Joystick, a power-chair device. Also in attendance was Steven Spohn, who is part of the brain trust behind AbleGamers.

Spohn saw the Joystick and told Binko he wanted a similar device to work with the XAC. The Freedom Wing was ready within six weeks. It was a matter of manipulating the sensors to control a game controller instead of a chair. This device didn’t require months of R&D and testing because it had already been road tested as a power-chair device. 

ATMakers Freedom Wing 2

Binko said mom-and-pop companies are leading the way in changing the face of accessible gaming technology. Companies like Microsoft and Logitech have only recently found their footing.

ATMakers, QuadStick and other smaller creators, meanwhile, have been busy disrupting the industry. 

“Everybody gets [gaming] and it opens up the ability for people to engage with their community,” Binko said. “Gaming is something that people can wrap their heads around and they can join in.” 

Barriers of entry

As the technology evolves, so do the obstacles to accessibility. These challenges include lack of support teams, security, licensing and VR. 

Binko said managing support teams for these devices with the increase in demand is a new hurdle. More people with the technological skills are needed to join the AT industry to assist with the creation, installation and maintenance of devices. 

Security and licensing is out of the hands of small creators like Davison because of financial and other resources needed to work with different hardware companies. For example, Sony’s licensing enforcement technology has become increasingly complex with each new console generation. 

With Davison’s background in tech, he understands the restrictions to protect proprietary information. “They spend huge amounts of money developing a product and they want to control every aspect of it,” Davison said. “Just makes it tough for the little guy to work with.”

And while PlayStation led the way in button mapping, according to Davison, the security process is stringent. He doesn’t understand how it benefits the console company to prevent people from using whichever controller they want. 

“The cryptography for the PS5 and DualSense controller is uncrackable so far, so adapter devices like the ConsoleTuner Titan Two have to find other weaknesses, like the informal ‘man in the middle’ attack,” Davison said. 

The technique allows devices to utilize older-gen PlayStation controllers as a go-between from the QuadStick to the latest-gen console, so disabled gamers can play the PS5. TechCrunch reached out to Sony’s accessibility division, whose representative said there are no immediate plans for an adaptable PlayStation or controller. However, they stated their department works with advocates and gaming devs to consider accessibility from day one.  

In contrast, Microsoft’s licensing system is more forgiving, especially with the XAC and the ability to use older-generation controllers with newer systems. 

“Compare the PC industry to the Mac,” Davison said. “You can put together a PC system from a dozen different manufacturers, but not for the Mac. One is an open standard and the other is closed.”

A more accessible future

In November, Japanese controller company HORI released an officially licensed accessibility controller for the Nintendo Switch. It’s not available for sale in the United States currently, but there are no region restrictions to purchase one online. This latest development points toward a more accessibility-friendly Nintendo, though the company has yet to fully embrace the technology. 

Nintendo’s accessibility department declined a full interview but sent a statement to TechCrunch. “Nintendo endeavors to provide products and services that can be enjoyed by everyone. Our products offer a range of accessibility features, such as button-mapping, motion controls, a zoom feature, grayscale and inverted colors, haptic and audio feedback, and other innovative gameplay options. In addition, Nintendo’s software and hardware developers continue to evaluate different technologies to expand this accessibility in current and future products.”

The push for more accessible hardware for disabled gamers hasn’t been smooth. Many of these devices were created by small business owners with little capital. In a few cases corporations with a determination for inclusivity at the earliest stages of development became involved. 

Slowly but surely, however, assistive technology is moving forward in ways that can make the experience much more accessible for gamers with disabilities.

 

Nintendo’s new RC Mario Kart looks terrific

In a year, Nintendo would have demoed, in person, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit. The company would have invited select members of the press into some rented event space and let us experience the game first-hand, like it had with Labo and Ring Fit Adventures. It’s 2020, however, and that’s just not how we do things.

Watching someone else play an RC game over teleconference software is not ideal. But it’s nothing if not extremely of the moment. And more importantly, it’s probably a testament to what Nintendo has built here that it translates so well with a less than ideal setup. Granted, I won’t feel comfortable offering a proper review until I’ve played the game on my Switch, but I can confidently say that Mario Kart Live makes for one hell of an impressive demo.

Image Credits: Nintendo

Like the recently released Mario Lego sets, this is the kind of toy that makes me jealous of kids today. It also, frankly, bums me out that I don’t have more space at home to lay out a track. I’ve heard it was a buyer’s market, so maybe I’ll go buy a house. Whatever the case, bringing Mario to a real-world RC car is one of those no-brainer ideas, and the execution looks great.

The game also finds Nintendo embracing augmented reality in a really convincing and clever way. We’ve seen some AR from the company, most notably in the form of Pokémon GO — which, to be fair, was more of a Niantic joint and, as plenty will happily point out, not really proper AR. And like that title, Nintendo worked closely with a third party. In this case, it’s the New York-state based Velan Studios, which was started by brothers Guha and Karthik Bala who also founded Vicarious Visions, an Albany-based game developer now owned by Activision.

“It started as an experiment by a small team at Velan,” the startup said in a blog post today. “Like many prototypes, the main goal was to “find the fun”. We built an RC car by kitbashing together drone parts, cameras, and sensors to create a unique thirdperson view driving experience. It gave us the exhilaration of speed and allowed us to see the world from a totally different perspective.”

Image Credits: Nintendo

The execution of Mario Kart Live is a perfect bit of synergy in that it leverages the Switch to really bring the whole thing to life — in a manner similar to what the company has already done with Labo and Ring Fit. Of course, much or most of the real magic here comes courtesy of the racer. Currently limited to Mario and Luigi (no word yet on additional characters), the cars feature both a camera for FPV on the Switch and all of the requisite sensors.

Nintendo declined to answer specific questions about the on-board sensors and other hardware, but one assumes depth-sensing plays a big role here. There’s no calibration out of the box. You can pretty much start it up and start driving around. Once you actually unfold and set up the three gates to create the circular course, however, that will require some driving to generate the lay of the land. Nintendo’s employed a clever graphic for that, with Lakitu dropping a bucket of paint the character drives over and tracks with his wheels.

Image Credits: Nintendo

The game also employs some clever physics, with game action impacting speed and steering. There’s a range of top speeds, from 50 to 200 cc. A demo stripped of AR shows how in-game elements impact the actual kart speed. Other elements, like the sudden occasional sand storm, cause the kart to drift to the sides. The game will also react, if, say, you crash it into a table leg — sending coins flying just as it would in a Mario Kart game.

On that note, the company tells me that the karts are quite robust, with a bumper that’s essentially designed to run into stuff. That shouldn’t cause any damage, given the top speeds here. Though the company notes that if, say, a heavy book falls on top of the kart after it jostled it loose from a shelf, that could ultimately be an issue. Nintendo says there will be a way to repair the karts, but offered no specifics on warranty.

Image Credits: Nintendo

Races can be played with up to four, though a kart is required to play. In fact, the actual game will be free to download from the Nintendo store, but is essentially worthless without a kart. Until that’s set up, the only thing you’ll be able to access is a game trailer. At the moment, the in-game opponents are just the Koopalings.

Image Credits: Nintendo

Like the karts themselves, however, it seems likely — or even certain — that the company will introduce additional characters down the road. Perhaps we can look for expansions along the lines of what the company has done with Smash Bros. Also, like Mario Maker, you can customize both your character and car for the in-game FPV AR overlays (though these won’t be visible to other players).

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit arrives October 16, priced at $100 a kart. You’ll need either a Switch or Switch Lite to play.

‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ and the limits of today’s game economies

Kaiser Hwang
Contributor

Kaiser Hwang is a longtime member of the games community and a vice president at Forte, an organization building an open economic platform for games.

“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is a bonafide wonder. The game has been setting new records for Nintendo, is adored by players and critics alike and provides millions of players a peaceful escape during these unprecedented times.

But there’s been something even more extraordinary happening on the fringe: Players are finding ways to augment the game experience through community-organized activities and tools. These include free weed-pulling services (tips welcome!) from virtual Samaritans, and custom-designed items for sale — for real-world money, via WeChat Pay and AliPay.

Well-known personalities and companies are also contributing, with “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” scribe Gary Whitta hosting an A-list celebrity talk show using the game, and luxury fashion brand Marc Jacobs providing some of its popular clothing designs to players. 100 Thieves, the white-hot esports and apparel company, even created and gave away digital versions of its entire collection of impossible-to-find clothes.

This community-based phenomenon gives us a pithy glimpse into not only where games are inevitably going, but what their true potential is as a form of creative, technical and economic expression. It also exemplifies what we at Forte call “community economics,” a system that lies at the heart of our aim in bringing new creative and economic opportunities to billions of people around the world.

What is community economics?

Formally, community economics is the synthesis of economic activity that takes place inside, and emerges outside, virtual game worlds. It is rooted in a cooperative economic relationship between all participants in a game’s network, and characterized by an economic pluralism that is unified by open technology owned by no single party. And notably, it results in increased autonomy for players, better business models for game creators, and new economic and creative opportunities for both.

The fundamental shift that underlies community economics is the evolution of games from centralized entertainment experiences to open economic platforms. We believe this is where things are heading.

Gamers report unauthorized access to their Nintendo accounts

Gamers report unauthorized access to their Nintendo accounts

It looks as though Nintendo has a security breach on its hands as an increasing number of gamers are reporting unauthorized access to their Nintendo accounts.

As Eurogamer reports, the problem was first brought to our attention by Twitter user Pixelpar, who runs the Nintendo news and reviews website LootPots. He claims his PC is “clean” and his password “unique,” but over the course of Saturday night his Nintendo account was accessed “numerous times” by an unauthorized third-party.

Other users have reported similar unauthorized access, but it gets worse if you have a PayPal account linked as it’s being used to purchase items, for example, several users have seen Fortnite VBuck currency purchased without their knowledge. So far, Nintendo hasn’t publicly acknowledged there is a security fault. Read more…

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Revelation that Goombas might have arms and hands rocks video game world

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Not since Mario’s nipples has the video game world been rocked this hard by a revelation about anatomy: Goombas have arms and hands!

The discovery of these appendages comes courtesy of photos of a Goomba keshi rubber figure (an eraser) shared to Twitter by user Joe Piconi, which shows the Goomba with his arms and hands folded behind his back, thus giving him the armless appearance.

Goombas have arms and hands. They are folded neatly behind their backspic.twitter.com/nRXVi6u92f

— Joe Piconi (@joepiconi) April 19, 2019

This is a potentially stunning revelation given that, for decades, the Goombas have been able to do all kinds of activities, like baseball and bowling, without using these hidden arms.  Read more…

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Nintendo’s Labo: VR Kit is not Virtual Boy 2.0

Even the most successful tech company is going to have a stumble from time to time. Nintendo’s 45 years in the video game industry is spotted with a few doozies, but none are more infamous than the Virtual Boy. The 1994 portable console was marketed as an early home entry into virtual reality, but in actual reality ended up being little more than a blood-red headache.

Nintendo knew the comparisons to the doomed console would come fast and furiously when it launched its next VR venture, so the company took the time to get it just right. In a sense, Labo VR is a cautious push into the virtual realm. It’s nowhere near the all-in approach of Oculus, Vive or even PlayStation VR, for that matter — but it’s uniquely Nintendo.

Like the first Labo kits, it’s a friendly reminder that Nintendo’s chief job is to surprise and delight, and it happily delivers on both fronts. But just as the Labo piano shouldn’t be mistaken for a real musical instrument, Labo VR ought not be viewed as a real virtual reality.

It’s not just the pop-out cardboard form factor, either. Google made that a perfectly acceptable beginner’s approach to VR. It’s more that Nintendo has taken a very casual approach to all of this. The kit’s virtual reality experience is an extension of Labo itself. It’s no more important than the process of building the headset and various accessories step by step on the app. Or, for that matter, sharing all of the above experiences with others.

During a demo of the new kits in New York this week, Nintendo was quick to point out that the headsets are built without a strap. It claims this was a conscious decision so that the experience can be passed around and shared. I’m sure there are some practical reasons behind this decision as well, but it’s certainly a nice thought.

Virtual reality is, by nature of its form factor, a solitary experience. Labo VR doesn’t have any sort of video-out feature to share the experience on a big screen (for now, at least), so the idea of offering it up in a more social play-and-pass scenario is appealing. This goes double for the fact that, like the original Labo kits, all of the games included fall under the casual banner. The experiences share a common lineage with Nintendo analog titles like Mario Party or Mario Paint.

Your mileage with each title will vary. Certainly some (Bird and Blaster spring to mind) will stay with you longer than others and demand more repeat play. On the whole, each buildable peripheral launches with one (maybe two) compatible games. The good news, however, is that, like Labo, the company packs a lot of controllers (and therefore experiences) into a single kit.

The standard Labo: VR Kit ships with six Toy-Con projects (VR Goggles, Toy-Con Blaster, Toy-Con Camera, Toy-Con Bird, Toy-Con Wind Pedal and Toy-Con Elephant), while the cheaper Starter Set comes with two (Goggles and Blaster). If you go for the latter to dip your toes in the water or just to save on cash, there are a pair of “expansion sets” to get the full experience.

Unlike the last time Nintendo came to town with a Labo press tour, we didn’t actually get any time to build. That said, if previous kits are any indication, that’s half of the fun and value proposition here. Also, the amount of time you’ll spend building varies greatly from project to project — take it from me, someone who spent most of a work morning building that damn piano.

Once built, the VR experience is about on-par with what you’d expect from a Google VR. Again, it’s a set of lenses attached to a hunk of cardboard. This is no Rift or Vive and the immersiveness of your own experience will vary. The graphics are cartoony and oftentimes just large polygons. But a well-crafted casual gaming experience can be enough to pull you out of your own head for a bit. Bird is the best example of this.

The controller clips on the headset, with a Toy-Con popping out the other end like a beak. As a player, you hook your hands on either side of the display and flap along as you play a bird, flying around trees and completing different missions to feed an army of hatchlings. It’s a relaxing reprieve from some of the faster-paced games, as you glide around the skies. Add in the foot-controlled Wind Pedal, and the system delivers a puff of air to your face as you boost your bird, adding to the effect.

Blaster, a big, fun novelty gun, is the most engaging of the bunch. When I ended my demos with some extra time to spare, the Nintendo rep asked me if I wanted to give any of the games another go. The answer was simple. A simple first-person shooter, Blaster pits you against an army of alien blobs. You load the gun by cocking it like a shot-gun, and pull the trigger to an explosive effect.

Honorable mention goes to Doodle, which uses the bizarre elephant-shaped controller. The experience is unique from the rest in that it’s not actually a game, but rather a 3D drawing tool. It’s one of the more clever additions to the pack, though actually drawing on a 3D plane with a cardboard controller shaped like an elephant’s trunk is easier said than done. The implementation is a bit lacking, but it offers interesting insight into where Labo VR might go in the future.

Honestly, I just scratched the surface during my briefing. But there’s little question that Labo VR is a fun and singular experience. There’s also a special screen holder, so users who have rough time with VR can experience a 2D version of the games and accessories. Also, as with the standard Labo kit, Nintendo has bundled in Toy-Con Garage, so users can start building their own games when they tire of the pre-packaged experiences.

If there’s one disappointment in all of this, it’s that it will likely be a while before we see a full standalone VR experience from Nintendo. The idea of playing as Mario, Link and the like in virtual reality is no doubt something of a lifelong dream for plenty of gamers who grew up on the characters. But while Virtual Boy is a quarter-century in the past, the memory still lingers.

Until then, Labo VR is a fully engaging take on VR, and a uniquely Nintendo one, to boot.

Why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dropped into a ‘Donkey Kong 64’ session on Twitch

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It’s not every day a member of Congress drops by a Twitch session.

Streamers of a session of Donkey Kong 64 on Sunday were treated to a cameo from newly elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

YouTube star Hbomberguy, a.k.a. Harry Brewis, is streaming a Twitch marathon of the classic 1999 Donkey Kong adventure platformer released by Rare for Nintendo 64, which he’d never finished as a kid (preach).

Brewis explained in a video announcement he intended to play the game start to finish, streaming from January 18 to raise money for Mermaids, a charity providing resources and support for transgender children and young people.  Read more…

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Oh, the things I would do to get this cardboard-style Nintendo Switch

Nintendo is building on its strange but wonderful cardboard Labo platform with some sweet Mario Kart integration and a truly fabulous limited edition Switch with a faux-cardboard finish. It really is just the greatest thing and I would do terrible things to have it. Unfortunately some smart kid will probably get it, because you have to win it by designing something cool with Labo.

So, first the Mario Kart stuff. If you have Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Switch, and you really should because it’s excellent, you can now use the Toy-Con (buildable with the Labo Variety Kit) as a sort of real-world controller. You twist the right “handlebar” to accelerate and rotate the whole thing to turn.

This is the first game to get its own special Labo support, but the company says more are on the way. Splatoon 2, perhaps?

If you’re a creative type and you have a Labo set, you’re in luck. There are two new contests you can enter, and entry puts you in the running to win the amazing neutral-colored Switch shown up top. I really don’t know why I love it so much, but I do. And if you do too, you should enter. (If you’re in the U.S. or Canada. Sorry, world.)

The first challenge is to create a musical instrument with the Toy-Con pieces and “craft materials.” You’ll have to document its creation and show it working on video; it’ll be judged on “Quality, Creativity, Spirit, and Sound.” Caps Nintendo’s.

The second challenge is to create a game or game-like experience using Toy-Con Garage. Same judgment categories as before, minus Sound.

There will be one grand prize winner and four runners up per contest. Grand prize is that amazing Switch (approximate retail value $1,000?!), plus a cool (?) Labo jacket. Runners up get a pair of cardboard style Joy-Cons and a jacket. Respectable.

If you’ve been looking for a reason to pick up that Labo kit again or use some random pieces you never tried, this is surely that reason. Now get to work!

Ariana Grande, Jimmy Fallon play ‘No Tears Left to Cry’ on a Nintendo Labo

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Yes, they’re really playing music on Nintendo’s Labo.

Specifically Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, who joined Ariana Grande to play her newest single “No Tears Left To Cry” on The Tonight Show Monday night.

Fallon told IGN he and the band worked with Nintendo to create guitars and other instruments out of cardboard.

“It was totally bizarre and such a gamble,” he said. “I didn’t know if it was going to sound good, but Ariana is always down to try something fun and different. Anyone can do what we did really, it just takes time. Whatever you dream of, you can make it.” Read more…

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Nintendo’s $20 charging stand finally fixes the Switch’s kickstand problem

Versatility has also been on of the Switch’s best features. The latest Nintendo system is a fascinating hybrid device that skirts the line between home and portable gaming. Still, there are some in-between scenarios the console didn’t get quite right out of the box.

The kickstand problem has plagued the otherwise well-received device since its earliest days. It falls over often, it’s puts the device at a weird angle, and worst of all, the charging port is on the bottom, so you can’t play the system in table top mode while it’s plugged it.

Just ahead of E3, the company’s showing off a $20 solution. The simply named Adjustable Charging Stand props the system, while keeping it plugged in, via an AC adapter port on the side.

An adjustable kickstand on the back, meanwhile, means you can change the viewing angle, depending on the height of the surface it’s on. That’s good news for those times when you don’t have a TV set to plug into, but still want to pull out the Joy-Cons to get the full experience — be it on a desk or an airport tray table. 

The peripheral hits stores July 13.

Nintendo is bringing Mario Kart to mobile

 In news that will excite every Nintendo fan on the planet, the Japanese gaming giant just announced that it will bring its hugely popular Mario Kart series to mobile. Nintendo teased the upcoming development of ‘Mario Kart Tour’ which it said will be released sometime before March 2019. A long wait, indeed, and for now we have no additional details. But, for most enthusiasts,… Read More

In swiftly-deleted posting, GOP links Legend of Zelda to progressive taxation

Sadly, the Republican Party has already deleted its article titled What Do The Legend of Zelda and the American Tax Code Have In Common? and any corresponding twetes. But it lives on at Google Cache, at least for now.

Tragically, having equated the adventures of a mute yet heroic elf with the clawing economic deprivations of progressive taxation, the article barely touches upon why beyond simply noting a few coincidental dates. It’s the very dumbest boilerplate. Sad!

https://twitter.com/Beschizza/status/900516331522535429

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Transparent refurbished Super Nintendo consoles

Rose-Colored gaming’s producing a limited run of transparent Super Nintendo consoles, refurbished from cosmetically-damaged originals. The guts are painted and polished to be pretty behind the new acrylic enclosures. [via]

These SNES consoles have been treated to a 100% brand new, hand-built exterior, all while retaining complete original function. Each is assembled by hand with the care and attention to detail that you have come to expect from RCG. The housing consists of laser cut and etched acrylic components which have been drilled, bent, bonded, threaded, & assembled using all new anodized aluminum hardware. Many internal components have been slathered in various finishes then etched in order to accentuate items which were never meant to be seen. All hand-built, these units will only be available in VERY limited quantities upon release, with each being treated to a unique serial number.

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Super Mario Run hits Android, rolls out version two on iOS

 Super Mario Run hit Android a day early. Originally expected today, March 23, per Nintendo’s earlier announcement, the game arrived on the Google Play Store yesterday instead, along with an update on iOS. The iOS exclusive ran for three months, and brought the app over 78 million downloads, the gaming company said during its earnings in January. Of those players, more than five… Read More

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7 'Zelda: Breath of the Wild' tips the game won't tell you about

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There’s so much you can do in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that the game never explicitly teaches you.

That points to one of the great delights in this new Zelda: discovering cool stuff. I’ve spent close to 40 hours playing now and I’m still learning new things about what Link is capable of doing on a regular basis.

I’m not here to spoil the fun — or story — for anyone, but if you’re just starting out in Breath of the Wild and want some ideas, I’ve pulled together this short list of things that you might not pick up on so quickly. Read more…

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Nintendo Switch cartridges taste disgusting but that's not stopping anybody

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There’s plenty of intrigue and excitement when it comes to the imminent launch of the Nintendo Switch. But please, don’t put the cartridges in your mouth.

According to reports, the game cartridges themselves taste goddamn awful. While the question of why people started putting them in their mouths to begin with remains, it turns out Nintendo’s made them taste bad intentionally.

It’s to dissuade children from trying to eat them. Makes sense considering the cartridges are pretty small, and well, children eat everything in their sight. Read more…

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Crunch Report | YouTube TV Is Live

An in-depth review of the highly anticipated Nintendo Switch, YouTube launches YouTube TV, Uber’s CEO apologizes for being mean to a driver and Craig Newmark donates $1 million to ProPublica. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Super Smash Borg Melee: AI takes on top players of the classic Nintendo fighting game

smashbros You can add the cult classic Super Smash Bros Melee to the list of games soon to be dominated by AIs. Research at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory has produced a computer player superior to the drones you can already fight in the game. It’s good enough that it held its own against globally-ranked players. Read More

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“Artisanal” Nintendo console cartridge hacker creates impossible alternate history games

Josh Jacobson is a Nintendo cartridge hacker who makes homebrew cartridges for games that were never released for NES/SNES, complete with label art and colored plastic cases that makes them look like they came from an alternate universe where (for example), there was a Nintendo version of Sonic the Hedgehog.
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Report: Pokémon Go has now crossed $1 billion in revenue

LookOut-pokemon-go Pokémon Go was 2016’s rocket ship — it broke download records and it raced to $500 million in revenue quicker than any app in history. Now it won yet another accolade, the fastest game to reach $1 billion. That’s according to a new report from app analytics firm Sensor Tower. To give the record some context, a recent App Annie report estimated that iOS and Android… Read More

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Nintendo reports $569M profit as Pokémon game sales get off to good start

pokemon-sun-moon22 Nintendo only takes a fraction of the revenue from Pokémon Go, the smash hit game of 2016, but its popularity has certainly boosted its own Pokémon games as evidenced by the company’s latest financial report. Nintendo reported a 64.7 billion JPY ($569 million) profit on revenue of 174.3 billion JPY ($1.5 billion). That’s a return to the black following a $57.1 million loss… Read More

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Pokémon Go is finally available in South Korea

pokemon-go Many may have stopped playing Pokémon Go, last year’s smash hit mobile game, but fans in Korea are just getting a taste of the action after it launched in their country today.
That’s right, this summer’s sensation is finally (officially) on Korean soil some six months after much of the rest of the world got into the title. The launch in Korea has been a complicated affair… Read More

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Crunch Report | Nintendo Switch Hits the Market on March 3

Nintendo Switch to hit the market on March 3, San Francisco District Attorney brings lawsuit against Lily, Moon Express is going to the Moon and Microsoft buys AI startup Maluuba. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Here’s how to pre-order the Nintendo Switch

switch If you were staying up late to ride the hype train that is the Nintendo Switch only to find yourself hunting aimlessly for a pre-order button…. good news. Nintendo was weirdly vague about when US pre-orders for their new $300 console would open up (outside of a tweet that mentioned a limited number of pre-orders at Nintendo NYC) but a bunch of retailers just pushed their pages live. Here… Read More

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This sneaky 'Super Mario World' hack has been in hiding for 26 years

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For anyone who grew up playing the Super NES, there are few things more nostalgic than the sight of Mario’s adorably pixelated little face bobbing along beneath that charming red cap of his.

There are also few sights more frustration-invoking than that of Big Boo — the highly irritating, seemingly impossible-to-kill baddie who’d follow you around the ghost house whenever your back was turned.

Well, according to the clip below, it looks like there was an easy way to get rid of Boo the whole time:

You…can kill Big Boos with a slide…wha…all this time…
(Credit to Supper Mario Broth) pic.twitter.com/uCi0GsT66x

— SomecallmeJohnny (@Somecallmejon) January 10, 2017 Read more…

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