This one is right in my wheelhouse! With more and more vintage games getting ported over to Android, the only thing missing is the authentic feel of gripping a Nintendo controller and mashing away.
The NES30 has the look and feel of a classic NES controller, but connects with Bluetooth or USB. Its rechargeable battery provides over 20 hours of use per charge and the re-programmable keys allow you complete customization. This controller is compatible with not only your tablets and phones, but any Bluetooth or USB-ready devices including Mac and PC. For just $29.99 you can load up an emulator and vintage roms (of games that you own, of course) and re-live your gaming past! Anybody want to get destroyed in Tecmo Super Bowl?
Check this deal out, and many others at deals.androidguys.com!
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If you style yourself as a fan of Castlevania, you have nothing on Reddit user XsimonbelmontX. He’s created a board version of Nintendo’s classic NES game that looks like a hoot thanks to well-thought-out gameplay and stunning craftsmanship. It features 11 characters with upgradeable weapons, 100 items like special armor and over 100 monster cards. The board layout pays homage to the original version of Castlevania, with players battling together through five levels in order to resurrect (and then re-murder) Dracula himself.
XsimonbelmontX crafted the game using off-the-shelf gameplay items and an inkjet printer, though the board itself (above) was professionally made. Castlevania fans on Reddit are clamoring for their own (with one saying he’d pay up to $80), though it seems pretty unlikely that publisher Konami would ever share the copyright. You can see a large gallery of the cards, dice, board and case right here.
[Image credits: XsimonbelmontX]
Filed under: Gaming
Are the anti-authority stylings of Sunset Overdrive a little too hi-fi for your gaming tastes? Well friends, maybe the 8-bit aesthetic of Punktendo might be more up your alley. As the name implies, it’s classic NES games by way of NOFX and more. If you’re curious what type of Flash-based goodies await once you get home from work, Milo Fu is Kung Fu with The Descendents’ mascot, Super Mikey Erg! is Super Mario Bros. starring The Ergs’ frontman and Fat Mike’s Golf, appropriately, is the Fat Wreck Chords’ owner inserted into Golf. It’s the latest project from Jeff Hong, a Brooklyn-based storyboard artist who’s previous work includes stuff for Nickelodeon, Fox and Disney. As Vice points out, though, you might know him better from Grumpy Punk Cat or Unhappily Ever After.
The games work fine with a keyboard, but sadly the Racist’s Alley and Duckless Hunt Light Gun-based titles aren’t compatible just yet. But hey, you can always squint and play the Virtual Arcade version of Duck Hunt for that, can’t you?
Toys for Bob’s Skylanders franchise isn’t the only “toys to life” game in town anymore and Paul Reiche, co-founder and studio head, is well aware of the deep-pocketed competition. “We recognize that we’ve got Disney with Infinity and Nintendo with Amiibo and, you know, they have entered into this world with their own products. And it’s really our job to make sure that, through innovation, we’re leaders,” he says. The franchise, which lets players control virtual versions of their RFID-equipped figurines in-game, was the first to successfully merge physical toys and video gaming as part of a new crossover entertainment category. Given that penchant for innovation, it’s no surprise that the studio has now fully embraced 3D printing as a means of streamlining its in-house creative process.
It was during the development phase for Skylanders: Giants in 2012 that Toys for Bob began experimenting with 3D printing. “We noticed that the price [of 3D printers] was rapidly dropping down actually into our budgets for video games,” says Reiche of the studio’s decision to embrace the maker tech. “We started out buying a fairly expensive machine by our standards, printing out color versions of our toys.”
The idea behind this investment, Reiche says, was so that he and I-Wei Huang, the lead character and toy designer, could get a real sense of how their two-dimensional drawings would fare as fleshed-out 3D models. Apart from giving the creative duo more freedom to experiment and quickly iterate on designs, the tech was also helpful in determining what character poses would fit properly within the constraints of retail packaging (e.g., adjusting the grip of a character’s weapon and stance).
But it wasn’t long before the studio scrapped that particular color 3D-printing process due to the fragility of the printed models. The material, Huang explains, was too brittle and often the models would break easily. And so, Toys for Bob ditched it in favor of a more reliable (and colorless) Objet Eden printer for Skylanders character prototyping. “The next generation of 3D printers went beyond this sort of grainy, but colored surface and became very high-resolution, rigid plastic rubber,” says Reiche. “We could make durable toys; make things that look really close to final in terms of the quality of the surfacing.”
“The MakerBot we just started using. It will help us prototype early stages really well and just kind of define the size. It doesn’t have the detail levels that the Objet [printer] has,” says Huang.
More commercial 3D printers, used for lower-quality character iterations, were added to the mix later. “The Objet printer is what we use the most,” says Huang. “It’s super-high resolution. The MakerBot we just started using. It will help us prototype early stages really well and just kind of define the size. It doesn’t have the detail levels that the Objet [printer] has.” The efficiency gain, it seems, is worth it. Whereas before, it would take Huang at least four weeks to see his creations made into physical models, the inclusion of 3D printing means he can see results in-studio in about four hours. That quick turnover time means he can continue to tweak minor things like detailing for gloves or leather patterns.
“Before we started 3D printing, the process took a long time. Basically, we would draw a character. We’d have a toy team to kind of help us model it … and also prototype the actual physical toys. And that could take months and months of work before we’d actually see anything back,” says Huang.
Now, however, Huang feels freed up to experiment more with the many characters that inhabit the world of Skylanders. “As soon as a character is finalized on paper, we start modeling and instantly we can print something overnight after the model’s done. We can try different detail levels, expressions and stuff like that … different poses.” That flexibility even extends to the number of Skylanders that can be 3D printed at once, as Huang says up to five Giants or 10 core, regular-sized characters can be made on one tray within the Objet printer.
“I would love to have a 3D printer that can do everything, but it’s not something that we can develop here. We’re using consumer machines,” says Huang.
3D printing may have made the creative process more efficient for Huang and Reiche, but it’s not without its headaches. Occasionally, print head malfunctions can cause the printed models to appear melted or irregular in parts. There’s also the matter of material limitations. Since a typical Skylanders figurine is made up of more than just plastic, Toys for Bob would have to invest in either a bespoke 3D printer or purchase a multi-material industrial 3D printer to achieve a model with near-final production quality.
While 3D printers of that latter variety do exist, their costs (i.e., that printer and materials) can prove prohibitive. The Objet1000, for example, works with a variety of materials (about 100-plus) and can print using up to 14 of those at a time in one model. It’s that type of 3D printer that Toys for Bob would need to fully realize a final production-quality Skylanders model, except the cost of something on that scale easily rises above the half-million dollar mark. So, for now at least, it’s not a financially feasible option.
“I would love to have a 3D printer that can do everything, but it’s not something that we can develop here,” says Huang. “We’re using consumer machines.”
If there’s one inevitability surrounding 3D printing that Huang believes in, it’s that in the not-too-distant future, kids will be able to make their own Skylanders figurines (and other toys) at home. The idea isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, either. Already, companies like Hasbro and Sesame Workshop are making CAD files available for consumers to download and print out their own figurines. That Toys for Bob would follow suit with Skylanders is a no-brainer, according to Huang. It’s simply a matter of the technology improving to the point of mass adoption. “With 3D printers becoming more popular, eventually one day it will probably be mainstream,” Huang says. “You know it just makes sense. You’ll have a 3D printer at home just like you do an ink jet printer.”
Oh, so a head-scratching leak from Target wasn’t enough to convince you? That’s fair, how about something a bit more concrete? Nintendo just revealed in its most recent Nintendo Direct stream that The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is indeed getting a 3D remake, and it’s slated to hit shelves in Spring 2015. We’re coming for you, Skull Kid.
On the off-chance that you’re not familiar with Majora’s Mask, it’s easily one of the darkest, most unnerving installments in the long-running Zelda series. You’ve essentially got Link running around and rewinding time over and over, all to stop a frankly terrifying, falling moon from obliterating the planet in three days. It’s also gained a bit of notoriety because of the strangely popular creepypasta that took inspiration from it, which you should probably read a few times ahead of the game’s release just to make sure you’re suitably weirded out going into it. Alas, we’re lacking some crucial details — Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata uttered all of two sentences about the game before throwing the show over to North American Marketing Manager Bill Trinen, but at least the floodgates are finally, officially opening.
Source: Nintendo Direct
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!