The Legacy of Satoru Iwata

It’s been nearly 3 years since the former president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata passed away and the gaming industry still mourns his loss.

His famous mantra was: “On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” These words cemented him as an icon of the video game industry. This quote was everywhere upon the announcement of his death because it proved how a unique a president Iwata was.

His beginnings were humble his family had no interest in tech however Iwata loved playing with calculators that could make programmable math’s games from a young age. This very much inspired him to create one of the most successful games of all time with ‘Brain training’ on the DS. During the 70’s games were incredibly basic that personal computers and micro processing weren’t even a thing yet.

Iwata eventually got a part time job at Hal laboratories and in 1983 developed his first game Super Billiards for the MSX. Hal laboratories eventually merged with Nintendo. Which started Iwata’s climb of the Nintendo corporate ladder. It was tough for Iwata at the time as Hal was still an unproven company, with Iwata’s father being very disapproving of his son’s chosen profession however Iwata’s enthusiasm for coding made him an exceptional game developer as well as a multifaceted individual due to his commitment in the success of the games he was involved with by working in other departments as well as working on weekends and holidays.

Iwata also had the philosophy of creating uncomplicated and accessible games all through out his career. These first games included Balloon Fight, and the Kirby games, however the challenge was there if hardcore gamers delved into the minutiae of the game. In 1993 Iwata became president of Hal laboratories. He’d always step in however to save games from disaster including Earthbound and the Pokémon games, operating very differently from a typical company president with his hands on approach. Iwata didn’t even work for the company behind Pokémon Shigeki Morimoto, one of the original creators of the Pokémon games exclaimed “What kind of company president is this?” He stepped in yet again to make sure the launch title for the Gamecube ‘Super Smash Bros Melee’ met it’s 2001 release date. A fighting game that is so adored that tournaments for the game are still going on till this day.

In 2000 Iwata became an official employee at Nintendo and then became president of the company 4 years after, the first not to be a part of a family line to hold the title. His bold new vision ushered into the creation of the DS and the Wii which launched Nintendo out of it’s mini slump playing second fiddle to the Playstation at the time. Iwata decided to push new innovations in new ways to play games instead of creating photorealistic graphics and stunning visuals. Some may criticise this decision due to the console lacking any HD function but Nintendo were branching out their audience to appeal to mums by really thinking how they could get them to pick up a controller. Plus Iwata believed the industry was too exclusive and focusing too much on graphical fidelity rather than the games themselves. This proved to be a resounding success with the Wii selling over 100 million units.

During his final years Nintendo suffered though some hardships. The Wii U wasn’t the commercial success the company was hoping for and Iwata took a noble gesture by having his salary cut to avoid layoffs. He also partnered with mobile companies to allow Nintendo games on mobile this was something Iwata was reluctant about yet paid off massively after his death through the success of Pokémon Go in 2016. A game he was working on even on his hospital bed.

Iwata’s illness was heartbreaking to witness his hard work ethic meant he’d refuse not to take time off and was visibly ill during press conferences. He even updated his mii avatar to show his weightloss. His condition was a shock to all even Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo’s competitors sent their condolences. This just shows the impact Iwata had on the gaming industry he paved Nintendo through a new era of success with innovation at the forefront. He made gaming completely accessible and sky rocketed it into the mainstream all the while just creating the games he thought were just fun to play.

10 N64 games that need to be on the N64 mini

The N64 ushered into a significant new era of gaming in the 90’s. The third dimension, the analogue stick and rumble all these things that are taken for granted today were introduced at the N64’s launch.It must have been truly mind blowing back then, letting players roam these expansive all be it blocky game worlds. Splitscreen gaming with your friends was also new to the seen with 4 controller ports allowing for fun yet frustrating Saturday Mario kart sessions at your friends house. The N64 redefined video games perhaps more then any other console this is why the N64 mini must come out to teach kids what gaming was like back in the 90’s as well as letting us 20/30 somethings bask in nostalgia.

1. Super Mario 64

mario 64

The game that was synonymous with the console Super Mario 64 was colourful platforming fun. Quite possibly the best platformer of all time. It’s become the standard in which all other games in the genre are compared towards. Nintendo really hit the ground running in creating this flawless platformer.

2. Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time

ocarina of time

Super Mario 64 really paved the way towards true greatness for Ocarina of Time which turns 20 years old this year. It was the first game to really create an immersive lived in 3D world. It has aged remarkably well gameplay wise with many games replicating this winning formula of exploration, combat and puzzles.

3. Mario Kart 64

Mario jart

Quite possibly the best Mario Kart just from the memorable courses. Rainbow Road is like marmite for some however this one is less challenging and more lengthy with races lasting on average for 7 minutes. The fun of this game is really amped up with 3 of your friends throwing shells and banana peels at each other. This was also the first Mario Kart to introduce that pesky Blue Shell.

4. Super Smash Bros

super smash bros

Playing it side by side with any of it’s successors N64 Smash is very primitive however this game grew so much from this initial kernel of an idea into something never anticipated. Its humble beginnings can be traced back here you still have to smash players out of an arena and it’s still good old multiplayer fun but this game is more an intriguing history lesson. The games that have came out since have really built upon this game exponentially.

5. Star Fox 64

starfox

Another game that controls flawlessly by todays standards. Modern day flying games should always reference Star Fox’s gameplay. It’s arcadey style gameplay is what makes it fun to come back too. Barrel rolling is insanely satisfying and the pew pew noises of the lasers will be permanently burned into your brain until the day you die.

6. F-Zero X

fzero

The kickass soundtrack, the insane speeds this is Nintendo really trying to make a game for cool 90’s kids. It was also tough aimed towards teenagers more so than Nintendos usual games. F-zero is very much Mario Kart with a rocket up its arse.

7. Paper Mario

paper mario

This game needs to be on the N64 mini just because of how rare the original copy is going for around £100 on eBay. Paper Mario came out late in the N64’s lifespan and was a unique and vibrant RPG that was more story focused than other Mario games it also poked fun at the usual save the princess tropes that is in practically every Mario game.

8. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

majoras mask

Considered the black sheep of the Zelda franchise, Majora’s Mask is the darkest most twisted Zelda game with a focus on a more tragic event in which you have to stop the moon from crashing into the land of Termina Its less grand and epic than Ocarina of time with more horror elements. Putting on masks that fused to your face still creeps me out to this day.

9. Mario Party 3

mario part 3

A blast to play with your friends very much like a board game you’d had to collect 20 coins to then swap them for a star.  It requires both a degree of luck and skill.  The zany mini games were a highlight one involves you having to swim away from a giant fish  as well as the unique interactive boards

10. Donkey Kong 64

DK

Very much like Super Mario 64 but with a longer play time with heaps of collectables. It was one of the few N64 games that was bundled with an expansion pack that really gave the N64 that extra muscle. It’s amazing now this game has the potential to appear on a console now only half of its size. Donkey Kong 64 is most fondly remembered for the DK rap at the start of the game which informs the players about the unique traits each playable Kong had.

The Importance of the Single Player Experience.

Is it game over for playing on your lonesome?

There has been a back and fourth recently regarding the future of single player experiences. A feature in games that has long been a mainstay and a priority over multiplayer has now lost importance due to online popular arena shooters such as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite and Overwatch. On the main menu screens a games single player option has practically gone away. EA’s Battlefront 2 brought back its single player mode after much criticism from its omission in the previous game, however this mode was clearly an after thought and was only 6 hours long. And most recently their have been rumours that Call of Duty Black Ops 4 won’t have a single player campaign. You can kind of understand why though there has been a Call of Duty game coming out every year for 15 years now. Coming up with an excuse to shoot things must be very difficult.

It’s also clear that EA has little consideration for story driven narratives in the games they produce with the scrapping of the anticipated Star Wars game written by Amy Hennig the creative director behind the first 3 Uncharted games. The game would’ve explored Han Solo’s character and adventures.

Hennig discussed the main reason why the project was scrapped by saying to polygon;

“There is also this trend now that, as much as people protest and say, ‘Why are you canceling a linear, story-based game? This is the kind of game we want,’” said Hennig. “People aren’t necessarily buying them. They’re watching somebody else play them online.”

With the rise in popularity of Twitch, story driven games essentially just become free movies that gamers can stream to their followers. This really harms the huge production costs of games when people just choose to see someone else play the game and not participate themselves. Granted seeing someone else play the game could be a great promotional tool but seeing someone else play a game from start to finish kind of diminishes  interest in the games story. It’s the reason why games like Fortnite are doing so well because you watch the game solely for its gameplay. Watching someone else’s experience in a multiplayer game is probably a lot more different and interesting than yours.

It’s not all doom and gloom for single player games though. Games like Horizon Zero Dawn, A Way Out, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild and the recent release of the semi-rebooted God of War prove that gamers want an experience where they can take part as an awesome hero in an engaging story.  All these games provide different and innovative gameplay mechanics that twist the formula from previous instalments in there respective franchises. These games are however risky to make with game companies drifting away from creating original stories into creating  micro-transaction riddled experiences that cheapen the game you’re playing.

Jade Raymond, former executive producer on Assassins Creed believes theirs still untapped potential for playing solo, in a statement to segmentnext she says;

“They’re definitely not dead. I love story-based games, that’s sort of what I started out in. It’s what I always traditionally played. I think there’s so much still to explore in terms of narrative games and new takes on them. And I think it’s something that’s in a sense the holy grail of games.”

The overall impact single player games have on the industry may have lessened slightly especially to certain games companies such as EA and Microsoft, which is a shame because every 90’s kid remembers those Harry Potter games EA made which told  J.K Rowling’s stories however supplemented it with other objectives to suit the gameplay. It’s a shame these companies abandoned in what some believe to be a mainstay in video game design while Nintendo and Sony prospered by providing familiar yet fresh experiences. The overwhelming success of God of War proves that. Its story between the once hot headed gratuitously violent demigod Kratos and his son prove that this direction for the video game industry is a right and meaningful one.

 

 

Nintendo Taps Into the Mobile Market and Consoles Itself by Announcing New Hardware.

This announcement comes long overdue to gamers believing the Japanese company to be old fashioned and traditional.

Nintendo are now entering a $30 billion dollar market bringing it’s creative talent to the short bite sized gaming experience of mobile gaming.

This is good news to Nintendo who suffered £57 million in financial losses due to the failure of the underpowered Wii U. Entering the mobile market brings hope to modernise the company and make them relevant, allowing the company to reach a broader market.

Fans should reset assured that popular Nintendo classics such as Super Mario Bros and Pokemon won’t simply be ported over to mobile.

In a presentation Satoru Iwata, Presidant of Nintendo stated that,

“We feel that simply releasing our games just as they are on smart devices would not provide the best entertainment for smart devices, so we are not going to take any approach of this nature, having said that, however, in the current environment surrounding smart devices, we feel that we will not be able to gain the support of many consumers unless we are able to provide something truly valuable that is unique to Nintendo”.

The news that Nintendo would shift gears to mobile gaming have been rumored for a while now.

Not long after announcing one drastic business decision Nintendo drops another bombshell. The Japanese video game manufacturer announced a codename for their new console the NX.

The reason for the drastic announcement is reassurance from Nintendo, in that it remains focused on creating hardware as well content for mobile.

During a Q and A Iwata stated, “We wanted to make it clear that Nintendo will continue with that as our core business.”

This announcement comes only 2 years after the launch of Nintendo’s ill-fated system, the Wii U

There will be more information regarding the NX in 2016. Despite being in an early phase of the development you can already pre-order the console from eager Australian retailer, EB Games.

Netflix transforming Legend of Zelda into live-action T.V series.

The streaming service, Netflix have announced that the popular Nintendo games series, The Legend of Zelda will be adapted into a live action T.V series.

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Link In Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess for Nintendo Wii. Image Source: IGN

It is reported that Netflix will work closely with Nintendo in recreating the Zelda universe so fans can rest assured about any misrepresentation.

The series of games is the video game equivalent of Lord of the Rings consisting of a fantasy epic, traversing many mythical lands and explore vast dungeons to save Princess Zelda and retrieve the tri-force.

The original game came out in 1987, since then 16 iterations have been released. The most popular is Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time which received huge critical acclaim for the Nintendo 64 and is beloved by many gamers.

Speculation is already rife on who will play the protagonist Link with Zac Efron rumoured to play the hero of time.

Popular Gaming website IGN also want Thomas Brodie Sangster of Game of Thrones fame to don the long pointy green hat.

Could Thomas Brodie Sangster wield the Master Sword? Source: Maze Runner Wiki

The project is most likely in it’s very early stages. Nintendo and Netflix spokespersons have declined to comment on the matter.

The question on many Zelda fans minds, is will Link talk?