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Game Boy

Pick Up A Pokemelon Today

April 15, 2006 1:11 PM |

ポケ.jpg Nintendo and its various franchises are a steady predictable in Japanese supermarkets and convenience stores, with everyone from Hamtaro chocolate to Pokemon gummies. Now, the company is expanding that to train stations too.

According to Famitsu, Nintendo is teaming up to use Suica (Japanese link), the ubiquitous electronic money card, with their Pokemon centers and various other outlets throughout Japan. Children will be able to use their cards to buy Pokemon merchandise, challenge others in games right on the spot, win prizes, and participate in events like the annual summer JR Train Line Pokemon Stamp Rally (it's only a matter of time before its as traditional as the tea ceremony). The article even shows an example of Pokemon/Suica slot machines, proving its never too early to teach your kids the value of gambling.

This is terribly handy, you see, because Suica is wonderful. Named because they are Super Urban Intelligent Cards, as a play on the word for watermelon in Japanese, at thousands of kiosks and these guys update your account instantaneously by simply being near them and in your pocket. Lately, they've been combined with a new technology in cellphones that allows you the ultimate convenience of simply walking through a train gate with your cellphone in your pocket to instantly deduct trainfare wherever you go.

Combined, these two technologies can buy everything you'd want in the legion of vending machines and stores that crop up around the heavy business of train stations. Thus, in yet another way, Nintendo increasingly becomes a part of Japanese lifestyle.

Nintendo R&D1 Show Their Warez

April 13, 2006 6:52 PM |

rd1.jpg The ever-lovin' Kikizo, a UK site that often concentrates on in-depth Japanese game developer interviews (Sega a specialty!), has landed a rare chat with Nintendo's R&D1 team, also described in the piece as the 'Wario Ware All-Star Team'.

The team includes Metroid supremo Yoshio Sakamoto, who comments of the game's concept (originally birthed from the N64DD tool Polygon Studio): "...we got the idea of using Wario and the other characters because we couldn't think of anyone else who would be best for the role. Wario is always doing stupid things and is really idiotic, so we thought him and the rest of the characters would be best for the game."

Kikizo also get in one of the funnier questions asked recently: "Weren't you afraid of someone hurting themselves on the train while playing [tilt sensor enabled] MaWaRu [Wario Ware: Twisted]?", to which the reply was "That's why on all Nintendo games they have warning labels, and in MaWaRu we also put a warning label in the game in case something bad happens. We hope that everyone doesn't hurt themselves on the platform... I hope that people don't hurt themselves in the train either!"

Dogz Comez Backz For GBAz

December 4, 2005 4:44 PM |

dogz.jpg And lo, after Nintendogs, a spate of virtual pet clones pop in to say hello, with Ubisoft's Dogz for Game Boy Advance the first to be reviewed by GameSpy. Reviewer Patrick Klepek comments that, "in the absence of an option for picking up Nintendo's effort, Dogz is a less compelling but worthwhile riff on the same idea ideal for younger gamers", but probably the most interesting part of the game is its use of the Dogz 'franchise' name, which you may remember was part of a larger mid-'90s Petz series for PC that even included Babyz, and way predates Nintendogs.

In fact, this new GBA Dogz was developed by unrelated Japanese firm MTO, and was called Kawaii Koinu Wonderful when released in Japan in 2004. However, the Dogz 'virtual pet' series itself was started in 1995 on PC by San Francisco firm PF Magic and Facade co-creator Andrew Stern. Andrew comments handily on the fate of the original creators: "The Petz team in San Francisco disbanded in 1998, when PF.Magic got folded into The Learning Company (TLC)... the Petz license ended up at Ubisoft."

[Bonus note: you might know MTO from its GT Advance series for GBA, but it has published other racing games in Japan, including Kuju's Lotus Challenge and Team 17's Stunt GP.]

Crouching Tiger, Hidden... Treasure Game?

November 23, 2005 11:34 PM |

Ex-GameSpy staffer Ben '222b' Turner has an eye for the obscure, and is a particular fan of cult Japanese developer Treasure, having written an excellent retrospective of the Gunstar Heroes creators for 1UP.com recently.

So, imagine his surprise when some eagle-eyed forumites pointed out to him Tiny Toon Adventures: Scary Dreams, a Conspiracy-published Treasure title for Game Boy Advance, believed to be a Europe-only release under a different name, but currently available on eBay in largish amounts from a liquidator. Unfortunately, Ben notes: "All told, it's fast, it's chaotic, it's mildly entertaining. It feels very much like a prototype of Astro Boy: Omega Factor, which it probably is. But where Astro Boy is refined and beautiful, TTA: Scary Dreams is simplistic in gameplay and barebones in presentation." So... hardly a slamdunk, but collectors had better get in fast, before the inevitable price gouging starts.