Nintendo loosens up with big changes
NINTENDO played to Super Mario and Star Fox fans on Tuesday while talking about transformation, and took the term literally in a quirky clip that showed the company knows how to have fun.
In a presentation streamed online, the public faces of the company, including Mario and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto, graced the start of the clip - but as puppets. And that's not all.
The puppets later transformed into characters from the beloved Star Fox games, said game news site Kotaku.
This was followed by a trailer for the new Star Fox Zero, slated for a "holiday 2015" release, which showed off space combat sequences that made use of the tablet controller of Nintendo's Wii U console.
Said Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime later in the presentation: "If there is a secret to the longevity of Nintendo franchises, it is transformation. We never let them stand still."
While console rivals Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were the stars of theatrical media events in Los Angeles a day ahead of Tuesday's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) video-game extravaganza, Nintendo opted to go digital for the second year.
Xbox and PlayStation consoles from Microsoft and Sony, respectively, are known for immersive, action-packed games nearing film quality, while Nintendo has built a devoted following for closely protected franchises such as Mario and Legend Of Zelda.
But the one-time industry titan has long been criticised for its refusal to license some of its iconic brands for use on mobile applications.
In a sign that Nintendo may be loosening its grip a bit, Mr Fils-Aime announced a partnership with Activision to add Donkey Kong and Bowser characters to the video-game publisher's successful Skylanders line-up, reported Agence France-Presse.
Skylanders has been a hit, with real-world figurines embedded with chips that synchronise them to arena-style platforms plugged into consoles, essentially letting youngsters carry about customised champions they can drop into onscreen games.
Donkey Kong and Bowser will have vehicles, and be part of a Skylanders SuperChargers offering from Activision in September. The play pieces will also work as "amiibo" figurines in compatible Nintendo games.
Nintendo also said it will mark the 30th anniversary of its iconic Super Mario franchise this year with the September release of a game that will let people create their own levels for play.
The Japanese video-game stalwart on Tuesday launched LetsSuperMario.com, a website where lovers of the franchise can upload video tributes.
Mr Fils-Aime said that Nintendo's transformation includes branching out to theme parks, mobile devices and even a new dedicated game platform, of which it will reveal more next year.
At E3 this week, Nintendo will provide early looks at new instalments to beloved franchises including Star Fox, Yoshi, Metroid and Mario & Luigi.
Nintendo's offerings are tailored for the Wii U game console and its 3DS handheld gaming device, which have lost their lustre as gamers turn to smartphones and tablets.
The Kyoto-based company hopes to offset weakening demand for its 3DS system with plans to jump into the booming smartphone games market - a long-awaited departure from its consoles-only policy.
"A new source of revenue is expected from a gaming application for smart devices which will be released this year," Nintendo said after releasing earnings figures last month.
In March, Nintendo unveiled plans to buy a stake in Tokyo-based mobile gaming company DeNA, as part of a deal to develop smartphone games based on Nintendo's host of popular characters.