Free Games

  • Twitch

    • The Academy: First Riddle

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

    • Sunless Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week In Gaming History

February 20 – 2003 – Train Tracking – Windows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 25 – 2002 – Circus Maximus – PS2, Xbox

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

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

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

Tidbits

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

Mini-review

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

 

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Updates
  • Huawei has also introduced a folding tablet, but this one has the screen on the outside
    • On the plus side, that means they don’t need to bother with a second tiny screen like Samsung
    • On the downside, that means that when it’s closed there’s no way to put it down that can’t scratch the plastic screen
    • Also, this one costs about $2600 USD
 
Free games
  • Sony PS4
    • The Witness
      • 2016
      • First person puzzle exploration game, a la Myst, developed by the creator of Braid
    • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
      • 2016 remaster of the 2007 FPS
      • Classic first person military shooter with a somewhat dated story, but it’s the multiplayer that I feel really kicked off the multiplayer military shooter craze
      • In addition to the old game types they’ve also added modes like one called Prop Hunt, where players have to hide as inanimate objects from the opposing team
    • It looks like Sony isn’t increasing the number of PS4 games they’re handing out to make up for the PS3 and Vita titles they’re no longer offering
  • Microsoft
    • XBone
      • Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion
        • 2018
        • In this open world turn-based RPG, the Land of Ooo has been flooded and you have to find out what happened while saving all your favourite characters from the TV show
      • Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
        • 2016
        • Third person class-based shooter based on the old Plants vs Zombies tower defence mobile game
    • 360
      • Metal Gear Rising Revengance
        • 2013
        • Action hack and slash title from Platinum Games with the usual batshit Kojima plot and a Blade Mode mechanic that lets you slice up pretty much anything in slow motion
        • Still on of my favourite titles we played back when we did Let’s Play videos
    • Original
      • Star Wars: Republic Commando
        • 2005
        • Tactical FPS set in the Star Wars universe during the Clone Wars, where you play as the leader of a squad of clone commandos completing missions for the Republic
        • I’ve heard good things about this one, but the closest I’ve come is reading the excellent Karen Traviss series of the same name
    • And just a reminder that all Games with Gold are playable on the XBone via backward compatibility
  • No Twitch games so far this month, but BONUS ROUND
    • FFXIV – R4WU GJYD 886Z LPW4 SSN3
 
Nintendo released a Pokemon Direct this week, introducing Pokemon Sword and Shield coming to the Switch later this year
  • Looks like the games have a full 3D setting in a new region called Galar, described as a more modern world with factories, trains, and steelworks in addition to idyllic countryside and contemporary cities
    • It looks like the new region may be based on the UK, with many features on the map appearing to match landmarks like Big Ben and the London Eye.
    • Even some of the characters’ clothing looks fairly British
  • And some good news for fans of previous generations- they showed that older Pokemon like Pikachu, Tyranitar, and Munchlax will all be making appearances along with the new gen
  • The newest trio of starters are grass-type Grookey, fire-type Scorbunny, and water-type Sobble
 
Facebook is launching a platform to compete with Patreon that’s worse in every conceivable way (which should be more of a challenge, considering some of the stuff that Patreon’s pulled in the past)
  • The most obvious problem is that compared to Patreon’s 5% cut of supporter dollars, Facebook wants up to 30%
  • They also reserve the right to offer free trials to subscriptions that won’t compensate creators
  • And they demand a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license” to use creator content, and “this license survives even if you stop using Fan Subscriptions”
    • So they have rights to use your content. And give it away. And sell it. Anywhere in the world. Without paying you a dime. Forever.
  • This is straight-up abusive, and the worst part is Facebook knows it- they’ve run trials, and when creators asked questions or pointed out problems in the terms their invites were revoked and they were summarily banned from the platform
 
Microsoft workers are calling on the company to cancel their new contract with the US military
  • The $479M contract would see HoloLens, Microsoft’s augmented reality headset, used by the army in what workers are calling a corruption of designers’ and engineers’ earlier work and an affront to those opposed to designing weapons for war
    • HoloLens was announced in 2015, but just this last November Microsoft reached an agreement to develop an “Integrated Visual Augmentation System” based on the tech
    • The technology is explicitly meant to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy”
  • While Microsoft has offered to accommodate employees opposed to developing tech for the military by moving them to other projects or teams, employees say that ignores the problem that they’re not properly informed of the uses of their work
    • A letter to Microsoft noted that “many engineers contributed to HoloLens before this contract even existed” on the assumption that it would be applied to fields like architecture, surgery, and space exploration, not helping people kill
    • Instead they argue that they’re now implicated as war profiteers
  • A Microsoft spokesperson, in a statement to The Guardian, didn’t respond to the criticisms but said the company “always appreciated feedback from employees”
 
THQ Nordic held an AMA this week on a website created because 4chan was too strict
  • For some reason they decided to host the Q&A session on 8chan- the website involved in incidents regarding child pornography, swatting, GamerGate, and more
    • 8chan is a spinoff of 4chan, a site already notorious for racist, sexist, and inflammatory rhetoric, created out of a belief that 4chan was too limiting
  • Many thought that someone had hacked THQ Nordic’s social media, but were shocked when the session actually started and had two higher-level staff answering questions on that internet hellscape
    • PR and marketing director Philipp Brock responded to things like asking them not to appeal to the “SocJUs crowd” with “thanks! We’ll try to stay that way.”, and when one person asked “where the big tiddie lolis at?” with a picture of a many groping two girls, he replied “you got them already we’d say”
  • While this seems like a massive hacker stunt, with no way that a company would actually do this kind of thing, Vice contacted THQ Nordic and received this reply from Philipp Brock
    • “I personally agreed to this AMA without doing my proper due diligence to understand the history and the controversy of the site,” he said in a statement. “I do not condone child pornography, white supremacy, or racism in any shape or form. I am terribly sorry for the short-sightedness of my (!) decision, and promise to be far more vigorous in my assessment of these activities in the future. This was not about being edgy, this blew up and I very much regret to have done it in the first place.”
  • And while they’re backpedaling and looking for excuses, it’s not like 8chan is ever sneaky about what it’s doing. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin.
    • That, combined with the responses posted and the fact that their Twitter account is liking tweets supporting the AMA after the fact, makes the apology even weaker than it already is
 
Josh found a PC childhood favorite made for modern operating systems
  • I’ll just read the about us section from their site
    • OpenRA is a project that recreates and modernizes the classic Command & Conquer real time strategy games. We have developed a flexible open source game engine (the OpenRA engine) that provides a common platform for rebuilding and reimagining classic 2D and 2.5D RTS games (the OpenRA mods).
    • This means that OpenRA is not restricted by the technical limitations of the original closed-source games: it includes native support for modern operating systems and screen resolutions (including Windows 10, Mac OS X, and most Linux distros) without relying on emulation or binary hacks, and features integrated online multiplayer.
    • While we love the classic RTS gameplay, multiplayer game design has evolved significantly since the early 1990’s. The OpenRA mods include new features and gameplay improvements that bring them into the modern era:
      • A choice between “right click” and classic “left click” control schemes
      • Overhauled sidebar interfaces for managing production
      • Support for game replays and an observer interface designed for streaming games online
      • The “fog of war” that obscures the battlefield outside your units’ line of sight
      • Civilian structures that can be captured for strategic advantage
      • Units gain experience as they fight and improve when they earn new ranks
    • OpenRA is 100% free, and comes bundled with three distinct mods. When you run a mod for the first time the game can automatically download the original game assets, or you can use the original game disks.
  • They have Tibetan Dawn the original Command and Conquer, Red Alert the alternate history to WWII, and Dune 2000, possibly my favourite out of these 3.
 
 
1TB mini SD cards coming
  • At Mobile World Congress 
    • UHS-I microSDXC
    • For me and others UHS stands for Ultra High Speed and the 1 denotes its interface speed. Where 1 is 104 MB/s
  • SanDisk
    • 1 Tb available April
      • $449.99 USD
    • 512 GB of the same line
      • $199.99 USD
 
 
 
 
Harley Quinn
  • Life-Size Figure by DC Collectibles
    • $5,200
      • $668.57/mo payment plan
  • DC Collectibles has created the ultimate Harley Quinn collectible- a full sized, 1:1 ratio statue of the Cupid of Crime herself.  This stylish life-size statue is packed with larger-than-life personality, featuring Gotham’s very own Maid of Mischief decked out in her iconic red, black, and white costume.
 
 
Tidbits
  • If you’ve been saving your Scene points, you might want to redeem them soon- Cineplex is updating their rewards structure and raising the points cost of tickets as of April 17th
    • It’ll still take 10 movies to earn enough points for a free ticket, but that’s just because you’ll also be earning them more quickly as well. They’re being de-valued across the board
  • The popular disease simulation game Plague Inc is adding anti-vaxxers after receiving a player petition with over 21,000 signatures
    • The petition simply reads “Anti-vaxxers are stupid”
    • They’ll be joining the array of potential health risks in the game including science deniers, xenophobes, and reality TV induced apathy
  • In a somewhat controversial move, annual eSports fighting event Evo is replacing their usual Smash Bros Melee event with Smash Ultimate
    • From a casual player’s perspective it seems like an easy choice, but as always there are some vocal opinions against it online
  • According to EA’s Twitter, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will be at this year’s Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on April 13th
    • I’m looking forward to a Star Wars game that isn’t cancelled for once
 
Alan Recommends Russian Doll
  • Nadia keeps dying and reliving her 36th birthday party. She’s trapped in a surreal time loop — and staring down the barrel of her own mortality.
  • More like a video game than Groundhog Day
  • If you like complicated characters gorgeously performed in a richly realized setting shot through with dark veins & drum-tight storytelling, then this is for you

Bad Description of Movies and Games

Gangs fight for control of the city with graffiti, problem is they appear to be kids. (Game)

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Silicon & Synapse

  • RPM Racing 1991
  • The Lost Vikings 1992
  • Rock n’ Roll Racing 1993

 

Blizzard Entertainment

1994

  • Blackthorne
  • The Death And Return Of Superman
  • Warcraft: Orcs & Humans

1995

  • Justice League Task Force
  • Warcraft II: Tides Of Darkness

1996

  • WarCraft II: Beyond The Dark Portal
  • Diablo

1997

  • The Lost Vikings 2

1998

  • StarCraft
  • StarCraft: Brood War

1999

  • WarCraft II: Battle.net Edition

2000

  • Diablo II

2001

  • Diablo II: Lord OF Destruction

2002

  • Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

2003

  • Warcraft III: Frozen Throne

2004

  • World of Warcraft

2007

  • World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

2008

  • World of Warcraft: Wrath Of The Lich King

2010

  • StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty
  • World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

2012

  • Diablo III
  • World of Warcraft: Mists Of Pandaria

2013

  • StarCraft II: Heart Of The Storm

2014

  • Hearthstone
  • Diablo III: Reaper Of Souls
  • World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

2015

  • Heroes Of The Storm
  • StarCraft II: Legacy Of The Void

2016

  • Overwatch
  • World of Warcraft: Legion

2017

  • StarCraft: Remastered

 

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