As you might have seen earlier this week, our esteemed editor James Newton is leaving Nintendo Life to take up a new job at Nintendo of Europe. Here he picks some of his favourite moments of the past four-and-a-half years at Nintendo Life.
Let's face it, this was always going to be first. I wouldn't say I ever did this to become famous but if that happened along the way, I'd call it a bonus. That's one of the reasons I use my real name and my real photo here, another reason being to remind you all I'm actually a human being and not a prototype for Dreamcast 2 (yet).
A year or two ago we had the idea to wear Nintendo Life t-shirts at events. In an industry where at least 50% of the men look like me, they are very useful indeed.
That said, I've only actually been recognised twice, I think. The first time was at Eurogamer Expo in 2011; I'd been playing some 3DS games when someone stopped me and said "you're James, right?" It doesn't sound much, but it was a real magic moment — in this business you spend so much of your time interacting via email, Twitter, Facebook, comments etc. it's surprisingly gratifying to meet someone face to face. The chap in question told me he was a big fan of the site and reads it every day. I didn't get his name but I hope he's reading this now so he can hear me say "thank you" again.
The second time I was recognised was about three weeks ago when Katy Ellis stopped me and introduced herself. Now she writes for us. I've obviously got a lot better at this networking thing.
Nintendo Life eShop Shelf
Here's something I never saw coming.
In September 2011 we got a shelf in the 3DS eShop. For an independent site to get exposure like that in a console's digital store is something I'd never seen before, or since. It felt to me then, and still does, like a real endorsement of what we offer: a global partnership with Nintendo to offer a curated eShop shelf was just amazing.
I'd love to see it happen again.
Seeing Corbie at E3 2010
2010 was the first year we sent anyone to E3, and it was also the first year we had a dedicated (if small) team at NLHQ in the UK to cover the news. I was writing something up when we spotted some comments and tweets from users saying they'd seen Corbie; we switched over to the video and there he was.
It wasn't just seeing the bandana and knowing my friend was being seen all around the world, it was that his was the first reaction to 3DS ever broadcast. Since then Nintendo's done loads of adverts showing user reactions, but Corbie's was the first. Incredible. Absolutely incredible.
This started as a silly forum joke but turned into something I genuinely look forward to every week. I've answered questions ranging from my what my editorial principles are to whether or not I've considered growing a beard (I have and it looks awful.)
One of the things I've always tried to do here is break down barriers between staff and readers. I like to think we're accessible and down-to-Earth here, happy to jump into the forums or comments when we can. Being part of Nintendo Life means embracing the community, and I hope you've enjoyed Ask James like I've enjoyed putting it together.
A lot of you have asked what will happen to Ask James after I leave. I very much doubt Nintendo would be happy with an employee running an all-questions-answered video series in a Nintendo fan forum, so this week will be the final episode. We had a good run; 12 episodes is longer than some TV series last. I consider that a victory.
This year's E3 was a blast, it really was. For the first time we had a real team assembled at NLHQ — the whole UK editorial team came down to cover it as one. We did incredible amounts of traffic and had great new features — the live text and comments were fantastic additions — but really it was the atmosphere and sense of team spirit I'll remember.
There wasn't much of that at 2am though when I decided to stay up and cover the 3DS software showcase. The plan was to go back to my hotel and sleep before the big show, but heavy rain meant I stayed in our offices from 9:30pm until the event finished sometime after 3am (in fact, here's a photo of me arriving back at my hotel!)
But even though I was tired and they didn't even mention Animal Crossing I still really enjoyed myself. We had over 850 comments on that live stream about everything from the lack of 'new' games to what you had for dinner, and it felt like we were friends sat around having a chat. I'll miss that about this place.
Going to SEGA
You probably know my story: lifelong Sonic fan, frequent writer of letters to tell SEGA how amazing they are, purchaser of anything blue and white. When I got the invitation to try out Virtua Tennis 2009 at SEGA Europe I was very excited; when I got there and saw the massive Sonic billboard on top of the building I was even more excited. Standing inside SEGA was like going to Graceland only with less worship of a once-great hero who spectacularly fell from grace (this is my story, not yours.)
It was my first ever press event and I met people I still keep in touch with to this day — in fact, that's where I first met Mike Mason — and I also touched a giant Sonic statue, so pretty much the best day ever.
I've been to quite a lot of events over the years. Here's the best of the rest.
What started out as great fun — hey, they had crepes — quickly went south when it turned cold and I realised I was basically in a warehouse in a big wet field. Not all glamour, this business, although I did get champagne and stroopwafels so that was OK.
I don't remember much of this one. I got quite drunk but I recall women on stilts, getting a taxi from Poland to Berlin and being woken up by border police shining torches in my eyes. All that for a WiiWare game. A strange day.
Travel was a nightmare — I missed the first hour of the event when my train broke down and I had to run up about 146 steps — but I made it in time to see Josh Stevens crowned the best Nintendo gamer in the UK. I also got to meet and interview Charles Martinet, ate chips with Rising Star Games and went home with a black Wii console before it was even out.
It's weird how years after events you still remember some things really clearly. I remember racing Darren Calvert to clear the Super Mario Galaxy 2 demo and trying Monster Hunter 3 (~Tri) for the first time, but more than anything I remember the incredible food. I don't know what it was but it was meaty and it was delicious. Nintendo hasn't done a big UK media summit like this since, so it was probably expensive too. Probably the real reason I'm leaving the UK.
After seeing Corbie play 3DS I was really excited to get my turn and spent about two hours playing the same two-minute demos over and over again. Seeing 3DS in action for the first time was a real moment for me. Very special.
I won a silver medal at this event, losing to the brilliantly named Nate Fury in the final when I foolishly veered into my own banana on the final corner of Luigi Circuit. Maybe I was distracted by the sight of Alexandra Burke. Either way, you might have seen me receiving my silver medal in 3D in Nintendo TV episode one, out now in the 3DS eShop.
These were the most enjoyable events, but I've had other unforgettable moments too. Ubisoft took me to Paris in June 2009 to play Red Steel 2 before it was revealed; in November 2011 I fenced with Anthony under the eye of Olympic athlete Claire Bennett — who seemed to think I had potential — and before that I won a red 3DS console and played Super Mario 3D Land. It sounds like I've won a lot more than I actually have.
As I write this I'm aware it could be the last article I ever write for Nintendo Life. I thought you might enjoy some statistics of my time here at Nintendo Life (up to but not including this article):
Joined: 8th January 2008.
First contribution: Endless Ocean review, 12th January 2008.
Total news articles: 3,220.
Total reviews: 147.
Total comments: 3,239.
Total forum posts: 2,301.
Total words: 924,385.
My articles have had a combined 8,860,294 views and 127,469 comments.
I've genuinely had the time of my life writing here. Events are great fun but they're only every few months: it's the day-to-day interaction with staff and readers that gave me the most pleasure over the longest time. In the community I've had too many great moments to mention, but know that if we've ever interacted in the forum, comments or chat, I probably had fun.
So here we are. My last contribution to this wonderful adventure. I can't say thank you enough to everyone who's been a part of it: the directors, editors, writers, moderators, readers, publishers, PRs and anyone who's ever said something nice about what we do here. If you read this far, thanks. You're my favourite.
If you want to keep in touch, please follow me on Twitter.
Thanks for your support over the years. See you around.