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U.S. Patent 6,331,146: Video game system and method with enhanced three-dimensional character and background control
Issued December 18, 2001, to Nintendo Co. Ltd.



Summary:

The ‘146 patent concerns a three-dimensional world with multiple courses. In the case of Super Mario 64, those courses were hidden behind doors and paintings on the wall of Princess Peach’s castle. A player, when approaches a door or painting, must have achieved a certain number of goals before he is allowed to open it and advance to a new level. If the player has failed to achieve the minimum number of goals from the lower worlds, he will be denied access to any further worlds until he meets the minimum goal. For all of you who get a bit nostalgic, here’s a screenshot of everyone’s favorite plumber:



Abstract:

A video game system includes a game cartridge which is pluggably attached to a main console having a main processor, a 3D graphics generating coprocessor, expandable main memory and player controllers. A multifunctional peripheral processing subsystem external to the game microprocessor and coprocessor is described which executes commands for handling player controller input/output to thereby lessen the processing burden on the graphics processing subsystem. The video game methodology involves game level organization features, camera perspective or point of view control features, and a wide array of animation and character control features. The system changes the "camera" angle (i.e., the displayed point of view in the three-dimensional world) automatically based upon various conditions and in response to actuation of a plurality of distinct controller keys/buttons/switches, e.g., four "C" buttons in the exemplary embodiment. The control keys allow the user at any time to move in for a close up or pull back for a wide view or pan the camera to the right and left to change the apparent camera angle. Such user initiated camera manipulation permits a player to better judge jumps or determine more precisely where an object is located in relation to the player controlled character. The video game system and methodology features a unique player controller, which permits control over a character's exploration of the three-dimensional world to an unprecedented extent. A player controlled character may be controlled in a multitude of different ways utilizing the combination of the joystick and/or cross-switch and/or control keys and a wide range of animation effects are generated.

Illustrative Claim:

1. For use with a video game system having a game program execution processing system including a microprocessor for executing a video game program and a coprocessor, coupled to said game microprocessor, for cooperating with said game microprocessor to execute said video game program, at least one player controller operable by a player to generate video game control signals, and a removable storage device for storing a program for controlling the operation of said video game system, a method of operating said video game system comprising the steps of:

generating a three-dimensional world display of a first video game play course;

storing the number of goals achieved by a player in said first video game course;

generating a three-dimensional world display of a second video game play course;

storing the number of goals achieved by a player in said second video game course;

maintaining a cumulative total of the number of goals achieved by a player at least on said first and second video game courses;

comparing said cumulative total of the number of goals achieved by a player at least on said first and second video game courses with a predetermined threshold; and

preventing access to a third video game course if said cumulative total is below said predetermined threshold.

Related patents:

U.S. Patent No. 6,267,673
U.S. Patent No. 6,155,926
U.S. Patent No. 6,139,434
U.S. Patent No. 6.139.433

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