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 320 News – Gritty Humans and Pretty Anime Folk

Free games

  • Xbox Gold

    • The Book of Unwritten Tales 2

      • 2015
      • A comedy point and click adventure game that has you switching between four different protagonists that has you working against a magical force that’s turning beasts into puppies and castles into dollhouses
    • Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut

      • 2016
      • A killer puzzle game where you control Skullface, a psycho slasher bent on slaughtering camp counselors at the title campground. Slide an adorable voxel murderer around hundreds of isometric puzzle levels to squash, flay, and decapitate hapless victims in this darkly comic homage to 80s horror.
    • Sphinx & the Cursed Mummy

      • 2003
      • Third person action adventure game inspired by the mythology of ancient Egypt where you play both the demi-god Sphinx and the undead mummy Tutankhamen in a combination of combat and puzzle-solving
  • Ps plus

    • Need for Speed: Payback

      • 2017
      • Racing game set in an open-world fictional version of Las Vegas, focused on action driving with three different playable characters working together to pull of action movie like sequences and heists
    • Vampyr

      • 2018
      • Action RPG set in Spanish Flu era London where you play Jonathan Reid, a doctor turned vampire torn between the Hippocratic Oath and his newfound bloodthirsty nature
  • Twitch

    • SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell

      • 2016
      • A first-person speedrunning parkour game that plays like a combination Quake 3 and Super Meat Boy with a focus on quick action and reflexes
    • Dead Age

      • 2016
      • A zombie apocalypse RPG with turn-based combat and permadeath that has you managing survivors, crafting materials, and making tough choices to defend your camp against the undead
    • Surf World Series

      • 2017
      • A single or multiplayer surfing trick game that looks like Tony Hawk on the water
    • Layers of Fear

      • 2016
      • A psychological horror game where you control a disturbed painter trying to complete his magnum opus as he navigates through a victorian mansion, with disturbing secrets about the painter being discovered
    • Silver Chains

      • 2019
      • First-person horror game with a focus on story and exploration, where you search for clues in an abandoned manor to unravel the truth about the terrible events that occurred
    • Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl

      • 2020
      • Retro 8-bit sidescrolling brawler that has Jay and Silent Bob battling their way out of the mall and back to the Quickstop
    • Darkside Detective

      • 2017
      • Point and click mystery game that has you solving the dangerous and confusing cases of Twin Lakes, with everything from flesh-hungry tentacles to mafioso zombies in the mix
  • Epic Games

    • Pikuniku

      • 2019
      • Puzzle adventure game that has you getting through levels and solving puzzles by kicking and pushing objects, swinging from your legs, or curling up and rolling around. The game is focused on single player but also has local co-op specific levels

Epic Games vs Apple updates

  • During a hearing this week with both companies, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers criticized Epic’s decision to breach their contract with Apple in the first place by offering their custom payment system in an attempt to avoid App Store fees
    • Apparently Epic claimed that it didn’t pose a security threat to Apple because they’re a well-established company and partner
    • Judge Gonzalez Rogers reportedly told Epic “You did something, you lied about it by omission, by not being forthcoming. That’s the security issue. That’s the security issue!” and “There are a lot of people in the public who consider you guys heroes for what you guys did, but it’s still not honest.”
    • She was also not particularly persuaded by Epic’s arguments that Apple was violating antitrust law, or that they harmed Epic’s ability to distribute Fortnite through the App Store
      • “Walled gardens have existed for decades,” said the judge. “Nintendo has had a walled garden. Sony has had a walled garden. Microsoft has had a walled garden. What Apple’s doing is not much different… It’s hard to ignore the economics of the industry, which is what you’re asking me to do.”
      • “The 30% of what you complain seems to be the industry rate, right? Steam charges 30%. Microsoft: 30% … If you go to consoles: PlayStation, Xbox Nintendo all charged 30%. Physical stores: GameStop, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart all charge 30%. Apple and Google charged 30%. It’s all 30%, and you just want to gloss over it. You don’t want to address it,”
      • Epic’s Bornstein says alternatives to the smartphone have their own constraints. “For example you can’t play an Xbox when you are, you know, on a bus.”
      • YGR: “You can’t play, but you can play on a Switch.”
  • We’re still waiting for a decision on whether Fortnite will be allowed back on the App Store temporarily, but Judge Gonzalez Rogers did recommend that the case be taken to a jury trial in July to settle the issues permanently

iOS security recommendations

  • Settings > Passwords > Security Recommendations
  • Breaks down all your saved passwords that may need to be changed based on priority, and includes info on whether they’re easily guessed, reused, or if they’ve been included in a previous data breach
  • It also gives you a link right to the affected site if you want to go ahead and change the password
  • Thanks to that I’ve tightened up my password security on a lot of different sites
  • One thing to note here is that the current conspiracy theory going around on Facebook, saying that iOS 14 widgets are acting as key loggers and stealing passwords, is completely false
    • Apparently part of the fuel for this is that people are getting notifications after upgrading that their passwords were involved in a breach- this is just because the notifications are new. The breaches are old.

Google announced a bunch of new stuff this week at their hardware event, including a new streaming service client

  • Not a streaming service itself, but Google TV is a client for Chromecast that shows content from services like Netflix and Disney+, alongside Google Play and YouTube videos
  • They also announced
    • a new standalone Chromecast model that comes with a remote control for $50USD, so you can use Google TV without streaming content from your phone
      • Unfortunately Stadia was left out in the cold here- you can get it going with a bit of fiddling, but there’s no native support
    • a 5G enabled Pixel 5 with somewhat underwhelming specs but a 90hz screen and IPX8 waterproofing that will set you back $700USD
    • another 5G phone, the Pixel 4A 5G, that’s basically an upgraded Pixel 4A XL and working as a budget version of the Pixel 5 without the fancy display and waterproofing and a $500USD pricetag
    • and a new Nest Audio speaker that we don’t have a lot of details on yet, but looks like a Google Home and a Google Home Max had a child and is apparently 75% louder than the Google Home it’s replacing

The new Spider-Man: Miles Morales game for the PS5 exists in a weird spot for a sequel, working almost like reverse DLC

  • You can get the game on the PS5, and if you want to play the remastered version of the PS4 Spider-Man you can either get the Miles Morales Ultimate Edition or buy the remaster from within the Miles Morales game
  • It’s apparently a full next-gen remaster with overhauled environments, ray-traced reflections and shadows, new skies and weather, a brand new face model for Peter Parker, 3D audio, instant loading, and a more powerful photo mode
  • Unfortunately all of this comes at a price- the trophy list will be separate from the original PS4 release, so trophy hunters are stuck starting from scratch

This Day in Gaming History

September 26 – 1995 – Command & Conquer – DOS

  • Command & Conquer develops ideas from Westwood’s previous game Dune 2, forming a real-time strategy (RTS) game.
    • The control system involves selecting units with the mouse and then directing them, while the opponents make their moves without waiting for a “turn” to end.
  • The game focuses on a war between two organizations, The Brotherhood of Nod and the Global Defense Initiative.
    • The player can take control of either side for more than 15 missions. Both have different units and structures, including artillery, tanks and light infantry.
  • In most missions, a base needs to be built first in order to build new units and structures.
    • Most important are the harvesters, which collect Tiberium and deliver it to a refinery, where it’s converted into money, thus funding the construction of a base and an army.
  • The game also features FMV mission briefings and victory cutscenes.

September 27 – 2004 – Dream Works’ Shark Tale – GameCube, PS2, Xbox

  • Shark Tale is inspired by the movie of the same name and follows the adventures of Oscar, a blue-streaked cleaner wrasse fish.
    • Oscar seems to have got himself into a bit of trouble as he needs to earn money to pay off a loan shark.
  • The game consists of over 25 chapters with each chapter having three missions to perform.
    • The three missions are broken into a regular one, a bonus one, and an elite one.
    • Completing missions earn Oscar fame points which affect his fame rating.
    • Also, depending on how well Oscar performs missions will determine how much money he earns to pay off his debt.
    • Missions are varied including things like escaping a shark, erasing graffiti, and a dancing segment.

September 28 – 1995 – Mario Clash – Virtual Boy – Japan

  • This game is essentially a single-player sequel to Mario Bros.
    • While the Super Mario Advance games would later contain a graphically-enhanced version of Mario Bros., Mario Clash contains many more additions and changes to gameplay.
  • As before, the goal is to clear a screen of enemies and move on to the next level.
    • However, rather than doing this by flipping an enemy upside-down from underneath and kicking them away, you throw shells at them.
    • Also, taking advantage of Virtual Boy’s added depth, there is a front area and a back area which can be traveled to and from using pipes.
    • Shells can also be thrown at enemies on the other depth area.

September 29 – 1996 – Super Mario 64 – N64 – North America

  • Mario is invited to Peach’s castle, but when he arrives Peach is nowhere to be seen.
    • He soon learns from Toad that Bowser has once again kidnapped her.
    • The Koopa King has also put a spell on her castle, imprisoning her subjects.
    • So it is up to Mario to break the spell and rescue Peach.
  • Super Mario 64 is the first Mario game done entirely with 3D graphics.
    • The core gameplay is similar to previous platform installments, focusing on jumping, avoiding obstacles and defeating enemies.
    • Levels can be explored without time limits.
    • Stars must be collected in order to unlock new areas, eventually gaining access to various parts of Bowser’s castle.
    • Defeating Bowser on each floor procures keys necessary to unlock big doors and enter other floors, which contain more areas.
  • Mario has more moves at his disposal in this installment.
    • Besides running and jumping, he can now walk, crouch, crawl, climb, and punch enemies.
    • Double and triple jumps, long jumps, wall jumps and backflips can be executed as well.
    • Swimming underwater now depletes Mario’s oxygen level.
    • Items must be picked up and carried in some instances in order to solve puzzles.
  • Power-ups include the Wing Cap, which allows Mario to fly; the Metal Cap, which protects him from damage (including environmental hazards such as poisonous gas); and the Vanish Cap, which makes Mario ethereal, allowing him to walk through certain obstacles (such as wire mesh). Mario can also enter cannons and be shot from them; combining this with the flying ability grants access to high areas.

September 30 – 1997 – Postal – Windows/Mac

  • You’ve just gone off the deep end, and in your deeply demented mind, you’ve decided that this little peaceful town no longer needs peace and quiet.
    • You gather your arsenal as you plan your next move…
  • Postal is best described as a three-quarter view isometric shooter with a disturbing theme.
    • Instead of shooting at demons, monsters, bad guys and terrorists, your targets are typical citizens like a high school marching band, ordinary pedestrians, and even Santa Claus!
    • You are provided with an arsenal of diverse weapons to choose from, ranging from good old fashioned guns to flame throwers.

October 1 – 2015 – The Beginner’s Guide – Windows, Mac, Linux

  • Probably a first, The Beginner’s Guide is presented as a guided tour through the work of another developer, named Coda.
    • This developer is real and created numerous experimental small games using the Source engine from 2008 to 2011, the year in which he stopped developing games altogether.
  • The player is guided through this list of small games by the voice of Davey Wreden, the actual director of the game and co-designer and co-writer of The Stanley Parable.
    • Similar to that game, The Beginner’s Guide can be considered a game about game design and about how players interact with games and, in a way, communicate with game developers.

October 2 – 1997 – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – PlayStation – North America

  • Symphony of the Night is a direct sequel to Rondo of Blood.
    • Unlike the previous installments of the series, the game is set in a castle which the player can explore freely with many different paths, although often items in certain areas need to be found that will allow passage to others.
    • The action-based gameplay incorporates now strong RPG elements.
    • The hero receives experience points for defeating enemies, gains levels and becomes more powerful.
    • There is also money to be found in the game, and various accessories to buy. In a separate screen, players need to equip attack weapons, shields and other items.
    • Magic plays an important role, as well as secondary weapons and a large amount of “special moves” that are executed similar to advanced one-on-one fighting games.

Tidbits

  • After 11 years in operation, FarmVille is officially shutting down at the end of the year
    • The developer cited the end of support for Adobe Flash and an unwillingness to migrate to a new platform as the main causes
  • Los Angeles Comic-Con is moving forward with an in-person event in December, making it one of the first Southern California festivals to do so since the March shutdown
    • Precautions they’ll be taking include doubling their floorspace, spreading out activities across their own halls, splitting each day into five-hour sessions with deep cleaning between, cutting ticket sales, and live-streaming all guests and main panels for an optional virtual experience
    • It sounds like they’re trying, but I’d still be really hesitant to buy tickets
  • Apple and Microsoft are working together a bit more than usual now, with the Apple TV app soon becoming available on the Xbox
    • Content will include Apple TV+ subscriptions, which could save some money for people that have been eyeing up an Apple TV 4k box
    • This could also be a good sign for Game Pass, if the two companies can improve their collaboration and get eachother’s streaming services on their hardware
  • As part of Amazon’s announcements last week that flew under the radar, they also introduced a drone camera for inside your home
    • The Always Home Cam will set you back $250 and is a fully autonomous drone that can fly around and show your any room in your house
  • CD Projekt Red is drawing fire this week after doubling back on their commitment to avoiding mandatory crunch time for Cyberpunk 2077
    • Studio Head Adam Badowski released a statement lamenting this decision and how necessary it is, and promising 10% of the company’s 2020 profit to the team, but this will likely make people think twice before taking him at his word again
  • Star Wars Squadrons has launched to a lot of praise, especially for its multiplayer, including the fact that a day-one patch has implemented full support for flight stick, throttle, and pedal assemblies. Combined with VR, the immersion sounds awesome

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