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What’s Nintendo Playing?


Imagine you’re working in Nintendo of America’s marketing division in Redwood City, California, and it’s been a long week.  Maybe you’ve had trouble organizing a promotion, or maybe you’re up against a deadline – whatever the reason, you wonder how you’re going to make it to the end of the day.  A co-worker snaps you out of your trance, “Hey, what are you still doing here? Did you forget it was Friday?”  Friday! You forgot all about gameplay Fridays! All your troubles melt away as you abandon your desk and head for the nearest Wii, for the next hour being a Nintendo employee means playing games.

This weekly ritual is practiced nationwide at Nintendo offices across America, reminding Nintendo employees what the company is all about.  “Employees put down their pens or get off their keyboards and play games for an hour, from 4-5 every Friday,” Denise Kaigler, Nintendo’s VP of marketing told me, “If you came to our Redwood City offices on a Friday afternoon, you’d see the entire company playing games.”  Kaigler told me that all three of Nintendo’s North American offices, Redwood City, Redmond, and New York all participate in Gameplay Fridays, saying that to make games, you have to play games.

What’s Nintendo playing now?  When JC Rodrigo’s not pimping Wii Music, he’s obsessed with Animal Crossing, boasting 6.8 million bells in AC: Wide World.  Denise Kaigler is hooked on Crosswords DS and Mystery Case Files MillionHeir.  What about Reggie?  I asked around earlier this month at Nintendo’s fall press event, and nobody was quite sure.

“What is he playing right now?” Kaigler asked a colleague, “ He plays a game all the time, why can’t I think of it right now?”  One nearby Nintendo employee thought they saw him playing Fire Emblem, but nobody could be sure.  “He plays everything, but there is something he’s really into right now.”

Reggie eluded me at the event, disappearing from sight soon after the opening statements, possibly to fight dragons and conquer uncharted lands.  If I ever manage to corner the big guy, what would Infendo readers want to know? Let us know in the comments!

Published on October 15th, 2008 under , , , ,

Punch-Out!! going to the Next Level on Wii


Rocky, Pelé, what’s the difference?

IGN is reporting the upcoming Wii revival of Punch-Out!! is being developed by Next Level Games.

The Canadian studio is best known for its Mario soccer games: Super Mario Strikers on GameCube and Mario Strikers Charged on Wii.

The new version of Punch-Out!! is tentatively scheduled to release in the first half of 2009. The most recent game in the classic Nintendo series was Super Punch-Out!!, released in 1994 for the Super NES.

Published on October 9th, 2008 under , ,

Game Development defined through Parties


Recently Infendo reader Olas contacted us and asked us a really good question.

For the past few months I’ve heard a lot about parties, how originally Nintendo had great first party support and week third party support, and how now it has stronger third party than first party. And my question is…
What about second party? What is it? Who is it? Why don’t people ever talk about it?

Right now lets take a look at the development structure of that defines the differences between the many parties, and what makes them who they are.

When a game is developed it is decided upon which console it is to be released on, or better yet how many consoles it is to be released on. This is usually decided by Third Party development, since they have a choice over where they want to release a game. So for example, Capcom decided to release Mega Man 9 on PlayStation 3, Xbox360, and the Wii.

Now since we’ve talked a bit about Third Party, we can actually talk a bout Second Party development. A “Second Party” is a developer who is not internally connected to the console maker, but has a specific contract that makes them only release games on that system. There is a fine line between 1st party, 2nd party, and 3rd party, and because of that the line usually gets a little fuzzy and hazy as time goes on.

A few really good examples of a second party developer would be Intelligent systems, and Rare. Intelligent systems was responsible for making the original Metroid game as well as a few of the Fire Emblem, and Advance Wars titles. Rare had the same thing going for them, they were responsible for the Donkey Kong Country series, yet they were also able to publish a few unique titles on Nintendo consoles because of their contract.

However, just because a second party has a contract with a company doesn’t mean that they will always be working for a 1st party developer such as Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft. A Second Party can switch companies when their contract finishes, for example when Rare’s contract was bought out by Microsoft.

The defining characteristic is that a second-party developer is a company completely separate from the manufacturer, while first-party developers are considered to be a “division” of the console maker itself. It should be noted that a Second Party is not an official term in the industry, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Not to mention when most people talk about second party developed games, they generally refer to them as 1st Party games, since they usually make a specific group of games for that company.

It can also be looked at it this way as well the 1st party is usually the producer of the title, while the developer is the second party. I hope that really clears up the information about Second Parties, and hope you all found this informative.

Published on September 29th, 2008 under ,

The 16 most ridiculous-looking, cringe-inducing Wii lifestyle photos of all time


The Wii is beloved by many, myself included. And a contributing reason may have been Nintendo’s unprecedented use of lifestyle photos, which turn the camera from televisions onto gamers, showing how much fun can be had playing Wii, as opposed to a screenshot you might not understand.

While nearly all of them do their job, some lifestyle photos look convincing. Most look pretty lame. But the following look flat-out ridiculous — the most-retarded-looking Wii lifestyle photos of all time.

Blue Steel fail

This lifestyle photo is the Two Face of lifestyles. On the left sits a smiley brunet, genuinely thrilled with whatever director notes are being shown. On the right, a fake blond forcefully attempts a Blue Steel, or maybe The Magnum — I can’t remember which. In any case, she looks absurd.

Cheat fail

Dumb. I can only imagine what this would have looked like in the NES days. Being the recipient of the reset button while winning was never this fun. By the way, I also keep my Stratocaster perched next to my living room sofa at all times.

Comic book fail

I understand what Nintendo was trying to do here — I really do. The world had never seen such a capable controller until the Wii remote reared its motion-sensing, force-feedbacking, audible head. But did they really need to go all Batman with the graphics on this one? I suppose comics look “fun,” but seriously.

Creepy European gamer fail

If you’re one of our friendly European readers, feel free to change the above title to “Creepy Xbox Live gamer fail.” Whatever you are, there’s no denying this guy looks like a real douche.

“No, no. Look over here!”

This shot is amazing. Not only does it look preposterous, but the three actors are all looking at different objects. Two different TVs, I suppose, and Mr. Dazed and Confused is looking directly at the camera. What a twit.

Dumb and Dumber fail

Rule #1: Never use an actor that looks like Harry Dunne. Rule #2: See rule #1.

Enjoyment fail

Needs more Pokémon.

Live performance fail

Pictured above is the first live performance Wii lifestyle photo, courtesy of Nintendo’s E3 2008 press conference. A hot and sweaty M. Night Shyamalan lookalike plays Wii Music, and not very good from the sound of it. As one in attendance, I can’t tell you how embarrassingly uncomfortable the moment really was, other than “fail.”

Damsel in distress fail

This lifestyle pic, once used to promote Project H.A.M.M.E.R., displays wonderment never before seen on the face of a gamer. The game appears so “immersive,” in fact, that the player’s love interest must take cover behind her beau’s shield of a body, watching him befell giants like never before. Surly this photo-op alone could have saved the game, right? Nah.

Agoraphobia fail

Is this a JC Penny’s ad or a Wii Sports lifestyle shot? In any case, there is no possible way these youth could play tennis that close together. Hello?! Ever hear of a Wii-injury? Overcrowding for the loss.

Nerd fail

Okay, this isn’t an actual Wii Lifestyle photo, but you can imagine how detrimental it would have been had Nintendo commissioned this goober to appear in an advertisement.

Grampa smells like beef and cheese

Without stating the obvious (pedophilia), this picture makes me uncomfortable.

Plaid fail

Trying a little too hard, are we? It’s virtual golf, not a Caddyshack remake.

Playing Wii is not this tedious, I swear

Don’t worry. You really can play Zelda without looking like a tool. Fail.

Serve fail

I thought the server stood behind his double’s partner in tennis? And you’re suppose to serve the ball, not pitch it! And…, oh, this just looks so staged, it doesn’t even matter.

Grandma fail

Believe it, grandma. The rotund Italian plumber you seen in front of you is actually living in your television set. Crazy, I know.

BONUS: The ideal Wii lifestyle photo

Now if every Wii lifestyle photo looked like this, it would all be gravy. Keep fighting the good fight, Miyamoto (so long as it’s not related to you know what).

TELL US: What’s the most ridiculous-looking lifestyle photo you’ve ever seen?

Published on September 26th, 2008 under , , , , , , ,

Inaba says MadWorld feels “at home” on Wii


Talk about strange neighbors.

Dripping with blood and gratuitous violence, MadWorld is making a bold move by moving into Nintendo’s neighborhood, a sunny community known mostly for tennis matches, minigames and fitness routines.

But in a CVG interview up today, Platinum Games’ Atsushi Inaba insisted the match is a natural one.

“We’re really interested in the Wii platform, so we wanted to create a really cool and stylish game for that,” said Inaba.

“As you can see [from our Leipzig presentation] it’s really easy to pick up and play, so when we came up with the concept of MadWorld, the Wii felt like a good console for that. It feels like a game that is at home on Wii.”

If Inaba is referring to the game’s controls when he says MadWorld is “at home on Wii,” he may have a point. But I’d imagine irresponsible parents and media groups, who are already demanding the game be banned in the United Kingdom, won’t be welcoming neighbors.

SEGA is scheduled to release MadWorld and induce a feverish uproar from conservative America in early 2009.

Published on September 10th, 2008 under , ,

WildTangent CEO says next-gen consoles “not going to happen”


Gifted with the clairvoyancy of a dodo bird, Alex St. John is anything but a Nostradamic prophet.

But like any dexterous doomsayer, that doesn’t stop him from making grandiose predictions. The outspoken CEO of the WildTangent online gaming network, St. John foresees a grim end to the console gaming era as we know it.

And he says it’s coming sooner than you think.

“There’s not going to be an Xbox 720 or a PS4, I’ll make that bet,” said St. John in an Aug. 15 interview with the United Kingdom’s Telegraph. “Not going to happen.”

Most of his reasoning is rooted in his own business interests; St. John plans to launch the Orb, an ambitious addition to his WildTangent online games portal, later this year. The Orb will allow WildTangent’s millions of monthly users to play deeper and more expansive games akin to their console-based brethren, something the service has largely lacked since its inception.

In console-crippling addition to the success he anticipates for the Orb, St. John also highlights the “money-losing” business model console makers such as Sony and Microsoft slave to as inherent proof of its own inevitable demise.

“The investment they made in creating the Xbox 360 and the PS3 is so vast, in the scale of billions, that no amount of games that they sell in the console’s lifetime will ever make them profitable,” said St. John. “They may be profitable on a quarterly basis today, but they’ll never recover the losses they put into those platforms. Nintendo is the only one making any money, and they are the ones with the cheap console.”

The bleak horizon St. John suggests lies in wait for console gamers is wrapped into a disheartening fajita of steaming disappointment by his ultimate prophecy:

“…The market will be dominated by online community-based games (by 2020). The PC will be the dominant platform,” said St. John from his ivory tower in the interview. “It will be monetised by microcurrency, advertising and subscriptions. And you probably won’t see another generation of consoles, because there will not be the economics to justify the investment.”

He also mentioned something about the moon glowing red as blood and the seas apparently boiling. Your guess is as good as mine.

Published on August 21st, 2008 under , ,

Wii to exceed N64 lifetime sales next month


When there aren’t any asses left to kick, why not kick your own?

VGChartz is reporting today the Nintendo Wii has topped 30 million units in worldwide sales. The video games sales-tracking site projects lifetime Wii sales will surpass those of the Nintendo 64 in August.

This projection is based on sell-through data for the week ending July 26, according to which Nintendo has sold 30.01 million Wii consoles worldwide. With the help of hit software like Super Mario 64 and the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the Nintendo 64 sold 32.9 million units worldwide respectively after its release 12 years ago.

VGChartz is also projecting Wii to surpass lifetime Super Nintendo sales — 49.1 million worldwide — by either Jan. or Mar. 2009.

Published on July 29th, 2008 under , , ,

Guess what? Wii console shortages are coming back for the holiday!


I’m going to assume everyone reading Infendo probably has a Wii that wants one by now, but think of the children when reading this post, because they’re probably going to be babbling, crying messes come December. That’s right, the Wii shortages are going to return in force for the holiday season. Get your eBay accounts ready to roll!

“…the expansion of the market for potential customers, the number of people who are waiting to purchase Wii, is beyond our expectations right now,” said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. “So for the time being, I really do not think that the imbalance for supply and demand can be solved immediately.”

There are plans to ramp up production (haven’t we heard that one before?), but even with the increase, Iwata said “there can be no guarantee that U.S. consumers will be able to easily purchase a Wii this coming holiday season.”

“I can’t give you a 100% commitment [that you'll be able to find a Wii this holiday season]. What I can commit myself to is that Nintendo is going to do its best to supply as many Wii hardware units as possible in order to meet demand there,” he said.

Again, we’ve done this dance before, right?

Published on July 23rd, 2008 under , , ,

Show me the perfect Nintendo game, please


If there’s one thing I would have loved to have seen revealed at E3 this week, it was a long-term memory for people who frequent the Internet. Something they could download easily and upload into their cortex. Nothing fancy. I say this because, by and large, the apoplectic reaction to Nintendo’s “sell out” press conference has been baffling.

Forget the fact that I’ve been seen as public defender number one to Nintendo since 2006. This article isn’t some impassioned knee-jerk reaction to every little bit of negative news that trickles out about Nintendo. It’s just a bare bones look at the history of gaming over the past three or so years, and how things like “facts” (and events occurring as recently as E3 2008) make all this bellyaching an unnecessary, foolish waste of time.

First, the presser itself. It was lame. It was poorly executed by certain Nintendo reps (Dunaway, please take a few acting classes or something, sister, please). But it was also filled with a number of Nintendo exclusives and new tech that should have any free thinker scribbling down ideas for the next great game.

Already the MotionPlus hands-on are trickling in, and the majority of them come off pretty impressed with the Wii Sports Resort demos they’ve been playing. In the near future, you really will be having 1:1 sword fights with your friends and enemies. How is this revelation already “old news?” How is that no one is excited about this? You’d think it was old news, however, and all because Nintendo didn’t reveal games like Kid Icarus Wii, or a new Mario title or whatever. Of course, we complain and complain, and all the while these were all rumor titles that were actually created by sites like IGN, not Nintendo. Again I ask, these unconfirmed games weren’t announced, and people got mad about that–Who’s fault is that, really? Nintendo’s, or the people who got mad about imaginary games?

And so what if the presser was bad? All the negative press I’ve read reads like a bad emo novel, and that’s saying something considering how pathetic that social caste has become. “Boo hoo, we got left in the cold by Nintendo. They don’t care about us anymore. Me me me” Well–and here comes the context–a little company named Sony also gave a terrible E3 press conference once upon a time (something to do with crabs’ IIRC), and they’re actually doing just fine today (well, better than before). In the end, this was just a press conference. Things never happen AT press conferences. They happen afterward, when people get their hands on the tech, and developers start developing, and consumers start voting with their wallets. In this day and age of the dying E3 conference, I was not at all surprised that Nintendo blanketed the “hardcore” press corps with crap they didn’t care about. Time and time again these past few years, Nintendo has proven that regardless of the title, they will sell it with their own marketing and on their own terms. And you know what? It’s worked out for them, I think, just a little. (please research E3 now, and the ESA, and then come back and tell me that the Big Three didn’t take E3 seriously this year. I dare you). While you’re at it, please research the mainstream reaction to the Wiimote in 2005, and tell me how it differed from yesterday’s display. Cliff note version: It was exactly the same.

To imply that Nintendo kicked people in the gut yesterday, or neglected anyone is incredibly short-sighted and borderline selfish, and says more about the insecurities of the person attacking a company for branching out with “nontraditional means” than it does Nintendo. It also does 3rd party players a disservice, especially those, like High Voltage, who are legitimately putting their heart, soul, and livelihoods into developing a killer title for the Wii.

That leads into a second point. All this me me me talk has apparently blinded a great deal of us to the incredible third party titles being showcased at E3 this week. Your “core gamer” list goes thusly (but is by no means compete)… MadWorld (plays great, looks cool, says Joystiq); The Conduit (infinitely customizable, looks comparable to Super Mario World, says RMC at GoNintendo); GTA on the Nintendo DS, with wi-fi support; a new Rayman you play with your ass; an Animal Crossing from Nintendo that, for once, contains everything fans had asked of it! (first party game, I know); Guitar Hero World Tour with everything the other systems offer; Mega Man 9 (hard as f***, says WiiFanboy); Spore Creature Creator on DS; Call of Duty World at War, another looker; and on top of all that, both Reggie and Miyamoto and Iwata confirm the Mario and Link dev teams are hard at work on new games for those franchises. And, you can bet Nintendo has more announcements up its sleeve for later in the year. They’re not going to waste major first party IP on a show like E3, and you’re an idiot if you think they don’t have more major titles planned for the traditionally madhouse holiday rush. Seriously, you’re an idiot.

This all leads back into the headline for this article. The keynote was sub-par for some people, but that’s to be expected, especially for a dying, all-but-irrelevant show like E3. Again, context, facts, and understanding about what E3 has become. But the “show and tell” part of the show itself, with hands-on impressions piling in by the hour (most of them positive, and most of them regarding third parties), has led me to ask the question: What’s this perfect game that Nintendo should have revealed to make this bottomless pit of the Internet happy? Are you not entertained?

“How could you feel left out?” Fils-Aime said Tuesday. “The Animal Crossing that we’ve been hearing about that people wanted. Fully connected to the Internet, go to other people’s towns. Plus, as I said, Grand Theft Auto on the DS. How do you feel left out with those types of announcements?”

I dunno, Reggie. I guess people are still looking for that perfect, angelic, megaton-plus game. I fear the day it arrives, however, for such is its brilliance and grandeur that it will block out the sun, boil our oceans, and turn the rivers red with the blood of humanity.

Sorry folks, you can’t have it both ways. Either Nintendo relies too heavily on first party titles to drive its console sales, or it doesn’t. And third parties — just like with the DS — are rushing to the Wii banner with new titles, or they’re staying away. I’ll make a bet that many of the people attacking Nintendo yesterday were the same ones who attacked it earlier this year for “pimping” Mario and Zelda franchises into the ground. And now they’re attacking Nintendo for trying something new, while 3rd party games play in the background? Hypocrites, much?

In the end, the easy thing to do was join the vocal minority and criticize Nintendo for the silliness on E3 stage. It was the predicable thing to do. It was obvious. I refuse to do that. There was so much potential on that stage Tuesday, and the reaction to it so obvious, that it felt like 2005 all over again. People were laughing at Nintendo’s expense, Reggie was looping around the stage like a buffoon demonstrating new tech, and the predictable backlash appeared almost instantaneously on blogs and forums. How boring that is.. How easy. How oblivious to history. How irrelevant it will be in 12 months.

So please tell me, once again. What is this perfect game? The same conversations are happening every year now. The words are rearranged, and the products and games different, but the theme is still identical to what it was in 2005. Super Mario Galaxy wasn’t it, apparently, nor will it be Mega Man 9 or Mad World, or an IR-controlled CoD. The goal posts keep shifting. These games we requested years ago finally come out, but we want something else. We’ve forgotten what we asked for in the first place, because it was easier to look at some jackass Nintendo PR woman making a fool of herself onstage.

The results, by and large, have been consistent, too: the detractors are eventually proven wrong, and Nintendo sells 500,000 units during months when analysts said it couldn’t be done. Then long tail 3rd party titles like Boom Blox become quiet million-sellers over the course of a few months. And yet, we ignore this too, year over year. I guess, once again, it’s easier to conveniently forget such pesky details about ourselves, like how we were wrong so many times before, and attack an easy target FTW.

So, like I said earlier, long-term memory, anyone? I hear it’s going to be a new Wii attachment this winter.

PS — And yes, I appreciate the irony of this post. A long-winded rant from me after negative Nintendo news is, of course, predictable. Let’s focus on the message, however, and not me, shall we?

Published on July 16th, 2008 under , , , ,

Steady sales help Boom Blox beat anti-hype


Boom Blox failed the midterm, but it just might pass the final.

Sales tracking Web site VGChartz is reporting Boom Blox, Electronic Arts’ critically acclaimed Wii exclusive, has sold approximately 250K copies worldwide in its first two months on store shelves.

The figures also suggest Boom Blox may have long legs at retail. It has sold no less than 11,000 copies each week in North America, a clear indication of David’s influence on the general populous.

Boom Blox’s steady eight-week worldwide figures are shown above relative to those of Zack and Wiki and Carnival Games, the minigame collection that eventually slow-cooked 1.7 million sales worldwide.

Boom Blox was released in North America and Europe this May. It is scheduled to hit Japanese shores July 17.

Published on July 8th, 2008 under , , ,

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