Posts Tagged ‘Nintendo’

Nintendo levels up smartphones with wallpapers and cases

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

As gamers anxiously await for the release of Nintendo’s new Miitomo app on March 17, smartphone users can level up their devices now with new wallpapers and cases from the Big N.

Nintendo’s Line account

Last September, Nintendo jumped into the brave new social media world by releasing its Line account. The profile features a sassy green Toad named Kinopio that will chat with you using pre-programmed messages, but that’s not its main selling point.

About twice a month, the Line account will send you free wallpapers for your phone. Usually they are related to recently released games, such as “Fire Emblem” or “The Legend of Zelda,” but they have been sending out calendars as well.

Nintendo's February calendar.

Nintendo’s February calendar.

At the end of every month, Nintendo will send users a new calendar that features Nintendo characters celebrating upcoming holidays. They had Kinopio riding a Rudolph-inspired Yoshi in December and him throwing beans at Boos for Setsubun in February.

“Super Mario Maker” wallpaper

If you’re not happy with Nintendo’s wallpapers, why not create your own using “Super Mario Maker”?

Inspired by Nintendo’s Wii U game, users can open up a special website and build their own “Super Mario” level in the browser. After choosing which graphics style they want (anything from 8-bit to polygons), users can download the screenshot for their computer or phone.

A screenshot of the

A screenshot of the “Super Mario ‘Kabegami’ Maker” website.

All of the instructions are in Japanese, but the intuitive interface makes it clear what to do. Just pick computer or phone, the resolution size, and then start decorating your level with as many Goombas as you want.

Phone covers

Nintendo has been letting third-party companies produce phone cases for a while now, but it’s kicking it up a notch with Kirby covers.

A recent line featuring the big pink puffball has a retro feel as it features him from his 8-bit days as he bounces through clouds and rides stars.

A new phone cover that features an 8-bit Kirby.

A phone cover that features an 8-bit Kirby.

If that’s not cute enough for you, gamers can also buy a variety of Pikachu and Pokémon smartphone cases and IC card holders.

So whether you want to dress up your smartphone on the inside or the outside, Nintendo has you — and your phone — covered.

Pokémon catches nostalgia fever for its 20th anniversary

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

It’s hard to believe, but Pokémaniacs have been trying to catch ’em all for two decades. Nintendo and the Pokémon Company are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Pokémon with a year full of new products, re-releases and huge doses of nostalgia around the world.

Up first is a re-release of the very first Game Boy games (“Red,” “Blue,” “Green” and “Yellow”), which will be available for purchase on “Pokémon Day,” Feb. 27, exactly 20 years since their initial launch. Trainers can download digital copies of the game for their Nintendo 3DS or 2DS, or they can buy a special edition of the Nintendo 2DS.

The anniversary bundle comes with either a copy of

The anniversary bundle comes with either a copy of “Red,” “Green,” “Blue” or “Yellow.”

The anniversary bundle comes with a colored, clear-plastic handheld system, a digital copy of the game, stickers, a town map and a code to download the legendary Pokémon Mew. Those wanting something a little more modern should check out the other games coming to the Wii U and smartphones later this year.

If the original game’s 8-bit music doesn’t hold up, you can always hear an orchestrated version of the Pokémon soundtrack in person with the Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions concert.

The North American show will feature a live orchestra performing many fan favorites from various entries in the series. Currently the website only features a listing for St. Louis of all places, but promises more dates and locations in the future.

And when there is a Pokémon celebration, there must be gratuitous amounts of Pokémon swag. U.S. fans can buy a variety of 20th anniversary apparel, featuring a special logo, along with an updated version of “Pokémon: The First Movie.” There will also be limited edition trading cards, featuring some of the original Pocket Monsters, as well as Kyoto-themed toys to commemorate the newest Pokémon Center in Japan’s ancient capital.

For some gamers, this will definitely pull up memories of watching the cartoon after school and demanding that Mom buy new batteries for the Game Boy. If you’re one of them, feel free to join the nostalgia fest with the #Pokemon20 hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. Post your favorite moments and memories from the Pokémon series, whether it’s Red picking his first Pocket Monster or watching your own kids join the Pokémon fandom. Users are also posting artwork and other DIY projects to the hashtag.

So whether you did indeed catch them all or if you were just content with only Pikachu, the 20th anniversary of Pokémon celebration will have something to make you feel like a kid again.

Tweet Beat: #NintendoDirectJP, #華麗なる公式 , #デザフェス

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

The Twitter Japan blog releases a list of top hashtags for each week. Tweet Beat investigates the buzz behind the hashtag. 

The latest news from Nintendo

When Nintendo has something to announce, it has been tending in recent years to do it via a Nintendo Direct presentation. These streaming events allow “direct” communication with fans of their games. On May 17 the latest #NintendoDirectJP included a special focus on Sega. The next three Sonic the Hedgehog games will be made exclusively for Nintendo platforms; “Sonic: Lost World” is slated for release on Wii U and 3DS this fall. Sega is also bringing “Yakuza 1 & 2 HD” to Wii U in Japan.

Another highlight was downloadable content for “New Super Mario Brothers U” called “New Super Luigi U” with 82 revamped Luigi-only levels. It will also be available as a stand-alone Wii U game. For the the full details of the presentation, check your local Nintendo Twitter account: @Nintendo, @NintendoAmerica, @NintendoEurope.

The “magnificent” presence of official Twitter accounts in Japan

If you follow Japanese companies on Twitter, you may have noticed some of them have boatloads more personality than you might expect. Forgoing stiff PR and capitalizing on the “social” in “social media,” accounts such as @kumamototaxi (a taxi service), @enganbus (a bus company), and @imuraya_dm (food company known for red bean sweets) became known as #病気公式アカ (“sick official accounts”) last fall (perhaps because it seemed as if they had gone off the deep end). The tweets that chronicle the history of the hashtag are archived here.

suggestion from @nhk_pr that they come up with something less insensitive to people who are actually suffering from illness led to adopting #華麗なる公式 (“magnificent official [accounts]). For a good example of how these accounts interact with each other, see this collection of tweets between @tanitaofficial and @sharp_jp. Note the liberal emoticon usage.

So how did #華麗なる公式 end up so trendy this particular week? It’s hard to say for sure, since it’s continuously active, but I’d like to think because of this play on words by the Japan Self Defense Force Miyagi Provincial Cooperation Office:

They were having trouble cooking their Friday curry, but the best part is the hashtag duo: #華麗なる公式 (karei naru koushiki, “magnificent official [accounts]”) is joined by #カレーなる金曜日 (karē naru kinyoubi, “curry Friday”).

Design Festa Vol. 37

The “international art event” #デザフェス (“dezafesu,” short for “Design Festa”) vol. 37 was held May 18 and 19 at Tokyo Big Sight. Just browsing the tweets gives a great taste of what was on offer as exhibitors posted photos to promote their booth and attendees were documenting on the fly. If you’re distraught over discovering this gathering after the fact, don’t despair! Vol. 38 is already on the calendar for Nov. 2 and 3.

2012: The year in gear

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Every year the Nikkei Marketing Journal (NMJ) ranks the year’s best new products and services like a sumo tournament, naming a “yokozuna” (champion) for eastern and western Japan. We combed through that, as well as magazines like Trendy (also from Nikkei) and Dime, for the game-changing gear of 2012 in Japan. Some trends we’re noticing are compact, cheaper goods that offer a comparative experience to the full size ones they’re designed to replace and “smart” appliances that work in tandem with smart phones, which had a big year too.

Honda N Box

The kei car from Honda doesn’t look like a kei car. Kei, or “light,” cars are ubiquitous in Japan; unless you’re planning to log long hours on the highway (for which you could just use the train), a small, light car with no power is perfect for traffic-clogged, narrow streets. Also, they cost a lot less to register and insure. But the innovation of the N Box – some 200,000 were sold this year – is that it is much roomier than your average kei. Not American-style minivan roomy, but maybe mini-minivan roomy. Ranked #3 for eastern Japan by NMJ and #12 by Trendy.

Panasonic “smart appliances”

Panasonic launched a new series of appliances that can be controlled remotely by an Android smartphone – meaning you can use your phone to turn on the rice cooker or the air conditioner before you get home (or check that you’ve turned them off). There’s also a scale that sends data to your phone, so you can track your weight-loss progress. We’re not sure what you’d want to communicate to the fridge that’s also part of the lineup, though. Featured in Dime’s “My Valuable Products 2012.”

Mirrorless cameras

2012 saw the market for mirrorless, interchangeable-lens cameras explode. Mirrorless cameras offered an affordable, compact alternative to a comparatively bulky DSLRs. Pretty much every major manufacturer now has a model out, and this year the prices fell under that crucial ¥50,000 mark. Gear magazine Dime name checks Nikon’s 1 V1, Olympus’ PEN Lite E-PL3, Panasonic’s Lumix GF5X, and Sony’s NEX-C3D in its best buys of 2012 roundup. Featured in Dime’s “My Valuable Products 2012.”

7-inch tablets

Smaller, cheaper tablets won over consumers who had been reluctant to buy into the first generation of full-size tablets. The market was just full of them this year, including imports like Apple’s iPad mini, Samsung’s Galaxy, and Google’s Nexus 7 along with domestic offerings like Toshiba’s Regza AT570 and Sharp’s Aquos Pad SHT 21. Ranked #1 for western Japan by NMJ.

Toyota Aqua

This compact hybrid edged out Toyota’s pricier Prius this year to become Japan’s top-selling car, with 24,192 units sold in October alone. Ranked #16 by Trendy.

Sharp Cocorobo

Not only can this “next generation” cleaning robot be controlled remotely by your smart phone, but it also has a built in camera and wifi so you can actually watch it work through your phone (if you have absolutely nothing better to do), seeing what it sees. You could even get it to send you before and after photos of its handiwork. Ranked #29 by Trendy.

Sony 3D Headset

Sony’s futuristic 3D personal viewing headset, the HMZ-T1, which actually came out late last year, proved more popular than Sony anticipated and the company announced in February that production couldn’t keep up with demand. The company has since launched the lighter HMZ-T2. Ranked #24 by Trendy.

Nintendo WII U

This one came out too late to make the yearly round-ups, but Nintendo’s new high definition system that includes a tablet-like controller that also works on the TV looks to be another game changer.

Today’s J-blip: Geek-approved cutting board

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Mario cutting board

Instead of bopping mushrooms with his head, this Mario helps you slice and dice them. Iowa artist Jim Van Winkle takes Mario and other 8-bit favorites off the screen and into the kitchen. No coins required for use!

From Prairie Oak Studios on Etsy

Pulsations (05.25.12)

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Here are the latest Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers, and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order, they are . . .

  • What Do Japanese Children Want to Be When they Grow Up? (Survey) (from Skeptikai): You know, kids, working as an animated character is not all it’s cracked up to be — long hours, bad pay, plus the jump from being a human to the 2D world really takes its toll on your body. Better have something to fall back on, like professor or astronaut.
  • Whale-safe beer (from LLP): The anti-globalists were right all along: Commercial society has now reached a point where all products look alike. That is the only explanation we can think of for the fact that beer companies are competing on which beer contains the least amount of whale.
  • Nintendo characters as Ukiyo-e prints (from Geekologie): Someday, maybe archaeologists will find these prints and use them as proof that aliens visited Japan in the 17th century. This is how deranged historical theories are created, people!
  • The 2012 annular eclipse seen from Tokyo (from Hikosaemon): Yeah, this blog round-up wouldn’t be complete without the event that for once had the entire east coast of Japan on their feet at 7 in the morning. Hikosaemon gets the Japan Pulse Photo of the Week Award (disclaimer: not an actual thing) for the shot of a helicopter passing in front of his lens just at the moment of total eclipse.

Tamagtotchi turns 15, as virtual pets continue to evolve

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Tamagochi reached the ripe old age of 15 yesterday. To celebrate, Bandai brought out a special Tamagotchi iD L 15th anniversary edition in pink or purple with plenty of new functions. Not just for the 8- to 9-year-old girls, those who recall their cute digital pets with fondness, rather than mild irritation, are bound to want to get their hands on these special models which have one of the game’s first-generation characters, Oyajichi, among their sets of 32 characters.

The commemorative version of the Tamagochi features one of the game's original characters

Tamagochi have come a long way since their birth and the iD L has a color screen, is decorated with sparkling crystals and has a function that allows you to swap items and propose marriage with other players.

The success of the toys sparked a virtual pet rearing boom that continues to this day. It’s not that surprising, especially when you think of all the city apartment dwellers who aren’t allow to keep real pets at home. Though some simply get around a landlord’s strict rules by keeping a secret pet (small dog owners can resort to hiding a dog in a bag when entering and exiting a building), many have sublimated their need with virtual games.

Pet-raising games have continued to be popular in Japan and the increased complexity of games like Nintendo’s Nintendogs has arguably brought pet games to an adult market. More recently this popularity has spread to smartphone apps. Just this month, for instance, a new pet-rearing app, featuring a cute cat called “Mecha-kun,” was released on the market.

But the area in which pet-rearing games are really evolving is within games that combine the usual game-playing characteristics, such as feeding and petting your animal, with a social networking element. Online game Meromero Park, for instance, allows you not only to raise your own cute creature, but to meet and chat with other users who share your interests while going out for a walk.

Babysitter Mama: Infant care via Wiimote control

Monday, September 27th, 2010

The new Wii game aimed at tots from Office Excite

Baby Sitter Mama is a new Wii game aimed at tots from Office Create

Move over Tiny Tears, there’s a new tot in town. At Tokyo Game Show last week Office Create, makers of the successful Cooking Mama series, unveiled a game that takes playing mommy to new heights of sophistication. Made for the Wii, Babysitter Mama allows young children to hone their parenting skills on a stuffed baby doll that comes included with the game disc.

The games begin after you’ve unceremoniously stuffed the Wii remote into the doll’s back, making the pretend infant sensitive to movement. Hold and rock it gently and your baby will slowly drift off to sleep onscreen; drop the brat and all hell will break loose, as the speakers in the remote emit a lifelike simulation of an unhappy baby crying out. The nunchucks double as a bottle with which to feed the infant and a rattle to make him/her laugh.

The fun doesn’t stop there. There are around 40 mini games to play that allow you to practice other homemaking skills. The games include: making soup; giving your child a ride on a seesaw; and getting the washing in from the garden on a rainy day. There’s even a two-player mode for competitively minded young parents. Throughout the game play you can take photos of your smiling baby’s face and compile it into an album to coo over during quieter moments.

While the mama of the title appears as a woman onscreen, according to Game Watch, Office Create is marketing this product, with appropriate political correctness (and perhaps with an eye to the global market) at young boys as well as girls. Further indications that the makers eventually hope to go global with the product, is the fact that the doll’s ethnicity is indeterminate, leaving it up to players to choose the skin tone of the virtual baby that appears on screen.

Baby Sitter Mama goes on shelves in Japan in December, with a ¥6,090 price tag. With so many bells and whistles, the game looks set to take the baby doll market by storm; meanwhile yesteryear’s plastic tots quietly shed a final tear at the back of the toy closet.

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