Archives

hardware

Nintendo teases 2022 release for Breath of the Wild sequel and releases Zelda Game & Watch to tide us over

Nintendo defied expectations today with an E3-timed Direct showing off not the hoped-for new Switch hardware but a dozen or so new games — as well as a general release window for the much-anticipated next Zelda game. And to celebrate the original’s 35th anniversary, it will sell a new Game & Watch featuring the first three games in the series.

Among other things, Nintendo showed off remasters or remakes of titles from the “Monkey Ball,” “Mario Party,” “Advance Wars, “Wario Ware” and other series, and announced new entries in the “Mario + Rabbids” and “Shin Megami Tensei” worlds. Other newly announced or teased games will be making it to Switch as well, like the new “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Perhaps most surprising was the inclusion of a new side-scrolling Metroid game, the first in nearly 20 years. “Metroid Dread” will release October 8, and we’ll see if Nintendo has managed to keep pace in a genre it pioneered but others have refined.

Samus steps out of a chamber in a screenshot from Metroid Dread.

Image Credits: Nintendo

Everyone was hoping for Zelda news, however, and Nintendo… only slightly disappointed us. As the announcers noted, it’s the 35th anniversary of the NES original, and the perfect time to announce something truly special, but they have “no campaigns or other Nintendo Switch games planned.”

Instead, they offered an admittedly tempting Game & Watch in the style of the one we saw released last year for the Mario series. I had lots of good things to say about that device, and the new one will no doubt be just as fun. The ability to pause the game and pick it up later (but not rewind or save states) should make for a fun, authentic playthrough of the first three games in the Zelda series: “The Legend of Zelda” and “Zelda II: The Adventure of Link” for NES, and “Link’s Awakening” for Game Boy (recently remade).

A handheld gaming machine with Zelda games on it.

Image Credits: Nintendo

The last item on the list was a new look at the follow-up to Breath of the Wild, which years after its debut still shines as one of the, if not the, best game on the Switch. Its sequel has a lot to live up to!

While the first trailer was all cinematic, this one showed gameplay and the overworld, including a new level of verticality that brings flying fortresses and castles in the air into play. It certainly looks impressive, but one wonders how much further the company can push its Switch hardware. After all, “Breath of the Wild” pushed the system to its limits at its debut, and even then it was not as powerful as its rivals from Microsoft and Sony — both now replaced by a new generation.

One hopes that Nintendo is simply being weird and has a trick up its sleeve, as it has many times before. The Switch was announced out of nowhere, and previous hardware updates have also dropped with little or no warning and seemingly arbitrary timing. What’s expected is an updated Switch that’s physically the same dimensions but considerably updated inside and using a larger, better display. Perfect backwards compatibility, like with the 3DS series of handhelds, also seems only logical. But Nintendo has always done its own thing and its fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

Apple Watch accessory maker Wristcam raises $25M

Last week word got out that Facebook was taking another big step into first-party hardware with the planned launch of its own smartwatch. The most intriguing part of the report was the inclusion of not one but two watches. Other wearable makers have flirted with video and images on wrist-worn devices, but the feature is far from mainstream.

Industry leader Apple certainly doesn’t seem to be rushing into the idea, so Wristcam went and did it for them with the launch of a band sporting its own camera capable of shooting 4K images and 1080p. The product launched late last year, following a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Now its makers are going a more traditional funding route, announcing a $25 million raise led by Marker LLC. “We will use the funding to scale our team, Wristcam production, go to market, and R&D of our computer vision engine for wearables,” CEO Ari Roisman told TechCrunch.

Part of that funding involves effectively doubling the company’s headcount by early next year and helping deliver updates to some of the demands and concerns that have arisen since the product’s “public beta” launch in December.

Among the forthcoming features are live video. The company says it has sold “thousands” of units, which currently retail for $299 through the Wristcam site — so $20 more than a Watch SE. The company says it ran into COVID-19 supply chain issues earlier this year, but has pushed through and is now fulfilling orders daily.

In spite of Facebook’s apparent interest in wrist-base imaging, Roisman says he’s not concerned about possible Sherlock from Apple.

“I see camera continuing to be a core part of the iPhone strategy, with DSLR quality equivalence, including Pro offerings priced north of $1,000,” the exec says. “Meanwhile, I see continued Apple Watch focus on quantified health and wellness, as opposed to power, data and real estate intensive functionality that could conflict with the iPhone strategy.”

Sonos and Ikea’s latest collaboration is a picture frame speaker

Following a smattering of leaks, Sonos and Ikea just unveiled the newest addition to their three-year-old Symfonisk line of home speakers. As the name implies, the Picture Frame is a medium-size, flat-panel speaker that can either be mounted on a wall or sat on a shelf via kickstand.

As with the rest of the Symfonisk line, the product is designed to get out of its own way, and blend in its surroundings. It’s a direction much of the industry has gone in over the last several years, with fabric covers aimed at matching the surrounding décor and more or less fade into the background.

Image Credits: Ikea/Sonos

The Picture Frame form factor is another logical extension of this, with a design that doesn’t require clearing off desk space. The front grille is covered in either black or white, with a design created by artist Jennifer Idrizi, which Ikea notes was inspired by cymatics – a visualization of sound vibrations. Fitting and simple, though the company also offers a pair of replacement panels with different designs, at $20.

The Picture Frame itself is $199 – not cheap, exactly, but certainly not unreasonable – especially by Sonos hardware standards. It features built-in WiFi, connects with the rest of Sonos’ hardware and works with 100 different streaming services. There are volume and Play/Pause buttons built in and a number of small touches, like the ability to reconfigure the power cord placement, based on how the frame is positioned.

It’s will be available online and in Ikea stores starting a month from today. The Symfonisk line also includes a lamp speaker and a more traditional rectangular form factor, ranging between $100 and $200.