Miyamoto Talks Super Mario Run


Following last week’s announcement that Nintendo is producing a new Mario game for iOS, Super Mario Run, The Verge was quick to share this interview with Shigeru Miyamoto himself, on what the thinking is behind the game (set to come out in December). I thought it was a pretty big deal to see Miyamoto join Tim Cook on stage during the Apple keynote, and to me it felt as momentous as when Bill Gates showed up in the keynote back in 1997 to talk about the “Microsoft Deal.” Also, I’m pretty jealous that my friend Sam got to be part of the interview.

Debaser Uncategorized

From Air to Pro

The current MacBook Pro really is pretty sweet, and makes for a surprisingly great upgrade from the Air.

I won’t go through my entire history of Macs, but until recently, my computer was a MacBook Air, and the two before that were MacBook Pros. Back in the day I felt the need for Pros because I was using my laptop to do a lot of visual work (web design, photos), but as I started working at PechaKucha and my freelance writing days were mostly behind me, I felt that my computer needs could be answered by something that wasn’t as powerful – and something lighter was attractive as well.

Another thing I discovered was that Apple’s refurbished system is pretty great, and so that MacBook Air I purchased (the 2012 model) was refurbished, and I’ve been very happy with it.

But it was now time to get something new. 

My wife’s computer was my previous MacBook Pro, the one I used before getting my Air, and it was becoming unusable – too slow, unreliable, issues with the trackpad, not charging properly, etc. So the plan was that she would use my current Air – which is still fine, and she just needs it to do research/writing on – and I’d upgrade to something new. I had it in my mind that I would get another Air, since I’d been so happy with the model I had, but was surprised to see (in part because I don’t really follow Apple’s Mac releases liked I used to) that it looked like the Air was getting very little love these days, mostly because the regular MacBook and MacBook Pro have pretty much caught up to it in terms of size and weight, while trumping it with power and display (retina).

So I got a refurbished 2015 13″ MacBook Pro with retina display, and I love it.

At first I figured I’d be getting a MacBook – price is a huge issue – but when comparing everything, the MBP model I got felt like the best deal, with a slight extra kick that should mean it will last us longer.

I was warned that the best would be to wait until the summer as Apple will surely be offering upgrades to all its laptops (the current models all date back to early 2015), but I couldn’t wait that long, and in the end, with Apple, you’re always going to be lusting over the next model, no matter when you buy one.


Let’s Play TV Games

This past Friday I got the new Apple TV, and the day after the Nimbus controller that wirelessly syncs with it (over Bluetooth). I’m having a blast.

I’ll start by saying that I’m a longtime and very strong user of Apple TV. It’s now turned into a pretty successful product for Apple, but I was an early adopter, and it quickly became indispensable for me. The killer feature for me has always been AirPlay, and on top of streaming lots of video content to it, it’s also been my main “stereo” in my home (first by streaming music from iTunes, then Spotify, and these days Apple Music).

But I’ve always been waiting for the moment when they would finally add a proper App Store to it, so that we’d start getting proper apps that were made for use on a TV screen.

And that of course means, TV games.

The best thing about plugging it in and logging into my accounts (as a citizen of the world, I have Canadian, US, and Japan accounts) was that I already had access to a bunch of games courtesy of the few Universal apps out there that have already jumped on the TV front. Early faves so far include Canabalt, Badland, Edge/Edge Ex, Phoenix HD, Jetpack Joyride, and a game that I’m finally having fun playing for the first time (because I’m playing it with the Nimbus controller), Asphalt 8.

(And to be fair, even though it’s not a game I particularly like playing, Crossy Road does look great on the big screen.)

The game I’m playing the most though is Rayman Adventures, a free-to-play game that plays exactly like a regular Rayman console game when you’re playing with the Nimbus – it’s not like the (albeit excellent) auto-runners that have already come out on iOS. There’s also another free-to-play game that I’ve been enjoying, a hover ship “runner” called Breakneck, although it was crashing for me consistently when I was reaching a certain level today.

As I mentioned at the top, I quickly bought that Nimbus controller – which is a very solid piece of hardware, by the way – because for most of these games, I wasn’t really enjoying playing them with the Siri Remote. But one very big exception, and the only game I’ve bought so far, is Galaxy on Fire: Manticore Rising, which was specifically designed to play with the Siri Remote, and in fact does not support play with a controller. I found myself really enjoying playing that game with the remote, and as someone who was not a fan of playing games with the Wiimote (along with the nunchuck controller), I think what makes it better here is that the Siri Remote is so much smaller and lighter, and so it’s not as tiring to be holding it up. Add some gorgeous HD visuals, and you’ve got a legit great space shooter.

The App Store is a bit strange though. Right now you can only find games through a featured page, through a page of things you’ve bought (and so any Universal apps that you’ve previously purchased on other iOS devices show up there), and through a search page. It’s not surprising that there’s no charts yet, since the store just opened, but I would have liked to see some category pages – I have a few friends who I know have created Apple TV versions of their iOS games (Shaun Inman’s The Last Rocket, Eric Koizol’s Rainblocks) that you can only find if you specifically search for them. I also find it strange that you can’t buy Apple TV apps through App Stores on other devices (or on your computer).

So what’s the verdict?

I think it’s pretty clear that I’m already quite excited for this device, in terms of games, and I think this will finally be the micro console that sticks. Just like what happened with the iPhone, tons of people are going to buy Apple TVs to watch video content (which I of course do as well) and as they start discovering the high-quality games you can play there, it’s going to make it that much more attractive for creators to develop Apple TV versions of their iOS games, or even better, games that may be created specifically with the TV in mind. Also, the fact Apple is strongly promoting the sales of controllers like the Nimbus means that I’m sure more and more games that play better with such controllers will be coming out on the device.

To me, this feels like a new console launch, and a good one at that.

Update: I just realized that I forgot to emphasize another thing that is a huge sell for me – although I alluded to it when I mentioned Asphalt 8 – and that’s the ability to finally play games that use virtual controls on iOS devices with a real physical controller. I absolutely hate playing games that way (with virtual on-screen controls), and there are tons of quality games that I’m sure would be a million times better if I could finally play them with a proper controller – a recent example is Downwell, a game I did still enjoy, but that I still found to be a bit awkward because of the controls. Yes, you’ve long been able to use wireless Bluetooth controllers with iOS devices, but that’s not a practical thing to do. There’s nothing more natural though than using one when you’re playing TV games.

Meta Technology

Out With You, Analog

There are only two more days here in Japan before analog broadcasting stops, and this morning they (and by they I mean someone sent over by our realtor) came over to replace the old antenna on our roof with a digital one. We’ve been watching digital TV for over two years now, and we did it by simply buying a small UHF antenna — you know, those “rabbit ear” kind of deals — and it’s worked fine, although occasionally we get a weak reception.

I’m glad that we have a digital antenna, but I don’t think we’ll be able to use it, since the outlet is not in our living room, and I don’t think I want a long cable going through two rooms so it can reach our TV. But the option is there I guess.

Also, I’m rather impressed with Apple’s new Thunderbolt Display, and not only would I like to get one to use with my laptop — my trusty MacBook Pro 17″, which has been my workhorse for over two years now — but maybe also to plug in my consoles when the TV is otherwise occupied. Is this something I can do? I’m not even sure if I can use it with my Thunderbolt-less MBP. 

It’s a digital world, and I like it.


A Fresh Start

It wasn’t enough that I’ve had to deal with the strongest sunburn I’ve had in 10-15 years — from hiking on Mount Tanigawa (2000m) this past Sunday — but last night’s attempt at installing Mac OS X Lion on my MacBook Pro ended up in my having to reformat my drive. It was damaged during the installation process, and all attempts (over the course of hours) to try to repair it or to get back to my original installation — or to simply re-install Snow Leopard over it — proved fruitless. Reformatting seems to have fixed the issue with the drive, and after doing a fresh install of Snow Leopard, I tried installing Lion again — I had nothing to lose at this point — and it worked without a hitch.

Now, of course, the hitch on my part is that I’ve been bad with backups, and so I have lost more than I’d care to admit, but most importantly two years of personal photos, and my entire music collection. Since my daily workflow rests on the use of Google products, my work hasn’t been affected much, and for that I’m thankful. 

Despite all of this, I’m trying to frame it as a forced “fresh start” on my digital activities. Maybe it was meant to be.

Oh, and I have Time Machine back in action (I’d stopped because of lack of space on my external drive) — lesson learned.


Bonnier’s News+

Bonnier’s Mag+ — a concept for a magazine on tablet — was all the rage when it came out earlier this year, and now Bonnier follows that up with another new concept, News+, this time presenting what a daily newspaper could look like on iPad. Again, some really interesting ideas here, and I’m wondering how closely the upcoming Daily digital newspaper from Apple and Rupert Murdoch will come to looking like this. (via Cédric Riveau)

Magazines Technology

Esquire Too Sexy for iTunes App Store?

Remember when there was a lot of ruckus around Apple’s decision to start refusing apps they deemed too sexy for the App Store? Well, now it’s hitting iPad editions of mainstream magazines, as it appears that the reason it’s taken so long for the latest issue of Esquire to come out on iPad — the “Sexiest Woman Alive 2010” issue — is because of said sexiness. The inclusion of this video of Minka Kelly was too hot for Apple?

The issue is now out on the App Store, but no word on what was censored or removed in order to get it approved. Certainly doesn’t make me want to get it (nevermind that I wouldn’t pick it up anyway, since I still think $5 is too much of an asking price). (via @twitsplosion)