Mario Bobblehead Stylus for Nintendo 3DS Accessories
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Released on TBD
This officially licensed product features a fun Bobblehead character top to bring a spring to your stylus!
Suitable for use with Nintendo DS, DSLite, DSi, DSi XL, 3DS and 3DS XL.
This week saw the long-awaited UK release of the PlayStation Vita, the most powerful handheld gaming console ever. Despite a size that fits snugly into your palms, it's a muscular beast of a machine capable of giving its PS3 big brother a run for its money where graphics and processing oomph are concerned. But how did we get here? How did gaming on the go become such a big deal?
The simple answer is that it's always been a big deal. Even way back in the early 1980s, when the best games were on giant arcade cabinets and the best home gaming had to offer was the bleeping blocks of the Atari 5200, Nintendo was cleaning up with its Game & Watch series of handheld LCD games. Simple in the extreme, they were a cultural phenomena - and Nintendo's first runaway gaming success.
They were so popular, in fact, that their creator, Gunpei Yokoi, couldn't leave the idea of portable gaming alone. As well as designing classic games such as Donkey Kong and Metroid, he is best known as the father of the GameBoy.
Launched in 1989, this chunky beige brick with a tiny monochrome screen was nothing short of a revolution. Gamers snapped the system up, along with portable versions of hit console games, movie tie-ins, the first entries in the evergreen Pokemon franchise and a certain little game called Tetris. Bundled with the GameBoy, the Russian puzzle classic helped to define handheld gaming as the natural home of simple yet addictive one-more-go game design. It also pioneered the world of multiplayer, using a link cable to allow two GameBoy owners to battle against each other.
The GameBoy was such an enormous hit - shifting well over 100m units in its lifetime - that other electronics companies tried to ride the bandwagon. Atari released the Lynx, the first handheld with colour graphics, but it struggled to match Nintendo's efficient tech, draining its batteries at inconvenient speed.
More challengers emerged from Japan, such as the TurboExpress, but it would be Nintendo's long-standing rival, Sega, that put up the best fight. The Game Gear launched in 1991, and shrewdly used the same technology as the popular Master System home console, allowing hit games to be quickly ported to the handheld. Although it never outsold the GameBoy, the Game Gear put up a solid challenge.
GameBoy and Game Gear battled for handheld supremacy throughout the 1990s, with other - often technically superior - portables such as the Neo Geo Pocket and WonderSwan barely making a dent in their dominance. Nintendo's lead was so assured that they waited until 1998 before upgrading the GameBoy's grey and black screen to a colour model.
As the 21st century rolled around, however, the home console experience was becoming so sophisticated that the handhelds were starting to look outdated. Nokia tried to capitalise on the rise of mobile phones with the ill-fated N-Gage, a clumsy hybrid of phone and console that failed to capture the public's imagination.
It was Nintendo, once again, in 2004 that changed the landscape. The Nintendo DS at first appeared to be an act of supreme folly. Boasting two screens - much like some of the Game & Watch titles of yesteryear - as well as a stylus for touchscreen interaction, it was like nothing else around. And, as with the original GameBoy, Nintendo kept the DS fresh by constantly revising and relaunching the machine in different configurations - smaller, larger, and with more features.
With Sega having long since abandoned the hardware market, the challenge to the DS came from a new rival: SONY. Having exploded into gaming with the PlayStation, SONY's take on handheld gaming was sleek, powerful and designed for the hardcore gamer on the go. The PSP, or PlayStation Portable, certainly made the cheerful DS look like a toy but, much like the Game Gear, it was never quite able to topple Nintendo from its throne, even with cult hits such as Monster Hunter making the system a must-have in Japan.
Which brings us to 2012, where once again Nintendo and SONY are battling for the palm of your hand. Nintendo's 3DS continues the design approach of the original DS, with left field technical innovation and a breezy pick-up-and-play approach. The PS Vita, as we've seen, is the PSP on steroids, a desirable bit of beautiful entertainment technology that pushes the boundaries of what can be done in a small space.
Looking from dazzling titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, all the way back to the rudimentary two-button Game & Watch experience, it's hard to believe only thirty years separate them and yet it feels as though handheld gaming is only just getting up to speed. Imagine where we'll be in 2042!
2011 has been a fantastic year for gaming most recognisable face, Nintendo Mario, and 2012 looks set to be another. From platforming to kart racing, tennis, Olympic sports, role playing and party games, the portly yet agile plumber is clearly a highly versatile character who can do it all. Here, GAME takes a look back at a couple of the best Mario games from this year, in case you missed them, and looks ahead to some of 2012 undoubted highlights.
3DS hasn exactly been lacking in quality games in its first year on the market, but the arrival of Super Mario Land 3D (3DS) in November and the launch of Mario Kart 7 earlier this month have really made the portable console a must own system. Mixing the best elements of older Mario games with new ideas and technology, the former is perhaps best described as a blend of the more straightforward, accessible 2D Super Mario Bros. games for Wii and DS and Wii more challenging 3D Super Mario Galaxy titles. Its magical worlds are essentially made up of left to right dashes through obstacle courses, which see players running, jumping, hovering and gliding to master the environments with the aim of reaching a flagpole at the end of each level. With simple, intuitive controls, it instantly accessible and there always a clear path to completing each stage, usually littered with coins to collect, question blocks to bump and enemies to stomp. But Mario can also wander around a little in the game 3D environments, and only explorers and the most skilled players will locate all of the secret areas, items and unlockables ingeniously hidden away in the expertly designed levels.
Mario Kart 7 is another must-play title for newcomers and series veterans alike, mixing old and new to great effect too. It offers 16 new courses and 16 classic ones from older MK games for players to compete on, all based on environments and characters from Nintendo Mushroom Kingdom. The best showcase of the console's 3D screen yet, theye absolutely gorgeous to look at and just as well designed, featuring exciting new airborne and underwater sections to compliment the on-track action. With basic accelerate, brake, fire and jump buttons, the game easy enough that anyone can pick it up and play instantly, but itl take months of practice to master the multi-route tracks, learn all of the shortcuts and become an online karting king.
Looking ahead to 2012, Mario will be joined by a host of Nintendo stablemates as well as characters from Square Enix popular Dragon Quest series in January release Boom Street (Wii). A Monopoly-style board game that challenges players to play the real estate and stock markets to win,here are 27 characters to choose from 13 from Mario games, 13 from Dragon Quest and your Mii and over 15 boards based on memorable areas from each series, with different shapes and layouts providing loads of replay value. Players race around the board trying to accumulate wealth and hit a target value while buying, selling and trading property to see who can be the first to cash out, and with both beginner and advanced settings, it could be the perfect game to get the family huddled round the telly on those cold winter nights.
Mario Tennis (3DS) also looks set to be a smash hit next year. If previous games in the series are anything to go by, itl do its best to nail the balance between realism and zany, fast-paced tennis action starring all of your favourite Mushroom Kingdom characters, as well as a few surprise ones. Wee expecting a mixture of tactical tennis gameplay, special moves and plenty of mini-games that should make a great title for Mario and sports fans alike.
Mario and friends, including Sega favourites like Sonic the Hedgehog, will keep things physical in Mario & Sonic At The London 2012 Olympics on the Nintendo 3DS, which launches in February 2012. Players will go for gold in over 50 Olympic events that make full use of the handheld different control methods, serving up a wide variety of ways to play. Competing for the top of the podium alone or in head-to-head games with friends, players will frantically slide the Circle Pad round and round to row, tilt the system to keep their balance on the beam, and blow into the microphone to keep breathing at the right time while swimming.
Also in 2012, players will see the moustachioed, genre-hopping plumber embark on an exciting new role playing adventure in Paper Mario also on the Nintendo 3DS. It will feature frantic, turn-based battles set in a colourful and varied 3D world that takes in weapons, locations and items from Mario past and present,. It will also require clever strategic use of a range of ability-giving stickers, which can be used to carry out attacks on enemies or to fill in missing parts of the levels.
GAME : 3DS update Round-up
If there's one thing the latest generation of consoles has taught us, it's that newly purchased gaming systems aren't the finished article when you first take them out of their shiny wrapping. Not to say they 're lacking anything fundamental, far from it in fact, but system updates now mean it's possible for platform holders like Nintendo to dramatically improve a console's functionality and boost the user experience post-launch.
December's free 3DS system update is a prime example, introducing fresh game content, social features and hardware functionality to the console. Here, GAME runs you through all the major new additions.
One of our favourite new features is the ability to make ten minute long 3D videos with just a few simple button presses. Icons on the 3DS touch screen allow you to select or fine-tune different recording features such as the 3D effect, altering the sharpness and brightness of your video, and choosing whether to film in regular colour, black and white or sepia. The quality of the recordings we've made so far is surprisingly good, although you obviously have to see them in person to get the full 3D effect.
While the basic ability to record in 3D is a cool feature in itself, special praise is reserved for the three Trick Shot modes. Interval Shot takes still snaps at your choice of intervals, between every half a second and 60 seconds, before playing them in a rapid slideshow.
Frame Pick, which essentially enables you to create stop-motion animations, is similar to Interval Shot except it lets you capture images of a physically manipulated object whenever you choose, creating the illusion of movement when the series of pictures is played as a continuous sequence.
Meanwhile, Clip Link enables you to record various video segments which are then mashed together in the same video file. There's no doubt that budding animators and movie makers will spend a lot of time playing around with these simple to use but rewarding new video recording features.
New Plaza updates
The system update also introduces a range of new features for Mii Plaza, the place where 3DS owners can view the Mii characters they've met via StreetPass (which automatically swaps the Miis and gameplay profiles of players who pass each other on their travels). These include a follow-up to the free, in-built 3DS RPG-style game StreetPass Quest, and new 3D puzzles of famous Nintendo characters to complete by collecting pieces from other players.
You now receive congratulatory messages in the Mii Plaza for achieving goals such as meeting a certain numbers of Miis or ones from different countries (which are displayed on a new StreetPass Map showing the locations of all the Miis you've encountered), or by working your way through StreetPass Quest 2. There are 78 accomplishments to get in total and a congratulatory message for each. They also unlock up to 35 different tunes to listen to in a new Mii Plaza Music Player.
The new Puzzle Panel pieces we've collected so far are for Donkey Kong Country Returns and Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3D. The puzzles themselves are larger than the originals, with 24 pieces to collect instead of 15, including four pink pieces which can only be collected via StreetPass (others can be purchased with Play Coins, a virtual currency accumulated by carrying your 3DS around with you like a pedometer).
New Street Pass Quest
StreetPass Quest 2, in which you control a team of fighters made up of your friends' Miis, challenges players to save three fictional family members kidnapped by slimy monsters and placed in separate cages. It contains branching paths as well as brand new enemies, and even lets players make parties of Miis to carry out team attacks using weapons or magic. The game also offers players the chance to collect a total of 57 hats for their Miis, compared to the original game's 16, but the title's only accessible if you've completed the first one twice.
Additionally, the 3DS system update paves the way for players to download demos of 3DS games, although none have been made available yet, as well as making it easier to browse and pay for games and content in the Nintendo eShop. Players can now transfer games purchased from the eShop, as well as account funds and save data including photographs and audio files, from one 3DS system to another too.
All in all, the 3DS system update is an impressive release, adding great new hardware functionality, amusing new game content and cool new social features. It has been almost nine months since release and our 3DS feels like a fresher piece of kit than ever before, all of which leaves us eagerly awaiting the next major system update.
Nintendo has expressed hope that sales of its 3DS console are back on track after reaching 6.68 million units at the end of September.
Although the figure is below the company's expectations, it is ahead of the data for the device's predecessor the DS during the same period, reports MCV.
Sales of the 3DS, which allows users to experience an innovative way of playing new and exciting games, increased during August as a result of a substantial price cut.
Nintendo has also forecast strong sales during the festive period, with the reduced cost and an improved software line-up expected to attract customers.
This comes after the Japanese technology firm announced the launch of a new coral pink 3DS console, created to mark the upcoming release of Nintendogs + Cats.
Set to hit stores on November 18th, the new title will see the portable pooch accompanied by an adorable female friend to play with.
A Brief History of Handheld Gaming (22/02/2012)
This week saw the long-awaited UK release of the PlayStation Vita, the most powerful handheld gaming console ever. Despite a size that fits snugly into your palms, it's a muscular beast of a machine c…
What has Mario got planned in 2012? (21/12/2011)
2011 has been a fantastic year for gaming most recognisable face, Nintendo Mario, and 2012 looks set to be another. From platforming to kart racing, tennis, Olympic sports, role playing and party game…
GAME : 3DS update Round-up (14/12/2011)
If there one thing the latest generation of consoles has taught us, it that newly purchased gaming systems aren the finished article when you first take them out of their shiny wrapping. Not to say th…
Nintendo 3DS sales reach 6.68 million (04/11/2011)
Nintendo has expressed hope that sales of its 3DS console are back on track after reaching 6.68 million units at the end of September.…
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