Sunday, 4 September 2016

Twisted Toons at Fan Expo Canada 2016

This year I was fortunate enough to be at Fan Expo Canada 2016 where I saw some voice acting legends do a Twisted Toons script reading of Ghostbusters! I only recorded one scene, but that's because I was laughing my head off the whole time. Hearing Solid Snake interact with Pinky and the Brain is wonderfully surreal.

Present in this video:

Who are your favourite voice actors? Start the conversation in the comments below, and if you like this post consider following me on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Exploring Mindfulness in Steven Universe with "Mindful Education"

Last week's episode of Cartoon Network's Steven Universe entitled "Mindful Education" and its wonderful song "Here Comes a Thought" has moved me to blog again after a long hiatus. Hello again Internet, I hope you've been well.

Steven Universe Here Comes a Thought Meditation
Steven Universe, created by Rebecca Sugar, is a very polarizing show - some of my friends simply don't get the appeal, while others, like me, simply can't get enough of it. There is no other show that explores the coming of age, the bonds of love, and journey of self-discovery so effectively, and in such a unique and beautifully animated style. It's sweet and funny. The characters have plenty of depth (and you can tell the actors behind them really put their all into their performances), and even the villains draw sympathy in their motives. It's a fantasy show for children and adults alike, with lots of heart.

We're entering spoiler territory, so if you have not seen the episode "Mindful Education" (with sequences guest animated by Takafumi Hori) you may want to wait to read this post. Of course, if you've never seen Steven Universe or are simply curious, this song stands very well on its own as a lesson in mindfulness.

For the uninitiated, Steven is half human and half "crystal gem," which gives him the ability to fuse into one being with his completely human friend Connie, forming Stevonnie. Stevonnie is being mentored in combat when they panic due to a stream of negative thoughts related to Connie having erroneously attacked a classmate in self-defense. This causes their fusion to become unstable, and they then get a lesson in mindfulness from Garnet, herself a fusion of two crystal gems, Ruby and Sapphire. 

Having myself become aware of the concept of mindfulness some years back and having found its lessons tremendously useful in dealing with anxiety, I was absolutely thrilled to see the topic touched upon in such a beautiful way in a children's cartoon. The vocals by Estelle (Garnet) and AJ Michalka (Stevonnie) are gorgeous, and the message is portrayed so well visually. 

Before the song starts, Garnet advises Stevonnie: "To find balance, you must understand your feelings. To understand your feelings, you must see them clearly without running from them." She then has Stevonnie close their eyes, breathe, and listen to the waves, and let them fade away. Then the magic happens - watch and listen below:

See what I mean? Beautiful. We'll go through the lyrics in a second, but the animation, using the butterflies as a visual metaphor for thoughts that flutter in and out of your mind, holding them, observing them and then letting them go was a stroke of genius.

Some of you may be wondering what mindfulness actually means. Well, it depends on who you ask. People who practice mindfulness often meditate (and we see Garnet and Stevonnie settle in to a meditation position in the song), however you don't need to meditate to be mindful. To me being mindful simply means being able to step back and be aware of your thoughts in the moment, observing them, and letting them go - before they ever get a chance to spiral out of control.

An easy way to visualize mindfulness is though a simple exercise for children: you can demonstrate a flurry of emotion by shaking up a bottle of water with some glitter, and recognize how unclear and chaotic the water becomes. Once you leave it to settle down, however, the glitter rests at the bottom and you can see right through once again. That's why meditation encourages you to be still and observe your own breath, so you can experience calm and be truly in the moment.

The important thing to realize about mindfulness is that it's a learned skill, and like any skill it takes practice. I don't claim to be an expert, just a Steven Universe fanboy who loves with Rebecca Sugar and her team are doing.

Steven Universe Here Comes a Thought Ruby and Sapphire
What's really interesting about this exploration of mindfulness on the show, however, is that those involved in the song, Garnet and Stevonnie, are both fusions - effectively two people in one. In this sense, the song is not just about experiencing individual mindfulness, but also about being mindful in a relationship and the bonds of love and trust, which is reflected in the song's first line: "Take a moment to think of just \ Flexibility, love and trust."

Flexibility in this context suggests to me being able to listen mindfully and be adaptable to change, which is often the cause of anxiety and runaway thoughts. This is true in respect to one's own thoughts, but even more so in a relationship where one partner needs to truly listen to the other in order to understand each others' needs. Trust is also important in a world where we're unsure of other people's motives - mindfulness teachings also suggest that one not judge people or situations. Things simply are what they are in the moment, and every moment is unique.

Connie is upset with herself for hurting her classmate, but even more worried about how Steven will feel about her actions, reflected in the next part of the song: "Here comes a thought that might alarm you \ What someone said and how it harmed you \ Something you did that failed to be charming \ Things that you said are suddenly swarming." She's letting thoughts get out of control, and suddenly the horrible thought that she is being judged and that she is a horrible person is becoming her reality, and that she might lose her friend because of it:

"And, oh, you're losing sight, you're losing touch \ All these little things seem to matter so much \ That they confuse you \ That I might lose you."

The solution is, of course, in the song's chorus:

Steven Universe Here Comes a Thought Butterflies"Take a moment, remind yourself
To take a moment and find yourself
Take a moment and ask yourself
If this is how we fall apart
But it's not, but it's not, but it's not, but it's not, but it's not
It's okay, it's okay, it's okay, it's okay, it's okay
You've got nothing, got nothing, got nothing, got nothing to fear
I'm here, I'm here, I'm here."

The key is to take a moment. When we realize we're getting upset, it's important to take a step back and look inside to ask ourselves what is really bothering us in that moment. Often we're so far removed from the situation, it can seem silly that it's still affecting us. "Little things" as mentioned in the song, mixed up social cues to use the example of someone with social anxiety, so often get blown out of proportion in our own minds to the point where they cause anxiety and grief. Even when we actually do something wrong, like Connie did in attacking her classmate, trying to push those thoughts away or hide them from others in the fear of being judged only make them more powerful.

In the song we see Connie's fear materialize as a large butterfly in which she plays the incident out over and over in her head. The important thing to realize is that, while we of course need to take responsibility for our actions, thoughts are simply that - just thoughts. Opinions in the moment. Rather than let thoughts grow and dominate our psyche, mindfulness teaches that you can observe them, recognize their significance in that moment, and then simply, like the butterflies, let them go. With a clearer head, we can then make smarter decisions about how to handle life situations and make amends.

Whether as an individual or a couple, negativity and small mistakes can often lead us to think the worst, that life, or a relationship, will fall apart. When we stop and take that moment, however, we often realize how silly those thoughts were, and remember our confidence and the love of our friends, family or significant others. "It's okay, you've got nothing to fear, I'm here" is a reminder that when we're honest with ourselves and those around us, things tend to turn out for the best.

Steven Universe Here Comes A Thought

If you're interested in further information on mindfulness, I highly recommend the books and / or audio meditation tracks of Jon Kabat-Zinn. His lessons are easy to understand, and blend traditional Eastern wisdom with modern science.

If you want to support Steven Universe and ensure it goes on for as long as Rebecca Sugar feels that it needs to, be sure to purchase the episodes on iTunes, or consider picking up a copy of "The Answer," a picture book for all ages based on the Steven Universe episode of the same name.

What are some of your favourite moments from Steven Universe? Start the conversation in the comments below, and if you like this post consider following me on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Saga: the most scintillating space opera since Star Wars

There’s nothing like an interstellar war and a cast of dozens of memorable characters to get your imagination whirring. Saga, an ongoing monthly comic series published by Imagewritten by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, is one of those serials that grips you right from the start and simply does not let up.

The premise centres around Alana and Marko, members of different races on opposing sides of a lengthy galactic war, who fall in love and have a child together named Hazel. Both opposing regimes become aware of the child, and recognizing that Hazel is a dangerous symbol of unity compromising the conflict, send all manner of hired guns and trained assassins to attempt to destroy the new family.

The cast of characters is enormous. As Alana and Marko attempt to find a safe haven, they come across monitor-headed robotic royalty, a spectral babysitter, a bounty hunter with a conscience, a jilted fiancée, a drunk but subversive author and a vicious cat that can tell when someone is lying, to name a few.

Vaughan’s writing is energetic and vivid, dealing with themes such as magic vs. technology, the meaninglessness of war, as well as the normalization of love (and sex) across all divides. Coupled with Staples’ expressive and often erotic imagery, this series is truly a tour-de-force, and one meant strictly for adult audiences.
Saga Deluxe Edition Volume One, collecting the first 18 issues of the comic, is an absolute treasure for new readers and established fans alike. It contains informative bonus material, delving into the creative process of comic creation from concept to script to art, and is a real collector’s item.
Need an epic space fantasy fix until Star Wars: Episode VII arrives in December? Saga may be the droid you’re looking for.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Telltale crafts a truly authentic Game of Thrones experience

Game of Thrones The Lost Lords The Wall

For those of you anxiously pining for HBO’s Game of Thrones to return on April 13, it seems as if the long winter from George R. R. Martin’s fantasy universe is already upon us. Take solace in the Game of Thrones game by Telltale that not only captures the look and feel of the HBO universe, but also puts you in morally ambiguous situations that would make the novels’ procrastinating author proud.

Game of Thrones The Lost Lords Funeral
When you play the game of thrones, 
you win, or you die.

The game follows House Forrester, previously banner men to House Stark, who after the fall of Robb Stark and Lord Forrester during the infamous Red Wedding are thrust into one tragedy after another. As various members of House Forrester you navigate all manner of dubious alliances, sticky political intrigues, skullduggery and gory combat in an effort to win back your family’s strength and honour. Though like in the show and novels, it’s never a good idea to become too attached to your favourite characters.

If you’re not traditionally into video games you need not worry. Telltale specializes in narrative-driven games that focus on storytelling and the choices you make, which will then alter the direction the story takes as you progress. The game is also released episodically, with the first two of six episodes out now, so if you’re time-strapped you can play it in two to three hour chunks.

Game of Thrones The Lost Lords Kit Harington John Snow
Kit Harington adds his silky voice and likeness
to Telltale's Game of Thrones.

If that’s not enough, HBO series actors including Peter Dinklage, Natalie Dormer, Kit Harington, Lena Headey and Iwan Rheon have lent their voices and likenesses to the game, making this a truly immersive Game of Thrones experience. I highly recommend this one.

The game is available on Steam for PC and Mac, as well as PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Koopalings in Twenty Years - A Cautionary Tale

The Koopalings, also known occasionally as the Koopa Kids, have been making somewhat of a resurgence lately. Thinking back to Super Mario World, I always thought these guys were cool bosses, since they actually felt like they had distinct personalities. You would assume that in Bowser’s Autumn years one of them would take over the mantle of King Koopa.
So I got to thinking, since Shigeru Miyamoto has explicitly stated that the Koopalings are not Bowser’s children, and that Bowser Jr. is the rightful heir to the throne, where does it leave this gang of merry misfits in, say, 20 years?

Larry Koopa
“Koopa army’s special attack squad leader.”
Larry was seen as the most likely candidate to replace the head honcho should anything befall Bowser’s heir apparent, displaying the aptitude at an early age for command. He graduated from the Koopa military academy with full honours, and would soon rise to the rank of Koopa Commander. He initially proved himself greatly in the mushroom wars, commanding the Koopa army to near total victory. He would ultimately, however, lose face in a personal duel with Mario in which he was badly burned by a fire flower, causing the morale of the Koopa Troops to plummet and sealing the victory for the Mushroom Kingdom. He suffers from long-term PTSD, and several cosmetic surgeries later you can find him collecting coins for the Koopa veteran society in the local mall.

Morton Koopa Jr.
“Unrivalled / invincible tough guy.”
Morton Koopa Jr. was considered the runt of the litter, but perhaps for that very reason he stood out as a real bruiser. After being expelled from Koopa High for constantly getting into brawls, he spent most of his teenage years at the gym, training to become a professional MMA fighter. Before he could really hit his stride, however, he was then expelled from the league for biting off the snout of Birdo in a qualifying match. Out of desperation, he leveraged his notoriety into a job pro wrestling alongside Wario in the deep south under the name ‘Plumber’s Helper.’ Washed up and prematurely aged by steroids, you can still find him on the wrestling autograph circuit in local hick towns.

Wendy O. Koopa
“Overthrow / beat-down princess.”
The only female Koopaling, Wendy was spoiled rotten by Bowser. At sixteen she had a massive party featured on My Super Sweet 16 in which she freaked out that she was given a Koopa Clown Car instead of a Mercedes. She coasted through high school on her good looks, eventually running off with a rugged Koopa Troopa with a motorcycle in her early twenties and quickly becoming pregnant. She was disowned by Bowser, who saw Wendy’s then husband as scum and their child as a ‘misbegotten halfbreed.’ With nowhere else to turn, Wendy got a job as a cashier in a supermarket, and had several more children before leaving her husband and joining the Koopa Church of Latter Day Saints. She’s now married to an aged congregant and files frivolous lawsuits that so far have amounted to nothing.

Iggy Koopa
“Trickster with the black-framed glasses.”
Ever the ‘misunderstood’ Koopaling and picked on by the rest, Iggy spent most of his adolescence with his nose buried in books, obsessively watching and blogging about anime, and playing erotic Japanese dating sims. His early adversity gave him the drive to succeed however, and he graduated from Koopa U. with an MBA in Koopa Finance. He ran the business end of Bowser’s empire for many years, becoming rich and powerful in a very brief time and was better known by his nickname “The Spiny of Wall Street.” His meteoric rise would eventually be succeeded by an equally portentous downfall as he made some poor investments in the Koopa Clown Car industry and spent the rest on Japanese hookers and blow. He now teaches business seminars to Goombas who want to get rich quick.

Roy Koopa
“Out-of-control turtle heavyweight.”
Growing up, Roy was heavily favoured by Bowser, who would often be heard to say that Roy “reminds me of myself at that age.” Although somewhat slow, he was an ace with a Koopa shell, and despite being a real dullard in school, Bowser would always make time to go out for an ice cream with his favourite ‘son.’ However, once Bowser Jr. was born (who the heck is his mother, anyway?), Roy fell into disfavour and developed a deep, brooding resentment towards life. He started hanging out with the goths and writing dark poetry. Crying and alone in his room, he would eat his problems away, adding many layers of fat to his already chunky frame. Still living at home, working at an office supply store and devastatingly overweight, Roy tends to stand alone in the corner during family reunions.

Lemmy Koopa
“There’s one in every group,” is the way that people talk about Lemmy. From a young age, his interests tended to veer towards the chaotic, including torturing the family cat goomba and violently ripping the masks off of shy guys. He developed a penchant for bob-ombs, constantly blowing up his toys behind his house, and decided to study chemistry at Koopa U. Nobody could say they couldn’t see it coming when one day Lemmy snapped and held the entire city hostage with his new variety of bob-omb of mass destruction. His demands: ten-million coins and a gassed up Koopa Clown Car ready to take him to to Yoshi’s Island. Paratroopa SWAT managed to bring him down and disarm the bomb, however, and Lemmy was incarcerated in the Koopa Asylum for the Mentally Insane. Today you can still find him there, somewhat calmed by his regular electroshock therapy, but still collecting oddments from the laundry room and stashing them for who knows what purpose.

Ludwig Von Koopa
“Showoff villain-hero.”
The child genius, Ludwig’s IQ was off the charts from a very young age, and he grew up resenting Bowser’s bumbling efforts to kidnap Princess Peach and conquer the Mushroom Kingdom. After biding his time for several years, Ludwig ran off during the mushroom wars and created his own underground elite Koopa army, “The Ones Who Knock,” recruiting the best and brightest from Bowser’s ranks slowly over the years via sedition. Utilizing the latest in military psychology, tactics, and hardware, Ludwig created a fighting force unlike the world has ever seen. Not one to suffer competition, he took the fight directly to Bowser and his young spawn, tearing the Koopa Kingdom to pieces in the process while the Mushroom Kingdom looked on and laughed. Bowser Jr. and him have faced off directly many times, but to this day no one has come out on top, and the war rages on…
What do you think other loveable Nintendo mascots will be up to in twenty years time? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, 12 September 2014

"Kill Link!" - The Legend of Neil Top 10

This article was originally published on Gamespresso.

The Legend of Neil is the original NES Legend of Zelda parody webseries that nobody realized they needed and too many are still unaware of. Lasting three seasons from 2008-2010, it was directed by Sandeep Parikh of The Guild fame, who also co-wrote the show with Tony Janning, the actor who plays Neil. The premise of this crude, NSFW show has down-on-his-luck Neil getting drunk playing a game of Zelda, and engaging in an act of auto-erotic asphyxiation (while masturbating to the fairy in the game, because she was kind of hot), and that somehow transports him into the game.

The series is a loving and irreverent tribute to Zelda, and in my books the best video game parody ever created. If you live in the USA you can still view the series online on Comedy Central, and the show is available to purchase on DVD at Amazon.

Without further ado, my Legend of Neil Top 10:

10. Money Making Game:
Legend of Neil Money Making Game
To escape from a moblin, Neil stumbles into the shop of an dubious merchant played by Chris Fairbanks. When Neil doesn't have enough money for the blue candle (or the arrows that use rupees, so you just give all your rupees to the merchant and he'll deduct them, based on what he knows), the merchant suggests Neil try his hand at Money Making Game in his illicit gambling den. After all, "this game is so easy, anyone can play it." Unfortunately for Link, the game is a scam and he ends up 400 rupees in the hole. The thieves are about to take his eyes as payment when the game is broken up by the elf cops. They've had their eyes on the operation for a while, "what kind of store sells three random items? Do you think we're assholes?"

9. Princess Zelda! - You're Black?:

Legend of Neil Zelda Black
Neil is quite the reluctant hero, and gets testy that people keep calling him Link. Of course, if there's one thing that can keep him on his quest, it's the thought that there's a beautiful princess to screw at the end of it (she's about a seven, seven and a half...). After taking an epic beating from some Octorocks, Link gets a vision from Zelda, played by Angie Hill, and the first words out his mouth are about the colour of her skin. "Yeah," she replies, "is that a problem?" "Look I'm totally sorry about the black thing, I used to totally watch Cosby, and Different Strokes, you have no idea what I'm... you ever seen Benson?" Stay classy, Neil.

8. Ganon - Fog Equals Power!:

Legend of Neil Gloffice
It's hard being an evil dictator and also trying be liked - but Ganon knows that the secret to appearing powerful is to turn the fog machines on. Played by Scott Chernoff, Link's nemesis Ganon makes some questionable decisions, often pointed out by lackey Wizzrobe, played by Eric Acosta. Sure, he could have lured Link to a harder level when he was still weak. Sure he left a map of the level in the level, what if the bad guys got lost down there? He left one on every level! If there's one thing Ganon can't stand for though, it's insolent logic, which Wizzrobe discovers often as he gets backhanded or choked (Ganon's reach is amazing). "Have I made some mistakes?" Ganon reflects, "Maybe. Maybe... and now I'm going to have to have you killed for even asking that question."

7. The Musical - There's No Restart!:

Legend of Neil The Musical Mentors
The Legend of Zelda has always been a musical franchise with whistles and ocarinas, but this marks the first time there's ever been a full-on sing-along! The captive fairy is encouraged to sing about the things that makes her happy (such as the dirty sanchez and finger cuffs), Neil sings his way through levels 2 and 3 while wishing he had a beer, and the two Old Men sing about how lucky it is that Link has not just one mentor but two! Wizzrobe then consoles Ganon that Link has already completed three levels while Zelda wistfully pines after her hero, and all of the different character's songs come together in an epic conclusion - There's No Restart!

6. The Three Day Training Course:

Legend of Neil Three Day Training Course
When Neil first arrives in Hyrule, he is woefully unprepared for the trials ahead of him. Old Man (It's pronounced OLD MAN!), played by Mike Rose, encourages him to remember his training. "What training!?" "Oh shit, did we not train you? It's a three day course." Neil manages to stumble through for a while and gets sick of Old Man's condescending advice, but realizes in season 3 that he'll need his help in order to defeat Ganon. So begins the three day training course, an epic Rocky style montage of Neil learning to sashay his way around his enemies before he stabs them, and lots of running on the beach with a close up of his and Old Man's junk. It ends with them frolicking in the ocean - I get teary-eyed thinking of it now.

5. Kill Link!:

Legend of Neil Kill Link
After singing his heart out in the musical, Neil really needs to tie one on. Unfortunately the pub he wanders into happens to be occupied by moblins, but a quick disguise later and Neil reluctantly ingratiates himself into their company. Neil gets a bit unnerved when the moblins keep toasting "Kill Link!" and talking about ways that they'd torture him if they ever got their hands on him, but Schlam, Quiff, and Glorm quickly become his fast friends when Neil comes up with the idea that he'd cut out Link's eyes, and his balls, and switch'em! They then engage in an epic party montage in which they play quarters (with rupees) and do lines of fairy dust ("I have more friends because I use drugs!"). Unfortunately it all falls apart when Neil's disguise falls off while doing a keg stand. He appeals to the moblins, saying they're the only friends he's made since he arrived in Hyrule, and is devastated when he later is forced to take them down.

4. Continue or Quit?:
Legend of Neil Continue or Quit
The cliffhanger at the end of season 2 brought Link back into the real world after admitting his cowardice to Zelda and being slain by Ganon, faced with the classic NES Zelda 'Continue or Quit' screen, thinking the entire quest was a dream - until he looks at his arm and sees his heart meter. He had always been the reluctant hero, and is now forced to think hard about his life. Does he really want to be the assistant-manager to his brother at the gas station in Trenton, New Jersey, boyfriend to an unfaithful and shallow woman? We all knew he'd go back, but this cliffhanger encapsulated everything that Parikh and Janning had built up to this point - the internal transformation from zero to hero.

3. The Fairy's Sexual Healing:

Legend of Neil Fairy Motorboat
Played by the always audacious Felicia Day of Geek & Sundry, this nymphomaniac fairy finds Neil on the verge of death, and uses her 'special talents' to heal him - after she coaxes an "I love you" from him, that is. After all, Elves keep saying they'll stick around, and then they leave, and come back again six months later, wanting her to do it all over - well, she's NOT GOING TO FALL FOR IT AGAIN! Never afraid to bear her 'twins,' or do 'it' in public (even while under attack), the fairy is a force to be reckoned with. In season 3 she had a litter of Neil's kids, and then sacrificed herself to save Neil in his final battle with Ganon - but we'll always remember that time she motorboated Neil's toes.

2. Old (Oold?) Man's Advice:

Legend of Neil Heart Cookie
Probably the best character on the show, Old Man (and to a lesser extent his brother with tourettes, Old Man) act as Link's mentors, providing him advice and shouting out classic NES Zelda old man lines such as "Easternmost peninsula is the secret!" and "Master using this and you can have it." However, it's Old Man's condescending advice and insults that are the star:
  • "Ooh, this creature's throwing rocks at me, my boobies hurt, I'm a young lady - grow a dick, Link."
  • "Ah, the magical heart shaped cookie. Eat up, you deserve it, after committing murder."
  • "Link, I see you met the moblins! And what a surprise, you ran like a little twat. Perhaps you could queef, make yourself go faster, like a power boost."
  • "I used to be all potions and spells, and I never made time for a morning BJ. Do that for yourself, 20 minutes out of the day."
Old Man may be a bit of a jerk, but he cares about Neil and the quest, crying after Link finishes the three day course. To me he represents the very spirit of this crazy and fun-loving series.

1. The Title Song:

Legend of Neil Asphyxiation
The first time you saw this title sequence, you knew you were in for something special. The lyrics of the song spoke for the series itself: "The last thing that Neil remembered he was drunk playing a game of Zelda, when he whipped out his member and he masturbated to the fairy in the game because she was kind of hot, and that somehow transported him into the game!" It's an amazing premise that spawned three wonderful seasons of a wacky Legend of Zelda project with clever humour and a loving attention to detail. Kudos to Sandeep Parikh and Tony Janning!

Agree with this list? Disagree? Something missing? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Miyamoto on Nintendo's Creative Future, Winning Back Core Gamers

The internet is buzzing right now about Nintendo veteran Shigeru Miyamoto's interview in October 2014's edition of Edge magazine in which the iconic game designer and producer states that he is about making games for gamers, rather than cave into investor pressure to court to casual gamers and create free-to-play versions of Nintendo's storied franchises for smartphones. In response to Edge's comment that Miyamoto's upcoming games for Wii U that make extensive use of the Wii U gamepad: Star Fox, Project Guard, and Project Giant Robot, are difficult to play, Miyamoto emphasizes that while using the Wii U gamepad alongside your main view on the television screen does take some getting used to, it represents a new challenge that hardcore gamers will find satisfying once mastered. This is a complete paradigm shift from Nintendo's previous attempt to snag non-gamers with easy to play games like Wii Sports, and Miyamoto's controversial statement regarding the attitude of casual gamers is particularly striking in suggesting that they are completely unengaged with the games they play: "Their attitude is 'OK, I am the customer. You are supposed to entertain me.' It's a kind of passive attitude they're taking, and to me it's kind of a pathetic thing. They do not know how interesting it is if you move one step further and try to challenge yourself." Bold words, but ones that suggest that Nintendo is taking a renewed interest in attending to the hardcore gaming community that many feel have been alienated since the inception of Nintendo Wii.

Which is not to say that Nintendo will be making proprietary Call Of Duty-like games to win back the hardcore gamer element. Miyamoto was unimpressed with the general showing at E3 2014, commenting that there was far too much "bloody shooter software" that demonstrated that the industry is trapped in a state of "creative immaturity" as developers continue to build upon previous successes rather than attempt something brand new. He states in the Edge interview that he hopes "Nintendo will always be a company that aggressively invests in something new - something born from each creator's individual characteristics." His solution to this desire for expression is Nintendo's Garage program, in which Nintendo developers break off into small teams to work on ideas, the most successful of which are then taken on as full-fledged projects. The three aforementioned Wii U projects, along with E3 2014's heavily featured Splatoon, the company's non-violent take on the competitive shooter, are the first games to be realized through this initiative. Miyamoto suggests it's all about staying true to Nintendo's roots: "With the increasing number of developers involved in one project, we need to spend longer simply communicating, so we can feel the same pleasure [as the old days]."

Concepts like Splatoon, a game reminiscent of Super Mario Sunshine in which the object is not to kill your opponents but use paint guns to coat more territory on the map than the other team, represent this revitalized spirit of ingenuity over at Nintendo. In taking the tried and tested FPS genre and turning it on its head, Nintendo is demonstrating that they recognize this important corner of gamer society, while being able to add their own unique spin on it. Splatoon was almost made as a Mario game, but Miyamoto states that "If it were Mario, we wouldn't be able to create any new [Intellectual Property]," which is refreshing to hear from a company that has played it particularly safe in its proprietary software decisions in the past decade. It's no secret that Nintendo has not been doing very well financially, but gambles such as this, along with tried and tested upcoming games like Super Smash Bros. and the as-yet unnamed open-world Zelda title for Wii U, might just help Nintendo reengage with its estranged core gamer audience and regain lost ground as a popular innovator in the games market.

You can read the full interview with Shigeru Miyamoto in Edge Magazine.