Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Escape Machine City: Airborne

      • 2021
      • Point-and-click adventure puzzle game that has you exploring the once-vibrant Air City that has gone completely silent and now seems to be flying on its own
  • Epic Games

    • Creature in the Well

      • 2019
      • Pinball-inspired top-down hack-and-slash dungeon crawler where you need to venture deep into a desert mountain to restore power to an ancient facility

Apple has officially bent its rules for Russia, which could lead to a slippery slope as other countries take note

  • Way back in episode 283 we talked about legislation passed by Vladimir Putin that will ban the sale of devices that don’t have a list of Russian apps pre-installed
  • We didn’t hear much about it after the deadline passed in 2020, but starting in April iOS devices sold in Russia will include an extra setup step
    • While you set up your language preferences and enable Siri, you’ll also see a prompt to install a list of apps from Russian developers
      • The apps include browsers, messenger platforms, and even antivirus (which is kind of absurd when it comes to iPhones)
  • On the plus side the apps aren’t pre-installed, and users can choose not to install them, but this has opened the doors for preinstalls that Apple has until now kept closed since the iPhone was first introduced
    • Sure, it’s good to promote developers within your own country, but the apps on offer could also be compromised in specific ways to further the agenda of the Kremlin and the government
    • With this in place we’ll be relying more and more on the privacy and security protections and prompts built in to iOS, and hoping that the apps in question haven’t been compromised
  • Overall the situation is better than it could have been, since Apple could have completely folded and allowed Russia to preinstall whatever they wanted, but their middle-ground stance is disappointing and potentially dangerous when it comes to the free internet

Proton was making headlines this week as they accused Apple of blocking an important update to ProtonVPN, citing the internet crackdown in Myanmar

  • On March 17th the UN advised people to document the ongoing situation and protests in Myanmar as evidence for “crimes against humanity”, recommending services like ProtonMail and Signal
  • A few days later Proton released a blog post saying Apple was blocking updates for another of their privacy products, ProtonVPN
    • Apparently Apple took exception with part of ProtonVPN’s description, which included language about challenging governments, and said that apps can’t be promoted as workaround or violations of local laws
    • Proton claims that the description in question had been in place for months though, and continued to claim that this was directly related to the ongoing military coup
  • Odds are, though, that the cause is likely a lot less nefarious- App Store reviewers are human, and each apply policy according to their own judgement
  • Apple’s released a timeline of the update in question, saying that they requested the change in wording on March 18th (the day after the UN’s recommendation) and then approved it on the 19th. Proton then released the update on March 21st, and published the accusatory blog post on the 23rd
  • Unless there’s more information here yet to come out, it looks like Proton took a non-issue that could have delayed their oh-so-important update by two days and made it into a week-long debacle to hit the headlines and rack up the clickbait
  • Granted the App Store reviewer in question may have gotten overzealous, but to directly link that action with these kind of world events is a bit of a leap

Microsoft has decided to rebrand Xbox Live to the “Xbox network”

  • First seen in beta software updates, the change has been confirmed by a Microsoft spokesperson saying it’s “intended to distinguish the underlying service from Xbox Live Gold memberships”
  • Part of this includes plans to drop the subscription requirement from free-to-play games, so that games like Fortnite will no longer require a Gold membership to play online

This Week In Gaming History

March 20 – 2006 – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – Windows, Xbox 360

  • Plot:
    • A lowly prisoner has been cast into the depths of the dungeon in the Imperial capital of the province Cyrodiil.
      • The fate of this prisoner suddenly changed when the Emperor Uriel Septim descended into the prison with his guards, fleeing from unknown assassins who have already slaughtered his children.
      • But even an emperor cannot escape his destiny.
      • Before the last assassin delivered the lethal strike, the old emperor entrusted the prisoner with the Amulet of Kings and asked him to find his illegitimate son, the last of the Septim bloodline.
      • The Septims and the Amulet are the last barrier between the continent Tamriel and the dark dimension of Oblivion, and the delicate balance is threatened by the Daedra Prince of Destruction, Mehrunes Dagon, the prisoner being Tamriel’s only hope.
  • Oblivion is the fourth title in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series.
    • The game sticks to the style of its predecessors featuring action-based combat, first-person and third-person views, and vast free-roaming environments.
    • The player’s chosen race and class determine the abilities the protagonist has in the beginning.
    • The game allows the player to develop multiple types of characters without being limited to a specific role.
  • The advancement system, as was the case in previous games, is based on skill usage.
    • When the player repeatedly use one of the skills, it improves.
    • NPCs offer training (for a price) to help in advancing to the next stage.
    • In time the protagonist can become an Apprentice, Journeyman, Expert and Master and gain certain bonuses for the skill.
    • The skills of the foes are “leveled” to be approximately equal to or slightly above those of the main character.
  • There are numerous side quests which help the hero advance thier abilities as well as gain fame.
    • The player is free to roam the world without a particular goal, exploring towns, forts, caves, mines, and old temple ruins.
    • Visiting shrines scattered around Tamriel grants the protagonist specialized skills, some permanent and some temporary.
  • Weapons and armor wear out with use and need to be repaired either with the help of special non-playable characters or by using an appropriately trained Armorer skill.
    • Enhanced items (weapons, armor, clothing, rings, amulets) abound in the game for protection, resistance, reflection and special activities like walking on water, exploring underwater, becoming invisible or lightening the load.
    • It is possible to open the gates to the Oblivion realm to grab their sigil stones, which can be used to make enhanced items.
    • Higher-level mages can create their own spells, and enchant weapons, armor and clothing using filled soul gems in addition to sigil stones.
  • As opposed to Morrowind, mana points gradually regenerate over time, without the need to rest to replenish them.
    • Active blocking has been added to melee combat.
    • The game features full voice acting for all the NPCs.
    • Dialogues typically contain less topics than in Morrowind, but more responses unique to different characters.
    • In addition, the so-called “radiant AI” system makes characters follow their own schedules, engage in various activities or talk to each other regardless of the player’s input.
    • The game features fast traveling, allowing the player to instantly visit Cyrodiil’s major cities or previously explored areas.
  • Extras:
    • A PSP version was in development and planned for release in the Spring of 2007, but it was eventually cancelled with no official word.
    • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

March 21 – 2005 – TimeSplitters: Future Perfect – GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox

  • Plot:
    • In the year 2401 the space marine Sergeant Cortez is leaving the space station that he visited in the end of his previous journey.
    • He soon discovers that the crystals he has found can power up a time machine.
    • After having located traces of TimeSplitter activities in various time periods on the Earth, Cortez boards the time machine and travels to these periods, hoping to aid various characters in their battles against evil.
  • TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is a first-person shooter in which players battle their way through thirteen story missions spread across six time periods, either alone or cooperatively.
    • The protagonist’s arsenal varies depending on the time period he travels to: for example, traveling to 1924 will allow Cortez to wield World War I weapons; a Soviet setting in the 1960’s contains various local firearms of that time period; stages that take place in the future feature corresponding futuristic weaponry, etc.
    • In addition to fast-paced shooting gameplay there are also some stealth and vehicle-driving segments.
  • Like in the previous installments of the series, various multiplayer modes are included.
    • Players can take on computer-controlled opponents on any of the fifteen arcade maps, or make their own ones.
    • Players can also compete for awards in dozens of arcade league matches and challenges.
    • It is possible to choose from between 150 characters and challenge other players to a head-to-head battle, either with up to four-player split screen or online and LAN play.
  • Extras:
    • TimeSplitters: Future Perfect appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
    • In Shaun of the Dead, the character Ed, is playing Time Splitters 2, which featured a zombie mode.

March 22 – 1996 – 3D Tetris – Virtual Boy

  • A 3D Tetris game with a supply of three modes:
    • A. A three dimensional well appears, large enough to hold five layers of Tetris blocks.
      • Every time you complete a layer with you falling blocks it will vanish and you will be rewarded by a hefty dose of points.
      • If you ever stack over the five layers you will lose one of your layers, once all five are lost your game is over.
    • B. In this mode you place blocks around the center of the well, any blocks placed in the center will vanish, unless the block completes a layer in which case it will vanish.
    • C. In this mode a shape will be shown before the game begins.
      • You will have to replicate this shape perfectly, even one block out of place and your game is over.
      • Succeed and after a short animation a new shape will be given.
  • 3-D Tetris was the last officially licensed game released on the Virtual Boy.

March 23 – 2010 – Just Cause 2 – PS3, Windows, Xbox 360

  • Plot:
    • Rico Rodriguez is back!
      • After liberating the small Island of San Esperito, the CIA-agent is on his way to the island paradise Panau to find a former colleague: Agent Tom Sheldon.
      • During an undercover-investigation, he vanishes and with him two million dollars.
      • Money, the Agency desperately wants back, especially as they believe that Tom changed sides.
      • So Rico has to infiltrate the criminal organisations of Panau as Scorpio to flush out Tom Sheldon and bring him to justice while plunging the country into chaos – but that’s more of a bonus than a real objective…
  • Like its predecessor Just Cause, the game drops the player on a huge island.
    • From the start, the whole island is open to be explored by the player in a third-person-shooter-fashion either on foot, by using several dozen different cars or even by using heavily armed helicopters and fast planes.
    • The player is totally free to do what he wants, although that mostly breaks down to wreaking havoc and causing chaos by destroying statues, fuel tanks and other military-owned stuff.
    • This way the player earns points which in turn progresses the story, unlocks missions and gives him access to additional stuff from the black market.
    • In addition all over the island crates are hidden containing both money and upgrade parts.
    • Once the black market helicopter has been called via a beacon, the player can order weapons, vehicles and even request a transfer to another location on the island for free.
    • Weapons and vehicles on the other hand cost money and are dropped right on the spot where Rico called.
    • They can also be improved using the upgrade parts the player collected.
  • In addition to his weapons, Rico’s two most useful tools are his parachute and his grappling hook.
    • The parachute can be activated at almost anytime, even if the player is driving at high speed along the road, and is very useful to make combo-stunts.
    • And this is where the grappling hook comes in: with it, the player can either pull enemies towards him, or pull himself towards a target – which can either be a house two streets away, or a moving car.
    • The latter allows for example high-speed carjacks which in some cases result in one of the two types of simple Quick-Time-Events in the game.
    • The other type pops up when Rico tries to unlock a gate or disarm a bomb or such.
    • Although the grappling hock was already featured in the first game, this time around it’s a dual-hook.
    • If the player has hit something with his hook, he can put the other end on another object – again no matter if it’s a solid or moving object or a random human who had the bad luck of being nearby.
    • This allows the player for example to hook a car to a helicopter, fly over an enemy base and drop the car onto the poor soldiers.
  • To keep the action focused even outside the main storyline, challenges like checkpoint-races and optional missions are scattered around the map and each settlement on the island can be cleared 100% by destroying all worthy targets and collecting all crates in the vicinity.

March 24 – 1998 – Die By The Sword – Windows

  • Die by the Sword is a third-person action game set a medieval fantasy world.
    • The player controls Enric, a knight whose sweetheart Maya was kidnapped by kobolds and who swears to bring her back.
    • The game’s distinguishing feature is its sword-fighting system, which allows detailed and precise control of the player character’s moves, giving it a fighting game flavor.
    • The game features a fairly complex and elaborate control system, with separate keys and button combinations assigned to moves such as running, jumping, slashing, stabbing, parrying, etc., which allows the player to execute these moves simultaneously in a variety of combinations.
  • A somewhat simpler control system, dubbed “arcade mode”, is also available.
    • This system limits the amount of combinations to three kinds of slashes and blocks – low, medium, and high.
    • The game also incorporates local damage system, in which wounding specific body parts will inflict different conditions on the enemies, including severing their limbs and even decapitation.
    • The game’s levels include, beside enemies, many hazardous traps that Enric will have to avoid.
  • In addition to the story mode, the game also features arena and tournament modes, which allow up to four players participate in free-for-all battles using the game’s sword-fighting system.
    • The player is also given the opportunity to create his own custom moves with a built-in editor.

March 25 – 2014 – Smite: Battleground of the Gods – Windows

  • SMITE is a free-to-play MOBA with gameplay very similar to games like Heroes of Newerth, League of Legends and Dota 2.
    • In Smite, players control gods from all kinds of religions: Greek, Roman, Chinese, Egyptian, Norse, Hindu, Mayan, Japanese and Celtic gods.
  • SMITE is a typical MOBA where in the main mode Conquest, there are two teams of five players, both having a base on the corners of the map.
    • Each base has three paths leading to it, which must all be defended in order to halt the approaching enemies.
    • After a very short time, AI-controlled minions start spawning and following all three paths.
    • These minions serve as support for the players, mainly used as cannon fodder for pushing the enemy towers.
  • All three paths are defended by two towers and a phoenix, which must be destroyed in order to advance to the enemy base and let ally minions through.
    • After a team has pushed through one of more lanes, the enemy titan has to be killed in order to win the game.
    • Between these set paths is a so called jungle, where visibility is a lot lower and several buff camps are located.
    • These jungles can be used to quickly switch lanes and flank enemies.
    • Or help out teammates where needed.
  • Aside from Conquest, SMITE also has the modes: Arena, which features no lanes; Siege, which features two lanes; Clash, which features two lanes but with a much smaller jungle than Siege; Assault, which features one lane with randomly selected gods; Joust, with one lane but being able to choose a god yourself; and a Match of the Day which switches game type, gods and conditions daily.
    • Aside from this multiplayer modes, there’s also the tutorials, a practice mode with other players against bots, and the ability to start custom games.
    • In-game events called adventures mostly feature a new temporary mode.
    • In the past these were Mario-style racing with carts, Capture the Flag, an RPG like PVE mode, and a Corrupted Arena, the Arena game mode but with the map gradually changing during the game.
  • All players start with a base pool of gold, of which the amount varies per game mode.
    • This gold can be used for buying items for the current battle.
    • More gold is earned over time, and by killing enemies and enemy minions.
    • Players also gain exp with kills and destroying towers and phoenixes.
    • This exp is used to upgrade the four skills of the god.
    • As with all other MOBA’s, skill progression and bought items reset upon the end of the game.
    • So every new game you’d have to start from scratch.
  • Unlike most MOBA’s with their isometric views, this game uses a third-person view.
    • Also, instead of using the mouse to move the character, this game features the WASD keys for moving the character.
  • Extra:
    • Since Apple released their Catalina update on 7 October 2019 and dropped 32-bit support, Smite has been unplayable on Macintosh for Mac users that had updated their system.
      • In January 2020 (before Season 7) Hi-Rez decided to completely drop support for Smite on Macintosh and remove the platform from Steam.
      • Refunds for in-game purchases (not on Steam) were given, with restrictions, up until 18 February 2020.

March 26 – 1996 – Jumpstart 2nd Grade – Macintosh, Windows…

Or…

March 26 – 2013 – BioShock: Infinite – PS3, Windows, Xbox 360

  • In BioShock Infinite the player becomes detective Booker DeWitt who is forced to find a young woman Elizabeth to pay off his debts.
    • She is held captive in the floating city of Columbia in alternate version of 1912.
    • During his travels Booker encounters different factions within the city who are battling one another.
    • The Founders want Columbia to remain a city only for pure Americans while the Vox Populi think the city should be available to anyone.
    • The setting is built around the idea of exceptionalism with a strong religious doctrine and open racism.
    • Elizabeth is a key piece within this conflict and has a mysterious origin including her powers to cause tears in the fabric of space-time, exposing parallel universes. Booker and Elizabeth remain together most of the game and she acts on her own.
    • She does not need to be defended, tosses ammo and silver eagle coins to Booker and can be asked to pick locks.
    • They are hunted down by the spiritual leader Comstock and his troops, along with the giant mechanical Songbird.
  • The game uses similar gameplay styles and mechanics found in previous BioShock games.
    • Vigors give the player super powers to do a variety of things such as sending a murder of crows to peck away enemies or charming enemies to defend you.
    • Another one is possession used to take over humans or machines to temporarily turn them into allies.
      • Once the effect wears off, the possessed humans will commit suicide.
    • Most vigors have multiple uses either as a direct attack or as a much stronger trap awaiting to be triggered.
    • Booker can also be upgraded through four types of gear with permanent bonuses similar to the gene tonics in the previous games.
    • Different types can be equipped according to the situation.
    • The typical FPS array of weapons can be found throughout the game like pistols, shotguns, and rifles.
    • One of the more notable weapons is the Sky Hook which can be used as a melee weapon to take down an enemy.
    • Money can be exchanged at vending machines for upgrades and consumables.
    • Items are found by looting barrels, desks and enemies.
    • Vigors can only be executed when a sufficient amount of salt has been collected.
    • The three main bars visible on the screen (health, salt and shield) can be extended by locating and using infusions.
    • The story is also furthered through optional voxophones (audio logs) and kinetoscopes (film projectors).
  • Skylines provide a unique way to move throughout the world.
    • Using the Sky Hook, the player can attached to these lines and quickly slide in one direction or another.
    • These can be used to escape overwhelming situations or used to reach higher ground to gain a combat edge.

Tidbits

  • After campaigning heavily against Apple’s new tracking transparency rules, Mark Zuckerberg is now saying that Facebook could actually benefit from the change
    • He claims that it could drive more commerce to the Facebook platform by making it harder to track users without those tools, which honestly just makes me suspicious that they’ve got some kind of loophole in the works
  • Facebook is reportedly working on an Instagram for kids under 13
    • It’s a whole new demographic for them to monetize, but it sounds like a terrible idea for your children’s privacy and sanity, not to mention it could expose them to a ton of predators and danger
  • Apple’s already pushing back against the “China Advertising ID” we talked about in the last episode, sending warnings to at least two Chinese app developers using methods to track app usage without permissions
    • Many developers from independents to large companies, were experimenting with the tracking workaround but it sounds like Apple’s threats of removal from the App Store may stop this additional fingerprinting in its tracks (or at least begin a cat-and-mouse game of hacks and patches)
  • Niantic is apparently working with Nintendo on a new AR Pikmin game for mobile
  • The lead gameplay designer of Cyberpunk 2077 has left CD Projekt Red after nearly 8 years with the studio
    • Time will tell how this affects the game going forward, but considering the state the game is in currently I feel like it may not necessarily be a bad thing

Doug Hallett Graduate Scholarship in Medicine

 

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Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • Surviving Mars

      • 2018
      • City building simulation from the developers of the Tropico series modelled after real Martian data that has you building a colony on Mars by manufacturing resources and constructing buildings to ensure the survival of the colonists
      • This was given away by Epic back in October 2019, so you may already have it in your library

Security updates are available for Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches now

  • The updates aren’t flashy, and they haven’t released the fancy new watch-unlock for masks yet, but they fix a nasty vulnerability where attackers could use a malicious website to execute arbitrary code on your device, giving them the ability to hijack it
  • You’re safe if you’re running at least iOS 14.4.1, watchOS 7.3.2, and macOS 11.2.3

An estimated 60,000 US organizations, along with hundreds of thousands more worldwide, have been hacked recently thanks to holes in Microsoft’s Exchange mail software

  • A previously unidentified Chinese cyber espionage group that Microsoft dubbed Hafnium has apparently been using a combination of four newly-discovered flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server to gain complete remote control over affected systems
  • This has allowed them to siphon email communications from targets ranging from small business and local governments to banks, police, infectious disease researchers, and defence contractors
  • According to security researchers these hacks have been going on since at least January, and though Microsoft released emergency security updates on March 2nd there are still many organizations that have not yet patched their systems, leading to the Hafnium group amping up their attacks and actively scanning the internet for vulnerable systems
  • The worst part is that even if you’ve installed the security updates, if you were already compromised there is still a high chance that the hacking group has installed remote access tools on your server
  • Microsoft has commented that they’re working closely with the US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), along with other government agencies and security companies, to provide guidance and mitigation for its customers, and encourages anyone impacted to contact their support teams for help and resources
  • In the meantime the CISA has issued an emergency directive ordering all federal departments and agencies to either update the software or unplug the servers, and they’re urging scanning all Exchange Server logs with Microsoft’s detection tool to help determine if you’ve been compromised

Rumours of an upcoming Apple event are ramping up, with signs pointing to it occurring on March 23rd

  • We’re expecting more information about iOS 14.5 and App Tracking Transparency, as well as the release of the now-essential Unlock With Apple Watch feature for times when FaceID fails because of a mask
  • Other rumours circling have the release of AirTags, Apple’s Tile-like tracker, popping up around this time
    • I’ve also seen a new beta feature called “Item Safety Features” that will alert you if there is a tracker following you that you don’t own, so that they can’t be used as easily for nefarious purposes
  • And there have been suggestions that new iPads will be coming with mini-LED displays and faster processors
    • This one seems especially likely after reddit user nanosplitter21 found an iPad case on a shelf in Target marked as being compatible with the “New iPad 11” (2021)”, and when they tried to purchase it the till said it could not be sold until April 6th

Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media is officially complete, and they’ve publicly welcomed Bethesda, id, Arkane, and more to the Xbox team

  • The announcement wrapped up by saying that more Bethesda games are coming to Game Pass later this week, adding more value to the juggernaut subscription service
  • As of March 12 we’ll be able to play the DIshonored and Doom series, Fallout New Vegas, Fallout 4 and 76, Prey, Rage 2, Elder Scrolls Morrowind, Skyrim, and Online, The Evil Within, and the new Wolfenstein series
  • It’s a good time to have an Xbox

You might have heard that Denuvo software has come to the PS5- well the good news is it’s not as bad as you may have feared

  • Denuvo anti-cheat software made a bad name for itself causing performance issues on PC games like Doom Eternal and demanding the ability to access a worrying amount of information on your computer
  • The Denuvo piece on PS5 is actually a pretty different beast- it’s a lot more like the anti-cheat and anti-piracy software that was available on the PS4 (which was also by Denuvo)
  • All that’s happening here is that code from the same company (but not the same code that caused problems on PC) is being made available in the PS5 tools library, making it easier for developers to prevent hacking and modding of their titles

This Week In Gaming History

March 6 – 1996 – Ripper – DOS, Macintosh

  • Ripper is an interactive FMV adventure that is played out in the New York of 2040.
    • Brutal killings reminiscent of Jack the Ripper soon get personal and you, crime reporter Jake Quinlan, must solve the mystery.
  • The game plays much like other Take 2 Interactive works, such as Black Dahlia.
    • Solve puzzles and react quickly in combat settings to survive. There are 4 possible endings, and 3 hours of video footage.
  • Thank you to Jeanne and J. Jones for this interesting trivia I found on the Moby Games site.
    • Your CD-Rom drive may not be recognized if it is not designated as Drive D.
      • In addition, it appears that Ripper was not made as a Windows “native” game.
      • While it will run within a DOS window when started in Windows, problems with stuttering sound and lagging graphics are common. The game plays best from the DOS prompt using a Boot Disk.
    • If at the command prompt you accidentally type RIPER (one P) instead of RIPPER (two P’s), instead of going into the game you are greeted with a movie of a rotting apple!
    • Features an all-star cast including Christopher Walken, Burgess Meredith, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, Paul Giamatti, Jimmie JJ Walker and Scott Cohen.
      • Ripper also features music from the Blue Oyster Cult.

 

March 7 – 2000 – ChuChu Rocket! – Dreamcast (North America)

  • ChuChu Rocket is an action puzzler, designed predominantly as a multi-player game.
    • You have indirect control over mice, and must guide them to the safety of a rocket, and away from a cat.
    • You do this by placing arrows on the ground, which they will follow.
    • The multi-player game is a frantic all-against-all duel, in which each player’s mice will only follow instructions of their own colour.
    • You can play this mode on your own against CPU opponents, or take on a series of predefined puzzles
  • After closing their hardware development branch, ChuChu Rocket! became the first video game released by SEGA on another console, namely the Game Boy Advance, in 2001.
  • The Dreamcast and Game Boy Advance versions of ChuChu Rocket appear in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

March 8 – 2011 – Dragon Age II – PS3, Windows, Xbox 360

  • Plot:
    • One of the key events early in the first game was the destruction of the village Lothering by the Darkspawn.
    • However, we weren’t told that there was at least one person who survived the onslaught: a human named Hawke.
    • Having become a refugee, Hawke travels to an area known as the Free Marches – more specifically, the city of Kirkwall. Hawke’s family shares the fate with many other Ferelden refugees; the authorities of Kirkwall are suspicious of the newcomers, and the path to financial stability is anything but easy.
    • Meanwhile, the appearance of the mysterious race of Qunari heralds more trouble to the inhabitants of Kirkwall, as does the growing tension between the Templars and the mages.
    • Hawke is caught in the middle of these political and social conflicts – what shall be the hero’s own path?..
  • Dragon Age II uses a “framed narrative” format: the story is narrated over a decade later by one of Hawke’s companions.
    • Similarly to Alpha Protocol, the narrative is rather flexible; motivations and events vary depending on the player’s moral choices during the game.
    • The game also adopts the “wheel-based” dialogue system from Mass Effect games: short responses that reflect different tones and attitudes the player wishes to choose for Hawke.
    • Also similarly to Mass Effect, the main character’s race and name cannot be changed; however, everything else (appearance, gender, classes) can be freely customized.
  • The combat system is quite similar to the one used in the previous Dragon Age game (which, in its turn, dates back to the combat style used in Baldur’s Gate), though it has been noticeably sped up.
    • Hawke can only be human, but the player can customize his or her physical appearance and character class (warrior, mage, or rogue).
    • The player controls Hawke and up to three active party members, either “programming” their actions by assigning actions that should be taken under certain conditions (for example, healing a party member if his HP drops below 20%), or issuing commands to each character manually.
    • The ability tree is also similar, the player being able to learn new abilities as the characters level up. Many abilities from the first game return, but some are absent or replaced with new ones.
    • The abilities are divided into various disciplines, which correspond to the fighting style of the character.
  • Cancelled expansion
    • An expansion to Dragon Age II, named Exalted March, was planned, but cancelled before announcement.
    • Bioware’s reasoning was that other opportunities for the franchises came up, and that there was no room for it because Bioware’s team sizes are fixed and all of them were busy with projects.

March 9 – 1998 – Yoshi’s Story – Nintendo 64

  • Loosely based on the Super Famicom/SNES game Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Yoshi’s Story follows the adventures of six Yoshis as they search through sunny woods, dark caves, soaring mountains, steaming jungles, vast oceans, and gloomy castles for the Super Happy Tree, which has been stolen by the dreaded Baby Bowser.
    • Yoshi can walk, run, swim, leap, flutter, and fire his payload of eggs. The action takes place in storybook “pages” made up of bookmaking materials and other familiar textures, including cut-paper forests, denim clouds, inflatable plastic islands, and stacks of colored spools.
  • The game pioneers use of the Rumble Pak as a key element of the gameplay experience, the player being able to feel invisible but treacherous currents when Yoshi swims through oceanic depths.
    • The Rumble Pak can also help the player locate hidden fruit or other objects by rumbling when Yoshi smells something.
    • With a light touch of the Control Stick it becomes possible to float on a leaf, ride a friendly dragon, and tiptoe past a swarm of angry bees.
  • Cancelled GBA Port
    • One of the first Game Boy Advance demos was a level from Yoshi’s Story.
    • However, it was eventually decided that the downgrades would be too significant, so it wasn’t made into a full game.

March 10 – 2009 – MadWorld – Wii

  • MadWorld is a stylish action beat-em up game, that puts player in the role of a police detective gone rogue and taking part in a violent TV show, in which contestants are encouraged to mutilate each other in increasingly violent and gruesome ways.
  • The game’s unique presentation is achieved through a three-colour palette scheme.
    • All the environments, objects and characters are rendered in black and white, as if drawn in a comic book.
    • The only other colour present is red, which accounts for the gallons of blood flowing from the victims of Jack, the game’s protagonist.
    • Aside from being inspired by comic books, MadWorld’s presentation is also taking hints from the competitive TV shows, with two over-enthusiastic hosts commenting every event happening in the game.
  • The core of the MadWorld experience is a series of challenges, player must take part in.
    • Each challenge presents a confined arena, in which player should score points by defeating his enemies in the most elaborate way possible and take part in the so-called Bloodbath-Challenges, which present additional rules and timed mini-games (like ManDarts or ManGolf) for racking up the points.
    • Once a sufficient amount of points was met, players must fight a unique boss enemy for the current challenge.
    • When boss is defeated, the player will be free to proceed to the next challenge.
  • The game also features a heavy use of quick time events in conjuncture with Wii motion-sensitive controls for the finishing moves, mini-games and general tasks, such as avoiding being hit by the enemy.

March 11 – 2014 – Titanfall – Windows, Xbox One

  • Titanfall is a first-person multiplayer shooter for up to twelve players simultaneously.
    • Set on a war-torn planet with two factions (Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) and the Militia), it features battles between pilots on foot or boarding large mech-style Titans.
    • The game can be played in six game modes: Attrition (team deathmatch with hostage rescuers against kidnappers), Capture the Flag, Hardpoint (capture and hold three locations), Last Titan Standing (last player alive wins, all players start in a Titan), Pilot Hunter (score for the team by killing pilots, not Titans – at the end of the match there is an epilogue where respawns are disabled and the losing team needs to reach an evacuation point/dropship for additional experience points), and Variety Pack (mix of all game modes).
    • There is also a Campaign mode for each faction with a mix of different game modes and bits of story between each mission.
  • The game is fast-paced and while on foot pilots are able to wall jump and link jumps in a parkour style using a jet-boosted belt.
    • In a general game players start by choosing a pilot type.
    • Some of the available weapons include assault rifles, SMGs, shotguns, sniper rifles and smart pistols.
    • During the match a timer counts down (generally three minutes) until a Titan can be deployed.
    • The timer countdown can be shortened by killing other players.
    • When a Titan drops down from the sky a pilot can board it. Playing as a Titan has completely different movement, but it is still agile.
    • The pilot’s double jump is for instance replaced by a dash as a Titan cannot jump, crouch or seek cover.
    • A Titan has very different weapons and is much stronger to take on other Titans.
    • It can be ejected at any time when under attack and it is possible to issue commands to have it follow or guard you.
    • Other players can attempt to board and throw out a player.
    • These can be repelled by activating electric smoke and a Titan has also distinct abilities such as the vortex blocker to stop incoming projectiles, gather them and return them in midair.
    • It is also possible to crush pilots.
    • When a Titan is destroyed a new countdown timer is started.
  • Other game elements include burn cards (up to three per match) for temporary power-ups and AI-controlled minions with three types: grunts, marvins and spectres.
    • The game has a persistent experience system and pilots can level up.
    • This influences for instance the loadouts for both pilots and Titans prior to each match.
    • The available slots for pilots offer room a primary weapon with mod and/or attachment, an anti-Titan weapon, sidearm, tactical ability (for instance cloak, stim or active radar pulse) and kits with specific abilities for different tiers.
    • For a Titan the loadout consists of the chassis, primary weapon with mod, tactical ability, ordinance weapon and different kits.

March 12 – 2018 – Oedipus Dating Sim – Windows

  • “Thousands of years ago, lived a man named Oedipus, king of Thebes and slayer of The Sphinx.
    • A man whose fate was to kill his father, Laius, and then marry his own mother, Jocasta.
    • But what if he could have gamed the system and cheated his own fate?”
  • With the generous help of three fates and Dionysus, the Olympian god with his own TV show, your task is to find a date for Oedipus
    • But it won’t be as straightforward as it seems. At first, you won’t know their true identities.
    • Once you romance each character to a certain level, their true identity will be revealed to you.
    • After that, you must avoid pairing Oedipus with Jocasta.
    • A piece of cake, right? Well, other complications will certainly arise and maybe, with a little ingenuity, you can even end up with Jocasta and not be punished for it. But how?
  • This game was designed with replayability in mind.
    • That means that there are many different choices to make, with lots of nooks and crannies to explore.
    • While the overall structure of having 15 days with 4 time periods each remains the same every time you play, each character’s American name, location in the Casino Hotel and alcoholic beverage of choice will change.
    • If you have additional questions not answered by the dialog trees, you can also try typing the question directly to the character.

Tidbits

  • Tesla has admitted to California that their ‘Full Self Driving’ mode is not actually capable of being fully self driving
    • The feature costs Tesla owners up to $10,000 to unlock on top of the original purchase price of their car, but according to correspondence between Tesla’s general counsel and the California DMV it is not an autonomous system, and currently no features on the car make their vehicles autonomous
  • Utah legislature has passed a bill mandating a default “porn filter” on any electronic devices sold in the state starting in 2022
    • What exactly that might entail is anyone’s guess, and how they plan on enforcing it is an even better question
  • T-Mobile announced that, starting April 26, they’ll be selling their customers’ web and mobile app data to advertisers unless they specifically opt out
    • A spokesperson said “We’ve heard many say they prefer more relevant ads so we’re defaulting to this setting,”, and I’m sure this has nothing to do with advertising companies paying top dollar for tracking information going forward
  • Apex Legends hit the Nintendo Switch on Tuesday, and early reactions are that is just isn’t very good, running at both lower resolutions and frame rates than other platforms and leaving its players at a competitive disadvantage
    • Worst part is that, though you can opt to only play with other people on Switch, by default you’re thrown into the wild with all the players on other consoles that can see and react better than you can
  • Daylight savings is coming up this Sunday, and since it happens twice a year it’s a good reminder to do general maintenance like clean your gutters, change the batteries in your smoke alarms, and rate/review us!

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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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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

 

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 328 News – Year in Review

This is our last episode of the year before we take our traditional December vacation, but we’ll be running feed drops through to the end of the year of some other great episodes from the Alberta Podcast Network. Hope you enjoy them, have a fantastic holiday season, and we’ll see you in January!

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Battlefield 3 (on Origin)

      • 2011
      • First person military shooter set during the fictional War of 2014, taking place in the Iran-Iraq region, with missions framed as flashbacks during your interrogation
    • HyperDot

      • 2020
      • Minimalist action arcade bullet hell with one rule- dodge everything
    • The Spectrum Retreat

      • 2018
      • First person narrative driven puzzle game set in the near future that has you exploring the peaceful yet unsettling Penrose Hotel, trying to unearth the truth
    • Wizard of Legend

      • 2018
      • Indie top down 2D roguelike where players take control of a wizard travelling a procedurally generated dungeon, killing monsters and collecting spells to become the Wizard of Legend
    • Lost Horizon

      • 2010
      • Historical point and click adventure game in 1936 where you have to travel the world protecting powerful relics while staying one step ahead of the Third Reich
    • Sigma Theory: Global Cold War

      • 2019
      • Turn-based strategy game in a futuristic cold war where you have to run an intelligence agency to secure control of the singularity
    • Turmoil

      • 2016
      • Indie strategy and management sim inspired by the 19th century oil rush, that has you drilling for oil to become North America’s next big entrepreneur
    • Close to the Sun

      • 2019
      • First person horror adventure game set in an alternate 1897 that has the journalist Rose Archer setting out to save her sister
  • Epic Games

    • Cave Story+

      • The enhanced 2011 release of the 2004 title
      • Metroidvania style game that has you playing Quote, a robot who has suffered amnesia and must blast his way through cavernous areas to find his backstory. Often considered the quintessential indie game because of its one-man dev team and influence on gaming

2020 year in review

  • 290 free games across PC, Xbox, and Playstation platforms
    • Some highlights I’ve personally enjoyed are:
      • Gato Roboto (Xbox) – Streamlined Metroid-style game where you play a cat in an armoured mech trying to save your stranded captain and his crashed ship
      • Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation) – Gorgeous remake of the action adventure game that has you taking down a series of monolithic enemies
      • A Short Hike (PC) – One part Animal Crossing and one part Breath of the Wild, it’s a small exploration game that has you exploring an island and (eventually) climbing a mountain
      • The Stanley Parable (PC) – An exploration game with many endings, that starts with you exploring an office building and going along with the narrator, then can get pretty surreal
      • Hollow Knight (PlayStation) – Metroidvania by way of Soulsborne, with tight controls and a nice art style
  • January

    • Quibi was introduced at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, but unfortunately its dynamic portrait/landscape video player couldn’t keep it afloat among so many other streaming services and it was shut down in October
    • The Xbox Series X was unveiled, the PS5’s logo was shown off, and the FBI kept trying to convince the world that encryption is bad because the only way to stop a bad guy with a lock is a (hopefully) good guy with omniscient, unblinking access to everyone’s data
    • CD Projekt Red pushed back Cyberpunk 2077 for the first time, saying it’s done but just needs more polish
      • Despite that and even though they went ahead with crunch time development, it was delayed two more times but should hopefully be here in another week
  • Feburary

    • Simon Weckert managed to simulate a traffic jam in Google Maps by carting a wagon with 99 smartphones around, causing vehicles using the service to avoid his route
    • E-cigarette maker Juul was sued for predatory advertising, including ads on sites like Cartoon Network and Nick Jr
    • Bioware announced that they would halt Anthem’s seasonal updates in favour of an overhaul, and if they pull it off we could see another No Man’s Sky style rebirth
    • Sonic the Hedgehog achieved the biggest opening weekend of any video game movie at $57M in the US, dethroning Detective Pikachu’s $54M
  • March

    • Apple settled with the US class action lawsuit regarding performance throttling on devices with older batteries
    • A Nintendo PlayStation prototype, the planned CD system for the Super Nintendo, sold at auction for $380,000
    • allthestreams.fm launched in a weird experiment, playing content from the six major streaming services but not letting you choose what each of them played
      • The site is still up, but all the streams have been replaced with the old VHS FBI warning
  • April

    • Zoom’s video conferencing app had a lot of shady practices come to light, including Facebook data harvesting, bypassing normal installation procedures on Mac, not properly encrypting chats, and exposing thousands of videos online thanks to easily-predicted file names
    • The Internet Archive shifted its online Open Library to allow two-week book checkouts of any ebooks, regardless of how many copies were purchased by the library or how many are checked out
    • Sony’s DualSense controllers were first unveiled, and it turns out the haptics and triggers are even nicer to use than we were expecting
    • Apple and Google first announced their joint exposure notification effort to make reliable, meaningful contact tracing easier for the COVID-19 pandemic. This has seen decent adoption, but some jurisdictions are still adamant on using their own home-rolled solutions regardless of efficacy or efficiency
  • May

    • We started to see spam and phishing attacks related to fake COVID exposure notifications, cementing why it’s important to have this kind of thing standardized
    • Wink, a smart home hub manufacturer went from a buy-once system to a subscription model requiring $5/month or your smart home would no longer work with less than a month’s notice
      • Based on the winkhub subreddit, this marked the beginning of the end and had many users migrate to alternatives that don’t rely on the cloud
    • Reports found a new piece of keylogging malware used by law enforcement to trick people into revealing their phone passcode, hidden behind nondisclosure agreements and protective orders
    • Conspiracy theorists began attacking 5G cell phone towers under the impression that the new frequency was somehow causing the coronavirus outbreak
  • June

    • George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who spent almost nine minutes kneeling on Floyd’s neck asphyxiating him while Floyd did not resist, sparking protests and reigniting the Black Lives Matter movement
      • We can’t forget how law enforcement evolved from oppressive practices in white societies, be it union busting, slave catching, or the relocation and elimination of indigenous people, and we need to do better
      • The tech world tried to show respect by delaying events, posting supportive messages, making donations, and even shutting down online services during the memorial
      • There has also been a push to include underrepresented and marginalized people in corporate leadership, with the SEC considering regulations forcing diversity
      • And Juneteenth has become a more widely recognized holiday milestone in the US, celebrating the federal order declaring that all slaves were to be set free and marking a true independence day for the country
    • Star Citizen became the most expensive game in history, reaching $350M invested and still no release date in sight
    • And we got our first taste of Apple’s new processors, which have since proven to be a radical jump in computing
  • July

    • A reboot of the cult classic series Clone High was announced, but we still have yet to hear many details about what it will look like
    • Nintendo’s president officially apologized for the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift issues
    • Apple’s iOS 14 beta began highlighting just how common it was for apps to access your phone’s copy/pasted data without permission, or even use your camera and microphone when you’re not expecting it, leading to many updates and “fixes”
    • High profile Twitter accounts were hacked as part of a bitcoin scam, including Barack Obama, Elon Musk, and Apple
  • August

    • Trump first announced his planned TikTok ban / forced sale, citing security concerns, which has been pretty messy with the US and Chinese governments trying to affect who it’s sold to and if the sale will even go through
      • The original deadline was September 15th, but there’s still no end in sight
    • Epic threw down the gauntlet, violating Apple’s App Store guidelines with the iOS version of Fortnite in a seemingly calculated move to look like the little guys getting smacked down but really it looks like they just got greedy and wanted to stop paying the industry-standard 30% on in-app purchases
      • Their lawsuit against Apple for removing the game from the App Store is slated to move forward in the Spring, but with Apple recently announcing that developers making <$1M a year only need to pay 15% their case doesn’t look good
    • Republicans in the US tried yet again to pass laws against proper digital encryption, trying to make the case for adding backdoors that magically only good guys can use
  • September

    • Microsoft and Sony released all the details on their new consoles, with Xbox All Access looking like a solid choice for a good console with no money down, and the PS5 Digital Edition competing with the Series S on Price but the Series X on performance
    • Apple announced that they were delaying the cross app tracking prevention features originally slated to be part of iOS 14, much to the relief of advertising companies like Facebook and Google, but we should be seeing them early next year
    • Facebook announced the Oculus Quest 2, a very, very shiny piece of hardware luring many into the clutches of the social network
      • There’s a reason it’s the cheapest VR out there
    • Microsoft purchased ZeniMax Media for $7.5B, one of the largest purchases in gaming history, and brought a whole slew of IP under their control, including everything from id and Bethesda
  • October

    • Google announced a new standalone ChromeCast model that doesn’t need your phone to control it, but were suspiciously silent about Stadia support
    • The quintessential Facebook game, FarmVille, announced that they would be shutting down at the end of 2020
    • LA Comic Con announced that they would be hosting their full in-person event in December, but then two weeks later completely cancelled any events for 2020
    • The UK started closing the loophole in their distracted driving laws that allowed people to play mobile games or record video while driving
    • NASA announced plans to install a 4G cellular network on the Moon
  • November

    • Cloud gaming on the Switch came to North America, with triple-A titles Control and Hitman 3 announced for the console through a <100MB download
    • Google revamped their Google Pay app, highlighting peer-to-peer payments, and including a bunch of data-scraping features if you want it to show nearby deals and discounts
    • The UK set up a ban on misleading mobile game ads, like those pull-the-pin ones that don’t actually show the real gameplay of the app
And hey.com gave us all the ability to email a literal dumpster fire

A comment on YouTube summed up what happened since Cyberpunks announcement

  • Cyberpunk 2077 – Teaser Trailer
    • 10 Jan 2013
  • Fiii Rahman 3 weeks ago (edited)
  • Things that have happened since Cyberpunk was announced:
    • 2 Resident Evil Remakes
    • 2 The Last of Us
    • 2 Rockstar open world games
    • 2 Dark Souls
    • 3 Gears of War
    • 11 Call of Duty’s
    • 9 Assassins Creeds
    • 2 God of wars
    • 3 Miyazaki games
    • 2 Uncharteds
    • 2 Devil May Crys
    • 3 Watch Dogs
    • 2 games and 1 Kojima demo
    • 2 Nomura games
    • 1 The Last Guardian
    • Announcement that Final Fantasy Versus 13 became FFXV and launch
    • Baldurs Gate 3 launched
    • Diablo 4 has been announced
    • Kingdoms hearts and a prologue
    • Announcement and launch of Shenmue 3
    • Announcement and launch of FF VII Remake
    • 2 Fallouts
    • 4 Battlefields
    • Ouya was born and died
    • 2 World Cups
    • 1 entire Star Wars trilogy
    • Crash came back with a remastered trilogy, won a racing spin off and a mainline sequel.
    • 6 Yakuzas
    • 5 JOJO animations
    • 2 Popes
    • 2 Spider-man reboots in theaters
    • 3 Avengers movies
    • Death of the Wii U and birth of the Switch
    • Launch of PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
    • Xbox One and Xbox Series launch
    • Stadia’s birth and his future death
    • Shingeki no Kyojin was in its first season and now Cyberpunk will launch 3 days after its last season
    • Skyrim in the Fridge

This Week in Gaming History

November 28 – 2005 – Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time – Nintendo DS

  • The famous Mario Brothers return in this sequel to the humorous Superstar Saga. In this adventure, Princess Peach takes a trip in a time machine, but when it returns, there’s only a monster inside!
    • The heroic brothers travel back in time only to discover that evil alien life forms known as the Shroobs have taken over the Mushroom Kingdom, and no-one is safe!
    • They soon meet up with their younger selves, and set out to stop the alien menace, not to mention rescue the Princess!
  • Although the game has turn-based battles, it follows the tradition of the previous Mario RPG games, in that button commands can be pressed during battle to increase your attack, defend, and counterattack, to give the impression of a more interactive battle.
  • Battling can also become quite hectic, as players now have to control the each of the four brothers with the four different face buttons.
    • This can make for some very tricky situations when using special power-ups that randomize the brothers’ turns.

November 29 – 1975 – Square – Mainframe

  • Square is a game for two players. Players take turns claiming free points in a grid.
  • The first player to have four points that together make a square wins the game.
  • The game allows for multiple grid sizes and an expert mode where the centre position is unavailable to both players.

November 30 – 2010 – Disney Epic Mickey – Wii

  • Disney Epic Mickey is an action-adventure platforming game for the Wii console that sends Mickey Mouse on an epic journey of creativity and discovery.
    • As Mickey, the player is propelled into Wasteland, an alternate world made up of Disney’s long forgotten characters and attractions, and is given the power to wield paint and paint thinner to dynamically change the world while determining Mickey’s path to becoming an epic hero.
  • Features:
    • Use paint and paint thinner to change the world, interact with friends and enemies and solve challenges
    • Choose the best path to become an epic hero because “Playstyle Matters” and choices will change the outcome of the game
    • Explore and solve challenges in an alternate Disney world ruled by Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney’s first cartoon star
    • Travel between lands in Wasteland through classic platforming levels inspired by animated films and shorts
    • Experience an innovative mix of platforming, action-adventure and light role playing game elements
    • Collect over 75 virtual Disney pins in the game by completing specific challenges, quests and discovering hidden collectibles
  • Josh says:
    • “This game was released right when the rights to a bunch of Disney properties were about to enter public domain. And the new original use of these characters put a reset on everything going free. Disney may have the lawyers to keep him theirs though”

December 1 – 1995 – Virtual Boy Wario Land – Virtual Boy

  • On a vacation in the Awazon river, Wario stumbles across a hidden cave filled with treasure.
    • Of course, being Wario, he wants it all to himself.
    • But the treasure is guarded and soon he finds himself deep within the Earth as the floor crumbles underneath his feet.
    • Now Wario must find his way back to the surface, all the while collecting the treasure he believes rightly belongs to him.
  • This 3D style platform game, following the tradition of the Mario and Wario platform games of the Game Boy, will have you using Wario’s unique abilities (butt stomping for one) to crash his way through the earth to the surface.
    • His other abilities depend upon the hard hat he wears, and different ones are available that can come as an advantage.

December 2 – 2001 – Super Smash Bros.: Melee – GameCube

  • The hit sequel to the N64 smash hit party fighting game.
    • Made such an impact, people still play it as their preferred Smash Bros.
  • The game is a Nintendo fighting game with different rules to it. Instead of knocking your opponent’s health down, you knock him or her out of the battle field.
    • You choose from the wealth of Nintendo characters like Mario, Bowser, Yoshi, different Pokémon, and even Link and then either fight through the single-player portion, featuring modes like Classic, Adventure, and Event Mode or battle it out with your friends in a four-player frenzy.
    • More characters and stages are unlocked as hidden objectives are met, and coins rewarded for playing in all modes can be spent on a capsule toy machine.
    • The toys in the machine represent games from Nintendo’s entire video game history, and each can be viewed in 3D with a brief description.
    • Also, with the simplified fighting controls, it’s pretty easy for even your non-gaming friends to just pick-up and play.
  • Default characters
    • Mario
    • Donkey Kong
    • Link
    • Samus Aran
    • Yoshi
    • Kirby
    • Fox McCloud
    • Pikachu
    • Ness
    • Captain Falcon
    • Bowser
    • Princess Peach
    • Ice Climbers
    • Princess Zelda
    • Sheik
  • Unlockable characters
    • Luigi
    • Jigglypuff
    • Mewtwo
    • Marth
    • Mr. Game & Watch
    • Dr. Mario
    • Ganondorf
    • Falco Lombardi
    • Young Link
    • Pichu
    • Roy

December 3 – 1996 – Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire – N64, Windows

  • Set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire tells the story of Prince Xizor’s quest to replace Darth Vader as the leader of the Sith, and wipe out the Rebels’ chances of victory.
    • The only man that can stop him is the interstellar bounty hunter Dash Rendar.
    • The game is based on the novel of the same name, with locations including ice planet Hoth, Mos Eisley and the sewers of Imperial City, all in full 3D.
  • Levels each have very different objectives, ranging from piloting snowspeeders on Hoth and racing speeder bikes on Tatooine to shooting stormtroopers and droids on foot throughout the galaxy.
    • Dash primarily uses a blaster with unlimited ammo, but can also find more powerful weapons with limited ammunition.
    • Each level has optional “challenge points” that are hidden throughout the level, and finding all of them will unlock a cheat dependent on which difficulty setting the save file is on.

December 4 – 2008 – Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars – Wii

  • In Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars is a 3D platform game.
    • After a comet passes Earth, narrowly missing it, but leaving a trail of green dust that enters earth’s atmosphere.
    • The dust causes plants and fungi to become sentient and forming tribes in order to survive the harsh human world.
  • After a period of peace however, a war begins between four mushrooms tribes, the Boletes, Amanitas, Leopiota and the Morels.
    • The player takes control of a Bolete Mushroom named Pax who travels out into the giant human world in order to find a new meteorite for a mushroom village who’s meteorite he absorbed, but soon realizes there is more at stake.
  • The gameplay includes a platforming, exploring levels, defeating enemies, complete certain objectives and collect normal household items.
    • Some of these Items can be fashioned into weapons, while others like the green meteorite chunks make the player stronger.
    • Along the way Players must also avoid obstacles and defeat smaller and boss enemies such as insects, animals and other mushrooms that can easily crush and kill the character.
    • A telekinetic ability can be used to pick up items and throw them at enemies or to activate switches.
    • The game can also be played in co-op mode and a number of mini games is included under options.
  • Josh says:
    • “I remember this game getting advertised really hard, like it was the next big franchise.”

December 5 – 2006 – Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops – PSP

  • The two previous Metal Gear Solid games for PSP, were not the MGS experience people expected like in this game.
    • Portable Ops was the tactical espionage action, people wanted
    • While Ac!d was a turnbased card strategy game
  • It’s been six years since the events in Snake Eater.
    • Snake has been captured and imprisoned in an abandoned missile silo in Colombia, and with no support this time. At least, not at first.
    • With the help of a fellow prisoner, Snake escapes and the game truly begins.
  • Portable Ops is a classic Metal Gear game in almost every sense.
    • The controls will be familiar to anyone who has played previous console entries in the series.
    • Snake can peek around corners, sneak up behind guards… they even carried over CQC (Close Quarters Combat) from Snake Eater.
  • Gathering supplies is also essential due to the main new mechanic found in Portable Ops: recruiting.
    • While Snake starts out on his own, he can enlist disgruntled guards, frustrated technicians, stubborn doctors and more.
    • These soldiers can be used in your “Sneaking Unit” (the team you take into battle for each mission), or in one of the many support units, with certain soldiers having a more natural talent for certain areas.
    • If you put someone who has medical bonuses in your Medical unit, they can produce rations, help your troops recover faster between missions and more.
    • Technicians can create new items for your team, and Spies can steal ammo and give you intel on specific maps, which can open up new side missions or allow you to grab some heavy weaponry.
  • Missions themselves range from recon to rescue to demolitions and beyond.
    • You can only take four troops into a mission, and usually one of them has to be Snake.
    • However, you don’t have to always use Snake during the mission, he just has to be present.
    • You can only control one character at a time, while the rest of the team hides safely inside boxes (usually right by the entry point).
    • On the field, the soldier you use can make a big difference.
    • Many times you can totally bypass a building’s defenses just by playing as a guard.
    • If you do not do anything to draw attention to yourself, you can oftentimes walk right past the enemy, plant some TNT, and walk away.
  • The game supports multiplayer for up to six player simultaneously, over WiFi Ad Hoc and Infrastructure, with game modes such as Team Death Match, Death Match and Capture Mission.

Tidbits

  • With so many shopping online this year, apparently it’s reached the point where UPS told its drivers to stop picking up packages at some major retailers including Nike and the Gap to maintain performance standards
    • Amazon is even offering small rebates on some products if you select a “No-Rush Shipping” option, to reduce strain
  • Reuters is reporting that the Samsung Galaxy Note series may be discontinued as early as next year, with styluses coming to the S21 and next foldable phone instead
  • More than 8.5 months later, Doom Eternal is finally launching on the Switch next week
    • It will be a 19GB digital-only release, and if you get it before December 23rd it includes the early purchase bonus Rip & Tear Pack, as well as a playable copy of Doom 64

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 324 News – Facebook Game-Vertisement

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • The Occupation

      • 2019
      • Stealth game that takes place in a government building in real time over the course of four hours, advancing with or without player input, where you play a journalist researching a controversial government act threatening civil liberties in the wake of a terrorist attack
  • Epic Games

    • Blair Witch

      • 2019
      • Psychological survival horror game set two years after the events of The Blair Witch Project, following a former police officer searching Black Hills Forest for a missing child
    • Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered

      • 2019 remaster of the 2009 release
      • Third-person action adventure game where you play a new recruit to the team of parapsychologist ghost hunters two years after Ghostbusters II, that has you working with the original cast to investigate paranormal activities in New York City
      • The developers worked in many details from the Ghostbusters III script that Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis had been working on, leading Aykroyd to consider this as “essentially the third movie”

Facebook is jumping on the cloud gaming bandwagon, aiming at AAA free-to-play on browsers and mobile

  • The idea is that anybody can play for free, as long as they have a Facebook account (so much like Needful Things, you don’t pay with money)
  • Facebook’s vice president of play, Jason Rubin, says their initial focus will be games picked to be “latency tolerant”, so they don’t need rock-solid infrastructure or connections to be playable
  • Much like the days of Farmville, people can start playing games by clicking an ad in their Facebook timeline
  • And Rubin was quick to point out this isn’t a game streaming service, and they won’t be releasing a first-party controller. Everything will be played with mouse and keyboard, or with your device’s touchscreen
  • They also won’t be bringing in big name console titles from publishers like Bethesda, CD Projekt Red, or Ubisoft
  • And, ominously, Rubin said “No investment, no promises”, presumably meaning that there’s no monthly fee or contracts, but also seeming to imply that they’ll do whatever they want with this platform as they’ve done with all of their other products
  • And theoretically the games won’t be locked to the Facebook platform- every game at launch will allow users to take in-app purchases with them to other platforms to play elsewhere. They don’t care if you stay on their platform, because you’ve already clicked the ad to launch the game
    • Rubin said “…ultimately, we ran the ads, the ads are more effective. And we’re an advertising business. That’s how free-to-play games find people.”
    • Facebook makes money by keeping you on their platform, so if they can get you playing games there too they win regardless of if you’re paying
  • Interestingly enough, in this era of pushback on app store fees, Facebook is reportedly taking a 30% cut of purchases on the web, though purchases through the Google Play store will see that 30% going to Google instead
  • They’ll apparently be skipping over iOS this time around though, due to the rules we’ve reported on regarding cloud gaming on Apple devices
  • The Android Beta of Facebook Gaming launches this Monday

Heads up for anyone planning on taking their Control save file from the current generation of consoles to the new ones in November, you need to buy and play the current Ultimate Edition first

  • According to 505 Games support, you can’t just import your base PS4 or Xbox One save into the new Ultimate version on the PS5 or Xbox Series
  • Using the Playstation as an example, you need to buy the Ultimate Edition for PS4 and then play it at least once to upgrade your save files. At that point they’ll be compatible with the PS5 Ultimate Edition
  • So if you just own the base game on PS4 and the Ultimate Edition on PS5, you’re stuck losing progress. You need to buy the Ultimate Edition on PS4 instead so that you can update your save.
  • At least the Ultimate Edition includes a free PS5 upgrade?

CD Project Red is under fire for once again delaying Cyberpunk 2077, this time to December 10th

  • Even though the game has gone gold and has all its content, this new delay is related to day 0 patches to try and improve the quality and gameplay
  • Day 0 patches can lead to some sizeable changes and improvements, as we saw with No Man’s Sky, but can also cause issues for those without great internet that are hoping to just buy a disc and play it
  • On one hand I, like many others, want them to take the time to release a great game that they can be proud of, but on the other they probably shouldn’t keep announcing new release dates and crunch times over and over again
    • This is an especially bad look when not even a full 24 hours before the latest announcement they were on Twitter telling people that the November 19th date was fully confirmed and 100% on track
  • The game was initially announced over 8 years ago
    • A trailer at E3 2019 gave a release date of April 26 2020
    • Then it was delayed to September 17
    • Then November 19
    • Now December 10
    • And this is all even with the crunch development that they promised they wouldn’t do and are doing anyway. Developers are working upwards of 100 hour weeks, and things are still slipping
  • At this point it feels like they’ve prioritized the release date over actually finishing the game, but keep letting it slip regardless
  • That said, there have been reports of people sending death threats to the developers over these delays and that is NOT okay

Alex Hutchinson, a Google Stadia Creative Director, had a spicy take this week saying that streamers should pay developers and publishers extra licensing for the games they stream

  • Funnily enough this is a man using uncredited fanart of JackSepticEye’s Savage Planet playthrough (a game Hutchinson worked on) for his Twitter banner
    • He even cropped out the signature
  • And many were quick to point out the positive impacts that streaming and let’s play videos can have on game sales, as well as the fact that in a world where publishing executives make millions a year developers wouldn’t even see any of that money anyway
  • Plus it’s literally fair use- these people are adding commentary and personality to the gameplay, not just silently playing a movie

SpaceX is sending out the first invites for its public beta of Starlink, the low earth orbit satellite internet network

  • Currently limited to some areas of the US and Canada, it will be offering 50-150Mbps with an estimated latency of 20-40ms by summer 2021
  • It also comes with an iOS app that can help you install the antenna, check for obstructions, and help troubleshoot and test your connection if you need support
  • Initial buy-in is $500USD for the antenna and router, with a subscription price of $100/month, which honestly isn’t that bad if you don’t have cable, DSL, or fibre internet in your area- services like Xplornet offer slower speeds with much higher latency for about the same price

Following up on their huge Origins update, Hello Games has announced their next update for No Man’s Sky: Next Generation

  • Update 3.1 will being a graphically enhanced and smoother experience to the next generation of consoles and PC, with bigger bases, lusher planets, more players, faster warp speeds, cross-generation crossplay, and more
  • Xbox One saves are automatically compatible, and PS4 players can upload their save data in-game for download on the PS5
  • Best part is, it’s another completely free update!
  • I’m looking forward to loading up my original save from 2016 and trying out all this new stuff

This Week In Gaming History

October 24 – 1995 – Marvel Super Heroes – Arcade

  • Marvel Super Heroes is a 2D fighting game and the second Capcom title to feature characters from the Marvel comic universe.
    • The gameplay is very similar to X-Men: Children of the Atom, but with a simplified Super Combo gauge and the addition of infinity gems.
    • Each character starts with a set of gems.
    • These can be activated during a fight to improve speed, power and defense, or provide special abilities to create crushing stone walls, open up a rift in space, or reverse the opponent’s controls.
    • The use of the gems is inspired by the The Infinity Gauntlet comic book series.
  • There are ten playable characters.
    • Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Psylocke, Spider-Man and Wolverine.
    • The villains are Blackheart, Juggernaut, Magneto and Shuma-Gorath.
    • Anita from the Darkstalkers series is a hidden character in the Japanese version.
    • The bosses are Doctor Doom and Thanos. During the boss fight Thanos steals all the player’s gems (except for mind) and uses them with new effects.m

October 25 – 2005 – Soul Caliber III – PS2

  • In ancient times, a powerful weapon known as the Soul Edge existed, and tales of it’s power lured many.
    • But Soul Edge was an evil weapon, and when Siegfried claimed it, he was turned into a creature named Nightmare.
    • As time passed, Nightmare rampaged across Europe leaving a path of destruction, despite the efforts of other fighters.
    • One day, a mysterious man carrying a scythe confronts Nightmare and splits Siegfried from his cursed form.
    • He then resurrects the Azure Armor to carry on as the “Nightmare” creature.
    • At the same time, a young girl Tira pledges herself to Soul Edge’s dark power, and a woman named Setsuka swears to avenge her master.
    • All the while new rumors of the Soul Edge spread across the world, causing many who had searched for it before to once more venture out…
  • Soulcalibur III is a 3D fighting game featuring a variety of characters, each carrying a distinctive weapon and unique fighting style.
    • The basics of the combat is a derived, in different stances, from a combination of Horizontal Attacks, Vertical Attacks, Throws, Kicks and a Soul Charge.
    • Characters engage one another in 1vs1 fights that end when the energy of one side is lost, removed from the ring or run out of time.
  • This game added the Character Creation Mode
    • This allows the player to choose from several classes, clothing and armor, and physical features.
    • Most of the classes can use up to five disciplines, three of which are unique, and two of which are “Soul of …” disciplines: an exact replica of a main story character’s moves.
    • The created fighter’s personality can be altered, which influences their quotes and their actions during battle.
    • Unfortunately, the personality is chosen by the equipment the character wears, and not directly by the player.
  • In the first ever Spike Video Game Awards in 2003, SoulCalibur II won in the category Most Addictive Game. The original releases on MetaCritic, are 93% on GameCube, 92% on PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
  • I got some of these notes from PS2J 233, when I did the history of Soulcaliber.m

October 26 – 2000 – PlayStation 2 – North America

  • A sixth-generation console, it competed with Sega’s Dreamcast, Nintendo’s GameCube, and Microsoft’s original Xbox.
  • Announced in 1999, the PS2 offered backward-compatibility for its predecessor’s DualShock controller, as well as its games.
    • The PS2 is the best-selling video game console of all time, having sold over 155 million units worldwide.
    • Over 3,800 game titles have been released for the PS2, with over 1.5 billion copies sold.
  • The PlayStation 2 offered some particularly high-profile exclusive games.
    • Most main entries in the Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, and Metal Gear Solid series were released exclusively for the console.
    • Several prolific series got their start on the PlayStation 2, including God of War, Ratchet & Clank, Jak and Daxter, Devil May Cry, Kingdom Hearts, and Sly Cooper.
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was the best-selling game on the console.
  • Random PS2 Fact:
    • People in Brazil could actually boot up Netflix on their PS2 consoles.
    • This service also required a disc plus a memory card.
    • Netflix support for the PS2 was officially ended in 2012, which angered a user on the Gamespot forums.

October 27 – 2017 – Super Mario Odyssey – Switch

  • Explore incredible places far from the Mushroom Kingdom as you join Mario and his new ally Cappy on a massive, globe-trotting 3D adventure.
  • Use amazing new abilities—like the power to capture and control objects, animals, and enemies—to collect Power Moons so you can power up the Odyssey airship and save Princess Peach from Bowser’s wedding plans!
  • Thanks to heroic, hat-shaped Cappy, Mario’s got new moves that’ll make you rethink his traditional run-and-jump gameplay—like cap jump, cap throw, and capture.
    • Use captured cohorts such as enemies, objects, and animals to progress through the game and uncover loads of hidden collectibles.
    • And if you feel like playing with a friend, just pass them a Joy-Con™ controller!
    • Player 1 controls Mario while Player 2 controls Cappy.
    • This sandbox-style 3D Mario adventure—the first since 1996’s beloved Super Mario 64™ and 2002’s Nintendo GameCube™ classic Super Mario Sunshine™—is packed with secrets and surprises, plus exciting new kingdoms to explore.
      • Explore astonishing new locales like skyscraper-packed New Donk City to your heart’s content, and run into familiar friends and foes as you try to save Princess Peach from Bowser’s dastardly wedding plans.
      • Find something interesting? Toss your cap at it and see what happens! There are lots of fun and surprising ways to interact with your surroundings.
      • Be sure to bring any coins you find to a Crazy Cap store, where you can exchange them for decorative souvenirs for the Odyssey and new outfits for Mario! Some destinations have very exclusive dress codes, after all…
      • Hand a Joy-Con™ controller to a friend to enjoy simultaneous multiplayer: Player 1 controls Mario while Player 2 controls Mario’s new ally Cappy.
      • Use Snapshot Mode to freeze time while playing the game and take screenshots that you can customize using various options and filters. Screenshots can be shared via social media or uploaded to PCs and smart devices* using all of the Nintendo Switch™ system’s built-in screenshot tools.
      • A special edition Nintendo Switch™ hardware bundle will launch alongside the game. This special edition includes a download code for the full game, red left and right Joy-Con™ controllers, and a Super Mario Odyssey™ themed Nintendo Switch carrying case.
  • Controls are the best in the series. Ratings are generally perfect across the board.
  • First Mario game with a pop song as the main title.
    • Jump Up, Super Star was released worldwide on October 20, 2017, on the iTunes Store, while the short version was downloadable for free until January 31, 2018.

October 28 – 2008 – Fallout 3 – PS3, Windows, XBox 360

  • The game that made Fallout the way everyone knows it now
  • Bethesda Softworks started working on Fallout 3 in July 2004, but principal development did not begin until after The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and its related extras and plug-ins were completed.
    • Bethesda made Fallout 3 similar to the previous two games, focusing upon non-linear gameplay, story, and black comedy.
    • Bethesda pursued an ESRB rating of M (for “mature”) by including the adult themes, violence, and depravity characteristic of the Fallout series.
    • They shied away from the self-referential gags of the game’s predecessors that broke the illusion that the world of Fallout is real.
    • Fallout 3 uses a version of the same Gamebryo engine as Oblivion, and was developed by the team responsible for that game. Liam Neeson was cast as the voice of the player’s father.
  • Neat Fallout 3 things I have from PS2J 216, the History of Fallout
    • There were originally at least 12 versions of the final cutscene, but, with further development, this expanded to over 200 possible permutations in the final release, all of which are determined by the actions taken by the player.
    • Game director Todd Howard confirmed that, in addition to thematics about slavery and cannibalism, there would be the presence of splatter scenes and exposition of evident mutilations on enemies with release of gibs.
    • The inspiration to include scenes with such explicit violence came from the “crash mode” of the driving simulator series Burnout.
      • Instead of cars that disintegrated because of the damage, the idea of applying kinematics on bodies who suffered wounds and mutilations due to ballistic trauma or beatings.
    • The game fell into some controversies with a world wide release.
      • Fallout 3 was refused classification by the Australian Classification Board, thus making it illegal to distribute or purchase the game in Australia.
      • According to the board report, the game was refused classification due to the “realistic visual representations of drugs and their delivery method [bringing] the ‘science-fiction’ drugs in line with ‘real-world’ drugs”.
      • A revised version of the game had to be released without the animations of administering the drugs.
    • In light of cultural sensitivities, the game was not released in India.
      • Although the specific reason was not revealed in public, it is possible that it is because the game contains two-headed mutated cows called Brahmin, or that Brahmin is also the name of an ancient, powerful hereditary caste of Hindu priests and religious scholars in India, or its similarity to the spelling of brahman, a type of cow that originated in India.
    • The side quest “The Power of the Atom” in the Japanese version of Fallout 3 was changed to relieve concerns about depictions of atomic detonation in inhabited areas, as the memory of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remains strong in the country.
      • In non-Japanese versions, players are given the option of either defusing, ignoring, or detonating the dormant atomic bomb in the town of Megaton; in the Japanese version, the character of Mr. Burke is absent, making it impossible to choose the detonation option.
      • Also in the Japanese release, the “Fat Man” nuclear catapult weapon was renamed “Nuka Launcher”, as the original name was a reference to Fat Man, the bomb used on Nagasaki.
      • According to Tetsu Takahashi, responsible for localizing Fallout 3 to Japan under his company Zenimax Asia, the available actions prior to localizing “The Power of the Atom” and the ability to kill civilians almost got the game banned by CERO before it received an Adult Only Rating.

October 29 – 2002 – Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – PlayStation 2

  • The follow-up to the game that changed gaming
  • Tommy Vercetti is a gangster who just got off a fifteen year prison sentence for not squealing on his friends.
    • Because he didn’t rat out his “family”, Tommy’s sent to work with Sonny Forelli, his old boss.
    • Sonny gives him an easy drug job, but everything goes wrong, and Tommy loses everything.
    • Upon returning to Sonny, he gets mad and wants his money back.
    • Unfortunately, everybody in Vice City, from gangsters and Cubans to bikers and politicians are in his way, and it’s up to Tommy to clear a path.
  • The 80’s aesthetic makes this game so special to me
    • I love the era, but love the internet so wouldn’t want to live in that time. Just visit, which this game lets me.
    • My favorite part of the description is about the soundtrack.
      • To effectively capture the mood of the 1980s, the soundtrack has been altered to fit the time period.
      • Players will listen to an estimated nine hours of music (nearly three times the amount featured in the previous game) across ten radio stations.
      • The eclectic mix features such noteworthy titles as I Ran by Flock of Seagulls, The Message by Grandmaster Flash, You’ve Got Another Thing Coming by Judas Priest, and Out of Touch by Hall & Oates.

October 30 – 2007 – The Simpsons Game – PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, XBox 360

  • This at a glance, would the game for The Simpsons Movie that came out the same year
    • I remember playing all of it up the end, and enjoying it.
    • I do not remember finishing it or not
  • Bart Simpson goes to a video game store and buys a new ultra-violent Grand Theft Scratchy game, which is promptly confiscated by his mother Marge.
    • Suddenly, a video game manual lands right in front of him.
    • Miraculously, after having read the manual, the members of the Simpsons family discover that each of them possesses a unique superpower.
    • Toying with these, however, attracts the attention of the aliens Kang and Kodos, who decide to invade the Earth.
    • Now the unlikely superheroes must not only protect the town of Springfield from an alien assault, but also find the true reason behind their newly acquired powers, and perhaps their very existence.
  • The Simpsons Game is a 3D action game with platforming and light puzzle-solving elements, based on the long-running cartoon.
    • The game is divided into sixteen episodes, each containing cutscenes reminiscent of the original Simpsons TV series.
    • Every episode is set in a different environment; some of the scenarios are based in Springfield, while others take the player into meta-virtual worlds.
    • Some of the episodes parody a popular game or genre, having names like Medal of Homer or Neverquest. Each stage features two members of the Simpson clan working together to achieve the goal.
    • Players must switch back and forth using each family members’ unique powers to complete the level.
    • Most of the game’s versions allow two-player cooperative play.
  • The four controllable characters have their own unique abilities, which are used for combat, puzzle-solving, or exploration-related purposes.
    • Homer can expand into a rolling blob or inflate himself with helium and float for a while; later, he learns a few other transformation abilities.
    • Bart can become Bartman, using a grappling hook to access certain areas, as well as move upwards in air streams with his cape.
    • Lisa’s main ability is called “Hand of Buddha”, which is used mainly for moving around large objects; she can also play her saxophone to stun or confuse enemies.
    • Finally, Marge can gather people with her megaphone and control their actions, as well as send the little Maggie into crawlspaces only she can access.
    • Some of these abilities have limited uses and must be either recharged or replenished with special items, while others are available only at specific trigger points.
  • The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions also contain free-roaming gameplay – exclusively in those versions player characters can leave the Simpsons’ house between missions and freely wander through virtual Springfield.
    • Familiar landmarks (such as Moe’s Tavern, etc.) are present and can be explored as well.
    • These locations may contain additional dialogue and events. It is possible to use the bus to travel quickly to various destinations.

Tidbits

  • After openly mocking Apple for removing charging bricks from new iPhones being sold, Samsung is reportedly considering the exact same move
    • This isn’t really anything new, after they pulled advertising focused on Apple removing the headphone port when they did the exact same thing in the Galaxy Note 10 series
    • It kind of makes sense though- it leads to less packaging and e-waste, while also driving people toward reliable and cheaper companies like Anker for their power adaptors
  • With reports of broken Quest 2 Elite straps continuing to mount on Reddit, users are saying that Oculus Support is being overwhelmed and pushing response times further and further back
  • In a case related to the FIFA games, a judge in the Netherlands has officially ruled that loot boxes are a form of gambling, and since online gambling is strictly regulated there they have given EA three weeks to remove them or be subject to up to €5M in fines
  • Ubisoft’s UPLAY+ has morphed into Ubisoft+, launching a multi-platform subscription model with a beta on Amazon Luna and later on Google Stadia
    • PC subscribers get unlimited access to 100+ games for $15/month, including premium editions and upcoming titles like Watch Dogs: Legion and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
    • Once Luna and Stadia support are brought in you’ll be able to play all of the included games on one of those streaming services at no additional cost, so you won’t need a powerful gaming PC to play brand new AAA titles
  • As part of the antitrust lawsuit against Google that we talked about last week, it’s being reported that Google currently pays Apple an estimated $8-12B per year to be the default search engine
    • This is believed to be the single biggest payment Google makes to anyone, and accounts for 14-21% of Apple’s annual profits

Would you like to know more?

  • Gizmodo’s breakdown of the US senate’s proposed changes to the laws that protect online platforms against liability for content uploaded by their users and how the platforms moderate it

 

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PS2J 323 News – 10 23 2020

Reminder: Get your flu shot, if you can!

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Stick it to the Man! (free on Epic last month)

      • 2013
      • Indie adventure platformer that puts you in the role of Ray, a hard hat tester that suffered a bizarre accident and woke up with a giant pink spaghetti arm sticking out of his brain. With his awesome new powers he can read minds and change the world with stickers but he’s on the run for a crime he didn’t commit.
  • Epic Games

    • Costume Quest 2

      • 2014
      • Action RPG from Double Fine that has players assuming the identity of one of two twin siblings, Wren or Reynold. Explore spooky time-traversing landscapes, don adorable new costumes that transform into powerful Hallo-warriors, and collect even Creepier Treat Cards to wield in combat against a legion of hygiene obsessed baddies.
    • Layers of Fear 2

      • First person psychological horror game with an emphasis on exploration and story. Players control a Hollywood actor who heeds the call of an enigmatic director to take on the lead role in a film shot aboard an ocean liner.

The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Google for antitrust violations, after a 16 month investigation into anticompetitive practices in tech

  • With how much control and breadth Google holds over the technology landscape right now, from search to email to cloud storage to mobile to collaboration tools to streaming video to web browsers… it’s a lot
  • The DOJ is alleging that Google uses their position to block competition and prevent rivals from getting a foothold in any of their related businesses, including deals that make its search platform the default on iPhones and Android
    • Android devices can’t even delete the Google Search app
  • The lawsuit also mentions Google’s advertising practices within its search business, controlling over 70% of the search advertising market, 80% of general searches, and 95% of searches from mobile devices
  • Kent Walker, a Google Senior VP, said the lawsuit is “deeply flawed” and “would do nothing to help consumers”, noting that people use Google because they choose to and that users can change their default settings to use alternative services
  • I could see this resulting in, at the very minimum, phones and browsers giving you a selection of search engines at setup instead of always defaulting to Google. Duck Duck Go has been a great alternative, but even I didn’t think to switch my default settings for a long time
  • Depending on how this case goes it could result in a lot of other government actions against tech companies, including Facebook, Amazon, and Apple

Ahead of the next-generation of Xboxes next month, the Xbox app on iOS has been updated with Remote Play

  • Similar to Sony’s PS4 Remote Play feature, this has the games being played on your own Xbox using a Bluetooth controller paired to your phone, with audio and video streamed to your device
  • It’s pretty slick and even supports play outside of your own Wifi network, so you can have a full Xbox experience on the go wherever you are as long as you have a data connection
  • When the connection is first made you have to boot up your console to enable the feature, and it will run through a few tests to make sure things will work smoothly, but then when you use it your Xbox will run silently with no indication it’s being played- no power light or startup chime
  • Unfortunately at the moment it seems like there’s an audio glitch on some devices, where the sound coming through the phone is choppy and distorted, but a fix is in the works and once they release that everything else seems great- visuals are clear, and latency is minimal
  • One neat feature though is that when the console is being played remotely it looks like you can still play it locally as well, so depending on if that’s a bug or a feature we could see couch co-op games played from anywhere with a cell signal

It looks like Xbox All Access is coming to Canada as well, offering a Series X and 2 years of GamePass Ultimate for $40/month, or a Series S for $30/month with no interest

  • All said, assuming you’d have paid for full-price GamePass anyway the plan saves you $40 on the X and $60 on the S
  • One thing to note is that Game Pass Ultimate maxes out at three years, so if you already have more than a year banked you’ll want to wait before redeeming the included 2 year code
  • All Access should be available at launch on November 10th

NBA 2K21 has apparently added unskippable ads to their full-price game, on top of all the microtransactions and gambling they’ve already shovelled in

  • Ads for the Oculus Quest 2 have reportedly appeared during loading screens, regardless of how long the game actually takes to load, with the button to proceed disabled until the ad plays in full
  • This is on top of having paid $70 for the game, and being charged extra if you want to upgrade to the next-gen version coming next month
  • This might sound like familiar ground, with EA having done something similar by adding ads to UFC4 and its replays, but that move drew so much fire that they quickly reversed course and removed them
  • Time will tell how long it takes 2K to do the same

One day after launching their Apple TV app, short-form video service Quibi is shutting down

  • In case you missed it, in the 6 months it existed, the idea behind Quibi was to be like Netflix but for quick 5-10 minute videos for about $5/month
  • It also had a gimmick where you could switch your phone between landscape and portrait while you watched and the video stream would adjust accordingly, showing you video formatted for that orientation
  • Unfortunately it failed to really take off, aiming for people waiting for coffee or on the bus but launching right when the pandemic initially hit hardest, and ended up with less than 1/10th of their projected subscribers
  • It also doesn’t help that they had some pretty unappealing licensing deals and some say their contracts were specifically set up to avoid involvement with the Screenwriters and Screen Actors Guilds to cut costs
  • They attempted to sell to companies like Facebook, Warner Media, and Apple, but there weren’t any takers, so things are just shutting down

Ubisoft is revamping its Uplay and Ubisoft Club platforms into Ubisoft Connect, and the future looks pretty dang bright

  • The new service will include the Uplay reward structure, but more importantly its biggest addition is cross-platform progression
    • You’ll be able to take your save files from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Immortals Fenyx Rising, and Riders Republic, as well as future Ubisoft games, from one platform to another seamlessly with crossplay and cross-progression
  • Ubisoft Connect will be launching alongside Watch Dogs: Legon on October 29th

GM has unveiled a new electric Hummer this week, with a 350+ mile range and “crab mode” for diagonal off-road movement

  • If you’re confused by why I’m talking about this I have yet to get to my favourite part- the digital cockpit system was designed in the Unreal Engine with Epic Games
  • It kind of makes sense when you think about it- modern vehicles run on computers, so bringing advancements from gaming regarding performance and interface is a logical next step

This Week In Gaming History

October 17 – 2001 – Devil May Cry – Playstation 2

  • Legend has it that 2000 years ago in the depths of hell, a demon rebelled against the devil, waging a one-man war in support of the human world.
  • In the present, Dante, a private investigator of the supernatural, realizes that the devil is rallying to rise again against mankind.
    • Deep within Dante’s blood lies the power of ancient demons and as his power builds he transforms into a demon state where he can use his power against evil he encounters.
  • Josh’s commentary
    • First horror game I enjoyed and played completely!
    • Was the first game I wasn’t allowed to play, so of course I played it in secret, sorry Mom
    • It appealed to my inner Edge-Lord and the Way Too Cool attitude Sonic reinforced in me.

October 18 – 1994 – Sonic and Knuckles – Genesis

  • Sonic and Knuckles continues the story directly from where Sonic the Hedgehog 3 left off.
  • Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were originally planned as a single game
    • According to designer Takashi Iizuka, the team “really wanted to hit a home run”, with larger stages that took longer to develop.
    • As ROM cartridges were too small to contain the game and publisher Sega wanted it released in time for a promotional deal with McDonald’s, Sonic 3 was split in two, with Sonic & Knuckles as the second part.
    • Despite the split, the developers wanted the games to feel like a single experience.
    • According to Roger Hector, vice president and general manager of STI, the lock-on technology was conceived two and a half years before the release of Sonic & Knuckles, between the releases of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
    • The team explained their situation to Sega’s hardware division, which gave them the lock-on adapter.
    • The team knew that players would likely use the adapter to insert games beside Sonic 3, so they implemented the Blue Sphere minigame for most games.
    • They made Knuckles playable in Sonic 2 if that game was inserted because the team found his playstyle suited its levels.
    • However, the team did not implement the same feature for the original Sonic the Hedgehog as it “didn’t really feel right”.
  • I love the logo that is shown on the cartridge and box.
    • This and Sonic 3, are games that I would be able to rent, but buying my own copy always eluded me.

October 19 – 2010 – Fallout: New Vegas – PS3, 360, Windows

  • The followup to Fallout 3, but developed by Obsidian Studios
  • Lots of people think of New Vegas, when it comes to great Fallout titles.
    • The consensus on this game, from what I remember, is that it is a cool new story, with all the popular mods that came out for Fallout 3 built in.
  • Reviews are consistently high
    • With the caveat that it is really fun, but buggy as well.

October 20 – 2020 – Amnesia: Rebirth – PS4, Windows

  • You can’t let out a breath. The creature is only inches away.
    • Its sole purpose – to feed off your terror. And so you crouch in the dark, trying to stop the fear rising, trying to silence what lies within you.
  • “I know you. I know what you’re capable of.”
  • In Amnesia: Rebirth, you are Tasi Trianon, waking up deep in the desert of Algeria.
    • Days have passed.
    • Where have you been? What did you do? Where are the others?
    • Retrace your journey, pull together the fragments of your shattered past; it is your only chance to survive the pitiless horror that threatens to devour you.
  • “Do not allow yourself anger, do not allow yourself to fear.”
  • Time is against you.
    • Step into Tasi’s shoes and guide her through her personal terror and pain.
    • While you struggle to make your way through a desolate landscape, you must also struggle with your own hopes, fears, and bitter regrets.
    • And still you must continue, step by step, knowing that if you fail you will lose everything.
      • First-person narrative horror experience
      • Explore environments and uncover their histories.
      • Overcome puzzles that stand in your way.
      • Carefully manage your limited resources, both physical and mental.
      • Encounter horrific creatures and use your wits and understanding of the world to escape them.

October 21 – 2003 – Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III – Rebel Strike – GameCube

  • Be a part of the epic battle between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire as a member of Rogue Squadron, an elite group of fighters who are the best chance for the Rebel’s to destroy the Empire once and for all.
  • Taking the part of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Wedge Antilles, your mission is to re-live the battles of the original Star Wars trilogy, from escaping the first Death Star to riding Tauntauns on Hoth, to the final battle at Endor.
    • For the first time you can fight the good fight in the air and on the ground, swapping between your X-Wing, a speeder bike and many other attack craft.
  • Included in the game is the complete version of Rogue Squadron II, specifically built for two player co-op play.
    • Plus there are multiplayer battle modes and full cutscenes straight from the original trilogy.
  • Critics rated the game quite highly
    • In the 80s and higher
    • Good for a licensed game, but Rogue Squadron stands on its own like the Jedi Knight or Knights of The Old Republic games.

October 22 – 2007 – Bee Movie Game – PS2, Wii, Windows, XBox 360

  • Once a week I like to find a terrible looking licensed movie game
  • Play as Barry B. Benson and prove that there’s more to being a bee than just making honey.
  • Playing as Barry, you retell your story through a series of flashbacks, while you work odd jobs around New York and Barry’s hive.
    • There are various mini-games that need to be completed to continue the story.
    • Gameplay includes controlling Barry on foot, in the air, and driving around town.
  • Exclusive to the Wii version are 3 Bee speedway tracks, 4 additional maxi-games and 6 new competitive 2-player arcade games.

October 23 – 2017 – Fuzion Frenzy – Xbox One Compatibility Update

  • When Xbox was trying to compete with Playstation 2 and GameCube, they needed a party game
    • And this is the one with no follow up whatsoever
  • Fuzion Frenzy is a party game with six arenas and more than 45 different mini-games for up to four players to partake in.
    • Fuzion Frenzy provides real-time play for all players in both the main game and the mini-games, no waiting for your opponent to take their turn.
  • After typing this I am learning there is a Fusion Frenzy 2
    • Reviews tanked by a glance
    • Going a google image search, looks like a lot of the same or similar games but with a 360 polish

Tidbits

  • There are some reports of the new Apple Watch SE overheating and, in some cases, even burning a visible yellow patch on the top-right of the display
    • Given how consistent the spot’s placement it this is likely a hardware defect, and if you notice anything like that you should absolutely contact Apple Support
  • The UK is set to close a loophole in their distracted driving laws that currently allow drivers to take photos or play games
    • Apparently the law was originally worded to ban devices that “perform an interactive communication” while driving, but many have successfully argued that filming or playing games doesn’t count since there’s no communication happening
  • Addressing issues of users being locked out of their hardware, Facebook’s Head of VR is now telling users to make sure their Facebook accounts are “in good standing” before buying an Oculus Quest 2
    • Considering how arbitrary the lockouts have been lately, and how they can ban you for things like not providing your legal name or your behaviour even in single-player games, it really feels a lot more stifling than any other platform’s account requirements
  • NASA has announced they’re teaming up with Nokia to install a 4G network on the moon, as part of their Artemis program aiming at making the moon habitable by 2028
    • This would greatly improve astronauts’ ability to communicate with the earth via voice or video, as well as transfer important data
    • As an added bonus, NASA also says that the moon network will eventually be upgraded for 5G
  • Early adopters of the Oculus Quest 2 have been having a rough time with the Elite headstrap, with many reports online of the arms cracking or even breaking under normal use
    • Some blame the issue on how people are taking the headset off at the end of a session, but either way it seems very fragile for such a new piece of hardware with some people saying they’ve gotten maybe 2 hours of play before it broke
  • The Halo Master Chief Collection has been confirmed as getting a free upgrade for the Series S & X, amping things up to 120fps in campaign and multiplayer, supporting 4K resolutions on the X, and cross-generation play for those still running an Xbox One
    • The upgrade hits for existing owners or anyone with GamePass on November 17th

 

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