The future of Nintendo: what’s to come after Spring 2016 (6)

In this series of articles I look at what Nintendo will most likely deliver after Spring 2016. Of course I do not have a crystal ball, so what I will be presenting here are just some educated guesses about what Nintendo’s (affiliated) studios are most likely to be working on right now.

Next up: the last few internal Nintendo developers (SDD and NST) and affiliates (1-UP Studio, Genius Sonority and HAL Laboratory).


SDD

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
SDD Streetpass Mii Plaza

Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball (NA)

March 2011

April 2014

Jam with the Band series

Brain Training series

AR Games

(?)Dr. Kawashima’s Devilish Brain Training: Can You Stay Focused?

StreetPass Mii Plaza

What are they working on?

Nintendo SDD has worked mostly on games in the Brain Training series and Jam with the Band series. While there have been multiple Brain Training games that were released in the West, the Jam with the Band games mostly stay in Japan.

The AR games and Streetpass Mii Plaza games developed by SDD were pre-installed on or pre-packaged with the original 3DS system. None of the three games SDD produced for Nintendo 3DS afterwards have made it to Europe. Brain Age: Concentration Training (which in Europe will be called Dr Kawashima’s Devilish Brain Training: Can You Stay Focused? if it ever releases) and Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball have been released in the U.S. though.

 

Nintendo SDD is momentarily probably working on pre-installed software for Nintendo’s newest handheld console, which may or may not be a new Streetpass Mii Plaza.

What does this mean for WiiU?

SDD focuses on games for Nintendo handheld consoles. They will not produce anything for Nintendo WiiU.

NST

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
NST Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars March 2015 Mario vs. Donkey Kong series

Crosswords series

Metroid Prime Hunters

1080° Avalanche

Wave Race: Blue Storm

(?) New Crosswords

Cross buy

What are they working on?

Since the internal problems surrounding the development of Project H.A.M.M.E.R. for Nintendo Wii and its cancelation, Nintendo NST has been demoted to a small developer that focusses on smaller puzzle games, including the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series. Their latest game (Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars) came out for both Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo WiiU.

Because the development team over at NST is rather small, and they have promised to share two new levels per week for 50 weeks with owners of Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars, chances are that they still have their hands full with that.

Though one may hope that Nintendo NST gets another shot at making a game in the Wave Race or 1080° series, chances are that it will not happen in the WiiU’s lifespan. A new game in the Crosswords series may still come to WiiU in the meantime. Maybe.

 

What does this mean for WiiU?

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars will most likely be Nintendo NST’s one and only outing on Nintendo WiiU. A new game in the Crosswords series may still come to WiiU though, but it is not very likely.

1-UP STUDIO

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
1-UP Studio Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker January 2015 Magical Vacation/Starsign

Mother 3

Super Mario 3D series

Mana series

Blue Dragon series

London Life (Professor Layton)

(?) Mother 3

Captain Toad

What are they working on?

1-UP Studio was previously known as Brownie Brown. The name change went together with their new function within Nintendo. They now provide development assistance to other studios, with a focus lately on the Mario 3D series (including Captain Toad). 1-UP Studio will most likely provide the same assistance during the development of the new 3D Mario.

Before it became 1-UP, Brownie Brown was known for its work on some major RPG series (Magical, Mana, Blue Dragon). One of the most illustrious games they probably worked on is Mother 3. Although the game was not released in Europe and the U.S. when it was originally released on Gameboy Advance, chances are that the title may still come to the WiiU Virtual console. Summer 2016 seems to be plausible. Not only has Nintendo been releasing a ton of GBA games on the WiiU virtual console lately. They have also released Mother 1 and 2 for the very first time in Europe through the Virtual Console, meaning that the games were not only ported, but also translated (in the case of Mother 1) for the very first time.

 

What does this mean for WiiU?

Since 1-UP is mostly an assisting studio, it all depends on which studio they will be assisting in the near future. If they will provide assistance on the next 3D Mario, chances are that we will not see their work again on WiiU. There is, however, a chance that we will still see one of their older games appear on the WiiU Virtual console, namely: Mother 3.

GENIUS SONORITY

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
Genius Sonority Pokémon Shuffle February 2015 Pokémon Colosseum series

Pokémon Link! series

The Denpa Men series

Pokemon Battle Revolution

Learn with Pokémon: Typing Adventure

(?)The Denpa Men RPG FREE!

Pokémon Shuffle

What are they working on?

Genius Sonority has made the only Pokémon RPGs for home consoles in existence. Both games were released for Nintendo GameCube. After their work on Pokémon Battle Revolution for Nintendo Wii, they started working on smaller titles. With 21 employees it is unlikely that they will be making the next big home console Pokémon RPG.

Genius Sonority is experimenting with free to play games for Nintendo 3DS at the moment. Their fourth Denpa Men title (The Denpa Men RPG FREE!) has not yet been released in the West. It may still come. Other than that, they are most likely working on another (small) Pokémon spin-off for mobile phones and/or Nintendo 3DS.

What does this mean for WiiU?

Genius Sonority will not release a game for Nintendo WiiU.

HAL LABORATORY

Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
HAL Laboratory Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush May 2015 Kirby series

Super Smash Bros series

Mother/Earthbound series

Adventures of Lolo series

Pokémon Stadium series

Pokémon Snap

Face Raiders

Box Boy!

(?) new Kirby

Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush

What are they working on?

HAL Laboratory is one of Nintendo’s biggest studios. They are best known for creating Kirby and (co-)developing every title in the series. Work on the next Kirby title must have already started. This title may still make it to WiiU, but it may as well release on Nintendo 3DS or on a next generation Nintendo console.

HAL Laboratory has worked on the main Pokémon games for N64 before Genius Sonority took over for GameCube and Wii. Currently, however, no internal Nintendo team is assigned to making Pokémon fighting games for Nintendo WiiU – Pokkén Tournament is being developed by Bandai Namco for Arcades and may come to WiiU in 2016.

The last game in the Mother series (Mother 3) wasn’t developed by HAL Laboratory, though they did help on the game. A new game in the series is unlikely to be released because Shigesato Itoi has said that he will not be involved in a fourth title.

Since Masahiro Sakurai left HAL Laboratory and created his own company (Sora Ltd.), HAL Laboratory hasn’t been responsible for the Super Smash Bros series. They did, however, provide development assistance on the latest Super Smash Bros game for Nintendo WiiU and will provide help on the next installments as well (if the series doesn’t actually return to the studio when Sakurai decides to stop working on Smash Bros).

Although HAL Laboratory only recently released two games (Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush and Box Boy!) chances are that we will see something big from them before the next generation of Nintendo consoles arrives. They are far too big a studio to have only one big Nintendo franchise (Kirby) in active development. So unless they are developing all the DLC for Super Smash Bros, keep your eyes open for a new challenger!

What does this mean for WiiU?

HAL Laboratory is too big to only release one small Kirby game on WiiU and play an assisting role in the development of Super Smash Bros for WiiU. Something’s cooking over at HAL, and it may not just be a pink fluff ball!

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Game Review: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars

Mario vs Donkey Kong - Tipping Stars Box Art Eu WiiUDeveloped by: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Release: March 20th 2015

MSRP: €19.99

Bought @ Media Markt Wilrijk for €16,99

Sometimes you buy a game on Saturday and finish it by Sunday… and that’s okay. This is what happened to me with Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. I bought it Saturday afternoon, played a few levels, put it down, thought it was fun enough, picked it up again Sunday morning, couldn’t put it down anymore and finished the main world levels by midday, tried to create my own level afterwards, failed at it miserably, turned off my console and went out on a social call.

By M.C.J.F.


It’s a puzzle time, woohoo!

I have really enjoyed my time with Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars so far. It’s a puzzle game. It’s not a hard game. Not by a longshot. But it’s short levels do (mostly) require you to think ahead and be quick on the draw while playing. Just like in previous Mario vs. Donkey Kong games (not counting the first one, which was a breed of its own, and much more like 1994’s Donkey Kong for the original Nintendo Game Boy) you have to safely guide mini-Mario toys, as well as mini-Toad, mini-Pauline and mini-Peach toys, from point A to point Door by influencing their surrounding environment with the stylus.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong Tipping Stars (1)

The challenge? Once one of your toy figurines starts moving (because you tapped on it with the stylus, or because it was touched by another toy) it never stops. At least, it doesn’t stop until it has reached its goal, is brutally ripped apart by a Shy Guy or blazing fire ball, or, just like a lemming, has plunged itself into whatever abyss you weren’t able to bridge in a timely fashion – purposely or unpurposely, depending on how psychotic you are.

The last level of each world spices things up a little. In these levels one of your mini-Mario toys becomes cursed by a monkey and starts moving on its own accord, looking to create havoc. When it touches one of your other mini-toys it’s Game Over. So you will want one of your mini-toys to whack it with a hammer before that happens, lifting the curse in the process – aaah, if only real life was as simple as that.

Monkey curse

 

It’s a MORE puzzle time, woohoo!

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars  is the kind of game of which you think beforehand that you’re going to play a few levels of when you have half an hour to kill and end up playing for several hours in a row, saying: ‘oooh just one more level… but now I’m at the final stage of this world… and now I want to know what the next world looks like… but that first new level was so easy.’

You and I will be able to play a few levels of it whenever we want to kill some time though, and that is because the game doesn’t really start before you finish it. Indeed, there are a lot more levels to enjoy than the initial 48 which comprise the story mode – which isn’t more than a gif before level 1-1 and a gif after level 6-8 to be honest. After you beat level 6-8, you unlock the first of two extra worlds, comprising another 8 levels each. There are also 24 bonus levels which you unlock by perfecting the main, extra and already unlocked bonus levels. And then there’s the option to create and share your own levels with the outside world.

Community

Now, before you say that you aren’t interested in user generated content, because… well… oftentimes it isn’t all that good (here’s looking at you Infamous 2!), know that you will not only find user generated content behind that scary “Community” button, but also  official Nintendo content shared by the director of the game. Yes, Nintendo has promised to release two new levels every week for the next 50 weeks. That’s a lot of extra content, and at the time of writing, three days after release, already six official extra levels were available.

 

It’s a… creating time, woohoo?!

Creating your own levels is a puzzle game in its own right. The creator mode is intuitive enough. You start with a level template and select different traps to bridge, what you would want to bridge them with e.g. springs and conveyor belts, enemies to whack or avoid, coins to collect (it is a Mario-game after all), mini-toys to safeguard (including mini-Luigi and mini-Donkey Kong toys not seen throughout the main campaign!) from a list and add them to the template with simple stylus taps and drags. Before you get to finish your level and share it with the outside world, it has to work though (here’s looking at you once more Infamous 2!), and that means you will have to be able to clear the level yourself, grabbing all the coins to get a perfect a score… which is trickier than you think.

At least for me it is.

Creator mode

I can’t see myself creating that many levels, let alone sharing them with the community, but those who do can get even more out of Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. When people play and like your levels, they get a chance to tip you with stars (hence the name of the game). With these stars you can buy more tools and skins to make your levels even more intricate and interesting. You also get stars for playing and perfecting (community) levels, but when you aren’t really planning on creating your own levels, you only get to use these stars for tipping… which is less of an incentive than actually getting something in return (Miiverse stamps don’t really count, do they?). Though one could argue that you indirectly get fun new levels by tipping and encouraging the right people.

It’s a cross-buy, woohoo!

The game offers a lot of content, but only for those who are willing to spend more time with it after the credits role. Depending on what type of gamer you are then €19,99 might seem a somewhat high price of admission. You can get the game for €10 though, because when you buy a download-code for WiiU or 3DS (it’s on both systems) you also get a download-code for the other system. Because it’s an extra code, and not limited to use on the same account, you can easily share the game with a friend who owns the other system. I played on the WiiU and gave the 3DS-code to my wife.

Cross buy

Are there advantages for playing the game on one system or the other? The game is exactly the same on both systems; also meaning that the game doesn’t make use of the WiiU’s added raw power. The graphics are fine. The music as well. But it is clear that not too much attention was given to these aspects during development. The visuals and music very much resemble what was already achieved on the Nintendo DS in 2006.

For those who thought they would get to enjoy the series in HD on WiiU for the first time, think again. What you get on your television screen is a small square box surrounded by a frame filled with stars, clouds or whatever icon comes with the level theme. The larger levels might just fill up the screen, but that just creates another problem. Because you aren’t as zoomed in on the action as on the gamepad, it can sometimes become difficult to spot what your mini-toys are actually up to – even on a 50 inch television screen. Clearly, the game is meant to be played on the gamepad or the Nintendo 3DS. So while I had my television switched on during my first play session, I didn’t bother to turn it on during my second session.

Clouds

Whom should play this game?

Woohoo! No. No. No more woohoo’s! If you really can’t get enough of the woohoo’s, however (like me), this game is definitely for you. Also if you like puzzle games like Lemmings and previous Mario vs. Donkey Kong games, you should probably pick this one up as well. It might not be the best you’ve ever played, but it is really enjoyable none the less. When you’re a creative spirit who has always wanted to make his own Mario vs. Donkey game and share it with the world, now’s your chance… again. Though the level editor has been around in the series since 2006, the sharing options, tipping mechanic and Miiverse integration make for it being the best editor the series has offered to date.

7 out of 10