curtwoodward writes "Long before Steve Jobs kicked off the modern mobile gaming revolution with the iPhone, a Harvard astrophysicist got kids obsessed with chasing electronic lights and sounds with their fingers. Bob Doyle was the inventor behind Merlin, and built the early versions with his wife and brother-in-law. As the more sophisticated cousin of raw memory game Simon, Merlin offered games like blackjack, tic-tac-toe, and even an early music program. Doyle, now 77, got 5 percent royalties on each sale, money that paid for the rest of his projects over the years." Using those royalties, Bob Doyle spends his time writing things online.
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Today Nintendo announced a new handheld gaming console called the 2DS. It will play all games from the DS and the 3DS, but games from the latter will be shown in 2-D (essentially as if the 3DS's depth slider was turned all the way down). The 2DS abandons the clamshell design of the earlier handhelds; instead, the device is a slightly wedge-shaped tablet with two small LCD screens — thicker at the top and thinner at the bottom. "It's a design that seems calculated to reduce manufacturing costs and durability issues, but it also seems fated to make the system nearly impossible to fit inside most pants pockets. The buttons and controls that were on the bottom half of previous DS and 3DS systems are now shifted toward the top, so you can reach the shoulder buttons that now rest above the top screen. This means you grip the 2DS from the sides rather than supporting it from the bottom with the corners resting in palm of your hand, like previous DS models." Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said the new console is target at younger children, as the 3DS is recommended for players age 7 and up. It's also cheaper than the other models at $130.
An anonymous reader writes "Today, Nvidia officially releases the SHIELD. After an unexpected delay last month, the company dropped the price of its hotly-anticipated handheld gaming system from $350 to just $300. Sporting a 5-inch 720p touchscreen attached to an XBox-style controller, the SHIELD is the first serious Android-based handheld gaming device. The SHIELD is also the first major device top ship with Nvidia's new Tegra 4 SoC. But the potentially killer feature of the SHIELD is its ability to steam heavy-duty PC games from your desktop right into your hands. Right now the selection of PC games is pretty scarce, with just 21 titles to choose from so far, though Nvidia promises more to come. Tom's Hardware just posted an exhaustive review of the Nvidia SHIELD, which includes demos of both Android gaming and PC streaming, display and battery testing, plus the usual bevy of performance tests versus the Tegra 3-based Nexus 7 (2012), the new Nexus 7 carrying a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, the iPhone 5, and a Wintel tablet with the Atom Z2760. Tegra 4 presents nearly four times the performance of Tegra 3, and leaves most of its competition in the dust. However, it also means that Nvidia is now the only ARM competitor without an OpenGL ES 3.0 implementation on the horizon, making Nvidia's new position as top dog quite uncertain."
Busshy writes "Since the release of the PSVita, sales for the portable console have struggled, particularly in Japan. There, the PSP was selling more units until this week, with the release of Hatsune Miku Project Diva F, which has seen PSVita sales quadruple. For the rest of the world, sales are still slow thanks to a dull selection of games. This could soon change, as Yifan Lu, coder of the Kindle Hack and PSX Xperia, has revealed he is now working on a native loader for the PSVita. Basically, it's a Userland Vita Loader for loading unsigned executables on your Vita — in other words, a Homebrew Loader for the PSVita. To calm Sony fears, he claims it is physically impossible to run 'backups' with the exploit. The exploit cannot decrypt or load retail games. At this time, the exploit is unreleased; naturally, he doesnt want Sony to fix it."
Croakyvoice writes "Nintendo has today released the 3DS XL in the U.S. The console comes with features such as screens which are 90% bigger in size than the original 3DS, a much needed improvement in battery life and also the 3D effect on the console has noticeably improved. The 3DS XL is Nintendo's attempt at even moreso dominating the handheld console market over the PSVita, but also bringing back the gamers lost to the likes of Android and iOS devices. The other major 3DS news of the day is the release of New Super Mario Bros 2, a continuation of the DS game released in 2006. In Japan the game has sold over 800,000 copies since game launch and Nintendo will be hopeful to replicate that success in the U.S."
Carlos Rodriguez writes "The hacker community has found a way to make the Vita run unsigned code by exploiting weaknesses in PSP games available for download in the PSN store. In response, Sony has made the affected games unavailable for download for all platforms — PSP and Vita both — even if you had already paid for it and hadn't had the chance to download it yet. In the case of 'Everybody's Tennis', the game was removed from the PSN worldwide after the modder community bragged about the game being exploitable but before any exploit was released for it. Is Sony being too overzealous in its fight against piracy?"
donniebaseball23 writes "Amazon's entry into the tablets market has gone probably even better than they expected. And now the Kindle Fire is quickly becoming a viable games platform. Developers have come out in force to lavish praise on the Fire for its price and ease of use. 'People are fired up about Fire because they know it's part of a service they already use and trust,' said Josh Tsui, president of Robomodo. 'It becomes effortless to buy and use because it does not make them break their usual buying patterns. It enhances it.' Added Igor Pusenjak, president of Lima Sky: 'In many ways, the best thing about Fire is that you barely feel it's an Android device. Amazon built its own closed-system OS on top of Android.'"
zacharye writes "Microsoft sold nearly one million Xbox 360s last week alone, but we're nearing the end of the road for video game consoles according to one industry visionary. Richard Garriott, known for having created the fantasy role-playing franchise Ultima, says converged devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets will soon render dedicated game consoles obsolete: '... the power that you can carry with you in a portable is really swamping what we've thought of as a console.'"
Sony's upcoming portable gaming console has now gotten a firm launch date. After arriving in Japan on December 17, the PlayStation Vita will come to North America and Europe on February 22. "The two versions of the console — one with Wi-Fi only and one with both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity — will be priced at $249.99 and $299.99, respectively, in both Canada and the United States. The launch price in Europe will be €249.99 and €299.99." Users will be limited to downloading games no bigger than 20MB over 3G — larger games, which may require up to 4GB of storage space, will need to go over a Wi-Fi connection or be installed from a memory card. Despite abandoning UMD, Sony reportedly has "plans" to allow some sort of transfer of PSP games to the Vita, though it will likely cost money.
An anonymous reader writes "GameStop has confirmed rumors that it is planning to jump into the tablet market with a device dedicated to gaming. '[GameStop President Tony Bartel said] this week that Android was capable of running what he called a "GameStop-certified gaming platform" and that GameStop would be self-branding existing tablet hardware built by an unspecified third-party manufacturer. ... GameStop will sell its gaming tablet alongside consoles and handheld gaming devices from Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and others, he said.' There's no release date yet, but the device is currently being tested by consumers. It will apparently ship with its own wireless controller."
An anonymous reader writes "Sony has announced the hardware specs for the PS Vita and the details have confirmed most fans' hopes instead of their fears. The heart of the system is an ARM-developed Cortex A9 chip with four cores and a PowerVR SGX GPU. The screen is a 5-inch OLED capacitive touch-screen (with multi-touch) and a resolution of 960 x 544. The system will include 512MB of RAM and an additional 128MB of discrete VRAM. There will be front and rear cameras capable of 60fps at VGA resolution (640 x 480)."
Daetrin writes "Nintendo has announced a large loss for the first quarter of the year and lowered its annual profit forecast. In the three months prior to June 30th Nintendo lost 25.5 billion yen ($328 million) and the forecast is being reduced about 80%, from 110 billion yen ($1.4 billion) to 20 billion yen ($257 million). Nintendo is blaming poor sales of the 3DS and is responding by announcing a price cut from $250 to $170 on August 12. In order to mollify early adopters of the system Nintendo also announced that anyone who has logged into the Nintendo eShop before the price cut will receive 10 free NES games and 10 free GBA games. The GBA games won't be available until later in the year, but Nintendo claims they will be exclusive to the '3DS Ambassadors' and will not be available for purchase on the store in the future." A related op-ed at Wired suggests the new price is still too high, given the rise of cheap portable games on various app stores.
donniebaseball23 writes "The rate at which hardware iterates in the smartphone and tablet space has allowed the technology to nearly catch up with consoles. It won't be long before we're all carrying small devices more powerful than the PS3, says Doom creator and id Software programming genius John Carmack. Speaking in an interview, he commented, 'It's unquestionable that within a very short time, we're going to have portable cell phones that are more powerful than the current-gen consoles.'" Even if that's the case, Nintendo still wants no part of it.
dartttt writes "Robert Pelloni and his team are working to develop an indie handheld gaming console, the 'nD,' which will run a number of indie games. The device will support 2D games only, and will run a custom-developed, embedded Linux firmware. It will have its own Game Store, which will allow users to download games. The SDK will be released soon, and is based on open source gaming standard SDL. Developers are being told that they can actually start making and compiling games on Windows, Mac and Linux using a 320x240 resolution."
An anonymous reader writes "Nintendo's recent update for the 3DS brought some interesting new features, including something the company may not have intended: the capacity for homebrew coders to create their own software on the platform."
The Digital Foundry blog took a detailed look at gaming on Apple's recently released iPad 2. While most reviews of the device focus on the tablet's size, accessories and software features, this one puts the new A5 processor through its paces, finding "anything from a 4x to 7x leap over what was seen in the original version of the tablet." The authors suggest that it has boosted mobile gaming to a point where Apple could be preparing for a much bigger entrance into the gaming market. "Either we are looking at a company looking to consolidate its iron grip on the mobile games market by combining its existing unparalleled developer support with state-of-the-art technology, or else iPad 2 represents the first stages of a plan to expand iOS' reach from mobile phones and MP3 players through to tablets and perhaps in the near future, home games consoles. ... Technical and hardware challenges aside, there's no doubt whatsoever that Apple is extremely well-placed to expand its reach in the games market and launch a new, disruptive assault on the status quo every bit as effective as its mobile offerings have been. There have been plenty of creditable attempts at claiming the multi-purpose set-top box market, but there has been no outright winner. Arguably, Apple has the brand presence, the games, and the music/video services to actually make it happen."
gabbo529 writes "Nintendo's latest financial results reveal that initial sales for their portable 3D gaming system have been underwhelming at best. What's the reason? Nintendo chief executive Satoru Iwata says consumers have yet to fully understand the console's 3D capabilities, even when trying it out. Others think it might have something to do with the console's high price ($250) and the lack of big-name titles available (Mario and Zelda are not yet out)."
Sony's PSP Go launched in late 2009 to mixed reviews and tepid sales. A little over a year later, Sony announced the portable console's successor, the NGP, leading to speculation about how long the PSP Go would last. Now, a report out of Japan suggests production on the device is winding down. Sony responded to inquiries about the report with vague PR-speak, but a UK retailer confirmed that they wouldn't be receiving replacements once their current stock ran out.
The Guardian's Games blog reports on a survey from Google's Admob, which found that more people use tablets for gaming than for any other purpose, even viewing news or email. Quoting: "According to the survey (PDF), 84% of tablet owners play games, ahead of even searching for information (78%), emailing (74%) and reading the news (61%). 56% of tablet owners use social networking services on their device, while 51% consume music and/or videos, and 46% read ebooks. ... The survey found that 38% of respondents spend more than two hours a day using their tablets, while another 30% spend 1-2 hours. It appears that tablets are predominantly domestic devices, with 82% of people primarily using their tablets at home, versus 11% who say they are used primarily on the go, and 7% who said at work. 28% of respondents say their tablet is now their primary computer, while 43% say they spend more time using their tablet than they do their desktop or laptop computer."