Teaser for Castlevania series on Netflix

With the classic 1980s Nintendo Entertainment System continuing to rack up extra lives thanks to the retro videogame resurgence, the thirty year-old game Castlevania has been ported to Netflix with a new animated series. Warren Ellis wrote it, which almost guarantees that it will be the best TV program based on a videogame ever, and that includes Hanna-Barbera's Pac-Man.

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Nintendo programmer coded Game Boy classic without using a keyboard

Nintendo programmer Masahiro Sakura coded the Game Boy classic Kirby's Dream Land on a cartridge-based Famicom console and Disk System that lacked a hardware keyboard. According to a recent presentation given by Sakura, "values had to be input using a trackball and an on-screen keyboard."

Sakura, who was 20-years-old at the time, said he just thought that was "the way it was done."

From Game Watch's report in Japanese, translated by Source Gaming:

At the time, the development tool that HAL Laboratory was using was the Twin Famicom, a console that combined the Famicom and the Famicom Disk System. A trackball made specifically for the Twin Famicom was used with the machine, which read and wrote data to a floppy disk and uploaded data to the floppy disks [during development].

Essentially, they were using a Famicom to make Famicom games. Sakurai told the crowd, “It’s like using a lunchbox to make lunch”. However, because of that, they were able to create a functional test product before the project plan was even completed.

(via Ars Technica) Read the rest

Rumor: Nintendo planning SNES Mini

If you're wondering why Nintendo killed its always-sold-out NES Mini at the height of hype and demand, the answer looks like the obvious one: they're apparently readying a new version based on the more advanced SNES platform, allowing more and better games.

Nintendo will follow up its smash hit NES microconsole with a mini version of the SNES, sources close to the company have confirmed to Eurogamer.

The SNES mini (or, to continue Nintendo's official branding, likely the Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System) is currently scheduled to launch in time for Christmas this year. Development of the device is already under way, our sources have indicated.

Nintendo's plans for SNES mini are also a major reason why last year's NES mini did not see a reprieve from discontinuation, Eurogamer understands, despite the latter's continued popularity and sell-out status.

Nostalgia aside, the plain truth is that the SNES was (and is) a much better system. Nintendo is just supernaturally clueless when it comes to managing expectations, is all. Read the rest

Transparent refurbished Super Nintendo consoles

Rose-Colored gaming's producing a limited run of transparent Super Nintendo consoles, refurbished from cosmetically-damaged originals. The guts are painted and polished to be pretty behind the new acrylic enclosures. [via]

These SNES consoles have been treated to a 100% brand new, hand-built exterior, all while retaining complete original function. Each is assembled by hand with the care and attention to detail that you have come to expect from RCG. The housing consists of laser cut and etched acrylic components which have been drilled, bent, bonded, threaded, & assembled using all new anodized aluminum hardware. Many internal components have been slathered in various finishes then etched in order to accentuate items which were never meant to be seen. All hand-built, these units will only be available in VERY limited quantities upon release, with each being treated to a unique serial number.
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Zelda fan/maker controls smart home by playing ocarina

In celebration of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Allen Pan built a wonderful home automation system where the interface is an ocarina as seen in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. (Thanks, Lux!)

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Nintendo explains why Switch cartridges taste nasty

Nintendo's Switch is the company's cool new console. Early reviews say they nailed the system design this time, but also that Nintendo just doesn't know how to do online services and is running out of time to figure it out. The triumphant return of the cartridge, however, comes with a bitter edge: their taste.

"Immediately upon touching a Nintendo Switch cartridge one’s tongue is assaulted by a harsh bitterness that spreads like a brush fire through the mouth," writes Kotaku's Mike Fahey. "Having a drink on hand helps, but not completely. The taste and how it spreads suggests some sort of oily residue left on the cartridge. If you’ve ever pinched an orange peel and tasted the oil that oozes from the rind, it’s like that, only without the citrus accents."

It turns out to be deliberate: Nintendo infuses the carts with a bittering agent.

“To avoid the possibility of accidental ingestion, keep the game card away from young children. A bittering agent (Denatonium Benzoate) has also been applied to the game card. This bittering agent is non-toxic.”
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Nintendo Switch review roundup

The highly-anticipated Nintendo Switch hits stores on Friday. According to today's reviews, it's got a lot of potential, some of which has yet to be realized even days before launch. From DIGG's Review Roundup:

If there's one area where the Switch excels largely (though not entirely), it's as a portable gaming tablet:

Though Nintendo marketing seems intent on describing the Switch as a home console that it just so happens you can take with you, I've found myself using the system as a portable much more often than on the TV... The system goes from its power-sipping "standby" to "actively playing a game right where I left off" in about three seconds, making it incredibly easy to pick up and put down as needed. I've highlighted the quality of the Switch's 6.2-inch, 720p screen for portable gaming in previous pieces, and the quality display still stands out after just over a week with the system. (Ars Technica)

The controllers are dogged by connectivity issues when not connected to the portable console:

The Joy-Con are a nifty idea, though they don’t always work as well as I would’ve hoped. For starters, I simply haven’t found them very comfortable. I find that the buttons are oddly placed and the thumbsticks feel small and overly flippy... I’ve also run into a frustrating issue where the left Joy-Con momentarily loses tracking and stops responding to my inputs... It appears to be an issue with a body part or other object blocking the Joy-Con’s view of the docked console...

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"Artisanal" Nintendo console cartridge hacker creates impossible alternate history games

Josh Jacobson is a Nintendo cartridge hacker who makes homebrew cartridges for games that were never released for NES/SNES, complete with label art and colored plastic cases that makes them look like they came from an alternate universe where (for example), there was a Nintendo version of Sonic the Hedgehog. Read the rest

How the Nintendo NES Zapper gun worked (and why it doesn't on today's TVs)

My 10-year-old son Lux is a retro videogame historian who collects and studies 1980s consoles and games with the gravitas of a PhD student working on his thesis. Last year he acquired Nintendo's NES Zapper gun controller from 1984 that was used to play shooting games like Duck Hunt. (Below, a TV commercial for the NES Deluxe Set including the Zapper and R.O.B. The Robotic Operating Buddy.) Unfortunately, the NES Zapper doesn't work with modern LCD televisions. The video above from "Today I Found Out" explains the clever technology behind the NES Zapper gun. And here's a great text explanation from How-To Geek about why it doesn't work on non-CRT screens, something my son already knew but, of course, wanted the Zapper anyway for, er, display purposes:

First, it requires extremely precise timing between the trigger pull on the Zapper and the response on the screen. Even the slightest difference (and we’re talking milliseconds here) between the signal sent to the NES and the signal displayed on the screen can throw it off. The original timing sequence was based on the very dependable response time of a CRT hooked up to the analog NES signal. Whether the old tube TV was big, small, cutting edge or 10 years old, the speed of the signal via the CRT display standard was reliable. By contrast, the latency in modern digital sets is not reliable and is not the same as the old consistent delay in the CRT system. Now, this doesn’t matter in most situations.

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Super Retro-Boy plays real carts

Super Retro-Boy is a compact, minimal reimplementation of Nintendo's classic Game Boy with the look as well as the tech. It plays real cartidges, including those from the full-color Game Boy Advance—presumably this is why there are four buttons. It gets 10 hours on a charge, and will come with a 10-in-1 game from Retro-Bit this summer. Read the rest

How Shigero Miyamoto, legendary creator of Zelda and Mario Bros., designs a game

"I think that it was in my generation that people who made video games really became designers rather than technologists," Shigero Miyamoto says.

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Original development art from The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda turned 30 this year and in celebration, Nintendo posted development artwork from the game hand-drawn by legendary designers Takashi Tezuka and Shigeru Miyamoto! More at Nintendo.co.uk.

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Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto and The Roots perform the "Super Mario Bros." theme

Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Donkey Kong, Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and countless other videogame masterpieces, sits in with Questlove and The Roots.

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Now, THIS is how to sell Nintendo!

Nintendo sales training video from 1992. Er, as the fellow says, "Hasta Luigi, baby."

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Music for video games

Seth Everman distills a certain video game musical score down to 80 seconds of sheer brilliance. Somewhere in the space between Link To the Past and Secret of Mana, the perfect Nintendo role-playing game.

Previously: It is with great regret... Read the rest

Nintendo announces new hybrid portable game console

Nintendo's Switch is a touchscreen tablet with removable physical controls that turn it into a traditional handheld game console. It comes with a chunky dock to hook it up to a TV set for high-definition couch action; also announced is a traditional wireless gamepad to match the squared-off dark gray design: it's what disassembles to become the tablet's own controls.

Introducing Nintendo Switch! In addition to providing single and multiplayer thrills at home, the Nintendo Switch system also enables gamers to play the same title wherever, whenever and with whomever they choose. The mobility of a handheld is now added to the power of a home gaming system to enable unprecedented new video game play styles.

Switches use cartridges instead of discs: suggestively retro, especially in the promise of instant-on gaming, but also reflective of the general decline of optical media in favor of flash and high-bandwidth internet connections.

The promo video depicts intriguing social game cultures that don't yet exist—think kids toting their no-nonsense, easy-to-use Switches around to the pub and competitive event alike. For me it lit up dormant arcade-era neurons that Sony and Microsoft (and Apple, for that matter) never get close to.

It's out in March. Read the rest

Watch a hamster clear a Super Mario Bros. level

Like an 8-bit Habitrail. Read the rest

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