TIME Gadgets

How to Build a Better Game Boy with Raspberry Pi

Note that if you're so inclined, you'll need to be handy with a soldering iron, hot glue gun, dremel and a bunch of other things.

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You know how we like to remember things, as Bill Pullman’s character says in David Lynch’s Lost Highway, in our own way? When I think about Nintendo’s original Game Boy, released over two decades ago, it’s of a tiny handheld with sharp graphics and a screen like a pocket-sized poster.

Except looking at pictures of it now, the Game Boy resembles more the brick it probably was, and that eensy-teensy screen is a postage stamp dipped in pea soup. How did we ever game on that thing?

What if you could build a better Game Boy, or at least one with a better, bigger screen and a vastly more flexible backend?

Right, Nintendo already checked the bigger, better screen box with its Light and Color and Advance models. But I’m talking about a Game Boy that still looks like the original XL-sized model, with the same cerise-colored face buttons and off-white ABS plastic housing, only under the hood it’s a Raspberry Pi.

In the spirit of mods that require soldering irons and hot glue guns and bucket-loads of patience, meet the “Super Mega Ultra Pi Boy 64,” a Game Boy shell with a Raspberry Pi soul.

Raspberry Pi, in case you don’t know, is a computer on a single circuit board. It’s tiny (about the size of a credit card), relatively powerful (on par with an older Android phone or iPhone) and extremely cheap (in the $20 to $30 range). It runs a medley of operating systems, including Linux, RISC OS and Windows CE, and was designed for educational as well as enthusiast purposes, the idea being that kids (or anyone, really) could tinker with it to make who knows what.

Fair warning: the process whereby modder Microbyter put together his “Super Pi Boy” looks arduous, but what the heck — it’s a great read. This fellow picked up a damaged Game Boy for $5, dremeled out the battery compartment, converted a 3.5-inch LCD from 12v to 5v (to make it work with the battery), soldered in the original Game Boy controller PCB, rejiggered the audio to work with an amplifier, loaded an emulator called Retropie, then dropped in the Pi board itself and wired everything together.

And it works, which is some kind of miracle, and has me wishing I had one so I could play through this twitchy grayscale gem all over again.

TIME Video Games

Nintendo’s ‘Wii U to Wii U’ Transfer Feature Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Nintendo adds a system-to-system transfer option, but Wii U owners still can't backup save files or move data around conveniently.

I’m not sure it’s the feature that’ll motivate fence-sitters off their palisades to buy one, but if you already own a Wii U — or better still, two — the latest system update finally adds the option to run a full system transfer, Wii U to Wii U.

To be clear, you’re already able to transfer data off the Wii U, you just can’t back it up. Does that sound oxymoronic? Let me explain.

Wii U data can only exist in one place, so you either have it on the Wii U’s internal flash or an external USB storage device, but never in both places at once. If you brick your Wii U and your save files live on an external storage device, then you buy or receive a replacement Wii U, you’ve had no way of recovering those files. Making matters worse, Nintendo doesn’t offer cloud saves, so you could argue the Wii U is inferior to the original Nintendo Entertainment System (which in some cases allowed you to save straight to the cartridge) as well as most systems that’ve come after it.

Nintendo’s latest Wii U system update, out yesterday, goes some way toward rectifying this deficit, but the restrictions are pretty onerous. For starters, you’ll need the source Wii U alive and kicking and running the same system software version as the destination Wii U. From there, you’re in essence running an all-or-nothing clone operation: the source Wii U transfers “any users, Nintendo Network IDs, save data, and digital content” to the target Wii U, then wipes the source Wii U clean.

That’s helpful if you own a vanilla Wii U, say, and want to transition to the annual custom-painted limited edition. But we’re probably talking about a handful of hardcore Nintendophiles. Who wants to own two otherwise identical Wii Us? And even then, you’re not backing anything up, you’re just moving it from one system to another.

It’s a shame, because what I’d wager Wii U owners really want — or at least what I do — is a way to back up those Wii U save files, be it to the cloud or an external storage device. Microsoft and Sony have supported save file duplication to external storage as well as cloud save-file backups for years. Nintendo’s system update is arguably helpful for a tiny fraction of Nintendo’s audience, in other words, but not the backup/transfer feature Wii U owners have long deserved.

TIME

Here’s Definitive Proof Nintendo’s Wii U Isn’t Dead Yet

Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto demonstrates the new control scheme in Star Fox for the Wii U. Nintendo

Nintendo hasn’t had a great run of it lately. Sales of its latest Wii U consoles have generally been down and, during its last earnings call, the company admitted how far away they were from the company’s original projections. Even its 3DS handheld—which had been a bright spot—has seen better days. Now there’s some good news for fans of the old-school Japanese game-maker.

As Time.com’s Matt Peckham writes:

Nintendo claimed Mario Kart 8 (reviewed here) was June’s top-selling game and gave us a few rare figures: 470,000 physical and digital units sold in June, bring the total to more than 885,000 units sold (in the U.S. alone) in the game’s first five weeks. Nintendo says June 2014 Wii U sales are up 233 percent over June 2013, while Wii U software sales are up 373 percent for the same period. (Nintendo says Mario Kart 8 was the top-selling game once you factor in digital sales.)

While NPD says portable sales declined year-on-year, Nintendo notes that June 2014 3DS sales were up over the prior month by more than 55 percent, driven in part by sales of Tomodachi Life (175,000 digital and physical copies sold).

Nintendo still has plenty of challenges ahead of it. The Wii U lacks compelling specs or a sweetheart price. And worse, the company’s failed to woo third-party developers, leaving the Wii U’s cupboards bare on an on and off basis. But now, at least, the firm’s strategy of banking on beloved franchises appears to be working in the marketplace.

 

TIME

PlayStation 4 Sweeps June Game Sales, While Mario Kart 8 Resuscitates the Wii U

Sony's PlayStation 4 (upper-left) and Microsoft's Xbox One (lower-right). Sony, Microsoft

Retail tracker NPD says June marked another up month for video games, led by sales of Sony's PlayStation 4 and Mario Kart 8 for Nintendo's Wii U.

You could argue that now we know why Microsoft sent out that bolt-from-the-blue Xbox One sales claim half a day before NPD’s June sales figures arrived: it turns out Sony’s PlayStation 4 was the top selling console for June 2014, while Nintendo’s Wii U snatched the top selling single game SKU with Mario Kart 8.

Let’s start with overall industry sales, which saw something of a spring banquet when May 2014 came along and year-on-year retail hardware, software and accessories sales soared by 52 percent.

June 2014 saw further year-on-year growth across retail hardware, software and accessories categories by 24 percent over June 2013. Once again, the key factor was hardware sales growth of 106 percent (in May, by comparison, hardware growth was 95 percent year-on-year), offsetting declines in portable hardware sales.

As usual, we don’t have unit sales specifics, but Sony claimed victory for next-gen software sales in an email, writing that the PS4 “[led] two of the top three titles” (Watch Dogs, FIFA 14) and was first in unit sales “for the sixth consecutive month.”

Nintendo, for its part, claimed Mario Kart 8 (reviewed here) was June’s top-selling game and gave us a few rare figures: 470,000 physical and digital units sold in June, bring the total to more than 885,000 units sold (in the U.S. alone) in the game’s first five weeks. Nintendo says June 2014 Wii U sales are up 233 percent over June 2013, while Wii U software sales are up 373 percent for the same period.

I’d list NPD’s physical software sales, but at this point it’s getting too confusing: Watch Dogs was the top-seller (over Mario Kart 8) across all platforms if you ignore digital sales, but as noted above, Nintendo says Mario Kart 8 was the top-selling game once you factor in digital sales. (If I were NPD, I’d either figure out how to fold accurate digital sales into the rankings, or stop publishing the physical software sales chart entirely.)

While NPD says portable sales declined year-on-year, Nintendo notes that June 2014 3DS sales were up over the prior month by more than 55 percent, driven in part by sales of Tomodachi Life (175,000 digital and physical copies sold).

We’re now well into an extended up-trend, too: NPD says nine of the last 10 months saw year-on-year growth, thanks primarily to the new console launches last November, but NPD notes that growth trend started with software sales in September and October 2013 (in other words, Grand Theft Auto V — still listing in NPD’s top 10 chart for June 2014 software sales, incidentally).

What’s next: July 2014′s going to look pretty sleepy, sales-wise, and we’ll probably see declines across the board, though the Destiny beta that kicked off on PS4 and PS3 yesterday, adding Xbox One and Xbox 360 next week, could bolster hardware sales. The Last of Us for PS4 should do reasonably well, but it doesn’t launch until July 29. August is pretty quiet until Diablo 3 (for PS4 and Xbox One) comes along on August 19, followed by the latest Madden NFL on August 26.

But it’s September everyone’s waiting for: Assuming Destiny and The Sims 4 don’t suck, those two alone could well set sales records.

TIME Video Games

20 Video Games to Watch for Summer 2014

Here's our summertime list of PC, console and handheld video games to keep an eye on.

  • Resogun: Heroes

    Resogun was just about the best thing on PS4 at launch, a wonderful little wraparound side-scrolling shoot-em-up, and on June 24, it’ll get an update that adds local cooperative play and lets you create your own ships. Everyone who owns Resogun gets that stuff, but if you want the separate Heroes expansion’s two new game modes — Survival (infinite play like Arcade, but humans now have parachutes and there’s a day/night cycle) and Demolition (described as “Arkanoid meets Resogun” by way of a wrecking ball) — it’ll run you $4.99.

    June 24 / PS4

  • Valiant Hearts: The Great War

    Another side-scrolling puzzle/adventure game from Ubisoft, Valiant Hearts: The Great War uses a bleak cartoonish aesthetic (“The Great War” meaning World War I) to tell an adventure story “inspired by actual letters from the time.” The story itself concerns three strangers united through war in their attempt to help a young German soldier find love “in a story about survival, sacrifice and friendship.” (In other words, bring tissues.)

    June 25 / PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360

  • Shovel Knight

    A horn-helmed knight, a weaponized spade, bona fide chiptunes and visuals designed to make you feel like you nodded off and woke up in 1985 8-bit-land. Shovel Knight‘s Kickstarter was so successful it blew past its $75,000 funding goal to reach over $311,000. Fingers crossed all that extra cash helps this platformer pay out gameplay dividends when it arrives (after a few delays) in late June.

    June 26 / 3DS, Wii U, PC, Mac, Linux

  • Divinity: Original Sin

    Divinity: Original Sin, a prequel to 2002′s sleeper roleplaying gem Divine Divinity, is a Kickstarter-funded left turn of sorts for developer Larian. It’s a shift from Divinity II‘s third-person action-angled approach back to a high-in-the-sky camera overview, and includes — all series firsts here — cooperative play, turn-based combat and mod tool support.

    June 30 / PC, Mac

  • Sunless Sea

    Heard of a browser-based text adventure called Fallen London? Me neither — until game chat/scribe luminaries Tom Chick and Bruce Geryk (Quarter to Three) put together this podcast of podcasts about that game and its imminent spiritual sequel in which you captain a (possibly doomed) steamship through lightness depths. The game’s billing: “Lose your mind. Eat your crew. Survive.” You want to play this. You really do.

    July 1 / PC, Mac

  • MouseCraft

    In MouseCraft, you have to stack blocks shaped like tetrominoes — shapes made out of four squares — to forge “safe” paths for on-the-move mice, guiding them through puzzle-based levels. No surprise: Poland-based studio Crunching Koalas calls it “Tetris meets Lemmings.”

    July 8 / PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, PS3, PS Vita

  • Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition

    I adored French designer Eric Chachi’s Out of This World (its right proper name in the States, by the way) when I first played it back in 1992 on a 16MHz CompuAdd 386sx. I missed its souped-up reemergence in 2011 on smartphones and tablets, but I won’t make that mistake — and if you’ve never played it, neither should you — when it arrives this summer for PS4.

    July 8 / PS4, PS3, PS Vita

  • Quest for Infamy

    Fans of classic Sierra adventures games, rejoice, or at least get your hopes slightly up at the prospect of a new Quest for Glory-inspired romp through roleplaying-as-burlesque. Developer Infamous Adventures has been working up to this, its first non-remake adventure game, since the warmly received fan-remakes of the King’s Quest and Space Quest series.

    July 10 / PC, Mac

  • Abyss Odyssey

    Game genres have the strangest names. “Roguelike.” I suppose it’s more efficient than typing out “action-roleplaying fantasy hack-and-slash with randomly generated levels.” Abyss Odyssey sounds like that with a dash of Street Fighter (it’s a 2D side-scroller with platforming bits) set in 19th century Chile (another game with an unusual-to-gaming backdrop) where you’re fighting a slumbering warlock’s nightmares made real.

    July 15 / PC, PS3, Xbox 360

  • Unrest

    Unrest is a roleplaying game staged in ancient India, which instantly earns it backdrop street cred (name the last game you played set in ancient India). Other hypothetically cool-sounding points: combat is possible but discouraged, the game’s impetus hinges largely on storytelling through dialogue choices that interact with character “values,” and if you die, the game simply shifts to another character, your previous one’s death impacting how the story unfolds.

    July 23 / PC, Mac, Linux

  • The Last of Us Remastered

    Watching comparison videos, you realize just how much Naughty Dog managed to pull out of the PS3′s hat with The Last of Us (less than a year ago). The PS4 version looks better, in other words, but not dramatically so. That said, if you want to play what’ll surely be the definitive version of this award-winning tromp through an end-of-days, story-twisting zombie shooter, make some space on your midsummer calendar.

    July 29 / PS4

  • Sacred 3

    Newcomer Keen Games tries its hand at the third in this Diablo-like fantasy about racing around a giant map, whacking enemies and vacuuming loot. Expect multi-classing, of course, but also “always on” cooperative play for up to four that’ll either draw on fellow players, or — if you’re playing offline — sub in computer A.I. ones.

    August 5 / PC, PS3, Xbox 360

  • Risen 3: Titan Lords

    Developer Piranha Bytes’ Risen series — generally lauded for its thoughtful world-building but plagued by technical issues — has struggled to find its footing after the studio’s acclaimed Gothic games (1 and 2, anyway). Risen 3: Titan Lords marks the studio’s third post-Gothic roleplaying outing, this time promising that “every decision changes the course of the story” (a promise easily made, but perhaps most consistently delivered by this studio).

    August 12 / PC, PS3, Xbox 360

  • Tales of Xillia 2

    If you haven’t played Tales of Xillia, you’ll probably just find Tales of Xillia 2 confusing. If you have played Tales of Xillia (and you enjoyed it), this direct sequel is aimed squarely at you, transpiring a year later and resurrecting the series’ real-time battle system, that — unique to this duology — allows characters to combine their attacks in linked mode.

    August 19 / PS3

     

  • Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition

    What else is there to say about this two-year-old dark fantasy monster-masher? It’s Diablo III (plus the Reaper of Souls expansion), arguably as it ought to have been from the start: sans real money or gold auction houses.

    August 19 / PS4, Xbox One

  • Madden NFL 15

    I won’t pretend to love football, but ignoring Madden is like standing next to a speeding freight train with your fingers in your ears, so let’s run through the feature list: improved defensive play, further refined natural-sounding broadcasts, a “player lock” camera, an indicator to help you tell whether you can make a non-aggressive tackle, jumbotrons that now use dynamic camera footage, and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is this year’s cover athlete.

    August 26 / PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360

  • The Sims 4

    The Sims 4 continues longtime developer Maxis’ evolution of EA’s mega-bestselling franchise, sprucing up the visuals and nipping and tucking classic world-building features. You’re still essentially babysitting a bunch of babbling sims through a cartoonish approximation of village life, though the character building tools are more granular, and Maxis says its emphasis on emotional states will lend character story arcs more depth.

    September 2 / PC

  • Stronghold: Crusader II

     

    Long before the “tower defense” genre existed, developer Firefly Studios was building games about constructing actual towers and ramparts with elaborate fortifications, then hurling waves of attackers at you to test your architectural mettle. Stronghold: Crusader II is 12 years coming, replete with new units and real-time 3D physics, and this time sporting the option to manage your castle with another player cooperatively.

    September 2 / PC

  • Destiny

    Destiny is the summer’s (and perhaps even the year’s) biggest kahuna, the game everyone’s been hearing about for ages, the implication being that it’ll revolutionize gaming as we know it. It probably won’t, but it’s by Bungie, it feels distinctly Halo-like, and it showed well enough when I demoed it at E3: a highly polished, open-world, quasi-solo-multiplayer shooter that’ll work to keep your attention by dropping you onto Guild Wars 2-like playgrounds, routinely trotting out new and varied things to do.

    September 9 / PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360

  • NHL 15

    For NHL 15, EA’s souping-up the notion of hockey as a full-contact sport. If you’re playing next-gen, the new “collision physics” system support secondary collisions, player pileups (involving all 12 players here) and scrambles for the net. That emphasis on improved physics extends to puck play, which EA’s touting as substantially more granular. The rest is mostly next-gen window dressing: all 30 NHL arenas meticulously rendered, thousands of models making up arena crowds and more realistic physics-impactive clothing.

    September 9 / PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360

TIME Video Games

Sony Says PS4 “Wins” May, Game Sales Surge Across the Board

Sony

Let the good times roll: In May 2014, video game sales roared to life after months of declines.

Monthly video game sales for May 2014 arrived late last night courtesy NPD Group, with the sales tracker noting — along with Sony, which deployed a beaming media email — that the PS4 was the best-selling games console for the fifth month in a row. Sony added that the Ps4 was numero uno for both hardware as well as “next gen” software sales, claiming four of the latter category’s top five slots. Numero two was not the Xbox One, but rather Nintendo’s 3DS (according to Nintendo).

Unsurprisingly, Wii U sales were up year-on-year, off sales of Mario Kart 8 (reviewed here), which took the number two software spot all by itself, following Watch Dogs (reviewed here) tallied across five discrete platforms. Those two games probably had the most to do with May’s software surge, followed by Wolfenstein: The New Order (reviewed here), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Kirby: Triple Deluxe.

In a separate dispatch, Nintendo described Wii U sales as up 85% month-on-month and 90% year-on-year. The company had previously tagged Mario Kart 8 sales at 1.2 million worldwide during the racer’s first weekend (it launched on May 30).

NPD says hardware sales were $187 million, up 95% year-on-year, followed by software sales of $274 million (up 57%) and overall retail sales of $586 million (up 52%). The latter’s significant because NPD says the last time we saw this kind of growth was back in June 2008.

Continuing in its attempt to juggle the widening divide between physical and digital content sales, NPD notes those figures cover “roughly 50 percent of the total consumer spend on games,” and it estimates the total consumer spend in May, taking into consideration used and rentals ($124 million) as well as digital content and social network games ($787 million), the actual outlay for May was $1.46 billion.

While the PS4 and Xbox One have yet to experience year-on-year comparisons (they just arrived last November), NPD says both the Wii U and PS Vita did better this May than the prior year, though specific figures weren’t offered. Apparently Sony’s Borderlands 2 bundle gave the Vita a boost, while Nintendo’s Mario Kart 8 bundle helped bring fresh Wii U owners to Nintendo’s fold.

At last check, around the end of March and in worldwide terms, Sony said it had sold some 7 million PS4s, Microsoft that it had shipped around 5 million Xbox Ones and Nintendo that it had sold just over 6 million Wii Us.

TIME e3 2014

This Is What Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto Thinks of Virtual Reality

Shigeru Miyamoto plays Project Giant Robot, using the GamePad's motion control sensors to move the robot's torso. Nintendo

The creator of Donkey Kong and Mario says he has "a little bit of uneasiness" at the prospect of gamers putting on goggles and playing by themselves.

Last week, the first half of my interview with Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto touched on a pair of experimental new Wii U GamePad-centered games, as well as the company’s new Star Fox shooter for Wii U with its unique combinative control scheme.

After we spoke of those projects, I had a chance to ask Miyamoto several more broadly ranging questions, including one about virtual reality, the current industry interface-paramour. As always, his responses were playful, self-effacing, articulate and revelatory.

What are your thoughts on virtual reality today, and is Nintendo doing or thinking about anything in this space? Are we at the right point, technology-wise, to see this become more than a novelty peripheral?

We’ve been doing our own experiments with virtual reality dating back to the Virtual Boy. And even to some degree, the 3DS was designed with a little bit of this in mind with its stereoscopic 3D. So we’re always looking at hardware and assessing what’s possible.

And of course we understand that the hardware and technology have begun to drop in price. It’s still not at a cost basis that makes it easy for everyone to purchase as a mass-market product. But certainly it’s dropped somewhat.

As game designers, we at Nintendo are interested in VR technology and what it can do, but at the same time what we’re trying to do with Wii U is to create games for everyone in the living room. We want the Wii U to be a game system that brings video gamers into the living room. As as I explained last night [Sunday, June 8], it’s intended to be fun not only for the person who’s playing, but also for the people who are watching.

When you think about what virtual reality is, which is one person putting on some goggles and playing by themselves kind of over in a corner, or maybe they go into a separate room and they spend all their time alone playing in that virtual reality, that’s in direct contrast with what it is we’re trying to achieve with Wii U. And so I have a little bit of uneasiness with whether or not that’s the best way for people to play.

So from Nintendo’s perspective, there’s interest in the technology, but we think it might be better suited to some sort of attraction style of entertainment, say something at a video game arcade or things like that, rather than something that one person plays alone.

When we spoke a year ago, you said the Wii U’s development environment was a lot more complex than the Wii’s, which was impacting the rate of game completion and resulting in a lot of games being delayed. What are developers saying about the Wii U at this point?

It’s improved quite a bit from about a year ago, because we introduced Unity [a cross-platform game development engine] for Wii U. That’s actually enabled teams, even small teams, to be able to leverage that Unity development library to build games on Wii U. And so that’s changed the situation.

We’ve also finished really training our in-house designers and developers. Now we’re able with our internal teams to develop at a fairly quick pace as well.

How do you feel in 2014 — with such a flourishing games market, revenue-wise, and so many people in the business and so many copycat games — about game design? Is it harder for you now in that crowded market-space, or is it easier because of all the new design toolset possibilities to come up with novel gameplay ideas?

If you look at something like Project Guard, that was something that because the hardware itself is more capable now, and the processing power is better, we’ve been able to go back to an old idea and bring it to life on a new system. So there’s those types of examples.

And then you have other examples, such as the Louvre audio guide that we did on 3DS for the Louvre museum. That’s an example of taking something that existed in another medium previously, but because of the processing power and capabilities of gaming hardware, we were able to bring that to life in a new way that was interactive and created a new experience for users.

I think that where the games industry has come now, there’s more and more potential for us to look at those types of other mediums, where there may be something that exists in an original state, and by bringing that into an interactive state, we can do a lot of new and different things with it.

So I think there’s quite a bit of potential within the industry right now. But where I think there isn’t potential is in looking at what other people have done and simply copying games that already exist and trying to create your own version of that.

You’ve indicated that the conversation in game design should be about design, not power. And yet there’s the counterargument that greater processing power is like giving a painter more colors to paint with (even if painters only choose to employ a handful of them). Does Nintendo need to be more concerned with thinking not just about innovating on the interface side, but in terms of processing versatility as well?

I think that there’s a lot of different ways you can surprise an audience. Certainly some of those can be just with the graphics, or the characters and things like that. But I also think that there’s the ability to surprise people without those high specs using things like innovation and uniqueness and surprise within the gameplay.

For me, where I often struggle is when you present an idea and then it takes you a very long time to bring that idea to fruition because of the amount of work that goes into creating all the details necessary. So I tend to look for something that allows me to create my ideas in a way that doesn’t require as much work. I think that that’s able to bring us closer to what makes the game fun and interesting.

I also think that what’s important is timing within the entertainment industry; the timing with which you’re releasing these games. And so being able to create the games and bring them out in a way that you’re timing it right and surprising people with what’s in the game is also very important.

You told me last year that the Wii U was the most suitable device for the living room, given the uniqueness of the Wii U GamePad as a TV. Do you believe that’s true today, at least in the U.S., given the proliferation of less expensive devices like Roku and Amazon Fire TV? Why would people want the Wii U as a TV interface device given the rising popularity of those others?

When we first started designing Wii U, we had two ideas in mind.

One was that we wanted to design Wii U so you could start it up and play it even if you didn’t have access to the TV screen. That’s why we gave the Wii U its own independent screen with the GamePad.

The second thing we wanted to do was we wanted everyone to feel that Wii U was a devic — or set-top box or whatever you want to call it — that would be most convenient for everyone to have connected to their TV because of the way you’re able to interact with the screen and control the TV.

When we designed the Wii U, we designed it in a way that would allow you to do a lot of different things with your TV. For example, when you’re watching YouTube, people tend to watch YouTube alone, but we thought it’d be more fun for everyone to watch YouTube together. But when you do that, you then have to wait for someone to find the next thing to watch. We designed it so that while everyone’s watching YouTube on the TV, someone can be choosing what they want to watch next.

The same thing goes for streaming services. And then we also have in Japan a karaoke service where the whole family can be in front of the TV and singing karaoke, and while you’re waiting for your turn, you can be choosing what you’re going to sing next. We designed Wii U from the beginning to take advantage of that ability and give you new ways to use the TV, to be a device that gives the TV a lot of different uses in a convenient way.

What’s different between Wii U and other set-top streaming boxes is those boxes cost just $100 and all they do is send content to the TV. But with Wii U, it not only sends content to the TV, it also takes the content that can be on your TV and gives you instant access to that content by sending it all to the Wii U GamePad as well. You’re able to interact with it very easily and simply, and you get all of this in a box that only costs $300. We feel that for what Wii U is capable of doing, it’s a very versatile system and good value. But I think a lot of people look at it as just a gaming machine, they look at that $300 as the price for a game machine and they don’t get a sense for how good that value is.

That strikes me as one of your biggest challenges. I don’t know anyone, really, who uses their Wii U as a TV device.

It’s an important message, but the challenge for me is that if I start talking about those uses of Wii U, everybody starts asking me, “Well, what about the games?” But yes, what I hope is that everyone will start to understand and start telling each other that Wii U is a great thing to have connected to your TV because of everything it can do.

You mentioned at the pre-brief that you yourself had been working on the Wii U system update that dropped recently and added a quick start menu. Can you tell us anything about other future updates you’re planning for the system?

Yes, we’re definitely working on additional system updates. But the challenge is that any time you do an update that big, it requires quite a bit of testing. We can’t do those very frequently, but I can say that we’re already working on the next system update.

Some years ago, you said you were handing the reins to Zelda, Mario, Donkey Kong and such off to your teams because you felt the teams were ready and you wanted to work on smaller projects. Do you miss working on those games at all today? Or do you like finally being able to experience them as a player, having had someone else design them?

[Laughs] It’s not that I’m completely uninvolved in those games. I do spend a lot of time giving my teams feedback on overall direction, but then the other thing I do is, as they’re developing the game, they’ll bring it to me and I’ll play it and I’ll be the representative of the first-time user. I’ll say things like, “Man, this isn’t the way I want this thing to play.” So I’ll give them a lot of direction on where to go from there.

TIME e3 2014

WATCH: Hands on With Super Smash Bros. 4

TIME picks up a controller and dukes it out in Super Smash Brothers 4.

+ READ ARTICLE

TIME may be good at writing about video games but playing them … not so much. TIME senior editor Matt Peckham faced off against two Nintendo product evaluators — but somehow nobody won.

A CPU playing as the Villager from Animal Crossing took the prize, but that only goes to show what the new Super Smash Bros. has to offer, including new characters like video game legend Pac-Man, new more-balanced levels, and all the bashing you can handle.

And give Peckham some credit, he was doing an interview while playing.

TIME e3 2014

Watch: Nintendo’s Squid Ink Game “Splatoon” Preview

Take a look at how the new Wii U game is played

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Nintendo unveiled its new Wii U game “Splatoon” on Tuesday, featuring squid-human characters in a 4-vs-4 ink shooting game. Set for release in 2015, the premise is simple: try to cover the most square footage with ink. The best part? You can decide whether you want to be a human or a squid.

TIME tried it out at the E3 conference — watch how to play in the video above.

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