Tag Archives: Japan

DeNA and the future of Nintendo

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This morning, Nintendo made two major announcements, one was their partnership with Japanese Mobile App developer, DeNA, pronounced DNA. The next was revealing a codename of a new piece of Nintendo hardware called NX.

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So what is this partnership with DeNA about? Nintendo has given the rights of their IPs accessible to DeNA. Meaning that DeNA can make mobile versions of Mario, Zelda, Metroid, or any other Nintendo franchise onto Android and iOS platforms. Continue reading

Retro Game Stalking In Japan Part One: Den Den Town

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Japan is often referred to as the ultimate Mecca for video game fans. For years now people from all over the world have made the trip in search of retro gaming gold. Recently I decided to head back to Japan and see what I could find. There are two places in Japan where you can find the bulk of retro gaming paraphernalia; the very famous Akhihabara in Tokyo and Den Den town in Osaka.

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First up I hit Den Den town aka Niponbashi. Den Den town is an area the size of several city blocks filled with nothing but store after store catering for the Otaku (nerd). One of my favorite shops to hit up is called A-Too Recycle Media shop. In here you will find games from the MSX computer to the Sony Play Station. Mostly what I like about the shop is that their prices are quite affordable. This is the place where I have found such greats as a cheap copy of Holy Diver, several of the Namcot numbered series, a boxed original Famicom, the Negcon controller and tons of great and unique Famicom carts. In the corner of the shop at the back they have a bargain bucket where you can always find something unique. For example this time out I found a couple of Super Gameboy controllers for the SNES. Continue reading

GreatBitVlog 4: “New” 3DS, Shulk in Super Smash Bros… wait a minute!

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Japan today got a Nintendo Direct today, and a few things got announced. There’s a “New” 3DS coming out with a second stick which is just one of those IBM ThinkPad nipples. But a character got revealed that might mean that some “Other” character might be revealed soon… Maybe… Please…

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Introducing Pokken Tournament.

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Namco Bandai last night announced on a Nico-Nico live feed what that mystery game was shown at the Pokemon Game Show last year.

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It turns out that Namco and Nintendo have been working together to create a Pokemon fighting game using the Tekken fighting system, calling it “Pokken”.

What’s interesting is that Namco announced that Pokken will be aimed towards an adult audience. Mainly Adult gamers who play fighting games and grew up with the Pokemon franchise. Likelihood is that the cooler and tougher looking pokemon will appear in this fighting game.

Namco announced that Pokken will be released in Japanese Game Centers (Namco Stations will be likely, Namco’s brand of arcade) in 2015, but there’s no announcement of a console release, or even if it will be released in the west.

I really want a Virtual Boy. Yes I did say that!

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After watching a couple a videos on Youtube about “The worst consoles released”, I kept seeing the Virtual Boy in them, and I’ll be honest, I want a Virtual Boy!

Sure, the Virtual Boy was Nintendo’s pathetic excuse to fob off customers with new hardware when they kept pushing the release date of the Ultra 64, which then became the Nintendo 64 to later dates. Thing was at the time I was a huge Nintendo Fan; I hated the idea of Sega consoles, and I have yet to try out a PlayStation (to later discover my hatred to load times). Nintendo Magazine System, the Nintendo branch of the UK’s famous MeanMachine magazines would keep me informed about Nintendo related news on a monthly basis.

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Pre 20th of February PlayStation 4 stuff…

OK, the PS4/Orbis is going to be announced this Wednesday. Either you’re excited or not, but there have been a few new titbits about the system before the announcement…

The Controller

A few days a go, this image emerged on the internet. It shows a prototype version of the PlayStation 4 controller with a developer system. It was then confirmed later on that day that this is official developer hardware, and that the controller shown is simply a wired version of what’s to come.
Based on the image above, Computer and Video games made up this artist impression of what we might be seeing in the final version of the controller. Interestingly, the Start and Select buttons from the previous PlayStation Dual Shock controllers have been removed to make way for a track pad similar to that of the back of the PlayStation Vita, and the centre of the Ouya controller. The controller is believed to feature a built in microphone and speaker, similar to what the Wii-U GamePad has. But the most interesting thing about the controller is it’s blue light on the top of it. It’s believed that the new PlayStation 4 controller will share similar functions to the PlayStation Move and can light up in different colours to represent different players, but is also thought to be similar to what’s found on some new Android phones that use an RGB LED to light up different notifications such as friend requests, online game invites and emails even when the system is turned off.
It’s all speculation at the moment just from a single image, but it would be interesting to see what’s in store for the PS4/Orbis controller.

Streamed Games

It was announced today that the PlayStation 4 will not have any “real” backward compatibility, however Sony has a joint-venture with Gaikai to stream PlayStation 1, 2 and 3 games to the PlayStation 4 via an internet connection to a central server, just like OnLive. The only issue I have with this is that well people are going to have to re-buy their games again, either that or pay a subscription fee to play games that they already own. Now Streaming the video and audio of a previous catalogue of games make sense from a hardware point of view as you don’t have to add old hardware to a new piece of hardware that might slow it down. But it still sucks that we might have to buy games again just to play them on new hardware. At this point there’s almost no point in selling off our old hardware as we might not be able to play our beloved games of this generation onto the next.

Four isn’t the magic number!

Recently in Japan, there’s been a little bit of speculation over a piece of old cultural superstition about the name “PlayStation 4” and how it might have a totally different name to avoid the number “4”. For those who might not understand this terribly well, one to four in Japanese goes like this…
Ichi (One)
Ni (Two)
San (Three)
Shin (Four)
Looks fine right? Well there’s a problem with the name of number four, Shin, as it also mean death in Japanese. Over the course of Japanese history, people in Japan avoid using the the real word “Shin” and replace it with “excepted slang” for the number four, which are “Shi” and “Yol”. In some cases people in Japan even use the English “four” to prevent using “Shin” to say death. Think of it as an Eastern version of our superstition towards the number thirteen.
This is one of the reason why the Japanese are more supportive towards the Orbis name rather than PlayStation 4. OK it’s not quite PlayStation Shin, or even PlayStation Shi or PlayStation Yol; but the Japanese in general just have a silly little fear about their number four. But what makes the whole “Shin” word silly is that it has many other meanings rather than just the number four and death, it also mean “Body”, “Heart” and “Soul”, so looking at it from a western stand point, the whole “Shin” being a scary word about death isn’t really a huge issue at all. To be honest it would make sense to call the system PlayStation 4, since every system before has been named “PlayStation” with a number after it. More on this can be read on Kotaku.

Unique Games: Dot Stream

In the final days of the GameBoy Advance in 2006, a collection of contemporary games were released in Japan called the Bit Generations Series. It was a set of seven games sold individually at a budget price, are were packaged in a unique box that were smaller than the standard Japanese GBA game boxes. Out of the seven games, one really stands out, it’s called Dotstream; if you’re a retro game fan, you’ll easily notice how it has a similarity to the likes of the Tron light cycles, or Intellivision’s Snafu, but this game is different, it’s actually a racing game!

So, how does a game like Tron and Snafu become a racing game? Well, I’ll tell you. The idea of Dot Stream is that you play as a coloured dot that constantly moves forwards and can shift up and down to change lanes. You don’t actually control the acceleration of your dot using the buttons, to get faster you have to get close to the colour line that’s in first place to increase your dot’s speed. No dot can have the same space, it’s hard to describe, but there’s lanes, you just don’t see them in the pictures, but when you play the game you’ll know what I mean by this. Unlike Tron or Snafu, Dots and lines can cross, but as mentioned before, a dot can’t be in the same “lane” that’s been occupied by another line, your dot just gets automatically moved to the next nearest “lane”. As you climb your way up to first place, you have to take advantage of zippers, avoid obstacles and pay attention to any dots that are speeding up behind you from your trail. You have 3 lives in each race, or “Drawing” as it’s called in this game, as your dot draws a line of course, if you lose all 3 lives in a track, you forfeit your chance to earn any points in the Grand Prix.

In later levels you can pick up items in similar vein to Super Mario Kart, you pick them up and can activate them using the A button. There are three items, a Star, a playback symbol, and a diamond. The Star when activated will darken the playfield that makes a higher chance of you opponent racers to crash into walls and obstacles. Activating the playback symbol causes the screen to go inverted and pauses your fellow racers as you continue to move for an extra 3 seconds to reach first place. The Diamond adds a booster shown in the bottom left hand corner of the screen, these boosters can then be used by pressing the R Button, they act just like the mushroom in Mario Kart.

The Dotted area shown here will slow you down if you touch it
You must avoid these obstacles, or you will lose a life

There are a total of 5 Grand Prix’s. When you come first in any of the Grand Prix’s, you unlock a “Formation” game. This isn’t so much of a racing game, but more of an “Avoid-em-up”. The first Formation game you unlock is where you collect pink orbs to increase a power bar at the bottom of the screen and avoid any in coming obstacles. The power bar is made up of squares, and filling up a square will earn you a new dot and line. This is where it gets tricky because you’ll be game over if the new dot hits an obstacle. You can control the new line by holding the A button and pressing up and down on the Dpad, however the first dot will move too. So it turns into a a juggling act as you try to manage to pick up more orbs to collect new dots, but try not to hit anything at the same time either. It gets very tough once you get 4 dots on the screen at once!

Dot Stream on the GBA didn’t get a Western release, nor did the other Bit Generation games, although there was a trademark made by Nintendo of America called “Digiluxe” that was rumoured to be the Western version of the Bit Generations games. However with the demise of the GBA, the Bit Generation series did get it’s way onto the DSi and the Wii with the “Art Style” name. In-fact Dot Stream got it’s own “Art Style” game called “Light Trax” on WiiWare. Light Trax pretty much is the sequel to the GBA Dot Stream game, and incorporates different directions, 3D camera angles, and a “Cruise” mode whereby you “drive” your dot on a highway, and drive through exits to unlock new Grand Prix’s.

That’s not all though, there are clones of Dot Stream on Xbox Indie games, there’s Stream Line (Above) and Bit Stream (Below). These two games play A LOT like Dot Stream and Light Trax.

Nintendo Power-esque TIP!

There’s a pit stop in each level of the game, stop at one and you’ll receive 9 boosts! Just be aware that you’ll be stopped until you fill up with all 9 boosts.