There’s nothing to report about the Eat Your Comics intern this week, so we’ll just get right to the question.
Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea having the intern screen the questions. Maybe we should just give him some of the unimportant tasks, like cleaning out the turn signal fluid line in the EYC go-cart we use to get around the facility. (It’s a big campus.) Let’s try for a real question this time.
This is more like it. Everybody loves Nintendo. If you say you don’t, you’re just in denial. Before digging into the current happenings at that fun-loving gaming company, let me first correct your friend’s erroneous video. Like anything released in different markets (read as: different countries), video games created in Japan tend to take a little while to get to the United States. It’s okay, though, because we tend to get all the cool movies and television shows first. Also, it’s not as bad as it used to be. Back when Nintendo was still new to the United States (read as: still older than most US companies. See Bonus Trivia.), they often took more than a year to get games released in North America that gamers in Japan had beaten three ways from last June already. Case in point is SMB3, which was released in Japan in October 1988, making it 29 years old. It wasn’t until February 1990 that it came to North America. It seems your friend’s video mixed up those two dates.
Basically, you’re friend is wrong and you should break up now. Isn’t that how Facebook works?
Once you’ve done that, come back and find out what Nintendo has in the works for us. Let’s start with mobile.
Super Mario Run: This mobile game takes the most over-used and much-beloved story that Nintendo ever came up with—plumber needs to save princess from giant dinosaur-turtle hybrid by traveling through eight worlds of different eco-systems and jumping on bad guys—and makes it a single-button game. Mario runs, and you tap to make him jump. The game is free, but not. Rather than other freemium games that allow you to purchase upgrades or special items to make the game easier, SMR only lets you play the first three levels, not even the complete first world. You can also play a version of player-vs-player by running against of a ghost of runs other players have made.
Pokémon GO: This isn’t really a Nintendo game, but it’s still big enough and Nintendo licenses the uses of their characters that we’re going to let it slide. This mobile game allows players to walk around their neighborhoods and cities to hunt for Pokémon in the wild. When it was released last July, only the first 149 ‘mon were catchable. You could get all of the first generation Pokémon except Mew and Mewtwo. Just this past Christmas, Niantic, the company behind the game, released some of the Pokémon from generation two, but only the babies like Magby and Togepi and only from eggs that are hatched by walking. The head of Niantic has stated that trading and player-vs-player combat are on the way.
Pokémon Sun and Moon: Speaking of Pokémon, the newest version of the handheld console game was released in November, and due to Pokémon GO exciting everyone and getting everyone thinking about the franchise again, it became the fastest selling game in Nintendo’s history. What’s remarkable is that it’s pretty much the same as every other Pokémon in existence. You are a kid given a Pokémon by a professor named after a tree, which starts your quest to become a Pokémon master, a feat accomplished by defeating your rival, taking on all of the gyms, and catching every Pokémon there is.
While the mobile and handheld games are The Hotness right now, at least much more than saying The Hotness ever was, Nintendo’s bread and butter continues to be their consoles. Funny thing about their newest console, though: it’s taken a lot of cues from mobile gaming.
Nintendo Switch: This is the newest console, the follow-up to the lackluster Wii U. While the older console was simply a slight upgrade from it’s older brother, the Wii, the Switch is partially a new creation and partially a continuation of where Nintendo took gaming with the Wii U. The console comes in multiple parts: the dock, the console itself, and the controllers. The console looks like a tablet computer and can be played like a handheld system with the controllers attached to the sides. It can also be plugged into the dock to be played on your television like any other console. The controllers are the most versatile Nintendo controllers yet: they can be used like the Wii nunchucks, attached to a frame they form a gaming pad, connected to the Switch console itself when on the go, or each held by a single player for group games. The Switch will be released on March 3.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: With the release of the Switch, there are also a handful of games Nintendo hopes will catch your eye enough to tempt you to make the purchase. The biggest one is the newest Zelda game. This is a slight departure from every other game in the franchise. Rather than progressing from one dungeon to the next, gradually building your arsenal and skills in a set order, this game is more open and allows you to choose for yourself which way to go. The graphics and physics will also be the most realistic yet.
NES Classic: Last November, just in time for Christmas shopping, Nintendo released a smaller version of their original NES system. Rather than plug in your 30-year-old games, the system runs thirty standard games on an emulator. Classics like Excitebike, Double Dragon II, Metroid, and of course Super Mario Bros. 1–3 are all ready to play. The system can also connect to the Wii Remote, allowing you to play games you’ve purchased on the Wii and Wii U virtual console. The demand was so high, and the production so low, that you were more likely to see the ad for the system than you were to actually find one in the store.
Bonus Trivia: As new as computer gaming is, especially when it comes to in-home consoles, you’d think that Nintendo was a relatively young company. Yet, it’s not only older than Apple and Microsoft, it’s so old that Sony, which was founded in 1946, looks adolescent. Nintendo was founded in 1889 as a company that produced hanafuda playing cards. After dabbling in a host of ventures from cab services to love hotels, they began focusing on toys in the 1960s, finally coming into the video game market in the 1970s. This means Nintendo is a company that’s literally older than manned flight, Sherlock Holmes, and the Swiss Army knife.