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Thank You and Goodbye

June 27, 2012 6 comments

Notes from the Mushroom Kingdom

In October 2010 I started writing for Nintendo Okie, and now, almost two years later, my time here is at an end. It has been an amazing couple of years for me to work with everyone here and to have been part of such a wonderful community, but as of today my articles are returning to this side of the Atlantic as I will be joining Nintendo Life.

And I could not have achieved this without Nintendo Okie. When I first got in contact with Tony in the Summer of 2010, I had recently shut down my own personal Nintendo site after three failed re-launches and was looking for a way to hone my writing and reach out to a wider audience. Tony’s ad for writers across the world caught my eye, and we eventually settled on the idea of two articles a week – these would ultimately become the weekly Euro News Round-Up and my editorial piece, Notes from the Mushroom Kingdom. Read more…

Marketing Wii U

June 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Notes from the Mushroom Kingdom

We’re now a matter of months away from the launch of Nintendo’s next home console and while E3 2012 was the first staging ground for Wii U’s launch, there is still a lot of work to be done by Nintendo to ensure the system is flying off stores shelves in a little over four months time. E3 gave us the briefest of glimpses into the new console’s feature set, but with limited stage time and even more limited show-floor space, Nintendo have admitted that we are still yet to fully observe the Wii U experience. And that has to change over the next four months.

As it stands, we only know a handful of things about Wii U. We know what the controller configuration is in terms of the GamePad, although we are yet to see it fully utilised and we know it has NFC (Near Field Communication) technology built-in. We also have a basic understanding of the concept of Miiverse, and we know of a handful of games that will appear at or around launch. And that’s it. No really, that is it. So with just four months to go, let’s take a look at what Nintendo need to do to make sure we’re all ready to go in Q4 2012. Read more…

Is The Wii Dead?

June 15, 2012 5 comments

Notes from the Mushroom Kingdom

Wii U is big news. It’s such big news that Nintendo’s E3 Press Conference this year was set aside entirely to discuss Nintendo’s next step in the home console market; with even the resurgent 3DS cast aside to a smaller conference to make room for the new console juggernaut. Post-conference, the Wii U emphasis remained, and while everyone was getting excited about Nintendo’s new venture, one console went almost entirely unnoticed – the Wii.

While it was unsurprising Nintendo decided to focus fully on Wii U this year, what is more surprising is that literally nothing was on show at E3 for the current Nintendo platform, a platform that at the very least has another four months of life in it. So what has happened to Wii? Does this mean it now joins the list of dead home consoles? Read more…

E3 2012: Wii U’s Statement of Intent

June 6, 2012 2 comments

Notes from the Mushroom Kingdom

After months of speculation, a year ago this week Nintendo unveiled the Wii U, the successor to their hugely popular, yet divisive Wii console. Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime took to the stage and made one thing very clear – while Wii eventually skewed towards a more family-orientated market, Wii U was looking to bring the best of both worlds to its software library, catering for both families and single players. What followed was a sizzle reel of various third-party offerings, following by a glowing report from EA’s John Riccitiello, showing that Wii U had third-parties on board at an early stage.

Roll forward to this year’s E3, and after a somewhat anti-climatic Monday, everyone was waiting for Nintendo to unveil and amaze with Wii U at their 9am press conference. Only they didn’t. An hour later, journalists and fans across the world were left wondering what the focus of the conference was and what exactly Wii U did that was different to any other platform; despite some impressive games on display. How could Nintendo have possibly failed to succeed when all they had to do was show an impressive array of games to make everyone believe in Wii U? Read more…

No Mr Bond, I Expect You To Choose

May 2, 2012 2 comments

Notes from the Mushroom Kingdom

2012 marks the 50th Anniversary of one of cinema’s most important and long-standing franchises – James Bond. It’s a true testament to the series that even today, new fans of the series consider the original Sean Connery led films as good as any that have come since; and with Daniel Craig now helming the series, a new generation of fans have been successfully reached. To celebrate this momentous occasion, MGM will be releasing the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall, later this year, and as expected, Activision will be releasing a game alongside the film’s release.

But this isn’t an ordinary game. Perhaps taking a cue from Sonic Generations (but probably not), Activision’s 007 Legends will take place across the series’ 50 year history, handpicking specific moments to be played through for the first time in a game; tapping into that all important anniversary nostalgia that is being so heavily promoted by MGM this year. These moments will apparently be moulded into an over-arching narrative, so whether we will see Sean Connery and Roger Moore back again or whether it will be a Goldeneye-esque remodel with Daniel Craig in the lead role is still up for debate, but whoever is Bond, one thing we do know, six films will make it into the game out of the 23 that exist.

But which ones? Every film, except arguably Quantum of Solace (did anyone enjoy that film?), deserves a spot in the game, so how can Activision possibly only choose six? Well, I thought I’d attempt it, so here are my six choices for 007 Legends. Before we begin, I should clarify that while six films does indicate there will be one film for each Bond, given the relative obscurity of both George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton as Bond, and that their films are arguably the weakest of the series, I’ve omitted them from the list. This doesn’t mean they’re not up for consideration in the game, just that in my opinion the films don’t deserve to make the cut. Read more…

Could the eShop be Wii U’s secret weapon?

April 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Notes from the Mushroom Kingdom

Today’s 3DS update brought with it not only the usual promise of security and firmware improvements, but a new folder system that allows for a much cleaner, and more logical, ordering of games and applications on the 3DS home screen. There was however another update installed today that went largely unnoticed by both gamers and Nintendo’s advertising campaign alike. Today’s update installed a simple, yet incredibly effective update to the eShop, taking what was becoming a cumbersome interface and streamlining into a far more user-friendly system.

The interface update allows for a far easier sorting of the now numerous collection of games and applications that fill the eShop, showing a clear intent from Nintendo that the eShop isn’t just another Wii Shop Channel – it is Nintendo staying with the ever-evolving downloadable market and making sure that the games you want are always accessible. The update is a strong signal of intent from Nintendo that the eShop is a big factor in the life of the 3DS, but what about the Wii U? Could the eShop be one of the Wii U’s secret weapons? Read more…

Should Pit have returned on Wii U?

April 4, 2012 1 comment

Notes from the Mushroom Kingdom

Pit’s return after 20 years on the sidelines in Super Smash Bros Brawl was seen by many as the first step in his gradual reintroduction as a Nintendo mascot, and at E3 2010, that view was proven to be true. The 3DS was unveiled with Kid Icarus: Uprising as its lead game, promising to showcase just why the 3DS was a worthwhile upgrade from the departing DS line of systems. The game was also one of the few titles available to be demoed en masse on the show floor, and it also made an appearance again pre-launch as part of Nintendo’s worldwide tour with the 3DS. It was made clear right from the start that Kid Icarus: Uprising was the flagship title for the 3DS.  The return of a gaming icon would usher in a new age of handheld gaming.

Only that didn’t happen. Delays in the development process ended up pushing it back from launch to late 2011, only for it to be pushed back again to finally be released on the anniversary of the 3DS’s original launch, a whole year later than planned. In that time, the game had undergone significant enhancements, with countless new features introduced including an addictive online mode. The time was clearly well spent, but with the 3DS already up to speed by March 2012, did Nintendo miss the opportunity to really sell the return of Pit? And more importantly, would Nintendo have been better positioned if they had taken the decision to move it to Wii U as a launch title? Read more…

3DS: One Year On

March 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Notes from the Mushroom Kingdom

It’s hard to believe it but the 3DS is one year old. 12 months have passed since Nintendo’s successor to the immensely popular DS line of systems hit store shelves, but you would be forgiven for thinking that the time frame was very different. For day one adopters the system probably feels like an old friend by now – we know what it does and what makes it so special. Yet for anyone who bought the system around 6 months ago, I can only imagine the time has flown by, with countless great titles hitting stores throughout the second half of 2011.

It’s easy to think of the 3DS now as a fantastic system and one that continues to answer critics and prove that 3D was the right way for Nintendo to go, and let’s face it, it is, but for day one adopters the console’s impressive abilities weren’t realised for some time after launch, and many will remember months on end where the 3DS just sat and gathered dust as games appeared to just abandon the system. Ultimately we will look back on the rise of the 3DS is an important chapter in Nintendo’s recent history as it gives a big warning for the future: do not underestimate the importance of games. Read more…

Retake ME3: Fan entitlement or a genuine complaint?

March 21, 2012 4 comments

Notes from the Mushroom Kingdom

It’s been just 2 weeks since Mass Effect 3 first hit stores shelves worldwide, but for BioWare it must feel like a lot longer. Within hours of the first gamers completing the trilogy, bad news began to trickle in across the internet – the ending was bad. For a series of such scope and magnificence as Mass Effect, the ending was always going to be the deal breaker as to whether the trilogy became the pinnacle of story-telling, or a whisker away from perfection.

Much had been said about the ending pre-launch too, with BioWare promising that everything would be answered in the finale and everything you had done throughout the trilogy would play out to fruition. And to a certain degree it does. Throughout the adventure a lot of the decisions you made impact that game and the world around you in a big way, and these ultimately funnel into the war assets tally, with the aim here being to create as strong a force as you can going into the final battle. But it’s what happens from here onwards that has polarised opinion; the ending has resulted in one of the strongest fan outpourings ever seen in any medium, resulting in a huge “Retake ME3” movement being set-up.

So the question is this: is there a genuine grievance to be had here or is this just fan entitlement gone mad?

WARNING: The following article concerns the end-game sequence for Mass Effect 3 and as such will contain spoilers. From this point on any in-game spoilers are allowed. You have been warned.  Read more…

To Remake or not to Remake: The Community Speaks

March 7, 2012 1 comment

Notes from the Mushroom Kingdom

Over the last two weeks I’ve been looking at one of the biggest issues in gaming currently – whether or not remakes are a good idea, or whether they should be cast aside in favour of new ideas. In an era where sequels and franchises dominate the charts, remakes are often used to attempt to reinvigorate a series or to help promote a big franchise by giving players the chance to experience one of the titles again that made it the franchise it is today. Remakes allow present day gamers to relive the experiences of the past with current day hardware, and are seen by many to be the perfect way to preserve the history of the industry.

But with the more recent arrival of download services, and more importantly the rise of the Virtual Console, do remakes have a place in the industry for much longer? Whereas the argument has always been that remakes negate the need for older hardware, the Virtual Console service allows old games to be run as they were intended on a modern console, removing the need for heavy development work in creating a remake.

So what is the solution? Over the past two weeks I’ve shared the pros and cons of the remake business and over that time I’ve thrown the question out to the community. There has been a lot of debate across the internet about this topic, and in this article we will hopefully come to a consensus – are remakes a good idea for the industry or not? Read more…

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