TIME e3 2015

See the Adorable Early Sketches Used to Create Mario

Nintendo designers drew the levels by hand in the early days

In the leadup to Nintendo’s new level-creator game Super Mario Maker, the company is offering an inside look into the design process that goes into creating games in its most successful franchise. During Nintendo’s E3 video presentation, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto and longtime Mario designer Takashi Tezuka showed off some early sketches of gaming’s most famous plumber.

NintendoAn early sketch of Super Mario Bros.

 

NintendoEarly designs of Mario’s enemies

Initially Mario had an even more cartoony look, with an extra-large nose and a pretty serious overbite. The sketches show the character riding a cloud (a feature that would crop up in later games in the series) and hurling fireballs at flying turtles that look pretty similar to Koopa Troopas.

Miyamoto also explained how he physically created levels in the series early days. Designers used graph paper to map out each tile of a given level block by block, then handed the drawings over to programmers to build in the game. To make edits to a level’s layout, designers would place a thin sheet of translucent paper over the original design that marked the specific changes.

NintendoEarly Mario levels were designed by hand using graph paper

Eventually, the company developed a more efficient computer program that allowed designers to easily insert different types of obstacles and architecture into a given level. That program became the basis for Super Mario Maker, which debuts on Wii U on Sept. 11.

TIME Video Games

Nintendo’s New Game Lets You Create the Mario Levels of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

Super Mario Maker lets players build custom levels

Super Mario Bros. turns 30 this year, and Nintendo is celebrating the iconic video game character’s birthday in style with a new game that’s like a love letter to Mario’s legacy.

In Super Mario Maker, players can build their own levels using the warp pipes, question-mark blocks, piranha plants and other items that have become Mario staples over the years. Players can even skin their levels to look like the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World or New Super Mario Bros. U, complete with items and moves specific to those games. Levels can be shared with others online.

In an E3 trailer showing off the title, Nintendo revealed some particularly twisted worlds built with the level editor, featuring giant Koopa Troopas, a screenful of Boos and an entire wall of fireballs, among other obstacles. Players will be able to use Mario’s signature mushrooms to transform into other Nintendo characters, such as Link and Wii Fit Trainer, as well. The alternate costumes can be unlocked in-game or using Nintendo’s toys-to-life Amibo action figures.

Super Mario Maker debuts on Sept. 11 for the Wii U.

TIME Video Games

Watch Brand New Footage of Nintendo’s Next Star Fox Game

New Wii U title hits shelves during holiday 2015

The upcoming Star Fox game is going to place a big emphasis on vehicle variety.

Star Fox Zero, set to debut on Nintendo’s Wii U console by the end of the year, will let players transform Fox McCloud’s famous Arwing into a walking mech with the press of a button. The functionality was a feature in the never-released Star Fox 2 for the SNES, now resurrected for the new title.

Players will also be able to drive Fox’s landmaster tank and a gyro-wing copter in the new game, which appears heavily influenced by the on-rails dogfights of Star Fox 64.

The game will also make heavy use of the Wii U’s gamepad. Players will see a cockpit view of the action on the gamepad screen and a more cinematic, third-person view on their television screen. Aiming will be aided by the gamepad’s gyroscope controls.

Check out Star Fox Zero in action in the new footage above.

TIME Video Games

Watch Conan Get Dominated in Halo by the Stars of Silicon Valley

Conan is on the red team, of course

No one has gained as much notoriety for being terrible at video games as Conan O’Brien.

The late-night talk show host has taken his tongue-in-cheek celebration of the medium to a new level in a recent segment in which he (poorly) attempted to play the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians. Conan, along with Andy Richter and Aaron Bleyaert, squared off against Silicon Valley stars Thomas Middleditch, TJ Miller and Zach Woods in a multiplayer bout of the new first-person shooter.

Conan was predictably awful, spending one round trying to shoot out a pane of impenetrable glass to release a shark that’s actually just there for decoration. At one point the warring factions call a truce, only for Conan to “accidentally” take a potshot against one of the Silicon Valley stars.

Check out all the antics in the video above.

TIME Video Games

Here’s the Coolest Way to Play Minecraft Imaginable

On a coffee table, in three dimensions

Microsoft offered another mind-bending demonstration of the HoloLens augmented reality headset at E3 on Monday, firing up a holographic version of Minecraft on a real world coffee table.

The demonstration showed how one player roaming through the game on an ordinary touchscreen would be visible to another, much luckier player wearing the HoloLens and looming over the landscape like a giant. The audience cheers as the HoloLens player pinches and pokes the landscape with his fingers and leans in for a peek inside of a house.

Microsoft built an entirely new version of Minecraft for the company’s HoloLens headset, company reps said during the demo.

[Via Kotaku]

TIME e3 2015

One of the Best Games of All Time Is Getting a Remake

Not re-released. Not re-mastered. Remade from the ground up

Square Enix’s classic role-playing game Final Fantasy 7 is getting a remake for the current-generation PlayStation 4. Sony announced the game during its E3 2015 press conference June 15. Final Fantasy 7, originally released for the first Playstation, is widely considered one of the greatest RPGs of all time, and remains a critics’ pick.

In an announcement trailer, Square Enix named some of the staff working on the iteration of Final Fantasy 7, including Yoshinori Kitase, who is producing, and Tetsuya Nomura, who will direct. The game will come out on Playstation 4, though it may eventually come to other platforms as well.

Porting or upscaling old games and re-releasing them as “ultimate” or “high-definition” editions has become common practice in the games industry. Last year, Square Enix released a version of Final Fantasy 7 for Playstation 4 that was an upgraded port of the PC version.

This Final Fantasy appears to differ significantly as it is a “remake.” Fans of the Japanese series have longed wanted Square Enix to make such a move, ever since the firm showed a technology demonstration featuring characters from the game running on a PlayStation 3.

No release date was announced.

TIME e3 2015

This Is Destiny‘s Next Huge Expansion

Looks intense

Destiny, the popular massively multiplayer online shooter for consoles, is getting another expansion. The expansion, called The Taken King, was unveiled during Sony’s E3 press conference on June 15. Developer Bungie said the title would be released Sept. 15.

Sony said the game had the most successful launch of the current generation of consoles. Nevertheless, Bungie’s sci-fi romp generated mixed reviews. At the time of its release, TIME games critic Matt Peckham wrote:

Whatever else you want to say about its hackneyed story or over-easy enemies or worshipful replication of Halo gameplay fundamentals, I keep coming back to play a little more.

TIME e3 2015

Here’s Microsoft’s Crazy New Xbox Controller

Looks great but it's pretty pricey

At its annual E3 press conference June 15, Microsoft unveiled a raft of new games and features for its Xbox One console. It also took the wraps a newly redesigned controller, dubbed the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller.

The new design adds four bumper pads under the grips, hair-trigger locks for more precise control and an unusual textured rolling pad in place of a standard D-pad. Additionally, the new controller will feature hot-swappable parts depending on users’ preferences.

The new controller is expected to be released this fall and will cost $150.

TIME e3 2015

Here’s a Closer Look at Tom Clancy’s Gritty New Series

It's coming out in early 2016

The Division, the next big release under the Tom Clancy video game umbrella, is going to be released on March 8, 2016. The game’s publisher, Ubisoft, revealed the date at a press conference on June 15 during E3.

The massively multiplayer shooter will come out on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. The company also said it will host betas to iron out early kinks on all three platforms early next year.

Ubisoft showed off a trailer during the announcement (above) that demonstrated player-versus-player zones in the game. The so-called “the dark zone” is a contaminated area in the middle of Manhattan. In a twist, teammates can apparently double-cross one another.

TIME e3 2015

You Can Download These 9 Free Nintendo Games Right Now

Wii U
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Nintendo's Wii U console, above, and touch-pad controller sit on display during an interview with Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America Inc., in New York, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012.

A new way to celebrate E3

Nintendo has a gift for Wii U owners in honor of the E3 gaming conference this week: demos of nine new indie games for free.

Through the Nindies@Home program, Wii U owners with an eShop, Nintendo’s online game story, account can download these nine demos until June 22, Nintendo said on Monday. People who download the demos will then have the option of getting a 15% discount on the first month for the full-length games once they launch.

Here are the available demos:

  • Extreme Exorcism from Ripstone
  • forma.8 from Mixed Bag
  • Freedom Planet from GalaxyTrail
  • Lovely Planet from tinybuild and Qucktequila
  • Mutant Mudds Super Challenge from Renegade Kid
  • Rive from Two Tribes
  • Runbow from 13AM Games
  • Soul Axiom from Wales Interactive
  • Typoman from Headup Games and Brainseed Factory

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