Free Games

  • Twitch

    • The Academy: First Riddle

      • 2020
      • Adventure puzzle game along the lines of the Professor Layton series, with modernized Harry Potter style aesthetics
  • Epic Games

    • Sunless Sea

      • 2015
      • Survival / exploration RPG with roguelike elements that has you piloting an underwater steamship as a captain whose background, ambitions, and victory conditions are customizable, but you have to contend with procedurally generated maps and permadeath
  • Bonus round: Sony’s announced the return of their Play At Home program, kicking off four months of Playstation offers on March 1st

    • First introduced last April when they gave away Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Journey to everyone, not just PS+ members
    • This time around we’ll see Ratchet and Clank (PS4) for free during the month of March
      • 2016
      • Reimagining of the original PS2 game, a third person science fiction action adventure shooter with a lot of weird, over the top weapons, solid writing, and great gameplay
    • And then on March 25th they’ll be offering an extended free trial of the Funimation and Wakanim anime streaming services
    • Those are just the first couple of perks, so we’ll make sure to give you updates as we see them

Australia’s working on a law that would require any site linking to a news publication to pay for the privilege

  • Going pretty hard against the principles of the open internet, from what I understand the proposed law would require sites like Google and Facebook to pay news sites for the ability to host links to them
    • Keep in mind, this is just linking. Google’s AMP pages and other ways of getting around ad revenue aside, vanilla links are the backbone of the internet
  • The most bonkers part of this law is that news sites could create their own Facebook pages, link to their news sites, and then charge Facebook for the link
  • I can’t imagine this law getting passed in its current form, but Google has already started making deals to pay for the links and though Facebook initially fought back (yay Facebook, is a phrase I never thought I’d say), they walked their position back and started quietly making deals too

There’s a proposed class action lawsuit in play alleging that Google lied about Stadia’s capabilities in order to lock in subscribers

  • The suit claims that, when it was first announced in 2019 Google, Bungie, and id Software misled gamers by claiming that the cloud-based gaming service was more powerful than the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro combined, and that every game on Stadia would be playable at 4k resolutions
  • Directly prior to launch Google apparently quietly walked back those claims, particularly for people with slower internet connections
    • Apparently there was even a Twitter announcement about Red Dead Redemption 2 specifying that users didn’t need high speed internet for 4k/60fps, which was later deleted
    • The suit says that because of the earlier inflated specs Google was able to lock in a large customer base through preorders for its subscription service, essentially hooking gamers into being beta testers before the later free release in 2020
  • The plaintiff is seeking monetary damages for current and former Stadia subscribers, as well as a court order requiring Google to publicly display the resolution and FPS of each game they sell on Stadia

Sony’s announced some details on their next-generation VR headset, and it sounds pretty slick

  • They’ll be bringing features from their excellent DualSense controller to the new motion controllers
  • It will apparently connect to the PS5 using a single cord
  • They say it will have an enhanced field of view, tracking, input, and resolution
  • But it won’t be out any time this year
  • My thoughts
    • Haptic triggers would be really cool in VR, and better tracking would be a godsend for the platform after they used the old PS3 technology in the first gen, but the freedom of wireless VR is a hard perk to give up. They’re going to have to work hard to make it worthwhile

Everyone hoping for Anthem to join the ranks of No Man’s Sky and Final Fantasy XIV and rise from its ashes can now stop holding their breath- it’s officially cancelled

  • Bioware released a statement this week letting everyone know that they’ve stopped development work on Anthem NEXT, citing the additional pressures of 2020 impacting their productivity and preventing them from doing everything they had planned
    • Honestly though, it just seems like they bit off more than they could chew and they’re cutting their losses on Anthem. It had a ton of potential, but I’m sure their other titles are just a higher priority based on the amount of money they can pull in.
  • Anthem’s current live service is still up and running, but the improvements that have been teased won’t be released to the general public while the developers focus instead on the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect titles

This Week In Gaming History

February 20 – 2003 – Train Tracking – Windows

  • Train Tracking is a game about one of Britain’s more bizarre past-times, Trainspotting.
    • You start the game with only an overhead view of the station and a list of serial numbers.
    • The point of the game is to check them off as the matching train passes through.
    • For each Day (Day is the name for a level in this game, there’s totally 29) you play the number of serials and tracks to view increase.
    • There is a time limit for this and if you fail three times it’s game over.
  • There’s over 2500 random train stations, with five settings (Country, Town and City Stations, Industrial Depots and Express Bonus Rounds) meaning that each round will different from the other.
    • The game has the typical British weather condition of rain, snow and lightning.

February 21 – 2017 – Halo Wars 2 – Xbox One, Windows

  • Halo Wars 2 is a real-time strategy game based on the Halo universe and it is the sequel to the 2009 Halo Wars.
    • Players use Spartans, Warthogs and other classic Halo units in order to battle the enemy.
    • A single-player campaign and online multiplayer battles are available.
    • The campaign consists of twelve missions and can also be played cooperatively.
    • Typical mission objectives include surviving waves of enemies, defending structuring and capturing specific targets.
    • There are also various side objectives.
    • Many missions involve leading Spartan supersoldier units as well.
  • The game once again relies on two factions and is now set in the year 2559.
    • On the one hand there is the human faction United Nations Space Command (UNSC) and on the other a new alien faction called the Banished, replacing the Covenant from the first game.
    • Both factions have leader units with special abilities tied to a cooldown period.
    • These abilities can mass heal or do a lot of damage in a short time.
    • In multiplayer there are multiple game modes for up to six players online or bots.

February 22 – 1996 – Johnny Bazookatone – PlayStation, Sega Saturn, 3DO, DOS

  • The original guitar hero with the Elvis attitude and purple hair pompadour, Johnny Bazookatone, has been imprisoned in the year 2050 in Sin Sin Prison by El Diablo, the Lord of the Underworld, who is jealous of his talent and kidnaps other musical legends as well in this 3D side-scrolling platformer.
    • Johnny’s guitar Anita has been taken from him and he sets out to escape and vanquish foes on his way to be reunited with Anita.
  • He can perform moves such as 360-degree spin jumps, and hover jumps among others, while using his bazooka guitar as a weapon.
    • When powered up, it can emit a special sonic blast that fries anything within hearing range.
    • As you make your way through the demonic levels such as Hotel Demonique, Hell’s Kitchen, and Mr. Diablo’s fiery Penthouse, you can acquire more weapons, power-ups and find secret passages that lead to bonus levels.
    • The game’s soundtrack includes the title track contributed by Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora and Tico Torres.

February 23 – 1995 – Mario’s Game Gallery – DOS, Macintosh, Windows

  • The game is a collection of board games, in which you play with Mario.
    • The Mario, of Super Mario fame.
    • He talks to you, playing Checkers, Go Fish, Dominoes, Backgammon, Yacht.
    • Most of games can be played for Yoshis or Koopas – tribes of animals.

February 24 – 2015 – Dragon Ball: Xenoverse – PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

  • DRAGON BALL XENOVERSE revisits famous battles from the series through your custom Avatar, who fights alongside Trunks and many other characters.
    • Will the strength of this partnership be enough to intervene in fights and restore the Dragon Ball timeline we know?
    • New features include the mysterious Toki Toki City, new gameplay mechanics, new character animations and many other amazing features to be unveiled soon!

February 25 – 2002 – Circus Maximus – PS2, Xbox

  • Circus Maximus is a racing game that takes place in ancient Rome, and as such you’ll be racing chariots around various tracks, including the famed Colliseum.
  • You’ll be in control of both the driver and your partner, the warrior, whose job is to attack the other racers to make them fall over.
  • Chariots are controlled by whipping horses and trying to balance an on-screen meter that keeps your chariot balanced while taking turns fast.
  • There are four different race modes available; Training, which gives you the basics on how to play, Arcade, which is your standard race, Multiplayer, which lets you face off against three friends (or foes), and Career, which tracks your progress over a period of time.
  • There are seven different environments and 19 tracks, all set throughout the Roman Empire.
  • Each course is littered with obstacles, power ups, weapons, and special moves, designed to give you an edge in combat.

February 26 – 2008 – Turning Point: Fall of Liberty – PS3, Windows, Xbox 360

  • Winston Churchill was struck by a taxicab in 1931.
    • What if he had died and without his leadership, Britain fell to the Nazis along with the rest of Europe?
  • Turning Point: Fall of Liberty is an alternate-history first-person shooter in which the player takes the role of a New York construction worker named Dan Carson in 1953, when the German Reich invades and occupies the American East Coast.
    • He joins the National Guard troops trying to put up a defensive perimeter around subway and railway systems so civilians can escape.
  • Many advanced WWII weapons appear, including some that were under research, and some that never appeared.
    • There are super-heavy tanks such as the Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus and Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte, and also the Nachteule troop-transport zeppelin, the Flugzeugträger aircraft-carrier zeppelin, as well as various advanced jet fighters and bombers, all used by the German invasion force.
    • Multiplayer is available in standard deathmatch and team deathmatch modes on 4 maps, with Nazi soldiers versus the American Resistance to a maximum of 8 players.

Tidbits

  • No Man’s Sky: Companions is yet another free update for the game, bringing us the ability to adopt, train, and breed creatures, on top of improvements to the UI and load times
  • Google’s finally started updating their iOS apps, updating the App Store listings with the new required privacy information
    • There aren’t any real surprises, but when you see in writing that your email client is gathering information about your purchases and location I can see people starting to look for alternatives
  • CD Projekt Red has officially delayed the release of the anticipated patch 1.2 for Cyberpunk 2077, after the cyber attack we reported on a couple weeks ago wreaked havoc on their infrastructure
    • The patch, set to include numerous fixes and quality improvements, is now being aimed at the second half of March

Mini-review

  • If you’re not watching WandaVision already, you should be
    • Starring Scarlet Witch and Vision from the MCU
  • Completely unexpected but the pilot was charming and the plot got its hooks into me early
  • If you like the MCU at all you need to be watching

 

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Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • Absolute Drift: Zen Edition

      • Drifting: The Art Of Sliding Sideways.
      • This is a driving experience like no other.
        • Journey from apprentice to master drifter as you hone your skill in a gorgeous minimalist world.
      • Push yourself to the limit on drifting tracks and wild mountain roads while you work to unlock trophies and elite events. Compete against ghosts of the top players in the world, or refine your skills by out-scoring your own ghost.
      • Chill out to over 3 hours of original electronic music by C41 and NYTE as you challenge your driving skills at every turn until you finally master the art of drifting.
  • Twitch

    • Adventures of Chris

      • Embark on a global adventure in this ‘90s-inspired adventure platformer.
      • Help a chubby underdog kid with wacky superpowers battle bizarre villains, unlock and customize special moves and spells, and save the world!

Stadia Developers may have been mislead before dismissal

    • Nathan Grayson and Ethan Gach
  • Developers at Google’s recently formed game studios were shocked February 1 when they were notified that the studios would be shut down,
    • Just the week prior, Google Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison sent an email to staff lauding the “great progress” its studios had made so far.
  • Mass layoffs were announced a few days later, part of an apparent pattern of Stadia leadership not being honest and upfront with the company’s developers, many of which had upended their lives and careers to join the team.
  • Stadia developers learned the news, first reported by Kotaku, at almost the same time as everyone else via an internal email and conference call with Harrison.
    • The messy rollout came after an already grueling year working through the pandemic.
    • It was reminiscent of Stadia’s own launch, which appeared rushed and left out many features promoted during the service’s reveal, only to be added months later.
  • Developers had to wait three days after receiving the news to directly share their confusion and frustration with Harrison in a second conference call on February 4.
    • This call was followed by a contentious Q&A where the Stadia boss was confronted about his email from just the week before which suggested anything but a wholesale shutdown of the studios.
    • Harrison expressed his regret over the misleading statements made in his previous email, according to four sources with knowledge of the call.
    • When asked what changed from the week prior, Harrison admitted nothing had and told those on the call, “We knew.”
  • It’s still not clear exactly why Google decided to abandon the first-party studios it started building up less than two years earlier.
    • In his blog post, Harrison referenced the rising costs of game development as a factor.
  • Google is looking to find work for displaced employees elsewhere in the company.
    • However, it is having trouble doing so as Google traditionally hires generalists, and game development requires a very specialized set of skills.
  • Developers hoped Stadia’s game studios would survive its issues, if for no other reason than that Google, in theory at least, could afford to burn through hundreds of millions trying to jumpstart a new gaming platform with exclusive content.
    • Instead, it ended up burning through the trust of some of the approximately 150 developers impacted by the abrupt change in direction.
    • Now, remaining Stadia employees have to pick up the pieces while wondering how they can trust leadership and how anybody can trust Stadia.

Apple gets patent for variable iPhone display refresh rates

  • A new Apple patent published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes an iPhone display that, with high refresh mode enabled, may be capable of updating content at two times, three times, or even four times the native refresh rate, as reported by Patently Apple.
    • For example, an ‌iPhone‌ with a 60Hz display would be able to increase its variable refresh rate to 120Hz, 180Hz, or 240Hz automatically.
    • The higher the refresh rate, the smoother the content on the display will be.
  • Rumors of 120Hz coming to the iPhone 12 proved to be untrue, but there is renewed confidence that ProMotion will make an appearance on the iPhone 13.
    • During the rumor cycle last year, some claimed that the ‌iPhone 12‌ would automatically switch between 60Hz and 120Hz depending on what the user was doing on their device in an effort to preserve battery life.
    • While the ability for a device to switch between 60Hz and 120Hz is not new, the patent describing the ability for an ‌iPhone‌ to push the refresh rate to as high as 180Hz or 240Hz is.
  • The lack of a 120Hz refresh rate on the ‌iPhone‌ so far could be linked to the fact that Apple tends to treads carefully when adding features such as ProMotion that could be detrimental to battery life or systemwide performance.
    • Rumors suggest that Apple will overcome this power consumption dilemma by adopting low-power LTPO display technology for iPhone 13 models, allowing for 120Hz without a significant impact on battery life.
  • A higher refresh rate could be beneficial for several use cases, such as gaming and augmented reality.
    • If a user is simply watching a movie or messaging a friend, the display could switch back to its 60Hz native refresh rate as a means to save battery life

Nintendo Direct

  • https://www.destructoid.com/stories/everything-that-happened-at-the-nintendo-direct-for-february-2021-620089.phtml
  • Pyra and Mythra from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 are coming to Smash Ultimate

    • Rex, the main character of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, is also making a small appearance through the ultimate moves of the two aegises, which are based on their level three artes from Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
    • The rest of the gang can be seen in the special stage coming with Pyra and Mythra, which uses the titan Azurda as a base.
  • Famicom Detective Club titles headed west on Switch for the first time

    • Available for the first time to western audiences
    • Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir (1988) and Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind (1989) bring anime murder most foul to the Nintendo platform, challenging players to pit their finest deductive skills against a list of suspects in two dark, creepy, and perhaps even supernatural dramas.
    • Put your thinking caps on, and stay one step ahead of a killer.
  • Nintendo Switch is getting in on the Fall Guys fun this summer

    • Fall Guys is currently in its third season on PC and PS4, and while it’s hard to beat the initial rush when everyone was figuring out their ideal traversal routes, there’s still a lot of joy to be found, particularly with the most recent content push.
    • There’s no doubt this game will click with the Switch audience.
  • The Outer Wilds will destroy the universe on Switch this Summer

    • Venture into a hand-crafted solar system and unravel the mysteries of the universe when the critically acclaimed OuterWilds comes to NintendoSwitch this summer!
  • Samurai Warriors V confirmed for Switch this summer

    • Experience exhilarating action set in a dramatic historical setting in SAMURAI WARRIORS 5.
    • As the latest numbered entry in the SAMURAI WARRIORS franchise, the story, characters, and visuals have been re-imagined to set the stage for a thrilling new series.
    • The story takes place after the Ōnin War during the golden age of the Sengoku period, and features a story that centers on the lives of two of the most representative military commanders of this era: Nobunaga Oda and Mitsuhide Akechi.
  • Legend of Mana is coming to Nintendo Switch and you can turn off enemy encounters

    • Legend of Mana is coming to Switch, PS4, and Steam on June 24 with enhancements like “remastered” graphics, a toggle for enemy encounters, the Ring Ring Land mini-game, and the ability to hear the original soundtrack or choose an arranged version.
  • Capcom Arcade Stadium launches today on Nintendo Switch

    • Capcom Arcade Stadium will arrive as a free dashboard bundled with 1987 shmup 1943: The Battle of Midway.
    • Players can then purchase three individual packs of games, each containing 10 classic titles.
  • Mario Golf Super Rush will have you running to Switch this June

    • Hit the green with up to four players locally or online and golf with familiar Mushroom Kingdom characters.
    • Modes range from Standard Golf to the energetic Speed Golf and an RPG-like golf adventure in story mode.
    • Intuitive motion or button controls, a shot gauge that adapts to the curve of the course, and other new features make it easy for both new players and seasoned pros to drive and putt with power.
  • No More Heroes 3, out in August, brings back odd jobs, which are used to ‘pay entry fees’ for boss battles

    • The legendary assassin Travis Touchdown makes his glorious return to the Madness!
    • Our hero, Travis Touchdown, must make it to the top of the Galactic Superhero Rankings in order to stop the evil Prince FU and his ten alien assassins from taking over the Earth.
  • Who needs Gotham Knights when you have DC Super Hero Girls Teen Power?

    • Join the fight as Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Batgirl from the animated series DC Super Hero Girls, and save Metropolis from some of DC’s most notorious Super-Villains!
    • Each hero can battle baddies with a unique set of abilities: Wonder Woman uses her warrior skills with the Lasso of Truth and Flying Shield, Supergirl has Heat Vision and Super-Breath, and Batgirl can invent crime-fighting gadgets like the Batarang and Bat-Hook.
    • But when you’re not out fighting crime, you have to balance the super life with their lives as teenagers!
  • In-game Mario merch is coming to Animal Crossing: New Horizons

    • Mario outfits and items to celebrate Mario’s 35th anniversary!
    • With the addition of a warp pipe, players now have a quick way to traverse their island.
  • Miitopia is bringing brand new adventures to Nintendo Switch

    • Cast your friends, family or anyone you choose in a hilarious adventure to bring down the face-stealing Dark Lord.
    • Create and customize Mii™ characters of anyone you like—from your favorite celebrities to your dreaded math teacher –and assign them roles and personality traits in the fantasy adventure of a lifetime.
    • You can even add wigs and makeup to give your characters more…character.
    • Watch your characters come to life as your favorite actor and dear old grandma team up to topple the villainous Dark Lord that resembles your grumpy neighbor!
  • Neon White might be the most out-there game in today’s Nintendo Direct

    • Neon White is a lightning fast first-person action game about exterminating demons in Heaven.
    • You are White, an assassin handpicked from Hell to compete with other demon slayers for a chance to live permanently in Heaven.
    • The other assassins seem familiar, though… did you know them in a past life?
  • Knockout City is a dodgeball-style sports title coming from Electronic Arts

    • Team up and duke it out with rival Crews in Knockout City™, where you settle the score with EPIC DODGEBALL BATTLES.
    • Brace yourself for outrageous fun and intense competition in an all-new take on team-based multiplayer games.
  • Star Wars: Hunters is a free-to-play online shooter coming this year

    • STAR WARS: Hunters™ will connect players in real time to battle in settings inspired by iconic STAR WARS locales.
    • Players will join squads of all-new and authentic characters, including daring Bounty Hunters, heroes of the Rebellion and Imperial stormtroopers, in an action game that immerses players in a fast-paced and visually stunning STAR WARS galaxy.
  • Project Triangle Strategy is a new HD-2D action-RPG with a Switch demo today

    • Command a group of warriors as Serenoa, heir to the Kingdom of Glenbrook in a tangled plot where your decisions make all the difference.
    • Key choices you make will bolster one of three convictions—Utility, Morality, Liberty—which together make up Serenoa’s world view and influence how the story will unfold.
    • When faced with truly momentous decisions, multiple characters will weigh in by casting their votes on the Scales of Conviction.
    • mIn these moments, the allies and decisions you make can determine the fate of whole nations and the continent of Norzelia itself.
  • World’s End Club, out in May on Switch, looks like a fine follow-up to Danganronpa

    • Renowned game writers Kotaro Uchikoshi and Kazutaka Kodaka return with a brand-new game that’s easy to dive into and full of twists and turns.
      • This charming and vivid story of friendship and mystery will captivate new and experienced players alike!
    • The “Go-Getters Club,” a group of misfit students from all over Japan, find themselves trapped in a strange theme park during a class trip.
      • In order to unravel the mystery of their circumstances and find an escape, they must take part in a “Game of Fate” that will test their bonds of friendship!
      • With colorful visuals, charming characters, accessible gameplay, and a compelling story, this is an experience you will never forget!
  • Ninja Gaiden Master Collection is slicing up Switch this year

    • Enjoy 3 games from the NINJA GAIDEN series in this single collection.
    • The nostalgic yet timeless high-speed action of the series unfolds on the latest hardware, so look forward to heated battles with fearsome opponents!
    • In addition to Ryu Hayabusa, the 4 female characters Ayane, Rachel, Momiji, and Kasumi are also playable. Pair up favorite characters, and switch between characters during battles.
  • Zelda Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity expansion pass features new weapons, characters, stages, and more

    • The pass will run players around $20 and includes purchase bonuses, as well as two waves of DLC content.
  • Hades deserves a physical edition and it’s getting one on Nintendo Switch

    • Announced during today’s Nintendo Direct, Hades will get a Switch physical edition with the game, a download code for Darren Korb’s soundtrack, and a 32-page character compendium on March 19.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD has button and motion controls

    • Take to the skies, draw your sword, and experience the earliest story in the Legend of Zelda series.
      • Join Link in his high-flying quest to save Zelda, a childhood friend who must confront her destiny.
      • Soar between floating islands and descend to the treacherous surface world in this updated HD version of the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
    • Master realistic swordplay that matches your movements
    • Swing your sword and angle your slashes to uncover and break through opponents’ defenses using intuitive motion controls.
      • Link will match the angle of each strike you make with the Joy-Con controller, creating immersive swordplay that relies on strategy and accuracy.
      • Movements feel smoother and more immediate thanks to the Nintendo Switch system’s increased processing power and HD graphics.
      • Take advantage of the newly-added button only control scheme—perfect for playing in handheld mode or on the Nintendo Switch Lite system.
  • Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is coming to Switch with a $40 Complete Edition in March

    • Now on Nintendo Switch, tackle hilarious missions and defeat epic bosses in the Weirding Woods, Mount Steep, and Neighborville Town Center to collect medals and unlock outrageous outfits.
    • Party with up to three friends and goof around in Giddy Park or dive into some 8v8 multiplayer in Turf Takeover, vanquishing opponents, blasting gnome bombs, bouncing on pink ooze – it’s the most fun you’ll have since sliced bread.
  • If it’s still on your bucket list, Stubbs the Zombie is getting a remaster on March 16

    • Be the Zombie. Kick A** and Take Brains.
    • It’s 1959 and the city of Punchbowl, PA, is a beacon of progress and ideal living.
    • Show the living that law and order are no match for a dead man on a mission.
    • Your boyfriend’s back Maggie and Punchbowl is gonna be in trouble!
  • Today’s Nintendo Direct ‘one last thing’ is Splatoon 3

    • Enter the Splatlands, a sun-scorched desert inhabited by battle-hardened Inklings and Octolings.
      • Splatsville, the city of chaos, is the adrenaline-fueled heart of this dusty wasteland.
    • Even in this desolate environment, Turf War reigns supreme and battles rage in new stages located in the surrounding wilds.
    • Dynamic new moves help these fighters dodge attacks and cover more ground, along with a new bow-shaped weapon to sling ink.
      • Stay tuned for more information to be revealed, as the Splatoon 3 game is scheduled to release for the Nintendo Switch™ system in 2022.

This Week In Gaming History

February 13 – 1995 – Oregon Trail II – Windows

  • Oregon Trail II is a sequel to Oregon Trail.
    • The game follows the basic structure of the predecessor, which is a simulation of traveling through towns and wilderness in the state of Oregon, with adventure-like gameplay elements and educational material.
    • The sequel changes, enhances, and adds many gameplay features.
  • The player is able to choose an occupation for the protagonist, such as banker, doctor, gunsmith, carpenter, journalist, butcher, pastor, artist, and many others.
    • Different occupations bestow various bonuses to the protagonist, and are equipped with passive skills, which will influence the rate of success during certain random events and activities.
    • For example, a high medical skill will make it more likely that the protagonist recovers from a disease; sharpshooting skill contributes to the instant-kill rate when hunting animals, etc.

February 14 – 2005 – Star Fox Assault – GameCube

  • The Lylat System has been at peace for several years after the mysterious disaster was averted on Dinosaur Planet.
    • But, alas, Andrew Oikonny, who has been kicked out of Star Wolf, seems to have taken over Andross’s army, and to make things even trickier, strange insect-like creatures called Aparoids have started to appear all around and destroy and assimilate objects.
  • Star Fox Assault marks a return to the space and air combat in the spirit of the original Star Fox and Star Fox 64 games.
    • In addition to this, Fox and friends get to fight on foot, using various different kinds of weapons, and the Landmaster tank.
    • The game includes a 10-mission campaign as well as a rather varied multiplayer mode.
  • The Aparoids may be based on either the Borg from Star Trek, or the Phalanx from Marvel Comics, as they are both techno-organic alien races bent on the assimilation of all organic life.

February 15 – 1996 – Nester’s Funky Bowling – Virtual Boy

  • Nester, once the mascot of Nintendo Power, and his sister Hester have decided to star in a bowling game
  • As with every other bowling game in existence, you roll a ball down an alley in an attempt to knock down 10 pins.
    • To do this in this game, you have to try and match up two gauges: Spin and Power.
    • The Spin gauge determines how far left or right the ball will go, and the Power gauge determines how hard your character throws the ball.

February 16 – 1993 – Mystery at the Museums – DOS

  • Mystery at the Museums is the second in the Adventures with Edison series.
    • The game is sponsored by Smithsonian Institution and allows the player to visit different museums.
  • A detective agency is searching for missing treasures.
    • They’ve been misplaced or hidden in museums.
    • Accompanied by Edison, a happy little fellow, the players visits the museums and must solve various puzzles.
    • Puzzle types include: match two or three hidden pictures of a kind, slide the tiles to compose the picture, falling block puzzle, match the constellation from a selection, etc.
    • The answers are fulfilled with additional educational information.
  • There are game sessions of different difficulties for childen in the age category 6-13+.
    • Finding all the treasures in a session places the winner in the High Scores table.
    • The looks of Edison may be adjusted. The game session progress is saved / loaded for each game profile.

February 17 – 2011 – Burrito Bison – Browser

  • During a peaceful shopping session, Burrito Bison was kidnapped by gummy bears and forced to wrestle.
    • The only way home is through three giant gates of Candy Land.
  • At the start the player chooses an angle and launches Bison into the air.
    • Without the speed he won’t be able to escape, so bounce at bears to maintain it.
    • Rocket pants will help to fall faster, but they have charges, gained by various actions.
    • Also, dead gummies drop money, which can be spent for upgrades after every run, increasing Bison’s attributes and chances to meet certain enemy types.
    • The enemies are divided into harmful cops, who should be avoided, and helpful ones, gaining speed via explosions or minigames (i.e. click button as fast as possible or at right timing).

February 18 – 2004 – Pitfall: The Lost Expedition – Xbox, PS2, GameCube

  • You play as Pitfall Harry, intrepid adventurer on a mission to rescue an archaeological expedition that has gotten lost in the Peruvian jungle.
    • Along the way you’ll do battle with your arch rival, Jonathan St. Claire, and help fulfill an ancient prophecy to save the world.
  • Gameplay takes the form of classic platformer action meets Metroid-style adventure as you explore through jungles, ruins, caverns, and mountains, looking for items that will open new avenues for exploration in a huge, connected world.

February 19 – 2009 – Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Windows

  • Plot:
    • In the 41st century everything is nothing but war.
    • Orcs, Eldar and countless other races fight against the Human Imperium with the sole goal to annihilate and eradicate them from the face of the galaxy.
    • One of those many battles is fought by the Space Marines Order “Blood Raven” that has begun to cleanse the planets of subsector Aurelia from Orcs, Eldars and Tyranids.
  • The single player campaign, which can also be played cooperative with a friend, consists of two parts.
    • The first part is the planet overview. Here the player sees which territories he has already conquered, the ones currently threatened and from where emergency signals are sent.
    • From that screen he also selects skills and equips his heroes, sees the messages of the day and ultimately decides to which battlefield he turns his attention next.
  • When the territory has been decided upon, the player needs to choose from his available squads a maximum of four to send into battle.
    • As opposed to multiplayer, new units cannot be built during the battles and there is only access to a very limited amount of reinforcements.
    • Each squad is led by a hero who gains experience in battle, levels up and can equip so-called war gear like better armor, dropped by boss enemies or awarded at the end of a mission.
    • At each level-up his stats also improve and he gets two skill points that can be allocated to the heroes four main characteristics including strength or stamina.
    • When the player invests enough points into one element, a new ability for the hero is unlocked and it can be used on the battlefield.
  • In multiplayer the player needs not only choose which of the four races he wants to play but he can also decide on one of three heroes that are roughly categorized based on offensive, defensive and support skill.
    • During the skirmishes the hero again gains experience, levels up and can then decide on the fly which upgrade to install.
    • And while in single player the hero can only be revived by other heroes once he dies, in multiplayer the player can revive him instantly for a price.
    • The longer he waits with the revive order, the less it costs.
  • The resources needed to pay the price and build new units in the army headquarters are automatically collected every few seconds once the player has conquered a requisite point on the map.
    • In addition, the player needs to conquer energy points to get the energy required to upgrade his units.
    • All these efforts are ultimately needed to either destroy up to five enemies or conquer and hold enough victory points until the enemies points’ account has reached zero.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II is mentioned in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by Tony Mott

Tidbits

  • God of War has a 60fps patch for PS5, and it really polishes an amazing game for the more powerful PS5.
    • Richard Leadbetter from Eurogamer said:
    • Let’s put it this way, across one hour and 45 minutes of play, just 33 frames were dropped from a total in excess of 378,000 – and those were in a non-playable cutscene.
  • Halo 3 received its last official new map all the way back in 2009, as part of the Mythic II Map Pack release.
    • Now, 343 Industries has announced that a new map, first featured in Halo Online, will be added to the next round of Master Chief Collection beta testing.
    • The Update to the Master Chief Collection will also include a server browser, to find specific game types.

 

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Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Strata

      • 2013
      • A simple, elegant puzzle game that has you weaving different coloured ribbons together to match the goal pattern
  • Epic Games

    • Halcyon 6

      • 2016
      • Retro space RPG with base building, tactical combat, crew management, and emergent storytelling

CD Projekt Red was targeted by a cyber attack this week, compromising their internal network and stealing information for ransom

  • According to a statement from the company on Twitter, the hackers gained access to their internal systems, collected unspecified information, and encrypted some of their systems
  • On the plus side, thanks to good backups they’ve already secured their infrastructure and have begun restoring data
  • They’ve also stated that they will not give in to demands or negotiate, and since this may lead to the release of the compromised data they’ll be taking steps to mitigate that by approaching anyone that may be affected
    • As far as they’re aware though, based on both their investigation and the ransom note, no personal player or user data was affected
  • They also posted the ransom note in the Twitter post and it’s a bit of a journey all on its own, kicking off with “Your have been EPICALLY pwned!!”, and going on to identify that along with internal documents like accounting and HR they also grabbed the source code for Gwent, CyberPunk 2077, and the Witcher 3, along with an “unreleased version” of Witcher 3
    • The source code for Gwent was published online a day after this announcement so it’s likely that this is legit, but CDPR remains adamant that they will not be negotiating.
    • But hey, maybe having the Cyberpunk 2077 code leaked will lead to a crowdsourced effort to fix all its bugs?

Terraria on Stadia has been cancelled after the developer’s Google account was locked for seemingly no reason

  • Terraria’s co-creator Andrew Spinks took to Twitter this week to say that his account had been disabled for over 3 weeks, removing access to all his paid apps on Google Play, data on Google Drive, and 15 years of emails on Gmail
  • It all started back in January when the studio Re-Logic had its YouTube channel taken down for completely unexplained reasons
    • They publicly reached out to YouTube over the alleged violations, since they hadn’t posted any new content for months, but it looked like they either had a very unhelpful person or a bot responding because nothing was really done about it, though Re-Logic says that they were assured via email that it was nothing to worry about at the time
  • From the looks of it Spinks had his personal email address associated with the YouTube channel, because shortly afterward he reported that he had lost everything
  • After being given the runaround for weeks he announced that doing business with a corporation that values their customers and partners so little is a liability, and he would not be involved with them going forward
  • This could be a blow against Stadia, with a popular game like Terraria (it sold over 30M copies as of April 2020) pulling out so soon after Google closed their own game studio to focus on third-party titles for the service

Google still hasn’t updated their iOS apps to include the new mandatory privacy nutrition labels on their App Store pages, while also warning users that their apps are out of date

  • At the beginning of 2021 Apple rolled out a new requirement that all apps need to list privacy information like what information they use to track you, what info they link to you, and what they’re using for advertising
    • They’re not pulling any apps down because of it, but it’s required before developers are allowed to post any updates to their apps
    • And keep in mind, this is purely informational and separate from the tracking transparency prompt coming in iOS 14.5
  • Well despite saying back on January 5th that they’d have it all in place within a couple of weeks, we’re into the second month of no updates for Google apps on Apple devices and no privacy labels either
  • This wouldn’t be so noteworthy were it not for the fact that Google started logging people out of apps like Gmail and informing them that the apps were out of date with messages like “The version you’re using doesn’t include the latest security features to keep you protected. Only continue if you understand the risks.”
    • They eventually did something on the server side to suppress these warnings, but if it’s a security issue then they really need to release these updates to people
  • At this point Google basically has two options- hurry up and strip all their information-mining out of their apps, or just go the Facebook route and have a massive privacy label owning up to all the info you’ve been gathering without explicit permission. If they don’t choose a lane then I’d expect to see people finding alternative apps that are actually getting updated regularly

Blizzard fans were disappointed this week when it was announced that both Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 are not expected to launch this year

  • Diablo 4 isn’t that big of a surprise, but for a games-as-a-service title like Overwatch, where they’ve said that there won’t be any new heroes after Echo’s April 2020 debut until the sequel, it’s a surprising move

This Week In Gaming History

February 6 – 1994 – Tomcat Alley – Sega CD

  • Tomcat Alley is one of the last of Sega’s TruVideo games for the SegaCD, featuring you and your F-14 Tomcat doing what you do best – dogfighting Russian Migs!
  • This time, a renegade Soviet commander is threatening the United States with chemical weapons from his base in the Mexican desert, and its up to you and your wingmen to fine-tune your air-to-air combat strategies to make the entire western hemisphere safe again!
  • Tomcat Alley was one of Sega’s last TruVideo games, featuring what is called “Active Matrix” software, which allows for many different outcomes to any given situation.
    • This means only one thing – much more interaction and variation than previous FMV (Full Motion Video) games!

February 7 – 2006 – The Rub Rabbits! – Nintendo DS

  • The Rub Rabbits! is the sequel to the DS launch title Feel the Magic XY/XX.
    • As with the first title, your aim is to guide your lovestruck hero through a number of challenges and puzzles to gain the heart of his true love.
    • However, on this occasion, not only do you have to win her heart, you have to keep a hold of it.
    • Others will attempt to attract her attention, spawning the possibility of love triangles.
  • Only your stylus skills will protect your heart and love from the possibility of losing her forever across 35 episodes, where you’ll rub, sing, shoot down and battle against the opposition.
    • Once you’ve got the girl, you can also take on your friends in multiplayer modes that range from the straightforward high score mini games to more unorthodox ones, such as making babies.
  • The Japanese title for this game, “Akachan wa doko kara kuru no?”, translates to “Where do babies come from?”.
  • And this title is made by the reputable game devs from Sonic Team.
  • This game does not appear in 1001 Games To Play Before You Die

February 8 – 1999 – Mario Party – Nintendo 64 (North America)

  • Mario Party is a party game for 1 to 4 players.
    • The festivities are based on a board game format, right down to the fact that players must roll a die to determine how many spaces to move.
    • Players land on different squares, each space holding one of more than fifty different mini-games.
    • These quick competitions determine who will earn coins and stars, and who will go home empty handed.
  • The mini-games are spread over eight different game boards, all of which are not immediately available.
    • Some of the games pit every man or princess against the others, some are two-on-two, and others are even three against one.
    • One challenge is loosely based on “Simon Says”, another involves a two-on-two bobsled race, and one game makes one player attempt to cross a rope while the other three do their best to shake the player off.
    • There are skill games, racing games, puzzle games, and other types.
  • A good portion of the actual game boards are animated, with hidden dangers and special challenges scattered everywhere.
    • Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Donkey Kong, Bowser, Yoshi, and Wario are all invited to the party, and each character has his or her own game board.
  • In a couple of the minigames, the player was required too spin the analog stick in a circle rapidly: since the most effective way of doing this was to place your palm on the controller and spin it, many players developed visible callouses.
    • Eventually a lawsuit was filed and Nintendo opted too send out free gloves to all Mario Party owners instead of getting sued.

February 9 – 2010 – BioShock 2 – PS3, Xbox 360, Windows

  • Plot:
    • Ten years have passed since the events in BioShock.
      • The underwater-city Rapture has further deteriorated, with water breaking in everywhere and whole sections flooded by water.
      • But as bad as the situation is, the city still isn’t empty.
      • After Andrew Ryan’s death, his long adversary, the psychiatrist Dr. Sophia Lamb took over the helm – embracing her own cult, making the mutated splicers that roam the city her worshippers.
      • In the middle is Delta, the first of the protectors of the Little Sisters better known as Big Daddies.
      • Eternally bonded to one and only one Little Sister called Eleanor, daughter of Sophia Lamb, he’s damned to search the city and find her or die trying.
    • The player slips into the mighty boots of Delta, making his way in a typical first-person-shooter-style through the city of Rapture to find and confront Dr. Sophia Lamb, who holds Eleanor against her will.
      • The switch of perspective, in the first game the player was a normal human, also brings with it a few changes in gameplay.
      • The most important being, that the player can now use both one of the eleven available plasmids and one of the several different weapons at the same time, allowing him to burn enemies while pumping them full of bullets.
      • Other plasmids include “Winter Blast” which freezes an enemy or “Scout” which allows the player to leave his body and look around unnoticed.
      • The weapons on the hand range from the famous Big-Daddy-Drill over a powerful double-barrel-shotgun to a grenade launcher.
  • As in the first game, both weapons and plasmids are upgradeable.
    • While the weapons just require the player to find a special workstation, upgrades for plasmids and tonics (granting passive effects) are bought at special vending machines called “Gatherer’s Garden” with the rare substance called “Adam”.
    • As in the first game, the Little Sisters roaming the levels are the key to getting access to Adam.
    • But since the player himself is a Big Daddy, the process is a bit different this time around.
    • While the player still needs to kill the accompanying Big Daddy to get access to the Little Sister, he can choose to adopt it afterwards instead of just harvesting it.
    • The Little Sister will then sit on his shoulder and look for Adam-infused bodies in the level to harvest them.
  • Setting down a Little Sister to harvest a body will unleash hell as every splicer in the level will try to kill her, requiring the player to protect the little girl from harm until its finished collecting.
    • Once a Little Sister has harvested two bodies, the player can again either harvest her himself, or free her.
    • Either action grants him more or less Adam and at the same time may alert a Big Sister.
    • As opposed to the Big Daddies, they are nimble, fast and very deadly.
  • Another important change is the new hacking-mini-game which is the same in all versions now and requires the player to hit the green or blue spaces on a gauge with a constantly spinning needle.
    • If he doesn’t hit the right field, he either gets a electro-shock or will sound the alarm.
    • A successful hack on the other will lower the prices at vending machines or turn turrets over to the player’s side.
    • The new mini-game also allows the player to fight and walk around while hacking as well as hacking from a distance thanks to the arrows shot by the hacking-tool.
  • BioShock 2 features multiplayer for up to 10 players which was developed independently from the single player by a different developer and tells the story before the first game.
    • By gaining ranks for kills and winning matches, the player unlocks access to additional radio messages advancing the story behind the civil war that raged in the city between the Splicers and Andrew Ryan’s security force.
    • The available multiplayer-mode include Deathmatch, Team-Deathmatch, Capture and Hold, Capture the Sister and Adam Grab.
    • The latter requires the players to collect and protect the sole Little Sister in the level in order to gain points. Capture the Sister on the other hand puts two teams against each other with one team trying to bring the Little Sister to a vent and the other trying to prevent that. Each mode also features the possibility of one player slipping into the role of a Big Daddy.

February 10 – 2015 – Evolve – PS4, Xbox One, Windows

  • Evolve is an asymmetrical multiplayer game for five players.
    • It is played with a team of four humans against a single monster, all controlled by human players.
    • It does not contain a separate single-player mode, but the game can be played by a single player with up to four bots controlling the remaining spots.
    • The game is set in the future and takes place at Shear, a planet far away that has been colonized. The valuable colonies are soon attacked by different kinds of monsters. To deal with the threat, war veteran William Chabot is brought out of retirement and he assembles a team of hunters to eliminate the monsters.
  • The human side consists of four classes.
    • There are Assaults (damage), Medics (health), Supports (tools) and Trappers (Tracking).
    • Players assemble a team with any combination of the classes to hunt down the monster.
    • There are multiple characters per class with different secondary skills and abilities and each class has different general abilities.
    • Assaults use a personal shield for temporary invulnerability, Medics use health burst to provide health in a radius, Supports can activate a radius of cloaking, and Trappers use a Mobile Arena energy dome shield to narrow down the area where the monster can be found.
    • Secondary skills are different for each character.
      • Hunter Abe for instance has a track dart gun to track monsters or tag food (which marks the monster when it is consumed).
      • The other Hunter Griffin can deploy spikes to detect and movement and the Hunter Maggie releases a pet trapjaw to chase after the monster’s trail.
      • Next to the permanent perk and the basic customization system, the full roster of characters is unlocked by reaching the mastery level for the skills.
      • This can also be done in solo matches and it applies to the monsters as well.
  • There are three types of monsters to choose from.
    • Goliath is a durable melee monster. It can charge, use its fire breath, and perform a leap smash or a rock throw.
    • Kraken is a flying monster that attacks from long range using electricity.
      • It has access to aftershock (energy burst), banshee mines, lightning strike and vortex.
    • Wraith is a stealth monster. It uses abduction to get a character away from the team, can create a decoy version of itself, create a supernova (radial destruction along with damage and attack speed buff), and perform a warp blast to teleport and do damage at the same time.
    • Additional characters and monsters are included in special editions of the game or can be bought as DLC.
    • They do no split the community as players who do not own the DLC can still fight the additional characters and monsters, but cannot play them.
    • Additional maps are released for free for all players.
  • Monsters can feed on wildlife and dead humans to fill an energy meter and evolve.
    • This is used to become stronger, but to evolve they have to enter a cocoon stage for a while that leaves them very vulnerable.
    • Wildlife can attack both sides, influencing the events, and can reveal locations.
    • Both sides can use different types of power-ups and need to use a strategic approach to overcome the opposition.
  • The game modes are Defend, Hunt, Nest and Rescue.
    • In Defend the humans need to defend a starship’s refueling station by protecting power generators until the ship is fully refueled.
    • The opposition controls a single, fully evolved monster, along with various Goliath minions.
    • The monster must destroy the two generators to reach the ship’s power source before it is refueled.
    • In Hunt the monster wins by killing all humans or by evolving to stage three to destroy a power relay, while the humans merely need to destroy the monster.
    • The monster receives a head start to get away before the humans are dropped.
    • When the monster dies the game is over immediately.
    • When a hunter is killed there is a wait time of three minutes before respawning.
    • In Nest the monster needs to defend six monster eggs somewhere in the environment for ten minutes.
    • The eggs can be hatched to receive help from minions.
    • Humans have ten minutes to destroy all eggs.
    • In Rescue both the humans and the monster go after injured colonists spread over the map.
    • The first to rescue or kill five respectively, wins the session.
  • Games can be played as Quick Play sessions or in the Evacuation story mode.
    • In the second type each won match in a cycle of five brings an advantage to the next map for that side and it ends with a Defend match.
    • There are different types of maps with distinct themes such as a jungle or using industrial elements.

February 11 – 2003 – Command And Conquer: Generals – Windows

  • A new chapter in the Command & Conquer universe, set somewhere in the 2020s, pits three sides for global domination: the United States of America, the People’s Republic of China and the Global Liberation Army (GLA).
  • Generals features real world (renamed or slightly altered) weapons combined with quasi-high-tech ones, new control schemes and a fast-paced multiplayer.
    • Generals is the first game in the Command & Conquer series not to include FMV or pre-rendered cutscenes between missions, and was also the first C&C game without the Westwood Studios label (although the development studio was initially called Westwood Pacific before being merged into EA Pacific).
    • It uses a full 3D environment powered by the SAGE engine, a modified version of the W3D engine previously seen in C&C: Renegade.
  • The core gameplay differs somewhat from other games in the series, a move done in order to modernize the formula.
    • First off, construction yards are absent, as structures are built by dozers for the USA and China, and workers for the GLA.
    • The sidebar is replaced with the bottom bar, and support powers are “purchased” with leveling up as a general, which is done through participating in combat.
    • For the first time in the series, each factory-type structure (barracks, war factory, airfield…) has its own build queue, in the same fashion as in Blizzard’s RTS titles before it, instead of having a shared one like in the previous C&C games.
    • Upgrades are available for the first time in the series as well, bringing improvements to units and structures.
    • Everything is paid for in advance instead of having credits slowly drain as the object is constructed.
  • Command & Conquer: Generals was first temporarily (February 28, 2003) and later definitely (March 06, 2003) put on the German index.
    • This means that it is forbidden to sell the game to minors or to advertise it in any form. The BPjM, Germany’s banning office, said that C&C: Generals is too close to real-world events (i.e. the threat of an Iraq war) and to cynical – for example sending out suicide attackers, carpet bombing and raiding UN convoys.
  • Later it has been re-released in a heavily censored version:
    • Many units and places were renamed. For example, the USA faction was called WA (Western Alliance) and China was AP (Asian Pact). Terrorists were renamed to Activists.
    • All civilians were removed, and all soldiers were replaced by cyborgs, like in previous German C&C releases. Therefore some quotes of the GLA Worker like “I’m hungry” or “My hammer is too heavy” were removed completely.
    • Suicide bombers were replaced by telecommunication units.

February 12 – 1990 – Super Mario Bros. 3 – NES (North America)

  • Bowser is back, and along with the Bowser kids, he’s out to spoil Mario’s day once again.
  • This time, along with nabbing the Princess, the Bowser crew have also taken the magic wands from the Kings of each land and turned them into creatures.
    • It’s up to Mario and Luigi to get back the magic wands, defeat Bowser, and save the Princess all before the day is done.
  • Old and new power-ups abound in each level for the Mario Brothers, including the return of the Super Mushroom and Fire Flower, plus the new power-ups including the frog suit, the warp flute, and the most important of all, the leaf, which allows the player to fly and attack enemies with your tail.
  • Fun Facts:
    • The Koopa Kids were only named in the North American and European versions.
      • The Japanese version completely omits giving them names.
    • As of 2010, the fastest run through the the game is under eleven minutes (0:10:48 as conventional speedrun and 0:10:25 tool-assisted).
    • The NES version of Super Mario Bros. 3 appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Tidbits

  • Destruction AllStars has released a hotfix disabling the multiplayer lobby voice chat by default, closing the hellportal introduced in our living rooms
  • PS5 controllers have other problems though, with many people reporting online that their Dualsense controllers are experiencing some bad drift issues pretty quickly in their lifecycle
    • The problems are covered under warranty if you contact Sony, but you do have to pay one-way shipping out of pocket
  • Kingdom Hearts will soon no longer be a console exclusive, and will the hitting the Epic Games Store next month in all its JRPG lore-addled fury
  • Borderlands is apparently becoming a movie, and it’s got big names like Cate Blanchett, Kevin Hart, and Jamie Lee Curtis attached already
    • Oh, and Claptrap will be played by Jack Black?!

 

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PS2J 333 News – Alan’s Epic POTG

Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • For The King

      • 2017
      • Strategic RPG with tabletop and roguelike elements and attractive polygonal visuals. Each playthrough is unique with procedural maps, quests, and events. Single player, local, or online co-op
    • Metro: Last Light Redux

      • 2015
      • The sequel to Metro: 2033, it’s a post-apocalyptic first person shooter following a young soldier living in the Moscow Metro after a devastating nuclear war has left the surface world uninhabitable
  • Twitch

    • Spinch

      • 2020
      • Side-scrolling psychedelic platformer from the mind of award-winning Canadian cartoonist Jesse Jacobs, that plays like a surreal Super Meat Boy as Spinch goes on a quest to rescue a litter of its missing offspring
    • Stealth Bastard Deluxe

      • 2012
      • Subtitled “Tactical Espionage Arsehole”, this 2D stealth platformer has you sneaking through a deadly facility that seems determined to get you
    • Monster Prom: Hotseat Edition

      • 2018
      • 2D narrative dating sim with both singleplayer and multiplayer modes with a randomized story that has you deciding how to spend your last six weeks before prom, going through different events and gaining stats while trying to improve relationships with whoever catches your eye
    • Swimsanity! – Couch Party Edition

      • 2020
      • Multiplayer 2D underwater shoot-em-up with co-op and versus game modes, and both online and local play. It’s like Gradius in the ocean with your friends
    • Table Manners

      • 2020
      • Physics-based dating simulator that puts the hand from Surgeon Simulator into a variety of venues for dates, from conveyor belt sushi to a plane going through a series of dives

Facebook has begun asking users to opt in to activity tracking ahead of Apple’s upcoming tracking transparency changes coming in iOS 14.5

  • Some iOS users have already begun seeing a new notification when launching the app, set to appear before Apple’s own notification and clarifying why they think you should let them track you
    • It basically says that if you let them use your app and website activity you get:
      • Personalized ads
      • “Support businesses that rely on ads to reach customers”
        • That one might carry more weight if the majority of Facebook ads didn’t seem to be knockoffs and scams
    • They also mention that it won’t give them access to new types of information, but that’s really just saying they’ve been gathering it without permission so far

Xiaomi has revealed true wireless charging technology with their ‘Mi Air Charge’, able to charge devices from across the room

  • With no cables or stands this new tech can send 5W of power to each device, using advanced spatial positioning and beamforming energy transmission
    • 5W isn’t much, but as a slow trickle-charge throughout the day it would definitely be a nice boost
  • Xiaomi has apparently developed a special charging unit that can accurately detect the location of a compatible smartphone, then use an array of 144 antennas to transmit millimeter-wide waves directly to the phone
  • And they say that physical objects don’t do anything to reduce efficiency, though I’d like to see the potential health impacts of getting electricity beamed through your body, especially long-term
  • Xiaomi has currently developed it with smartphones it mind, but they’re looking to expand the tech to smartwatches and other wearables, as well as smart speakers, desk lamps, and more
  • Disney Made a wireless powered room
    • https://www.iflscience.com/technology/disney-researchers-make-wireless-power-transfer-breakthrough/

Activision could be in some legal hot water after introducing a new character to their Call of Duty: Modern Warfare battlepass

  • Writer and photographer Clayton Haugen is alleging that the company intentionally modelled the new character, an operator named Mara, after his own character, Cade Janus, from a short story called November Renaissance
  • Hausen has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit saying that Activision Blizzard and Infinity Ward willfully intended to model Mara after Cade Janus, including hiring the same model, using the same makeup professional, and instructing her to style the model’s hair exactly as she had done for Haugen’s photographs, even using the same hair piece extension

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is coming on May 14th, with a lot of fanciness and lens flares

  • The collection includes world-building enhancements, improved interfaces and UI, and modernized controls for the first instalment, along with a ton of visual improvements and changes like pumping things up to 4K and HDR
  • They’ve also increased the options in the character creator and unified it across all three games
  • It all looks pretty good, but judging by the screenshots released so far they went a little ham sandwich with the lens flares and really brightening up some of the creepier scenes

Destruction AllStars is showing off the dark side of the PS5’s fancy controller

  • The colourful, vibrant destruction-derby style game has taken an interesting approach to voice chat, automatically using the Dualsense controller as a microphone and headset by default
  • This can be turned off for each match, but it will automatically turn it self back on again next time treating you once more to the audio hellscape that is online gaming

This Week In Gaming History

January 30 – 2001 – SimCoaster – Windows

  • SimCoaster is the third and final game in the Theme Park series.
    • It uses the same graphic engine as the previous game Theme Park World.
    • It is a theme park management game where players build their own theme park and attract as much visitors as possible.
    • This time there are also grandparents of the little visitors who need to be entertained.
  • This version focuses more on the management side of running a park.
    • It contains various types of business related to campaigns and objectives, such as bringing in a certain number of guests to a ride.
    • By completing these challenges, promotions can be gained. As with the previous game in the series, players can walk around in their park in a first-person mode and go on the rides.
  • The game had an appearance in the cool action movie “Cradle 2 the Grave” starring Jet Li and DMX.
    • In the movie released in 2003 by Warner Bros. a little daughter Vanessa of main protagonist played by DMX was very interested in playing this game and even several seconds of her playing were watched.
    • This action has defined the SimCoaster as an interesting game for smart girls with an art in their minds.
  • The title is SimCoaster only in the United States
    • Elsewhere, it is titles, Theme Park INC.

January 31 – 1999 – Silent Hill – PlayStation

  • You play Harry Mason, a normal man, with no powers or training of any kind.
    • You must search through the town of Silent Hill, looking for your daughter.
    • You will come across many people, some friendly, some not.
    • mYou must visit many different areas, such as the school, and the church.
    • Will Harry find his daughter and safely get out, or is there more to this town than a simple fog layer?
  • PS2J 162 and 168 are a two part Silent Hill history
    • Josh keeps insisting that he will go back through these and remake these as more entertaining content.
    • But the more dry example is available if people are interested.
  • The PS1 version of Silent Hill appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

February 1 – 1995 – Kirby’s Avalanche – SNES

  • The First Annual Dream Land’s Avalanche Competition is about to get under way, and as Kirby and a host of characters from the Kirby series, you can join the tournament and become Avalanche king.
  • Kirby’s Avalanche is a Puyo Puyo variant, and has you stacking colored blobs similar in a way to Tetris.
    • When a certain amount of one color is stacked, an explosion occurs and the screen clears of those blobs, which then appear in the other players screen (either the CPU or a second player).
    • When the other player’s screen is so full of blobs that they can’t make another move, you move onto the next round, and so on until the final boss.
    • The winner of that match is then crowned the Avalanche king.
  • This game is almost exactly the same as Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine for the Genesis.
    • Only the Robotnik/Sonic theme has been replaced by a Kirby theme.
    • That’s because both games were actually developed by Compile and are based on their Puyo Puyo games.
    • Thanks to Roedie on Moby Games to point that out

February 2 – 2009 – 4 Minutes and 33 Seconds of Uniqueness – Windows

  • 4 Minutes and 33 Seconds of Uniqueness is a game created for the Global Game Jam that tests the boundaries of what defines a game.
    • If the program runs for four minutes and 33 seconds—no further user input is needed—the player wins.
    • The catch is that it must be the only copy running in the entire world at that time—the program checks over the Internet to see if anyone else is running the game, and if someone is, the program will immediately shut itself down.
    • The only graphics are a white progress bar that inches across the screen as time passes.
  • The game is inspired by John Cage’s musical composition 4′33″, which is 4 minutes and 33 seconds of complete silence.
    • The uniqueness of the piece is established through the background sounds in the environment, which makes the experience different for each listener.

February 3 – 2015 – Poké Doll Grabber – Browser

  • Available through the Pokémon Global Link website, Poké Doll Grabber is a simple game in which the player guides the claw of a crane machine up to the top of the screen.
    • Along the way, they must guide the claw, which is clutching five Poké Dolls, past obstacles that could knock one of the dolls loose.
    • They can move it left and right, or rapidly move it upwards, though horizontal movements can cause the claw to swing and hit an obstacle anyway.
    • Upon reaching the top of the screen, the game ends, and the player will be given their score and will receive a random item that can be sent back to the player’s 3DS Pokémon RPG.
  • Playing the game costs Poké Miles, which are obtained by using multiplayer features in the 3DS Pokémon games and sent to the Global Link by syncing one’s save file to the internet.
    • Three different levels of the game are available, which cost the same number of miles but offer differing prizes.

February 4 – 2000 – The Sims – Windows

  • The simulation game that people, like Josh, started wasting days, weeks, months of their lives to perfecting the experience of digital lives.
  • The Sims was originally going to be called “Home Tactics,” and would have an entirely different focus.
    • Will Wright originally designed it to be completely about building houses.
    • When someone suggested a feature involving letting people move in to determine the quality of the house, the focus completely changed.
    • Developers were having more fun watching the people than building the house.
    • The design goals were directed towards Sims, and architecture was left as a side bonus.
  • Sims Trivia
    • You can put your own MP3s in the music folder in the game’s directory and they will be played on the radio.
    • After managing a household for 100 days you will be rewarded with information etc. about the creators of the game.
    • The game is listed in the 2008 Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition as the best selling PC game of all time, with 16 million sales worldwide since the original launch.
    • The PC version of The Sims appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Febuary 5 – 2008 – Devil May Cry 4 – PS3/XBox 360 (North America)

  • This time the player gets cast as Nero, a member of the Order of the Sword who worships Sparda, in addition to playing as the previous games’ protagonist, Dante.
    • The game follows the story of Nero in which witnesses the assassination of the leader of the Order of the Sword, Sanctus, by no other than Dante.
    • The murder causes chaos and Sanctus’ deputy, Credo, orders Nero to go after Dante, who is heading for Fortuna Castle.
  • Nero is equipped with a sword (Red Queen), a revolver (Blue Rose), and powers from his Devil Bringer arm that works like Dante’s Devil Trigger.
    • They also give Nero special abilities: pulling and pushing enemies, slamming them on the ground and zooming across areas.
    • Overall gameplay with Nero is still hack-and-slash but with fresh attack styles and techniques.
    • Dante joins later in the game for some levels of his own.
    • His gameplay stays mostly intact with the four attack styles: Trickster, Sword Master, Gunslinger, and Royal Guard.
  • Devil May Cry 4 appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Tidbits

  • Google has apparently shut down its internal game development studio that was tasked with making games for the Stadia, leaving many wondering if this is the beginning of the end
    • The service will stick around focused on third-party games, but time will tell if this gets added to the list of services that Google pumps up and then lets fall by the wayside
  • Apple’s upcoming iOS 14.5 update is in beta now, and it’s bringing some cool features like support for PS5 and Xbox Series controllers, as well as the ability to unlock your phone with your watch instead of your face if you’re wearing a mask
    • The unlock is pretty slick- if your Apple Watch is unlocked and on your wrist, and FaceID detects you’re wearing a mask, it will just unlock and send a notification to your watch. Best part, in case someone else has grabbed your phone, that notification has a big “Lock iPhone” button on it
  • God of War 2018’s enhanced performance patch for the PS5 is live now, cranking everything up to 11 with 60FPS and 4K resolutions

 

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PS2J News 332 – Track or Not To Track

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Algo Bot

      • 2018
      • Puzzle game that has you maintaining a pan-galactic colony ship by managing a cute robot through a visual programming language
    • Little Big Workshop

      • 2019
      • Management sim with an open-ended sandbox experience where you start with a small tabletop workshop and expand to a desk-filling factory, running multiple production lines and managing your cute workers
  • Epic Games

    • Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition

      • 2018
      • 2D platformer and Metroidvania based on the Afro-Brazilian warrior of the same name that has you traversing the world by warping between white surfaces
      • Trials of Fear Edition adds a bunch of things like new areas, a new boss, new powers, and a new secret ending
  • Sony

    • Concrete Genie

      • 2019
      • Action-adventure game where you discover a paint brush that can bring your art to life, infusing them with different personalities and powers depending on how you draw them
    • Control Ultimate Edition

      • 2020 bundle version of the 2019 release, including the Foundation and AWE expansions, brand new to the PS5 and Xbox Series in February
      • Action-adventure game that revolves around the Federal Bureau of Control, a secret US government agency tasked with containing and studying phenomena that violate the laws of reality. You play as the new director and use your powerful abilities to defeat the deadly Hiss
      • This is a messy one- the developers set it up so that only people that own the Ultimate edition can get a free upgrade to the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles, so players that bought it in the first year of release are left out in the cold
        • They also stated that save files could be brought forward to the latest consoles from the original release if you bought Ultimate Edition on the last-generation consoles, but just yesterday they announced that there is actually no way to bring your old save file to the next-gen consoles
        • Now Ultimate Edition is being made free on PS4 and PS5 two weeks after it was just on sale, but unlike ManEater they aren’t offering any refunds for people that jumped on the deal, even if they haven’t booted it up yet while waiting for the PS5 release
    • Destruction AllStars

      • Brand new 2021
      • Vehicular combat game billed as a “global sports entertainment event where stars & cars collide”, where each hero vehicle has different abilities and once your car has been destroyed you need to survive on foot
  • Microsoft

    • Gears 5

      • 2019 optimized for the Xbox Series
      • Third-person shooter that takes place months after the events of Gears of War 4 that has you uncovering the origins of the Locust and the truth behind your family history
    • Resident Evil

      • 2015 HD remaster of the 1996 release
      • Survival horror game that helped define the genre, where you play a member of the elite task force S.T.A.R.S as they investigate the outskirts of Raccoon City following the disappearance of your team members
    • Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition (also on Epic)

      • 2018
      • 2D platformer and Metroidvania based on the Afro-Brazilian warrior of the same name that has you traversing the world by warping between white surfaces
      • Trials of Fear Edition adds a bunch of things like new areas, a new boss, new powers, and a new secret ending
    • Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb

      • 2003
      • Action-adventure game that has you taking the role of Indy as he travels to 1935 China to prevent a powerful artifact from falling into evil hands, pitting you against evil Nazis and the Asian underworld
    • Lost Planet 2

      • 2010
      • Third-person shooter set 10 years after Lost Planet: Extreme Condition where terraforming efforts have started to change the face of the planet but mankind is still locked in a civil war for thermal energy

Apple’s released updates for pretty much all of their devices except for Mac, including bug fixes, security updates for vulnerabilities that may have been exploited in the wild, and a new Unity watchface inspired by the Pan-African flag

  • Some people online think the security updates may be related to the GreyKey iPhone hacking device, but we have yet to see any solid reports
  • Related to the new watchface, as part of Black History Month Apple has also introduced a limited-edition “Black Unity” Apple Watch and sport band, using the colours of the Pan-African flag and inscribed with messages like “Black Unity”, and “Truth. Power. Solidarity.”
    • They also have plans to use their apps like Maps and Music to spotlight Black businesses, musicians, developers, writers, influencers, and news stories

Facebook is apparently preparing an antitrust lawsuit against Apple for an unfair approach to privacy and default apps

  • Facebook is claiming that the App Tracking Transparency features, allowing users to opt-out of being tracked, are unfair because they don’t appear for Apple’s built-in apps
    • The problem here is that Apple doesn’t track users or share data for advertising purposes, so it doesn’t really apply
  • Facebook will apparently also be focusing on Apple’s refusal to allow other messaging apps to be set as the system default, claiming that limitation is an effort to prevent people from switching to competing brands
    • I’m sure this has nothing to do with them lobbying Apple in September to allow Facebook Messenger to be the default messaging app and being soundly rejected
  • The big bullet point here seems to be that Facebook’s accusing Apple of making changes to line their own pockets, while the reality seems to be that all Apple’s doing here is giving us control over how Facebook monetizes us
  • We’ll have to see if these actions actually get filed, but a lot of it just seems like an tantrum because Facebook will have to start asking permission before harvesting data from iPhone users

In related news, Google is actually pulling the tracking features from their iOS apps

  • Many of Google’s apps still have yet to submit their data privacy labels to the App Store, which will show what data they’re gathering, but in the meantime they’ve announced that rather than ask users to allow themselves to be tracked Google will instead remove tracking altogether
  • Google’s warned that app developers may see a “significant impact” to their Google ad revenue on iOS after the new policy takes effect, but if tracking is so important to their business then they could always leave it in and use the permissions prompt to justify it to their users
  • The fact that they’d rather stop than ask permission is pretty dang telling

Microsoft revealed plans to double the price of Xbox Live Gold this week, drawing so much fire that they reversed course 15 hours later

  • In their planned rollout their cheapest option would have stayed at $60, but cut down to 6 months instead of the current 12
  • The prevailing theory is that this change would have been to push more people toward Game Pass Ultimate, which offers the benefits of Gold with the Game Pass subscription service that’s pretty solid but not necessarily for everyone
  • On the plus side, now instead of doubling the price of Gold they’re keeping prices as-is and also making changes for free-to-play games to allow them online without a Gold membership
  • So it at least shows that they’re open to criticism and willing to make their services a little better instead of much worse

Disney’s making changes to its Disney+ lineup as part of their Stories Matter initiative, an effort to reckon with the company’s history of racist stereotypes and negative depictions

  • Several titles with problematic content like Peter Pan, Aristocats, The Lady and the Tramp, and Dumbo, have been removed from profiles set up for children, though they can still be viewed from regular accounts
  • When watched they also display a strong condemnation of their contents, saying that the stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now, acknowledging the harmful impact, and saying they want to learn from it and spark conversation so that parents can make sure their children have a good mental framework in which to place these movies
  • Conversations about race and stereotypes aren’t easy to have with kids, but you can’t just throw those types of racist caricatures at impressionable minds willy-nilly without doing some harm in the process

This Week In Gaming History 2000’s Edition!

January 23 – 2001 – The Typing Of The Dead – Sega Dreamcast (North America)

  • This is essentially the same game as the arcade light-gun rail-shooter House of the Dead 2, except they’ve turned it into a edu-tainment typing trainer.
    • Instead of guns, your characters have keyboards strapped to them, and instead of shooting the zombies that constantly jump out at you you’ll need to type out the words attached to the zombies in order to kill them before they crack open your head and feast upon the goo inside.
    • The game ranks you on your typing speed and provides various tutorials and other edu-tainment sundries.
  • Otherwise it’s pretty much the same game as House of the Dead 2.
    • Much like the Resident Evil series, the zombie hordes have gone from infesting a vaguely gothic creepy old mansion to infesting a vaguely gothic decaying city, and its your job to stop them and save the human race (as usual).

January 24 – 2000 – Crazy Taxi – Sega Dreamcast (United States)

  • Crazy Taxi is an arcade-like racer where the player takes the role of a taxi driver who weaves his way through crowded streets, across sidewalks, and even underwater, in a wild and frantic race to deliver passengers on time.
    • The courses are largely set inside cities crowded with general traffic and pedestrians (which can’t be run over, they dive away).
    • The main goal is to bring as many customers as possible to their destination in time.
    • Available customers are marked through circles and the color represents the distance and the fare they offer.
    • Green means long rides with plenty of money, and red ones are very short.
  • In the main Arcade mode, there is a timer that quickly runs down.
    • It can be replenished by picking up customers.
    • While driving reckless maneuvers are encouraged.
    • Players can disregard all traffic rules and customers give extra tips for speedy and dangerous driving, but these can only be cashed when the customer arrives at his destination in time.
    • By the same token, the reward at the end of a ride is based on the amount of time left, as each customer also has a personal timer.
    • The city is filled with slopes and jumps, and the game uses a very loose driving model.
    • No damage can be done to the car, so driving as fast as possible is encouraged.
    • While driving players can toy with the gears to perform two special tricks: a crazy drift and a crazy boost to speed up more quickly.
  • Next to the Arcade mode, there is an Original mode and Crazy Box where specific goals need to be met on closed down courses.
    • In the regular modes, it is possible to disregard the usual timer and play for a fixed amount of minutes.
    • At the end of the race, the player is rewarded with a license, either D, C, B or A, with S for outstanding performance.
    • Next to the interactive courses from the arcade version, there is a new course for home consoles.
    • There are four cabs and drivers to choose from.
    • The cars have different statistics and the drivers’ different attitudes while racing.
    • The game has a soundtrack featuring The Offspring and Bad Religion (not for the Xbox 360 version).

January 25 – 2005 – Playboy: The Mansion – PS2, Windows, Xbox

  • Live the life of Hugh Hefner in this “Virtual Hef” simulation.
  • As a young Hugh Hefner, it is the player’s goal to build the Playboy empire through sexy parties and putting together Playboy magazine every month.
    • Build friendships and business contacts with celebrities, political figures, musicians, sports stars and more through hosting events and charming over people.
  • On the business side, Hef has to hire a staff to take photos and write articles for the magazine.
    • The “Playboy Photoshoot” mode allows the player to take the role of photographer.
    • On the personal side, invite friends into your inner circle, and find a girlfriend… or two…. or more.
    • The better the parties Hef throws, the more fame he gets, as well as more interesting people to fill the magazine.
    • More money means a larger staff, and more items (toys and furniture) for Hef to display in the Mansion.
  • Doing well in the game earns Hef points which can be used to purchase extra features, such as cheats and archive photos of Hef and past issue covers.

January 26 – 2003 – Devil May Cry 2 – PlayStation 2

  • Devil May Cry 2 is the sequel to Devil May Cry and once again casts you as Dante, the demon slayer.
  • You control Dante as you battle demons through various levels, ultimately reaching the conclusion and to find out just why these demons are trying to kill everyone.
    • To aid you in your quest, you once again have your trusty sword and various attributes, as well as new moves, like running on walls, aerial kicks, and multi-directional shooting.
  • This time around, Dante is not alone, as you have a partner, named Lucia.
    • Just as much of an asskicker as Dante, Lucia utilizes a kind of knife which she can rapidly throw at her enemies.
  • All the special skills from the first game are here, again activated by your Devil Trigger, which has been improved for the sequel’s release.

January 27 – 2004 – Cops 2170: The Power of Law – Windows

  • COPS 2170 is a tactical strategy game of squad combat with RPG elements set in a futuristic cyberpunk world.
    • It is a prequel to Paradise Cracked, an earlier game by the same company.
  • In the game you control Katy, a new officer fresh from the academy that aims to make a solid career in the police force.
    • You will control her as your main character and recruit additional partners to undertake several missions, which usually involve combat across the urban sprawls of the future against several factions and gangs in the city.
    • As the game progresses a plot starts to surface involving a deranged criminal who aims to bring the city to its knees.
  • You can control up to 6 characters and additional backup NPCs, each with their own stats and equipment and issue orders to them on squad-based turns.
    • Since you are part of the police force there’s no resource management and instead the equipment availability is decided by your rank, which depends on the conditions in which you complete each mission.
    • The game uses a fully polygonal engine and features branching mission objectives and different outcomes based on your in-game actions.

January 28 – 2003 – Black & Bruised – GameCube, PlayStation 2

  • Black & Bruised is a cartoonish take on boxing with 18 different boxers, each with their own personality and fighting style.
    • There are five different modes including multi-player, exhibition, and a story mode told with CG with each boxer’s life story is played out in story mode.
    • Each boxer has a different special attack and power-ups can be picked up to use in matches.
    • There are 30 different facial expressions for each boxer reacting to punches and misses giving them a life-like appearance.

January 29 – 2001 – Oni – Windows, Macintosh, PlayStation 2

  • Plot:
    • It’s 2032.
    • The planet is now ruled by the World Coalition Government which annexed 80% of the countries, with the remaining quickly dragged into the WCG.
    • While their official goal was to solve humankind’s problems, it was about money.
    • Massive spending bankrupted poorer countries, and soon all traces of individual government disappeared.
    • For those who were poor, the situation didn’t improved one bit, and for the richer, maintaining the status was done at the expense of their privacy and personal freedoms.
    • To make things worse, life outside the major cities, far from the atmosphere processors is nearly impossible, as the so-called “Wilderness Preserves” are poisoned, and those who venture into them risk a painful death.
    • Konoko, fresh out from TCTF (Technology Crimes Task Force, a secret police to take cyber drugs and weapons from the streets, as well as explore the induced technophobia to operate and investigate on a blank check permission) academy is placed under the command of Terrance Griffin and Dr. Kerr and linked to a SLD – an android – called Shinatama, who is neurally linked to her.
    • However, Konoko knows next to nothing about her past, other that she was orphaned at the age of three and felt “different” to other people while was being brought up under the wing of TCTF.
    • After many years in training, she has finally the chance to prove herself to Griffin and the TCTF, and so, heads for a warehouse rumoured to be under the control of the Syndicate, a criminal organization which grew exponentially after a young man called “Boss Muro” climbed to the top of the organization.
  • Inspired by the classic Anime series Ghost in the Shell by Shirow Masamune, gameplay is a mix between generic third-person shooter and a classic beat’em up.
    • While Konoko has at her disposal several hand-to-hand acrobatic moves (with more unlocked as the player advances), she can also find weapons in the levels, and the decision to go armed or bare-fisted is only up to the player.
    • Each weapon either draws from ballistic or energy cell clips, the number of rounds in each clip depending on the weapon: a Black Adder (a short, one-hand machine gun like an Uzi) can get 30 rounds from a ballistic clip, while a Mercury Bow (a sniper railgun sans scope) only two.
    • Combined with the limited availability of clips, this adds a strategic element to the game, as the player can only carry a weapon at a time, so if a powerful weapons runs out of ammo, the player must choose between keeping the weapon and fight hand to hand with the enemies until Konoko finds fresh ammo clips, or discard it for a lesser gun that uses different ammo.
    • However, if the player runs out of ammo completely when facing a tough challenge, Konoko can “overdose” on hypo sprays (used to heal damage) by using them over her natural health bar, which provides her with faster movement and tougher blows.

Tidbits

  • Reddit took to the stock market this week to inflate the price of stocks like GameStop in order to stick it to hedge funds that have been banking on the prices dropping soon
    • It got to the point where trading had to be frozen multiple times, and the popular trading app RobinHood took the potentially illegal position that their users are now no longer allowed to buy those stocks, only sell
    • Because of this multiple government officials from both sides of the aisle, including AOC and Ted Cruz, have called for an investigation and potential sanctions against RobinHood
  • CDPR has released modding support tools for Cyberpunk 2077, with promises to keep them up to date as patches continue being developed, so we should hopefully see some interesting things added to Night City as time goes on
  • In local news, Edmonton has a new Smash Bros inspired burger joint called Burger Brawl, that has two chefs pitting burgers against each other elimination-style each weekend with new challengers announced each Thursday. Check them out at burgerbrawl.ca

Looking forward to playing The Medium this weekend

  • The Medium is a psychological horror game played in third-person as Marianne, a medium who can travel into the spirit realm.
    • Being able to inhabit both worlds aids puzzle solving.
    • Her psychic abilities may also be used against hostile forces and are recharged by interacting with energy spots called spirit wells.
  • The Medium is developed by Bloober Team, who came up with the idea in 2012.
    • Bloober meant to enhance the immersion by changing their traditional perspective from first- to third-person and taking advantage of Xbox Series X/S’s background streaming.
    • They modelled the supernatural setting after Zdzisław Beksiński’s dystopian surrealist artwork.
    • Lead designer Wojciech Piejko said The Medium imparts the message that “there is no universal truth”.
    • Composers Arkadiusz Reikowski and Akira Yamaoka were tasked with scoring the physical and spiritual plane, respectively.
    • Using synthesiser and analogue sounds, Reikowski likened his approach to that of Stranger Things and Chernobyl.
    • Yamaoka worked on the Silent Hill franchise, which inspired the game, including its fixed camera angles.
    • He was persuaded to take on the music when Piejko gave him a gameplay demonstration. Singer Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, also of Silent Hill fame, will contribute vocals.
    • Troy Baker voices the primary antagonist, known as the Maw, for whom another actor performed the motion capture on stilts.
  • The Medium was originally announced for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U in 2012, but for want of better technology, reappeared in May 2020 as a Microsoft Windows and Xbox Series X/S title.
    • Originally scheduled for 10 December 2020, the release was eventually delayed to 28 January 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

 

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Thank you so much to Dalton. Our longest Patron, we love ya bud, and I hope you are like OMG me? When and if you eventually read this.

And thanks to the rest of our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
And talk to us in the comments!

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Cyber Hook

      • 2020
      • A fast-paced first person 3D platformer that has you speeding through a retrowave world with parkour and a grappling hook to blast enemies, manipulate time, and abuse physics
  • Epic Games

    • Galactic Civilizations III

      • 2015
      • A 4X (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate) turn-based strategy game from the makers of Sins of a Solar Empire, it has you building a civilization that will stand the test of time as you make a name for yourself through diplomacy, espionage, technology, and more

Universal chat app Beeper is looking to bring iMessage to Windows and Android, but it’s a little hacky

  • The launch of Beeper was announced by Eric Migicovsky, who you may remember as the CEO and founder of Pebble, one of the earliest smartwatches
    • The Kickstarter for the e-paper gadget ran almost 9 years ago, and it helped show the world what a connected smart-device on your wrist could accomplish
  • This new venture is an attempt to unify 15 different chat platforms, like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Slack, Twitter, Discord, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger, into a single app for $10/month
  • The biggest draw though is iMessage, which is only officially available on Apple devices
    • They get around this using “some trickery”, namely always-on software on a supported device to forward the messages from iMessage into a compatible format
    • If you have a Mac that you never turn off you’re set- you just install the Beeper Mac app to act as a bridge and away you go
    • If you don’t, then Beeper will apparently send subscribers a jailbroken iPhone with the Beeper app pre-installed
      • In a follow-up tweet, Migicovsky said that he has 50 old iPhone 4S’s at his desk ready to be used with Beeper
  • As convenient as all that sounds, if someone offered me $10/month to stay on the messaging platforms I already use I would take it in a heartbeat, so I’m clearly not the intended target
    • If it sounds good to you, you can sign up for an invitation at beeperhq.com (make sure to let them know who sent you!)

Brave is officially the first browser to support peer-to-peer websites

  • Using the IPFS protocol (compared to HTTP), it makes loading webpages work similar to BitTorrent by using data from available peers instead of always referring back to the main web server
  • It could mean a more resilient internet with lower hosting costs, but it could also mean higher costs for people browsing and a greater potential for malicious intervention

China’s US Embassy is the latest political entity to have their Twitter account suspended, thanks to a tweet dehumanizing Uighur muslim women and calling them “baby-making machines”, violating Twitter’s policies

  • The tweet has been made unavailable, but Twitter requires account owners to manually delete tweets that violate its rules before unlocking accounts

After repeated rounds of blowback, WhatsApp is now delaying the privacy policy changes that will have them sharing data with Facebook without any kind of opt-out mechanism until May

  • We’ll have to see if this helps the platform regain ground after Signal and Telegram have grown so much since the initial announcement, but hopefully this marks another change in the public’s willingness to hand their info to Facebook without a second thought

Following the removal of Parler from the App Store, non-profit group “Coalition for a Safer Web” has sued Apple to get Telegram banned from the platform as well

  • The group accuses Telegram of hosting conversations of “white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other hateful content”, but unlike Parler which was founded to be a community for those types of extremists Telegram is somewhat interchangeable with any other messaging platform so I don’t see this getting too far

Posting To YouTube again!

  • Last episode we posted was 229
  • New Automation program to help Josh out
  • Josh is also going to try to live stream on tuesdays

This Week In Gaming History

January 16 – 2013 – Zamboni – Browser

  • Google presented a small game on their front page.
    • In celebration of the 112th birthday of Frank Zamboni, the creator of the world’s first self-propelled ice-resurfacing machine which is commonly known as a Zamboni
  • The player controls an ice-cleaning machine and needs to clean up after a group of kids, hockey-players, or skaters (all of them together in later levels).
    • With each level the number of persons onscreen increases and cleaning up takes more time, also once in several levels the size of the screen itself increases.
    • The player may collect items left behind such as fuel cans (needed to refuel the Zamboni), ice cones (for points), and coffee pots (for a speed boost).
    • There are also banana peels which will cause the player loose control over the machine for a couple of seconds.

January 17 – 2014 – Mario Party: Island Tour – Nintendo 3DS

  • Mario Party: Island Tour continues the Mario Party franchise after the 2007 Mario Party DS release and takes it to the Nintendo 3DS.
    • One can play with any off the previous Mario Party DS characters such as Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Wario, Daisy, Waluigi, Toad and the new character Boo.
    • A secret ninth character can be unlocked by playing through one of the available game modes.
  • The game is played on seven different boards (6 standard and 1 unlockable) and features 81 different mini-games in the so-called Party Mode, which also can be played “without the use of a game board in the Mini-Game Mode.
    • Island Tour also features AR and supports Streetpass, which can be used in the third mode: StreetPass Minigames.
    • The fourth and final mode is Bowser’s Tower in which players must play through 30 floors of minigames, with every 5 floors featuring a boss battle.
  • The general concept of playing the game is still the same and does not much differ, compared to its previous iteration of Mario Party DS

January 18 – 2011 – LittleBigPlanet 2 – Playstation 3

  • When an inter-dimensional vacuum cleaner called the Negativatron appears, Sackboy must step back into action, alongside Larry Da Vinci and The Alliance, to save Craftworld and Avalonia.
  • LittleBigPlanet 2 is a side-scrolling platformer like it’s predecessor, once again working on three plains which the player can move between, and allowing the player to create their own levels.
    • This sequel includes more sophisticated customisation tools which allow more options for more complex user-generated content.
    • These features include, and are not limited to, the Controlinator, which allows one to assign action triggers to buttons on the controller, as well as Sackbots, AI-controlled sack-people.

January 19 – 2015 – HuniePop – Linux, Mac, Windows

  • HuniePop is a dating simulation including visual novel aspects and minor RPG elements.
    • The player controls a character who attempted to pick up Kyo, a magic love fairy in disguise.
    • Because of your pathetic attempts she decides to help you conquer hearts.
  • The game contains eight girls as well as some secret, unlockable ones.
    • There are more than twenty locations and more than 250 items such as foods, drinks, gifts, accessories and panties.
    • The girls can also be customized in their appearance with unlockable items.
    • The dating part of the game incorporates a match-three puzzle game with upgradable traits/stats.

January 20 – 1992 – Evander Holyfield’s “Real Deal” Boxing – Genesis

  • Evander Holyfield’s “Real Deal” Boxing is a boxing simulation.
    • Holyfield is the only licensed boxer, the rest are fictitious.
    • Rather than a fanciful approach like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, the developers went for a more strategic simulation.
    • The game is played from a pseudo-3D side view with moving around the ring handled by scrolling the backdrop and moving the ropes. A top down camera is shown at the top of the screen.
  • Players can either play a quick exhibition match or fight their way through the career mode, using a created boxer to work their way up the 30-boxer ranking list until they fight Holyfield himself.
    • During character creation, players can choose the fighter’s color of skin, trunks and hair, haircut, dominant hand and stats emphasis. Between matches, career mode offers various exercises to assign the boxer to improve his stats.
  • During the fights, besides an energy bar, the fighters have a head and a torso damage meter.
    • This meters are images of their head and torso, which become gradually grey, from top to bottom, as they are hit.
    • If one of these meters becomes totally grey, it will start blinking, warning that it the fighter takes some more punches on that area, he will loose the fight by TKO.
    • Being knocked down three times in a round also leads to a TKO.
    • During the rounds’ breaks, fighters regain strength as the girl with the round sign passes along their sides.
  • Fighters can perform three types of punches: jabs, hooks and uppers, which can be aimed at the opponent’s head or torso.
    • Fighters can also taunt their opponents.
    • If by some reason the fighters avoid to fight, the spectators will start to hiss at them.
    • To keep the spectators pleased, the fighters must keep punching each other on a regular basis.

January 21 – 1998 – Resident Evil 2 – PlayStation – North America

  • Plot:
    • Even though Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine were able to destroy the Umbrella corporation’s undead monsters in the original Resident Evil, Umbrella’s experiments with the T-virus continued unhindered.
    • Claire Redfield, the younger sister of Chris, and Leon Kennedy, a rookie cop on his first day of the job, arrive in the sleepy midwestern town of Raccoon City only to find the city in flaming ruins due to the inhabitants having been transformed into mindless flesh-eating freaks.
    • Although Claire and Leon team up, they are soon separated and trapped inside the city by a car crash.
    • Seeking refuge within the Raccoon City police station, each character must find a way to escape from the nightmare while solving the mystery of what happened to Raccoon City.
  • Besides the zombie population (which is much more diverse than the original, including teenage girl zombies, maniac cop zombies, and even melting naked zombies), Claire and Leon will also have to deal with a variety of freakish mutants including giant poisonous spiders, walking venus-fly-traps, and speedy wall-crawling Lickers.
    • Each character will also be pursued by one seemingly unstoppable foe: a horrific and constantly evolving man-monster known as the “G-Type” (Leon’s Scenario) , or a taciturn but inhumanly powerful Umbrella agent who is nonetheless saddled with the rather quaint name of Mr. X (Claire’s Scenario).
  • Like the previous game in the series, Resident Evil 2 is a 3D action-adventure using three-dimensional polygon characters over two-dimensional pre-rendered backgrounds, with the action viewed through a variety of cinematic fixed camera angles in each room.
    • Just like the original Resident Evil, players can choose to play as one of two possible characters.
    • Each character goes through the same initial scenario, but with differences in the type of weaponry they find and the people they meet along the way.
    • Leon will team up with a mysterious woman calling herself Ada Wong, while Claire will find herself charged with protecting a little girl named Sherry Birkin.
  • Unlike the original Resident Evil, beating the game for the first time unlocks a second scenario to be played with the character you didn’t choose, with new locations, maps, enemies, a longer and more climactic ending.
    • Your actions in the first scenario can also affect the outcome of certain events in the second scenario.
    • Additionally ammo and healing items are more plentiful than in the original game, although you still aren’t given enough bullets to kill every enemy you meet.

January 22 – 1997 – Carnage Heart – PlayStation

  • Carnage Heartis a video game for the PlayStation, developed by Artdink.
    • Its gameplay is a mecha-based, turn-based strategy game, where the player takes the role of a commander in a war fought by robots.
    • The robots, called Overkill Engines (OKEs), cannot be directly controlled in battle; they must be programmed beforehand to behave in a certain way under certain conditions using a flow diagram system.
  • The game features a fairly complex negotiation system that allows the player to purchase, research, or upgrade new equipment and parts.
    • The OKEs themselves can be upgraded as well through this system, allowing for extended use of the same model for as long as possible.
    • The various companies involved in the negotiation process can also provide valuable information about the purchases of the enemy, allowing the player to better plan for the next advance in enemy technology.
  • To aid the player in learning the gameplay, Carnage Heart was packaged with an unusually large amount of materials for a console game of the time: in addition to the game disc and above-average length manual, the jewel case contained a 58-page strategy guide and a tutorial disc with a 30-minute, fully voice-guided overview of most aspects of the game.

Tidbits

  • Some clever users of the dating app Bumble apparently took advantage of the app’s political filters to gather information on the insurgents during the January 6th US Capitol riot, taking screenshots and soliciting photos from people that had broken in to the building in order to send them to the FBI
  • Apple is rumoured to be developing their own standalone VR headset, a la Oculus Quest, expected to release some time in 2022, and based on the performance of the new M1 Macs I’m pretty excited
  • Apple is once again extending the free Apple TV+ trial that customers got with new devices, so anyone with a subscription that was set to expire before June can now keep using it until July 2021
  • Career stats from Halo 2, 3, ODST, and Reach, along with the entire halo.bungie.net website, will go offline on February 9th
    • The data hasn’t been updated since 343 took control of the Halo franchise so it makes sense, but it’s a little disappointing that they didn’t try to fold it into the Master Chief Collection and keep it around

Would you like to know more?

  • You might recall about three years back when Elon Musk’s “The Boring Company” decided to sell “Not a Flamethrower”s. Who could have known they could cause legal issues for the owners?
    • TechCrunch put together a great article detailing some of the problems that buyers have had, from one man stuck in an Italian prison to another served with a search warrant by armed officers in his own home
    • Though functionally similar to propane torches for melting ice or applying roofing materials, giving it a rifle stock and pistol grip has rightfully made many people concerned when it comes to deciding if these “Not a Flamethrower”s are weapons
    • London’s rapid response team dedicated to tackling gun crime actually tracked shipments as they entered the country, and up to 1,000 purchasers in Switzerland had theirs confiscated and were issued fines

 

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Thank you so much to Dalton. Our longest Patron, we love ya bud, and I hope you are like OMG me? When and if you eventually read this.

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PS2J 330 News – Modern Gaming Art

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Star Wars Battlefront II: Celebration Edition

      • 2017
      • Third and first person action shooter followup to the Battlefront reboot of 2015 that has you fighting on the ground and among the stars across a variety of maps in the Star Wars universe, with both the multiplayer Battlefield-style gameplay we’re used to in the series as well as a single-player campaign
      • The Celebration Edition bundles it along with a large collection of aesthetic customization content that was available through in-game purchase, all the way from launch up to and including The Rise of Skywalker

CES 2021 highlights

  • Razer showed off Project Hazel, clear futuristic face masks that qualify as N95 respirators, have a good silicone liner to prevent leakage or foggy glasses, and amplify your voice to help keep speech from sounding muffled
  • They also have the Project Brooklyn gaming chair, a bucket seat with an integrated keyboard tray and 60” curved display for more immersion
  • Panasonic has an AR HUD system for vehicles that use eye tracking and projected images on the windshield to show an intelligent overlay including alerts and directions lined up with real-world objects
  • LG showcased their new rollable display tech, leading to scroll-like devices with a thick rounded edge and an adjustable display size
  • Brink Bionics has the Impulse Neuro-Controller, a glove that can detect your intention to click your mouse 80ms before your finger moves
  • ColdSnap wants to be the Keurig of ice cream, aiming to provide pod-based soft-serve made to order in under 120 seconds
  • Petpuls is an AI driven smart dog collar that will decipher up to five different emotions (happy, anxious, angry, sad, relaxed) and track your pet’s activity and sleep
  • And Vuzix has some microLED smart glasses that actually look like something humans would wear, with the added benefit of cellular connectivity, noise-cancelling microphones, stereo audio, and a 3D HUD shown across both lenses

Lucasfilm Games is shifting their entire development strategy, opening the doors to more studios and ending EA’s monopoly on the Star Wars IP

  • The first big news to come from this is that they’re collaborating with Ubisoft on a story-driven open-world Star Wars game, which will be led by Massive Entertainment
    • You might have seen their name on things like Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Far Cry 3, and Tom Clancy’s The Division 1/2
  • They went on to say that their relationship with EA isn’t completely ending though, which makes sense after the great success of Star Wars: Squadrons, and the middling success of Fallen Order
    • This is some good news for Reddit commenters who brought up a great point- why hasn’t Respawn taken their Titanfall chops and made a Republic Commando title?
    • Though that just reminds me how the Clone Wars TV show put a hard stop on the Republic Commando / Imperial Commando books, and makes me a little sad
  • But on to more hope- apparently Lucasfilm Games will also be working with Todd Howard, MachineGames (the team behind the new Wolfenstein titles), and Bethesda on an upcoming Indiana Jones title as well!
  • I’m really looking forward to what Lucasfilm kicking their gaming division into gear will mean for the next few years of releases

CD Projekt’s co-founder released an explanation this week of exactly what happened with Cyberpunk 2077’s development and release

  • In the video statement he defended the development teams and said that the decisions lay solely on his and the board’s shoulders, and promised they would work to regain the trust of gamers
  • Apparently the game was initially developed for PC and then ported to consoles, which led to many of the issues running on PS4 and Xbox One as they underestimated the difficulty of the port
    • And the big reason why review keys for console weren’t sent out until right before release was just because they were still working hard trying to iron out all the issues that they had found
  • The path forward
    • More updates are coming with bug fixes, updates and improvements
    • Once the biggest fixes are out they’ll be releasing free DLC packs aimed at the first half of the year, and the PS5 and Xbox Series optimization updates in the second half
  • So all told we should have the Cyberpunk we were hoping for before the end of 2021, which is something at least. Whether people will start trusting the developers again will remain to be seen

Citing concerns over censorship, a North Idaho internet provider blocked Facebook and Twitter this week

  • For anyone who isn’t aware, Twitter and Facebook banned Trump from their platforms due to violations of their terms of service after he incited a riot that invaded the US capitol building in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results
    • Keep in mind that this is completely legal, and that the First Amendment only protects speech from being limited by the government
  • According to emails sent by “Your T1 WIFI” to its customers the ISP determined that this was censorship of their customers and information, so they decided to block access to the sites as of Wednesday
    • Your T1 WIFI stated that about 2/3 of its customers had called in asking the sites to be blocked because of these concerns, so the next logical step was to censor block the sites from all customers
  • They’ve since walked back the decision and made it an opt-in process instead, but the damage may already be done- a spokesperson for the Washington Governor’s office said that the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division would be looking in to the matter because of Net Neutrality violations, which forbid broadband internet providers from blocking lawful content and services

In related news, the right-wing social media site Parler has gone dark after being pulled from not only the Apple and Google app stores but also the Amazon web hosting services that the site was running on

  • Apparently Parler was basically chock full of nazis, radical extremists, and terrorists, with much of the content focused on inciting and coordinating violence or other illegal activity
    • Daring Fireball described it as “4chan with rightwing celebrity endorsements”
    • For example Parler investor Dan Bongino, a Fox News commentator and former NYPD police officer, said in a Parler post that the company was “not done with Apple and Google” and encouraged users to “Stay tuned to hear what’s coming.” One user replied: “It would be a pity if someone with explosives training were to pay a visit to some AWS Data Centers – the location of which are public knowledge.”
  • All of this went against the terms of service of the various platforms it was connected to, so therefore it was kicked out even after being given warnings and deadlines in which to implement some kind of moderation plan
    • As it turns out, Parler was actually even in direct violation of its own terms of service
  • Some have taken to screaming first amendment and censorship, but I cannot stress this enough- freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences
  • And those consequences will be coming- apparently in the wake of the US Capitol riot a researcher began archiving every Parler post to create a lasting public record for future researchers to sift through
    • Hacker @donk_enby pulled dozens of terabytes of content, including raw unprocessed photos and videos that include metadata like the exact GPS coordinates at which they were recorded

This Week In Gaming History

January 9 – 2000 – Mario Party 2 – N64 (North America)

  • Mario and a range of well known Nintendo characters, including Yoshi, Bowser, Luigi, and Wario return for some more party action.
  • The second edition includes 5 new boards, each with a specific theme, such as Space Land, Western Land, Horror Land, and Mystery Land.
    • Each board includes unique attributes in relation to the theme, but the main goal is the same: complete the board game over a certain amount of moves and be the player to have the most coins and/or stars at the end.
  • The single player story mode allows one person and 3 CPU controlled players to play each board.
    • Once you play a specific mini-game (64 in all), they become available to purchase using the coins you collected in your games to play anytime.
    • Multiplayer allows 2 to 4 people to play the game.

January 10 – 1997 – Obsidian – Windows

  • The plot of this Myst-influenced 5 CD adventure game involves issues such as nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
    • Fortunately, the bundled strategy guide explains the basics of these subjects.
    • Gameplay is linear and largely based around puzzles.
  • Obsidian’s had an imaginative advertisement campaign.
    • Combining both printed ads as well as television spots, the campaign was unusual as it portrayed several common situations twisted in a way that defied all laws of physics, nature and logic followed by the tagline “Your rules do not apply here”.
      • For example: a printed ad showing an empty room lit by an overhead lamp, only the lamp produces darkness instead of light.
    • Yet the most impressive ad was the famed “egg” TV spot, which featured a guy dropping an egg to the floor with unexpected results.
    • This commercial became a particular object of cult among publicity buffs and won 3 Gold Clio awards and became a permanent feature on the New York Museum of Modern Art, as well as being a regular on TV commercial specials, and a runner-up for a Cannes Golden Lion award.

January 11 – 2005 – Resident Evil 4 – GameCube

  • Plot:m
    • Picking up six years after Resident Evil 2, the fourth game in the series follows former cop (now US agent) Leon S. Kennedy to Europe on a top secret mission to investigate the disappearance of the president’s daughter Ashley.
    • As Leon encounters unimaginable horrors, he must find out who or what is behind everything.
    • Old friends…and enemies…lurk around every corner as Leon attempts to find out who is truly behind the kidnapping of the president’s daughter.
  • Resident Evil 4 is a major change from the previous installments.
    • Instead of a fixed third person perspective, the game features a new “behind the back” movement camera angle and an “over the shoulder” aiming feature that allows players to control their gun movement for specific body part hits.
    • It features a brand new AI system and more open environments that allow enemies to work together to capture and corner Leon.
    • Enemies are now humans, which allows them to climb up ladders, open doors, and use weapons throughout the game.
  • The entire item system has also been revamped, so that smaller items no longer require an entire item space to hold.
    • Instead, items take up blocks of space in a briefcase according to their real life size, to allow for many more items and weapons.
    • Leon can collect treasure from enemies or from the surrounding area, and visit the infamous “merchant” to purchase bigger briefcases, treasure maps, weapons upgrades, and powerful weapons such as the one-shot RPG.
    • There is also the Mercenaries from Resident Evil 3, which allows the player to play survival scenarios as character such as Hunk and even Albert Wesker himself.
  • Development:
    • The earliest version of the game was announced for the PS2 under Resident Evil 2 with director Hideki Kamiya.
    • This build was eventually cancelled as a Resident Evil installment and became the title known as Devil May Cry.
    • Eventually, development was moved to the Gamecube console and another build emerged.
    • This was the first version to feature Leon from RE2. The game’s main menace was to sport a hook on one of its hands, and the logo for the game reflected this (this can still be seen in the final logo).
    • More versions were created and cancelled before Shinji Mikami took over and transformed the title into what it is today.
    • Of all the builds developed, only one of them was never unveiled to the public (it was the one that was being worked on right before Mikami took over).
    • Early in the development stages the game’s setting was Japan, not Europe.

January 12 – 2016 – That Dragon, Cancer – Windows, Mac, Ouya

  • That Dragon, Cancer is an autobiographical and crowd-funded game created with a small team and based on the experience of the couple Ryan Green and Amy Green, who lost their son Joel Evan Green to cancer.
    • The game consists of fourteen interactive sequences that chronicle their time with Joel, incorporating their thoughts and experiences, and voiced by themselves and their other children.
    • It represents a love letter to their son and a way to immortalize him.
    • Joel was diagnosed with an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor when he was twelve months old, leading to terminal cancer, but he went on to live for four more years until he passed away in 2014.
  • Each scene shows a different moment of their time together with Joel, both the highs and the lows.
    • Scenes are often abstract or involve metaphorical interpretations of situations and are played from a first-person or a third-person perspective with small amounts of interaction and exploration.
    • Sometimes there are choices for the player or optional parts that can be explored or examined.
    • There are scenes at the pond, playing with a duck, in the playground, the hospital and so on.
    • Scenes show both the positive moments such as Joel playing or the conversations with the other children, but also the couple when they argue, the moment of the first diagnosis, the conflict between science and faith and so on.
    • A part of the crowd-funded contributions also involves messages and art incorporated in the game.
  • Along with the game, a documentary called Thank You for Playing was filmed, documenting the game’s development and the last years of Joel’s life.
    • It was released in 2016. The game was released on what would have been Joel’s seventh birthday.

January 13 – 2004 – Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel – Xbox, PS2

  • Setting:
    • In a post-apocalyptic future, a society known as the Brotherhood of Steel is born, wielding powerful weapons and armor from the time before the war, they seek to bring some form of order to the wastelands of what used to be the United States.
    • As a new member(s) to the Brotherhood, you’ll soon find yourself separated from your comrades and forced to contend with a variety of missions and challenges alone.
    • Radscorpions, Super-Mutants and Deathclaws are all in the Brotherhood’s way, and bringing an end to their tyranny will certainly make the wasteland a safer place.
  • Brotherhood of Steel is an action game set in the Fallout universe.
    • The Brotherhood members are well armed and carry full clips of ammo (which does run out).
    • New weapons of various nature can be found and equipped to bring new tactics.
    • Shooting down enemies earns experience points and these points are used to improve the attributes of various individual skills.
    • Additionally, your character will have to contend with finding keys and other objects, protecting NPCs and jumping over bottomless pits.
  • Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel features a product placement for the real life Bawls energy drink.
    • This may be jarring to fans of the Fallout series, who are used to having Nuka-Cola as the post-apocalyptic drink of choice.
  • Fan response to this game was so overwhelmingly negative that Interplay actually shut down the official Brotherhood of Steel message board.
    • It is so hated by the Fallout fanbase, the game’s section on the No Mutants Allowed forums (one of the biggest Fallout forum) is called: “Fallout: Piece of Shit (PS2, XBOX, My Lower Intestine)”.

January 14 – 1999 – EA pulls Tiger Woods 99 on Playstation for bootlegging South Park

  • Company recalls PSX version of Tiger Woods 99.
  • A bootleg episode of Southpark was found on the CD in normally unused space.
  • The file was only readable via a PC, and was invisible to the PSX console.
  • Recall was issued since Southpark is offensive to some people.
  • Roughly 100,000 copies were affected.

January 15 – 2002 – Mobile Suit Gundam: Zeonic Front – PS2

  • Based on the Mobile Suit Gundam anime series.
    • Ride with the bad guys as you battle Earth Federation forces for independence.
    • Take control of three mobile suit teams. Use strategy tactics to infiltrate federation bases.
    • Use a wide variety of Mobile suits equipped to kill.
    • Strategically set your route to carry out mission objectives successfully

Tidbits

  • Samsung unveiled their new Galaxy S21 series of phones with edge-to-edge display, 120hz refresh rate, and 8K video recording
    • The Ultra model also brings a larger display and S Pen functionality for people that miss the Note series
    • Unfortunately it looks like not even Samsung staff are that into their hardware, with tweets promoting the release being marked from “Twitter for iPhone”
  • WhatsApp is now in a rush to reassure people that some of their data is still safe after changing its terms and privacy policy to include significant data sharing with Facebook
    • Backlash from those changes saw Signal and Telegram hitting the top of the free app charts on iPhone as people found other options for messaging
    • They went out of their way to list the things they don’t share like private messages, call logs, and your location, but doesn’t mention what they do share like device usage, IP address, and unspecified “other information”
  • Apple announced a set of new major projects this week as part of its $100M Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of colour
    • This includes an innovation and learning hub both in Atlanta and online, an Apple Developer Academy in Detroit, and venture capital funding for entrepreneur POC’s
  • Roku has purchased Quibi’s old content library of about 75 shows and documentaries for well under $100M according to the Wall Street Journal, giving them exclusive rights through to the end of the year and shared streaming rights through 2027
    • Roku will be offering the content for free with ads, which likely means that a lot more people will see these shows now than would have otherwise

 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

Thank you so much to Dalton. Our longest Patron, we love ya bud, and I hope you are like OMG me? When and if you eventually read this.

And thanks to the rest of our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
And talk to us in the comments!

PS2J News 329 – 2020 New Game Plus

Free Games

  • Epic Games
    • Crying Suns
      • 2019
      • Story-rich tactical rogue-lite that puts you in the role of a space fleet commander as you explore a mysteriously fallen empire, uncovering the truth about it and yourself
  • Twitch
    • Overcooked
      • 2016
      • A co-op party game where you and up to three friends work together in a kitchen to prepare meals, working around fires, shifting floors, and other obstacles
    • Sword Legacy Omen
      • 2018
      • Turn-based tactical RPG in a re-imagined King Arthur mythos where you play a vengeful knight in search of the long-lost Excalibur
    • Bridge Constructor Playground
      • 2014
      • Classic physics-based bridge building puzzle gameplay, but now with no fixed budget and next to no limitations on building materials
    • Alt Frequencies
      • 2019
      • An audio mystery set in a time loop. Record, rewind time and broadcast snippets of radio shows to expose radio hosts, conspiracy theorists, and politicians.
    • Along the Edge
      • 2016
      • Interactive visual novel set in the European countryside, where your choices impact the main character’s personality and appearance.
    • When Ski Lifts Go Wrong
      • 2019
      • Physics-based construction puzzler similar to Bridge Constructor, but this time you’re building different contraptions to carry skiers up the slopes with added control over the riders
    • Void Bastards
      • 2019
      • Science-fiction roguelike first person shooter inspired by BioShock and System Shock 2. Can you lead the misfit prisoners of the Void Ark through the derelict spaceships and myriad dangers of the Sargasso Nebula?
  • Playstation
    • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
      • 2018
      • Action adventure game continuing the narrative from Rise of the Tomb Raider, following Lara Croft as she races to stop a Mayan apocalypse that she has unleashed
    • GreedFall
      • 2018
      • Action RPG set in a 17th-century style fantasy world where you explore a remote island alongside other settlers, mercenaries, treasure hunters, and invaders, with combat, diplomacy, and stealth
    • Maneater (PS5)
      • 2020
      • Open world action RPG where you start as a shark pup tasked with surviving the harsh world while eating your way up the ecosystem
      • People who recently purchased Maneater on either PS4 or PS5 have reportedly gotten automatic refunds from Sony, giving them free access to the PS4 version, but otherwise it’s only free on the PS5
  • Xbox
    • Little Nightmares
      • 2017
      • A dark, whimsical side-scrolling platformer that will confront you with childhood fears as you escape The Maw- a vast, mysterious vessel inhabited by corrupted souls looking for their next meal.
    • Bleed 2
      • 2017
      • Side-scrolling arcade action platformer featuring air-dodging, bullet-reflecting, and tons of bosses, like a 2D Bayonetta bullet-hell
    • The King of Fighters XIII

      • 2010
      • A significantly modified entry in the King of Fighters fighting game series that removed the guard attack, critical counter, and clash systems, as well as the dynamic zooming camera, in favour of new enhancements to super moves, Hyper Drive mode, and Drive Cancel.

 

Facebook and Twitter finally locked Trump’s accounts this week after his disinformation and incitement led to a riot that breached the US capitol building

  • After years of being complicit with Trump’s hate speech under the guise of public interest, all it took was armed police having to retake the US Senate, killing four and arresting 52, for these platforms to recognize that freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences, nor does it mean you are entitled to a platform or an audience
  • This is what you get when you have websites dedicated to driving engagement with extreme, polarizing content under the guise of news or social interaction

 

A couple of sizeable cyberattacks came to light involving software development and network management tools, impacting everyone using tools from Jetbrains and SolarWinds (including the US government)

  • Security researchers apparently told SolarWinds that anyone could access their update server using the password ‘solarwinds123’, but since no action was taken hackers used that to push malicious updates to their software
  • Among the targets were dozens of email accounts and government encryption keys, showing pretty definitively that we can’t trust them with the encryption backdoors that they’ve been demanding for years

 

Apple stealth-dropped the new AirPods Max, wireless over-ear headphones with all the bells and whistles including a premium price tag

  • The stainless steel headphones bring the AirPods Pro featureset to over-ear sound quality, and apparently they sound great, but they also cost $780 CAD
    • They make premium noise-cancelling headphones from Bose and Sony look downright affordable at half the price
  • They also come with a bizarre headphone-cozy to cover up the earcups and put them into sleep mode, but it’s a soft case that only covers the earcups with minimal protection
  • Also, if you want to use them wired instead of wireless you need to buy a separate lightning to 3.5mm cable specifically from Apple, and unlike competitors like Bose they won’t work wired if the battery is dead

 

US state and federal governments are suing Facebook in twin antitrust suits, looking to split up their monopoly over our digital lives including separating out Instagram and WhatsApp

  • Considering in the 6 years since purchasing WhatsApp the messaging went from “privacy is coded into our DNA” to “you can get some neat features if you let us connect your data” to now “if you want to use WhatsApp your data will be used for advertising and Facebook products”, I think they’ve got a pretty good shot
  • It would be great if they would pry Oculus out of there as well, but I haven’t seen mention of that anywhere

 

Cyberpunk 2077 had a rough launch, leading to refunds and even being pulled from digital stores after running abysmally on previous-generation consoles

  • And I do have to take back some of what I’ve said about the game- directors and marketing claimed the game was done months ago and the delays were caused by polish, but it just straight up wasn’t done. They needed more time, not more deadlines
    • Apparently even though the next-gen version won’t be released till later this year they never showed it running on the Xbox One or PS4 before launch (you know, the consoles that it was released for), leading to a lot of disappointment when people received the game and saw that it looked so much worse than they expected
    • CD Projekt Red released a statement apologizing for that, saying they should have spent more time making it run better
  • Hopefully they can continue to develop it into the game it should have been released as, leading up to its actual PS5/Xbox Series launch

 

Facebook’s begun using full-page newspaper ads to slam Apple’s upcoming privacy measures, claiming they’re standing up for small businesses, titled “Apple vs the free internet”

  • Taking the Epic Games approach, Facebook’s defending their practices by holding up a small-business strawman and saying that they just want to protect the little guy by getting to do whatever they want
  • The ads say that Apple’s changes will limit small and medium sized businesses ability to run personalized ads, leading to less bang for their buck, and that’s really all Facebook’s worried about. Not the fact that Facebook won’t have as much access to data they harvest on everyone to sell those very same ads. 
  • This is very much the same problem that law enforcement is having with encryption and privacy- they’ve had free access to look through peoples’ windows for so long, they can’t stand the idea of people installing blinds and being allowed to close them if they want to
  • The privacy measure that has them up in arms, by the way, is just a popup asking if you want to allow an app to track your activity across other apps and websites. There’s a spot where they can explain why they need it, and buttons to either “Ask App not to Track” or “Allow”. That’s it.
    • Maybe instead of wailing and tearing their shirts over this, crying to businesses that they have no choice but to comply with the tracking transparency features, Facebook should be convincing users why they should click Allow

 

Popular video conferencing app Zoom continues to be awful, now accused by the US Justice Department of suppressing calls about Tiananmen Square at China’s behest

  • According to the Washington Post, Zoom executives worked with Chinese law enforcement to monitor calls both within and outside of China for discussions of political and religious topics deemed unacceptable by China’s Communist Party
  • The monitoring lead to disrupting video calls, terminating accounts, and delivering personal information about identified users to government officials in China
  • This proves pretty definitively that they don’t use encryption, your calls are not private, and we as a global community need to stop using Zoom

 

These Weeks in Gaming History

December 8 – 1997 – Command & Conquer: Sole Survivor – Windows

  • This game is strictly multiplayer game.
    • It broke records with the fact that there can be 51 players playing it at the same time.
    • Every player has only one unit, and only one is to be the sole survivor.
    • Otherwise, the graphic is same as in original Command & Conquer DOS and GOLD version, with some extra units as a difference.

December 9 – 1995 – WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness – DOS

  • WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness is a fantasy themed real-time strategy game and sequel to WarCraft: Orcs & Humansset on the world of Azeroth.
    • With the conquest of the kingdom of Azeroth in the first war, the orcs are now preparing for an invasion of Lordaeron and conquer the remaining human, dwarven and elvisch realms.
    • In an effort to counter this invasion the humans, elves and dwarves formed an alliance in the hope to avert the same fate the kingdom of Azeroth met.
  • The game comes with many new features such as fighting not only over land but also over sea and air, SVGA 640×480 resolution graphics with many newly-rendered buildings and units, multiplayer-support with up to eight players, as well as a Red Book audio soundtrack, and a scenario editor that allows players to design and create their own scenarios.
    • The editor requires Windows 3.1 or greater, even though WarCraft II is a DOS-based game.

December 10 – 2020 – Cyberpunk 2077 – PS4, Xbox One, Windows

  • Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world, action-adventure story set in Night City, a megalopolis obsessed with power, glamour and body modification.
    • You play as V, a mercenary outlaw going after a one-of-a-kind implant that is the key to immortality.
    • You can customize your character’s cyberware, skillset and playstyle, and explore a vast city where the choices you make shape the story and the world around you.
  • Become a cyberpunk, an urban mercenary equipped with cybernetic enhancements and build your legend on the streets of Night City.
  • Enter the massive open world of Night City, a place that sets new standards in terms of visuals, complexity and depth.
  • Take the riskiest job of your life and go after a prototype implant that is the key to immortality.

December 11 – 2001 – Shadow Hearts – Playstation 2 North America

  • Yuri Hyuga is a young harmonixer: a man who possesses the power of transforming into demons.
    • He meets Alice Elliot, a young British girl whose father was brutally murdered, and who is chased by a mysterious warlock who calls himself Roger Bacon.
    • Yuri and Alice travel through the pre-war China, dealing with demons, evil magicians, and Japanese occupation army.
    • The journey eventually takes them and their friends to Europe, where they have to confront their ultimate enemy, but also uncover the truth about their own pasts.
  • Shadow Hearts is a Japanese-style role-playing game set in a historical period (China and Europe of 1913, one year before the World War I) with plenty of supernatural elements mixed in.
    • The game shares plot-related and stylistic traits with Koudelka, to which it can be considered a sequel.
    • The player navigates a party of characters (up to three active combatants) over pre-rendered backgrounds.
    • Combat with regular enemies occurs randomly. During battles, characters use regular attacks or cast spells.
    • In addition to the regular health (HP) and magic points (MP), each character also has a special SP (“sanity points”) bar.
      • Sanity bar is gradually depleted in combat; when characters run out of SP, they become insane and hence uncontrollable, until their sanity is restored with items.
  • The game implements traditional turn-based combat style for the battles, adding to it a feature called Judgment Ring.
    • Every time a character performs an attack, a ring with a spinning arrow appears on the top of the screen.
    • If the player stops the arrow when it is over a critical area on the ring, the attack will be more powerful.
    • However, missing the larger hit area will cancel the attack completely.
    • Various types of attacks have rings of various difficulty; usually, the more powerful a spell is, the smaller the hit area is on the ring.
    • The Judgment Ring is also used for other purposes; it can help the player reduce prices in stores, and is needed to solve several puzzles.
  • All characters except Yuri learn new abilities automatically when leveling up.
    • Due to his demon-fusion abilities, Yuri can collect soul energy and use it to acquire various fusion forms.
    • When Yuri transforms into a demon he gains unique abilities, and continues fighting with the party as a controllable character.
    • He also has to travel to a graveyard in his own mental realm from time to time, in order to face his own inner demons and clear Malice, negative vengeful energy the party accumulates by killing enemies.

December 12 – 2000- Star Wars: Episode I – Obi-Wan’s Adventures – Game Boy Color

  • Play as Obi-Wan through many levels of battle droids, similar in style to Jedi Power Battles.
    • You can use your lightsaber, blaster or the force to defeat the enemy and advance to the final showdown with Darth Maul.

December 13 – 1996 – Sonic Blast – Game Gear (Japan)

  • Sonic Blast was released for Game Gear in conjunction with Sonic 3D Blast (aka Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island) for Genesis/MD and Saturn.
    • It boasted similarly rendered character sprites and colorful backgrounds.
    • The game was yet another addition to the series, plus Sega had hoped it would be a boost to the dying Game Gear’s title selection at the time.
    • Brazilian based TecToy re-released the game for Sega Master System in 1997, a year after the initial release (while many may think this is a pirated title, TecToy is indeed licensed to produce and release games under the Sega name).

December 14 – 2017 – Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory – PS4, PS Vita (Japan)

  • Brand new title from the “Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth”.
    • Set in the near future, the line between the real and digital worlds is blurred, become a hacker and utilize computer viruses called Digimon to tackle the incidents caused by hostile hackers other Digimons.
  • Scan, raise, train and battle Digimon in classic turn-based gameplay!
    • 「Adventure」…Take on the role of a hacker within the cyber space and resolve the digital woes! Command Digimons and utilize your hacking skills!
    • 「Training」…Seek out Digimons and put them through intensive training before evolving into stronger breeds!
    • 「Battle」…Form your very own Digimon team for battle! Take on fights effortless with mastery of Digimon skills and elements at your disposal!
      • A total of 320 Digimon variants available and a wide range of brand new support skills effectively expands your battle arsenal.
  • Team battle simulation & quests such as the ”Domination Battle”, ”Territory Contest” etc. along with enhanced online gameplay elements are added as well.
  • With just this title, you would have access to all the gameplay elements ”Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth“ world could ever offer!
  • Main story from the previous title ”Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth“ included with cross-save features and special bring-over bonus available as well!
  • New players could fully enjoy the ”Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth“ series like any existing players too!

December 15 – 1992 – Batman Returns – DOS

  • Frigid winter winds swept over an already chilled Gotham City.
    • Random street crimes were running at an all-time high, despite the holidays.
    • Down below, in the city’s frozen sewers, Oswald Cobblepot, known as The Penguin, planned more mayhem and schemed the take over of the frightened metropolis.
    • His loyal army of missile-packing Penguin Commandos and the bizarre Red Triangle Circus Gang are energized by the evil genius of the web-footed orphan.
    • A desperate call to Batman goes up.
  • Batman Returns is an adventure game with fighting sequences, based on the movie of the same name.
    • Control Batman’s combat style, and help conduct relentless interrogations of The Penguins many allies.
    • Use the Batcave computer to input clues, analyze evidence, and review enemy bios.
    • You’re in charge of weapons, too.
    • Stock Batman’s Utility belt with enough heat to match the diverse fighting styles of The Penguin and cold-blooded, sewer-dwelling minions.

December 16 – 2003 – The Sims: Bustin’ Out – GameCube, PS2, XBox

  • The Sims: Bustin’ Out is the console sequel to The Sims and the second Sims game to appear on the major consoles.
    • Sims can now leave their house and visit all different kinds of locations.
  • In the mission-based Bust Out mode, the player starts at Mom’s house learning that evil Malcolm Langrabb is repossessing items from all the Sims homes.
    • Your job is to make enough money to buy back all the goods and eventually evict him from his own mansion.
    • The game also features an open-ended Freeplay mode.
  • Bustin’ Out’s big new features are the ability to visit and move between houses through the single player progression as well as an online multi-player mode for 2 people on the PS2.
    • The servers for the online mode have since been shut down.

December 17 – 2002 – Super Bubble Pop – GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Xbox

  • A combination of Tetris and Bust-A-Move, Super Bubble Pop has you controlling a character along the bottom of the playfield, who you use to throw bubbles of different colours towards the other side of the playfield.
    • As you throw them down the line, they will stack up in piles of six.
    • Linking three bubbles together will pop them (remove them from the field), and if there is a stack of six, the bubbles on the way will form a new stack in front of it.
  • The aim of the game is to remove all bubbles from the field, but there is another way of completing a game.
    • Tokens will appear during play, and by collecting enough, you can move on to the next round regardless of what you have on the playfield.

December 18 – 1998 – Star Craft: Brood War – Windows

  • StarCraft: Brood War is an add-on for StarCraft (requiring the full version of StarCraft) and a direct continuation of its story.
  • Plot:
    • With the demise of the Overmind on the Protoss home world at the end of the original game, the Zerg are left leaderless.
      • In an attempt to regain control, a number of cerebrates merge to form a new Overmind. Kerrigan, a human/Zerg hybrid however wants to take control of the Zerg herself.
      • The Protoss are evacuating what is left of their people from their ruined home world.
      • Meanwhile the United Earth Directorate (UED) have learned of the recent developments in the sector.
      • Fearing for the safety of Earth they sent an expeditionary fleet there to secure it.
  • Brood War brings several changes to the game, altering some gameplay aspects of the game, the most important change being the addition of new units.
    • The Terrans receive the Valkyrie, a craft with air-to-air fighting capabilities.
      • They also obtain the Medic, which can heal all non-mechanic units and, through upgrades, can use the Restore (remove all ailments on a unit) and Optical Flare (reduce the sight range of an enemy unit to 1) powers.
    • The Zergs receive the Lurker, obtained after mutating an Hydralisk, which can, and actually must, burrow to attack.
      • They also gain the Devourer, after mutation of a Mutalisk, an air-to-air unit, whose acid shots have notably the specificity of temporarily lowering the enemy defense, allowing other units to do increased damage.
    • The Protoss receive the Corsair, an air-to-air unit, which has access to the Disruption Web power (which, once cast, prevents targeted enemy units from firing outside of the web).
      • The Dark Templars, already seen in the original StarCraft are now a producable unit.
      • Their main strength lies in their permanent cloaking, allowing them to deliver their strong close combat attacks unharmed.
      • Additionally, in the same manner as two Templars can be merged as an Archon in StarCraft, two Dark Templars can now be merged to obtain a Dark Archon.
        • A Dark Archon has access to several powerful powers: Mind Control (giving permanent control of the targeted unit), Maelstrom (temporarily rendering all non-mechanical units within the target area unable to do anything) and Feedback (removes from a target unit the amount of energy it has available for special powers and inflicts it this amount as physical damage).
  • Besides the new units, some units already featured in StarCraft can now be upgraded in certain areas.
    • For instance, the Terran Goliath can have the range of its ground-to-air missiles be tremendously increased. Similarly, the Zerg Ultralisk can now receive speed and armor upgrades.
  • Other changes include a better AI and some alterations of the cost of certain units.
  • Three new campaigns are available.
    • In order, a Protoss campaign featuring 8 missions, a Terran campaign also featuring 8 missions and a Zerg campaign comprising 10 missions (plus a bonus mission if some requirements are met in mission 9).
  • The add-on also comes with about 100 multiplayer maps.

December 19 – 1994 – Blackthorne – DOS

  • The planet Tuul was a peaceful place, until the evil warrior Sarlac used the power of the Darkstone to take control.
    • Blackthorne’s father, the good King Vlaros, sent him to Earth just as his kingdom crumbled around him.
    • Now, twenty years later, Blackthorne is grown and must return to Tuul to free it from the clutches of Sarlac.
  • Blackthorne is a platform action game played from a side-view with non-scrolling backgrounds.
    • It has certain similarities to Prince of Persia, being set in maze-like environments and focusing on exploration and occasional puzzle-solving.
    • Blackthorne fights enemies by shooting at them.
    • His default weapon, a pump action shotgun, can be upgraded throughout the course of the game.
    • Various types of bombs can be used to damage enemies, blow open doors, or destroy generations.
    • Keys must be often found to gain access to new areas.

December 20 – 2013 – TRIHAYWBFRFYH (The Rapture Is Here And You Will Be Forcibly Removed From Your Home) – Browser, Mac, Windows

  • TRIHAYWBFRFYH is a short experimental game based on the theme of loneliness in the works of H. P. Lovecraft.
    • Set in a misty setting with fields, hills and forests, the protagonist experiences the last 20 minutes before rapture, the end of the world.
    • A large alien or celestial shape looms above while time counts down.
    • The player is free to explore the environment in any direction.
    • Four type of trails, marked by large vertical columns in a different colour, can be tracked.
    • When the character gets near one of them, part of a Lovecraft story is narrated and the coloured sphere appears somewhere else.
  • There are no clear goals in the game except to explore, listen to the stories and hear the electronic music drone on as the inevitable rapture gets near.
    • At regular intervals lightning may strike or an earthquake may occur.
    • Movement is done with four keys along with the mouse to look.
    • The secondary mouse button provides a zoomed-in view.

December 21 – 2000 – The Broken Land – Windows

  • An RPG game in the dungeon crawl style of Diablo.
    • The basic story involves you saving Heaven (not Earth) by re-combining the 5 pieces Heaven was split into by a battle with the gods and the forces of evil.
    • Game play is hack-and-slash with limited interaction with NPCs and merchants.
    • Characters have limited upgrades available to them as do the weapons and armor.
    • The game was released with no printed manual (it was included on the disk, but was inaccurate to the actual game play).

December 22 – 1998 – South Park – N64

  • A comet is heading toward South Park, causing many of the enemies from early seasons of the shows (including cows, aliens, and clones) to rise up and attack.
    • The player takes control of Kyle, Cartman, Kenny and Stan to fight through the town in a first-person perspective.
    • Features new dialogue from the original voice actors on the show.
  • Single player takes the form of a “Story” mode divided into five episodes and fifteen linear levels.
    • The player will face weak minions (which change based on the episode), plus occasional sub-bosses which will try to escape into town.
    • The final level is devoted to a unique boss fight.
    • Players use quirky weapons ranging from infinite yellow snowballs to cow launchers and toxic Terrance and Phillip dolls.
    • Every weapon has a secondary fire, and players switch between the four main characters when they switch weapons – each of the four kids shares a single life bar because of this.
    • The kids will comment on game actions as they occur, with heavier profanity censored with bleeps.
    • The kids will get angrier (and fouler) as their health depletes, until they finally give up on saving the town and go home.
  • A multiplayer mode lets players take characters and weapons they unlock in Story mode into small deathmatch arenas.
    • The PlayStation version supports 2 players, the N64 does 4, and the PC version allows players to go online to search for opponents through GameSpy.
    • Players can set standard victory options like knockouts or time limits.
    • Voice samples for multiplayer are also included, so the characters will make comments and taunts when hit.
  • Graphics are rendered in 3D, in a style approximating that of the show.
    • Draw distance is limited by a heavy fog, with varying severity based on the platform.
    • None of the environments are interactive, and only enemies respond to weapon hits.
    • The N64 version supports the Expansion Pak.

December 23 – 2015 – Who’s Your Daddy – Linux, Mac, PC

  • Who’s Your Daddy is a two-player versus game in which one player controls a bumbling father, while the other takes the role of his infant son.
    • The father is responsible for the baby’s well-being, and as such needs to work to baby-proof the house.
    • He can also perform chores that will grant special abilities that help him keep an eye on the child and any hazards.
    • However, the player controlling the baby is given the goal of taking his own life through whatever means are available, such as drowning himself or ingesting poisonous chemicals.
    • The baby wins if he is able to commit suicide, while the father wins if he is able to keep his son alive until time runs out.

December 24 – 2009 – Tuper Tario Tros. – Browser

  • Tuper Tario Tros. is a mash-up of two classic games: Super Mario Bros. and Tetris.
    • Inspired by the puzzle platforming in Lucidity, this is the first in a series of deep water experiments by the developers to test experimental game prototypes.
    • The game starts like a traditional Super Mario Bros. platformer clone with the classic elements, enemies and power-ups, until Mario encounters a wall that cannot be passed.
    • From that point on, it is possible to switch to Tetris-style gameplay with the press of a key to move around and rotate falling blocks to redesign the level, creating lines to make blocks disappear or building bridges to cross gaps.
  • While in Tetris mode, Mario cannot be moved, but the gameplay is not paused.
    • Enemies continue to move around and the screen also moves forward at a steady pace.
    • Blocks can also be used to crush enemies.
    • At the end of the level, there is an additional section where both modes need to be used quickly in succession to complete a time-limited end sequence.

December 25 – 2010 – Coffee Forever – Mac, Windows

  • In Coffee Forever, you must find coffee!
    • You begin on a screen that is mostly hidden.
    • You must move about the screen, revealing more of the screen and finding and gathering cups of coffee.
    • Once the minimum number of them are found, the level is complete.
    • You must find the minimum number of cups before your coffee meter, a.k.a. the timer, runs out.
    • Also, be careful as there are spikes on the playing field. If the time runs out or you hit a spike, you lose a life.
    • Lose all your lives and the game is over.

December 26 – 2001 – Final Fantasy X – PS2

  • Tidus is a young athlete who lives in a futuristic city of Zanarkand – “the city that never sleeps”.
    • He plays blitzball, a ball game where players throw the ball while flying around.
    • Suddenly, a terrible disaster happens.
    • A huge dark wave engulfs the city, spawning monsters.
    • Tidus comes in contact with the mysterious creature, and as a result finds himself in a different world, a thousand years into the future.
    • The civilization he is used to doesn’t exist any more.
    • He learns that the world he knew was destroyed by Sin, a terrible being that is believed to be indestructible.
    • Tidus meets a young summoner named Yuna, and joins her as a guardian on her quest to put an end to Sin.
  • Final Fantasy X is Japanese-style role-playing game set in a world somewhat similar to South Asia.
    • Only individual locations can be physically explored; there is no “world map” in the game, and exploration is fairly linear.
    • Enemy encounters are random; the game abandons the series’ traditional ATB (active-time battle) combat in favor of a Conditional Turn-Based Battle system, in which the turns of the participants are determined by characters’ stats and actions, with turn order displayed in the upper corner of the screen.
  • The game also departs from the usual leveling up system.
    • There are no character levels in the game: instead, experience points received after battles can be allocated by the player directly to upgrade the characters’ parameters.
    • Each character has his or her special “sphere map”, with straight or branching paths containing spots that increase the character’s personal statistics, or teach him or her active and passive abilities.
    • The characters are given distinct class attributes, and it is possible top switch between all the party members during the same battle. Monster summons (called aeons in the game) now behave like playable characters, have their own hit points (HP), and can fight for the party until defeated.
  • Conversations that occur during cutscenes have voice overs, for the first time in the series.
    • The game features various mini-games, the most prominent of which are blitzball tournaments.

December 27 – 1995 – The Indian In The Cupboard – Mac, Windows

  • Inside of a young boy’s cupboard, the tiny toy figurine native american named Little Bear has come to life.
    • Letting the tiny man guide you through several activities will allow you to bring more toys to life and show your accomplishments on your wampum belt.
    • Some of the available activities include the bead pictures game, where you practice your artistry with carved Iroquois templates and colored beads.
    • There’s also the Music Mimicry game and the Symbols game and several more.
    • Completing all the activities successfully opens up a new area, the Bedroom 3-D environment and makes available six different quests.

December 28 – 2004 – MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf – Xbox

  • MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf takes place roughly one year after the original MechAssault game.
    • This is not a simple extension of the first game.
    • There are a lot of new missions, vehicles (mechs, tanks, and whatever else the player can find), and worlds to explore.
    • Jump in and let’s go for a ride.
  • The game adds new gameplay elements to the system used in MechAssault.
    • In the original game, the player was a Mech pilot and nothing else.
    • Here, the player is the only pilot in the game world.
    • This means that the player can now get out of a Mech and drive someone else’s Mech.
    • Want to drive a tank or some of the other vehicles?
    • Well, now it is possible.
    • Jump in many of the vehicles and take one for a ride
    • Of course, the Battlemech still rules the field.
  • Like the original game, Xbox Live is fully supported for multiplayer gaming.

December 29 – 2005 – Dead or Alive 4 – Xbox 360

  • The fourth installment in the Dead or Alive series (excluding Beach Volleyball) continues in a similar vein of fighting game.
    • Delivering another dose of combo heavy action set in a variety of highly interactive locations.
  • With Helena assuming control over DOATEC an eclectic cast of fighters from all corners of the world all battle each other for some personal goal. Each character has vastly different, and often unusual, motives.
  • In the main game’s story mode each character fights through a series of encounters, often with a bizarre context eg. taking exception to cruelty to a T-Rex and a fight over a fresh lettuce are both examples of the rather odd but still hilarious Japanese humour.
  • XBOX Live support allows players to watch fights while waiting for their turn in the arena.
    • VOIP is also supported, as with many Live games.
  • Featuring a graphical upgrade and an improved fighting system (tested by some top DOA players before release) Dead or Alive 4 is aimed not only at the older DOA players, but enticing new gamers due to the less intimidating control system, and giving slightly less advantage to the experienced.

December 30 – 2010 – Pong Solitare – Browser

  • Pong Solitaire is a joke game from the web comic artist Steve Napierski.
    • It is a mix between Pong and Solitaire.
    • The gameplay is similar to the classic Pong game, except that the opponent’s paddle occupies the entire height of the screen.
    • That way you can only lose, as you grow tired of bouncing it back to yourself all the time.

December 31 – 1996 – Diablo – Windows

  • Story:
    • Long ago a secret war raged between Heaven and Hell, each using humanity as its pawns.
      • While the Prime Evils of Hell were engaged in war their lesser lieutenants conspired to overthrow them.
      • They mutinied suddenly with the combined forces of Hell, overwhelming the three Primes.
      • Stripped of their power, they were banished to the mortal realm.
      • Human agents of Heaven, upon discovering this, found the three Primes and sealed them within gemstone prisons, each of them sent to a different corner of the earth and kept under guard to prevent them from escaping.
    • As years turns to centuries, however, the power of Heaven’s agents waned, until eventually not even the people of the town of Tristram knew that buried deep under their chapel was the soul of the Lord of Terror, Diablo.
      • As the strength of his prison waned Diablo reached out into the world, corrupting the dreams of the land’s good king, driving him to attack his neighbors.
      • The nation of Khanduras fought wars with no intention of winning, desiring only slaughter and suffering.
      • Now the lands lay scorched, home only to monsters and the dead.
      • Rumors spread of a way to stop the demons, as well as rumors of great wealth, and both draw adventurers from far to the small town of Tristram.
  • Players start by choosing their avatar’s class: either Warrior, Rogue, or Sorcerer.
    • Warriors have the highest maximum strength and can repair weapons and armor inside the dungeon, but this will lower the item’s maximum durability.
    • The Rogue has the highest maximum dexterity and can both see and disarm traps on treasure chests.
    • The Sorcerer has the highest maximum magic attribute and can recharge the charges on a spellcasting staff at the cost of his own mana.
  • Characters can equip armor, weapons, and accessories found in the chapel’s shifting dungeons, but strong equipment will have minimum attribute requirements to be worn.
    • Most equipment will have randomized stats, but some strong monsters will drop Unique weapons with set stats.
    • Magic can be learned by finding magic tomes, and leveled up by finding multiples of the same spell tome, but advanced spell levels can not be learned if the character’s magic stat is too low.
    • Upon destroying enough monsters to level up the player is rewarded with additional attribute points to distribute to whichever attributes they wish.
    • Occasionally the few people left in town will inform the player of a job they would like done, either an exceptionally strong monster that must be slain or a unique item found deep in the dungeon, and will reward the player in kind upon completion of the quest.
  • Diablo can be played cooperatively with 1 to 3 other players over LAN or BattleNet with the PC versions, or with 1 player locally on the PlayStation.
    • Players can team up to survive the depths of the dungeons, or turn on each other to steal one another’s items from their corpse.
    • The quest unique zones are removed from the online version of a dungeon, and instead quest monsters will be found wandering the level that would normally lead to their unique area.

January 1 – 1990 – Hugo’s House of Horrors – DOS

  • Hugo’s sweetheart Penelope has vanished after visiting a haunted house on a babysitting job.
    • In order to save her, Hugo must explore the area around, within, and beneath the house and solve its mysteries, while surviving its many perils.
  • Hugo’s House of Horrors is a graphic adventure game, controlled with a combination of the arrow keys for movement, and typed commands such as eat steak to interact with the environment.
    • Some challenges are puzzles which must be solved by clever use of items found in the house, while others require quick and careful movement, or test the player’s knowledge.
  • This game is the first game in the Hugo’s House of Horrors shareware trilogy.
    • This full game was released as a taster for the full trilogy which includes this game plus the titles Hugo’s Mystery Adventure, Hugo’s Amazon Adventure, a hint book and an automatic solver which plays the game like a movie.

January 2 – 2010 – Newton Adventure – Linux, Mac, Windows

  • Newton Adventure is a 2D platform game with a unique feature: in order to get through the 21 levels, the player has to rotate them and change gravity at 360°.
  • By using this special rotating power, the hero can jump to distant platforms, make enemies fall or move objects.
  • Divided in four themed worlds (arctic, jungle, Vatican and Egypt), the 20 levels have the same goals: find the door to exit and the key that open it.
    • The key is an object to be brought by pushing it or by making it fall using gravity change.
  • Aside from completing the levels, the goals is to make highest scores possible, by killing enemies, collecting items or accessing to special bonus zones.

January 3 – 2007 – Paws & Claws: Pet Vet – Nintendo DS

  • You Love Animals and They Love You!
  • Now you can pamper and rescue all of your favorite creatures at your own Paws & Claws Pet Vet.
    • Nurture and love the animals to grow your business and become every animal’s best friend!
  • Features:
    • Nurse all of your injured patients back to health through 20+ cases
    • Choose from 10+ different kinds of animals, from cockatoos and guinea pigs to dogs and horses
    • Visit the 3D clothing shop and choose from 9 cute outfits
    • Become the best vet and you’ll grow your business into the biggest pet clinic in town!

January 4 – 2001 – Thandor: The Invasion – Windows

  • After the defeat of the Golraths, the Alliance of Averes have collapsed and the allies have turned enemies.
    • But in the times of turmoil and despair, some faithful Alliance soldiers are planning for a return to the glorious Alliance…
  • Thandor is a 3D RTS game where you build units and battle other factions for control of resources (to build more units).

January 5 – 2004 – Sonic Battle – Game Boy Advance (North America)

  • Sonic Battle is a fast paced pseudo-fighting game, akin to Super Smash Brothers from Nintendo.
    • Rather than being 3D side-scrolling, this game employs a 3D isometric view- not a static, sprite-based field though, it is comprised of actual texture-mapped polygons.
    • The character sprites are 2D though, and while you think it wouldn’t work- it does 😛
  • You can have 9 characters to choose from, 5 modes of play; Story, Battle, Challenge, Training, and Mini Games; you can link up 4 GBA’s to fight your friends, each character has a bunch of moves you can use to beat the you-know-what out of whoever you’re fighting.
    • It has a system of selecting Aerial, Ground, and Guard based attacks, and depending on what type of attack you set for which area (aerial/ground/guard), you have a possibility of 9 total different special attacks to choose from (only 3 at a time in a match though) which you can change each time you lose 1 stock point.
  • Among the other many features, Sonic Team has also made the game more dynamic with the addition of a trainable character whose abilities and techniques you can raise and add to.
    • You get to pick and choose every aspect of the robot’s style (running, attacking, jumping, dashing, etc etc etc etc etc).
  • The game takes a moderate amount of time to play through as all the characters, and adds a longer lifespan to itself if you wish to play through and beat it completely (all characters, get all moves for the trainable robot, etc).

January 6 – 2010 – Born Into Darkness – Mac, Windows

  • Nathaniel Black joins the vampire Amber Blythe on a treasure hunt around the world, where they must follow the clues left on artifacts and ancient tombs to retrieve the lost Shroud of Lazarus.
  • Born Into Darkness is a hidden object game with adventure elements, where the main objective is to find all pieces of inventory items, to assemble and use them later.
    • The interface tray at the bottom shows the silhouettes of the required objects whose parts are scattered around the location.
    • As in most point-and-click titles, the player moves between scenes by clicking on obvious exit hotspots like doors and other openings.
    • The silhouettes can be selected to show the all the parts necessary to complete the object.
    • Once assembled, the item can be dragged and dropped from the inventory to a logical portion of the scenery to solve puzzles or perform certain actions.
  • The inventory is framed by blue and red hint jewels and medallions for each main character.
    • There are slots for six jewels that highlight the position of one of the required parts when activated, showing only pieces for silhouettes that match their colors.
    • Extra hints can be earned by selecting one of the medallions to play a mini-game.
    • On Nathaniel’s mini-game, the goal is to find and click on the words listed at the top of the medallion on a pile of juxtaposed text at the center.
    • On Amber’s mini-game, the player has to click on the flying ghost whose portrait appears on slots at the side of the medallion.

January 7 – 1998 – Sentry – Windows

  • Sentry is a freeware remake of Geoff Crammond’s all-time classic, The Sentinel.
    • Gameplay remains true to the original, in this battle for dominance via height.
    • Climb higher by building towers of boulders, gain energy by absorbing natural resources and teleport around the strange checkered landscape via robot shells.
    • Meanwhile, you must avoid the deadly gaze of The Sentinel, who looks out from the highest peak.
    • Get higher than him, then absorb him and take his place as ruler.
  • This Windows version includes texture mapping, dynamic lighting, music, an infinite supply of levels and a host of options.
    • There are even two different stereoscopic modes.

January 8 – 2016 – Punch Club – Linux, Mac, Windows

  • Punch Club is a sporting management simulation in which the player manages an upcoming boxer in training and preparation for a series of boxing matches at a local club, while searching for clues of who killed their father.
    • The game was developed as a humorous take on action films of the 1980s and 1990s.
  • The player controls an unnamed boxer whose father, who helped to train him, was murdered.
    • The boxer aims to continue his training and become the best boxer at a local league, while following clues to lead him to who killed his father.
    • The player manages the boxer around the clock through various locations in a city, including his home, the boxing gym, stores, and his work place.
    • Time progresses when the player is involved in any activity, including moving between these locations.

Tidbits

  • Apple launched their “Privacy Nutrition Labels” on the App Store, giving you a full breakdown of what information they’re collecting when you use the app
    • If you want a wake-up call just head over to Facebook’s or Instagram’s listing and scroll through the plethora of info they’re harvesting
  • It begins again- Samsung is deleting posts mocking Apple about not including USB wall adaptors with new iPhones amid plans to do the very same with their Galaxy S21
    • Xiaomi is in the exact same situation too, releasing ads for their Mi10 phone highlighting the included power adaptor and now removing it from the Mi11 citing the environment
  • Adobe Flash is officially dead, with support having ended on December 31st
    • But that which is dead may never die, and you can still see Peanut Butter Jelly Time over at the Internet Archive thanks to emulators
  • Watch Death to 2020 on Netflix
    • Hilarious mockumentary about the year we all just got through, with some great actors and excellent writing

A Smart Bird Feeder

  • Bird Buddy is a Wifi enabled bird feeder
    • Notifies you on bird visitors
    • Takes their photo
    • And organizes it into a collection which is easy to share
    • It will also track the species and catalog it in a collection for you
  • What features make it a Smart Feeder
    • There is a front facing camera, that is equipped with AI that can recognize over a 1000 bird species
    • The built in microphone will also identify birds by song as they approach or pass by.
    • The mobile app lets you access these features as well, wherever you are
  • The module is detachable and upgrade-able from the bird feeder itself.
  • Very much funded
    • A goal of 50,000 euro
    • At time of note taking, over 3 million euro
  • Add on’s:
    • Solar Roof
    • Wall Mount
    • Fence mount
    • Suet Ball holder
  • You are also helping bird conservation
    • Tracking info on bird species will help with migratory patterns and data will be accessible by experts
    • Every feeder also includes a guide to bird feeding

 

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A throw back to when Alan and Josh talked with Scott and Greg, on a movie podcast about Street Fighter.

Check out the link to their site!

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

Thank you so much to all our Patrons. Have a happy and safe holiday!

And thanks to the rest of our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
And talk to us in the comments!

Get in the Christmas spirit while Breanne and Emily, figure out if Emily missed out on Natal Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Check out the link to their site!

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

Thank you so much to all our Patrons. Have a happy and safe holiday!

And thanks to the rest of our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
And talk to us in the comments!