Ask Iwata Book is Out Now

Ask Iwata: Words of Wisdom from Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s Legendary CEO on Amazon

This collection of writings, speeches, and lessons from Iwata-san has finally been translated to English and released. I’ve only read the preface and have already gotten choked up. Iwata-san was and still is a legend with a clearly joy-driven personality that truly shined at Nintendo. His “Iwata Asks” series at Nintendo is a fountain of insight, one I often go to when looking up special stories of Nintendo and its games.

He shepherded hundreds of millions of people from all walks of life into the world of video games like my grandmother through the Game Boy, the Nintendo DS, and the Wii. He played a critical role in bringing joy to gamers around the world. It wasn’t some exclusive club to him. It was a way to bring people from all walks of life together through play and joy.

I am excited to learn more about his way of thinking, his love of play, and his legacy. If you want to have a good cry, you can watch the videos I linked below.

Remembering Satoru Iwata at The Game Awards 2015

Satoru Iwata Game Developers Choice Awards Tribute

The Game Boy Advance Turns 20

Happy 20th anniversary to the Game Boy Advance! Nintendo officially made the ordinary Game Boy obsolete on March 21, 2001 with a new gadget that played all the old games, plus a slew of fancy new ones. – Retronauts via Twitter, March 21, 2021

Thanks to a thread of tweets from John Ricciardi and the celebratory tweet above from Retronauts, it has come to my attention that today is the 20th anniversary of the Game Boy Advance in Japan!

The GBA came out in the prime time of my youth. I was 7-years-old when it hit the US. I vividly remember going to Best Buy and covetously looking at the console on the shelf and my parents surprising me with one. Later, I’d save up and get a GBA SP in red when that iteration launched. I poured hundreds of hours into the GBA line. It was the perfect companion in the car, at home, at restaurants, and the list just goes on.

There were accessories out the wazoo, but my favorite was using the GameCube cable to use a GBA as a Tingle Tuner in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Part me still wants to get four GBAs and cables together to play Four Swords Adventures together. The GBA was more than just a portable console.

I remember that I got the Game Boy Player for GameCube for my 10th birthday because both my parents were out of the country when I hit double digits. I got exactly what I wanted that year and still use it to this day. It fused my favorite home console with my favorite handheld, putting some of my favorite games on the big screen. When I reviewed the GCHD-MKII for DualShockers, I took that opportunity to finally set-up homebrew on my GameCube to upgrade from the official Nintendo Game Boy Player software to the far superior Game Boy Interface (GBI). The results were like putting on glasses for the first time; the games were sharper and more in-focus than I had ever seen them before.

Now the Analogue Pocket is on the horizon, launching in just 1-2 months. I was fortunate enough to snag a pre-order and have been eagerly awaiting its arrival to play my small Game Boy collection in high quality, both on-the-go and on my television. And even though I just assembled a MiSTer this weekend (more on that in the future), which is giving me crispy 1080p60 GBA games and simultaneous YPbPr component output on my CRT, I am even more excited to have this capability in my hands with the real cartridges. All I am really missing is a GBA Consolizer from Woozle to give me real hardware in 720p.

There is a certain magic in the tangibility of the Game Boy Advance line. From the numerous form factors to the perfectly sized cartridges, it always delights me to think of the games, stories, worlds, and adventures the library has taken me on over these past 20 years. The GBA has been a constant for most of my life. For years,  I even carried my Game Boy Micro with one or two games in my backpack every day. With the right hardware, the GBA is essentially a Nintendo Switch with its cartridges and numerous ways to play them on televisions. It’s was, has been, and will continue to be a top tier platform with some of the finest games made.

Nintendo Plans Switch Model With Bigger Samsung OLED Display – Bloomberg

Nintendo Plans Switch Model With Bigger Samsung OLED Display by Takashi Mochizuki and Sohee Kim for Bloomberg

Samsung Display Co. will start mass production of 7-inch, 720p-resolution OLED panels as early as June with an initial monthly target of just under a million units, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. The displays are slated for shipment to assemblers around July, the people said. Representatives for Nintendo and Samsung Display declined to comment.

The latest model will also come with 4K ultra-high definition graphics when paired with TVs, they said. That could intensify a longstanding complaint of developers, who have struggled with the difference in resolution between handheld and TV modes and now face a bigger gap between the two.

It is a new year and a new crop of Switch upgrade rumors are hitting the proverbial streets on the Internet. Bloomberg is reporting that the next Switch will be sporting a 7-inch 720p OLED and have the power to output 4K when docked to a TV.

These are the dream numbers, right? A consistent 720p in handheld mode with a gorgeous OLED. It’s essentially the reverse of the PlayStation Vita; where that console started with an OLED screen that looks incredible and then pivoted to an LCD in the console revision. With more powerful internals and a beefier dock, the door opens up to 4K resolution. The gap in the resolution is substantial, but 720p will look sharp on a 7-inch screen, compared to say a 55-inch television.

Nintendo Co. plans to unveil a model of its Switch gaming console equipped with a bigger Samsung OLED display this year, hoping the larger touchscreen can prop up demand in time for the holidays, people familiar with the plan said.

The real kicker is that it sounds like Nintendo wants to shoot for a release in Holiday 2021. While that puts a damper on my prediction, it would be great timing for the console. Pokémon Legends: Arceus, while wildly cool in premise, looked a bit rough in its reveal last week. The sequel to Breath of the Wild is on the horizon too. The original game was limited both by the Switch itself, and the Wii U cross-generational support. Having a better console could give these new games more opportunities in how they are played and perform.

Nintendo can’t split the install base of the Switch though. The console is on track to surpass the Wii’s lifetime sales of 101 million units in just 4-5 years. It took the Wii 13 years to reach that number. A new, more powerful console would be extremely welcome and help close gaps between Nintendo’s hardware and Sony/Microsoft’s consoles. But I believe it is crucial that all Switch consoles be able to play the same games. Could Nintendo go the route of the 3DS versus the New 3DS, where there were some exclusive New 3DS only games? Sure, but that could introduce confusion to the market and casual consumer. It will be a difficult line to toe.

First-party games could run great on all Switch consoles: Nintendo is one of the best at optimizing their titles for the hardware. Third-party is a different story. The Switch is already leveraging cloud services to run games like Control and Hitman 3. With a “Pro” console, Those games could theoretically run natively. Cloud gaming could be the differentiator, but it requires a rock solid connection and due to the Switch’s portable nature, that is not possible everywhere the console goes. Third parties could create a divide in the user base, but Nintendo needs third-party support as well.

One last fun idea: How great would it be to launch a 4K capable Switch and launch the sequel to Breath of the Wild this Holiday? Nintendo said we’d learn more about the game later this year. Maybe they were holding off until the new console is revealed to drum up hype for the console alongside the game. Zelda is a system seller and it could help encourage fans to upgrade right away, bolstering their launch sales. One can dream…

Nintendo Plans Upgraded Switch Console and Major Games for 2021 – Bloomberg

Nintendo Plans Upgraded Switch Console and Major Games for 2021 by Takashi Mochizuki for Bloomberg

Nintendo Co. plans to debut an upgraded model of its Switch console next year along with a lineup of new games, people familiar with the matter said, ceding 2020’s holiday spotlight to rival devices from Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp.

The specifications of the new machine have yet to be finalized, though the Kyoto-based company has looked into including more computing power and 4K high-definition graphics, people briefed on the strategy told Bloomberg News, asking not to be identified because it’s private.

You can always bet on rumors flying around about Nintendo’s next console and their next Direct. This is similar, if not identical, to the rumors that went around late 2019/early 2020. Those rumors were squashed on January 31, 2020 during Nintendo’s financial results meeting.

When reading “along with a lineup of new games,” it’s hard not to imagine that being the sequel to Breath of the Wild. It’s interesting to imagine Nintendo pursuing 4K performance. Nintendo usually does not adopt modern graphical standards this soon. They stuck with cartridges until the early 2000s, kept standard definition through the life of the Wii, with continued support on Wii U! They were one of the first to technically provide consumer access to the raw digital video signal on the GameCube. I wonder how hot a Switch will get in a Dock pushing out 4K graphics.