A kit to gradually assemble an artificial intelligence-programmed robot based on Astro Boy, an iconic work by the late manga artist Osamu Tezuka, will be put on sale, Kodansha Ltd. and other firms said Wednesday. Parts needed to build the 44-cm robot will be available in a weekly magazine to be published from April by Kodansha, the publisher and its partner technology firms said. The AI-equipped humanoid robot, which can recognize the faces of people and chat, can be assembled with 70 issues of the magazine, with a total expense of around ¥180,000 (around $1,600). "This is a dream-like project, connecting fantasy and science," said Makoto Tezuka, the son of the manga writer and a director at Tezuka Productions. The project, launched by Kodansha, the studio, NTT Docomo Inc., Fuji Soft Inc. and Vaio Corp., commemorates the 90th anniversary of Tezuka's birth in 1928.
From the very beginning, developers saw the Dreamcast console as a place to experiment. Sega set the tone with innovative outliers such as Shenmue, Jet Set Radio and Seaman, but other game publishers soon caught the wave. There was Acclaim with the odd extreme sports title Trickstyle, developed by the Burnout team; there was Interplay with futuristic shooter MDK2, created by Bioware five years before Mass Effect; and there was Capcom with its joyful, rule-breaking brawler Power Stone. Set in a boisterous, steampunk-infused universe of pirate ships, taverns and temples, Power Stone was a two-player 3D beat-em-up, in which environmental awareness was as important as punching. There were 10 characters to choose from, most drawn from weird Victorian and Edwardian adventure fiction tropes: pilot explorer Edward Falcon; dancer (and ninja) Ayame; tank-like miner Gunrock; Galuda, a Native American bounty hunter.
As recently as five years ago, Nintendo's late president, Satoru Iwata, was adamant that Super Mario would never make the leap to smartphones. "If we did this, Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo," he said in an interview with Nikkei, in 2011. The decision was philosophical rather than economic. The goal of smartphone developers, Iwata had said earlier that year, "is just to gather as much software as possible, because quantity is what makes the money flow." A game's artistic quality, he added, "does not matter to them."