COMMENTARY: These New Japanese Toys and Games Aren’t Just for Kids, Part 1

Phil.April18.2014.1I may not be the biggest aficionado of Japanese pop culture, but I do consider myself a fan, having devoured lots of manga and anime over the years. What I also appreciate are the toys: Japan has some of the most exquisitely-made action figures and giant robots ever made, and in their native land, these items are generally aimed at adults.

Now when it comes to toys and games, Japan has long enjoyed a healthy foothold in North America—think of all the Pokémon, Hello Kitty, and Power Rangers products that have made their way over. So far in 2014, that trend has continued, with several new properties either just launching or expected to launch soon. But these are Japanese imports, meaning they’re sophisticated enough for grown-ups, even if they look like they’re for kids. [Read more...]

Disney Magical World Is a Universe of Fun for 3DS

DisneyMagicalWorldLast Friday, Disney Magical World launched for the Nintendo 3DS system. Players create a personalized avatar and customized dream life, and then embark on a 3D fantasy adventure across a main central plaza, as well as four surrounding worlds inspired by Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Aladdin, and Winnie the Pooh.

Along with interacting with iconic Disney characters, players can run a café to earn in-game coins, set off on ghost-hunting quests, and even visit friends’ towns via the StreetPass feature. Developed by Bandai Namco Studio Inc., Disney Magical World offers various opportunities for creativity and customization: With more than 1,000 items, players can hone design skills to create personalized Disney-themed outfits, accessories, and furniture. [Read more...]

Super Smash Bros. Returns with Familiar Faces, New Powers and Game Play Modes

SuperSmashBrosNintendo has released new details about its upcoming Super Smash Bros. video games for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U systems. The 3DS version of the fighting game is planned for this summer, while the Wii U version is planned for winter.

Along with stereoscopic 3D that runs at 60 frames per second, the 3DS version will have an exclusive mode, “Smash Run,” in which four players have five minutes to enter a dungeon and explore the surroundings, fight enemies, and obtain power-ups. Once time is up, all four fighters enter a battle arena with their newly equipped items and power-ups. [Read more...]

Nintendo’s Tomodachi Life Looks to Breathe New Life into Social Media Gaming

82977A 3DS package_NOA_mOn June 6, Nintendo will release Tomodachi Life on its 3DS system. The game, which is set in an apartment building on an island, lets players create Mii avatars that represent themselves, as well as their closest friends and relatives, and to watch those characters behave and interact with each other.

Players check in on the Tomodachi Life characters on a regular basis, solving problems as they arise, which range from being hungry to sadness, to issues stemming from their love life. While players cannot control the decisions of the Miis, they can influence them.

Whenever the player makes a Mii character happy—for example, through purchasing them a gift from the in-game store—the player’s on-screen happiness level increases. They also receive in-game money that can be used to purchase more items for the Miis, and these items rotate on a daily basis. [Read more...]

Lego Ninjago Sequel Coming to Handheld Systems

Lego.NinjagoWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, TT Games, and The Lego Group will release the second installment of the Lego Ninjago franchise, Lego Ninjago: Nindroids, to the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita this summer. Hellbent Games developed the sequel in partnership with TT Games.

The game will feature 30 fast-paced, action-packed levels that follow key plot scenarios featured in the Lego Ninjago Rebooted animated series. Players get to use vehicles such as the Kai Fighter, special moves, combo attacks, and secret weapons like Technoblades to solve puzzles and defend New Ninjago city.

Activision, Hasbro Igniting Home Gaming with Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark

Transformers.RiseDarkSparkActivision Publishing Inc. and Hasbro Inc. are collaborating on Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark, a video game complement to Paramount PicturesTransformers: Age of Extinction, which arrives in theaters in June. Players get to choose from more than 40 playable characters, derived from both movie director Michael Bay’s Transformers universe as well as the ever-popular Cybertron universe, as they battle over the Dark Spark. [Read more...]

Sega Kicks Off New Era of Toys and Games with a Sonic Boom

SonicBoomlogoSega will launch a new branch of its Sonic the Hedgehog universe entitled Sonic Boom, which will be accompanied by a CG animated TV series, video games for the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS, new toys from Tomy, and more. To date, the character has appeared in more than 70 video game titles across a span of more than 20 years.

During a press event this past Thursday in New York City, the upcoming TV series was introduced as a character-driven comedy featuring lots of action and adventure. It consists of 52 11-minute episodes, and will debut in both the U.S. and France during the 2014 to 2015 season. “What we try to do is take the character and put them in situations where their personalities take center stage, and take us in interesting directions,” said showrunner and executive producer Evan Baily. [Read more...]

Compete in a Survival of the Crood-Est in The Croods: Prehistoric Party!

D3Publisher (D3P) will bring the DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. animated film, The Croods, to Nintendo’s Wii U, Wii, 3DS, and DS systems.  The Croods: Prehistoric Party! will be available on March 19, to coincide with North American theatrical release of the film on March 22. [Read more...]

Nintendo 3DS Not Made for Kids Under Age Six, Says Company

According to In-Game, a blog on msnbc.com, Nintendo has issued a warning to parents telling them that kids under the age of 6 should not play 3-D games on its soon-to-be-released Nintendo 3DS.

The warning, translated by Kotaku.com, reports that 3-D viewing causes quicker eye fatigue than normal screen viewing, and children under six should not play the 3-D games because they are still developing their eye muscles. Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime told Kotaku.com, “We will recommend that very young children not look at 3-D images. That’s because, [in] young children, the muscles for the eyes are not fully formed.”

In-Game reports that Sony issued a similar warning about kids playing 3-D games on the PlayStation 3 console, saying that parents should “consult your doctor before allowing young children to watch 3-D video images or play stereoscopic 3-D games.”

The Nintendo 3DS is expected to launch in Japan on February 26 and then in North America and beyond in March. The 3DS will feature a slider that allows players to adjust the amount of 3-D effect they see. Nintendo said the console will include parental controls that can turn the 3-D effect off. The 3DS will premiere to the Japanese public at next month’s Nintendo World event.

Nintendo to Release 3-D Portable Console

Nintendo has announced that it will release a 3-D portable console, the Nintendo 3DS. The system will use two screens, will be backwards compatible with current DS and DSi games, and—most likely the biggest feature—players won’t have to wear any special glasses to see the game in 3-D.

Last month, Ars Technica posted a video (above) of a downloadable game that is currently out in Japan, which allows the user to see a 3-D effect by peering into the game and moving the console back and forth. The 3DS may use similar technology.

The Nintendo 3DS is scheduled to be release before the end of the fiscal year, sometime between April 2010 and March 2011. The company has yet to release any images or videos of the upcoming system, or explain how the games will look or be played.