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Feature: The Minds Behind Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Nintendo Life



© Nintendo Life

Last week we took a brief look at the history of Animal Crossing from Japan’s Animal Forest for Nintendo 64 and its GameCube conversion up to and including the latest entry on Switch, Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Obviously there are many unsung heroes when it comes to the development of any video game, with various familiar names contributing to the series over the years in different capacities, as well as hundreds of Nintendo staff that aren’t so well-known or public-facing. Still, the people below are the principle players responsible for the series we know and love, from the initial entry up to the brand-spanking new Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

What’s that? You hadn’t heard there was a new Animal Crossing out on Switch? Sounds most unlikely, but you should probably read our review of the game, quick-smart! SPOILERS: we quite like it.

The principle people behind the Animal Crossing series

Katsuya Eguchi (Creator, Director, Producer)

As we said above, many people have contributed to make Animal Crossing what it is today, but the man most directly responsible is Katsuya Eguchi.

Euguchi joined Nintendo 1986 working as a designer on Super Mario Bros. 3 before moving on to direct Star Fox and Wave Race 64. He took on the role of Chief Designer for Yoshi’s Story before getting down to work on creating Animal Crossing based on his experiences of moving from his hometown of Chiba to Kyoto when he joined Nintendo over a decade earlier.

Co-directing the first Animal Crossing with Hisashi Nogami (below) with Takashi Tezuka on producing duties, Eguchi put down the foundation that the series has been building on for nearly two decades now. He would move on to producer roles on subsequent instalments (and on many other games besides), but he’ll forever be tied to this most delightful of Nintendo franchises.

Hisashi Nogami (Co-Director, Director, Producer)

Hisashi Nogami joined the company in 1994 and worked on character design for Yoshi’s Island. He directed the first three Animal Crossing entries (the first jointly with Katsuya Eguchi, Animal Crossing : Wild World solo and Animal Crossing: City Folk with Isao Moro) and acted as Producer on New Horizons.

He also produced Splatoon and its sequel, which we’ve spoken to him about. Thoroughly nice chap, and someone who has left an indelible mark on the series since the very beginning. Speaking with the late Satoru Iwata in an Iwata Asks interview for City Folk, Nogami recalled how Iwata’s approval during the development of the original game gave the team encouragement to persevere with an idea which wasn’t quite like anything else available at the time:

At that time, you were not yet President of Nintendo, but the fact that you had thought it was interesting really spurred us on in developing the title after that. Those of us working on it had thought it was interesting, but we were still at a point where we weren’t really sure about whether anyone would want to play a game that wasn’t quite a game…

It seems to have caught on, no?

Aya Kyogoku, (Co-Director, Director)

As noted last year in our look at the most important figures in Nintendo history, there’s a significant lack of women in higher profile developmental roles at the company, but Aya Kyogoku is certainly one of them. She began as a script writer on the Legend of Zelda series and was responsible for much of the dialogue in City Folk. After taking on the co-directing role with Animal Crossing: New Leaf (with Isoa Moro), she and producer Eguchi hired a large number of female staff to bring the gender balance of the development team to an even 50-50 split. This diversity contributed to the most successful series entry to date.

Over the years her prominence has continued to grow and she was the sole director helming the latest entry for Switch. Within the last year she’s been promoted to Manager of the production group responsible for both the Splatoon and Animal Crossing series and under her watchful eye we’d say the future of the series is in excellent hands.

Kazumi Totaka (Composer, Sound Designer)

One of several composers who has worked on the series, Totaka is without doubt the most prominent thanks to his beloved namesake character who has appeared in every iteration thus far: the guitar-toting canine and musical chameleon K.K. Slider. While it isn’t apparent from his English name, everyone’s favourite good boy performer is named Totakeke in Japan (in fact, he introduces himself as such in the first game saying that his more familiar moniker is his Saturday night stage name).

Totaka’s ‘appearance’ in the game tends to overshadow the work of multiple other Nintendo composers who have worked on the series including Manaka Kataoka, Asuka Hayazaki, Toru Minegishi, Shinobu Tanaka and plenty more of Nintendo’s audio department. Still, Totaka will forever be associated with this series, K.K. and the song he has sneakily inserted into dozens of Nintendo games over the years. The appearance of infamous Easter Egg Totaka’s Song in Animal Crossing is perhaps the most obvious of the lot. It’s called K.K. Song and Slider will usually play it on request.

Isao Moro, (System Director, Co-Director)

After acting as System Director on Wild World, Isao Moro graduated to subdirector on City Folk and co-director along with Aya Kyogoku on New Leaf. In collaboration with Kyogoku, it was Moro who fashioned the finest Animal Crossing experience to date (well, until New Horizons came along) and introduced the world to the wonders of mayoral duties, fan-favourite administrator Isabelle and the ability to customise not only the interior of your home, but also the town itself with bridges, fountains and a wide variety of public works projects.

The spin-off game Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, which debuted several quality of life features that would find their way back into New Leaf via the Welcome amiibo update, would be Moro’s last directing gig at Nintendo. He left the company in 2018 and relocated to the island of Okinawa where he teaches programming.

Ryuji Kobayashi (Design/Art Director)

Kobayashi became working on character animation for the first game and graduated to design director on Wild World for Nintendo DS, a role he returned to for the Wii entry. He took on the Art Director role for the gorgeous New Leaf and over the years has steered the series in a very specific direction in terms of look and feel. He has also worked extensively on the Legend of Zelda series, most recently doing animation work on the rather lovely Breath of the Wild.

Much like its systems, there’s an elegant simplicity and beauty to Animal Crossing’s visual presentation and Ryuji Kobayashi is one of the people responsible for that.

Koji Takahashi, (Character Design, Design Director)

Another veteran staff member with a nebulous sounding credits on the series, Koji Takahashi has been responsible a broad number of things across several series entries, notably the design of characters in Wild World and coordinating design for Animal Crossing: New Leaf, a role he also took on The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.

One area Takahashi worked on was choosing the right characters for the right jobs in New Leaf, which introduced Cyrus and Reese the alpacas and Leif the sloth. According to the Iwata Asks interview on the game, finding the right fit wasn’t always easy:

Well, we weren’t indiscriminate in our search. We tried to find animals that fitted their in-game function and suited the shop where they would appear. That’s why we thought that an animal that lives in the forest would work well in the gardening center, so we settled on the sloth.

In the same interview Takahashi mentions the hard work that goes into the growing list of items available in each entry, and it’s clear that his efforts haven’t been in vain, with each game adding to the list of items and activities to enjoy in a way which makes returning a thrill, even if you’ve played every last game to death.

Makoto Wada, (Script Writer)

Makoto Wada is credited with script work on Animal Crossing, although given Nintendo’s habit of doling out director credits across the spectrum, we wouldn’t be surprised to find out he had one of them somewhere for this series, too.

He’s directed game like Super Punch-Out!! and Mario Kart DS, but he has worked on the script of multiple Animal Crossing games including the original and New Leaf. According to an Iwata Asks interview, he was responsible for the lines of Mr. Resetti, the gruff, curmudgeonly mole who would get’s most upset if you turn the game off without saving properly. Without him, we’d be without those fabulous rants.

Nintendo Treehouse

Okay, we’re cheating here by lumping Nintendo of America’s entire in-house localisation team into a single entry, but we couldn’t finish this list without doffing our collective caps to the sterling work the Treehouse has done with every single entry in the series. The easy-going nature of the games belies the colossal about of text and translation work required to bring an Animal Crossing game to the West and while the original writers obviously deserve recognition, the localisation team is equally deserving of thanks for the capturing the spirit of the original script.

More than that, the Treehouse team has fed back into the series from the beginning when Nintendo of Japan ended up reincorporating holidays from original GameCube localisation of N64’s Animal Forest into an updated Japanese version. Since that time the teams across different sides of the globe have collaborated much more closely from the beginning of each new project.

If you can’t get enough Animal Crossing content to satisfy your insatiable thirst for all things Nook, our ranked rundown of the best Animal Crossing games puts every series entry and spin-off into best-to-worst list form, so feel free to check that out and let us know how you’d amend our picks in your own personal ranking.

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Nintendo has big plans for Super Mario Bros.’ 35th anniversary – Video Games Chronicle



Nintendo” href=””>Nintendo is planning to celebrate Super Mario Bros.’ 35th anniversary this year with several major releases, new and old.

Multiple sources have told VGC that the platform holder is planning to hold an event to coincide with this year’s anniversary, which marks 35 years since the start of the mainline Super Mario series in 1985.

As part of its anniversary celebrations, Nintendo will reveal plans to re-release most of Super Mario’s 35-year back catalogue this year, remastered for Nintendo Switch” href=””>Nintendo Switch, VGC was told.

As VGC’s network partner Eurogamer reported in a follow-up to our story, these remasters will include 1997’s Super Mario 64, 2002’s Super Mario Sunshine and 2007’s Super Mario Galaxy.

Nintendo will also release several other Mario titles in 2020, including a new instalment in the Paper Mario series and a Deluxe version of 2013’s Super Mario 3D World.

Most of Mario’s back catalogue will be remastered for Switch, VGC was told.

The plans are set to be revealed alongside new details of Nintendo’s partnership with Universal, and the pair’s Super Nintendo World theme park attractions and animated Super Mario movie.

Nintendo has already unveiled one flagship licensing deal planned to commemorate the anniversary: a special interactive Lego Mario set which sees players collecting coins and defeating enemies in real-life ‘levels’.

The Super Mario 35th Anniversary reveal was originally due to take place as a physical event at E3 in June, VGC was told, but Nintendo is now reviewing its plans in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. E3 2020 has been cancelled due to the virus outbreak and Nintendo could instead opt for a digital showcase.

Approached for comment on this story, Nintendo said it “does not comment on rumour and speculation.”

Nintendo last celebrated a milestone Mario anniversary with the series’ 30th anniversary in 2015.

The company commemorated the occasion with various events and merchandise, including two special edition 8-bit Mario Amiibos. Super Mario was licensed for products from Hot Wheels, Moschino, Trump cards and more.

That year’s celebrations culminated with the release of Super Mario Maker for Wii U” href=””>Wii U in September 2015, exactly 30 years since Super Mario Bros.’ original release for Famicom in Japan.

While its core business remains making and selling games, Nintendo has increasingly moved to leverage its popular IP in various ways in recent years.

The company’s new Nintendo Tokyo store opened in November 2019, while the Super Nintendo World theme park land at Universal Studios Japan was scheduled to launch this summer.

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The company has also recently partnered with fashion brands such as Uniqlo and Levis for Nintendo-themed clothing lines.

Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa recently said the company’s efforts to broaden its audience by leveraging its IP outside of video games was bearing fruit, and Nintendo director Shigeru Miyamoto” href=””>Shigeru Miyamoto also touched on this topic in a Famitsu interview.

“We want to expand our video game characters to a variety of settings – not just in games, all while keeping their value,” Miyamoto said. “In other words, we’ll be collaborating with various other companies. If we’re able to accomplish that, we can create more opportunities for people to make contact with our characters on a much larger scale than usual.”


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Microsoft wants Teams to be your communication tool for work and family – MobileSyrup



Microsoft wants Teams to be your communication hub. For everything.

The Redmond, Washington-based company announced a slew of new features, tools and apps coming as part of its new Microsoft 365 subscription. However, one of the standout announcements was that Teams would now work for families as well as businesses.

Teams, for those unfamiliar with the platform, is Microsoft’s business communication hub. It has a lot in common with Slack, another communication tool for businesses. Even Google is trying to get into this space, with reports suggesting it’s working on a chat platform that ties into G Suite services.

Whether you use Teams or Slack, these chat platforms have become invaluable to many businesses. And Microsoft now thinks that value can be expanded to families.

It’s an interesting proposition. On the one hand, offering users the ability to switch between work and personal profiles is something Slack doesn’t offer. Sure, you can sign into multiple Slack workspaces, swap between them and effectively use them for whatever you want. But Microsoft, at least from this announcement, appears to be doing more.

On the other hand, Teams for families puts Microsoft’s business chat platform in direct competition with the countless other messaging platforms out there. Can Teams do enough to pull WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Signal and Telegram users away from their respective platforms? It might.

A feature suite you actually want

To grasp the potential allure of Teams, you need to understand two things. The first is the benefit of having one app for all your communication, and the other is the wealth of features Teams offers — features I think people will really want.

First up, having one app for all communication would be a huge boon, especially for people who aren’t as tech-savvy. It would mean they wouldn’t have to learn multiple apps just to send a message, and people can get stuff done faster if everything they need is in one familiar place. Considering some 44 million people use Teams every day, that’s a lot of people that could benefit from consolidating communication to one platform.

As for the features, Microsoft announced a few things. However, with Teams’ new features not going into preview until the summer, there are some specifics missing. Plus, it’s hard to say how much of an impact these new features will have since we can’t test them out yet.

That said, there’s some promise here. For one, Teams will offer family users access to group chats and video or audio calls. While those are expected functions, the other features are more interesting.

According to Microsoft, users will be able to work on shared to-do lists with friends and family through Teams, assign other people tasks, coordinate schedules and share photos and videos. In a family setting, these features could help parents plan family outings, make chore lists and assign duties to kids, plan around activities, events and appointments, and more.

Further, Microsoft Teams will let users store important information like account details or Wi-Fi passwords. Judging by a product screenshots the company shared, those items will go into the ‘Safe’ on the Teams family dashboard. This could be a great tool for securely sharing the house Wi-Fi, or giving family members access to the Netflix password.

Finally, Teams will also offer a location sharing tool that will let users share location updates with their family.

Most of these features, but particularly the Safe, are things I’d love to have on messaging apps I already use. They could prove enticing enough to get users to switch, but it remains to be seen just how effective Teams will be at communication for everything.

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Microsoft is launching a Family Safety app and Microsoft Teams for consumers – XDA Developers



Microsoft had a number of announcements to make today, some of which will make their way over to Android. The biggest news is the rebranding of Microsoft Office 365 to simply “Microsoft 365.” With that name change comes a number of new features that will be available when the new plans launch next month.

Microsoft 365 will be available in two subscription plans: Personal and Family. These new plans will replace the existing Office 365 plans for consumers. Along with the name change comes a couple of additions. First, Microsoft Family Safety is an app to allow families to share their location, manage screen time, and more.

Microsoft Family Safety is similar to many popular apps used by families. It combines several features that parents can use to keep tabs on their kids’ various activities. Parents can get information about screen time and even see how that time is broken down by device, including Windows, Android, and Xbox. Limits can be created for viewing times and for content based on age restrictions.

Location sharing is another feature of Microsoft Family Safety. Everyone in the family can see when people arrive at locations such as home, school, and work. You can set up notifications to know when someone arrives or leaves a location. The app can even give out driving reports, which could be useful for new drivers in the family.

Next up is Microsoft Teams for consumers. Teams has primarily been for businesses while Skype is the consumer-focused option, but that’s changing in Microsoft 365. Microsoft Teams for consumers has many of the features you’d expect from a group chat app, including video calls, but also handy things like to-do list sharing and more. The company is positioning Teams to be a tool for people planning things together.

Microsoft 365 will also bring more features to Office users. The company’s powerful AI-powered Editor will be available to anyone who subscribes to Microsoft 365. This feature is basically a more advanced version of Grammarly. Subscribers will get access to a rewrite feature than can rephrase an entire sentence. The tool also includes a plagiarism checker to help students to cite sources in research papers.

Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions will be available starting on April 21st. The Personal plan costs $6.99 per month, while the Family plan (up to six people) costs $9.99 per month. Some of these new features will be available first in preview and others will roll out over the coming months.

Source: Microsoft

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