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New wrinkles for classic games

by Brian Ashcraft

Pokemon Scramble U: Catch ‘em and scan ‘em

The Nintendo Wii U, which was released late last year, is outfitted with a near communication field (NCF) reader, and the first game to make use of it is the upcoming, downloadable Wii U title, “Pokemon Scramble U.”

When the game is released on April 24, so will a set of seven NFC Pokemon toys, available for ¥200 a pop. Scan in each toy by putting it on the Wii U GamePad’s NFC reader, and the character will appear in-game. If you are aiming to catch all the NFC Pokemon characters, though, it could get expensive: They are being sold via capsule machines, making a full set another game of chance.

“Pokemon Scramble U” and the NFC figures will be released on April 24. Each figure is priced at ¥200 and at Pokemon Centers across Japan.

Getting dressed up with Mario and co.

Spring is in the air. And what better way for a gamer to show it than with a seasonally pink Mario shirt?

Made by Kyoto-based gamer shirt company The King of Games, this Mario dress shirt is made from fine Japanese chambray cotton complete with red and yellow buttons. It features a small 8-bit Mario motif, cross-stitched on the front pocket, and an 8-bit Luigi on the back shoulder. The shirt’s tail is also decorated with more Mario characters and reads, “Fantastic Adventure: The King of Games.” More like The King of Shirts!

Priced at ¥12,300, the Chambray Shirt (pink only) is available in sizes XS to XL. It’s sold through shirt maker’s website: www.the-king-of-games.com.

A retro look carved out for analog

Originally released in 1990, the SNK Neo Geo is one of Japanese gaming’s most iconic systems. Now, Analogue Interactive, a Seattle-based video-game hardware company specializing in retro gaming, is re-releasing it in a stunning, handcrafted wood casing.

The Analogue CMVS Slim is encased in ebonized ash and walnut wood, while the controllers, which are also handcrafted in wood, and made using original Japanese arcade parts. If you shell out $1,299 and up, you can get the “Black Label” version console, which has a fixed solid brass plate and comes with two controllers made from the wood of your choice.

Some woods, including mahogany, don’t cost extra, but expect prices to go up for more exotic ones, such as East Indian rosewood (an extra $345) or cocobolo ($585).

The Analogue CMVS Slim is $649 (¥62,000) and controllers are sold separately. The Black Label set, which includes two analog arcade controllers, starts at $1,299 (¥123,500). They can be purchased at www.analogueinteractive.com.

Getting slime on the keyboard

To mark the Wii U release of “Dragon Quest X: Online,” famed Japanese peripheral maker Hori is releasing a new “Dragon Quest X” keyboard. The keyboard’s function keys are covered in removable Metal Slimes, which are metallic versions of the game’s iconic Slime character (the keyboard also comes with a Liquid Metal Slime, plus several non-metallic Slimes).

The other keys are also decorated with cute Slime art, such as a smiling Slime face on the Enter button, and the keyboard is packed with download codes that can be redeemed for in-game items. Besides being used while playing the Wii U or the original Wii version of “Dragon Quest X,” the keyboard can also be connected to a computer to explore one of the most challenging role-playing games ever made: the Internet.

The “Dragon Quest X” Metal Slime Keyboard is priced at ¥4,980 and is sold at game retailers across Japan. It’s also available directly from Hori at www.horistore.com.

Luigi is back to hoover up some spooks

Gaming’s favorite second-banana is back, and he’s starring in another haunted adventure game for the Nintendo 3DS.

In “Luigi’s Mansion 2,” Luigi sucks up ghosts using his vacuum cleaner, which is dubbed the Poltergust 5,000. Unlike the previous Luigi’s Mansion, which was released on the GameCube in 2001, Luigi’s Mansion 2 also has four different multiplayer modes, allowing gamers to face off in online play.

“Luigi’s Mansion 2″ for the 3DS was released on March 20, priced at ¥4,800. Brian Ashcraft is a senior contributing editor at gaming website Kotaku.com.