The first few days of SXSW have brought quite a bit of excitement for our team on the ground. After starting the show with a stun-copter demo, we stopped by the Palmer Events Center to play a little a live-action Mario Kart. Pennzoil has set up a go-kart track here in Austin to promote its new Platinum line of natural gas-based motor oils, though — let’s face it — we were really only here to be Mario (and Luigi, Bowser and Princess Peach) for a day.
Each of the four karts on the track were mounted with a GoPro camera to document each racer’s point of view. In addition to tracking each banana peel and speed booster we ran over, the footage apparently teases some elements from the upcoming Mario Kart 8 title. Our own Joseph Volpe also wore a GoPro of his own, so you can see just how disappointed he was when Terrence O’Brien stole the lead. Check out the video below.
Video note: Unfortunately the Karting team was unable to locate our race footage, so we’ve included a four-panel view from a similar race later in the day, as an example of the video sent to each participant following the competition. Engadget editors appear earlier in the video.
Zach Honig contributed to this report.
My Dearest Friends at Engadget,
With this letter I have enclosed a large, slightly frayed chunk of styrofoam that we all thought resembled the prominent “t” in the Engadget logo – you know, the one wearing the cute Wi-Fi hat. We have no use for this item here at Joystiq, so we thought you might hoist it above your reeking desk-beds, or use it in another story about 3D printers.
Assuming this part of my missive isn’t covered in little white bits, I’d love for you to once again consider my proposal for publishing select content from Joystiq, your sibling website that covers the video game industry in a more granular fashion than your folks do. We review everything in the spectrum between indie and AAA, find the best in the worst games, stream upcoming releases twice a week, and have no qualms about making an MIT professor talk about massively multiplayer Pokémon. That does not happen twice a week, but we can work on it.
Of course, the last thing I want to do is inundate your loyal audience with gaming detritus that they already know, so we’ll pick the most relevant and comprehensive articles for Engadget. How’s this one to start? “How many megapixels was the camera in BioShock? The answer will shock you.”
Ludwig Kietzmann, Editor-in-Chief of Joystiq
P.S. Please do not publish this letter verbatim.
Hello LUDWIG KIETZMANN,
We regret to inform you that delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:
Technical details of permanent failure:
Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected for being “too game-y.” We recommend fewer references to goombas and headshots to avoid this error in the future. The error that the server returned was: 1UP LOL 1337 No relaying allowed – psmtp (state 13).
That said, we’d, uh, love to have you over some time. Not sure when we’re available just yet, but we’ll get back to you really soon. In the meantime, why not just drop those hot Joystiq pieces directly on Engadget so we don’t have to surf all the way over. Surfing is tiring. Uh oh … we’ve dropped the facade, haven’t we?
When Ubisoft showed off Watch Dogs for the first time in 2012, there was no such thing as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Well, okay, they existed in some sense of the word, but both consoles were far from publicly ready, making Watch Dogs an unbelievably pretty game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Unbelievable to the point that many journalists were incredulous about it not being touted as intended for next-gen, but Ubisoft couldn’t say it was headed to unannounced consoles. In so many words, Watch Dogs was essentially the first “next-gen” game shown off…even before the consoles were unveiled. It’s somewhat hilarious then that we’re here to tell you today that Watch Dogs now has a release date — May 27th — after being delayed past the actual launch of the new consoles. It’s unclear if that means all versions (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC and Wii U) will arrive on the same day, though the Wii U version was already given a release date sometime after the other versions. Sorry Wii U, owners!
If you have a Nintendo 64 kicking around, it’s probably not hooked up to your television. It’s not that you don’t love the classic console, it’s just that many modern sets don’t support the machine’s archaic video cables. Don’t worry, it can be fixed. RetroActive, a one-man mod team, is working on a circuit board that will gift the aging console with digital outputs. The kit promises to pipe audio and video out through DVI, HDMI or VGA (assuming you have the appropriate cables), but its creator is considering building an HDMI-only version. Either way, it won’t be easy to install — RetroActive says that it attaches directly to one of the Nintendo 64′s main processors, and “it requires fine pitch soldering skills to install.”
RetroActive has set up a notification page for folks interested in project, adding that the device’s Q1 2014 release date is only tentative. “To be honest it’s one of many things I have going on and I’d rather not release a crappy product,” writes Marshall, the man behind RetroActive. “It’ll be done when it’s done.” Fair enough, we’re not that handy with a soldering iron anyway.
Nintendo Japan is putting internet-connected services for some of its older consoles out to pasture, although it’s not clear when or if these plans could impact the US. The Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection that served the original Wii and DS units is scheduled to turn off internet multiplayer gaming and many other (but not all) services May 20th (English Nintendo Australia release here), while the free Video app that launched for the 3DS in 2011 will be unplugged at the end of March. Services that will keep working on the DS after May include the DSi Shop, DS Browser, DSi Browser, while the Wii keeps Hulu, Wii Shop Channel, Internet Channel, Delivery Channel and YouTube.
A similar notice has appeared on the Nintendo Australia site as well, and we’re checking with Nintendo America to find out if the shutdown is worldwide. Newer Nintendo Network games that arrived around the 3DS and local multiplayer apparently keep on chugging, but if you have a long-distance score to settle in Mario Kart DS, we’d suggest scheduling a match now.
The duo behind This is the End is making a movie about the the ’90s battle between Nintendo and Sega. That’s right, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (who also wrote and executive produced 2007′s Superbad) are adapting Blake Harris’ forthcoming account of the power struggle between the two gaming companies. At this point, details are otherwise scarce and Harris’ book doesn’t release until this May. We do know that Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo and the Battle That Defined a Generation is comprised of some 200 interviews with former employees from each company, but that’s about it. Goldberg’s and Rogen’s past work leans toward the R-rated and comedic sides of things, so it could be interesting to see how their take on one of gaming’s more storied tussles plays out when it finally hits.
What happens when you cross Being John Malkovich with NES classic The Legend of Zelda? You get the terrifying Oculus Rift demo seen in video below the break. The mod is currently just the game’s overworld and its first dungeon, but there are plans to scale up the whole game to VR playability by March of this year (yes, for free — this is Nintendo’s property, after all). Should you already have an Oculus headset and a strong constitution, the demo’s available right here.
Unless you still own a GameCube GameBoy Player, it’s probably been awhile since you’ve seen a GameBoy Advance title up on the big screen. Come April, that could change: Nintendo announced today that the Wii U eShop will start carrying GBA classics this Spring, starting with Metroid Fusion, Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3 (both of which were 3DS Ambassador bonuses, by the way) and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. Naturally, Japan’s getting a similar pen of classic releases, but its library of pending GBA games includes Mario Advance 2, Wario Ware, Golden Sun, F-Zero and Advance Wars — Japanese gamers were also teased with a price-point: ¥650 a pop (about $6.35).
If that’s not enough nostalgic news to tide you over, Nintendo did have /one/ more thing to announce. Remember when Nintendo cherry-picked specific moments from a ton of classic NES games and released them in a mini-game bundle a few months back? It’s at it again: NES Remix 2 is everything the original downloadable title was, but to a collection of NES classic picked from later in the original Nintendo’s life cycle. This means there will be remixed and scripted challenges from games like Punch-Out!!!, Super Mario Bros. 3 and Metroid. The new Remix also includes a “new” full-game titled Super Luigi Bros. — essentially a mirrored version of the NES classic with Mario’s younger brother in the starring role. When was the “Year of Luigi” supposed to end again?
As it turns out, Microsoft’s lead in US next-generation console sales was short-lived. The NPD has just released estimates which show that the PlayStation 4 outsold the Xbox One during January. Neither the NPD nor Sony is providing exact numbers, although Sony Senior VP Guy Longworth states that PS4 sales were almost twice as high as Microsoft’s. The system was certainly alluring enough to drive game sales during the quarter — the PS4 was the platform of choice for five of the top 10 games, while the Xbox One was never higher than second.
Microsoft also isn’t divulging Xbox One figures, although the NPD tells us that the system was the runner-up in hardware sales. The company can trumpet the strength of the overall Xbox brand, though. Together, the Xbox 360 and Xbox One represented 47 percent of game sales; the Xbox 360 was also the most popular system for five of the top 10 software releases. Nintendo has a silver lining on its dark cloud, too. Game sales for the 3DS and Wii U respectively increased by six and 26 percent year-over-year. That’s no mean feat when overall spending was down by a quarter. Whichever platform you prefer, we wouldn’t declare the console wars over — not when expected system sellers like Titanfall could easily shift the balance of power.
This just in: PS4 the #1 selling game console in the US in January, still #1 worldwide. Thanks, guys! pic.twitter.com/1vOFmtUukX
- PlayStation (@PlayStation) February 13, 2014
per @LuckyLongworth: PS4 was #1 in sales for next gen consoles in January, nearly doubling the nearest next gen competitor.
- Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) February 13, 2014
At E3 last year, Nintendo gave itself until March to launch a free-to-play title in the Nintendo eShop. That same week, Shigeru Miyamoto revealed that the gratis game would be based on Steel Diver, a 3DS launch title. Today, Nintendo delivered, releasing Steel Diver: Sub Wars on the 3DS eShop. Technically, it’s not the first free-to-play title to grace one of Nintendo’s online storefronts (that distinction goes to Namco’s Tank! Tank! Tank!), but it is the publisher’s inaugural first-party attempt at aping the mobile gaming market. It won’t be its last either. During today’s Nintendo Direct livestream, the company also announced Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, a mini-game collection that will let players haggle over the price of DLC expansions.
In the wake of floundering Wii U sales and underwhelming financial performance, what these titles represent may be more important than the content of the game. Despite Satoru Iwata’s insistence that it “doesn’t make sense for Nintendo to do business on smartphones,” these releases show that his statement might not apply to how Nintendo runs its business — augmenting a barebones gaming experience with piecemeal purchases and expansions has far more in common with the smartphone gaming market than Nintendo’s traditional competitors. It sounds a little dicey, true, but it’s also the kind of experimentation the company needs to dabble in if it hopes to suss out its next-gen strategy. Oh, and if you just dropped by to take a peek at the new game trailers, skip on past the break; they’ll be there.