Splatoon 3’s Into The Spider-Verse Cityscape Looks Absolutely Stunning

Splatoon 3: Into The Spider-Verse Cityscape Absolutely Stunning

The as-of-yet-unnamed bow teased in Nintendo’s first look immediately stood out as one of the exciting new weapons added to the game, and it’s conspicuously absent in the new trailer. In its place, though, are a handful of choice shots of a new battle vehicle that looks something like a cross between a Droideka and a crab, and one Inkling zipping around a battlefield thwipping its arms in a very Spider-Man-like fashion. The webhead’s influence on the Splatoon franchise seems to have carried over into some of Splatoon 3‘s establishing shots of Splatsville, which is shown to have some sort of mirrored phenomenon above it, similar to Juan Solanas’ Upside Down. The striking image of an Inkling standing atop a building while looking up at an upside-down city immediately evokes the “leap of faith” scene from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and it’s going to be wild to see what actually moving around the city with other characters while playing the game is like.

Splatoon’s always been one of Nintendo’s more stylish games, and it isn’t surprising that the studio would take a few cues from one of the most gorgeous films of the past decade for its latest project. What is a little surprising, though, is that there still isn’t a hard release date for when Splatoon 3 is meant to drop, but it’s scheduled for some time in 2022.

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I Miss Mario Paint, When Nintendo Gamified Art Class

I Miss Mario Paint, When Nintendo Gamified Art Class

With my new skills, Mario Paint eventually became more than just a fun way to create digital doodles. As an aspiring pixel-pusher who dabbled in home videos, prosumer-caliber editing and animation tools like a Video Toaster (released the same year the SNES was) were far outside my production budget which was usually zero dollars. One day I realized the Super Nintendo could be connected to our VCR just as easily as it was connected to our TV, and suddenly our family’s video game system became a tool I could use to create simple title sequences and animations that I could splice into my crude video productions.


When the touchscreen Nintendo DS arrived years later, I always hoped that Nintendo would revive the game on the tiny system (other animation tools for the DS eventually filled the void) and I would still happily shell out a small fortune to be able to play the original Mario Paint on the Switch with full support for the console’s touchscreen—but that’s probably wishful thinking. Despite being one of the best selling titles for the Super Nintendo—with an impressive 2.3 million copies sold—Mario Paint was born and died on the SNES. In 1999, what has been described as the spiritual successor to Mario Paint was released in Japan called Mario Artist featuring a more modern looking mouse and real 3D graphics. However, it was only playable on the obscure N64 64DD accessory: a floppy disk drive peripheral that was such a flop it was never released in North America.

Mario Paint was Nintendo doing what Nintendo does best. It was about as outside the box as a console video game could be, and it paired an easy to use kid-friendly interface with surprisingly deep and capable creative toolset. Had the modern internet been around in 1992, I can only imagine the wealth of Mario Paint YouTube tutorials I would have had access to as a teen, and what kind of artistic creations I would have been able to produce.


The Nintendo Switch Finally Adds Support for Bluetooth Headphones

The Nintendo Switch Adds Support for Bluetooth Headphones

With the 13.0.0 update installed, a new Bluetooth Audio section appears in the Switch’s settings menu beneath Controllers and Sensors, with a simple Pair Device option, along with a list of limitations that are also detailed in a new support page on the Nintendo website. With a Bluetooth audio device connected—be it a pair of wireless headphones, earbuds, or a speaker—the Switch is only able to wirelessly connect to up two controllers at a time. This means four-player Super Mario Party battles are out of the question. Bluetooth audio devices will also be disconnected when two Switches are locally connected for wireless multiplayer gaming.

The Switch also only allows a single Bluetooth audio device to be actively paired at any one time, although it can remember connections to up to 10 different devices at a time. The console also doesn’t support the microphone on wireless headphones or speakers, presumably because voice chat functionality on the Switch is already reliant on a smartphone app, and Nintendo warns that gamers may experience audio latency depending on the type of Bluetooth audio device being used. Those are not insignificant limitations, and it’s probably why Nintendo didn’t include this functionality at launch. But with the Switch getting long in the tooth, and the holidays are coming up with only the OLED Switch as a new hardware option, it’s an upgrade that does make the original Switch more appealing for those who haven’t bought one yet.

Star Wars: Hunters Asks Who’d Win in a Fight, a Sith or 2 Jawas in a Trenchcoat

Star Wars: Hunters Cinematic Trailer Introduces Arena Combat

There is actually some storytelling going on beyond the fighting, it seems. “Set after the fall of the Galactic Empire, Star Wars: Hunters will connect players in real time to battle in arena settings inspired by iconic Star Wars locales,” a new post from StarWars.com says of the game. “Compete as daring bounty hunters, heroes of the Rebellion and hold-outs of the fallen Empire in an action game that immerses you in fast-paced and visually stunning Star Wars conflict.”

Kind of love that the idea that all these peculiar characters—the Ugnaught riding a painted-up droideka like it’s General Grievous’ wheel bike from Revenge of the Sith is, in particular, a top-tier character design—saw the second Death Star explode and saidwell, finally, I’m free to do what I’ve always wanted to in this two-bit galaxy: a career in arena combat.”

Star Wars: Hunters is set to hit mobile platforms and Nintendo Switch in 2022.

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The Creators of That Spec’d-Out Game Boy Advance SP Will Soon Sell It as an Upgrade Kit

Game Boy Advance SP With Wireless Charging to Sell as Upgrade Kit

Once the current prototype is refined and perfected, Macho Nacho Productions plans to go the crowdfunding route—through a site like Kickstarter—to raise the funds needed to pay for the pricey plastic injection molds that will be used to produce the replacement backshells from ABS plastic, instead of 3D printing them so they look more professional. That’s still a few months out, but the Thicc Boi SP will also now include a monstrous 4,500 mAh lithium polymer rechargeable battery (roughly 7.5X as large as the one Nintendo originally included) that’s good for close to 20 hours of battery life, even on a GBA SP modded with a modern LCD display.

However, while the refined version of the Thicc Boi SP promises to be an easier upgrade, it will still require some basic soldering know-how in order to attach the custom ribbon cable to specific points on the GBA SP’s original motherboard. It’s unfortunately not just a plug-and-play upgrade, but once the Thicc Boi SP is available, you can probably expect other modders to sell completed GBA SP upgrades if you don’t trust yourself to do the work yourself.

A Cardboard Mario Kart Arcade Cabinet Is the Ultimate Nintendo Labo Project

This Mario Kart Arcade Cabinet Is Made Entirely of Cardboard

DanCreator’s creation is a variation on the official arcade cabinet, given the Mario Kart Arcade software isn’t actually available for any of Nintendo’s consoles, and presumably never will be. Instead, hidden inside its cardboard frame is a Nintendo Switch connected to a TV running Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: a suitable alternative. There are some other electronics powering this creation, including speakers and LED accent lights, but otherwise the cabinet is entirely made from cardboard, including the steering wheel and gas pedal which both contain a motion-sensing Joy-Con, and an adjustable seat which looks not uncomfortable.

This creation probably wouldn’t last a day in a real arcade—cardboard does not mix well with spilled drinks—but for home use it’s an infinitely cheaper way to bring this game home. Sure, there’s probably a few hundred dollars worth of electronic parts and cardboard stock needed to build it, but that’s a far cry from the real Mario Kart Arcade cabinet’s $11,500 price tag.

Lego Reveals a Buildable Super Mario Block That’s Full of Nintendo 64 Levels Instead of Power-Ups

Lego’s New Super Mario Set Is Full of Nintendo 64 Levels

Many had assumed the teased question block would end up being another addition to the interactive Lego Super Mario playsets, but while it’s not necessarily a part of that collection, Lego has still included some interactivity between the block and the upgraded Mario and Luigi figures. As with the classic NES console Lego set from last year, the Mario and Luigi figures will play unique music and sound effects when paired with the question block (presumably from the N64 game) but the new set also features ten power stars hidden throughout the build that will trigger never-before-seen reactions and animations on either of the interactive figures.

The Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block set is currently listed on Lego’s website but unfortunately, you’re going to have to set a calendar reminder if you want to snag a copy when it’s officially available on October 1 for $170 as the site currently isn’t taking pre-orders. Mamma-mia!

A Wild, New Pokémon Anime Is About to Appear

Pokémon Evolutions Trailer: Animated Series, Leon and Lillie

Tonally, Pokémon Evolutions seems to be keeping in the mold of previous miniseries like Pokémon Origins, Pokémon Generations, and Pokémon: Twilight Wings, all of which were set outside of the core animated series’ continuity. If Evolutions’ action sequences and production values are anything like its predecessors, it’ll be a bold dynamic showcase of classic creatures and story beats from the games all gorgeously brought to life.

With the Pokémon Company cranking out so many of these retrospective miniseries that, at least aesthetically, read a bit more mature and action-focused, it’s interesting to consider whether Evolutions might be a sign of the direction the franchise might wander in the near future. Pokémon Evolutions begins airing on the official Pokémon Youtube channel and Pokémon TV on September 9.

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I Miss the Sega Dreamcast My Brother and I Put on Layaway but Never Got (Because He Stole the Money)

My family had just relocated from Winter Park, Fla., bringing with us memories of heavy air, fire ants, and moss-draped trees. When I imagine my first home now, I see myself stretching a controller from the SNES into the gap beneath our living room couch. I laid there on the cool concrete floor, hiding from my mom to max out the time I could spend playing Donkey Kong before she’d send me outside for fresh air.

Other times, when we weren’t fighting or scrimmaging, Wes and I would wash down a jumbo box of Goldfish with tall glasses of orange juice and race to finish the map in Super Mario Bros.

As we wore down the family console, my brother plotted an upgrade. A bike ride to Orlando’s Fashion Square Mall led him to the arcade edition of Crazy Taxi, where he’d rack up points picking up irate passengers and doing tricks, slamming into passing cars and dodging pedestrians along the way. Around this time Sega’s $100 million marketing machine whispered into my 13-year-old brother’s ear that he could soon play the game at home. “9/9/99 for $199,” the Dreamcast sales pitch went.

I didn’t need much convincing by the time Wes brought it up in a late-night chat before bed. I don’t remember exactly how it went, but I was persuaded to contribute my birthday money and do a bunch of chores, all so we could eventually buy a sixth-gen console of our very own and share it. I struck a deal to weed the garden in exchange for some of the spare change that gathered atop my grandmother’s bed.

I remember climbing an escalator, checking my shoes were tied along the way, and walking into a KB Toys to learn more. I knew early on that we were unlikely to get the money together in time for the Dreamcast’s North American release, thanks to warnings from my mom, but a salesperson convinced my brother and I to lock down a unit on layaway anyways before supplies ran out. As Sega pinned its hopes on the upcoming console, aiming to make up for the Saturn’s poor sales, my brother and I waited in the wings. Little did I know our mission would soon crumble to pieces, just like Sega’s.

An off-kilter taxi driver simulator was just about all it took to win us over, but Sega had more tricks up its sleeve in the run-up to the Dreamcast’s U.S. release. An unprecedented campaign meant the console was briefly unavoidable, from a 1999 MTV Video Music Awards sponsorship to tie-ins with an upcoming Arnold Schwarzenegger flick. An E3 press release republished by the Verge captured Sega’s appetite to put it in front of basically everyone: “Sega Dreamcast will have 950 television spots on MTV alone from July through March 2000, buys on ESPN and Monday Night Wrestling. […] Sega Dreamcast will be everywhere, as consumers watch television come this summer.”

Under the hood, the Dreamcast ran circles around fifth-generation consoles like Sony’s PlayStation. It boasted 16 MB of RAM, proprietary “GD-ROM” discs with an entire gigabyte of storage capacity, and a modular 56 kbit/s modem that made it the first dedicated console to feature online gameplay. The modem was a glimmer of the future. It powered transformative games that went over my head at the time, most notably Phantasy Star Online.


You could even swap in a broadband adapter later on for speeds as fast as 100 Mbit/s. Among hardcore fans, these adapters are still in demand and sometimes top $200 a pop on eBay.

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When it launched, Sega raked in $98 million from Dreamcast hardware and software sales in less than 24 hours. My brother and I heard all about the frenzy from the KB Toys staffer and congratulated ourselves for putting one on reserve. We dutifully handed over deposits towards the futuristic machine over the course of a few months.

And then suddenly our home was filled with boxes. A mental fog embraced us. When I emerged from that cloud a short while later, I charged out of a new bedroom and shouted to my mom about what I believed to be a horrible mistake. What about the Dreamcast? What about our money? Holy shit, what about my money? 


It was all a thousand miles away and my Mom wasn’t sure what had happened to it.

I confronted Wes later that day, insisting we had to act, but then he deflected. At first, I recall him arguing I hadn’t really paid much of the deposit to begin with. I felt the sting of betrayal as I pieced together what had happened, and I kept on him until he eventually caved: “Oh, I got most of the money back. I spent it,” he said.


I remember screaming and slamming my bedroom door, craving a tidy resolution that wouldn’t come. For all that grief, Sega’s fortune turned out worse.

Soon other sixth-generation gaming consoles arrived and stole the show. The PlayStation 2, Gamecube and Xbox abruptly eclipsed Sega’s chaotic lineup and ate its marketshare. Sony in particular hit a home run with its embrace of DVDs. Sony’s willingness to sell the PS 2 at a loss surely helped too.


Sega leaned hard into its online gaming features to fend off the competition. In doing so, it built a foundation for later services like Microsoft’s Xbox Live.

Former Sega of America President Peter Moore mused in a retrospective on Sega’s early vision of online gaming: “In our heart of hearts, we worried that we would not be there for the entire journey, but it was with great pride that with our Sega Sports games in particular, that we ushered in the era of connected interactive entertainment. I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that the Dreamcast and its online network laid the ground for what we all take for granted today—online game play, linking innumerable gamers from around the world to play, compete and collaborate, as well as enabling new content to be delivered in addition to that which was delivered on the disc.”


Sega may have launched gamers into the future, but those online features also now lock some aspects of Dreamcast’s legacy in the past. Sega’s regional online services (e.g.: Dricas in Japan and SegaNet in the U.S.) are long gone. In their place, Herculean efforts from super fans like Shuouma have resurrected some online features, breathing new life into the console for those dedicated enough to wander down a rabbit hole.

In a video featurette I discovered years later, IGN called the Dreamcast’s story bittersweet: “It’s a story of bright beginnings and tragic endings,” the video’s narrator mused—and my inner child nodded.


“But what it’s not though is a story of blame,” the narrator continued. “No one group is responsible for the sad fate of the Dreamcast—not indifferent gamers, not publishers that withheld their support. Everybody has a little blood on their hands.”

With respect to IGN, I’ll absolve my 8-year-old self of the blame. But what about Wes? What about his bloody hands? Craving to resolve a childhood grudge about 20 years later, I called my brother without warning to ask: “What gives?”


I did my best to jog his memory and let it sink in.

“You know what,” he replied, “I think that is exactly what happened. I wiggled myself to the mall and got the money before we moved, and here’s why: We were like halfway through the process, and so it was basically like—lose the money or get it back. And I think that I had gone to that mall with one of my friends on my bike, and I scooped that money up and probably bought a lot of orders of biscuits and gravy. Uh—yep.”


This sort of thing isn’t exactly new for Wes and I. Still on the phone, Wes summed us up: “We fought a lot and I fucking did a bunch of mean shit to you. And there were also moments where we were inseparable and best friends, and we’d play soccer ‘til dark and watch cartoons. I remember though, you know like, feeling really bad about that one,” Wes said of our doomed Dreamcast. I burst into laughter. “There was like all the other shit and then there was that one. I feel like I carried the guilt with me on the airplane,” Wes added as we unpacked the family move.

I pressed him for more and he offered other answers for what might have happened to the money, which we pegged around $100. “I feel like I spent it on blacklight posters at Spencers? I’m sure whatever it was, it was freaking ridiculous. Maybe I bought myself a copy of like, Sim City 2000.


At some point years ago, my brother bought me Pokemon cards to make up for it all. “It was some kind of half-assed pay you to keep your mouth shut situation,” Wes said. “Harri, please accept my apology. Your Dreamcast is in the mail.” (It wasn’t.)

“I accept,” I said. “Thank you.”

“You both made my night and ruined it at the same time,” Wes added. “Maybe now the wounds can start to heal.”


In the Offspring single “All I Want,” which takes center stage in Crazy Taxi, lead singer Dexter Holland tells it like it is:

You get no respect

(You get no relief)

You gotta speak up

And yell out your piece


Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!


A Determined Hacker Has Brought Google Maps to the NES

A Determined Hacker Has Brought Google Maps to the NES

If the world seen through ciciplusplus’ Google Maps 8-bit conversion looks very familiar, it’s because the imagery generated by Google’s mapping service is converted to a 16×16 grid, with the colors in every grid averaged and replaced with a matching pixelated image based on the graphical tiles used in the original NES version of The Legend of Zelda.

The hardware that powers what might be the NES’ most boring game ever is fairly simple and includes a Raspberry Pi, an FX2LP microcontroller, and the guts of an official NES cart that sacrificed its life for the cause. Eventually, all the hardware will be squeezed inside the cartridge’s original housing so that it can be loaded through the console’s game slot, but that’s an upgrade that appears to be on ciciplusplus’ to-do list, including features like searching for specific places. For now, the fun hack works, and with a surprising amount of interactivity using an NES gamepad to scroll the map and zoom in and out, complete with place names that are auto-generated using the NES’ instantly recognizable font. The next time you’re told the princess is in another castle, you’ll finally be able to get directions.