Category Archives: SCI-TECH

Nintendo makes the old new again with Mario, Zelda, Tetris titles for Switch

The afternoon brought an eventful series of announcements from Nintendo in one of its Direct video promos, and 2019 is looking to be a banner year for the Switch. Here’s everything the company announced, from Super Mario Maker 2 to the unexpected remake of Game Boy classic Link’s Awakening.

The stream cold opened with a look at the new Mario Maker, which would honestly be enough announcement for one day. But boy did they have more up their sleeves.

First the actually new stuff:

Shown last but likely to garner the bulk of the internet’s response is the remake of Link’s Awakening, which came out more than a quarter of a century ago on Game Boy. I admit to never finishing this but I loved the feel of it, so I’m dying to play this new tilt-shifted, perspective-switching 3D version.

Platinum has an intriguing new game called Astral Chain, in which you appear to control two fighters at the same time in some crazy-looking robot(?)-on-robot action. Talent from The Wonderful 101, Bayonetta, and Nier: Automata ensure this will be worth keeping an eye on.

The recent trend of battle royale and perhaps the best game ever made, Tetris, combine in Tetris 99, where 100 people simultaneously and competitively drop blocks. It looks bonkers, and it’s free on Switch starting right now.

And on the JRPG tip:

Fire Emblem: Three Houses got a long spot that introduced the main characters, whom you’ll no doubt ally with and/or be betrayed by. Romance is in the air! And arrows.

From the back-to-basics studio that put out I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear comes Oninaki, an action RPG …continue reading

    

Two more bangers for the Switch’s NES selection: Kirby and Super Mario Bros. 2

Nostalgia for the NES is high following the success of Nintendo’s classic mini consoles and the launch of its Switch Online service, which just got a couple more great additions to its selection of 8-bit games: Kirby’s Adventure and the immortally weird Super Mario Bros. 2.

Kirby had just made his debut on the Game Boy, but the NES follow-up really improved things. Better controls, better graphics, still hard as hell.

Super Mario Bros. 2 is remembered as a curiosity, but it deserves more than that. Sure, it’s just an asset swap for Doki Doki Panic, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a fantastic game and you should take this opportunity to play it all the way through.

As long as you’re here, I feel I should also plug the games added a couple weeks back that probably didn’t get the love they deserved, then or 30 years ago.

Blaster Master is one of my favorite games of all time and massively underplayed. It’s an early “Metroidvania,” as we call such things these days, with amazing controls both in the side-scrolling and top-down portions, and a huge, crazy world to explore. This is an absolute classic and anyone who loves the NES should play it — or, if you find the original a bit clumsy, try the recent remake, which was both faithful and added some serious upgrades.

Zelda 2 also got added two weeks ago, and while it definitely has its problems, it’s actually a really compelling game and worthy of the name. But cast aside your associations and just play it as if it’s an old gem …continue reading

    

Aibo hangs out with some (real) dogs

I had this fun idea to make a video called “Real dog vs. robot dog,” where Henri (my Maltese Shih Tzu) and Aibo would go head to head performing a dozen tricks like high-five, bark and play dead. Aibo arrived, however, when I was simultaneously battling a cold and dog-sitting for my best friend. Because two days with Aibo didn’t allow for much time to teach him tricks, I decided to give him free rein to explore the apartment while I followed him around with my iPhone in a Theraflu haze.

As expected, Aibo was incredibly cute, does a bunch of tricks and can learn new ones with practice and patience. Brian goes in-depth here.

Pack life

The (real) dogs were curious at first, and would sniff Aibo (his butt rather), but shortly afterwards would ignore him, despite his numerous attempts to engage with them. If this were elementary school, Aibo would be the smelly new kid no one wanted to play with.

Like a real dog

We were told each Aibo was programmed to have a unique personality. The Aibo we received was a defiant little one that would obey orders half the time. He was also needy and would constantly try to get my attention. Unlike a real dog though, I could tell him to go to his charging station or turn him off.

Although his OLED eyes were meant to be expressive and help mimic a puppy’s endearing personality, they can be creepy at times, especially when he does the side-eye or when his pupils dilate.

Room for improvement

Aibo’s impressive for a robot companion dog, but with a $2,899 price tag, I’d like to suggest the following features for the next iteration:

  • Fur. Aibo isn’t very cuddly, and it’s a bit more difficult to get emotionally attached to a cold, shiny object …continue reading
        

Nintendo to open its first official store located in Japan

Fourteen years after unveiling its first location in New York, Nintendo is finally opening an official store in Japan, too. Nintendo Tokyo will be located in Shibuya Parco, the new flagship of the Parco department store chain. Nintendo Tokyo is scheduled to open at the same time as the shopping center in fall.

In an announcement, Nintendo said “we are preparing to make this store, which will be a new base for communicating Nintendo information in Japan, an enjoyable place for a wide range of consumers.” In addition to games, consoles, accessories like amiibo, and branded merchandise, Nintendo Tokyo will also host gaming kiosks and events (if the New York store, in Rockefeller Center, is anything to go by, these might include tournaments, demos, and launches).

Nintendo recently posted strong third-quarter revenue growth, but also cut its Switch forecast for the year. Sales may pick up again, however, if Nintendo releases a smaller and less expensive version of the console, as Japanese financial publication Nikkei reported it plans to do.

…continue reading