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Nintendo plans reboot

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Nintendo has revealed new details about games in its line-up for 2015 and beyond, along with news about major updates to current games and all things amiibo.

Later this year Animal Crossing players will be able to put their home-design skills to the test in the newly announced Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. Meanwhile, a totally new form of amiibo, “amiibo cards”, will also launch later this year, with the first set of cards featuring Animal Crossing characters. By using the first set of amiibo cards in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, players can enjoy a whole new Animal Crossing gameplay experience.

Nintendo also confirmed its commitment to provide premium content updates to players of games already released. A free update available to every Mario Kart 8 owner brings the brand new 200cc racing class to all courses. The fastest class ever in the history of Mario Kart adds a new challenge to the game, even for the most seasoned series veterans. Major add-on content and updates were also announced for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS and StreetPass Mii Plaza.

Nintendo also confirmed release dates for Splatoon and Yoshi’s Woolly World, more on Mario Maker and the next Fire Emblem game. New games announced include BOXBOY!, a charming puzzle-platform game from the creators of Kirby that is available now from Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS, and a new instalment in the chilling and supernatural Project Zero series for Wii U.

To view the announcements made during a Nintendo Direct broadcast, visit www.nintendodirect.nintendo.co.za or check out the Nintendo UK YouTube channel.

Some of the key announcements, as supplied by Nintendo, include:

amiibo

  • amiibo cards: A totally new form of amiibo is coming later this year! The first set of amiibo cards will feature Animal Crossing characters and will be compatible with the new Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer game. The NFC reader/writer accessory for Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL and Nintendo 2DS that can read amiibo figures and amiibo cards will also launch at the same time.
  • The next waves of Super Smash Bros. amiibo: In May, two new amiibo in the Super Smash Bros. Collection will launch: Greninja and Jigglypuff. June brings Palutena, Dark Pit, Zero Suit Samus and Ganondorf, and in July Olimar, Dr. Mario and Bowser Jr. will join the amiibo family.
  • Play classic Nintendo games using amiibo: amiibo Touch & Play: Nintendo Classics Highlights is coming in May as a free download from Nintendo eShop for Wii U. With this title, Wii U users can unlock a variety of three-minute gameplay highlights from select NES and Super NES games, simply by tapping an amiibo to the GamePad.
  • Yarn Yoshi amiibo: A new set of Yoshi amiibo figures, made out of a knitted material, will launch alongside Yoshi’s Woolly World. Among other uses, tapping one of these yarn amiibo to the GamePad while playing Yoshi’s Woolly World will make another Yoshi appear, allowing players to control Double Yoshi. The Yarn Yoshi amiibo will be available in three colours: green, pink and light blue.
  • Splatoon amiibo: Launching simultaneously with Splatoon on 29th May are Inkling Girl and Inkling Boy amiibo figures, as well as a special edition including the game and the Inkling Squid amiibo. By tapping one of these amiibo to the GamePad, players in Splatoon can receive special missions to unlock weapons and gear.
  • More Mario Kart 8 Mii racing suits: On 23rd April, a free downloadable update to Mario Kart 8 will add support for nine more amiibo characters: Wario, PAC-MAN, Olimar, Bowser, Sonic, Toad, Villager, Rosalina and Mega Man. Players can tap these amiibo to outfit their Mii characters in Mii racing suits themed to those amiibo characters.

Wii U

  • Mario Maker: Mario Maker launches exclusively for Wii U in September and enables users to easily create their own Mario courses and share them online with people all over the world! Various activities related to the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. are also planned throughout the year.
  • Splatoon: In addition to previously detailed single-player and online “Turf War” modes, action shooter Splatoon will feature a competitive “Ranked Battle” mode, which ranks and matches players based on their wins in 4-on-4 multiplayer games. The game will also feature a “Battle Dojo”. In this mode, players can enjoy local 1-on-1 battles with friends. One player uses the GamePad, while the other plays on the TV screen, competing to see who can pop the most balloons. Splatoon will launch exclusively for Wii U on 29th May.
  • Yoshi’s Woolly World: The lovingly crafted new Wii U game launches on 26th June and overflows with challenges and hidden secrets. In addition to the challenging Classic Mode, Yoshi’s Woolly World adds Mellow Mode, which lets players of all skill levels play as Winged Yoshi. From launch, a bundle comprising a copy of the game and a Green Yarn Yoshi amiibo will also be available.
  • 200cc in Mario Kart 8: For the first time in the Mario Kart series, a 200cc racing class is coming to Mario Kart 8. Even faster than 150cc, the new high-speed class will be applied to all tracks in the game and makes braking an important consideration during a race! The new 200cc class will be offered as a free downloadable update to all Mario Kart 8 players on 23rd April. On this same day, the purchasable Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 2 – themed after Animal Crossing – featuring three new characters, four new vehicles and eight new tracks will also be released.
  • Nintendo 64 and Nintendo DS games hit Wii U Virtual Console: Releasing at 01:00am today (2nd April), classic Nintendo 64 and Nintendo DS games are coming to Virtual Console on Wii U. Today brings Mario Kart DS and WarioWare Touched! for Nintendo DS and Super Mario 64 and Donkey Kong 64 for Nintendo 64. While playing Nintendo DS games, the TV and GamePad combination will provide various options for dual-screen layouts, while all Nintendo 64 games that supported the Rumble Pak will continue rumbling away on the Wii U GamePad. As a special offer, purchase any three of these games before 16th April and receive the fourth one for free on the same Wii U. Games scheduled for future release include Paper Mario for Nintendo 64 and Yoshi’s Island DS for Nintendo DS in May.
  • More downloadable Wii games on Wii U: Adding to the growing list of Wii games available to download from Nintendo eShop on Wii U, critically acclaimed titles Pandora’s Tower and Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Skies will arrive on 16th April and 30th April respectively. Both games will also be 25% off for one week after their launch.
  • Shin Megami Tensei & Fire Emblem Crossover Project: The role-playing masters at ATLUS are developing a truly modern RPG, where everyday life exists alongside a secret world of fantasy, including characters from the Fire Emblem series.
  • New Project Zero game coming to Europe: Fans who have been clamouring for a chance to play the latest game in the unnerving Project Zero series will have their chance when it launches later this year for Wii U. Players will play as one of three different characters, each with their own storyline as they explore the cursed tourist destination, Mount Hikami. The Wii U GamePad is used as a camera to investigate the environments and soak in the supernatural atmosphere, as well as a means to fend off hostile spirits during quick bursts of chilling action.
  • Affordable Space Adventures: The Wii U GamePad transforms into the cockpit display of a stealth spacecraft in this Wii U exclusive. On a hostile planet, players need to carefully manage all of the ship’s systems to avoid danger and slip by monsters unnoticed. Players can fly solo or work together in local multiplayer as a crew of two or three players, each with their own specific responsibilities. Affordable Space Adventures is available from Nintendo eShop for Wii U from 9th April.
  • Swords & Soldiers 2: Coming exclusively to Nintendo eShop for Wii U on 21st May, this side-scrolling strategy and action game is the sequel to the award-winning WiiWare title. Build structures and create an army to overpower the enemy on a 2D battleground. With touch screen controls it only takes a quick tap to heal your units, cast lightning bolts and unleash meteor strikes!

Nintendo 3DS

  • Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer: This new spin-off title in the Animal Crossing series focuses on the decorating and home-designing aspects of the Animal Crossing games. Animals will ask players to design houses for them, and it’s up to designers-in-the-making to meet the animals’ requests by furnishing and decorating their homes. By scanning a new Animal Crossing series amiibo card to a New Nintendo 3DS system or NFC reader/writer accessory, players can design a room for that specific character on the card and scan additional character cards to invite those characters to visit. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer will launch this autumn.
  • Fire Emblem (working title): For the first time in the series, the main playable character is not only a customisable avatar, but also the main hero or heroine of the game. Players must choose to take one of two major paths, resulting in two different experiences: the “Hoshido” side for a more traditional experience, or the “Nohr” side, which makes the story more complex and the difficulty level more challenging. The new Fire Emblem title will launch for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems in 2016.
  • Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition: This two-games-in-one package releases on 8th May. Puzzle & Dragons Z combines the key elements of a deep and strategic puzzle game, a dungeon-crawling RPG and a monster-collecting adventure. Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition offers the same deep puzzle gameplay, presented in the Super Mario Bros. universe. For players who can’t wait until launch day to play, a free demo for Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition will be coming soon to Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS.
  • Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.: Launching on 15th May, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is a turn-based strategy shooter featuring extensive single-player and multiplayer content. Multiplayer supports both local and online play across various modes such as Death Match – where each turn only lasts 60 seconds, Medal Battle – where teams battle to collect the most medals with limited turns in a limited time, and “A.B.E. Battle” – where players fight using a giant robot inspired by Abraham Lincoln himself. Players will be able to enter tournaments against players from all over the world and even host their own private tournaments.
  • New StreetPass Games: On 16th April, two new StreetPass Mii Plaza games will be available to purchase. In StreetPass Fishing, players visit islands to try to catch more than 150 types of fish and legendary monsters with bait received from Mii characters via StreetPass. In StreetPass Zombies, players receive items based on the hobbies of their Mii Plaza StreetPass characters to defeat a horde of zombies. Fans will also get the option to purchase StreetPass Mii Plaza Premium, which adds features like StreetPass Birthdays and the new VIP Room.
  • BOXBOY!: From the celebrated developer HAL Laboratory, Inc., creators of the Kirby series, comes BOXBOY!. This monochrome platform-puzzle game tasks players with creating, casting and hooking blocks to navigate more than 150 challenging stages. BOXBOY! is available from midnight tonight, releasing exclusively on Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS.
  • Pokémon Rumble World: The latest game in the Pokémon Rumble series is free-to-start (with paid content) and features over 700 Pokémon, all the way from the original Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue to the recent Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire. Pokémon Rumble World will launch on Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS on 8th April.
  • Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains: Based on the popular anime, Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains features four-player local and online co-op gameplay and leaderboards as players work together to defend the outer walls from the giant Titans. Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains will launch on Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS in May. For some early inspiration, the first two episodes of the Attack on Titan anime series are available for free on Nintendo eShop from 01:00am today, 2nd April, until 1st July.
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt & Mighty Gunvolt: Experience thrilling fast-paced action in these two separate but related titles from acclaimed developer Keiji Inafune. Play as a powerful hero who can control lightning. Blast through stages, conquer intimidating bosses and challenge yourself to set new high scores. Both titles are available from 2nd April on Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS and until 1st July, purchasers of Azure Striker Gunvolt will receive Mighty Gunvolt for free.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS

  • New (AOC) challengers approaching!: The previously announced Mewtwo will join the roster of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS as a downloadable character on 28th April. Players who have purchased and registered both versions of the game by 31st  March will receive free download codes for Mewtwo on 15th April. In addition, fan-favourite character Lucas from MOTHER3, the sequel to EarthBound released only in Japan, is planned to join the all-star Super Smash Bros. cast in June as purchasable DLC. After a software update on 15th April, Super Smash Bros. players can also purchase more costumes for their Mii fighters, including outfits inspired by major game series, such as The Legend of Zelda, Xenoblade Chronicles and Capcom’s Mega Man series.
  • Vote for your own Super Smash Bros. fighter: Starting today, Super Smash Bros. fans can visit http://www.smashbros.com to participate in a “Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot.” Fans can use this ballot to vote for which character they would like to see added to Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U as a playable character.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Gadget goes to Hollywood

Gadget visited the Netflix studios last week. In the first of a series, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK talks to CEO Reed Hastings.

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is no stranger to Africa. He has travelled throughout South Africa, taught maths in Swaziland for two years with the Peace Corps, and visits close family in Maputo. As a result, he is keenly aware of the South African entertainment and connectivity landscape.

In an exclusive interview at the Netflix studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, last week, he revealed that Netflix had no intentions of challenging MultiChoice’s dominance of live sports broadcasting on the continent.

“Other firms will do sport and news; we are trying to focus on movies and TV shows,” he said. “There are a lot of areas that are video that we are not doing: sports, news, video gaming, user-generated content. We don’t have live sport.

Reed Hastings at the Netflix studios in Hollywood last week. Pic: ADAM ROSE

“We’re not replacing MultiChoice at all. Their subscriber growth is steady in South Africa. They serve a need that’s independent of the Internet, via low-price satellite. There is no intention of capturing that audience. If they’re growing, it’s because they serve a need.”

While Reed ruled out any collaboration with MultiChoice on its satellite delivery platform, despite its collaboration with another pay-TV service, Sky TV in the United Kingdom, he did not close the door. He stressed that Netflix saw itself as an Internet-based service, and would pursue the opportunities offered by evolving broadband in Africa.

“If you look in other markets like the USA, how Comcast carries us on set-top boxes with their other services, it could happen with MultiChoice, the same as with all the pay-TV providers.

“We’re really focused on being a service over the Internet and not over satellite. Our service doesn’t work on satellite. Where we work with Sky is on Internet-connected devices. We’re happy to work on Internet-connected devices. We tend to work on smart TVs, but need broadband Internet for that.

“Broadband is getting faster in Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa – we can see the positive trendlines – so it’s more likely we will work with broadband Internet companies.”

Hastings is a firm believer in the idea that one content provider’s success does not depend on pushing another down.

“HBO has grown at the same time as we have, so can see our success doesn’t determine their success. What matters is amazing content with which the world falls in love.”

Click here to read about Netflix’s international expansion, and how the streaming service selects content for its platform.

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Take these 5 steps to digital

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By MARK WALKER, Associate Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa at IDC Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

Digital transformation isn’t a buzz word because it sounds nice and looks good on the business CV. It is fundamental to long-term business success. IDC anticipates that 75% of enterprises will be on the path to digital transformation by 2027. 

However, digital transformation is not a process that ticks a box and moves to the next item on the agenda – it is defined by the organisation’s shift towards a digitally empowered infrastructure and employee. It is an evolution across system, infrastructure, process, individual and leadership and should follow clear pathways to ensure sustainable success.

The nature of the enterprise has changed completely with the influence of digital, cloud and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), and success is reliant on strategic change.

There is a lot more ownership and transparency throughout the organisation and there is a responsibility that comes with that – employees want access to information, there has to be speed in knowledge, transactions and engagement,” he adds. “To ensure that the organisation evolves alongside digital and demand, it has to follow five very clear pathways to long-term, achievable success.

The first of these is to evaluate where the enterprise sits right now in terms of its digital journey. This will differ by organisation size and industry, as well as its reliance on technology. A smaller organisation that only needs a basic accounting function or the internet for email will have far different considerations to a small organisation that requires high-end technology to manage hedge funds or drive cloud solutions. The same comparisons apply to the enterprise-level organisation. The mining sector will have a completely different sub-set of technology requirements and infrastructure limitations to the retail or finance sectors.

Ultimately, every organisation, regardless of size or industry, is reliant on technology to grow or deliver customer service, but their digital transformation requirements are different. To ensure that investment into artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, knowledge engines, automation and connectivity are accurately placed within the business and know exactly where the business is going.

The second step is to examine what the business wants to achieve. Again, the goals of the organisation over the long and short term will be entirely sector dependent, but it is essential that it examine what the competitive environment looks like and what influences customer expectations. This understanding will allow for the business to hone its digital requirements accordingly.

The third step is to match expectations to reality. You need to see how you can move your digital transformation strategy forward and what areas require prioritisation, what funding models will support your digital aspirations, and how this tie into what the market wants. Ultimately, every step of the process has to be prioritised to ensure it maps back to where you are and the strategic steps that will take you to where you want to go.

The fourth step is to look at the operational side of the process. This is as critical as any other aspect of the transformation strategy as it maps budget to skills to infrastructure in such a way as to ensure that any project delivers return on investment. Budget and funding are always top of mind when it comes to digital transformation – these are understandably key issues for the business. How will it benefit from the investment? How will it influence the customer experience? What impact will this have on the ongoing bottom line? These questions tie neatly into the fifth step in the process – the feedback loop.

This is often the forgotten step, but it is the most important. The feedback loop is critical to ensuring that the digital transformation process is achieving the right results, that the right metrics are in place, and that the needle is moving in the right direction. It is within this feedback loop that the organisation can consistently refine the process to ensure that it moves to each successive step with the right metrics in place.

There is also one final element that every organisation should have in place throughout its digital evolution. An element that many overlook – engagement. There must be a real desire to change, from the top of the organisation right down to the bottom, and an understanding of what it means to undertake this change and why it is essential. This is why this will be a key discussion at the 2019 IDC South Africa CIO Summit taking place in April this year. With this in place, the five steps to digital transformation will make sense and deliver the right results.

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