Here in America, it's Thanksgiving. It's a day to be be thankful, a day for eating turkey and cranberry sauce and a day for ignoring the normal Nintendo download update.
Cutting to the chase, the sequel to Pushmo my favorite 3DS game is out today. The new one is called Crashmo. In the old game you pulled and moved blocks in order to climb to your destination.. In the new one, you do the same... but now the blocks can fall! This sounds like the most boring thing ever, but both last year's game and this year's—which I'm about 40 puzzles into and not close to halfway—are very good puzzle games. Watch the Japanese trailer up top, ok? Or go to Nintendo's Crashmo site, which is full of videos and justified hype.
Not sold on Crashmo? Well, back in the day there was a game called Zelda. It had block-pushing puzzles, too. It also had a sword, a shield, a bow and arrow and octorocks. It was very good. Then they made a sequel and it was strange. And by strange I mean it was a side-scrolling role-playing game that seemed to have little to do with the first Zelda. Nintendo loves re-selling their old games, so, as of today, you can buy Zelda II: The Adventure of Link on your 3DS. Previously, you could only have it on your 3DS if you were a 3DS Ambassador (translation: you paid full price back when the 3DS was not worth its price tag and before Nintendo cut the price by a third; today, the 3DS is wayyyyy better).
Also in today's Nintendo eShop update:
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE WII U?
That's what you're thinking, right?
Well, tough. Wii U owners get no new games today. They'll just have to be happy with this handful of games that were put on the Wii U's eShop . Just a few indies and whatnot:
It's a new console! These are momentous events in gaming, and yet nobody seems quite sure how to react to Nintendo's new entrant, the Wii U.
To some, it feels like the last of a generation that launched with the Xbox 360 many years ago. To Nintendo, it's the first of the next generation, well ahead of Microsoft's and Sony's next iterations. It takes an interesting, two-pronged approach to audio and to video, though the two-screen approach can create some problems of its own. It comes with a huge, slow update right off the bat but combines the features of consoles and of portability.
In short, the Wii U is a huge question mark. Is it cool? Is it interesting? Is it gimmicky? And how does that giant gamepad work, anyway? These, and other questions, are what reviewers worldwide have set out to answer.
Most outlets don't score their hardware reviews, so there are no hard numbers to round up. (The exception, Polygon, gave it a 6.5) So here's a whirlwind tour of what reviewers far and wide make of Nintendo's new household name.
The difference between the Wii U's eShop and previous digital storefronts on the Wii and 3DS is remarkable, given that this time it's actually good. Vastly quicker to browse, with an efficient layout and easy access to game info, screenshots, and trailers, the new eShop is an active pleasure to browse. It looks prettier than storefronts on rival machines, works like a charm, and boasts one beautiful feature that Nintendo systems have been aching for—background downloads!
Credit card information can be input easily and saved, and downloads themselves are fairly swift. I'm yet to buy one of the full retail games, because I'm not made of money, but my purchase and download of Chasing Aurora was fast and hassle-free, taking four minutes or so to download. The only issue is that, like with the PlayStation 3, downloaded games must be installed manually, a process that tacks on an extra minute or so of waiting. Once that's done, another few seconds on the home screen will add a fresh-faced icon.
Nintendo's focus on using the GamePad as the centre of the experience—even in these initial stages—is a great idea. Simply going through the motions with the set-up procedure familiarises you with the tablet, and you can even use it as a TV remote (albeit limited to power on/off, input, volume and channel control). Despite the inexpensive parts, there are some pleasant surprises here: this clearly isn't anything like as good as an iPad-style IPS display, but viewing angles are fairly decent and colour reproduction is OK, if not spectacular. The lack of multi-touch support is a serious issue—for the browser in particular—but overall responsiveness from the screen is fine.
We'll be studying the latency in more depth soon with a bit more of a scientific approach, but our first hands-on impressions are positive, as games are equally as playable on the GamePad as they are on the big screen. Indeed, we have the feeling that the Wii U GamePad's response may actually be superior to a great many HDTVs out there, something we'll be quantifying in the upcoming days.
This touch screen works just like the 3DS', which means it can't sense more than one finger at a time, but you can touch it with anything as opposed to typical phone and tablet capacitive screens that need a signal from your body. A front-facing camera and microphone facilitates video chat and can show your face to take pictures of it to display on your TV. The photo/video image quality isn't going to win any awards, but it's enough to do the job. An accelerometer and gyroscope handles motion control, which performs smoothly in launch titles like Nintendo Land. Near Field Communication functionality is built in, but implementation in games is limited at this point. Despite its relatively large size, the GamePad still feels light at 1.1 lbs compared to a standard iPad.
The rechargeable battery is only good for a few hours, but you can maximize that time by going into the controller settings and dimming the screen brightness. There's also an option to turn the screen off if you're not using it, though it comes back on if you touch any buttons.Charging via a cable to the main console is a no-go. You have to run a separate power cord from the GamePad to a wall outlet or use the charging dock included with the deluxe console. I'd gladly trade off more battery life for a heavier controller. The Pro controller, which sells for $50, looks like a 360/PS3 controller and is said to last "up to 80 hours." Be sure to check if it's compatible with the game you want to play, however, as its support is spotty. Notable incompatible titles include New Super Mario Bros. U, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition, Scribblenauts Unlimited, and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.
Nintendo just can't seem to get the simplest things right—like voice chat. For those that missed the news, Nintendo's "hardcore" Wii U Pro Controller doesn't come with a headset jack. Which means you'll need to plug your headset into the Wii U GamePad, even when you're not using it. That's ridiculous.
The worries don't stop there. Nintendo has remained mum on what processor is inside the Wii U. Currently, all we know is it's an IBM Power Architecture-based multi-core processor. Except we don't know how many cores, or what it's clocked at, or what its cache size is… etc, etc, etc. For all we know, it could be a beefed up version of the Wii chip—which isn't that wild of a guess.
So what does all that mean? It means what everyone already knew—Wii U won't be as powerful as the PS4 or next Xbox. But is that a surprise? And does it really matter?
I'm not convinced Wii U is going to age as well as the next round of consoles—but I am convinced that it's going to offer a completely unique experience with a large handful of irreplaceable games.
Imagine Twitter, but with threaded conversations, and divided into "communities" around a game, and adorable, and you've got Miiverse. Miiverse lets users send messages both from and about supported games, reply to one another, "follow" users Twitter style, and most importantly, send friend requests right to those people.
Messages can consist of short text or Swapnote-style drawn messages, with which Nintendo staff have helpfully already populated communities. I've already had a good time pseudo-Tweeting with game journalist friends. I look forward to investigating Miiverse further.
One disappointing limitation has already presented itself: you can only follow 1,000 people, and you can only have 100 friends on the Wii U. That continues to be an uncool limit for the Xbox 360, and it's uncool for an ostensibly next-generation system.
Nintendo has promised that it understands the need for third-party support for the Wii U, but it beat a similar drum prior to the launch of the Wii and even the 3DS. The Wii's third-party efforts were largely ignored and generally substandard, and outside of the Monster Hunter series, the 3DS's third-party footprint has dwindled significantly. Put simply, Nintendo has more to prove in this regard than any other platform holder, and it isn't filling us with confidence that we can expect third-party titles will consistently appear on the Wii U. We're even more skeptical that third-party titles will make good use of the Wii U's unique capabilities.
But Nintendo's greatest hurdle is demonstrating that it understands online, and how to use that to offer a good experience to players. As of this writing, the Wii U that customers will buy on November 18th doesn't have an online component—that has to be downloaded in a day one firmware update for the system. While firmware updates are nothing new, no one outside of Nintendo and some third-party developers have any idea how the Wii U's online infrastructure will function. We don't know what the shop experience is. We don't know how you reach out to friends, whether you can join games via invites a la Xbox Live, how voice communication works. In fact, at the time of publish, Nintendo hasn't even enabled backwards compatibility for Wii titles.
But if you are on the fence, if you are wondering if it's time to get a Wii U, we can guess with you that Nintendo is going nowhere, that excellent games from Nintendo are surely on the horizon, and that firmware updates may give the system all of the features it was supposed to have at launch maybe as soon as early December. Having played a batch of games on the Wii U and having had the system in my home for nearly a week, I can confirm that it is a good machine that makes one's console gaming life surprisingly more convenient and luxurious. I just can't tell you that you have to have one now.
Is it time for a gamer to get a Wii U? Is it a must-have?
Give it a month or three. Wait until the "launch window" closes at the end of March and the likes of Pikmin 3, Lego City Undercover and a slew of interesting download-only games are available.
With any new console you might be wisest to give it a year, especially if you want to be able to compare it to what Sony and Microsoft have coming next. And if they don't put screens in their controllers, know right now that Nintendo will have at least that excellent advantage over them.
Today, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced that importing such devices is now strictly prohibited by law, 47 News reports. Nintendo, it seems, lead the cry for the importation of these devices be banned in Japan.
The sale of these devices is already punishable by law. This spring, a retailer in Saitama, Japan was arrested for selling R4 cartridges—the first arrest of its kind in the country.
But...what about the honest souls who only use the R4 for homebrew? I'm sure they exist!
「マジコン」を輸入禁止 経産省発表 [47News]
After graduating from Shimane University, Rie Sasaki got her start in 2006, briefly performing as a sidewalk idol in Akihabara, Tokyo's geek district. Sidewalk idols are essentially street performers who don't ask for spare change, but hope to build a grass roots following. After that, she was scouted by an agent while in Shibuya and started working as a model and pin-up girl.
Starting in 2008, she got an online show, on which she'd answer fan mail and talk about her favorite Gundam arcade game. She appeared in image DVDs, with titles like Real Audition: Otome Anime Voice Actress or Spoil Girl.
But like so many of these bikini models, she married and decided it was time to change her image. Unlike so many of these bikini models, she decided the best way to do that was to run for office.
Sasaki is running as a candidate for the newly formed "Japan Restoration Party" (new as in launched this September) in Tokyo's 21st Ward. When asked about her pin-up past and bikini pics immortalized online, Sasaki is quoted by Daily as saying, "For me, I'm okay with it, but depending on the angle... Still, they're part of the life I've led." That seems to be a good attitude—probably the best one can have. Sasaki said she's been interested in politics for a while now. With all the old men in Japanese politics, some new blood can't hurt, right?
On Sasaki's new, politically charged website, she does apologize in her second post: While working as a pin-up model, she said she was born in 1983. This isn't true. She was actually born in 1982. "I truly apologize for this," Sasaki wrote, adding that she'd be focusing on making things better. Well, at least she admitted she hadn't been truthful. How many politicians do that?
A few years back, Japanese gamers were very upset over spotty localization for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The line "Remember, no Russian" (AKA, Don't speak the Russian language) was written as "Kill 'em, the Russians" in Japanese.
Now it's Black Ops II's turn. The Japanese language version features jarring and nonsensical localization.
This image is supposed to say "Eliminate Enemy Players" in Japanese, but the way it's written seems somewhat odd (敵プレイヤーをせん滅しろ). Instead of writing "elimination" as 殲滅 (senmetsu), it's written with "sen" in hiragana script: せん滅. As jarring as it might seem to a few Japanese players, the word can be written that way. And is. So to be fair, this isn't actually a mistake. The rest of the multiplayer localization, however, is.
Take the multiplayer welcome screen, which seems like should say "Welcome to Multiplayer" in Japanese (マルチプレイヘようこそ or "Multiplayer e Youkoso"), but it actually says "マルチプレイヤーへよ........ｑ". It's unclear what "........ｑ" refers to. It's unclear what much of the localization refers to.
For example, there's this image. It wants to say "Hacking" in Japanese, but they cannot even fit the Japanese word for ハッキング on the screen. It cuts out at the corners, making the "gu" character (グ) look like the character for "ku" (ク). And "hacking" (ハッキング) in Japanese isn't even a verb by itself; it's a noun!
Take this image. On the screen of the above handheld device, it reads "kensaku chuu" (検索中), which means "looking something up." Like, in a dictionary. Pretty sure the latest Call of Duty multiplayer doesn't have you look up words or things online while playing. (If it does, that's awesome!) Rather, the Japanese tansakuchuu (探索中) or maybe "saachichuu" (サーチ中) would be better.
Then, there are the descriptions of the different multiplayer matches and equipment, which many Japanese players are finding to be confusing.
The truly odd thing is that most of these words should be in English. Japanese people know basic English and all study it at school. Many Japanese products—especially cars and electronics—have simple English in them. So writing "hacking" or "searching" in Japanese doesn't actually make much sense. Players would understand what they mean.
Online in Japan, people are complaining about these mistakes and bitching at the publisher. Some of the bad localizations are even becoming memes! A modern day "All your base are belong to us", if you will.
The Black Ops II Japanese localization seems like it was done by individuals who didn't know the context of what they were localizing and didn't have the opportunity to get the necessary context. Localization is more than looking things up in dictionaries. So is Call of Duty.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II is on sale today in Japan.
In the above gallery, you can see comparisons from that thread. Most of the Disney examples are from either the 1989 film The Little Mermaid or the 1992 film Aladdin. There are a few from the 1993 film Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas.
One Piece did not begin its run until August 1997; though, it did make an appearance the year before, in 1996.
Yes, some of the comparisons are fairly clear, and it's easy to see the outside influences in One Piece. The manga's creator, Eiichiro Oda, has never been shy about professing his love for other manga or cartoons.
But, if I had never seen these comparisons, I'm not sure if I would have drawn them myself. Influences are only a bad thing if they result to dull, stifled copying. Influences are at their most beneficial if they are reworked and result in the creation of something new. Reading One Piece isn't like reading The Little Mermaid or Aladdin—or even Oda's beloved Dragon Ball. It's like reading One Piece. It is its own thing.
If you are a One Piece fan, and you haven't seen these comparisons before, they're fascinating and do open up a new level of appreciation of what Oda has created. Good manga artists copy. Great ones steal.
Earlier this month, an eleven-year old girl in the Guangdong region of China asked her mom to buy a Puella Magi Madoka Magica DVD. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an anime series that debuted in Japan last year.
After buying the DVD for her daughter, the mother went out shopping, while she watched the DVD. According to Xinhuanet, when the mother returned, she found her daughter moping about. That night the kid didn't utter a word and didn't touch her dinner. The next day, the daughter acted strangely. Then on the third day, the mother pressed her daughter, trying to find out what was wrong. "I didn't know how to tell you," the kid said, breaking out sobbing. Apparently, the first half of the DVD was Puella Magi Madoka Magica; however, the second half was an adult movie. The young girl kept saying, "So gross" over and over again, and she appears to have been understandably and unfortunately traumatized and continued to have difficulty sleeping.
The video was a pirated copy and not an officially released DVD. Xinhuanet reported that the DVD's seller said its contents were "not checked". Piracy isn't only an issue in China, but incidents like this do highlight how the sellers and buyers of these goods don't necessarily know what they are getting their hands on.
Less shocking than the pornography, Puella Magi Madoka Magica might look like your typical magical girl anime for little girls, but it's not. And even if this DVD had not been tampered with, Madoka Magica is not suitable for children. At all.
Leaving kids to be babysat by the TV makes them vulnerable to whatever is on that screen.
Yes, the internet is awash with do-it-yourself Iron Man helmets. That's okay, because d.i.y. Iron Man helmets are rad.
This Mark III Iron Man Helmet was painstakingly moulded, sculpted, sanded, and then painted in a highly laborious and time consuming process. It took around a year to complete! The finished helmet, which is motorized and has glowing eyes, looks like the real deal. But how the hell does he see?
In the past, however, he's been employed at places like Trion and Sony Online Entertainment, where he helped out on Legends of Norrath, Everquest 2, RIFT and the Untold Legends series.
If you like Damian's stuff, you can see a lot more of it over on his DeviantArt page.
To see the larger pics in all their glory (or, if they're big enough, so you can save them as wallpaper), right-click on them below and select "open in new tab".
Project CARS, you're killing me. I see trailers like this, I see the words "pre-alpha footage", and I don't know whether to punch you, or kiss you, or both.
This clip is showing off the game's multiplayer mods. Even the type used to show your competitors looks amazing.
For those who don't know, Project CARS is a bit of a strange game, as fans are not only funding the game, but can help out with its development as well.
It's due next year on PC, PS3, 360 and Wii U. Needless to say, this is the PC version.