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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Inside this storage locker is the Video Game History Foundation

Frank Cifaldi has a storage locker packed with vintage video game magazines, books, marketing materials, early game drawings and designs, prototypes, and ephemera from birth of the industry to the present. This locker, and his Oakland home, hold the core collection of the nonprofit Video Game History Foundation and Cifaldi's goal is to make it available for the world to enjoy.

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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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Masaya Nakamura, "father of Pac-Man," RIP

Masaya Nakamura, the founder of Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company (Namco) who unleashed Pac-Man fever on Japan and the United States, has died at age 91. Under his leadership, Namco built its business on Galaxian (1979) and Pac-Man (1980) and later console games like Ridge Racer (1983) and Tekken (1994). In 2007, the Japanese government honored Nakamura with an "Order of the Rising Sun" decoration. From Ars Technica:

Nakamura originally founded the company as Nakamura Manufacturing, selling coin-operated children's rides to a department store in Yokohama, Japan. He later changed the name of the company to Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company (NAMMCo!) and began producing electromechanical arcade machines like 1976's Namco F-1.

Namco hit the big time when Nakamura shrewdly purchased the struggling Atari Japan from owner Nolan Bushnell for $500,000—far higher than the $80,000 offered by Sega. The deal granted Namco an exclusive license to distribute Atari's games in Japan for ten years and led to the development and release of original games such as Gee Bee and Galaxian.

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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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If Rogue One: A Star Wars Story were an 8-bit video game

Directed by Norwood Cheek with animation by Dilara Mundy.

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"It's-a Him, Mario!" This man was the voice of Mario and Luigi

Charles Martinet has been the voice of Nintendo's Mario, Wario, and Luigi for 26 years. (Great Big Story) 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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The story of the world's worst videogame

For better or worse, video game designer/programmer Howard Scott Warshaw is perhaps best known for the Atari 2600 game "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982). That game is considered by many to be the worst video game in history and blamed for driving the video game industry crash of 1983. (To be fair, it wasn't entirely Warshaw's fault. He was also the talented developer behind the classic Yars' Revenge and other fine titles.) Above is the Big Story of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Warshaw, now a psychotherapist in Silicon Valley.

And in case you missed it, the film Atari: Game Over is a wonderful documentary about E.T. and the mass burial of unsold copies of the game.

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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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Gamers blindly navigate a digital maze with input only from brain stimulation

In a new experiment at the University of Washington, test subjects navigated a virtual maze without seeing it. The only input they had were cues delivered in the form of magnetic zaps to the backs of their heads, stimulating particular regions of their brains. From UW Today:

The subjects had to navigate 21 different mazes, with two choices to move forward or down based on whether they sensed a visual stimulation artifact called a phosphene, which are perceived as blobs or bars of light. To signal which direction to move, the researchers generated a phosphene through transcranial magnetic stimulation, a well-known technique that uses a magnetic coil placed near the skull to directly and noninvasively stimulate a specific area of the brain.

“The way virtual reality is done these days is through displays, headsets and goggles, but ultimately your brain is what creates your reality,” said senior author Rajesh Rao, UW professor of Computer Science & Engineering and director of the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering.

“The fundamental question we wanted to answer was: Can the brain make use of artificial information that it’s never seen before that is delivered directly to the brain to navigate a virtual world or do useful tasks without other sensory input? And the answer is yes.”

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New role playing game has clever text-based ascii animation

Stone Story is an RPG coming soon to Steam. From the developer:

Stone Story is an RPG set in a dark and vile world. The game's fluid ASCII art is painstakingly animated in plain text by a single insane game developer. Currently in closed alpha, the game features 6 locations to explore, 4 boss fights, mind-blowing ASCII cutscenes and plenty of loot to discover. Much more content is planned once the project reaches beta.

The casual play contrasts with the retro visuals, providing a unique experience that blends nostalgia with modern design principles. One of the game's defining mechanics is that you have no direct control of the player character. You choose what items to equip and which locations to visit, while an artificial intelligence does all the exploring, combat and looting. An expansive item crafting system allows you to combine otherwise disposable items--rewarding experimentation and making full use of all the gathered loot.

Stone Story will be published on the web, Win, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android. Initial language support will be English, Portuguese and Chinese. Further localization will be added based on regional stats.

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Wonderful guitar cover of Super Mario World music

Samuraiguitarist Steve Onotera created this fantastic cover of the Super Mario World music including sound effects made on his guitar. (via Laughing Squid)

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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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Happy anniversary to the coolest Let's Play grandma on YouTube!

One year ago, grandmother Shirley Curry started posting impossibly charming Let's Play videos while playing Skyrim to connect with her grandkids. They are delightful to watch and listen to. Read the rest

Peak Pokémon Go has already passed

A new report from Axiom Capital Management suggests that Pokémon Go is on a downward trend in daily active users and engagement of those users. The data comes from Sensor Tower, SurveyMonkey, and Apptopia.

Additionally, "The Google Trends data is already showing declining interest in augmented reality, whereas interest in virtual reality remains high," says senior analyst Victor Anthony.

(Bloomberg Markets)

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Watch a hamster clear a Super Mario Bros. level

Like an 8-bit Habitrail. Read the rest

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