China Toy Fair


Professor Layton Is as Puzzling as Ever in New 3DS Game

NintendoProfessor Layton and the Azran Legacy, by Nintendo, is now available on the Nintendo 3DS. In this final game in the series’ second trilogy, the professor and his assistants, Luke and Emmy, board the airship Bostonius and journey to locations all over the world as they solve the greatest puzzle mankind has ever faced.

Players move the twisting story along by completing puzzles that include riddles, brain teasers, and action sequences. In addition to encountering numerous puzzles during the main story, others can be discovered by exploring the environment or speaking with certain characters.

Nintendo Reports Record-Setting 3DS Game Sales in 2013

Jan13.NintendoNintendo has sold a record amount of Nintendo 3DS games in 2013 and is set to release four new games early this year to take advantage of this trend. Last year, more than 16 million combined packaged and digital Nintendo 3DS games were sold, topping 2012 sales by 45 percent. Lifetime hardware sales in the U.S. for the Nintendo 3DS family of portable systems, including the Nintendo 3DS XL and Nintendo 2DS, passed 11.5 million.

Yoshi’s New Island will launch on March 14 in stores and in the Nintendo eShop, where Yoshi will reunite with Baby Mario to help him to safety. Disney Magical World will feature dozens of Disney characters in Disney-themed worlds, launching in stores and in the Nintendo eShop on April 11. A free demo of Square Enix’s role-playing game Bravely Default is now available exclusively in the Nintendo eShop and the full version will be available for purchase in stores and the Nintendo eShop on February 7. Lastly, the final installment of the second Professor Layton trilogy will launch on February 28 in stores and the Nintendo eShop.

COMMENTARY: Lego Friends Video Game Appeals to Boys and Girls

Lego Friends box art.jpgRight in time for the holidays, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has released Lego Friends, a video game based on the construction toy line of the same name. While the game is all-ages-friendly, the target demographic appears to be young girls in particular: The box art features many of the characters that appear in the game—fresh-faced ladies of various hair colors, skin tones, and hobbies.

I first heard of Lego Friends, developed by TT Games and Hellbent Games for Nintendo 3DS and DS, months before, and even then I was interested in how it might differ from titles intended for more of a boys’ audience. Eventually, I got to demo it alongside Lego Marvel Super Heroes, a game that if not specifically for boys, is certainly a more testosterone-heavy affair. The art direction and color palette for Lego Friends are cuter and brighter, respectively. But do those factors alone—and that the main avatar and supporting characters are all female—qualify calling it a video game for girls? Could it still conceivably appeal to other audiences? [Read more...]

Warner Bros., TT Games, and Lego to Create Lego The Hobbit

WBIE_Color_LowResWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, TT Games, and The Lego Group are making a new addition to the Lego videogame series: Lego The Hobbit. The game will bring filmmaker Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and the upcoming The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug to life as players are taken on quests and adventures throughout Middle-earth, joining Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey, and Thorin Oakenshield and Company.

Players will even visit key locations from the films, including Bag End, Bilbo’s Hobbit-hole in Hobbiton, as they solve countless puzzles, partake in treasure quests, and battle with orcs, trolls, and other foul things.

Lego The Hobbit is currently being developed by TT Games and will be available on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vista, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and Windows PC and Mac, next year.

Nintendo Brings Holiday Fun to Malls Across the U.S.

NintendoBetween November 25 and December 22, Nintendo will visit 23 malls coast-to-coast so the public can test drive video games for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS systems.

The expected lineup for the Wii U includes Super Mario 3D World, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Wii Fit U, Wii Party U, Wii Sports Club, The Wonderful 101, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Sonic Lost World from Sega, Disney Infinity from Disney Interactive, and more.

For Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo is scheduled to show Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Super Mario 3D Land, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Skylanders Swap Force from Activision, and more. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Sonic the Hedgehog: 22 Years and Still Going Fast!

Faster than greased lightning, Sonic the Hedgehog is one tough Erinaceinae to keep up with, and admittedly, I haven’t been trying. I had the first Sonic the Hedgehog game when it came out way back in 1991, but not long after, I went through a dry spell in which I kept away from video games. During the interim, Sonic evolved as both a pop culture icon and corporate mascot for video game publisher Sega, while I—well, I got slightly taller.

Now here we are in 2013, and with the Sonic franchise still going strong, I thought I’d rekindle my relationship with him by checking out some recent Sonic games and toys.

Phil.November20.3Sonic Lost World, by Sega: The original Sonic the Hedgehog was a side-scroller with pretty simple game play. By comparison, the latest installment is a radically different experience at times, with some levels consisting of “classic,” 2-D, side-scrolling play, while the others are immersive 3-D from an angled, top-down perspective. Players now have the option of moving in nearly all directions, and interact with terrain in ways that would have been impossible during the 2-D days.

Phil.November20.1In Sonic Lost World, players can use the trigger button on the Wii U controller to rev Sonic up, and send him zipping along extra fast (Be warned: He can get a little out of hand if you aren’t used to it yet). When approaching tight spaces, he can subsequently ricochet off walls and perform other special maneuvers. During my demo, I actually kept my finger mostly off that button, and the game still managed to be a kinetic, occasionally vertiginous experience, with lots of rocketing off springboards into the air and pinballing faster than the eye could keep up. [Read more...]

Nintendo World Hosts Launch Event for Mario and Zelda games in Rockefeller Plaza

NintendoWorld

On November 21, Nintendo is hosting a combined celebration for Super Mario 3D World for Wii U, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Mario Party: Island Tour for the Nintendo 3DS. The event will take place at Nintendo World in Rockefeller Plaza in New York City from 8 p.m until midnight.

Fans will be able to purchase all three of these Wii U and Nintendo 3DS releases, a day before they launch in stores and in the Nintendo eShop. In addition to early access to the games, chalk artist Chris Carlson will be on site to reveal an art piece featuring iconic imagery from The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Costumed characters from both the Mario and Zelda series will also be there and taking pictures with fans.

Major Toy Retailers Welcome Shoppers on Thanksgiving with Black Friday Deals

ToysRUsLogo copyThis Thanksgiving, Toys “R” Us nationwide stores will open at 5 p.m. on November 28, so parents and gift-givers can get a head start on their holiday shopping. Promotions include four-hour deals, as well as Thursday through Sunday discounts on toys, games, and tablets.

Shoppers can plan their strategies as early as November 24 on the Toys “R” Us Facebook page, and a 28-page circular is set to arrive in newspapers across the country on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, for the first time, customers can shop the majority of Thanksgiving weekend deals online at toysrus.com/blackfriday starting at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday.

Those shoppers who spend $75 or more between November 28 and 29, at Toys “R” Us or Babies “R” Us, will receive a $10 redeemable coupon that’s valid in-store or online between December 1 through December 7. [Read more...]

Moshi Monsters’ Katsuma Is Unleashed on Nintendo DS and 3DS

MoshiMonstersMoshi Monsters: Katsuma Unleashed was released for the Nintendo DS and 3DS. The game features six monster-ific worlds, and the 3DS version includes StreetPass secrets—18 explorable levels, 12 playable mini stage challenges, seven boss battles, and additional mini games where users play as each of the Moshi Monsters using their own unique moves.

Moshi Monsters: Katsuma Unleashed was created as part of the partnership between Activision Publishing Inc. and Mind Candy, the company behind the children’s brand, Moshi Monsters. The game was developed by UK-based studio Sumo Digital Ltd., and is available at retail and katsumaunleashed.com.

COMMENTARY: New Warner Bros. Licensed Games Look at Superheroes in a Different Light

I couldn’t be happier that 99 percent of all current movies—including Thor: The Dark World, due in theaters this week—seem to feature somebody in a cape or a miraculous suit of armor battling evil. Full disclosure: I was way into superhero comics when I was a kid. I managed to amass hundreds, which I kept in cardboard long boxes, re-reading them over and over throughout my tortured adolescence. I didn’t buy them for collecting purposes, thank goodness; years later, I traded in the entire lot for $10 and a key lime pie, and considered myself lucky to have gotten that much.

(Seriously, folks, if you started collecting comics during the 1990s or later, they’re not going to put your kid through college. It just won’t happen.)

My point is, I’m a huge superhero fan. However, I’ve started to feel super-saturated by all the licensed comic book-based movies and TV shows popping up of late. They always seem so serious, with all the world-saving and high drama, the death and epic romance and heroic posturing. It’s great the first time, pretty good the second, but around the umpteenth, I have to fight the urge to stand up and yell, “Hey, grown person in hockey pants! Aren’t we supposed to be having fun here?”

For that reason, I am grateful for the recent trend in video games based on licensed superhero properties, specifically those from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. While its offerings of late include the very seriously toned Batman: Arkham Origins, the company is also responsible for two titles that manage to be respectful of the superhero genre, while simultaneously turning it on its head in ways that are funny and downright fun. Both games are available now and suitable for kids ages 10 and up. [Read more...]