Today, we take a look at Google’s “Project Wing” delivery drone, go crazy with emoticons, learn about Nintendo’s new 3DS and 3DS XL handhelds and more. Read on for Engadget’s news highlights from the last 24 hours.
Filed under: Misc
Nintendo releases recorded video presentations, known as “Nintendo Direct,” pretty often. Usually they’re focused on games, or they highlight an upcoming season’s game releases. This morning, however, Nintendo revealed two new versions of its wildly-successful 3DS portable game console. And just like the Mario series, Nintendo’s not pulling any punches when it comes to naming conventions: the new 3DS is simply called “New” 3DS. And yes, there’s a “New” version of the larger 3DS XL, too.
As seen above, the smaller “New” 3DS has Super Nintendo-themed buttons on the right side. Just above those buttons is a new, tiny analog stick. Bizarrely, Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata compared the new analog stick to the GameCube controller’s yellow C-stick (which was rarely used in GameCube games).
Beyond the new analog stick (it’s really more of a nub, isn’t it?), NFC tech is now built-in to the 3DS, making this holiday’s Amiibo figures all the more logical. There’s also a new microSD card reader below the base panel (which is now easily swappable for new designs) — convenient! Oh, and in case it wasn’t clear from the images, the “New” 3DS models are both slimmer and taller than the previous models.
There are two shoulder buttons now on each side as well, and the cartridge slot’s been moved to the bottom front. There’s also word of a new CPU inside the new 3DS, but we’ve got next to no info about it thus far. Presumably it helps with the new “Super-Stable 3D” functionality — which Nintendo says “will provide players with an even more comfortable 3D gaming experience” — though we’ll need more info before we can be sure.
The “New” 3DS will be available this October 11th, but they’ve been announced for Japan only thus far; a press release from Nintendo says that North America and Europe shouldn’t expect the new 3DS until some point in 2015. Pricing in Japan ranges from about $150 for the smaller version to about $180 for the XL (“LL” in Japan).
In other Nintendo news, the company this morning announced release dates and rollout plans for its Amiibo NFC figurines. The first 12 (“Mario, Peach, Link, Samus, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, Kirby, Fox, Marth, Villager and Wii Fit Trainer”) are available for pre-order starting today, and there’s no solid release date given; they cost $12.99 apiece. That said, they’ll need to be available in time for Super Smash Bros. Wii U — arriving at some point “this holiday season” — as that’s the first game that’ll use them. Nintendo says that first dozen is just the beginning, and there’s “more on the way in the future.”
Nintendo has taken a few steps to modernize its gaming experience, but downloadable content (DLC) is still a sore point; even New Super Luigi U is more of a separate (and fairly expensive) title than a proper booster pack. Today, though, there are signs that the company is getting serious about improving its less-than-stellar reputation with add-ons. Nintendo UK has given a sneak peek at a Mario Kart 8 expansion that adds The Legend of Zelda‘s Link, F-Zero‘s Blue Falcon ship and eight new courses, among other things — that’s a lot of goodies to keep you coming back. It should arrive in November for £7 ($12), and Animal Crossing-themed DLC due next May will add similar numbers of cars, characters and tracks.
It’s not shocking that Nintendo would pour that energy into Mario Kart when it’s one of the Wii U’s few big hits. Nonetheless, the move hints that the developer is at last willing to show games the same kind of after-sale devotion as many other studios. You can buy at least one big Nintendo game knowing that there will be some worthwhile DLC to lure you back a few months down the road.
Source: Nintendo UK
It used to be that if you wanted to make two Pokémon really wail on each other, you’d have to fire up a fan-made game like Pokémon: Type Wild. At long last, those days are over: after a bit of teasing last year, The Pokémon Company and Namco confirmed today that Pokken Tournament is an honest-to-goodness, button-mashing brawler that’ll see the light of day next year. Beyond the thrill of watching a Machamp just going to town on a Lucario, Pokken’s arrival is yet another example of Nintendo’s new openness towards using game mechanic mashups to liven up long-running franchises. Hyrule Warriors, anyone? What’s next, a Punch-Out boxing manager sim? A Fire Emblem RTS? (Please make that one, Nintendo!) Anyway, Pokken is slated to hit Japanese arcades some time in 2015, but given the sad state of arcades in the US, we’ll have just to pray for an international console release down the road.
Source: The Pokemon Company (YouTube)
If you were looking forward to playing Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare on the Wii U this fall, well, we have some bad news. It turns out that publisher Activision has made the decision that Nintendo’s latest console won’t see the futuristic shooter at all. On Twitter, a fan recently asked co-founder of Sledgehammer Games, CoD:AW‘s developer, if the title was coming to the Wii U and Condry replied that that wasn’t happening, and that his team is focused on launching for the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. “That was an Activision decision,” he wrote. This is despite the fact that CoD has appeared on the Wii U for the past two years and that a version of Advanced Warfare is coming to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, which are similar in horsepower to Nintendo’s HD console.
This is a pretty big statement from Activision, and it echoes a similar, recent sentiment from Ubisoft: releasing Mature-rated games — even those in blockbuster franchises — on the Wii U isn’t worth the investment required. Even though CoD historically breaks entertainment-sales records on launch day for other platforms, a vast majority of Nintendo’s audience simply isn’t interested.
@1422644 no, no WiiU. That was an Activision decision. We are focused on XboxOne, PS4, and PC.
- Michael Condrey (@MichaelCondrey) August 20, 2014
Source: Michael Condry (Twitter)
Remember that Nikkei report that said Nintendo was eyeballing mobile devices? The one that Nintendo immediately denied? It might be true after all — sort of. The Pokémon Company has confirmed that the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online will be available as an iPad app later this year. The app, a digital update of the 1996 trading card game of the same name, was spotted by Twitter user Josh Wittenkeller at a Play! Pokémon event. Nikkei’s original report suggested that Nintendo was planning to use mini-games on smart devices to lure gamers to its console products, and this definitely seems like a step in that direction.
That said, try not to get too excited: The Pokémon Company may be a wholly owned subsidiary of Nintendo, but its operations pertain exclusively to its namesake product line. Moreover, the iPad app is merely a port of a game already available for free on the Pokémon website — Nintendo is definitely dipping its toe in water, but this doesn’t mean we’re going to see Mario on mobile any time soon. Still, investors have been nagging Nintendo president Satoru Iwata to experiment with mobile apps for some time; if The Pokémon Company’s foray into the space is a success, he could be swayed.
[Image Credit: Josh Wittenkeller]
Earlier this week Sony announced that it’d sold over 10 million PlayStation 4s to date, but that isn’t the half of it: the company’s latest gaming console is once again dominating the sales charts overall. As Sony tells it, July marks the seventh consecutive month that the PS4 outsold Microsoft’s Xbox One. Hardware isn’t the only area Sony is trumping its rival either, as The Last of Us: Remastered led software sales last month by a “considerable” margin ahead of number-two-seller Minecraft on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The gaming sector as a whole is incredibly healthy, too. The NPD Group reports that even though software sales are down overall for July (something it attributes directly to the lack of an NCAA Football release this year), hardware is picking up the slack. Comparing life-to-date numbers of the PS4 and Xbox One to their predecessors, the new consoles are outselling the PS3 and Xbox 360 by almost a whopping 80 percent. That puts this July ahead of last by 13 percent in terms of total money spent in the area, according to NPD.
Nintendo seems to be doing pretty well, too, despite that massive $97 million loss. The outfit says that Mario Kart 8 has now sold over a million copies in the US alone, and the Wii U has increased year-to-date sales by 60 percent compared to 2013.
What about Microsoft? Well, Redmond’s lack of a formal announcement should speak for itself. When we reached out for a comment, a company spokesperson reminded us that the Xbox One sales numbers more-than doubled in June (still no word on what they doubled from) and that “this momentum” continued into July. And, well, that’s about it. When you look at how many Xbox One software-bundled systems that Microsoft is releasing this fall, just how far behind the company is to its main competition (Sony) should be pretty apparent — the firm’s desperate and essentially giving away some of its biggest games in the hopes that people will buy an Xbox One.
Controlling a computer with gestures is almost passé these days, but how quickly we forget that Nintendo and Mattel released a kooky gadget that basically let people do just that back in 1989. Now, a new Kickstarter project aims to revisit that most maligned of wearables: the Power Glove. Yeah, we know, it’s so bad… but that didn’t stop a trio of filmmakers from tracing the thing’s trajectory from Christmas must-have to disappointing punchline to cultural touchstone to repurposed creative tool. The documentary — lovingly titled The Power of Glove — has already been in the works for over a year, and there’s plenty to show for it in the team’s trailer (check it out after the jump). All they need to bring the project home now is another $15,000 to complete the final round of interviews and assemble the finished product, a process they hope to power through before the end of next year.
You can count on Japan to perpetually push the idea of robot pets — and some of us are okay with that. Poochi is the latest effort from Sega Toys, and it can interact with with a downloadable app / mini-game on Nintendo’s 3DS. This particular robot pet series has been on sale in Japan (and the US) for several years, but this is a notable evolution: the blue and pink pet substitutes communicate with 3DSes wirelessly, translating yips and barks into, well, Japanese. It sings (the way a cartoon robot dog should), and can even play rock-paper-scissors with you if you’re feeling particularly lonely. Courtesy of the 3DS connection, there’s several more mini-games and even a Nintendogs-ish interaction screen — which is kind of confusing when the dog’s right in front of you in real life. Poochi has sensors on its back, nose and tail, and there’s handy color indicators on its face to indicate how it’s feeling. The robot (and companion app) launches today, priced at 6,000 yen — around $58. We’ve added the (surprisingly intense) TV ad after the break. We’re still waiting on an alpha-male version.
Filed under: Robots
Source: Nintendo (Japanese)