Hiroshi Yamauchi, who turned Nintendo into a Video Game Powerhouse, Dies at 85

Hiroshi Yamauchi, who transformed his great-grandfather’s playing-card company, Nintendo, into a global video game powerhouse, died on Thursday in Kyoto, Japan. He was 85.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, the company said.

Mr. Yamauchi, who led Nintendo from 1949 to 2002, was Japan’s most unlikely high-tech success story. Named president of the family business at 22, he steered Nintendo into board games, light-emitting toy guns and baseball pitching machines – fruitless forays that he later attributed to a “lack of imagination” – before the company arrived at arcade games.

Its Donkey Kong and the original Mario Bros. became hits and gave rise to Nintendo’s wildly successful home video game business.

The Nintendo Entertainment System, a console first released in Japan in 1983 as “Famicom,” unseated early leaders in the video game industry, selling more than 60 million units thanks to shrewd marketing, close attention to product quality and a crop of games based on unlikely yet endearing characters that soon became household names.

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Project Phoenix Kickstarter: A Japanese Role Playing Game Set to Change the Future of Gaming

Project Phoenix announced earlier this week of their plans to set up a Kickstarter, a Japanese role-playing game (JRPG). The big difference with this project is that it’ll be combined with Real Time Strategy (RTS). The future of gaming is set to be changed with the founder of Creative Intelligence Arts, Hiroaki Yura in the head of the game development.

Uniting top game developers from the West and the East, Project Phoenix takes on the JRPG genre with art direction from Kiyoshi Arai, best known for Final Fantasy XII and XIV. Music is set to be headed by Nobou Uematsu, the legendary composer of the Final Fantasy series. This is the first independent game project Uematsu will be commited to.

“For 25 years, I’ve been working on a lot of video game music like the Final Fantasy series. This is the first time I’ve worked on an independent game,” says Uematsu, Project Phoenix’s lead composer, adding, “Although it’s fun to create a game within a large company, I’ve always been interested in being able to work in a small, passionate independent games team. I’m really looking forward to it.”

The team members in charge of development have quite the impressive credits of which include Halo 4, Final Fantasy series, World of Warcraft, Star Craft II, Diablo III, L.A. Noire, Soulcalibur V, Steins Gate and the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya.

A few other members are yet to be announced of which includes a secret designer from one of Japanese leading anime mecha title who had changed pop culture influence in the world. Project Phoenix Kickstarter seelks $100,000 in funding for programming and artistic development of the game. Check out Project Phoenix for more information on the game set to change the history of Japanese role playing game.

Akihabara: The One Stop Japan Spot for Otakus

Japan is notable for its many splendour tourist spots such as Shibuya, Okina and Kyoto. However, if there is one spot Otaku’s from all over the world wish to visit and this would be none other than Akihabara. Akihabara has been considered Japan’s one-stop-shop for all anime lovers and enthusiasts.

Where in Japan:

Located in Sotokanda, Tokyo Prefectur, Akihabara (秋葉原) is two stations north of Tokyo Station. Locals call the area Akiba after the local shrine. This area has gained quite the recognition from all over the world due to its diehard otaku culture. Major developments have already occurred thanks to the Akihabara Crossfield complex that promotes Akihabara as the centre for global electronics technology and trade.

How to Get There:

It’s easy to head to Akihabra thanks to Japans’ complex train systems plus their trains give meaning to “faster than a speeding bullet.” There are two options of which are as follows:

  1. From Tokyo Station: Akihabara is located two stations north of Tokyo Station by Keihin-Tohoku or JR Yamanote Line. The trip costs 130 yen and will only take three minutes. However, during the weekdays, Keihin-Tohoku line skips one station between Akihabara and Tokyo which will cut off a few seconds off travel time.
  2. From Shinjuku Station: Travellers should take the JR Chuo Line (colour orange) from Shinjuku to Ochanomizu Station of which takes approximately ten minutes. After, take a quick transfer to JR Sobu line (colour yellow) for one more station headed to Akihabara. This trip takes two minutes max. Alternate options also include taking the yellow train without transfer from Shinjuku to Akihabara for seventeen minutes trip. The fare costs 160 yen for either case.

What to See:

As mentioned, Akihabara is the centre for Otaku enthusiasts and lovers. From maid cafes to Tokyo anime centres selling merchandise and games, everything can be found here. It’s best to load up the wallet because the merchandise scattered around can easily lure Otakus in.

  1. Maid Cafes: Cosplay themed restaurants abound where food is served basically by waitresses in frilly and colourful attires. These “maids” also engage in fun activities with the guests.
  2. drinks

  3. Tokyo Anime Center: This is found on the UDX building of Akihabara Crossfield where anime related exhibitions are held.
  4. akihabara-2

  5. Gundam Café is extremely popular where food is served in gundam themes. A gift shop is also connected where visitors may purchase souvenirs and goods.


Why Visit Akihabara:

While Akihabara is heaven on earth for Otakus, some visit the area for real steals when it comes to the latest gadgets and electronics. Various centres offer whopping deals that are definitely a real steal as compared to any other place in Japan or overseas.

When to Visit:

Akihabara is open all year round! Take a trip to one of Japan’s busiest and most Otaku-friendly place on earth.

Important Reminders:

Japanese don’t like tourists taking photos inside stores. Unless you’re a famous celebrity or you’ve got special permission, keep the trigger happy camera’s to yourself or outside the store.

Giant Kuratas Robot For Sale in Japan

Like many Japanese, Kogoro Kurata grew up watching futuristic robots in movies and animation, wishing that he could bring them to life and pilot one himself. Unlike most other Japanese, he has actually done it.His 4-tonne, 4-metre 13 feet tall Kuratas robot is a grey behemoth with a built-in pilot’s seat and hand-held controller that allows an operator to flex its massive arms, move it up and down and drive it at a speed of up to 10 kph 6 mph.“The robots we saw in our generation were always big and always had people riding them, and I don’t think they have much meaning in the real world,” said Kurata, a 39-year-old artist.“But it really was my dream to ride in one of them, and I also think it’s one kind of Japanese culture. I kept thinking that it’s something that Japanese had to do.”

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Tokyo Game Show 2012 kicks off with surge in mobile games

The Tokyo Game Show 2012, one of the world’s top gaming industry events, kicked off Thursday in Chiba Prefecture, with developers unveiling an increased number of titles for smart phones, at a time when sales of console games are slowing.

During the four-day video game software and hardware expo at the Makuhari Messe convention center near Tokyo, 209 companies from around the world will showcase a record 1,043 titles, according to the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association.

The annual event is expected to draw roughly 195,000 game fans, with 1,609 booths open for hands-on experiences of new titles and other products, the organizer said.

The event will be open only to the media and gaming industry for the first two days, then to the public on Saturday and Sunday.

This year’s game show sees a surge in the number of game titles for mobile platforms such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone, as social networking games further increases their presence.

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Naruto SD 3DS Game TV Ad

Namco Bandai Games streamed its first TV Ad for the Naruto SD Powerful Shippuden Nintendo 3DS game. In this game, the Naruto characters have been chibi-fied adding cuteness to the game.

The commercial mentions that the ones who pre-order the game will get a “powerful headband case” that can hold three 3DS games.

The Nintendo fighting game has been based on Kenji Tairas Kishimotos assistant reinterpretation of Masashi Kishimotos original story. Examples of his work include Rock Lee no Seishun Full-Power Ninden manga and the Naruto Spin-Off: Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals anime.

The game will ship in Japan on November 29 for 5,230 yen about US$67.

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PlayStation Chiefs Defend Vita Handheld

The presidents of Sony Computer Entertainment’s U.S. and Japan divisions have recently, in separate interviews, stepped up to defend PlayStation Vita’s position in the marketplace.

The new handheld game machine has been struggling at retail, with neither the hardware nor software showing signs of standing up to the competition. Recent Sony losses forced the company to lower its handheld sales forecasts for the remainder of the year.

Sony Computer Entertainment Japan president Hiroshi Kawano spoke highly of the Vita’s chances back in May, citing a “mountain” of anticipated games and a new white Vita system coming in June. When 4Gamer.net asked him about that this month, Kawano said Vita “got an unusually strong response in June.”

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Dragon Quest X is smash hit in Japan

Japanese video game developer Square Enix released Dragon Quest X (10) on Thursday, and just like for previous releases in the series, fans in Tokyo lined up hours in advance to get their hands on the first one for the Nintendo Wii console. Series creator Yuji Horii was even present at the Shibuya Ward location of Tsutaya, a video game and book retailer, to greet the fans who were there that morning.

The last Dragon Quest game was released in July of 2009, and while the tenth entry in the series is not only the first to be on the Nintendo Wii, it is also the first to feature online gameplay, allowing player to connect with others over the internet. As a result, it is also the first Nintendo Wii game to require a fee for playing online. Users are able to purchase subscriptions in 30-day increments [1,000 yen (approx. $12.78) for 30 days, 1,950 yen ($24.93) for 60 days, and 2,900 yen ($37.08) for 90 days], in addition to the 6,980 yen ($89.25) price for the game itself.

33 year old Kensuke Matayoshi was the first to purchase the game at the Tsutaya in Shibuya Ward, having waited in line for more than 24 hours. As a long-time fan of the series, he says he’s excited to see how it will work as an online experience. Yuji Horii says he’s both excited and nervous for fans to play Dragon Quest X, as often people who are not devoted video game players often have the idea that playing online is difficult. The Dragon Quest series has always been meant to appeal to Japanese of all ages, so they worked hard to make online play more accessible for all audiences.

Nintendo 3DS getting larger screens

Nintendo Co. has upgraded its 3DS handheld to sport a screen nearly twice as big as the previous model.

It comes amid hot competition against smartphones and tablets that are wooing people away from dedicated gaming machines.

The Nintendo 3DS LL, called 3DS XL outside Japan, goes on sale in Japan and Europe July 28, and in the U.S. from Aug. 19. It will sell for $199.99 in the U.S.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Bestselling Game of 2012 and Tops on Amazon Japan’s Best-Seller List

Final Fantasy XIII-2, the latest Final Fantasy game from Japanese RPG stalwart Square Enix, is the bestselling game of 2012 on Amazon’s Japanese storefront. The company published a comprehensive list of all the top-selling products in all departments for the last six months (December 1, 2011 – May 31, 2012), and Final Fantasy XIII-2 was the leader of all gaming products.

The unusually-titled Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a sequel to 2009′s hotly-anticipated Final Fantasy XIII. XIII sold a million copes in its first day in Japan but was met with mixed reviews in the United States and Europe. XIII-2 addressed recurring criticisms echoed in those reviews and was generally better-received, although it only sold half as well as XIII did. In a dubious honor, Final Fantasy XIII was the top traded-in game during the same sales period.

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