A surprise firmware update went live last night for Japanese DSi owners: the Facebook Connect functionality Nintendo announced at their E3 conference — let’s have a quick poke around how it works.
First, as above, as you browse through your album of various photos — say, for example, of your 4:30am (adjusted for PST) drunk-Denny’s visit on the second-longest night of the Game Developer’s Conference — you’ll notice a new Facebook icon next to the standard card-suit flags.
Tapping this then leads you to the e-mail/password entry menu. Your email address is saved by default, but you’ll have to enter your password again each time, which lights up the Login box at bottom. Tap that, and the magic unfolds:
Like your ‘mobile uploads’ album, when sending photos via txt or mobile email, the DSi automatically creates a new “Nintendo DSi’s Photos” album, which all subsequent photos are uploaded to. Currently, there are no additional prompts for photo captions.
The DSi’s cameras are decidedly an as-yet underutilized hardware upgrade — the DS too large and un-connected to replace your cell as the snapshot tool of choice — but this brings us one step closer to bridging that gap, however incrementally. Expect it to have the side-effect of flooding the service with WindWaker-Link-eyed/pig-nosed/kaleidoscopic close-ups when the firmware update propagates out west-ward in the coming weeks.
Today’s most pleasant gaming surprise: reigning Facebook game champs Playfish — creators of the still-notification-hogging Pet Society and Who Has The Biggest Brain? — have officially released their more or less essentially Worms-alike game Crazy Planets to the social networking site.
A 2D turn-based battler at heart, each Planets round gives your profile-photo’d avatar 30 seconds to move around its Mario Galaxy-esque mini-planets to get in position to attack (in its earliest levels) invading robots.
As you level up in the game by completing more of its successive missions, you’ll get the opportunity to both level up and unlock new weapons (part of its repeat-play social draw), and unlock new player controlled units of your army, here represented by choosing one of your Facebook friends to accompany you.
On top of that, the game gives you bonuses (like shorter research times for new weapons) for inviting your friends, or, like Pet Society, allows for real money microtransactions to instantly make upgrades available.
But at heart, based on a few [too many] introductory hours of play, it’s just good, free casual fun, well drawn and animated, with fantastically solid and weighty physics, and the always pleasing gimmick of getting your friends literally into the game — feel free to add me there if you’re playing as well.
Crazy Planets [Playfish]
1.) Nintendo is going back to basics with more Mario
The overarching theme of this year’s E3 conference was striking a better balance between the new gamers Nintendo has been reaching out to for the past several years without alienating its long-standing audience.
For the latter category, then, they brought back Mario, with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a single-to-four-player classic sidescroller due this holiday season that brings in the ‘co-opertition’ elements it brought to Zelda: Four Swords to its other hit franchise.
Nintendo also announced Super Mario Galaxy 2, an extension of its 3D Wii debut that will more prominently feature his Yoshi companionship, Mario vs. Donkey Kong: March of the Minis, a version of its Mario puzzler series coming next Monday as a DSiWare downloadable, and a fall 2009 localization of its DS Mario & Luigi RPG: Bowser’s Inside Story, a Fantastic Voyage-esque game that sees the characters moving through Bowser’s body on the lower screen, mixed with Bowser’s own exploits on the screen above.
2.) Nintendo is revitalizing other franchises with new partners
Nintendo ended the conference on its hardest-core note, by announcing that Ninja Gaiden developer Team Ninja would be partnering with the company to develop Metroid: Other M: a third-party action based Wii followup to Retro Studios’ first person games, due out in 2010.
3.) Nintendo is not finished with creating and exploiting new hardware interfaces
Namely, the newly unveiled Wii Vitality Sensor, a small WiiMote-connected device that clips onto your finger to measure your pulse. Nintendo head Satoru Iwata explained that the company wants to be able to “visualize something otherwise invisible” — nervousness, focus — and possibly create new games that focus on relaxing, rather than stimulating, the player.
Nintendo also re-revealed the new MotionPlus sensor which gives the WiiMote greater precision with the upcoming sports mini-game collection Wii Sports Resort, due July 26th, and third party sports games like EA’s Tiger Woods PGA Tour and Grand Slam Tennis, and Sega’s Virtua Tennis 2009.
That also goes for Wii Fit, which will be getting its own expansion, Wii Fit Plus this fall with new workout activities, new minigames, and, most importantly, the ability to string exercises together without any interruption (as does older PC, Xbox, PS2 fitness trainer Yourself Fitness).
4.) Nintendo also wants to more tightly integrate with social networks
Like Microsoft announced yesterday with its Xbox 360 Facebook application, Nintendo also announced that its DSi handheld — equipped as it is with two on-board cameras — will also be able to natively integrate with Facebook to upload user photos directly to the service.
5.) Nintendo want to continue to cater to everybody
This was made clear from the start with their underlying and repeated catchphrase “everyone’s game”, and their diverse first and third party lineup.
Games showcased for the DS: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, a localization of create-your-own-microgame studio WarioWare: DIY, new Zelda adventure Spirit Tracks, gritty new Ubisoft IP adventure game C.O.P.: the Recruit, and a return of underdog Game Boy Advance RPG series Golden Sun, all for the hardcore. For the wider audience, James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion visual novel series, and fashion-based game Style Savvy.
And for the Wii: Square Enix’s open world adventure Final Fantasy: The Crystal Bearers, Sega and High Voltage’s first person shooter The Conduit, Capcom’s Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles, and EA’s rail shooter sequel Dead Space Extraction.
New images and movies will be added to this post as they are released!
1.) Microsoft unveiled the 3D motion sensing and facial/voice recognizing “controller” project named Natal.
Microsoft promised the moon in its demo video for their Project Natal, carrying the tagline that it would “make ‘you’ the controller” and that, as the controller is the current “barrier separating game players from everyone else,” with Natal, “the only experience you need is life experience.”
As above, Microsoft demoed racing games, fighting games, and simple sports games using full body spatial recognition that let you hold up virtual steering wheels, duck, weave and deliver punches, and kick goals using nothing more than their physical actions.
But the company also took that a step further, promising full facial recognition — demonstrated by walking in front of your TV and having the Xbox 360 instantly log you in to your personal account — and object scanning, like holding up your own skateboard and having it instantly placed in a game. Microsoft added that the system could function just as well in a multiplayer environment.
For real world use, apart from a ringing endorsement by none less than Steven Spielberg, Microsoft called up Fable producer Peter Molyneux to demonstrate Lionhead’s project Milo — a virtual friend that they promised could carry on fluid conversations with full voice and emotion recognition, and demoed sleight of hand tricks like drawing on a piece of paper, holding it up to the Natal sensor, and having Milo “receive” that same paper in the virtual world, with additional recognition of what you’d drawn. (more…)
It’s been a bit too long since we’ve done one of these, but let’s make it a bit different this time. We’re all on different pages this weekend, Rob having just put Fallout 3 to bed as Joel just now re-emerges from the vault, John looking for groups on Left 4 Dead (via XBL name ‘drcrypt’ — mention Offworld in your request, please!), and me honestly still not sure where the weekend’s going to take me (I’ve been having a desperately hard time lately escaping Banjo Kazooie‘s Xbox Live Arcade remade paw/claw grip, and am looking forward to sinking in further to XBLA’s Meteos Wars).
So, this seems as good a time as any to launch our official Facebook presence, where I’ve kicked off a thread with our Steam/Xbox Live/PSN/Wii/etc. information, and encourage anyone interested to do the same. Hopefully, while we still fiddle with coming up with something a bit more official, we’ll have something more stable than our comments to keep us all together.
As usual, you can also join our Boing Boing Steam group and while I’m passing out our various web presences, I might as well mention that our Offworld Twitter feed is in its neophyte stages and will begin in full soon.