Mario & Sonic Producer Talks About Motion Controls And Costumes In The Switch Entry

Mario And Sonic

Long-time Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games producer Nobuya Ohashi sat down with IGN earlier this week at E3 2019 to discuss the finer aspects of the latest entry in the series, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

As this is the sixth instalment and the last one since the 2016 Wii U entry, there was a question about what the motion controls in the Switch release would be like now that Nintendo has finally moved on from Wii Remotes. Ohashi explained how the Joy-Con motion control was a great way to experience sports, but you could also play the game using buttons:

“Motion control is definitely featured in this game. We are really excited to feature and utilise great parts about the Switch for this game. For instance, you don’t just have to use the Joy-Con. Obviously the Joy-Con is going to be a big part of the game. For instance, for surfing and skateboarding you’ll use the tilting mechanism to move the characters during the game, but also you can enjoy the games using the button mode…so there’s many, many ways of playing a lot of these mini games for this new game.

“For example, if you’re using the Joy-Con mode, you can enjoy disc throwing as one of the games and you could actually experience throwing the disc, by using your body, which is a big part of motion control. There’s also boxing that you can experience – really experience the punching motion.”

You’ll be able to play “more than 20” games and different sporting events, which Mr. Ohashi finds to be a “very unique” experience.

When discussing the character clothing in the game, Ohashi said characters like Mario would no longer be wearing overalls all the time and certain sports required competitors to wear different clothing:

“Each of the characters are wearing different costumes, depending on the sporting event they are competing in. For instance, in the previous games Mario would always be wearing his overalls, even if he’s in water, but this time, we changed that, we actually gave him trunks, so he can actually swim in the water correctly.”

However, this doesn’t seem to explain why Sonic still has his shoes on while surfing – does he actually have feet? For more information about this game, check out our previous post.

Are you looking forward to playing the new Mario & Sonic game later on in 2019? Leave a comment below.

Bethesda Might Have More Surprises For Nintendo Switch Owners In The Future

Bethesda’s been one of the top third-party supporters for the Switch, releasing games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and DOOM on the hybrid system. It followed this up with other titles like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and even a port of the mobile game, Fallout Shelter.

While many fans of the company were hoping a proper Fallout game would be announced for Nintendo’s latest platform at this year’s E3, instead, we got our first look at The Elder Scrolls: Blades on the Switch – featuring motion controls. So, with this game now locked in alongside DOOM Eternal and Wolfenstein: Youngblood, what else can Switch owners expect from Bethesda?

In the latest episode of the Nintendo Power podcast, Pete Hines – the vice president of PR and marketing at Bethesda spoke about the 25th anniversary of DOOM, revealing the company had “a lot of stuff” planned for QuakeCon and perhaps even some surprises for Nintendo fans in the future.

“Who knows, maybe some more surprises for Nintendo fans on the way.”

Hines continued on by thanking Nintendo fans for being so supportive of the Bethesda’s Switch releases:

“Honestly, thank you guys so much for your support. We talk a lot with Nintendo and it’s great to see sort of how many folks play Nintendo stuff that try Bethesda games, and how many folks come in and have been getting Nintendo Switch just to play Bethesda things and then moved on to start playing other things on the Nintendo Switch. I mean it’s clear…the kind of stuff we make resonates with the Nintendo audience. It’s been awesome”

At this year’s E3, Nintendo Life’s video producer Zion Grassl had the chance to chat with Matt Carofano – the Art Director at Bethesda Game Studios – about The Elder Scrolls: Blades. If you would like to find out more about this free-to-play title due out later this year, check out our interview below:

What other games would you like to see from Bethesda in the future? Are you looking forward to playing any of the company’s upcoming releases on the Switch including The Elder Scrolls: Blades? Tell us down below.

Eiji Aonuma Still Excited To Collaborate With Shigeru Miyamoto After Many Years

Eiji Aonuma

Earlier this week at E3 2019, Game Informer spoke to The Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma and was asked about what it was like to work with other Nintendo producers such as Takashi Tezuka (responsible for Super Mario Maker 2) and the one and only Shigeru Miyamoto.

Teaming up with such famous faces within the video game industry, isn’t something he necessarily thinks about, but the idea of “collaborating” with Miyamoto does make him chuckle:

“It’s very interesting that you bring up Mr. Miyamoto. I’ve never thought of it as collaborating with him! Now that you’ve phrased it that way, I think, ‘Oh, working with Mr. Miyamoto is a collaboration.’ That’s kind of exciting!”

As for how his own career has developed over time, Aonuma explains how before moving into producer and supervisor roles, he was previously required to be more hands-on with the Zelda series – designing dungeons. Nowadays, though, he has a great team to help him bring ideas to life:

“One thing that definitely has changed is that in the beginning, I had to create a bunch of things on my own, but now I have a great team with great people with different skills to help me create things together.”

Are you glad to hear Aonuma is still enjoying himself after all these years? Are you looking forward to the Breath of the Wild sequel? How about Link’s Awakening? Share your thoughts below.

Review: Phantom Doctrine – XCOM Meets James Bond In This Scrappy Strategy Epic

While our interactive medium has played host to a fair few ‘spy games’ over the years, most have opted for stealthy infiltration (hello Splinter Cell and Metal Gear) or all-out gunfights with the occasional silencer thrown in for good measure (see just about every James Bond game ever made). However, it’s the games that dig deep into the dangers and complicated minutiae of spycraft – such as the underrated Alpha Protocol and the original Syndicate titles – that often capture that murky world of double agents and burned assets.

Phantom Doctrine aims to follow in the footsteps of these rare experiences, with a Cold War-set affair that pits one shadowy counter-intelligence organisation against another in a clandestine battle of wits, double-crosses and (if all else fails) violence. The result is an unusual and occasionally imbalanced mixture of genres, with most of your time spent overseeing a network of agents as you attempt to uncover the truth behind a nefarious group known as the Beholder Initiative, interspersed between a series of turn-based operations out in the field.

By placing you in the shoes of a spymaster – who you can fully customise, including their espionage background (with the choice of an ex-CIA, KGB or Mossad agent) – Phantom Doctrine is more of a spy simulator than anything else, with the vast majority of your focus spent sending out agents to gather intel on enemy movements while attempting to evade the gaze of your foes and their own clandestine pursuit of your interests. Intelligence gathering is the meat and potatoes of your trade as you slowly construct a cork board full of intel and conspiracies – complete with red string linking them all together – as you edge ever closer to your quarry.

What Phantom Doctrine does best is present your with a web of potential trails while forcing you to manage what resources you have as the Beholder Initiative pursues and harries your efforts at every turn. Two meters track your foe’s progress in the background, with one denoting how far it is from completing its own nefarious plans and the other showing how close it is to locating your current base of operations. While Phantom Doctrine’s story is too often a paper thin narrative that just about ties its spy world together, the cat-and-mouse nature of its strategic gameplay makes for some truly intense moments.

You might need to spend time interrogating a captured agent, before turning him and sending him back to your enemy’s base. You’ll sit there, slowly watching those meters fill as your enemy closes in, but turning him into a valuable sleeper agent could be a long-term investment that makes all the difference in a future mission. You’ll collect intel and scan documents and stolen paperwork to decipher randomly-generated agent codewords, which in turn enables you to add new leads to your patchwork image of the Beholder Initiative. The problem Phantom Doctrine stumbles into is properly presenting all these alerts and updates, because by the end of its 35-plus-hour campaign, it’s often messily-presented espionage meta will have begun to grate.

When you finally head out on a mission, movement is turn-based, in a tactics-style setup similar to Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics or For The King. The types of operations you’ll undertake differ widely, from rescuing tortured assets to scoping out the nuclear capabilities of an underground facility. Your agents aren’t bulked-up marines or bloodthirsty kill squads, and while the option to ‘go loud’ is there, more often than not, getting in and out with the minimum of violent response is always the preferred approach. The ability to breach a room is also a nice touch, as you stack agents on multiple doors and clear a room in deadly unison. It’s one of Phantom Doctrine’s most enjoyable quirks and really adds to the repertoire of your personnel.

There’s always the chance that your agents will die or be captured – leading to the potential for them to ‘escape’, only to return with the risk they’re now a double-agent – and that’s where the looming shadow of XCOM lies. It’s impossible to play Phantom Doctrine and not be reminded of Firaxis’ incredible tactical combat, but by pushing the focus more on exploration, stealth and evasion, Phantom Doctrine does manage to offer something that’s at least partially different. The sheer systemic nature of its scenarios – especially early on – really adds to the enjoyment, with your spymaster activities elsewhere often influencing the nature of your ops. Found yourself in a mission that’s gone awry? How about you activate that sleeper agent you recently turned, a move that suddenly gives you an extra source of firepower and support?

The cracks do start to show as you push further into Phantom Doctrine’s lengthy campaign. Soon missions start to rely on the same infiltrate/exfiltrate formula and while every outing has its own sense of character (that ’80s aesthetic really helps), its personality does start to grow stale after a while. Your agents are also frustratingly vanilla. Each one as a unique background, but their skills are largely the same, so the option to train them into specific specialists isn’t particularly easy or intuitive. There are plenty of support personnel you can rely on – such as overwatch agents that help reveal the contents of a room from afar – but your own squad are often far less memorable.

As a Nintendo Switch port, Phantom Doctrine runs well, with very few framerate drops or screen tearing. Sure, its character models have taken a bit of hit visually (don’t spend too long in the character customisation suite, you have been warned), but considering most of the action takes place from a distant overhead view, it’s an optimisation decision that keeps it running smoothly on Switch. Loading times can sometimes be a bit of a drag, but considering how intricate some mission areas can be, it’s at least an understandable irritation.

Conclusion

Phantom Doctrine certainly shares plenty of DNA with the much-adored XCOM series, but it lacks the polish that’s made the likes of XCOM 2 such an enduring example of how to do tactics right. When Phantom Doctrine really doubles down on the minutiae of its spycraft – including the solving conspiracies and the stealth-focused nature of its missions – its own personality shines through. It’s certainly scrappy here and there – especially when it comes to managing the meta of its spy network – but push past these imperfections and you’ll have plenty of licence for kills (and the occasional thrill).

Nintendo Shares Colourful Graphic Outlining Upcoming Switch Releases

Sweet Christmas, my poor wallet.

There is at least a dozen games I plan on buying (and that’s not counting games that weren’t shown at E3 IE Town, and whatever else might be announced before years end). I plan on picking up the following games at some point or another…

Super Mario Maker 2, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Spyro Reignited Trilogy, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Pokemon S/S, Mario & Sonic Olympic Games, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Yooka-Laylee: The Impossible Lair, New Super Luckys Tale, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Minecraft Dungeons

^^ Just crazy, but they all look like they could be fun games.

Random: Astral Chain Is Filled With Hidden Toilets And “Lots Of Cats”

Astral Chain

While the majority of PlatinumGames fans are eagerly anticipating the release of Bayonetta 3 on the Switch, the next title the Japanese company is actually releasing on Nintendo’s hybrid platform is the synergetic action game Astral Chain. It’s being directed by Takahisa Taura, who was the lead designer on NieR: Automata.

During the Nintendo Treehouse: Live at E3 2019 earlier this week, Taura provided a little extra insight about the company’s next release, where you take on the role of a rookie officer who is part of an elite police task force known as Neuron. At one point during the gameplay demo, though, a toilet was found, so he decided to add some context to a joke made by the Treehouse staff:

“So the toilet that you just saw is hidden in every stage, there’s a different a toilet, they’re a hidden element and if you find them all then something good will happen.”

So, just to make that clear – toilets are a “hidden element” in Astral Chain and you can even use them.

If searching for toilets isn’t your kind of thing, then perhaps you would prefer to seek out cats. We’re not joking about this, either. In a video posted over on Nintendo’s of America’s Twitter account, Taura briefly touched on all the cats in the game:

“Lots of cats appear. Various kinds of cats appear and you can find them in all kinds of places. And so searching for them is fun.”

If at this point you’re trying to make sense of what the hell Astral Chain is actually about, here’s the rundown from the official Nintendo PR:

In this new synergetic action game from PlatinumGames, humanity’s last chance against an interdimensional invasion is a sentient weapon called the Legion. As a rookie officer in an elite police task force, players will work together with their Legion to solve cases and save humankind. Players can change Legions on the fly to vary their style and unleash stylish combos. As they save the world from extradimensional invaders called chimeras, they’ll also interact with citizens, question suspects and team up with members of their task force to solve cases.

Taura briefly explained the premise himself during the Treehouse:

“The game is set essentially in the near future on earth and all the land of the earth is under attack from another dimension, where’s it’s being polluted by this mysterious matter.”

As the director puts it, clearing up the “red matter” in the game is actually as addictive as collecting coins in Super Mario:

“You can use your Legion to steer it around and clear up the red matter that’s scattered around, and that becomes kind of like using Mario to collect coins”

So, what do you think about Astral Chain now that you know you can search for cats and toilets? Is this a title you were already looking forward to playing? Share your thoughts below.

Feature: The Making Of The PC Engine, The 8-Bit Wonder That Took On Nintendo

PC Engine

This piece was originally published in 2012. With the news that Konami is producing a PC Engine Mini, we thought you might like a fresh look. Enjoy!


Western gamers tend to consider Nintendo and Sega as the two major players in the 16-bit war. On European and American soil this was certainly the case – the Super Nintendo and Mega Drive (Genesis to North American players) battled it out for supremacy, selling millions of units and making their creators household names in the process. The story was ever so slightly different in Japan, however. Nintendo remained amazingly successful but it was NEC’s PC Engine that emerged as their main rival, leaving the unfortunate Sega to make do with a disappointing third. Remarkably, this popular Japanese console struggled in the US and bypassed Europe altogether. Unravelling the complex lineage of this intriguing system isn’t straightforward thanks to numerous hardware amendments, name changes and add-on enhancements – not to mention the involvement of three different parent companies – but by thunder, we’re going to try.

This highly promising union would result in one of the most successful and influential Japanese consoles of all time

Back in the late ‘80s many companies – both inside and outside the video game industry – observed the runaway success of Nintendo’s NES/Famicom with mounting envy. One such corporation was Japanese electronics giant Nippon Electric Company, more commonly known as ‘NEC’. Established at the turn of the 20th century to produce telephone components, NEC had gone on to become one of the world’s leading computer manufacturers. A new conquest was beckoning in the form of the lucrative console market and while NEC undoubtedly had the financial clout to enter this arena, it lacked vital industry experience. Approaches were made to several leading video game studios for support and it was soon discovered that Hudson Soft – the first developer to obtain a license to develop for the Nintendo Famicom – also happened to be tentatively exploring the possibilities of producing its own system.

Founded by brothers Yuji and Hiroshi Kudo in 1973, Hudson didn’t start out in the field of interactive entertainment. “They originally began by selling telecommunication devices and some art photographs,” comments John Greiner, former President of Hudson Entertainment in the US and now the head man at MonkeyPaw Games. “Within two years they began selling computer related products and soon afterwards, the company started to make games. In fact, they were the first to publish a PC game in Japan.” Hudson had created the high-powered ‘LSI’ chipset but didn’t possess the necessary cash to enter the console race alone. “They realized they needed a partner to manufacture and market to a large base,” explains Greiner. “Fortuitous timing landed NEC as a company that was interested in entering the console market.” This highly promising union would result in one of the most successful and influential Japanese consoles of all time.

Small is Beautiful

In terms of pure aesthetics, the PC Engine must surely rank as one of the most iconic designs in the history of electronic entertainment. The original white system was petite and attractive, making rival consoles look positively ugly in comparison. “Hudson and NEC wanted to create a system that was appealing in design,” Greiner says. “The previous generation of consoles felt more like toys, so they wanted to create a system that was sleek yet powerful.” With dimensions of 135 x 130 x 35mm, it remains the smallest home console ever made. This appeal was further augmented by the unique delivery system for software, as Greiner recalls: “The PC Engine used a unique chip-on-board media instead of cartridges. These credit card sized ‘HuCards’, or ‘Turbochips’ as they were called in America, were marvels in design. They were extremely durable, portable and cool.”

The slender size of the machine belied the impressive technical specifications contained within. The custom-built dual 16-bit graphics processors (HuC6260 and HuC6270A) allowed the PC Engine to display stunning arcade-quality visuals. Remarkably, the unique HuC6280A CPU that powered this minuscule wonder was 8-bit – a fact that would provoke many playground arguments about whether or not the machine should be classed in the same league as ‘true’ 16-but consoles like the SNES and Mega Drive.

The PC Engine was released as a portable system, too
The PC Engine was released as a portable system, too

NEC launched the PC Engine in Japan on October 30th 1987 and by the end of the subsequent year, it was the best selling console in the country, dethroning the Famicom in spectacular fashion. One of the key reasons for this triumph was impressive third-party support, which previous consoles like Sega’s Mark III (known as the Master System in the West) had struggled with, largely thanks to Nintendo’s stranglehold over software developers. Striking technical specifications combined with the rampant enthusiasm shown by NEC and Hudson – two highly respected companies in Japan – encouraged many developers to support the console. Namco, Irem, Masaya, Konami and Human all flocked to the PC Engine banner, bringing some of their most treasured franchises with them. Amazingly, permission was also secured to port several highly esteemed Sega coin-ops, including Afterburner 2, Power Drift, Space Harrier, Outrun, Wonderboy III and Fantasy Zone. These were proficiently reprogrammed by internal studio NEC Avenue (later known as ‘NEC Interchannel’, and more recently ‘Interchannel-Holon’, as the company is no longer affiliated with NEC) and ironically they frequently outclassed Sega’s own efforts on the Mega Drive.

NEC and Hudson were driven by what a CD could bring to gaming: amazing sounds, robust animation, and seemingly unlimited storage space

With a successful launch out of the way, NEC soon set about creating what would be the first of many hardware updates – the ‘CD-ROM2’ add-on. “At the time, publishers were constrained by the cost and memory of carts,” Greiner remembers. Released in 1988, it came with a fetching briefcase-style set-up and remains one of the most desirable pieces of PC Engine paraphernalia. Early CD software was hampered by lack of RAM but this was thankfully rectified via a series of ‘System Card’ updates (which came in HuCard form and granted more usable memory). This, in turn, gave birth to the renowned ‘Super CD’ criterion, which allowed programmers to be more flamboyant and really put that additional CD storage space to meaningful use. “NEC and Hudson were driven by what a CD could bring to gaming: amazing sounds, robust animation, and seemingly unlimited storage space,” confirms Greiner.

Commitment to largely unproven CD-ROM technology showed that NEC intended to remain on the cutting edge, but in 1989 this burning desire to innovate resulted in a near-fatal error of judgement. Despite the runaway success of the PC Engine, Nintendo’s Famicom remained the console to beat and when solid information regarding the specifications of its successor began to surface in the Japanese press, NEC panicked. They rashly decided to launch a new console and the SuperGrafx was born. Essentially a PC Engine with additional graphics chips and four times as much RAM, this bulky machine was handicapped by the fact that it utilized the same 8-bit CPU as its older stablemate. Coordinating the extra chips created a massive drain on processing power and developers struggled to achieve satisfying results.

The SuperGrafx was a commercial disaster for NEC and Hudson
The SuperGrafx was a commercial disaster for NEC and Hudson

Incredibly, only five dedicated games ever saw the light of day (a ‘hybrid’ version of Darius Plus was also released that would also play on a standard PC Engine). Thanks to an impressive conversion of Capcom’s Daimakaimura (Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts) and excellent overall compatibility (it is able to play HuCard games and can be connected to the CD-ROM drive, making it the only machine in the PC Engine dynasty with the potential to play all available software), the SuperGrafx remains a highly sought-after collector’s item, regardless of its abject commercial failure.

Go West

In spite of this slight hiccup, success was virtually assured on home soil. With proven technology and a library of excellent games, it made perfect sense to unleash the console Stateside, as Greiner recalls: “The US market was stirred into a fevered state by fans wanting a true gaming upgrade from the 8-bit era.” NEC’s American arm rechristened it ‘TurboGrafx-16’ and the external casing of diminutive console was retooled in order to make it look more substantial and imposing. Nevertheless, the fortunes of the TurboGrafx-16 stood in stark contrast to that of its Japanese sibling. “The success of the PC Engine was undeniable in Japan, where at one point it captured nearly a third of the market,” states Greiner. “In the US however, it was a different story.” Sega released the Mega Drive (Genesis) in North America at almost exactly the same time and began relentlessly and ruthlessly marketing their new console. “Sega were hard-hitting, gaining an irreverent edge which best suited the US demographics,” explains Greiner. The early promotions were extraordinarily successful and the selection of available software – which not only included some of Sega’s key arcade titles but was also more tailored to a Western audience – gave it the edge. NEC’s machine was lumbered with a very ‘Eastern’ assortment of games and Hudson struggled to craft titles that would appeal to US players. “It was a tremendous challenge launching so many games in such a short time frame,” remembers Greiner. “That is why you initially saw so many games that were ported from Japan and from genres that were most popular in that country, like shooters.”

Marketing and understanding the US gamer mentality was always a challenge for NEC

Nintendo’s dominance over third-party developers became apparent once again with American software companies being just as fearful of Nintendo’s wrath as their Japanese counterparts. “Unfortunately, while Hudson created many great games for the system initially, it still wasn’t enough. Many of the big name brands from other publishers simply couldn’t be published,” states Greiner. In a similar situation to that witnessed in Japan, Nintendo stipulated that if a third party game was produced for the NES, it couldn’t be released on a rival console. “That became a challenge that was not easily overcome,” Greiner reflects, mournfully. Nintendo’s bullying tactics were later found to be illegitimate but by then it was too late. To make matters worse, NEC vastly over-produced their hardware. “They listened closely to retailers, who were very aggressive in their belief that 16-bit gaming was going to be a big success,” explains Greiner. “NEC therefore over-ordered units and this proved fatal in the long run as they committed tremendous financial resources to create the hardware, which ultimately handcuffed them in marketing spend. Sega were able to successfully steal market share away with a ‘bad-ass’ image and an unfettered marketing bankroll.” The seemingly unbridled success experienced in Japan had sadly eluded NEC in America. “Arguably, the TurboGrafx-16 had better games, but a number of missteps took place when it came to hardware styling, box art, pack-in and release schedule,” comments Greiner. “Marketing and understanding the US gamer mentality was always a challenge for NEC.”

The PC Engine was re-branded as the TurboGrafx-16 in the US
The PC Engine was re-branded as the TurboGrafx-16 in the US

Around this time there were faint rumblings of a European release. Early in 1990 it was revealed that a UK company called ‘Mention’ were intending to sell specially modified machines that would circumvent the various problems UK importers were experiencing. Known as the ‘PC Engine Plus’, this slightly altered system did not have the official blessing of NEC and unsurprisingly never took off. Despite several magazines reporting that NEC themselves were ‘literally months away’ from officially launching the console in the UK for ‘under £100’, it never happened. “Europe was neglected as this was NEC’s first foray into the console market,” comments Greiner. “However, there was considerable grey market penetration as Europeans also wanted to participate in the new gaming revolution”.

The Dynamic Duo

Back in Japan, the amazing success of the freshly-released Super Famicom provoked NEC to consolidate the existing PC Engine hardware in the form of the ‘Duo’ system. As you might expect from the snappy moniker, this was a PC Engine and CD-ROM drive combined. The need for (easily misplaced) System Cards was also negated as the Duo had the necessary RAM built in. Launched in 1991, the machine arguably represented the zenith of the PC Engine brand. A US release followed via the newly founded Hudson/NEC venture ‘Turbo Technologies Incorporated’ (TTI for short), but the re-branded TurboDuo suffered the same ignominious fate as the TurboGrafx-16 before it – despite having some excellent software, it failed to gain a significant market share and faded quickly. Incredibly, it’s since been confirmed by a former TTI employee that the company was offered exclusive home console rights to Midway’s arcade hit Mortal Kombat, but the head office in Japan decreed that fighting games were oversubscribed in the US and neglected the offer.

The success of the Japanese Duo allowed NEC to further strengthen their position, applying intense pressure on Nintendo with a series of excellent titles whilst keeping poor old Sega firmly in third place. Classic games like Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, Gate of Thunder, Star Parodier and Ys proved that even in the relative infancy of the CD-ROM age, the extra space afforded by the format could be put to sterling use. Fortunately, the humble HuCard was not forgotten and a noteworthy conversion of Capcom’s Street Fighter II: Champion Edition pushed the maximum capacity of the credit card-sized format up to a muscular 20 megabits.

NEC and Hudson backed the wrong horse with the 32-bit PC-FX, believing that FMV was the future of gaming
NEC and Hudson backed the wrong horse with the 32-bit PC-FX, believing that FMV was the future of gaming

1994 saw the introduction of the Japanese-only ‘Arcade Card’, which increased the PC Engine’s power to previously unimaginable levels. Slick coin-op conversions of Fatal Fury Special, World Heroes 2 and Art of Fighting soon appeared and while these incredibly faithful ports won the console a whole new group of admirers, they came too late to make a truly telling impact. The 16-bit party, which the 8-bit PC Engine had skilfully managed to gatecrash, was beginning to wind down and a new wave of powerful 32-bit behemoths loomed ominously on the horizon. Sales started to dwindle, forcing NEC and Hudson to develop a successor – the ill-fated 32-bit PC-FX. Built around the rather misguided belief that FMV-style games represented the future of the console industry, it unsurprisingly flopped at retail.

After nearly a decade of unwavering commitment to one another, NEC and Hudson finally parted company in the middle of the nineties. The former went on to supply the graphical muscle behind Sega’s Dreamcast while the latter continued to produce games for a wide range of consoles, before eventually being purchased by Konami in 2011. A year later – following the closure of the US-based Hudson Entertainment – the Hudson Soft name ceased to exist as the company was absorbed entirely into Konami.

That’s not the end of the PC Engine story, however; at E3 this year, it was confirmed that Konami is bringing the brand back from the dead. An entirely new generation of players will get to see what the fuss is all about, and that makes us very happy indeed.


This feature was originally printed in its entirety in Retro Gamer magazine, and is reproduced here with kind permission. Special thanks to Aaron Nanto for providing exclusive hardware photos.

Random: Have We Been Missing A Zelda Easter Egg In Mario 64 All These Years?

Zelda Ocarina of Time

Easter eggs in video games aren’t a new thing, but it’s rare to spot one decades after the event – but that’s what Twitter user Hitei he’s found in Super Mario 64.

There’s a picture in Peach’s castle which we’ll all have dashed past many, many times over the years, and Hitei thinks this image has been hiding a reference to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Look at the image below and compare the stars at the top to the sequence of button presses needed to play the iconic Song of Storms in Ocarina of Time.

Super Mario 64
Zelda Ocarina of Time

Now, this might seem like a bit of a stretch, especially when you consider that Super Mario 64 was a launch title for the N64 and Zelda didn’t come out until a while later, but we know that both were in development at the same time, as Zelda was shown off (in a rather different form) before the console hit the market.

Therefore, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the designers could have snuck in a reference to the song, as the music element of the game could have been locked down early in production. Alternatively, the reverse could be true, and the pattern for the song could be taken from the painting in Super Mario 64.

Of course, there’s also the chance that it could just be a massive coincidence, especially when you look at the small gap between the two sets of stars and the relatively basic nature of the pattern itself. We’ll let you decide, but if this does turn out to be a direct reference, then it’s surely a case of god-tier Easter egg placement by Nintendo.

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Talking Point: What Are You Playing This Weekend? (June 15th)

Link

What a busy, busy week it’s been in the Nintendo world. E3 has now come to an end, and a good 90% of the Nintendo Life team is feeling ready to retire to our beds for long, well-deserved naps. Before that, though, it’s time once again to share with you our weekend gaming plans. As always, we invite you to join in via our poll and comment sections below. Enjoy!

Ollie Reynolds, reviewer

I tend to get overly excited when it comes to new game announcements, so naturally when the sequel to Breath of the Wild was announced during Nintendo’s E3 Direct, I went right back to the original and started my quest all over again. And you know what… It’s just as good second time through.

I’ve also taken advantage of the recent eShop sales and downloaded South Park: The Stick of Truth. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed at a game so much in my life – there’s just something inherently amusing about flatulence that I don’t think anyone grows out of!

Gavin Lane, staff writer

Following the announcement on Tuesday of Banjo (and Kazooie) as Challenger #3, I went to the eShop before bed, picked up a pair of Game Vouchers and immediately redeemed one for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I’ve tried to get into Smash several times before, but as I said in my Soapbox on the topic, it would take a Banjo-like announcement to push me over the edge. Obviously that came and launched me off the cliff into Smash. I’m hoping the promise of playing as Banjo on a modern Nintendo platform will keep me motivated. I’ll be picking the brains of resident Smash guru Alex Olney, for sure. I hear spamming Fox’s laser is frowned upon? Alex won’t be calling me ‘lovely’ after I’ve pestered him for tips eight hours straight over Slack…

Following my review, I’d also like to go back and complete Cadence of Hyrule: The Longest Title of a Video Game In The World, Ever again using Link. Zelda was my main (see, I’ve already got the lingo Alex!) when I reviewed it and I only spent half an hour or so with the Hero of Hyrule. Cracking little game, that.

Stephanie Woor, reviewer

Three months ago I was all geared up to lose myself in Valkyria Chronicles 4 – it was to be my next big game, something that was going to keep my mind off of whatever choppy waters were ahead, now that I’d just handed my notice in…

Inevitably, I played the tutorial mission and just stopped playing. Not that I didn’t like the game, with its comfy visuals and overall similarity to the original. Sometimes you just pick something up and know you’re going to regret playing it now, because now sucks. So I guess it’s probably a good sign that I’m back on the bizarro anime western front…

Lewis White, reviewer

I wish I didn’t spend my week toiling through the low-budget irradiated city of Pripyat, but that’s exactly what I went and did. This week, I spent hours in Radiation City but, to be honest, I did ask for this… literally!

Thankfully, in between the pain, my old friend Tetris 99 was always there to comfort me. Like a chilled glass of lemonade on a hot day, or an Ice Cream Tub + Bridgett Jones combo after a bad breakup, Tetris 99 always makes the hard times better. Now if only I could actually win for once

Austin Voigt, contributing writer

This sounds silly – but after E3 got me all hyped for the new games we have coming our way these next few months, I’m likely going to spend my weekend playing the originals/previous titles in sheer anticipation. Animal Crossing, Zelda, Luigi’s Mansion, Pokémon, Ni no Kuni… Let’s be honest – these are the games I spend most of my time playing anyway, while ignoring my growing backlog.

I’ll also likely be rewatching the new trailers/gameplay footage on my Switch so that I can pretend I’m already playing them. Wow, I’m lame.

Gonçalo Lopes, contributing writer

E3 is over! Life slowly goes back to normal yet retro gaming is here to stay. Been spending a lot of time with Contra Anniversary Collection and Collection of Mana as of late and will continue to do so over the weekend. After two long years it has come to this: Ninjara versus Min Min for ARMS supremacy. I shall use my unstoppable ninja skills to bring home the gold. It will be much harder to pick a side for this next to last Splatoon 2 Splatfest: I am a full grown adult who has yet to kill his inner child.

Obvious game of the week is Cadence of Hyrule. The game will fool you with its cutesy 2D graphics and earworm friendly stellar soundtrack and then you notice its 3am and you’re still screaming to the beat.

PJ O’Reilly, reviewer

This week I’ve been indulging in some of the hot drops from E3 week, namely the Contra Collection and Cadence of Hyrule, both of which are absolutely superb. Playing Contra again is bringing me right back to the good old days of pumping ten pence pieces into the Contra cabinet which we had in our local chippy (truly halcyon days!) then busting out my SNES copy of Super Probotector when it was time for home.

I’m also a big fan of Crypt of the Necrodancer so it’s no surprise to me how much I’m enjoying Cadence of Hyrule; the gameplay of Crypt slotted into the world of Zelda, it turns out, is a perfect match-up, it might even be the best Zelda spin-off I’ve played!

Ryan Craddock, staff writer

To be honest, now that the madness of E3’s over I’m looking forward to playing a game of ‘sleep all weekend and possibly for the rest of time’. Failing that, though, I’ll likely be continuing my current playthroughs of Banjo-Kazooie and GoldenEye 007 on N64.

I did start up DOOM again in the middle of the week (I gave up on my first playthrough for some reason, so wanted to give it another chance) and have been eyeing up Cadence of Hyrule for the last few days, so one of those could make a sneak appearance.

Which games are you playing this weekend? (37 votes)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

16%

South Park: The Stick of Truth

  0%

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

11%

Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda

27%

Valkyria Chronicles 4

  0%

Radiation City

  0%

Tetris 99

  0%

Luigi’s Mansion

  0%

Contra Anniversary Collection

5%

Collection of Mana

3%

Splatoon 2

11%

Banjo-Kazooie

3%

GoldenEye 007

3%

Something else (comment below)

14%

Please login to vote in this poll.

As always, thanks for reading! Make sure to leave a vote in the poll above and a comment below with your gaming choices over the next few days…

Spike Chunsoft Has “Exciting News” To Share On 19th June

Could it be Switch related?

Spike Chunsoft

You normally wouldn’t expect a live stream the week after E3, but that’s exactly what Spike Chunsoft has planned. The Japanese developer will be sharing some “exciting news” via Twitch.tv on 19th June.

The company has previously worked on the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, is known for the Danganronpa series and will be publishing the Switch retail version of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition in Japan. It also published Crypt of the NecroDancer in Japan and most recently helped out with the spiritual follow-up, Cadence of Hyrule.

As you can probably imagine, its rich history has resulted in plenty of wild speculation on social media – with many fans of the company hoping to hear a Mystery Dungeon or Danganronpa announcement for Switch, and even some much crazier requests for a Mystery Dungeon crossover with Crypt of the NecroDancer.

Do you think we could hear a possible announcement tied to the Switch? Share your thoughts below.

[via gematsu.com, twitch.tv]