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.

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition Review

The game that packs a saucy punch.

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Image Source: Wikicommons

Some say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This is most certainly the case for video games with Nintendo effectively writing the rulebook for innovative titles. Drinkbox studios convey lots of fondness in there Mexican themed platformer for the early breakthrough days of Nintendo and package it into a humorous and cheeky game that also spans multiple genres.

Guacamelee is effectively a 2D beat em up, platform game with puzzle elements, in a maze like environment. This is Guacamelee’s greatest strength in making all these gameplay elements mix together to create a wholesome experience that is familiar yet fresh, much like the taste of guacamole itself.

The game is effectively a love letter to the old Nintendo classics. Avid fans will pick up some of the subtle background references while others are more apparent. If you have played any game from the Metroid franchise Guacamelee will seem very familiar to you. Seeing that Nintendo haven’t released a Metroid game for a while, Guacamelee is the next best thing.

Players take up the role of Juan a plain and ordinary Mugabe farmer who from an unusual turn of events becomes a Luchador. With no voice acting, Guacamelee relies on character models to define their personas. Juan’s body language is slouched with a miserable expression on his face but from his radical and quite ludicrous transformation, becomes a strong confidant protagonist. The villain of game, an evil skeleton man named Carlos Calaca also has a hilariously tragic backstory.

The art style takes Mexican culture’s vibrancy and turns it into a fun visual aesthetic which is very reminiscent of a 90’s Saturday morning cartoon. It is clear that Guacamelee is fuelled by nostalgia through both its gameplay and visuals. Guacamelee is also respectful to Mexican folklore and is never ridiculed to the point of insult.

Guacamelee is however very much one of those ‘where the hell do I go kind of games’ which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea because of the amount of patience needed in navigating through the multiple paths. This non-linear structure is both a blessing and a curse, providing the player a plethora of options of where to go while being hard to know for certain which path is needed to progress. This may try certain players patience.

What makes Guacamelee carve it’s own space from the Nintendo classics it pays homage to, is the Luchador themed combat. Pulling off attacks doesn’t require perplexing button inputs and is immensely rewarding performing grapples and throws. Additional special moves are progressively taught to you as you play through Gucamelee, allowing a variety of moves to be mastered.

Later on in the game, Guacamelee provides some interesting platforming sections that require flipping between parallel worlds to advance through the level. It all gets quite mind-boggling but the ingenuity in the game design can be admired at its most here.

Guacamelee is a joyous mash em up full of upbeat adventure. It’s controls have a lot of depth but are easily accessible. Deciphering where to go and what to do is an additional challenge that may hinder the experience for some but overall it’s a great game kids and their parents can play together with Guacamelee providing a co-operative mode. Checking out this kooky 2D sidescroller is a must for those longing for little bit of retro in there modern day gaming library.

Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition is available now for download on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One for £11:99

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Guacamelee has been awarded the following badges:

Badge icon "Strength (4754)" provided by Sergey Krivoy, from The Noun Project under Creative Commons - Attribution (CC BY 3.0)Badge icon "Clown (2624)" provided by Simon Child, from The Noun Project under Creative Commons - Attribution (CC BY 3.0)


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.