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CTR July 2019
Vol. 27 No. 7 Issue 234
Download this issue as a PDF
Nintendo's six magical ingredients

“It’s the little things that make this game for me.” Chris Guest, after playing The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening. Watch Chris play, at https://youtu.be/0euaHSz-WT8

Imagine -- paying $60 for a single app. That’s unimaginable in the world “free” and “paid” apps. Yet lots of people do, and the result is an interactive media empire called Nintendo that shows no sign of slowing down.

Last week, I attended Nintendo’s post-E3 demo session in NYC with Chris Guest, a digital designer and former TCNJ student. He and I were given free access to the 2019 headliner titles, featured in this issue. At one point in the Zelda demo, Chris wandered into the shop, grabbed a shovel and dashed out the front door without paying. It was a trick he had learned from his youth and he was thrilled that the new Zelda title supported this type of mischief. Here are six attributes of Nintendo’s success that are often lacking in today’s app stores.

1. Trust. You spend a lot, but you get a lot. Your $60 investment in a Zelda game gives you the keys to a world engineered to be explored rather than mastered. And you own it forever with little or no commercial pressure.
2. Freedom. The 2019 Pokémon and Zelda games we played contain open world features. If you can see it, you can go there. In Zelda’s case, these worlds contain dynamic events inspired from the natural world.
3. Surprises. As you wade through the weeds, you never what might pop up. These games expertly use intermittent reinforcement to keep you engaged in the task at hand. Other app stores use these techniques to manipulate player behavior for commercial reasons, which can erode trust.
4. Collections. Pokémon capitalizes on your innate desire to collect virtual and real stuff. But you do more than collect -- you form relationships with the creatures you collect. Nintendo’s growing Amiibo collection works in concert with the game design to add features that seem worth the investment.
5. Goals. The new map feature in Zelda and the health meters in Pokémon deliver honest in-game information so you can use your energy to work on challenging tasks.
6. Socialization. Games like Super Smash Bros. are designed to be shared, such as in eSports tournaments. Other games like Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield and Luigi’s Mansion 3 feature the best of turn-based or co-op play modes.

As the next generation of adults work to use technology to improve the quality of a child’s play, it’s nice to know that there are some master teachers on the job, in this case from Japan.

As you’ve been enjoying your summer, CTREX programmer Matt DiMatteo has been hard at work rebuilding the CTREX database. Over the next few weeks, look for the ability to view and use multiple rubrics on the same product, smarter searching and more features for our CTREX expert reviewers. We’ll let you know when the changes are live.

Battlebots Rivals
Gimble the Happy Tree Frog
Highlights Storybooks from Bamboo
Itty Bitty City
*Legend of Zelda, The: Link’s Awakening
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 The Black Order
Micro Titans RC Brawler Bots
Novel Effect
Stellar - The Gold Star Reward Chart App
Super Mario Maker 2