Pop Culture Series: Nintendo Switch

By James Wargacki, Learning & Research Services

Nintendo entered the current video game console generation with a bang when it released the Switch on March 3. This new home/portable console “hybrid” is the culmination of over 100 years of experience in the entertainment industry for Nintendo.

Founded in 1889, the Marufuku Company made a name for itself in its native Japan as a manufacturer of cards for the game Hanafuda. The Marufuku Company was able to survive the economic turmoil in Japan after World War I and World War II due to the relatively low cost of manufacturing and distributing card games. In 1951 the Marufuku Company changed its name to the Nintendo Card Company and began its path to gaming innovation. A shortage of paper in 1953 led Nintendo to develop plastic playing cards, and in 1959 the company released various sets of cards with licensed characters from the Walt Disney Company.

Over the years, Nintendo continued to expand further into the entertainment industry with board games in the 1960s, the electronic Beam Gun series in the 1970s, and arcade games such as Donkey Kong in the early 1980s. Also in the 1980s, Nintendo developed its first handheld console under the Game and Watch product line.

In 1983 Nintendo released its first home console, the Famicom, in Japan. Two years later the Famicom was released in the United States as the Nintendo Entertainment System which began the company’s legacy as a home entertainment powerhouse around the world. In 1989 Nintendo expanded their reach to the handheld console market with the release of the Game Boy. As the years passed, numerous competitors such as Sega and Sony came to market with their own entertainment consoles such as the Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear, and Sony PlayStation to challenge Nintendo’s dominance. Although Nintendo has not always been the market leader in the home entertainment industry, their well-received hardware like the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and Game Boy Color paired with strong first-party software titles from the Super Mario, Legend of Zelda, and Metroid series have contributed to their continued success throughout the years.

The peak of the company’s popularity began in 2004 with the release of the Nintendo DS. The DS included many innovative features such as an integrated touch screen, Wi-Fi connectivity, and backwards compatibility with older Game Boy titles. Two years later Nintendo released the Wii to great critical and commercial acclaim. While the Wii had less processing power than its competitors, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the innovative motion controls and strength of first-party titles such as Wii Sports and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess appealed to casual gamers and longtime Nintendo fans alike. The Wii and DS would go on to sell 101 million and 154 million units respectively.

Nintendo’s follow up consoles, the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, ended up at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of financial success and critical reception. The Wii U’s major selling point was its proprietary gamepad. With various buttons, triggers, and control sticks surrounding an integrated touch screen, the Wii U Gamepad opened up new gameplay possibilities in the form of asymmetric multiplayer experiences and the ability to play some games directly on the gamepad. Poor battery life and a lack of compelling software caused the Wii U to greatly underperform compared to its predecessor. The 3DS continued Nintendo’s history of innovation with the inclusion of a glasses-free stereoscopic 3D screen. The new technology was impressive and critically well-received but resulted in a high initial cost for the console, low battery life, and sometimes led to eye-strain and dizziness for its users. While hardware updates and price drops contributed to the 3DS selling over 65 million units, the Wii U was discontinued in early 2017 after selling only 13.5 million units.

The Switch builds on Nintendo’s history of innovation in hopes of replicating the success of their most iconic home and handheld consoles. The central feature of the Nintendo Switch is the hybrid design which allows gamers to connect the console to their television using a docking station and also allows them to undock a seven inch tablet for gaming on the go. The included pair of Joy-Con controllers can be used individually or in tandem to allow gamers plenty of flexibility in how, when, and where they would like to play. Multiple Switch consoles can connect using local Wi-Fi or Nintendo’s online services for multiplayer gaming, and the Nintendo Switch also works with the company’s popular Amiibo line of interactive figures. Gamers are able to experience new entries in established franchises such as Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Bomberman R, and Just Dance 2017, along with new titles like 1-2-Switch.

Celebrate the release of the Nintendo Switch by checking out some of these games, books, and other items from and about Nintendo and the video game industry.

 

Games

Smash Bros. Melee

Smash Bros. Brawl

Super Mario Galaxy

 

Books

Portable Play in Everyday Life: The Nintendo DS

Playing to Wiin: Nintendo and the Video Game Industry’s Greatest Comeback

Replay: The History of Video Games

The Golden Age of Video Games: The Birth of a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry

Philosophy Through Video Games

God in the Machine: Video Games as a Spiritual Pursuit

Trigger Happy: Video Games and the Entertainment Revolution

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

 

CDs

Super Mario Galaxy Official Soundtrack

Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask Official Soundtrack

 

Scores

Super Mario Series for Piano

Legend of Zelda Series for Piano



DVD Picks: Academy Awards for Best Picture

by Terri Robar and James Wargacki Learning & Research Services

As we move into a new Academy Awards season, it is a good time to look back and revisit old favorites. Here are the most recent winners in the Best Picture category. We hold many others, so check our catalog – we have nearly every film that has ever won the top prize.

The following films are a part of Richter Library’s DVD collection. In addition to the thousands of DVDs spanning comedy, drama, sci-fi, horror, documentary, and other genres, UM Libraries also houses film-related materials such as screenplays, soundtracks, musical scores, and original book titles. Search the catalog to browse music and print resources related to these films.

In 1927, George Valentin is a silent movie superstar. However, the advent of the talkies will kill his career and he will sink into oblivion. For young extra Peppy Miller, it seems the sky’s the limit as major movie stardom awaits. Though their careers are taking different paths their destinies will become entwined.

Based on the true story of Solomon Northup. It is 1841, and Northup, an accomplished, free citizen of New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Stripped of his identity and deprived of all dignity, Northup is ultimately purchased by ruthless plantation owner Edwin Epps and must find the strength within to survive.

Llewelyn Moss stumbles onto a drug deal gone monumentally wrong and a satchel filled with $2 million. It isn’t long before he’s being tracked by Anton Chigurh, a psychopathic “debt collector.” Sheriff Bell sets out to find Llewelyn, not so much for the propriety of recovering the money but to protect one of his citizens from Chigurh, an evil like nothing Bell has ever seen.

A car accident brings together Los Angeles citizens with vastly separate lives that collide in interweaving stories of race, loss, and redemption.

A black comedy story of an actor famous for portraying an iconic superhero as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.

The story of King George VI of Britain, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.

In South Boston, the police are waging a war on Irish-American organized crime. Undercover cop Billy Costigan is assigned to infiltrate the mob syndicate. Colin Sullivan is a hardened young criminal who has infiltrated the police department as an informer for the syndicate. When it becomes clear to both the mob and the police that there’s a mole in their midst, Billy and Colin are suddenly thrust into danger. Afraid of being caught and exposed to the enemy, each must race to uncover the identity of the other man in time to save himself.

Boxing trainer Frankie Dunn has been unwilling to let himself get close to anyone for a very long time–then Maggie Fitzgerald walks into his gym. Won over by Maggie’s sheer determination, he begrudgingly agrees to take her on. In turns exasperating and inspiring each other, the two come to discover that they share a common spirit that transcends the pain and loss of their pasts, and they find in each other a sense of family they lost long ago. Yet, they both face a battle that will demand more heart and courage than any they’ve ever known.

When Staff Sergeant Will James arrives on the scene, Bravo Company has thirty-nine days left on its current deployment, and it will be a long time for Sanborn and Eldridge whose styles do not mesh with that of their new leader. While the three members face their own internal issues, they have to be aware of any person at the bomb sites, some of whom may be bombers themselves.

On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the American embassy in Tehran and captured dozens of American hostages, sparking a 444-day ordeal. There’s a little-known footnote to the crisis: six Americans escaped and a mid level agent named Antonio Mendez devised an ingenious yet incredibly risky plan to rescue them.

Jamal Malik is an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” When the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating. Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life which reveals where he learned the answers to the show’s seemingly impossible questions.

The riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious ‘Spotlight’ team of reporters delve into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment.



DVD Picks: Stress Relieving Films

by Terri Robar and James Wargacki Learning & Research Services

Cramming for finals? Rushing to meet deadlines? Stressed to the max? We suggest you take a break with one of the entertaining films from our DVD collection. This list of titles have a proven track record for relieving stress either by making you laugh til’ your sides ache or by getting you so involved in the story line that you forget about the real world. So, heat up some popcorn and enjoy your favorites!

The following films are a part of Richter Library’s DVD collection. In addition to the thousands of DVDs spanning comedy, drama, sci-fi, horror, documentary, and other genres, UM Libraries also houses film-related materials such as screenplays, soundtracks, musical scores, and original book titles. Search the catalog to browse music and print resources related to these films.

Carl Fredericksen is a 78- year-old curmudgeon. He used to enjoy his modest life as a balloon seller when his adventure-loving wife Ellie was still alive. When she died, Carl was left with his memories and the awareness that they never made their dream journey to Paradise Falls in South America. He rigs thousands of helium balloons to his house and floats away accidentally taking young Russell with him. In the tropical jungle, Carl and Russell find more than they bargained for and discover they need each other.

Heartbroken over the death of her beloved Westley, beautiful Buttercup finally succumbs to the advances of the wicked Prince Humperdinck. Yet, when she’s suddenly kidnapped by a motley band of deviants, what gallant hero comes to the rescue? None other than Westley–alive, well and as wonderful as ever. But before these two can live happily ever after, they must first overcome formidable odds. Will these star-crossed lovers ever fulfill their destiny? Or, this time, will Buttercup lose Westley forever?

Downton Abbey needs an heir. Lord Grantham is faced with the possibility that the house he’s loved his whole life might one day belong to a distant cousin he’s never met. Even the staff have opinions: while many are devoted to the family, there are others whose selfishness and scheming do more than disrupt the well-oiled workings of the estate. How will the troubles of its family–above and below stairs–be resolved? Or will life be altered so dramatically that its master no longer matters?

A tornado appears and carries Dorothy to the magical land of Oz. Wishing to return home, she begins to travel to the city of Oz where a great wizard lives. On her way, she teams up with the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. They all hope the Wizard of Oz will help them but they have to get to the Emerald City before the Wicked Witch of the West catches up with them.

Liz Lemon is the head writer of a live variety program in New York City. Liz’s life is turned upside down when brash new network executive Jack Donaghy interferes with her show, bringing the wildly unpredicatable Tracy Jordan into the cast. Now it’s up to Liz to manage the mayhem and still try to have a life.

40-year-old Andy Stitzer has a cushy job, a nice apartment, good friends, a nice attitude. But at 40, Andy is still a virgin. His friends consider it their duty to help Andy out of his dire situation. But nothing proves effective until he meets Trish. Andy’s friends are excited by the possibility that “it” may finally happen, that is until they hear that Andy and Trish have begun their relationship based on a mutual no-sex policy.

Farmer Hoggett wins a runt piglet at a local fair and young Babe, as the piglet decides to call himself, befriends and learns about all the other creatures on the farm. He becomes special friends with one of the sheepdogs, Fly. With Fly’s help, and Farmer Hoggett’s intuition, Babe embarks on a career in sheepherding with some surprising and spectacular results.

Michael Dorsey is an out-of-work actor who makes himself up as a woman to get a job. When his girlfriend, Sandy, fails an audition for a soap opera, Michael dresses up as “Dorothy Michaels” and lands the part. All goes well until “Dorothy” falls in love with beautiful co-star Julie, and Julie’s father, Les, falls for “Dorothy.”

Irreverent slacker panda Po is the biggest fan of Kung Fu around … which doesn’t exactly come in handy working every day in his family’s noodle shop. Unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy, Po’s dreams become reality when he joins the world of Kung Fu and studies alongside his idols, the legendary Furious Five–Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey–under the leadership of their guru, Master Shifu.

Friends is the story of 20-something buddies who are struggling to find their way through life in the city of New York. From fights and family troubles to romance, breakups, tears and surprises, this lovable group discovers what it truly means to be friends.

A comedy about an idealistic young man and his friends and their pursuit to find jobs and a purpose to life in their hometown of Bloomington, Indiana. The four friends take on the fraternities in the yearly bike race, earning not only the college students’ respect but their peers’ as well.

An uplifting film of the season. George Bailey, a desperate and suicidal man, is visited by a guardian angel who shows him how important he has been to those around him in his life.