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Topics - Kairon

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I love aimless theory crafting and just had this idea: if you were at Nintendo planning a future Switch 2 Game Release strategy, how would you space out releases and prioritize which of their top-franchise tentpole game sequels come out when?

Just shooting from the hip I think it's super obvious Mario Kart 9 isn't going to happen for the Switch, so shooting from the hip it'd make sense to have it as a launch title for the successor and therefore...

Holiday Launch:
-Mario Kart 9
-Metroid Prime 4 (I'm assuming this gets delayed to Switch 2 or gets a cross-get release ala BotW)
-Nintendo Land Sequel

First Spring Period:
-Splatoon Sequel
-Mario Party Sequel
-Xenoblade Sequel

Second Holiday:
-Smash Bros. Sequel
-Wii Fit/Ring Fit Spiritual Sequel
-3D Mario Sequel

Second Spring:
-Animal Crossing Sequel
-Zelda Sequel

Third Holiday:
-Pokemon Sequel
-2D Mario Sequel/Mario Maker Sequel
-Star Fox or F-Zero Sequel (I can dream can't I?)

Nintendo Gaming / Switch 2 Speculation
« on: May 21, 2020, 05:57:08 PM »
So as time as passed I've fallen out of love with the idea of a "Pro" revision. There was a window where I think that had appeal due to worries about the Switch's power gap leading to consumer interest dropoff, and due to a belief that technology for a true generational jump in the technical form factor of the portable Switch wasn't ready at Nintendo price points yet.

Obviously, the Switch is still selling gangbusters, and I guess we could probably say that it's actually currently supply-constrained! It still has a power gap, but its unique portable proposition coupled with the power of Nintendo first party software make it look like it can have a full generational cycle. It's hard to imagine a hardware sales dropoff so extreme that Nintendo couldn't ride a healthy 2020 and competent 2021 for the Switch, taking the console into year 5.

Additionally, I think we're finally seeing the hardware appear that suggests a full Switch 2 successor could materialize at desired performance levels, which is what prompted me to make this post.

To begin with, I think the idea of a Switch 2 targeting XB1 or PS4 performance in a handheld is a good shorthand. I'm not an electrical engineer so this is all internet fanboy level speculation, but I'd generalize that target even further to hitting the 1 TFLOP target for the GPU, and of course increasing the CPU power appropriately.

Currently the Switch can be said to almost reach 400 GFLOPS docked, and almost 200 GFLOPS when portable. So as another rule of thumb, I would generalize a Switch 2 target EVEN FURTHER to aiming to double the Launch Switch's performance.

Actually, this would ALSO jive with Nintendo's current pattern of simply doubling performances every generation: The Wii was two GC's duct-taped together, the Wii U was double the Wii's performance, the Switch is even sort of twice the Wii U's performance.

We've already seen the Switch handle previously unimaginable current-gen ports with aplomb, so in conclusion I think a rough doubling of the Switch's performance, (which almost hits a supposed 1 TFLOP GPU performance target) is a reasonable yardstick to go by.

And by that yardstick, I think we're finally seeing tech in the consumer market that achieve this.

For example, the Surface Pro X launched in Fall 2019 with the claim that it had  2TFLOP GPU. The Tegra X1 ws claimed as the first mobile SoC that hit 1 TFLOP, so this is the sort of "doubling" claim that I've been looking out for. In this case however, MS is using a custom Snapdragon 8cx platform, which is Qualcomm instead of Nvidia. They're using A76 CPU processors and a mobile Adreno 685 GPU as compared to the Switch's A57 CPUs and Nvidia Maxwell architecture.

Again, I'm just an armchair crank with the internet, but on the CPU side I think the Arm Cortex A73 is already supposed to have twice the sustained performance of the A57's used in the Switch. The A76 is another generational improvement on top of that, but this time I think it's more like a 40% improvement vs. the A73/A75. (A LOT of marketing is centered around peak performance unrestricted by power or heat, which is OBVIOUSLY not realistic for the Switch.) So just on the CPU side I think we're seeing consumer-level offerings that are around 2.8X the Switch CPU.

It's easy enough to think about the CPUs, but the GPU is tougher. I have no idea how to compare the Adreno performance claims with the Tegra X1 inside the Switch since they're completely different lines. It SOUNDS like a mobile chipset hitting 2 TFLOPS bodes well for the technology being ready, but it's way guesswork than even I'm comfortable with, and obviously I'm indulging in a metric-ton of what-ifs here.

Ideally, I'd look at Nvidia successor Tegra chips, but these are uber weird things none of which actually are suitable for the Switch. So I'll just look at the GPU architectures they've been putting out. The Launch Switch used Maxwell cores at 20nm. The Maxwell architecture was succeeded by Pascal, but that sounds like most of the benefits of Pascal was jumping down to 16nm with very little innate improvements. The next meant-for-consumers architecture was Turing, which DOES exist in the market: Nvidia GeForce 16 GPUs hit the market in early 2019 as a budget line targeting $150 GPU SKUs, lacking exotic AI and raytracing. These are desktop GPUs, so obviously they're super-powered compared to what will the Switch will use. According to Wikipedia the GeForce GTX 1650 has 3.5X the number of shader processors the Switch has. But naively, imagine a Switch 2 with 384 shader units (compared to the Switch's 256) that are maintain the performance improvement ratio, and that means it should hit 1.083 TFLOPs! And that's considering the GeForce GTX 1650 has a die size of 200 mm^2, so an equivalently shrunk GPU would be 85mm^2 (Tegra X1's GPU size is 118 mm^2).

.... I think my justifications on GPU power doubling is a little thin, but since an Adreno GPU is able to claim hitting 2 TFLOPS, then I would think it's possible in the mobile space for Nvidia to do the equivalent.

Finally, I wanted to find current available tech a these levels because when the Switch came out in 2017, it was using cutting edge 2015 consumer tech. Likewise, if this tech is available in 2019/early 2020, then I could envision a Switch 2 landing in 2021 or 2022. Obviously prices on these components hopefully come down in time, and there are other technical components that need to be considered, like RAM pricing and performance, as well as the question of internal storage.

In conclusion, I've basically completely given up on the idea of a Switch "Pro", and now am focusing on imagining a Switch 2 that is on paper not quite an XB1 or PS4, but in reality is able to perform very much like one with a 3 hr battery life. I guess it could come in 2021, but with the Switch's current momentum, I'm more imagining it coming to market in early 2022 with a little bit more breathing room against the the XBSX and PS5 furor.

And of course, I'd envision it being 99% backwards compatible with Switch so that the generation can transition smoothly, the Switch "1" can move to lower price points naturally and the Switch 2 can have a little more price flexibility in case Nintendo needs to target a higher then $299 price point. If a Switch 2 launches in 2022, the Switch 1 would've had a 5 year lifecycle but still probably be doing really strongly. Perhaps there'd be a risk of cutting out the Switch's sales by releasing its successor, but I'd like to think that a large number of cross-gen games, as well as ever-more-palatable price points, would allow the Switch "1" to trail alongside the Switch 2 for a very long time, somewhat akin to the longer tails that the PS1, PS2, and GBA enjoyed even while their successors were on the market.

General Gaming / Sitting on the sidelines: PS5 vs XB Series X
« on: March 26, 2020, 12:06:48 PM »
I'll be the first to admit that I'm almost exclusively a Nintendo only gamer, but one of the surprising benefits of that is I don't directly have a dog in the fight between Sony and Microsoft. Those megacorps can duke it out in the high-performance-high-price-high-drama console war field of ~12 teraflops, and I can pull up a seat and pull out my switch to watch the slugfest.

So what's everyone's take on the upcoming next-gen consoles? With baseline specs revealed for both, the internet fanboy flame wars are just getting started, but it seems to me like Sony has slightly less paper specs, might have some custom silicon tricks they'll argue make their power more than the specs.

Thinking about it, I don't recall Sony ever finding itself in that position marketing-wise before. They've technically had lower spec systems before but the market perception at the time s didn't really reflect that.

As for software, we haven't seen any. But Microsoft has bulked up their 1st party studios SO much these past years that I'm almost scared to find out everything they've been saving up for this, it'll be like an asteroid impacting the earth and they've been preparing for this for a LOOOONG time. Sony, on the other hand, seems to have strong third-party ties, a proven and reliable first-party record, and a little more consumer goodwill since they've actually been delivering the past couple of years instead of just promising things.

Of course, the elephant in the room could be price and business model. Is it possible that Sony is targeting a lower price point than MS? That might be an advantage in the early days. But could MS really push GamePass and/or XCloud so much that consumers are willing to buy that hardware instead based on a long-term calculation on saving money on software via a subscription?

Gonna be interesting to see how it plays out. Both these systems are so utterly powerful that I'm guessing they'll easily differentiate themselves from the current Gen (unlike the PS4 Pro and One X, which remain firmly in this gen). That'd be interesting to see how fast it saps away developer support for the Switch. It's possible that the Switch could still remain a great home for devs who still have Mobile as a target, and a great home for indies who generally need to hit all platforms including mobile and/or mainstream PCs. But I've been REALLY enjoying the legacy ports of current/last gen titles, like the recently announced 2K BioShock, Borderlands, and X-Com 2 collections. I'd hate to see those sorts of things dry up quickly.

General Gaming / Reggie Joins GameStop Board of Directors
« on: March 09, 2020, 06:14:56 PM »
My trade-ins are ready?!?!?

But seriously, can GameStop still be saved? I feel like we're all waiting for the other shoe to drop and for them to go bankrupt or start massive store closings. It'd probably take a MASSIVE overhaul of the company, not just a little course correction, to even have a shot at righting that ship.

GameStop's pricing, policies, and service are all so unfriendly to the customer, I think any effort they make will be doomed if they don't address the core issue that they are, to consumers, flat-out uncompetitive versus other retailers. They'd have to start there, and maybe in addition to a cultural change Reggie could find ways to help their supply line by making GameStop a better and more useful partner for game makers/publishers.

Hey guys, I got to randomly thinking and I remember for the Wii U I was REALLY hyping myself up for some Tower Defense games to make it to the system, I was even hoping for some at launch!

Alas, it was not to be.

Does anyone else feel like there'd be a small/niche game/genre they'd be ecstatic to see make the Switch launch, but maybe everyone else wouldn't be so excited for?

Personally, I do still have a hankering for Tower Defenses. BUT I'm also still hooked on Picross and I think it would be CRIMINAL if some indie publisher wouldn't take my money because they didn't have a basic picross title available for me buy at launch...

Nintendo Gaming / Do You Expect Third Parties to Support the Switch?
« on: December 21, 2016, 02:13:06 AM »
Figured I'd ask an "Elephant in the room" type question!

Basically, we all know the Switch is using a modern NVidia graphical architecture (it's friggin' Vulkan compliant guys!), and we know that major industry game engines like Unreal Engine 4 and Unity are both onboard for Switch support. On the other hand, I think things are shaping up that it's in no way going to be a brute strength hardware powerhouse.

Then we throw in Nintendo's historical difficulty in creating a platform that third-parties enjoy and... well, do you think they'll make any progress on the switch?

I mean, YES, we MIGHT get a Skyrim port, there's rumors (grain of salt alert!) of a Dark Souls port... but are those false signals or wishful thinking?

Personally, I think the Switch will make significant strides in making it TECHNICALLY easier for third parties to support it. Modern game engine support will have a very noticable effect on third-party support I believe.

HOWEVER, I have very tempered expectations on any idea of a 3rd party resurgence overall.

I think we seem to have a lot of third parties excited to port older games, which is nice but we've seen historically is not likely to set anything on fire (see: Wii U year-old ports).

Also, I feel like we're seeing lots of third parties "testing" the waters again with token games, which again is not going to convince anyone of a real sea change here. We might get a single token Madden from EA, we might get NBA 2k17, we might get a bone thrown at us from others...

For all the excitement, I think there's a ton of inertia the Nintendo Switch will struggle against with third-parties entrenched into a mindset that ignores the Nintendo ecosystem. This will probably be especially prevalent in the mega-budget/super-premiere parts of the industry where companies are making huge bets years ahead of time and can't afford to get distracted by yet another platform as they near the finish line.

And of course, there's the question of whether Nintendo can create a platform where third parties can sell games, or at least certain types of games, or where third parties can find a non-risky way to survive. A major part of changing this issue will probably be just Nintendo trying to create as much of a Switch userbase as possible, building as much of a foundation for the platform, and pricing the hardware correctly in the market to create both demand and accessibility.

However, I DO think things are getting better. Launch is always exciting, modern game engines will make a significant difference, the hardware's concept could very well prove a strong lure, and hopefully indies are as excited about the platform as we are!

I think the most tantalizing hope, which may or may not prove true, is that the handheld world of developers comes to the Switch. This is sort of what's left of the mid-tier third party segment, and also part of what's left of the niche Japanese third party devs segment (that said, also some of the PS4 segment really). It'd be great if all the projects that drove passion for the PSVita and the Nintendo 3DS came to the switch without reserve in the future. And it'd be great if the titans of this segment also made the switch their new home.

I, for one, will be extremely excited if they announce Monster Hunter for the Switch. That game has a very significant following, and it's amazingly proven the ability to move its fanbase from the Sony ecosystem to the Nintendo 3DS.

I'm also very excited to hear that Dragon Quest XI is coming to the Switch! That's a pretty big vote of confidence from Square Enix and a major public signaling to consumers that they can expect Japan's premier RPG on the Nintendo system.

Ultimately, I think we'll see real progress here, true progress, but also slow progress with lots of inertia to overcome and the ball in Nintendo's court to prove that a game-hungry, game-buying userbase for third parties exist. I'm basically expecting things to get better... but at a rate that might get Nintendo back to equity, assuming everything continues going well, over the course of six years, not two.

I was wondering if anyone else has this topic floating around in the back of their mind like I do.

My brother and I asked for a GameBoy one Christmas and we got a Game Gear instead, so I have experience with short portable battery lives. We got a rechargeable battery pack/grip instead of burning 6 AA batteries every three hours, but basically we played the thing mostly just sprawled out on the floor near the closest wall outlet.

It turned out ok (the GameGear had some neat games off the beaten path that our Mom, excellent shopper she was, was able to find), but it just makes me all the more conscious of short battery life issues.

To that end, since rumors are that the Switch could have a battery life of just 3 hours unplugged, I'm pretty much certain I'll have to get some sort of extended battery-life solution...

Anyone else holding their breath for the final word on battery life? Anyone else thinking about having to budget for some third-party launch accessory with an extended battery, or some sort of USB-to-Switch cable to use an all-purpose power pack?

Nintendo Gaming / What Team is everyone in Pokémon Go?
« on: July 07, 2016, 01:03:57 PM »
Hey guys, just made level 2 and wanted to get this important question out of the way before I have to make a decision... What team should I join in Pokémon Go for Gym Battles?

Will there be an NWR Community Team? Is everyone joining different teams? What's going on?

Nintendo Gaming / Two Free NA Pikmin 3 WiiU eShop Codes
« on: September 27, 2014, 03:23:30 PM »
Hey guys!

I find myself holding onto... two... Pikmin 3 Wii U North American eShop Download codes. They're free to whomever wants them, first come first serve!

I'm actually trying to get them off my hands because I already own Pikmin 3 (I got a little overzealous in my urge to maximize club Nintendo benefits ^_^) and because these DL codes expire at the end of september so... like in three days or something!

Please respond here to claim them so I can PM the DL codes to you!

I've decided I will get the game, but I've got a good backlog so I'm not exactly in a rush. This is good because I'm wrestling with an important question: should I purchase a physical copy of MH3U or download it through the eShop?

Some background:
-I played MHTri on the Wii and enjoyed it (not a diehard fan though), but never beat it
-I DO NOT intend to buy the Wii U version and will probably make use of the Packet Relay tool if/when I play online
-I like having downloaded retail games that have Streetpass features or are are suitable for on-a-whim play sessions, or that are titled Animal Crossing
-I own the following full retail games as digital downloads: Mario Kart 7, Style Savvy: Trendsetters, Brain Age: Concentration Training
-If it's a tie, then I'll prefer to get it physical

Also, I'm not that concerned about pricing or sales or whatnot. I just want the option that will suit a Monster Hunter 3 style play habit better. Those of you who are actively playing the game, does it make sense to have the game always with you ala Mario Kart? Or is the game more of a "sit down and binge" experience that can use a cart?

Nintendo Gaming / Wii U Launch Lists/Plans/Budgets
« on: October 30, 2012, 01:53:52 AM »
Hey all! The Wii U launch is so close... so ridiculously close... I can't take it anymore! I need to talk to people about it, so this is basically a thread on what our intentions are for the Wii U launch. I'm really interested in what games people are buying, and secretly hope to see many 3rd party games on the list!

I've basically been saving up for this day for a whole year. I have a giant spreadsheet in Open Office where I keep my budget and I usually try to project forward a couple months, but for the Wii U I kicked that thing up into like 12-month forecast territory. Whenever I spent or didn't spend money over the past year, I was always calculating about how much I was putting away for the Wii U. And with this this North American Launch Lineup, it's probably a good thing too.


Wii U Deluxe Bundle - Nintendo - $350 - (Pre-ordered at local GameStop)

Hardware Subtotal: $350

Retail Games:

Nintendo Land - Nintendo - $0 (Free from SKU) - (Pre-ordered at local GameStop)
New Super Mario Bros. U - Nintendo - $0 (Old Navy Black Friday Deal) - (Will do Black Friday at Old Navy)
Zombi U - UbiSoft - $60 - (Pre-ordered at local GameStop)
Assassin's Creed III - Ubisoft - $60 - (Pre-ordered at local GameStop)
Darksiders 2 - THQ- $60 - (Pre-ordered at local Play 'N Trade)
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 - Activision - $60 - (Pre-ordered at local GameStop)
FIFA 13 - Electronic Arts - $60 - (Pre-ordered at local GameStop)
Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition - WB - $60 - (Pre-ordered at local Play 'N Trade)
Sonic All-Stars Racing: Transformed - SEGA - $40 - (Will buy at Play 'N Trade?)

Retail Subtotal: $400

eShop Games (Assume worst case prices of $30):

Cloudberry Kingdom - Pwnee Studios - $0 (Free from Kickstarter)
Toki Tori 2 - Two Tribes - $30
Trine 2: Director's Cut - Frozenbyte - $30
Nano Assault Neo - Shin'en - $30
Mighty Switch Force HD - WayForward - $30

eShop Subtotal: $120


Screen Protector - $20
(I already have WiiMotes, Nunchuks, Wii Motion Pluses, a 32 GB SD card, and plenty of emergency AA batteries)

Accessories Subtotal: $20


Hardware Subtotal: $350
Retail Subtotal: $400
eShop Subtotal: $120
Accessories Subtotal: $20

Complete Subtotal: $890
Estimated Taxes: $89

Estimated Total: $979


Retail Games:
2 First-Party vs. 7 Third-Party (Retail)
3 Exclusives vs. 5 Timely Multiplatform Ports vs. 1 Old Multiplatform Port (Retail)
2 Ubisoft titles vs. 2 Nintendo titles vs. 1 each from the other Publishers (Retail)
9 Retail games vs. 5 eShop download games
9 Big Publisher games vs. 5 Indie games

I've got my Wii U pre-ordered at the local GameStop, but I'm going to see if I can do all my game purchases moving forward from a local Play 'N Trade I recently discovered. I'm also still deliberating about buying a Wii U headset, and if so, which model? Anyone got any advice?

I'm also putting off Nintendo game purchases 'till later. Some of my most anticipated first-party titles come out later, and I'll play it cool with NSMBU. It can wait.

Oh, and I've got a bunch of games I'm not 100% committed to throughout the Launch Window...

Launch Window - Definitely Buy

007 Legends - Activision
Mass Effect 3 - Electronic Arts
Lego City: Undercover - Nintendo
Aliens: Colonial Marines - Sega
Rayman: Legends - Ubisoft

Later - Definitely Buy At Some Time

Pikmin 3 - Nintendo
Wonderful 101 - Nintendo

Thinking - Not Sure If I Will Buy

Scribblenauts Unlimited - WB
Madden NFL 2012 - Electronic Arts
Funky Barn - 505 Games
Chasing Aurora (eShop Download) - Broken Rules
Runner 2:Future Legend of Rhythm Alien - Gaijin Game

Has anyone else obsessed over this as much as I have?

Edit: added New Super Mario Bros. U to the list. I'm gonna try to get it at the Old Navy Black Friday Doorbuster deal.

Edit: added Sonic All-Stars Racing: Transformed. I am a broken, broken, man.

Nintendo Gaming / Has anyone bought a 3DS Download Code at a retailer?
« on: October 26, 2012, 12:07:03 AM »
I'm curious, I keep forgetting to check this out when I head out to the stores. Has anyone successfully done this? At what stores? Did you have to ask for anything special or do a secret handshake or something?

Nintendo Gaming / What Wii U Accessories Are You Buying On Launch Day?
« on: September 21, 2012, 03:57:34 PM »
I know I have to budget for some accessories to buy at launch, but I don't think we know everything that's coming out yet, or that we may want.

One thing I think we know is that the Wii U will need an SD card to accept Wii -> Wii U transfers. So, I think I'll just go ahead and buy a 32 GB SD Card before launch to get that squared away.

Another thing I'll be wanting is a screen protector. I always get one as a matter of fact for my handhelds, and I think it's wise for me to continue that policy on day 1 for the Wii U too...

But what else is there? I don't think I'll go crazy for all the multi-colored controller sleeves (like I did at Wii launch... every controller's a different color!), but maybe it would behoove me to invest in a Wii U headset?

Oog... and maybe I'll need to buy some Motion Plus dongles... I only have one right now, plus my Skyward Sword Golden Wii Remote Plus controller.

Also, isn't it a good feeling to see that Nintendo now does official licensing for accessories? It's probably nothing, but it does give me that extra tiny bit of security as a consumer to buy these accessories.

Nintendo Gaming / What Can I Use To Plug/Cover/Fill the Card Slot in a DS?
« on: September 21, 2012, 03:38:59 PM »
Hi guys,

I'm sort of at a loss right now... I have a DSi I want to put into storage, but I would like to put something in its card/cartridge slot so that it isn't empty and exposed. I COULD just put an random game in there, but I'd much rather store all my games in their proper cases.

Does anyone know of anything that I could insert in a DS/DSi/3DS card/cartridge slot to limit exposure and protect it from dust and stuff?

So, I'm pretty much a one-console sort of guy. I have this hang-up about spending money buying more hardware when I can get tons of software for what I already own instead. So I've had to live with not getting certain big exciting games from third parties since I'm at the same time also a Nintendo gamer (and my PC is in desperate need of an upgrade right now).

That's fine, but what game series/examples do you see not coming to the Wii U going forward? It's sort of the unspoken price of going 1-console-only and Nintendo, I thought I'd ask it out loud.

For example, I DO expect to get CoD games. Heaven help Reggie if I don't! *shakes fist* I also still hold out some (foolhardy) hope for GTA 5 and Final Fantasy...

But I DON'T expect to get BioShock, nor Fallout, nor Oblivion. I'm not holding my breath for Lollipop Chainsaw, or Watchdogs, or any future Valve games (like Portal).

Anyone care to help me tally up a list of games I might have to resign myself to not be playing this gen?

Nintendo Gaming / About time for another Wave Race... Wii U?
« on: March 03, 2012, 02:47:00 PM »
Hey guys, I remember just how much I LOVED Wave Race 64. I missed out on Blue Storm(was that as good as 64?), but I think that it's high time this Nintendo franchise made a triumphant return, and what better as a showcase for the Wii U's graphical prowess?

What do you guys all think? Do you think it could secretly be in development, and who do you think could be making it? I originally thought Retro, since obviously they're Nintendo's go-to second party right now, but maybe Monster games makes more sense?

TalkBack / Wii Owners Need A Voice
« on: February 22, 2010, 09:10:46 AM »

  It's a never-ending blame game: Third parties blame the Wii audience for hard-to-predict game sales and Wii owners blame game makers for not making games they want in the first place. And no one is actually trying to sit down, talk, and listen.    

It's almost not fair: game makers don't complain about not knowing what gamers want on the other consoles. The hardest of the core audience on the XBox 360 and PS3 are very vocal about just what it is they want to spend money on, and they're over-represented in all the traditional venues, print magazines, internet haunts, or caffeinated tv channels for technology and gaming media. Game makers can simply visit these hotspots for feedback, inspiration, and a rich connection to their audience.    

2009 LTD Console Software Sales    

Wii owners have caught up to and surpassed the other console owner groups in the total amount of software they purchase.


But for Wii owners? We purchase more software than either of the other two console audiences, but there's no single place we've been invited to gather and there's no collective voice we've found to champion our values.    

It's no wonder game makers are simply throwing games against a wall and watching to see if anything sticks. Failing to have an open dialogue, so much of what's left is guesswork. Which I guess means little or no marketing or attempt to build word of mouth. Which I guess would make things hard for a game on any system.    

Spaghetti On Wall    

This hardly seems the best approach for making successful games.


Of course, Nintendo doesn't seem as hindered by this as everyone else. But that's not because Nintendo is a first-party. It's because Nintendo's always been trying to find out what gamers aged 2 to 92 find fun in a game. They've been doing this ever since the last time they showed the industry that gaming wasn't just a hobby for 18-25 year old males.    

If only Nintendo could take the progress they've made with getting what Wii consumers really think (Nintendo Channel ratings, Club Nintendo polls, Nintendo Power) and create a unified process or channel that the majority of Wii owners can participate in. If it was quick and easy, then Wii gamers could start to relate what we've enjoyed about the games we bought, what we found meaningless or disappointing, and what we'd love to see next.    

Club Nintendo NSMBWii Poll Screenshot    

This Club Nintendo Survey for New Super Mario Bros. Wii shows that Nintendo is always keen to know the purchasing habits of its consumers... and Santa.


Without that sort of opportunity, how can Wii owners create the solidarity we need to respond to critics or the will to demand what we want from game makers? How can we create a community to educate each other, and game makers, about what's a good game and what's a bad one?    

It doesn't even have to be Nintendo who brings us all together. can already be a more democratic and telling insight into the Wii owner's heart and mind than Metacritic. But we need something, anything, even if just one way, in which people can easily understand our joys, dreams, and trials.    

Otherwise, we may be 60 million strong and growing, but no one can hear our cries.    

Mii Crowd    

Wii are the silent majority.

Nintendo Gaming / Just Dance is being advertised
« on: February 09, 2010, 12:42:53 AM »
OMG! I just saw a Just Dance Commercial on TV! While watching Life Unexpected! Ubisoft is ADVERTISING!!! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

TalkBack / Nyko Announces Controller With Built-In MotionPlus
« on: January 08, 2010, 10:55:29 AM »
Nyko's combination controller will retail for the price of a normal Wii Remote.

 If there's one thing that's guaranteed to sell for the Wii, it's controllers. To that end, Nyko has announced a new alternative to Nintendo's official Wii Remote, the Wand +.    

Wand + Isometric


Nyko touts that the Wand +, a follow-up to last year's Wand controller for the Wii, will be fully compatible with all Wii software, including Wii MotionPlus games. In fact, whereas owners of the Wii Remote need to plug-in the Wii MotionPlus accessory for that functionality, Nyko has built their support for Wii MotionPlus into the controller itself, requiring no additional accessories. In addition to that, the Wand + will feature the same Trans-Port technology that its predecessor had, allowing compatible accessories attached to the Wand + to simulate pressing out-of-reach buttons or to take advantage of force-feedback functionality.    

Whereas the suggested retail prices for the Wii Remote and Wii MotionPlus products add up to nearly $60, Nyko has announced that the Wand + will carry a suggested retail price of $39.99 when it becomes available this March.    

Quad Base Charge IC Black


Nyko revealed the Wand + as part of their CES 2010 line-up. The company will also be showing the Charge Base Quad IC, which recharges up to four Wii controllers without the need to peel off silicon sleeves, open battery cases, or unplug accessories. The Charge Base Quad IC also offers a USB port to recharge USB-powered devices, and will come in both white and black color schemes.    

CES 2010: Nyko Technologies Unveils Full CES Product Lineup    

Wand + and Charge Base Quad IC Among Many Accessories Making Their Debut    

LOS ANGELES - January 7, 2010

Nyko Technologies®, the leading videogame peripherals manufacturer, today debuted its full lineup of new products at the Consumer Electronics Show 2010 in Las Vegas. In addition to the previously announced Type Pad Pro for Wii™, Speaker Com 360 and Charge Base IC in black, the following lineup of brand new videogame accessories will be on display for exclusive hands-on demo:    

Wand +™    

The Wand + is designed to be the most advanced and user-friendly controller on the market for the Wii. Instead of requiring additional attachments or dongles for accurate motion control, the Wand + features Full Motion Technology™ built directly into the controller, allowing full 1:1 movement tracking that is compatible with all games that utilize the Wii Motion Plus™ attachment. By building the technology into the controller, the Wand + provides all the functionality Wii gamers expect, plus the versatility and convenience they deserve; no more dongles, no more custom sleeves or incompatibility with docks and other accessories not able to accommodate attached dongles. The Wand + also contains Nyko’s award-winning Trans-Port Technology, which allows key action buttons to be digitally replicated on other devices and pass sound and vibration signals to attached peripherals for the ultimate immersive gameplay experience. The Wand + features a fresh new design for a sleek, high-tech minimalist look.    

The Wand + will be available at select retail stores nationwide in March 2010 and will retail for an MSRP of $39.99.    

Charge Base Quad™ IC    

Based on the popular Charge Base IC for the Wii, the Charge Base Quad IC utilizes induction technology to charge up to four controllers. Like the original Charge Base IC, the design of the Charge Base Quad IC enables Wii Remotes or Wands to be charged without having to remove silicone sleeves, Wii Motion Plus™ or other attachments. The Charge Base Quad IC also features dual charge indicator lights and a powered USB port that can be used for charging other devices.    

The Charge Base Quad IC, available in white and black, will be available at select retail stores nationwide in March 2010 and will retail for an MSRP of $49.99.    

Media Hub Slim™    

The Media Hub Slim works with the PlayStation®3 Slim (PS3 Slim) in vertical or horizontal position and easily snaps onto the console to match the color and contour of the PS3 Slim, and allows users to connect double the USB devices such as flash drives, PSP, MP3 players and guitar/drum controllers.    

The Media Hub Slim adds two additional USB ports and a media card reader slot that supports SD cards and Sony Memory Sticks to enable content to be easily transferred to a PS3 Slim. In addition, the Media Hub Slim also includes a remote for basic control of menus, movies, music and more. Its unique design requires no tools or internal modifications, draws its power directly from the PS3 Slim and easily installs in just seconds.    

The Media Hub Slim will be available at stores nationwide in April 2010 and will retail for an MSRP of $19.99.    

Intercooler Slim™    

The latest installment in the company’s popular Intercooler line of game console cooling devices, the Intercooler Slim includes three powerful fans to reduce ambient air temperature by moving hot air away from the PS3 Slim. The Intercooler Slim can be easily snapped onto the back of the console, and with a patented power pass through connection, no AC adaptor is required. The device features variable fan-speed control for customized cooling, automatically turns on and off with the PS3 Slim and can be used with the console in vertical and horizontal position.    

The Intercooler Slim will be available at select retail stores nationwide in February 2010 and will retail for an MSRP of $19.99.    

"CES gives Nyko a platform to truly set the tone for the coming year in gaming accessories," said Chris Arbogast, director of marketing at Nyko Technologies. "This year is no exception, with great new products for the recently released PlayStation 3 Slim, and new accessories like the Wand+ and Charge Base Quad IC designed to heighten consumer expectations of third-party peripherals."

Nintendo Gaming / Advise me on a new Sudoku/Puzzle DS Game for my Mom?
« on: December 12, 2009, 06:57:18 PM »
My Mom's taken to stealing my younger bro's DS every night so she can play Sudoku on both our Brain Age games. She's actually been doing this for months now, but now she tells me that she's already completed the Sudoku puzzles in Brain Age 1 and she's almost exhausted Brain Age 2. We were shopping and she asked me point black when I'd buy her a new Sudoku game!

So... Does anyone here have any suggestions? Has anyone here played quality Sudoku DS titles? Alternatively I could see if she warms up to our copy of Professor Layton. I could always offer Neves or NYTimes Crosswords as holdovers, or I could take a chance on a Picross game... or just give her a new Sudoku title like she asked for!

Can anyone make recommendations?

TalkBack / REVIEWS: Mini Ninjas
« on: November 16, 2009, 09:05:17 PM »
The DS version of Mini Ninjas packs almost as much punch as its Wii counterpart.

 There's always a danger that the handheld version of a multiplatform game will be an afterthought compared to its console brethren. But with Mini Ninjas for the Nintendo DS, that's not the case. While the DS game adheres to the same story and themes present in the Wii version, it still manages to provide a unique gameplay experience that can be enjoyed alongside the other games, or independent of them.    

This means that while Mini Ninjas on the DS has the same overall story as the other Mini Ninjas games – a set of brave, newly trained ninjas (three of whom are playable) must defeat an evil samurai warlord who is upsetting the balance of nature and transforming innocent woodland creatures into a samurai army – the actual content of the levels is almost completely original. And while the developers took the time to design all new worlds to adventure through, they didn't skimp on the content.    

Indeed, Mini Ninjas is not a short experience. The game's levels are large; they require either one long play session or a lot of smaller ones to complete. The game can easily take 12 or 13 hours to beat, lasting just as long as the Wii version (and it adds a local wireless battle mode to extend playtime even further). Fortunately, the developers placed several save points scattered throughout each level, and you can even freely travel to previous levels if you wish. If you need to pause the game quickly, you can always halt the ninja action by flipping the DS lid down and putting the handheld into sleep mode.    

The DS version of Mini Ninjas is more of an action game than its console counterparts. There's no ninja stealth action here, you must simply clear out enemies wherever you go. To this end, you can hit the hit the A button to perform a basic attack, or hold it down then release it for a charged-up power attack. Pressing X uses selected ninja weapons like blow darts or shuriken, and pressing Y allows you to cast a selected magic spell after aiming it. The game also lets you execute wall jumps and wall running, but these are more for adventuring and take a little patience to get right because of the unforgiving timing or angles required.    

In the end, combat ends up a little simplistic. The special ninja weapons rarely seem to do enough damage, and spells, while useful, require time to aim correctly and are thus next to impossible to use in the thick of battle. The boss fights are interesting, since, like the Zelda games, they require you to figure out a specific pattern or strategy, but the rest of the combat often boils down to running from or blocking enemy attacks, and then repeatedly using your own basic attacks to do damage as enemies come into range.    

However, the gameplay does have other elements. Mini Ninjas has a handful of quests for players to complete, some to advance in the game, and a few as side missions that aren't strictly necessary. In addition to that, defeating enemies and freeing caged woodland creatures yields experience that is used to level up, which nets you essential new abilities and health upgrades. The game also has lots of herbs hidden throughout levels that you can find and collect. These assorted flowers, grasses, and fungi are important components in potions that you can craft in certain locations throughout the game. However, some of the herbs in the game don't appear to have any use, and the plant distribution seems a little off since some herbs seem unnecessarily rare. Still, it is nice to have an incentive to explore the environments of Mini Ninjas rather than simply fighting your way through them.    

With all these herbs, items, and spells to keep track of, Mini Ninja's touch screen use is entirely dedicated to user interface. The touch screen allows you to switch characters, combat items, or spells. The touch screen can also turn into an in-depth inventory for everything you've collected. Some of this functionality, such as choosing to take a moment to meditate, or putting on the ninja cloak, is even perfectly positioned and sized so you can simply slide your right thumb over to tap the icon right in the middle of gameplay.    

The top screen is used to show the 3D world and characters of Mini Ninjas, and the graphics do a good job of realizing the levels on the DS. It's true that sometimes the locations can feel linear and walled off, but there are also some larger areas where the game is on par with its console versions in terms of the sense of scale. There are even in-game cut scenes between levels that are well animated and help break up the action. However, it does have to be said that the game's 3D graphics don't quite pass muster when conveying the subtleties of its art and character design. Still, if there were any doubt that the game had visual style, the new Plane of Spirits puzzles will settle the question.    

The Plane of Spirits puzzles are touch screen-based puzzles that players solve in order to teleport beyond impassable terrain. They start by using the touch screen to trace indicated designs, essentially drawing a scene to life via line art that's beautifully inspired by oriental styles. Then players continue using the touch screen to draw additional elements into existence or remove other elements, thereby guiding their character past the 2D puzzle and back into the rest of the game's 3D world. The puzzles occasionally make use of the microphone as well. The art in this mode is particularly beautiful, as simple lines drawn across the touch screen are instantly rendered as realistic, solid, black brush strokes. These even have the power to convince you that you're creating artful calligraphy because the lines convincingly end up thick or thin depending on how you use the touchscreen. In fact, some of the Plane of Spirits sections even start out by making the player trace an entire Chinese character that represents the challenge they're about to face.    

Mini Ninjas also leverages its Eastern themes in its sound design. There aren't a range of themes, but the general melodies that Mini Ninjas does offer really help the game sell its feudal Japanese vibe. The game shifts into a tense battle theme when enemies are nearby, but what's even better is that enemy samurai will actually cry out "Ninjaaaa!" when they spot you. The game also features a little bit of well-acted voice-over narration as it explains the back story, showing that it's got a bit of style to go along with solid execution.    

Admittedly, the DS version of Mini Ninjas does have its flaws. Its controls aren't seamless, especially when it comes to wall-jumping, and it's a much more straightforward, action-oriented title than the other Mini Ninjas games. But it also manages to be a unique and meaningful experience, regardless of comparisons to those other titles. The Plane of Spirits puzzles are an excellent addition, and it offers a lengthy experience with unique levels and content. Add to that the game's general style and good execution, and Mini Ninjas is a game that shouldn't be overlooked, even if you have already played the console versions.


  • Has just as much content and length as the Wii version
  • Plane of Spirits mini-game offers puzzles that are well-suited to the touch screen and microphone
  • Touch screen interface is well-designed and deftly used
  • Hidden items add a welcome element of exploration

  •        Cons:
  • Combat, especially without any stealth mechanics, isn't that complicated
  • Controls can be finicky, especially when wall jumping or trying to quickly aim a spell
  • Lots of herbs don't seem to have any purpose
  • Very little reason to switch to the other two ninja characters

  •                Graphics:  8.0
           Mini Ninjas does a good job of creating a 3D world on the DS, though sometimes the 3D models fall short of evoking the game's potential. However, there's undeniable style, especially in the Plane of Spirits puzzles.

                   Sound:  8.0
           Mini Ninjas infuses its sound design with Oriental-sounding themes, creating an immersive, and consistent, atmosphere throughout the game.

                   Control:  7.0
           Mini Ninjas only uses the touch screen when it makes sense, which is great. However, aiming spells and performing wall jumps using the D-Pad and buttons is trickier than it needs to be.

                          Gameplay:  8.5
           Mini Ninjas could easily take 12 to 13 hours to complete due to its large worlds and levels. The addition of DS wireless ninja combat and Plane of Spirits puzzles help add a little bit more to the experience.


           Lastability:  7.5
           Mini Ninjas offers plenty of diversions like herb collecting and the brilliant Plane of Spirits puzzle mini-games, but when enemies show up it turns into a straightforward action game.


           Final:  8.0
           The best that can be said for Mini Ninjas is that it can be enjoyed if you've never played the console version, if you've beaten the console versions, or if you're currently playing the console versions. It's an action game that will last players a good deal of time. Mini Ninjas does have some quirks, but it also has a lot of charm.      

    TalkBack / REVIEWS: Mini Ninjas
    « on: October 08, 2009, 06:44:40 PM »
    It may say "Mini" on the cover, but these ninjas, and this game, are not to be underestimated.

     It's immediately apparent that Mini Ninjas has a style of its own. However, the game's qualities don't stop at its unique visual style. Beyond that, Mini Ninjas turns out to be a well executed and fun diversion.    

    One major point in favor of the game is its controls. Using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, Mini Ninjas keeps combat and controls relatively simple and uncomplicated, with basic attacks triggered by the B-Button and stun attacks, useful for breaking enemy defenses, executed by swinging the Wii Remote down. This is the core of a relatively simple move set, spiced up with jumping, sprinting, sneaking, items, and spells. Things get a little more specialized when players confront giant samurai bosses, but much like in the Zelda games, the idea is to stumble upon, and then repeat, specific yet simple strategies. There are some minor quibbles, like having to hold down the Minus button to move the camera, or the lack of a level map to refer to, but mostly, the interface of the game makes Mini Ninjas easy to play.    

    The benefit of this simplicity is that it's easy to start exploring the world. Even the game's potion-making and level-up mechanics are lightweight, enough to make players look forward to gaining a level and gaining another heart of health, but not substantial enough to distract from the core game.    

    Of course, part of being a Ninja is avoiding detection, not just wading into every situation with shuriken blazing. In Mini Ninjas, stealth is as easy as finding a bush or some readily available tall grass and crouching down. You can even sprint while sneaking from cover to cover, slowly making your way to a more exposed position. This way you can get extremely close to enemy soldiers, useful since sneak attacks from behind add enough bonus damage to typically make only one such strike necessary. Whether you charge into battle or take out sentries one-by-one is usually up to you; the game allows players to confront their enemies in whatever way seems the most fun.    

    However, groups of enemies complicate matters, and once spotted, enemy samurai will rush to your last known location and start searching the tall grass for you. The AI can exhibit other behaviors too: enemy squad commanders start to run away, cower comically, and look away when they swing their sword behind their backs if all their subordinates have been dispatched. Planning careful ambushes like this can decimate enemy forces, but later in the game, enemies prepare some ambushes of their own, waiting for the player to reveal their position and then swarming from their hiding places.    

    Part of the reason that the gameplay has this open-ended feel is the excellent level design that Mini Ninjas exhibits. While the game is organized into linear stages, the environments feel wide open and expansive. Draw distances give the mountain valleys an epic feel, and there are side paths and collectibles to encourage exploration. Coupled with the game's easy controls, it's almost like Mini Ninjas evokes a Zelda-lite sort of urge to seek out every nook and cranny. A lot of the game takes place in pastoral grassland and forest, but there are also some surprise white-water rapids, rice paddies, graveyards, caves, and snowy mountains. Of particular note are castles, the levels which precede every major boss. These large outdoor environments are particularly designed to make being a Ninja awesome: you've got castle walls to scale, rooftops to sneak over, and almost always a choice in exactly how many enemies you want to fight, or sneak past, on your way.    

    The immersion factor is helped by the game's consistently clean, stylized visual style. Mini Ninjas doesn't attempt to push boundaries in this field; the draw distances often let you see entire meadows, but the water is little more than a stylishly opaque flowing surface, and sometimes you can see individual bunches of grass pop in as you get closer. However, Mini Ninjas uses this modest technology to create colorful, convincing, and evocative environments. This extends to other parts of the game too: the characters and enemies are cleanly drawn and animated in such a way to give them style and personality. The clean and crisp art style, only vaguely inspired by oriental art, is perfect for a game that's full not just of action, but of light-hearted adventure and comedy.    

    The graphics are not the only area marked by modest successes balanced by equally modest shortcomings.   At 13 hours in length, Mini Ninjas is long enough to feel epic and satisfactory, and in some ways this is the perfect length for an attainable sense of fun without hefty and draining time commitments. However, this means that while Mini Ninjas can sometimes evoke action-adventure headliners like the Zelda games, its own journey is a shorter and more restricted experience.    

    Likewise, the game's audio gets the job done in a pleasant but unremarkable fashion. Unlike other games that seek to create aural set-pieces, Mini Ninjas has a relatively constrained variety of ambient music and themes that are reused throughout the game. This isn't to say that the audio work is unsuitable, though. The sounds of the game can be both soothing in exploration and striking in battle, and the game's few instances of voice acting and narration are perfectly executed (bringing to mind the wise, grandfatherly tone Japanese actor Mako used in the 1980's Conan movies). However, the sound design ultimately veers away from the bombastic in order to give the game a sense of calm consistency.    

    Also, Mini Ninjas contains several gameplay elements which, though well implemented, feel extraneous or unexploited. There are five playable ninja friends who can be switched at the touch of a button, but there's seldom a reason for players to switch away from Hiro, the initial protagonist. This is due both to his ability to cast useful magical spells and also the lack of utility, or appropriate situations, for some of the other characters' abilities.    

    The game's potion making aspect is a pleasant excuse to scour levels for collectible herbs, but there's practically never a situation where this becomes a major reason why a player will or won't have difficulty. Likewise, while there are plenty of combat items, like pepper bombs and shuriken, it's possible to play the entire game without using any of them. For example, I was excited to collect spiky caltrops that I could drop for enemy samurai to step on, but it turns out I beat the entire game without ever using the exotic ninja accessory.    

    One final quibble is that the game lacks a map system, a strange omission when the game's environments are as large and interesting as they are. Instead, players can press the Plus button to meditate for a little while to review their objectives and get an arrow pointing to the next destination.    

    Mini Ninjas may not blow down any doors, but it is unique and very well executed. It's also fun, with appealing visuals and interesting environments designed for exploration. In some places, the game may fall a little bit short, but don't let that fool you. In the end, it's all Ninja, and not to be underestimated.


  • Immersive and interesting environments and levels
  • Beautiful, clean visual style
  • Many opportunities to be stealthily, whether to ambush enemies or sneak by them altogether

  •        Cons:
  • Not all characters or abilities are fully utilized
  • No map system, though players can meditate

  •                Graphics:  8.0
           The graphics don't push any boundaries, but the game really comes through in a fresh and vibrant color palette and soothing visual style.

                   Sound:  7.5
           Mini Ninjas opts out of variety and epic overtures for a smaller number of subdued themes that work to enrich the game's atmosphere.

                   Control:  8.5
           The controls smoothly perform whether fighting, wall-jumping, or sneaking around. The game only uses the Wii Pointer when necessary for specific tasks. However, some lesser-used controls are a little inconvenient.

                          Gameplay:  9.0
           Mini Ninjas is solidly in the action game category, but it also offers light RPG elements, some stealth gameplay, and plenty of exploration. What's more, the game is fun to pick up and play for either short or long play sessions.


           Lastability:  8.0
           Mini Ninjas is about 13 hours long, which manages to give a sense of the long mission of the protagonists. There are collectible objectives in each level, and the game also offers three difficulty levels.


           Final:  8.5
           Mini Ninjas has plenty of action, stealth, and style, qualities that make the game inarguably fun. The game could have been even more fun if its content and features were further developed and explored, but what's there is perfectly satisfactory.      

    TalkBack / First Details of DS Okami Sequel Revealed
    « on: September 02, 2009, 01:30:40 PM »
    Okamiden aims to recapture the original's distinctive art style and expand its gameplay.

     The first Okami was a critical favorite, gaining a name for itself with a release on the PlayStation 2 and a later port to Nintendo's Wii. However, its unspectacular sales didn't leave much hope for a sequel.   That all changed recently, when Capcom confirmed rumors surrounding the company's registration of a trademark for "Okamiden." Okami is getting a sequel after all. Okamiden: Chiisaki Taiyo (which can be roughly translated as Okami Chronicles: Tiny Sun) is due out on the Nintendo DS next year.    

    Okamiden will take place just a few months after the wolf-goddess Amaterasu's adventure. The return of demons instigates the need for divine help once more, but this time it's the younger Chibiterasu who shows up ("Chibi" is a Japanese term that is loosely used to described small or childlike versions of characters). The youthful connotation of the name holds true, since Chibiterasu is described by Producer Motohide Eshiro as "a young form of existence, not fully grown." While Chibiterasu may mirror the previous fully-grown Amaterasu in many ways, Eshiro also says that "he doesn't have Amaterasu's raw power, which will be reflected both in the story and gameplay."    

    Chibiterasu will have some help though, in the form of partners that Okamiden will provide for the hero. These partners - like Kuninushi, the son of two characters from the first game - work in tandem with the hero and can also be moved independently. The original game's mechanic of directing a brush to "paint" on the game screen in order to solve puzzles and defeat enemies will also make a return, possibly aided by the DS' stylus and touchscreen.    

    According to Eshiro, the project stretches back to December 2008 when he was shown a demo showing how they could recreate Okami graphics on a handheld system. With original developers Clover Studios splitting from Capcom to form Platinum Games, it is now Capcom themselves who are working hard to bring the game to life.

    TalkBack / REVIEWS: Lovely Lisa
    « on: June 21, 2009, 10:15:26 AM »
    Play mini-games and play dress-up, all in one convenient package.

     Lovely Lisa could easily have passed for a mini-game collection, but it's actually a little bit more than that. Lovely Lisa (based on the popular Licca dolls from Japan) is a genuine virtual doll, bringing all that entails to the table. Play with the game and ignore the doll, or play with the doll and ignore the game, and you've only got half the story.    

    If Lovely Lisa were to be judged simply on its game aspects, its wide variety of mini-games would be a factor in its favor. There are more than 16 different mini-games in Lovely Lisa, all easy to understand and requiring only the DS touch screen to play. Some activities focus around homelife, with Lisa helping her father construct furniture, helping her mother get all the items on her shopping list, or cleaning up after her younger siblings. Other mini-games involve possible careers for Lisa, like administering shots as a nurse, picking out the correct toddlers at a preschool, or even dancing as a popstar. Finally, the last set of mini-games revolve around Lisa attending charm school, involving such things as simple piano lessons, sewing activities, and typing practice. Players have complete control over which mini-games they want to play or repeat playing, with most of them taking under a minute to complete. A nice feature is a "For Grown-Ups" menu that allows parents to set the difficulty level and amount of points rewarded after each mini-game's performance.    

    These points tie into the game's other half: its virtual doll component. With the points earned from doing chores, jobs, and attending charm school, players can go shopping for new clothes, shoes, make-up, accessories, and hair-styles. Of course, character customization isn't a new concept, but the allure of shoe-shopping, as well as matching outfits, should not be underestimated. The prices to add new pieces to the wardrobe are significant, so there's a definite incentive for players to go back and play their favorite mini-games many more times. However, designing your own simple patterns for dresses and shirts is thankfully free.    

    Trying on clothes is one of the few times the game presents 3D graphics, showing Lisa and the player's chosen outfit in full 3D. The 3D model is strikingly reminiscent of real dolls, even those made of porcelain, a style that works everywhere but in the dancing "pop-star" mini-game, which features some awkward animation. The rest of the game is primarily done in a simple, bright, and clean 2D art style that suits it perfectly.    

    Like some real e dolls, Lovely Lisa allows its virtual doll to make use of voice-recording. Lovely Lisa isn't actually voice-acted, but there are pre-recorded phrases that Lisa will say during the course of the mini-games. Interestingly enough, there's even an option in the title menu to talk to Lisa instead of going straight into the game. Much like activating the voice recordings on some actual dolls, this mode will trigger specific recordings for the DS game to play, even selecting different phrases based on the time of day.    

    All of this makes for a surprising mix of both game and doll. Of course, there are still a few inconsistencies in the combination. Most of the mini-games are unlocked in the beginning, but the few that aren't immediately available take a very long time to unlock, forcing players to fill up Lisa's experience meter to almost full by replaying games over and over. And after that the game's final Contest Hall section takes forever to unlock, with no instructions or indications as to how close players are to accessing it. Instead, the best reason for players to keep on replaying the mini-games is to accrue more points in order to buy more clothing. And it should be pretty evident that older or more advanced players will quickly burn through the game's mini-games.    

    Still, the title does what it does with efficient appeal and a light-hearted sensibility. Anyone looking for a game with some doll-like aspects, or a doll with some engaging mini-games, is sure to find those qualities in Lovely Lisa.


  • Lean and appealing art style
  • Mini-games are surprisingly varied and unique
  • Options to modify difficulty and increase the points that mini-games award are very welcome

  •        Cons:
  • Some of Lisa's phrases during the game, like calling out "pat-pat, pat-pat" while smoothing laundry, can be grating
  • Long wait to unlock some mini-games, and no indication of how to unlock the Contest Hall part of the game
  • Lack of in-depth game content makes the game reliant on the appeal of its characters and doll-like aspects
  • Certain wardrobe items, like pants or shirts, are under-represented compared to other choices, like dresses

  •                Graphics:  6.5
           The game's 2D graphics are colorful, bright, and simple. The 3D representation of Lisa, which resembles the actual Licca dolls, is serviceable, but doesn't hold up well when animated.

                   Sound:  7.5
           Lovely Lisa features an impressive amount of recorded voice-phrases. The music and sound effects are bright and help establish the carefree mood of the game.

                   Control:  8.5
           The game is controlled entirely via the touch screen, and performs admirably well on almost all accounts. However, the game occasionally takes its time when switching through some interfaces and menus.

                          Gameplay:  7.0
           Lovely Lisa's mini-games are short and few, but they manage to offer many different gameplay scenarios. The game's dress-up and shopping modes have their own appeal, but they are more doll-simulation than game-activity.


           Lastability:  3.5
           Players will be compelled to keep playing and earning points so that they can do more shopping, but there aren't enough activities to lend Lovely Lisa much appeal or depth once the urge to shop runs out.


           Final:  7.0
           Lovely Lisa is an interesting mix of game and doll, and it's suitable for gamers open to the idea of a virtual doll. Its biggest flaw is a lack of content for those who can't find the appeal of shoe-shopping.      

    TalkBack / Konami Bringing pop'n music to America
    « on: June 08, 2009, 03:06:58 PM »
    The Wii incarnation of the light-hearted rhythm series will feature accessible controls and downloadable songs.

     Konami announced last week that an entry in their pop'n music line of games is making its American debut, and it's coming to the Wii.    

    The pop'n music line of games actually spans more than 15 titles on consoles and in arcades, stretching back more than a decade. The games are recognizable for their bright colors, cute graphics, and upbeat songs. On the Wii, Konami will be offering a standard mode for casual users as well as a more intense challenge mode intended for rhythm game veterans.    

    Konami will also be offering avatar creation and customization, and easy Wii controls using both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. The game will feature both original and licensed music, and will also allow for downloads of additional song content through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.    

    KONAMI ANNOUNCES pop'n music FOR Wii™    


    Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc., today announced pop'n music is being developed for Wii™, Marking the first time in North America, pop'n music has a rich history in Japan that includes 15 console games as well as arcade iterations.  This rhythmic game for all ages allows for players to play entertaining music with exciting graphics. With easy and intuitive controls, pop' n music takes full advantage of the Nunchuk™ and Wii Remote™ as you move up, down, left and right to original and licensed music.    

    pop'n music is also great for entertaining as it offers a robust feature set which includes a variety of game challenging game modes including co-op and battle modes to play against friends. In addition, you can customize your experience by selecting sounds, characters and stages. Even your Mii™ will be integrated in the experience as it reacts to the gameplay through its emotions.    

    pop'n music is scheduled to be released this fall on Wii. For more information, please go to

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