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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Tokyo Anime Center: This is found on the UDX building of Akihabara Crossfield where anime related exhibitions are held.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Japan’s leading social gaming companies Gree Inc and DeNA Co Ltd said on Wednesday they would gradually phase out games that contain aspects of gambling as they face increased pressure from regulators.
The game under investigation by Japans Consumer Affairs Agency is called “complete gacha”, which charges users around $3 to $4 to turn over virtual cards. Completing a predetermined set of up to seven cards allows subscribers to claim rare cards or other valuable online rewards.
There have been a lot of doomsday stories recently predicting the end of Sony Computer Entertainment’s PlayStation (PS) Vita since its weak launch before Christmas 2011 in Japan. Although the portable gaming device only sold 392,000 units in its first two weeks at retail in Japan, Wedbush Morgan Securities videogame analyst Michael Pachter believes the device is still on track.
Many gaming sites have predicted a price cut for the device in Japan, as well as a pre-launch price cut for PS Vita before its U.S. debut February 22, 2012. CNet even predicted Sony would cancel the U.S. launch completely. Of course, these types of stories are great for generating traffic, but far from the reality of a giant game publisher with shareholders to answer to and multi-million dollar marketing budgets committed to introduce new hardware to the gaming audience.
“There’s no chance for a price cut,” said Pachter. “The price points for software are what I expected, and highlight the disparity between casual smartphone games and premium console-quality handheld games.”
Things have been a little dark for Nintendo lately, with an unprofitable year along with a goofy, poorly-introduced peripheral, but now that the first of its big holiday releases is hitting stores things are starting to look better for them… in Japan at least. Last week the 3DS and Super Mario 3D Land both took the top spot in the Japanese sales charts in a big way.
After slashing the price on the 3DS system, hardware sales had been up in a big way, but software sales had remained, well, soft. Apparently in October total games sold for 3DS games in Japan were at the surprisingly low 122,000.
Final Fantasy Type-0 is coming out soon in Japan, although sadly its fate in North America is unknown. Japanese reviews have been quite positive, with the game receiving near-perfect scores from Famitsu and Dengeki. The game comes on two UMDs. The first disc contains the beginning and end of the game, while the second disc contains the middle, meaning that gamers will be swapping UMDs a few times.
A few more features of the game have been revealed and discussed in the Japanese media. A chocobo breeding ranch at the game’s school will allow players to catch two chocobos and breed them together. The resulting chocobo chick can be used to traverse the world map, presumably once it grows up.
Players will have access to two airships during the game. At first, the school’s airship will be available for travel between preset points. Later on, the party will obtain its own airship that can be used for free travel. Freedom comes with a price, however, as monsters will attack this airship.
For gamers, this weekend will feel like Christmas. Tokyo Game Show (TGS), Japan’s biggest gaming event, began Thursday at Chiba’s Makuhari Messe convention center and will continue through Sept. 18 (on Saturday and Sunday it will be open to the public). More than 140 exhibitors are on hand, off-site parties have already begun to go late into the night and — most importantly — there are tons of new video games.
Game face: Research engineer Mikael Le Goff checks out Sony’s PlayStation Vita at Tokyo Game Show on Thursday. Japan’s largest video-game event continues through Sunday, and will be open to the public on Sept. 17-18. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO
Not bad for a show that seemed impossible in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11. As the government pushed the summer of setsuden (energy conservation), an energy drain like TGS seemed improbable. Organizers responded to the crisis by implementing measures to reduce the total electricity consumption of the event by 25 percent: turning off escalators, using LED light bulbs and limiting power for exhibition booths.