Super Smash Bros. isn’t just fun to play, it finally gave Nintendo a fun financial quarter, as well. For the first time in a while, the Japanese company turned a profit, 24 billion yen worth ($224 million) to be exact. That’s a big u-turn over last quarter, when it managed to lose 9.9 billion yen ($97 million). Overall, Nintendo sold 3.2 million copies of Super Smash Bros. worldwide, not a bad figure considering that sales started late in the quarter. It also bodes well for the holidays, when Nintendo will launch additional Amiibo figurines that unlock more playable characters. The launch likely also pushed up Wii U sales, which increased to 650,000 units, 100,000 more than last quarter. Despite the good news, however, overall sales for Nintendo are still down 12.8 percent over last year — and Super Smash Bros. games don’t come along every day.
When Nintendo announced the re-release of years old game controllers from the Nintendo GameCube home console, it was more than a little surprising. What’s Nintendo doing re-releasing gamepads from 2001 for its still new-ish game console? And more importantly, why? It’s because of crazy people like me. In case it weren’t already clear, I’m a longtime fan of Nintendo’s Smash Bros. franchise — a 2D fighting game featuring a massive cross-section of Nintendo’s biggest gaming franchises. Mario fights Zelda, for instance; I wrote a piece breaking down how it works and why it’s such a wonderful franchise right here. So, what do GameCube controllers have to do with any of this?
Simple: The GameCube version of Smash Bros. (Melee) is considered by many fans, including myself, to be the series’ best work to date. Beyond the game itself, the GameCube controller was heralded as a perfect fit for the series. And that’s why Nintendo’s re-releasing a gamepad from over 10 years ago, as well as an adapter: so the controllers will work with the upcoming Wii U version, dubbed “Super Smash Bros. for Wii U”. Still weird, but a bit more logical now, eh?
I spent a few hours this morning both using the re-issued controllers and seeing how the NFC-based Amiibo figurines work on the Wii U version of Smash Bros. Let’s get crazy.
First up: the re-released GameCube gamepad. When Nintendo says it’s re-releasing the GameCube controller, the company means that literally. The single difference between new and old (we brought our own for comparison) is the logo in the middle: where the old controller says “Nintendo GameCube,” the new ones have a Smash Bros. symbol with flames surrounding it. That’s it! The buttons feel the same, and the controller’s bizarre shape remains. It’s not an approximation. It’s not similar. It’s the same controller.
Of note, you’ll need the four-port GameCube controller adapter to make these puppies run on the Wii U (and yes, wireless Wavebird controllers also work in the adapter hub). Should your Wii U’s USB ports be occupied, that’s going to cause an issue: the GameCube controller adapter takes up two USB ports. If you’ve got any external storage sticking out of your Wii U (like I do), now’s a good time to move it to the rear of the console — GameCube controller wires are only so long and you’ll want the adapter sticking out of the front of your Wii U. Gotta maximize that space, folks!
If you dreamed of Nintendo’s Amiibo figurines ferrying your favorite Smash Bros. character and all of his/her stats from Wii U to Wii U, this might hurt: Nintendo’s Amiibo figurines each contain a single, unplayable character’s data. This isn’t your data, but the data of a character you play with in eight-player Smash (among other modes). The character gains “levels” as it plays, as well as learning new moves and fighting styles. You can customize that character as you wish, but you can’t actually play as the character housed in the Amiibo. Should you get a Pikachu Amiibo, you’ll have a Pikachu to customize (and the same goes for the rest — Mario houses Mario, etc.).
Given the latest Smash Bros‘. proclivity for character customization, you might think that a single Amiibo could house multiple customized versions of its character. You’d be wrong! A Nintendo rep clarified to me this morning that each Amiibo houses one version of one character; you couldn’t build a speedy Pikachu and a bruiser Pikachu, for instance, and put them both on a single Pikachu Amiibo. You’re choosing one version or the other, which kinda stinks (especially considering that Amiibo figures cost $12.99 apiece).
Setting up and saving data on Amiibo is as easy as you’d think: simply tap and briefly hold the figurine on the Wii U gamepad’s NFC spot (on the left side, just underneath the d-pad). If you’re using Amiibos in battle, the game prompts you to tap any corresponding figurines to the gamepad after battle (to save out any data from the match).
The first twelve Amiibo launching with the game on November 21st are as follows: Mario, Peach, Link, Samus, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, Kirby, Fox, Marth, Villager and Wii Fit Trainer. There’s another batch set to arrive later this year. As for the GameCube adapter hub and controllers, they’ll also be available alongside the Wii U game in November; the hub costs $19.99 and each gamepad costs $29.99. If you went all the way crazy and tossed out all your GameCube controllers from back in the day, Nintendo’s putting together a Wii U Smash Bros. bundle with the hub and one GameCube controller (as well as the game itself) for $99.99.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering: yes, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U was tremendously fun to play and looks as sharp or better than Nintendo’s best efforts thus far on Wii U. Eight-player is positively insane and seemingly exists solely for using Amiibo characters. I can’t possibly judge whether or not the game is worth your time based on the hour (or so) I spent with it this morning, but as a longtime Smash Bros. fan I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Wii U version every time I’ve played it.
Nintendo was dropping Smash Brothers info-bombs left and right last night, but the company also felt compelled to dive a little deeper into how the Wii U version of the game will play with those curious little Amiibos. You know, the Nintendo character-themed figurines that both look adorable and store game information via NFC? Now, thanks to the marketing wizards in Redmond, we’ve got a four-minute chronicle of young love, combat and tiny figures that explains just about everything. Key takeaways? You’re not actually playing as your Amiibo character — instead, the little avatar springs to life as a support character, getting in people’s faces and generally having a grand ol’ time once you tap the figure to your Wii U’s gamepad.
Once they’re in the game, you can level up their stats, too (the cap sits at Level 50, or so the video would have us believe), either by wailing on your Amiibo directly or lugging it into battle against others. Since all of that stat and level data can be stored on the Amiibo itself, it should be a piece of cake to lug your partner to and fro (it doesn’t appear in the video, but you’ll presumably touch it to the Gamepad once more when done to lock all that data down). Perfect companion for those ridiculous eight-person Smashfests? Nintendo certainly thinks so, if only because deep integration into already-popular games means its little figures are more than just your run-of-the-mill Skylanders knock-offs. Just remember that Amiibo pickins’ will be a little slim at first: the first batch of twelve are all Smash characters and will hit in late November, followed by another wave of six just in time for the holidays.
Source: Nintendo (YouTube)
The game industry is capable of building incredible worlds, engrossing us with believable characters, and empowering us to destroy (or create!) both. The unfortunate side of all that enchantment is the shaky business models that much of the industry are built on, which leads to cyclical, annualized layoffs that affect even the most successful franchises. Just look at the recent history of Joystiq‘s layoffs tag: it’s ridiculous. Why is this the case? Kotaku‘s Jason Schreier did an excellent job reporting that last year, right here, so we’re not going to duplicate efforts. This piece is about what you can do, should you find yourself being put through the wringer this holiday.
Oh, and yes, the annualized layoffs tend to happen around the holidays (which coincides with many companies’ financial quarters ending). Sucks, right?
Seattle-based animator Floyd Bishop took to his website, GameDevTalk, and laid out a list of best practices should you encounter the ever-swinging scythe of layoffs. First and foremost? Make sure you actually listen when human resources is walking you through the proceedings.
“There will be lots of information, and you’re still reeling from the initial shock. Try to write things down, if you can. If you didn’t hear something, or have a question, ask it now. They may also have some hand outs ready for you that tell you what happens next. Be nice! This is not a fun day to work in human resources.”
Okay, okay — that’s pretty general “I got laid off” advice. Fair enough. If you’re of the game developer variety, though, Bishop’s got targeted advice too. For instance, get your work online immediately, and sign up for job newsletters from the biggies. “Sites like Gamasutra, Creative Heads, and even Indeed have both job listings and job alert email lists,” Bishop points out.
Despite video games going mainstream, the industry that creates those games remains surprisingly small. As such, Bishop recommends, “Do not instantly talk trash about the studio you were just let go from.” Is it tempting? Sure is! These are the bastards who just fired you, right? Yes, they are, and they may also be the people who hire you for a new project in five years.
Bishop of course has far more detail than we’ve put in here, so we suggest heading over and reading the full piece if you’re in the regrettable position of being laid off as a game dev this holiday.
[Image credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson]
Think you know everything there is to about Super Smash Bros for Wii U? Think again: during today’s Smash-centric Nintendo Direct event, the gaming giant announced an eight-player mode for absolutely bananas action. How will you even keep track of all that madness on the Wii U? We’re willing to find out. There are sure to be some more announcements coming out of the broadcast, and we’ve embedded the live player just after the break.
Update: Remember the create-a-stage feature from Super Smash Bros. Brawl? Well it’s back in the Wii U version and it’s gotten a pretty big upgrade thanks to the console’s touchscreen-based Gamepad. You can now draw out your custom levels using the stylus (sorta like Mario Maker) and even share them online with others. Pretty neat!
Can you smell that? It’s the aroma of game lovers’ tears everywhere as they realize their bank accounts likely can’t sustain buying every title coming out in the annual deluge of fall video game releases. That’s to say nothing of the amount of time you’d need to play absolutely everything that’s come out since September. Or even on November 18th alone! But what is each console offering exclusively this holiday? That’s a bit more manageable, and we compare them below.
With a few exceptions, nearly everything made by a third-party developer (i.e., one not working solely with Microsoft, Nintendo or Sony) is available on PC, so we’re going to leave those out of the conversation. Platform-exclusive goodies don’t count here either — adios, Far Cry 4!
Sony made its bed at E3 this year and is now getting comfy under that (likely luxurious) comforter. During its near-two-hour-long media briefing, it mentioned first-party retail games exactly three times. And in that trio, only one title was an original game for the PS4 that was coming out this year. That was none other than the adorable 2D platformer, LittleBigPlanet 3. The other two? The Last of Us: Remastered and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. While LBP3 will likely be every bit as whimsical and charming as previous efforts, it isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind as a tentpole fall release that’ll move loads of consoles — especially not when it releases the same day as Far Cry 4 and the Grand Theft Auto 5 remaster: November 18th. Not that the PS4 needs much help with that anyway; last we knew, over 10 million of them have been sold so far.
Considering what we’ve been able to experience of it, it’s pretty apparent why the already-released racer Driveclub wasn’t given any time on the stage at E3 this past June. The game is pretty in spots, but an absolute bore to play, which is all the more disheartening given that the developer’s previous work was the over-the-top (and excellent) MotorStorm franchise. That’s to say nothing of how the game’s been hamstrung by connectivity woes that render its key feature, a socially driven online experience, utterly unusable.
PlayStation’s fall commercial featured third-party games exclusively.
No one really expects a system’s launch to have amazing games, but here we are almost a year later and the PlayStation 4 still doesn’t have a killer app. Even Sony itself seems to acknowledge this with TV spots that feature third-party games exclusively. Hell, the PlayStation Twitter account’s header image is for the trio of those titles in the commercial — not one of its internally developed games. At this point in its predecessor’s lifecycle there was the first Uncharted as well as Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction to look forward to; neither Driveclub nor LBP 3 look to stand up to that legacy. Looking ahead, Sony’s got The Order: 1886 (originally scheduled for a fall 2014 release) coming early next year, in addition to the hugely anticipated Bloodborne, the next game from the Dark Souls team. For now, though, the PS4 is a hard sell when it comes to games that you can’t get anywhere else.
Super Smash Bros. Those three words alone could be enough to carry Nintendo through this holiday season, but the gaming giant has a pair of other games to help lighten Mario and Co.’s load too. Not only is Smash absurdly anticipated — the 3DS version beyond whet our appetite — but it’s also releasing on two platforms and has its own set of Skylanders-esque figurines (dubbed amiibo). Nintendo’s had a relatively good year so far, and if Mario Kart 8 was any indication, we can expect the Wii U version of its mascot-laden fighting game to flex some serious muscle when it comes to moving a few consoles come November 21st and beyond.
Then we have the just-released Bayonetta 2 (like, this week), a game that’s likely to please the hardcore crowd with its frenetic pacing and old-school approach to action and combat. Granted, it earns every bit of its Mature rating, but series fans know what they’re getting into with this one. You’re a witch who fights angels and demons on the back of a fighter jet, among other places. Seriously. Who can’t get behind a premise like that?
Taking a step away from the violent side of things is Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, a spin-off from last year’s incredibly good Super Mario 3D Land. In Captain Toad, you’re navigating the adorable, mushroom-adorned Toad through a variety of puzzles in themed worlds that should be familiar to anyone who played 2013’s Mario release. Wait, you didn’t? For shame! At least you can make up for that this year.
Surprisingly, Nintendo’s first-party line-up is incredibly strong this season. The Japanese company’s reputation rests on its ability to make games that no one else can or seemingly wants to. Even without a proper Mario or Legend of Zelda release this holiday (we’re excepting Hyrule Warriors as a side game rather than series entry), Nintendo proved that it has what’s needed to compete against the likes of its relatively younger opponents with practiced ease.
Perhaps more than any console maker, Microsoft has the most to prove this fall. Redmond came out on the losing end of a PR battle when it announced confusing (and somewhat consumer-hostile) policies for the Xbox One last year, not to mention it costing $100 more than its closest rival, the PS4. Phil Spencer and Co. responded in 2014 by doubling down on games, hoping to shed the image forged by a previous management regime. At the firm’s media event at E3 this year, it spent the entire time talking about games and a majority of that was devoted to platform exclusives and first-party titles. The company line that it was all about “games, games, games” wasn’t a hollow promise and this fall’s crop of Xbox One releases shows it.
Let’s start with Forza Horizon 2: It’s excellent. Unlike Driveclub, it’s a social-based racing game that worked as promised from the outset. Beyond that, though, it’s an absolute blast to play. From racing against a bullet train as The Clash’s “Train in Vain” blasts over your car’s stereo, to challenging a buddy’s ghost to a head-to-head race only to see it drive his Hemi ‘Cuda up a hillside in effort to gain the lead, there’s loads to see and do in the game. In fact, both Ben Gilbert and I have stopped playing Destiny to soak in as much of virtual Nice as possible. You should not miss Forza Horizon 2.
When it was first teased at E3 2013, no one quite knew what to make of Sunset Overdrive. It was a parkour-style open-world something from the folks at Insomniac Games (Ratchet and Clank and Resistance franchises for PlayStation), but that’s all anyone really knew. What a difference a year made, however. What we played of the punk-rock take on Crackdown and to a certain extent, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, though, at E3 this year made us believers. It’s unapologetically a video game; bright, stylized and flashy, with a highly saturated color palette that emphasizes cartoony fun over everything else. Hell, there’s a weapon that shoots ricocheting vinyl records at energy-drink-crazed mutants and an RPG that uses teddy bears as ammunition. It’s the best kind of ridiculous.
And how could anyone forget Halo: The Master Chief Collection? We broke the news that it was coming, and since then it’s been impossible to ignore. Microsoft is going all-out for this release and including every multiplayer map that’s ever been in a Halo game into the package, as well as fully remastered versions of classic Halo 2 arenas and a totally overhauled campaign for the sequel. What else? The other three numbered Halo releases running at 1080p and 60 FPS.
Perhaps even more than Nintendo, Microsoft was in panic mode this past year. Given the improvements that’ve been made to the Xbox One’s system software and the price drop that brings parity between it and the PS4, the Xbox One is the best environment to play games that you can’t get anywhere else this fall. If all goes well, maybe Redmond will take to touting sales numbers of its own soon enough.
Nintendo’s big exclusive game for its Wii U home console is Bayonetta 2. It was Nintendo’s big coup announcement ahead of the Wii U’s launch. Bayonetta‘s notable not just for being good — the first game is critically-acclaimed — but also for being made by a developer other than Nintendo. And hey, it’s October, so that means games are being released into the wild. Among them is Platinum Games’ Bayonetta 2, featuring the stylishly appointed, combat-ready Rapunzel-alike you see above. The series is known for its over-the-top, goofy-yet-calculated style, and we’re gonna put the latest one through its paces in a stream for you just below starting at 4PM ET.
Up for a long nostalgia trip? You’re in for a treat. NicksplosionFX has posted a video showing the start screens for almost every original Game Boy title ever made, ranging from 4 in 1 Funpak to Zoop. Each opener only lasts a matter of seconds, but the sheer volume of games amounts to 2 hours, 42 minutes of monochrome animations and chiptunes — watch it all and you’re bound to find something that evokes your childhood. It’s thankfully in alphabetical order, so you can quickly scrub through if you’re just trying to find that one game you always played after school.
Source: NicksplosionFX (YouTube)
The launch of a new Super Smash Bros. game for the first time in six years on 3DS was great news, but it left us wondering: when the heck is it coming to Wii U? Luckily, Nintendo has quickly answered that question. It’ll arrive to the big console on November 21st in North America for $59.99, and in the UK on December 5th for £39.99 (see the new game trailer below). Being Nintendo, there’s more, of course. You’ll be able to pick up a set of 12 Amiibo figures for $12.99 (with six more coming by December) and even use a GameCube to control your Wii U too, thanks to a $19.99 adapter. In fact, if you want the whole shebang — GameCube, Super Smash Bros. and the adapter — Nintendo’s also offering the complete bundle for $100.
You can replace your Nintendo 3DS’ outer hull anytime you want (provided you’re willing to buy a new system), but that system menu has always been that same void of transparent white space. Not anymore. The handheld’s latest update (much like the PS Vita’s from last week) gifts the 3DS with five basic color themes in red, blue, yellow, pink and black. Looking for something more complex? You’ll have to pay for it — the new theme shop sells character and pattern-based themes for $0.99-$1.99 a piece, including one that harkens back to Nintendo’s origins selling Hanafuda cards. Oh, and if you want to show off your redesigned 3DS, Nintendo’s thought of that too: pressing up / down while holding the Y button now takes a screenshot of the 3DS upper and lower screens, respectively.
– Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) October 7, 2014
Source: Nintendo Support