Going for a ride with Super Mario

NINTENDO fans are being taken for a ride. 

Universal Studios, which runs theme parks in the US, Singapore and Japan, is to develop attractions based on Nintendo characters and franchises. No specific details have been announced, but we can expect to hear more about the Bowsercoaster and Super Mario (Bumper) Kart soon.

It’s a little disappointing that iconic characters like Mario and Link have been loaned out for a few shekels, but the corporate synergy doesn’t end there. Nintendo have plans to release five smartphone games by March, 2017. Unlike Mario, this will be the first time the company has, ahem, jumped to another platform.

Five games is a conservative number, but Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata, claims otherwise.“We aim to make each title (on mobile) a hit, and because we want to thoroughly operate every one of them for a significant amount of time after their releases, this is not a small number at all and should demonstrate our serious commitment to the smart device business,” Iwata said at a shareholder meeting last week, possibly aiming Link’s crossbow at anyone who disagreed.

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If Nintendo are so determined to double in size, why don’t they just eat a red mushroom? The mobile market is a clever move for the Nippon giant, but it raises concerns about the future of their beloved console traditions. It’s not hard to envisage a future in which Link and Samus spend their time on communication devices rather than the TV screens of old.

The danger, of course, is that the traditionally large and exquisitely-detailed worlds of Mario, Zelda and Metroid will get watered down for the quick-hit mobile market. Even worse, pay-for-play elements could be introduced.

The princess is in another castle, but your credit card details can bring her back. Top-up for a 1up? Is that Wario we hear cackling from the boardroom?

Thankfully, however, this week Nintendo also announced its first operating profit in four years, so it is back on track after a rough period in which the Wii U sold fewer 10m units. To give Nintendo some due, they’ve always been loyal to their core customers. So, theme parks aside, hopefully fans won’t be taken for that ride just yet.

VIRTUALLY A THEME PARK

While Nintendo and Universal Studios languish in the world of bricks and mortar, a company in Utah has decided material reality isn’t all that necessary for a theme park. They’ve built a VR (virtual reality) park, instead. Visitors to The Void will still enter a physical building, but they will do so wearing a virtual-reality visor and suit. The visor will overlay computer imagery on the otherwise blank physical structures of the building and the suit will detect movement and allow visitors to interact with each other.

Just imagine the impossible worlds we may visit! An alien planet. A fantasy landscape. A hot Irish summer.

MAKING A KILLING?

Yesterday, the sixth Assassin’s Creed was revealed to be Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, a game set during industrial-age London. It will be released later this year.

Ubisoft said: “Syndicate will transport millions of gamers to an astonishing recreation of London during the industrial revolution, where they will find themselves immersed in a game world they’ll have to see to believe.”

You won’t believe your eyes, the developers say. Which was exactly the problem many people had with the previous game, Assassin’s Creed Unity, which was widely reported as buggy and unfinished.

Ubisoft will need to do a lot better this time around, if the series is to survive its trip to London.

MYST OF TIME

Finally, misty-eyed gamers will remember the iconic adventure, Myst. Back in 1993, countless hours were lost exploring the surreal titular island, solving puzzles and uncovering its strange history.

Well, in the spirit of today’s synergetic news, Myst is to become a TV show, and will air on the streaming service, Hulu. It could be fantastic, a cross between Lost and, well, something with a discernible plot. Or it could just turn out to be a Myst opportunity.

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