This might be the most heartwarming video game commercial ever

Dragon Quest has never been as popular in North America as it is in Japan. In Japan, the release of a new Dragon Quest game is a massive, world-consuming event. It’s so big that (possibly apocryphal) stories have popped up about the government forcing publisher Square Enix to only release new games in the series on Saturdays, to avoid obsessed gamers skipping out on school and work to stand in line at a store.

While the veracity of that urban legend is debatable, the spirit of it — and recognition of the impact Dragon Quest has had on so many lives — is captured perfectly in the video above. This is a Japanese commercial for the upcoming release of Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age. It was released a few months ago, but we saw it floating around on Twitter yesterday, as the game nears release in Japan.

Don’t worry if you’re not a Dragon Quest fan; you’re still likely to get this commercial if you’ve been playing games your whole life. After a cute montage of opening screens from all the past Dragon Quest games, we see the faces of different people scrunched up, staring at the screen, playing — people across a variety of ages, genders and appearances.

We see a student daydreaming about the game at school, doodling a slime in his notebook. We see an office worker absentmindedly watching a trailer for it on his computer. We see a convenience store employee nearly falling asleep, presumably because he was up all night grinding out another few levels.

And most importantly, we see them playing. Covered up under a blanket. Ignoring dinner. Even crying at a powerful plot twist.

In one of the commercial’s best moments, a young man is leaning forward playing what appears to be Dragon Quest 8 on PlayStation 2. A woman sitting next to him is looking to plug in a hair curler and accidentally unplugs … the television? Or is it the PlayStation itself? Has he lost his progress? No! This is a heartbreaking scenario we’ve probably all been through at one moment or another.

Whether you care about Dragon Quest or not, there’s something wonderful and moving about seeing these shared experiences. The investment on display here transcends any specific game, just like it transcends the country of Japan. Virtually everyone who plays video games has felt this stuff before, has found themselves so totally transported to another place that they’re thinking about it all through class or work the next day.

There’s something magical about that.

Dragon Quest 11 launches tomorrow, July 29, for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 4 in Japan. A Switch version of the game is also planned, and Square Enix announced today that Dragon Quest 11 will make its way to North America and other Western regions in 2018.

Blind Rhythm Heaven player sends heartwarming letter to Nintendo, receives reply in braille

Japanese Twitter user kentarock1020 has a son named Hibiki who, very sadly, is completely blind. He’s lacked the ability to see since the age of two due to the rare cancer form retinoblastoma. That naturally makes it difficult to play most video games. However, there’s one Nintendo series he’s managed to not only play, but also excel at.

With the help of his father, Hibiki wrote a letter to Nintendo thanking the company and asking for more Rhythm Heaven (Rhythm Tengoku in Japan) games in the future. The full message is below:

“Dear Nintendo,

Hello. My name is Hibiki Sakai and I am in fifth grade. I am blind, but I’ve always wanted to play video games like everyone else. But there aren’t many games I can play at all. The one game I can really play is Rhythm Tengoku. It’s the only game I can enjoy together with others, and I never lose at it. I’ve gotten perfect scores on all the versions on the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Wii, and 3DS too.

So I really, really want you to make more Rhythm Tengoku games. And it’s perfectly fine if you make them a little harder too!

I think that there are a lot of other kids with visual impairments who want to play video games but can’t. So I’d love for you to develop more games for people with handicaps to enjoy playing with others.

I will always support you, Nintendo.

From Hibiki Sakai”

Believe it or not, Nintendo responded, and did so in an amazing way. Along with a standard letter for his parents, the big N also included a braille version so that Hibiki could also read it. His father was grateful, writing on Twitter, “Them sending such a sincere correspondence to just one person is truly divine customer service.”

The full reply from Nintendo is as follows:

“Thank you so much for sending us here at Nintendo your heartwarming letter.

We are so happy to hear that you’ve perfected and enjoyed Rhythm Tengoku, Rhythm Tengoku Gold, Minna no Rhythm Tengoku, and Rhythm Tengoku The Best.

We have passed on your letter to Nintendo’s development department. We want to keep making games that everyone can have fun playing, so thank you for your support.”

Aside from gaming, Hibiki has a passion for playing the drums. He’s actually been invited to big events in Osaka since this story began to circulate online.

Thanks to NintendoPSX for the tip.


SpaceX to Perform Its Most Heartwarming Mission Yet

Image: SpaceX via Flickr

The typical SpaceX payload might include a communications satellite, some ISS supplies, even the occasional spy network. But later this year, the aerospace company will embark on something quite a bit more endearing: a Falcon 9 rocket will carry the cremated remains of beloved family members into space.

Elysium Space will be providing the unusual service on its Elysium Star II memorial spacecraft, which is set to blast off from SpaceX’s launch facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the startup announced this week. For $2,490, families can reserve a spot within a CubeSat that will carry 300 boxes of ashes in a sun synchronous orbit around Earth—about 100 parties have already signed up. The sun synchronous orbit will ensure the spacecraft passes over every location on Earth during its two year journey. Unlike most SpaceX missions, the customers are not billionaires or corporations, they’re ordinary people—military veterans, space enthusiasts and more, according to Elysium.

“It gives an opportunity to remember a loved one by watching the night sky.”

The concept of space burials is not new. Celestis Memorial Spaceflights, which was founded in 1994, sends cremated remains into deep space, lunar orbit or the lunar surface—starting at $12,500, of course. Many celebrities have had their ashes sent in space, including Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and sixties counterculture icon Timothy Leary.

With Elysium, not only can more ordinary families give their loved ones a cosmic memorial, folks can follow the satellite’s whereabouts via a mobile app. After two years, the company’s CubeSat will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere as a “shooting star” that customers can watch. If all goes according to plan, it should make for a pretty poetic tribute.

“It gives an opportunity to remember a loved one by watching the night sky,” Elysium Founder Thomas Civeit told Gizmodo. “The same way you can watch a beautiful landscape, people like to watch the stars…it’s a connective experience to remember someone in the context of the night.”