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Nintendo Unveils Casual Gamer Brand 87

Posted by Zonk
from the no-innuendo-here dept.
The Guardian Gamesblog discusses the newly announced Touch Generation of games for Nintendo's consoles. From the article: "This is, of course, a pointless piece of product re-positioning, symptomatic of modern business's obsession with branding above and beyond the call of sense. More importantly though, it's about Nintendo reveling in its E3 success. It is about a company that has effectively spent the last decade in its own self-made ghetto, turning to the industry and saying, 'I told you so' ... The wider world is coming back to videogames - and Nintendo is speaking its language. Anyway, the first three new releases in the Touch Generations line-up will be Big Brain Academy, the second title in the brain-training series, Magnetica, a marble-based puzzler, and Sudoku Gridmaster, a Sodoku game with over 400 puzzles. They're out this summer."
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Nintendo Unveils Casual Gamer Brand

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  • Puzzle Games (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dancpsu (822623) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:11PM (#15437436) Journal
    I think Nintendo is realizing that puzzle games are the most effective games in the handheld realm. When you have a handheld gaming system, most likely you use it while waiting for something, and you want to be able to put it away at a moments notice. You don't want to have to tell someone to wait while you finish up a level, or fighting a boss.
    • It's not that clear cut though. Sure, something like siduko can be put down pretty easily, but what about Tetris or Lumines. Let's say you get pretty far and the objects are flying really fast. How easy can you just "turn it off."

      Get far enough in either scenario and you're in the same place as that guy fighting a boss. Both require a little bit of playtime first, and stopping isn't easy because it's usually fast-paced and/or hard and stopping is difficult. Plus restarting would be tough because you'd
      • you can just shut the DS. The DS will automatically pause when its closed and go into a always on sleep mode.
        • Re:Puzzle Games (Score:2, Informative)

          you can just shut the DS. The DS will automatically pause when its closed and go into a always on sleep mode.

          I know (I play some DS games quite often lately), but I'm not talking about the complexity to pause/unpause or turn on/off. Merely the act of doing it in a frenzied "puzzle" level (which can be even more tense than an arcade game).

          If you made it to a high level of Lumines (DS) or Tetris (PSP), by the time you close the lid a shape may have come close to landing in its default position. The same wit

      • You shut the DS. Any DS game (not Advance games though) automatically pauses and will remain in a standby state for up to a week on a full battery. Although whenever I'm far along in Tetris and my waiting time is up I prefer to just shut it off and start over later. Even more likely is that I'd be playing something easily stoppable while waiting a short time for something, like the touch puzzles on Tetris DS, or Sudoku, or a Mario mini-game, etc.
    • When you have a handheld gaming system, most likely you use it while waiting for something, and you want to be able to put it away at a moments notice.

      I believe the solution you are looking for is called "standby".
      • Not really. When you have a lot wrapped up in the progress you have made so far, then to break away from it and come back is almost impossible. In the middle of fighting a hard boss in zelda, pausing and coming back an hour or day later would probably mean you have to start over anyway. (And it's a *long* time to get back to where you were) For even a frenzied game of tetris or lumines, it probably didn't take all that long to progress, and is thus much easier to put away realizing that you didn't lose m
        • Not really. When you have a lot wrapped up in the progress you have made so far, then to break away from it and come back is almost impossible. In the middle of fighting a hard boss in zelda, pausing and coming back an hour or day later would probably mean you have to start over anyway. (And it's a *long* time to get back to where you were)

          Then it doesn't have proper saving - simple enough. Standby should be able to get you through any casual pauses, but then in addition, opportunities to save should be ple
          • Then it doesn't have proper saving - simple enough

            It seems as though the parent means that pausing the game itself is not enough to "save progress". Proper saving would include saving your own state of mind, adrenaline levels, etc at the time of pausing. And that's really hard.

            • Nah. You just do a save right before you hit a difficult spot. In games like Metroid, Zelda, etc., it's fairly obvious. Then the difficult part is atomic - either you finish it, or you don't.

              It's not like Tetris doesn't get the blood pumping. It's just that you don't need to do much to get back there if you need to turn the system off.
              • Then the difficult part is atomic - either you finish it, or you don't.

                The problem is that you want atoms like carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, but some games tend to throw you much bigger atoms like uranium.

        • EVERY game system should have standby. PERIOD. Maybe I'm at level 9 in tetris and have made only tetrises so far, and it's time to get on the bus... This could be my highest-scoring game EVAR(tm) and I don't want to blow it. If I'm using damn near any PDA then I just turn it off, put it in my pocket, and take it back out when I'm ready. This works even on WinCE devices :) why the fuck do handhelds not do this? On something as old and simple as the Game Boy they could have implemented hardware pause by givin
    • I think that perhaps Nintendo knows that puzzle games are a rage not just in Japan, not just among women and girls (a vast untapped market with lots of money), but also for people trying to prevent/defer Alzheimers and dementia.

      A wise company finds new untapped markets - an old feeble company tries to keep selling whale oil for our lamps.
    • You don't think that they realized this when they bundled Tetris with the original Gameboy?
  • I highly doubt that you need to make a second brand to help casual gamers more readily adopt casual games. Usually casual games are far cheaper to begin with and usually give away the fact they are are rather simple concepts. I'd say a casual gamer is far less likely to look for a brand within a brand and far more likely to pick up an affordable title that looks enjoyable.
    • by DrEldarion (114072) * on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:57PM (#15437916)
      I'd say just the opposite. With a properly-marketed brand, non-gamers know what they're looking for rather than just wandering into the game section and being overwhelmed. Can you imagine a typical grandma trying to browse the game aisle at Best Buy? Now, what if she knew she had to head to the "Touch Generations" section?

      • Except grandma wouldnt fall into the casual gamer category. She doesnt matter in this equation. Casual gamer means people that can check their email and favorite sites without a problem, can buy a computer on their own and generally know how to get the flashing 12:00 off of their vcr. Nintendo wants to expand, but not include every single low tech person on the planet.
        • Except grandma wouldnt fall into the casual gamer category.

          Why not? I think your definition of "casual gamer" is a bit off. In Nintendo's view, everyone who isn't a hardcore gamer is a potential casual gamer, as shown by their Wii videos: Even grandmas can play video games, and some of them do. Why should Nintendo not take their money?

      • This sort of brand is exactly what *I* want. I've been playing console (and PC) games since the original Odyssey, and I'm very pleased Nintendo is doing something like this.

        Without doing a metric buttload of research these days it's damn near impossible to know what a game actually plays like. With 3 major console systems, plus 3 portable systems, all with games being released every month.. there are hundreds and hundreds of games I've never even heard of. With most, it's fairly easy to look at the package
    • "Branding" has as much to do with the retailer as the consumer. A separate brand will have it's own display and section at a store like Best Buy. More important, since the target audience is different the brand could be sold in stores that cater to a mature crowd-- and even stores that wouldn't otherwise carry games. Nintendo wants to reach the people making decisions in these stores, and "re-branding" certain games is an excellent way to do that (and to raise awareness that these games are to be sold to ad
  • by Tab is on Slashdot (853634) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:11PM (#15437450) Homepage
    Who pissed in this blogger's Cheerios?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How many ways can juveniles combine "Touch" and "Wii" in a sentence?
  • by Erwos (553607)
    I can see it now:
    "The Nintendo Wii; part of the Touch Generation!"

    (And, no, it never gets old - for me, at least.)

    -Erwos
  • Oblig (Score:3, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:23PM (#15437569)
    The Casual Gamer(tm) likes to play with his Wii.
  • Funny (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I found the bragging about 400 Sudoku puzzles slightly comical when other [websudoku.com] games [sudokuist.com] have several thousand/millions of puzzles. I mean, a sudoku puzzle, it can't take more than a few hundred bytes to store them.
    • Have you played brain age? This game also includes a few sudoku puzzles for you to try.
      You don't have to type numbers and move the joypad to play. You simply tap the stylus in a square to give it focus and write the number in it. The DS recognizes your handwritting. This is as close as it gets to a pen and paper sudoku puzzle.
    • Actually there seem to exist algorithms [wikipedia.org] that make storing the puzzles unnecessary.
  • by Jerf (17166) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:43PM (#15437766) Journal
    "Over 400 puzzles"? I sure hope they mean "over 400 variants" of Sudoku or something. (Variants can add up fast when you have multiple independent dimensions to vary on; remember the old Atari 2600 games that had "32" variants, which were just all combinations of 5 binary flags? "Shots bounce" vs. "Shots don't bounce", for instance. Oh, and don't forget the color variations!)

    Solving Sudoku puzzles is moderately computationally intensive and maybe the DS shouldn't be doing that, but it ought to be able to generate them just fine, and an experienced Sudoku player who is also a decent programmer even ought to be able to make a good stab at varying the difficulty levels automatically. (It doesn't have to be *perfect*, just mostly effective.)

    Otherwise that's a bit of a rip-off; as long as you're going to computerize your Sudoku you might as well get all-the-puzzles-you-can-eat. (And for that matter, open the field up to some of the more advanced variants, like the 4-version.)
    • Er, most Sudoku puzzles you see in newspapers are already generated by computers. The craze began when somebody wrote a decent program to create them. It's not very expensive and the DS could do it nicely given at most 2 seconds of loading time.
    • Apparently, the Gameboy Advance [dcemu.co.uk] is up to the tast of generating Sudoku puzzles. The DS shouldn't have a hard time at all.

      (I thought could have sworn there was a homebrew Sudoku puzzle generator for the DS, but I can only find ones with premade puzzles. Someone please point to one if I'm incorrect)
    • The problem isn't generating the puzzles. It's ranking them as "easy," "medium," or "hard." It's not hard to generate the puzzles, but since computers can't rank them, people will keep getting ones that are either too hard or too easy.

      Besides, by limiting the number of puzzles, Nintendo leaves the door open to sell upgrade cartridges later. You may not like it, but it's good business.
    • by Kusunose (768083)
      All 400 Sudoku puzzles in Sudoku Gridmaster are not computer-generated but created and rated by Nikoli, godfather of Sudoku.
  • Darwin (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FidelCatsro (861135) * <fidelcatsroNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:47PM (#15437811) Journal
    Nintendo , Sony and Microsoft are a bit like The Finches in the Galapagos isles(The phantom being more like the Lesser spotted Galapagos Fantastapotamus) .
    Sony and Microsoft are unfortunately both going after the Bugs , whilst Nintendo has decided to screw it and eat berries .
    There are a lot more Bugs out there , but they require more energy to catch and you have to deal with the rival birds.
    • I think the analogy would be more like this:

      Sony and Microsoft compete over the berries, which are pretty easy to get but are in short supply. Nintendo's going after the bugs, of which there are many, but they are hard to get.

      Last I checked, there were more non-gamers than gamers, and non-gamers don't tend to like to game (and therefore, are much harder to please).
      • Think about it like the gamers money , Casual gamers(Berries) and Hardcore gamers(bugs .) Now a bug has a higher nutritional content (IE: willing to spend more money) and most of them are edible . Berries however are fickle things , they are often lacking a lot of nutrients (IE: They wont pay as much) . But since everyone else is going after the bugs , that leaves you with most of the berries , at least those which can be eaten(Sold to)
    • Sorry, but your analogy seems lacking. Being that there is a significantly larger group of "non-gamers" I would say that Sony and Microsoft are going after the berries, and Nintendo is hitting the skies for the bats. Maybe the Phantom is going deep sea fishing or something like that. Well, that doesn't work either, according to Nintendo's "Blue Ocean" campainge. There's a much greater market to grab if you can appeal to the non-gamers.

      Time for a new analogy, no?

      • Non gamers not are willing to spend as much money though, making them more like berries , may of them are poisonous and the others are not rich in nutrients to the degree that bugs are ..
  • Nintendo are obviously doing this to make things easier for the casual consumer. Someone with little or no industry knowledge would probably welcome a marketing strategy that provides a clear distinction between the casual games that they are interested in and the dirth of bestselling (traditional gaming) titles that line store shelves. The accidental purchase of Castlevania might frustrate a casual gamer enough to scare them away from future game purchases. It is in Nintendo's best interest to make sure
    • Someone with little or no industry knowledge would probably welcome a marketing strategy that provides a clear distinction between the casual games that they are interested in and the dirth of bestselling (traditional gaming) titles that line store shelves.

      Not to be a vocabulary or spelling nazi, but I think you spelled the word wrong, and I don't think it means what you think it does:

      Dearth [reference.com]
      A scarce supply; a lack
    • +1.
      I dream of a time when Video Games are treated like books, movies, music, or even PC software, and instead of being thrown on the racks in alphabetical order, you'd get a "FPS" shelf, another one labeled "brainfood", "this is the kind your grandson would really really hate if he's older than 8", "survival horror", "Party games", and so on. THAT would help confused non-gamers know how to buy a gift for gamer their acquaintances, plus we'd be treated like every other fucking media!

      If you look at the NES ga
      • I dream of a time when Video Games are treated like books, movies, music, or even PC software, and instead of being thrown on the racks in alphabetical order, you'd get a "FPS" shelf, another one labeled "brainfood", "this is the kind your grandson would really really hate if he's older than 8", "survival horror", "Party games", and so on.

        Me too. All my dreams are set in the present. At least PC games are ordered by genre 'round here, though there are some weird choices (especially on the topic of what cons
  • Website (Score:2, Informative)

    by snib (911978)
    Official Touch Generations website here [touchgenerations.com]. It contains a full list of games included under the Touch Generation name.
  • "This is, of course, a pointless piece of product re-positioning, symptomatic of modern business's obsession with branding above and beyond the call of sense."

    Obviously this blogger has never taken a basic marketing class in his 80's university classes. As one marketing giant once stated: "If you are too intelligent to be swayed by advertisement, then why, when I say 'Jolly Green Giant', you think frozen peas?". The power of branding is extreme and Nintendo realises that although their brand strikes a cord

    • "...Everyone else sees Nintendo as a waste of time for young boys. Nintendo is realises that seizing the new "casual gamer" market can't be done through that lens and so is providing the new customer a way to look at the product without thinking of Mario and classic video games."

      This is absolutely true. How many parents do you hear talking about their lazy sons "playing their Nintendo," when they are really playing Halo, or any other game for that matter? Nintendo has such a strong mind share that it's a

    • It's also worth noting that Nintendo has always been about branding and "brand purity". They have lawyerbots who send out cease-and-desist letters to websites that look suspicious. And it's no accident that the Gamecube, DS, and Wii have tech that makes it much harder to pirate and emulate games.
    • I think it was more a case of bad writing. For example:
      a pointless piece of product re-positioning, ... It is about a company ... turning to the industry and saying, 'I told you so'
      So, it's pointless, except that it makes a point?
  • by Dysson (457249) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @05:55PM (#15439503)
    Since my left hand is disabled, I am unable to play any games that require the directional pad. I've tried, believe me. It is difficult for me to shop for DS games since the ones that do operate with the stylus only use it for mini-games. I have found many games that run completely on stylus control, but I had to do alot of research to make sure that was the case.

    I was going to write Nintendo today to see if they could provide a list of games that only required the stylus.

    Lo and behold: they've already done it.

    Damn, I haven't been this pleased with Nintendo since the 8-bit days (Even if they have been helping me unintentionally).
    • I was going to write Nintendo today to see if they could provide a list of games that only required the stylus.

      Lo and behold: they've already done it.

      Would you mind sharing such a list with us?

  • but maybe they should stop with the puzzle games and make a fully fledged RPG that doesnt take 100 hours to beat. And one that doesn't leave you sratching your head for 20 minutes after turning it on, trying to figure out what you were going to do next before you turned it off! A game where you can get from place to place without much delay. No more walking through the woods for 15 minutes fighting trivial encounters, casual gamer doesn't have time for that. Make a game that can be finished fairly quickly,

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