Nintendo, Google & The Pokémon Company invest $20 million in augmented reality gaming

Niantic, the developer of Ingress and the upcoming Pokémon GO, has announced that it raised its Series A financing round, totaling an initial investment of $20 million and a further $10 million promised upon meeting agreed goals, from Google as well as gaming giant Nintendo and The Pokémon Company. The development studio is known for putting gaming into the real world; Ingress tasks players with physically traveling to locations in order to take control of them. Pokémon GO similarly showed trainers gathering together in New York’s Times Square in its announcement trailer to take part in a massive battle against a legendary Pokémon.

The involvement of Google may come as little surprise, considering that Niantic is headed by John Hanke who was one of the creators of Google Earth. Some may remember 2014’s April Fools joke which added a “Pokémon Challenge” to Google Maps. GO‘s logo bears a striking resemblance to the prank as well.

Fans of the Pokémon franchise should be happy to hear that the company tasked with bringing the monsters to our world seems to be well funded. This will be a drastic departure from the series’ previous games and allow trainers to interact in new ways with beloved characters. It’s clear that corporate knows expectations are high and Nintendo is also committed to develop new technologies, which may even appear in other franchises down the road.

Let us know in the comments what Pokémon you’d like to catch first in GO!

Throwback Thursday: Mario Paint

Platform: Super Nintendo
Release Date: 1992

Platform: Super Nintendo| Release Date: 1992

Nintendo is well known from their quirky gimmicks. We all remember the tragic release of the Nintendo Glove, the Wii motion controls, and the annoying Friend Code system. Perhaps one of the very first Nintendo gimmicks came with the game Mario Paint. At that time in the early 90s, basic home computers were starting to gain momentum in technology culture. Mario Paint saw to profit off of this strange, magical box known as a “computer” by the use of a computer mouse as a controller. As silly as it sounds, this was actually (in my opinion) one of Nintendo’s best gimmicky addons as it contributed a great deal to the style and cuteness of Mario Paint.

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WHY IT WAS GREAT

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titleMario Paint is set up like a series of computer programs, all playable with the use of a mouse. Players are immediately thrown into an immersive environment free of tutorials or instructions, so you can freely play around with the various tools and games at your disposal. As the title implies, you can “paint” various Mario scenes using dozens of colors and textures of your choosing. You can even create your very own scene using Mario textures and character stamps of classic 8 and 16 bit characters.

Probably the most memorable feature is the music game. Here, players can create their
very own song using silly in game sound effects like dog barks and cat meows. You can be as simple or complex as you’d like, as people have gone so far as to compose famous modern songs using the in-game sound effects.

What made Mario Paint truly amazing was the fact that amateur animators can use the games’ animation programs to paint simple looping animations, add music to them using the in-game music generator, and even record animations on a VHS tape. Gamers were essentially creating movies in the early 90s using their Super Nintendo, which is pretty goddamn amazing.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

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After nearly 25 years, some claim that Mario Paint is the most innovative thing Nintendo has yet to develop. Especially given the time of release, immersive and experimental games simply didn’t exist in the gaming culture. Mario Paint and the Nintendo Mouse both create a simple, fun game that you can easily sink hours without even realizing it. Go deeper into the music recording and animation programs and you’ve got a whole new beast on your hands.

Throwback Thursday: Animal Crossing

Platform: Nintendo 64 / GameCube | Release Date: 2001 / 2002

Nintendo’s quirky village simulation game Animal Crossing would be one of the GameCube’s best selling titles, but it was actually released in Japan for the Nintendo 64 first. The graphics weren’t impressive, but the dynamic relationships you could build with animals that settled in your town were and the multitude of activities that could be partaken for fun or for profit was enough to keep gamers hooked for hours, days and years. There was fishing, clothing design, bug catching, fossil collecting and more plus games-within-a-game with a naively generous selection of fifteen NES games which could be played in full.

Tomorrow is the release of Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer so it’s a good time to take a look at the game that started it all and why it was a standout hit on the GameCube!

Why it was great

As mentioned before, Animal crossing had a lot of stuff to do. Personally, one of the most exciting things to do was go out and hunt some rare insect specimens for the Museum. Unlike the static fossil displays or art exhibits, bugs that were collected were free to roam around their area of the building and the more that were added the more interesting the room got. The variety of fish was also exciting (especially the more unique-looking catches like eels), but confined to their tanks made them a little less visually appealing than the wilds of the insect room.

Decorating was, of course, another high point of the game. Each day was a new opportunity to check Nook’s shop for furniture, wallpaper or more to complete a collection or just add some pizzazz to a tired layout. My rooms always took on a distinctly jungle-esque theme and were overflowing with whatever plants I could find, borrow or steal (I admit, I didn’t really lose that cute polka dot shirt Officer Booker). Clothing was another way to uniquely represent yourself with almost limitless fashionable (and unfashionable) outfit combinations.

ac-stellaAnimal Crossing was also one of the only games I was willing to watch someone else play as a fidgety 13 year old. My sister and I would take turns talking to the villagers and each had our favorites who we’d send gifts to and stop for extra conversations if we saw them. I still remember who we liked; I was very connected with Stella the Sheep and she developed a friendship with one of the gorillas. Back then it was hard to imagine anyone wanting to spend their free time observing someone else gaming, but this is the age of Twitch and now I’m more than happy to watch pros get some nice ganks in League of Legends or watch a master Pokémon trainer battle up the ranks online.

All in all, it was a great early simulation game that didn’t simply focus on building a town or kingdom, but challenged players to be themselves inside a fantastical setting and impact the world around them.

What do you think? Any favorite memories? There are some great Animal Crossing stickers that just came out for LINE messenger as well!