Watch me playing Super Mario World and dying quite a few times.

I died quite a lot on some of the later levels. 😮

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A thought on Nintendo’s slight change in business direction going forward…

So I think I’ve just figured something out that might explain [to me at least] why for the first time Nintendo seems to be going off on a slightly questionable tangent in terms of its core business and competencies, as I see it, with this whole out-of-left-field Quality of Life (QOL) thing.

On the following page of the CSR Report 2015 you can see how Nintendo has shown its history as a company in terms of the products and services it has created:

http://www.nintendo.co.jp/csr/en/report2015/history/index.html

1889 – Card Games
1966 – Toys
1980 – Video Games (One Hardware-One Software)
1983 – Video Game Platforms
2015 -QOL Platform

Also note the first line of the expanded details below the 1889 date: “Birth of Nintendo – Aiming to be a World Leader in Entertainment”

So, up until 2015 it has always been primarily a company creating pretty obvious entertainment products, such as toys and video games, but suddenly from 2015 onwards it now has a strong focus on QOL products and services, which if you read the expanded details just below the 2015 date it describes “health” as being the first theme in this new platform.

Is is not rather coincidental that as the CEO of Nintendo, Iwata, who was suffering from serious health problems, severe enough that they eventually killed him (prematurely), was inclined to push the company in the direction of “health”?

My point being, that I don’t think going off into health related products is really in-fitting with the type of company Nintendo is and in my opinion should continue to be—which as I see it is an entertainment company more along the lines of Disney than some health, fitness and wellbeing brand—and is rather a slightly misguided business decision that was made by a man who maybe pushed the company more in a direction that reflected his changing personal priorities and values in life in general than what made proper sense in terms of the type of company Nintendo is and the type of products and services that are more suited to it.

So what I am really saying, and indeed repeating, is that I don’t think Nintendo getting into “health” is the right move for the company. I think it’s actually kind of obvious why the decision was made, and maybe it really wasn’t made with the best path for this world leading entertainment company in mind.

While still having a major focus on video games, I think it would be much better to broaden and expand Nintendo’s future business endeavours further into the entertainment industry by doing things like creating live action movies, feature films, cartoons and TV shows around its IP; continuing to create cards as well as board games and more toy lines around its popular games, producing comics based on its characters and franchises; open Nintendo stores that sell its consoles, games, toys, cards, board games and movies, etc.; and even expanding into the likes of Nintendo theme parks—all things that still fit very snugly within that ‘entertainment’ bracket and I believe would only strengthen the brand and secure future success, continued customer satisfaction and consumer loyalty (without changing the consumer base rather drastically), and profitability going forward.

Just saying; I think I’d make a great CEO for Nintendo :-D

I Really Love Video Games

I found this document while poking around in various files and folders on my computer and I thought it would be fun to share it with you guys. I originally sent this to Rare when I applied for a job there many years ago–back in 1999 I think it was, and possibly even earlier on a previous occasion–and I also sent the same document to Rockstar North too when I applied for a job there many years later. Even after all these years I feel it perfectly sums up my passion for and commitment to video games, and the views expressed within still hold true to this day:

Note: The text has been slightly modified a couple of times over the years, generally just to improve the writing and to update some of the games that are mentioned, but other than that it’s basically the same as it was in the original version that I sent to Rare all those years ago.

“Over the years I have played many great video games; from classics such as Super Mario World, Street Fighter 2, Pokémon and GoldenEye, to newer games like Eternal Darkness, Halo and Journey; to name a few. Each time I experience a genuinely great video game it reminds me why I love them so much, and why over the years I have dreamt about and worked hard towards a career in the industry.

As a child there is a certain magic quality about many occasions: The night before Christmas, waiting for Santa to visit and deliver your presents; that excitement, tension and anticipation that something special is going to happen. On Christmas day when you open your presents it is enchanting playing with your toys for the first time. When people grow up and as the world itself matures this excitement is often lost and along with it those childlike feelings of wonder and magic.

I want to recreate the magic I experienced as a young boy discovering the power of video games for the first time. I would like to work on video games that are so special that when a child, teenager or adult plays them they are immediately inspired and their lives are changed. I want to help inspire the next generation of game designers and enkindle the passion in people who had not previously been interested in video games to become a part of this amazing industry.

It is my ambition and desire to create exciting new worlds, characters and experiences that allow people to escape from the daily routine for just a little while and travel to wondrous new places full of imagination and adventure; and through electronic entertainment it is possible to achieve this goal. Some people do this by directing awe inspiring film epics or by writing wonderfully enchanting fairy tales. Others compose beautifully moving and uplifting melodies. I wish to realise it in video games.”

I always enjoy reading this every once in a while, just to remind me that true love really is forever 🙂

Satoru Iwata Has Passed Away

Satoru Iwata, the President and CEO of Nintendo, has just passed away out of the blue; so I thought I’d post this document that I found while poking around in various files and folders on my computer the other day. I think it’s rather apt:

The Power of Video Games

That Christmas would transform his life forever. He was given a Super Nintendo Entertainment System with a copy of Super Mario World.

Through this game he was transported to an enchanting island filled with wonderful landscapes and magical creatures. Here he was given the heroic charge of defeating an evil king and his minions, and rescuing a beautiful princess. He controlled his own destiny through his actions and decisions and found ever more inventive ways to overcome the obstacles before him. The challenges grew constantly harder and more risky, but the reward of success became ever more satisfying.

The young boy was reminded that he had to face similar obstacles in real life, but he was ready to face the challenges no matter how hard, and overcome them, because he too could be a hero if he was determined enough, in any world, real or imaginary.

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Here’s the gist of my idea for Nintendo’s NX

Note: Be patient and read all the details—I promise there’s some good stuff here—and let me know what you think.

First: Think of the NX as basically being the Wii U console stuffed directly into the current Wii U GamePad (either pretty much exactly the same power as a Wii U or a little bit more powerful if necessary). The main differences would be making the screen 1080p; 3D without glasses; adding multi-touch to the screen, which would work with both the stylus and multiple fingers; and adding analog plus click to the triggers (not the shoulder buttons; just the triggers). Everything else would pretty much stay the same; including the NFC support for amiibos. Oh, and there would also be replaceable/expandable memory (likely SD cards by default but also an official external HDD), in case you want to store a whole bunch of digital games locally (although you’d probably get cloud storage too), and a tiny wireless dongle that comes in the box, which you can plug into your TV so you can play the games directly on the big screen as well (no console box necessary). That’s basically the NX.

This fan-made concept design is pretty much exactly how I imagine the system looking.

All the cool stuff is in the details however…

Right out the gate, you could basically emulate/play digital versions of games from ALL of Nintendo’s old consoles; both home console and handheld. Old NES, SNES, N64, GC, GB, GBC and GBA games run on the system exactly as you imagine they would but in digital form, which you’d download and/or stream from the new “connected service” Nintendo is developing.

To run Wii games you’d download/stream them like all the other games and for any of them that use full motion/pointer controls you would use a proper Wiimote by pointing it at the sensor bar that’s directly built into the NX (this is already built into the current GamePad and would be on NX too), and you could either stream the game to the TV or view it directly on the GamePad (a bit small and awkward but still possible). So for some Wii games you would still need to own/buy actual Wiimotes but that’s not really surprising given the unique controls of most Wii games and at least you don’t have to own/plug-in a separate sensor bar.

For DS/3DS the 1080p screen would be used to emulate the two-screen DS/3DS setup directly on the NX screen and because of the size and resolution it would pretty much be just like looking at a normal size DS/3DS (regular; not XL/LL). The fact the NX screen would be both 3D without glasses and touch capable means it could mimic all aspect of the DS/3DS on that single screen. A lot of this would also be done in firmware/software, so it all displays correctly. If you want you could also stream the top screen to the TV, or use any other screen variation/setup that’s currently available for running DS games on Wii U now. The 3D no-glasses could even be used to emulate the Virtual Boy system too 🙂

See how the 2DS screen in this image could basically fit into the current GamePad (both screens at once)

With a screen that has a 1080p resolution, along with glasses-free 3D and touch, you could basically emulate a DS/3DS directly on the GamePad-esque NX no problem, but there would also be many other display configurations available to choose from too, as is already the case with current DS games running on the Wii U GamePad.

To run Wii U games it would simply do what the current Wii U and GamePad do; with the main game content being displayed on the TV, streamed via the dongle, and all the map and touch screen stuff or whatever on the NX screen. Obviously any games that have off-TV play could similarly be played just directly on the NX, like they are now when played directly on the Wii U GamePad.

The new NX would also be compatible directly with the current Wii U and could be used as a secondary GamePad (or third and forth too), which will be a feature that will be activated on Wii U via a firmware update that also adds in all the new Nintendo network stuff, this whole “connected system”, and a few other things. Because the NX is obviously able to connect to other NX systems for multi-player games (say up to four at a time), you would also similarly be able to use up to three of them with the Wii U now too; allowing you to play four player games on Wii U, where one person uses the Wii U GamePad and three other people use NX systems, so each person could have a custom screen but at the same time the TV could display another view of the action. Think of a Madden type game where each player can call plays on their controller in secret by drawing on the screen, with the main action on the TV. Or something like 4 player local multi-player Splatoon, with each person playing on either the GamePad or an NX controller and the TV showing an overview of the map. Because the NX systems are basically self contained Wii U consoles, it wouldn’t take much processing power for the main Wii U to handle a four player game like this (unlike now where it would basically be impossible to have 4 GamePads on Wii U), since each system is basically a Wii U in and of itself and would be doing its equal share of the leg work. The whole Wii U/NX/TV setup where you have three NX systems plus the Wii U is obviously a very rare scenario as most gamers would just use four NX systems for multi-player but for anyone that already owns a Wii U it means they can use it in place of another NX system, which is a nice bonus, and it means they now have the ability to play new multi-player games on Wii U where each person actually has a proper private screen (poker and Scrabble would be fun, with the cards or letters shown on the individual player’s screens and the main deck or board shown on the TV).

Nintendo would now of course be able to make plenty of games, both NX and Wii U, that take advantage of more than just asymmetric local multi-player by default—these would just be regular multi-player portable games for NX, that allow you to link to other people online or near you with NX systems, but at the same time because the NX is in fact just a Wii U built into a GamePad, you could play those very same games as multi-player games on current Wii U, using the Wii U and the GamePad as one controller, with a private screen, and up to 3 NX systems as the other controllers with private screens. This also means that any current Wii U owners would continue to see plenty of game support into the foreseeable future too as by default basically all NX games are Wii U games too—except for a couple of small extra control options like multi-touch and analog on the triggers—and visa versa. So that’s good for anyone that already owns a Wii U and wants to continue to be satisfied with it. It means the Wii U, by the end of its lifespan, will likely be far less of a flop, if at all.

The final thing here, and something that I think would basically tip this over the edge and turn it from amazing into literally a revolution in the industry: I would include a complete creation suite/toolset with every single NX system at launch, in-the-box day one, for FREE; which would be something like the old Mario Artist series for N64. This would allow people to use the NX controller and stylus/touchscreen directly to draw/paint art, including sprite/pixel art and textures for polygons; create music (a bit like Mario Paint’s music mode); create animations; create/edit movies (using the camera and other features of the NX); make polygon models; and even make full, albeit relatively simple, video games (anything from NES level up to N64 probably, and maybe even a bit beyond). All these creations could be shared among all NX users and even Wii U owners via Nintendo’s new single connected service, and possibly 3DS owners in some cases—where those people could then play and enjoy them or modify them even further—as well as just shared to the general Internet and on sites like YouTube (if it’s a video or animation you made). Just imagine all that content, some of it potentially brilliant, being made by users and available to other NX users from the get-go. This suite would also be added to the Wii U and 3DS too, via that firmware update I mentioned earlier; so it really is one complete unified and connected system/service that works across all Nintendo’s main consoles (and again it means current Wii U and 3DS owners get a bit more life and satisfaction from their systems):

 (An example of one of the packages in the old Mario Artist series for N64—in this case Polygon Maker—for reference).

Now, imo, THAT’s how you sell people on the idea of—a “controller with a touchscreen”—or in this case the NX.

So, “basically”; you have a single self-contained portable console, at least as powerful as a Wii U, that can play games from every single console Nintendo has ever made with very little hassle. For some of the more convoluted stuff, like Wii motion-centric games, you can basically use your old Wii controllers directly on it. It even works as an extra controller for anyone that has a Wii U too (up to three can be used, plus the GamePad as the forth) and by default means the Wii U is going to see proper game support for at least another whole generation as well. The connected internet service will work on NX but also be added to both Wii U and 3DS too (via a firmware update), so that all three systems now share many software/firmware and online features—this whole unified/connected system Nintendo has been going on about—such as using a single account for everything and for cross-play on many of the titles. Then the cherry on top is the entire creation suite built into the console from day one, out-the-box, and available for every single Wii U, NX and 3DS owner to use for free.

Nintendo would cease manufacturing of any new Wii U and 3DS systems entirely and go forwards only with the NX as its single consolidated brand new handheld/console hybrid; although it would obviously continue to support the other two consoles in terms of firmware and software in multiple ways for quite some time, as part of the strategy mentioned earlier.

So we have a single focussed vision for a new dedicated gaming console and fully unified service that combines all the strengths of both Nintendo’s current platforms as well as basically completely eliminating any of their separate weakness at the same time. It’s basically win win, for both Nintendo and gamers imo.

To me; this is a system and solution where I don’t think it would matter one sh*t how powerful Sony and Microsoft’s next consoles are. They simply couldn’t touch this concept imo, if they’re just more of the same but with more power. If this system—the proper next-gen Nintendo portable basically but so much more too—wasn’t lapped up by both gamers and third parties out the gate then I doubt anything Nintendo could do at this point would be a notable success.