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.

Yoshi’s New Island Hatches on Nintendo 3DS

3DS_YoshisNewIslandOn Friday, Yoshi’s New Island launched for Nintendo 3DS. In Nintendo‘s new platform adventure, Yoshi traverses a variety of worlds to help Baby Mario reunite with his kidnapped brother. The third game in the beloved Yoshi’s Island series, it features inventive transformations, giant eggs, colorful art styles, and a new multi-player mode.

Similar to previous Yoshi games, the title character can swallow enemies using his long tongue and turn them into eggs, which can be thrown to overcome challenges. This time, two giant eggs enter the mix: The massive Mega Eggdozer, which plows through environments and opens up new areas; and the Metal Eggdozer, which can roll over enemies or be used to explore underwater areas.

Nintendo has also launched a green Yoshi Edition Nintendo 3DS XL system featuring an image of Yoshi on the front, as well as cute eggs on the back.

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.

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...]

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.