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

 

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PS2J News 329 – 2020 New Game Plus

Free Games

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

These Weeks in Gaming History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 15 – 1992 – Batman Returns – DOS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 19 – 1994 – Blackthorne – DOS

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

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

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

December 21 – 2000 – The Broken Land – Windows

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

December 22 – 1998 – South Park – N64

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

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

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

December 24 – 2009 – Tuper Tario Tros. – Browser

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

December 25 – 2010 – Coffee Forever – Mac, Windows

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

December 26 – 2001 – Final Fantasy X – PS2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 30 – 2010 – Pong Solitare – Browser

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

December 31 – 1996 – Diablo – Windows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 4 – 2001 – Thandor: The Invasion – Windows

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

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

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

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

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

January 7 – 1998 – Sentry – Windows

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

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

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

Tidbits

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

A Smart Bird Feeder

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

 

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PS2J 312 News – Domestic Spying Only

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    • Blazing Chrome

      • 2019
      • Side-scrolling action run and gun that has you freeing human kind from a machine-ruled world with fast-paced single player or co-op gameplay
    • Chroma Squad

      • 2015
      • Turn based tactical RPG about five stunt actors who decide to quit their jobs and start their own Power Rangers inspired TV show, where you customize your studio, craft your giant cardboard mechas, and combine your heroes’ abilities with teamwork maneuvers
    • Baseball Stars 2

      • 1992
      • Two player sports arcade game for the Neo-Geo that also saw a home release on the NES, it was lauded as having unparalleled gameplay and “the best graphics, sound, and gameplay this side of ESPN”
    • Shock Troopers 2nd Squad

      • 1998
      • Top-down military themed action shooter arcade game on the Neo-Geo that actually has no connection to the first Shock Troopers game, you choose from four mercenaries with different abilities to take down a terrorist organization
    • Ironclad

      • 1996
      • Side-scrolling shoot ’em up that has you manoeuvring a warship and teaming up with the mighty Iron Clad in order to fight the Iron Mask Republic and save the Kingdom of Chop
    • King of the Monsters

      • 1990
      • Isometric fighting game that pits pits kaiju against eachother and humanity to discover who is the strongest Super Monster of all
    • Sengoku 3

      • 2001
      • Side-scrolling beat ’em up that has you adventuring around the world to destroy evil spirits awoken by the red moon, with armed and unarmed combos and massive Ninja Art attacks
    • Metal Slug 2

      • 1998
      • Iconic run and gun action shooting game where you fight your way through a hail of bullets to thwart General Morden’s evil ambitions and uncover the secret of his new coup
    • SNK 40th Anniversary Collection

      • Video game compilation consisting of 24 different arcade and console games published by SNK between 1979 and 1990, from Ozma Wars to Crystalis
  • Epic Games

    • Wilmot’s Warehouse

      • 2019
      • Top-down puzzle game about keeping a warehouse running in tip-top shape. You’ll need to flex your organizational muscles in arranging and grouping items so you can retrieve requests as quickly as possible
    • 3 out of 10, Ep 1: Welcome To Shovelworks

      • 2020
      • Billed as the world’s first playable sitcom, it’s a fully animated and voiced free episodic series based in the world’s worst game studio, with narratively driven mini games taking you behind the scenes in a satirical look at game development

Health Canada has released a national COVID-19 contact tracing app, and it actually uses the proper exposure notification API

  • COVID Alert is available on iOS and Android, and takes full advantage of the Apple/Google Exposure Notification API
    • One thing to note here is that because the API is only available in iOS 13, you’ll need an iPhone from the last five years or so (6s or newer)
    • That lets your phone silently record randomized identifiers for anyone that comes within range of you for 15 minutes or more
    • Then, if someone tests positive for COVID-19, they just have to enter a code given to them by health care workers and it will upload a list of everyone that was in range in the last 14 days
    • At set intervals your phone will check the uploaded lists and, if your identifier was included in one, let you know that you may have been exposed
    • No personal information is asked for or collected by the app- you’ll see a prompt asking to enable COVID-19 Exposure Logging and Notifications, and then another asking to enable notifications for the app. Other than that it just asks what province you live in
  • A lot of other apps, even some local ones like ABTraceTogether, have attempted something similar, but because they wanted to use their own systems they hit walls like your iPhone screen needing to be on and unlocked at all times
    • These apps are not only battery hogs, but also less secure as they could be accessing other identifying information while they run
  • There is a caveat here in that reporting is currently limited to a pilot program running in Ontario, but you can still download and run the app anywhere in Canada so that your contact tracing records are kept up to date. Then even on day one of reporting in your province you’ll be able to see if you came into contact with someone days or weeks ago
  • Estimates show that these apps become really effective after they reach 60% of an area’s population, and there’s literally no downside to running it, so I’d heartily recommend everyone take a moment and get that going on your smartphone

Xbox Game Streaming is going full Stadia on September 15th, but they might actually do it right

  • Based on Project xCloud, the new tech will allow Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to play more than 100 games from the cloud on their Android devices
  • You’ll be able to play things like Minecraft Dungeons, Destiny 2, Gears 5, and Yakuza Kiwami 2, and they’ve announced they’ll be providing day-one access to new titles from Xbox Game Studios
  • Mobile users will have full access to the console experience, including friends lists, achievements, and saved game progress
  • And one of the best parts is that this isn’t limited to the States- September 15th will see the launch across 22 countries across North America and Europe
  • Unfortunately this is Android exclusive- Microsoft was running tests with iOS devices, but Apple’s App Store policies smacked the whole idea down
    • An Apple spokesperson told Business Insider that streaming services like these can’t be on the App Store because the company can’t review every single game included in the apps
    • They say that because games are interactive, unlike movies and music, they must be reviewed before being allowed to reach iPhone and iPad users
    • I think if that’s their concern they should just put the highest age-rating on the app and let it loose. There are a lot of interactive things on iPhones, like web browsers, where it’s just not feasible to review every single interaction

Samsung introduced a bunch of new tech with their Unpacked digital event this week

  • They introduced a fancy new Galaxy Z Fold 2 with a faster processor and redesigned hinge
    • The gap between the screens has been shrunk and the device is thinner than the first Fold, but the hinge also boasts improved dust elimination. We’ll see more details on September 1st when preorders open
  • The Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra are the next flagships of the Galaxy line with 5G support
    • They’ve improved the S Pen and, for the Ultra model, set up a 120Hz screen for less latency when gaming
    • They’ve also partnered with Microsoft for three free months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with Xbox Game Streaming, as well as a free controller to play with
  • New tablets are coming in the form of the Tab S7 and S7+, and are the first tablets that support 5G in the US (for what it’s worth)
    • Apparently they’ll have a lot of Microsoft integrations, including the ability to use it as a second screen with your Windows computer
  • Taking a note from Apple’s iPhone X, Samsung skipped right from the Galaxy Watch to the Galaxy Watch3, with a smaller, thinner, and lighter body that still houses a larger screen
    • The new model has a cool feature that can measure your blood oxygen levels, too, which is pretty handy when we have a lung-attacking pandemic on our hands
    • Recent rumours are saying that the next Apple watch will also include this feature
  • Galaxy Buds Live are Samsung’s latest wirefree earbuds, now with active noise cancelling
  • And they’ve announced the followup to their original folding smartphone, the Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
    • This one goes back to the book-style body of the Fold, but now when it’s closed you get a full 6.2” screen instead of the giant bezels and 4.6” screen of the original
    • They’ve also switched the display from using plastic to “ultra thin glass”, to improve strength and scratch-resistance, and improved the hinge to be not only stronger but also offer more varied angles
      • It still has a slight gap in the hinge, but Samsung says they’ve added bristles to keep dirt out

It’s been a weird week when it comes to TikTok

  • With such a popular app being owned by a Chinese company, many are concerned about the data that so many are willingly uploading to the service (along with whatever it may be grabbing behind our backs) ending up in the hands of a foreign government
    • Some are also concerned about how it could pave the road for some low-grade propoganda, given how the way videos are promoted to users is a complete mystery
  • Last Friday Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he would be banning the Chinese social media service from the United states, though given his track record who knows what he actually meant
    • He said he’d be signing the document the next day, but whether that was supposed to be an executive order or something else it never materialized
  • Then two days later Microsoft confirmed its intent to acquire TikTok in the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealond, saying they got a window from the president to have a deal in place by September 15th but is still threatening a ban if they can’t hash it out
  • On the political side, China’s communist party tabloid Global Times called a forced sale the “hunting and looting” of TikTok, and with Trump saying the US Government should get a “substantial portion” of the sale for “making it possible for this deal to happen”, you can start to wonder if they may be on to something

This Week In Gaming History:

August 1 – 1991 – F-Zero – SNES

  • The series is known for its high-speed racing, characters and settings, difficult gameplay, and original music, as well as for pushing technological limits to be one of the fastest racing games.
  • The original title inspired the creation of games such as Daytona USA and the Wipeout series.
  • And selfishly, I love this game for putting Captain Falcon into Smash bros, so he could be cloned to be my main Ganondorf.

August 2 – 1992 – Mortal Kombat – Arcades

  • Mortal Kombat was considered as one of the greatest video games of all time by critics and audiences in 21st century and became a best-selling game and remains one of the most popular fighting games in the genre’s history, spawning numerous sequels and spin-offs over the following years and decades, beginning with Mortal Kombat II in 1993, and together with the first sequel was the subject of a successful film adaptation in 1995.
  • However, it also sparked much controversy for its depiction of extreme violence and gore using realistic digitized graphics, and, along with the home release of Night Trap, prompted the formation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a U.S. government-backed organization that set descriptor ratings for video games.

August 3 – 2008 – The Angry Video Game Nerd in Pixel Land Blast – PC

  • In The Angry Video Game Nerd in Pixel Land Blast, you play the Angry Video Game Nerd from the web video series.
    • You are flying along wielding your NES Zapper, shooting NES cartridges that have been features on the Angry Video Game Nerd videos.
    • Do not touch a cartridge or get hit with a shot as this drains your life meter. If your life meter drops to zero, you lose a life. Hitting a spiked wall instantly loses you a life.
    • If you see a couple bottles of Rolling Rock beer, these will restore some of your life meter.
    • A six-pack is an extra life.
    • You can press a second fire button to call forth Shit Pickle, who will clear all enemies from the screen.
    • After a couple of levels, your progress will be saved so you don’t need to restart from the beginning, if you don’t want to.

August 4 – 2013 – Pikmin 3 – WiiU

  • The game centers around controlling three new characters: Alph, Brittany, and Charlie. They travel to PNF-404 (the planet featured in the first two games) to save their home planet Koppai from famine by harvesting seeds from the planet’s fruit. Upon reaching the planet, they discover the Pikmin, a servile species that’s both plant and animal, which they use to collect the fruit and battle the planet’s many fierce creatures.
  • Pikmin are super cute, and I love Pikmin 2, but the loss of control in this was devastating to my enjoyment of the game.
    • You used to be able to control Pikmin with the right analog stick, but in this game it is a camera control, and the Pikmin mindlessly follow you to me devoured, stomped or somehow caught by anything that follows you.

August 5 – 2000 – Hot Chix ‘n’ Gear Stix – PC

  • Caught my eye with the ridiculous title
  • Behind the wheels of one of the 6 mid-70s American muscle cars your only aim is to show yourself as the hottest chix around in this arcade-style racing game.
  • Tried to get more info off the developers website, but their website looks like its no longer hosted

August 6 – 2001 – Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo – PS2

  • An action game based directly on the Mobile Suit Gundam films and series. The game begins at the start of the series and ends at the ending of the second film.
  • The game plays in an action game format with a standard third-person view. It features newly hand animated cutscenes that depict events from the original television series as well as a CGI opening depicting a space battle from the One Year War and then a scene of the Gundam destroying several Zaku IIs before being attacked by Char Aznable.
  • A sequel, Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space, was released in 2003.
    • Which has hard to learn controls that reflect space combat well.
  • The English dub of the video game features the voices of the actors who were cast for the Mobile Suit Gundam television series as with most games subsequent to the series’ dubbing, rather than the English cast of the films.

August 7 – 2018 – Dead Cells – XBox One/PS4

  • Dead Cells is a roguelike action platformer video game inspired by Metroidvania-style games
  • Absolutely love the art style, I have no idea how to play the game. And feel like I’m bad at it.

Tidbits

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons has officially sold more than double what New Leaf did, beating out Breath of the Wild and Super Smash Bros Ultimate to reach the number 2 spot for Switch game sales just under Mario Kart 8
  • Bethesda has announced that Doom Eternal and The Elder Scrolls Online will both be free on the PS5 or Xbox Series X for players that have them on PS4 or Xbone, respectively
  • A new brushing scam saw people in dozens of US states receive mystery seeds in the mail that they didn’t order
    • Governments are urging people not to plant them or throw them out, as they could introduce invasive species, but to contact your state plant regulatory official instead
    • Brushing scams, I learned this week, are a e-commerce trick where scammers will get ahold of people’s names and addresses and then send them some random, low-value item.
      • The idea is that once there’s a record of some kind of shipment, they can use that to legitimize fake positive product reviews that they attach your name to
  • Three teenagers were arrested this week for last month’s massive Twitter hack that had prominent users like Bill Gates and Elon Musk promoting a Bitcoin scam that earned over $100K
    • According to federal agents, they’d used their own driver’s licenses to open Bitcoin wallets that received some of the loot
    • The suspected leader is being charged with more than 30 felonies, including communications fraud and identity theft, but the hack could have been a lot worse if the goal had been to affect global policy rather than make a quick buck

 

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Alert: Anyone still using an iPhone 5 should update their software immediately

  • As of November 3rd core functionality of the phones will break due to a GPS bug with daylight saving time, and if you haven’t already updated to iOS 10.3.4 by then you’ll have to manually do so through your computer- iCloud connections and over-the-air updates will no longer work

Samsung has released an update to address the fingerprint fiasco on their Galaxy S10 and Note 10 devices

  • A couple weeks ago we talked about the problem with Samsung’s revolutionary new ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor, and how by applying a screen protector to the device you can unlock it with anything from a piece of fruit to a small toy
  • Samsung’s now officially released a fix for this problem, and they’ve said they’ll be sending notifications to all users who have registered their fingerprints in their devices
    • They’re also asking anyone that has registered their fingerprint with a screen protector applied to remove it, then delete and re-register their prints, since the stored prints may include “incorrect” info
  • Time will tell if Samsung can earn back the trust of the security community though, with many banks worldwide pulling fingerprint verification from their apps on varying ranges of Samsung and Galaxy devices
    • The Bank of China even blocked it for Tab S6 users, which uses a standard optical sensor instead of the in-display ultrasound

Just days before Blizzcon is slated to begin, reputable leaks have popped up on ESPN of all places showing what appears to be Overwatch 2

  • From the looks of things it will be introducing a new PVE experience, possibly similar to some of their event game modes that have had a team of heroes playing against waves of enemies, as well as new game modes, maps, and heroes
  • There’s also new artwork hidden on the Blizzard Gear website featuring a group of Overwatch heroes charging into battle including Echo, a previously teased but unannounced character that may be going live alongside the expected announcement
    • There are also some minor costume changes in the new artwork, with Tracer, and Mei getting subtle tweaks and Genji wearing a hoodie and pants over his cybernetic body
  • It will be interesting to see what gets announced at Blizzcon, how many of these leaks get confirmed, and what the fate of Overwatch 1 will be with players having spent so many hours and earned so many unlocks but having its sequel coming down the pipe

Apple sneakily announced and released their new AirPods Pro this week, and they’ve got a lot of the changes I was hoping for after seeing Google’s Pixel Buds earlier in October

  • The redesign brings in rubber tips more in line with modern earbuds, smaller stems, active noise cancellation, and a fancy “Transparency” mode
  • They’ve also kept ear detection, which is my favourite feature of my old Gen 1 AirPods, but have swapped out tapping on the buds to activate Siri for squeezing the stem to control music more traditionally- one squeeze for pause/play, two for next track, three for back, along with a long squeeze to switch from ANC to Transparency
    • Apparently there’s some Apple trickery at work that makes it feel and sound like clicking a button, though there aren’t any actual moving “button”
    • They also still have the ridiculously simply pairing process with iDevices, where you just have to open the case nearby and tap the screen. New to iOS 13.2 though, you can also use this to temporarily share audio with a friends AirPods and have it playing through both sets simultaneously
  • So let’s dive in to what’s new:
    • Rubber tips – they’ve got the usual three sizes to customize your fit, but instead of having a little vent hole in the rubber like Google did to equalize pressure they actually have a vent system running through the AirPod itself
      • The vent doesn’t sacrifice water resistance though, as these are rated IPX4 and good for exercising and sweating all over
      • They also have a fit test you can run where it uses microphones both in and outside of your ear to gauge the seal around the Pods and see if you should adjust the sizing
    • Speaking of those microphones, the active noise cancellation uses them along with fancy software to process your environment 200 times a second and remove background noise by sending out special customized anti-noise
    • They also do some adaptive equalization, tuning the frequencies of the music to the shape of your ear to optimize audio quality
    • And then there’s the new Transparency Mode, which lets you hear your environment and your own voice while offering just a hint of noise cancellation to keep things clear and understandable if you want to hear traffic or transit announcements
      • You can swap between Transparency and ANC on the fly by squeezing the stem, from your iPhone’s Control Centre, or on your Apple Watch
  • Battery life is pretty much unchanged depending on your usage- turning off ANC and Transparency gets you the usual 5 hours of listening, while turning them on takes it down to 4.5, and you’ll see 3.5 hours of talk time on the phone. The case amps that up to 24 hours of listening, 18 hours of talk, and it can be charged via Lightning or a Qi wireless charge mat
  • All that can be yours for $250 USD or $329 CAD, and they’re available to order or pick up now

Apple’s also released a bunch of software updates

  • As I mentioned earlier iOS 13.2 is out, with not only audio sharing but also Deep Fusion photos for the iPhone 11 (taking multiple exposures using all the lenses and fusing them into one high-quality photo), and the ability to control whether your Siri dictation is used to improve the service and, if not, delete anything they might have archived
    • You can opt out by going to Settings > Privacy > Analytics & Improvements > Improve Siri & Dictation and toggling the slider off
    • And you can delete any saved Siri interactions from Apple’s servers by going to Settings > Siri & Search > Siri & Dictation History, and tapping on Delete Siri & Dictation History
    • This is all a much-needed improvement, especially from a company that claims to care so much about the privacy and security of your data
  • watchOS 6.1 brings support for the new AirPods, as well as finally allowing version 6 to be installed on Series 1 and 2 watches
  • and macOS 10.15.1 also brings AirPods Pro support and those Siri privacy settings
  • They did release audioOS 13.2 for HomePods as well, which brought the ability to differentiate between multiple voices and easily hand off audio by bringing your phone near the speaker, but it was soon pulled after users online started saying it bricked their HomePods
    • If you’ve already updated your HomePods Apple recommends you don’t reset or reboot it, even if iOS prompts you to, until they issue a fix.
    • In the meantime, if you’ve been affected by this issue you’ll need to contact Apple support and have it repaired or replaced

The Outer Worlds – Josh’s Impression

  • Great RPG
    • I’m not generally a fan of RPG’s but this one has really taken me by surprise
  • The setting is, as other have put it, is like 1984 by George Orwell, but with corporations instead of the government
    • When faster than light technology was discovered, companies spread out and bought the rights to many star systems.
    • This story takes place in a system controlled by The Board
      • The Board is made of the heads of massive companies that control everything
    • The technology is similar to Bioshock
      • Sort of less pipes and steam, more plug-n-play tech and Edison bulbs
      • But the main hook of it is fascinating technological advancements that can be maintained with a pipe wrench
    • Weapons are neat too
      • There has been knives, scythes, hammers, staves, all sorts of things
      • For ranged weapons there are your handguns, rifles, heavy machine guns, flame throwers and grenade launchers
      • Best part is ammo is only 3 types, Light, Heavy and Energy
    • Armour is simple as well
    • Stats
    • Companions
    • Healing
    • Time Dilation
  • Great conversations
    • Funny
    • Skills do well in it
  • Not too long
    • Has an end!
  • Lots of replay

Tibits

  • Apple’s copyright lawsuit against mobile device virtualization company Corellium over offering virtual iOS for development and testing hit an interesting development, when Corellium fired back saying Apple owed them $300K because they make it easier for security researchers to track down bugs
    • Corellium claims that its product is fair use and makes the world a better place, though the fact that one of their customers sells hacking tools to law enforcement and intelligence agencies makes it tough to believe in their altruism
  • In an interesting move EA has announced they’ll start publishing games on Steam again, leading many to speculate on their Origin launcher soon being shut down
    • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is already up on Steam, and other major titles will hit in the coming months. We’ll see multiplayer titles like Apex Legends next year, with cross-play between Steam and Origin versions

Alan recommends The Lost Boys

 

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

Thanks to reddit user – MissBarker93
Movie – Man Survives thanks to his own feces
The Martian

This Week:

Thanks to reddit user -YodaFan465
After his father dies, a barber evades an MLM scheme

 

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Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Observer

      • 2017
      • First-person psychological horror game following a detective that can hack people’s minds as a form of interrogation
    • Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

      • 2012
      • A follow-up / spinoff from the original Alan Wake game, it’s third person psychological action thriller framed in Twilight Zone-esque storytelling that has you attempting to chase down the “herald of darkness”, Mr Scratch

Another credit card hack was in the news today, affecting more than 26 million cards, but with a bit of a twist

  • This time the hack was against an online bazaar selling already stolen data, passing the data on to banks and financial institutions so they can invalidate and replace the cards
  • Based on numbers gathered by security companies and law enforcement, this could be as much as a third of the black market supply of stolen cards, and according to the associated price list represent about $414M in lost sales for the hacked market

In an attempt to please everyone, Blizzard has softened their punishment of the pro Hearthstone player Blitzchung that voiced support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests while also doubling down on how they think it was inappropriate

  • Following the backlash we reported on last week they’ve announced that they’ll reinstate his winnings and lessen his ban by six months, but they still want to show there are consequences for “disrupting or derailing the broadcast”
    • Apparently they’re doing all this under a rule saying that players shouldn’t do things that “offend a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damage Blizzard’s image”
  • Apparently Blizzard also posted on social media, in Chinese only, that it would “resolutely safeguard China’s national dignity”, and their official statement in China had them expressing their “intense, righteous indignation and condemnation” of the incident, which isn’t a great look for them
  • And, of course, all these announcements were made late on a Friday which is usually seen as an attempt to minimize visibility and miss the news cycle as much as possible
    • That hasn’t stopped many from amping up their boycott of Blizzard products, and with Overwatch now hitting the Switch as well as their annual convention Blizzcon coming first thing next month the timing is right to send them a message
    • They were even supposed to host an event at the Nintendo store in New York this week, with some of the voice actors showing up for a meet and greet to promote the release, but according to the store’s Twitter account Blizzard cancelled it two days prior

US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is capitalizing on Facebook’s new ad policies we talked about in ep 274, and I kind of love it

  • In case you missed it, Facebook recently removed the requirement that ads on their platform not present false or misleading info. Now ads are only pulled if proven false by a third party fact checker, but politicians are immune to even that piece due to the belief that any statement from a political figure is important to the public interest
    • This is similar justification to why Twitter says they haven’t banned Trump from their site for repeatedly breaking multiple rules, though it got flimsy when they started using him in their ads
  • So Warren has released Facebook ads saying that Zuckerberg and Facebook has endorsed Trump. If you read past the first two lines it quickly acknowledges that isn’t true, but goes on to call Facebook out for giving people like Trump free reign to lie on the platform while raking in the cash
  • Unfortunately at this point Facebook is so entrenched, and so many people use it for their primary interactions online, that allowing people to publish lies and falsehoods like that does real damage to everyone. For someone so concerned about fake news, Trump sure has brought out the worst of it

Apple’s released yet more updates this week, now for both iOS and macOS

  • iOS 13.1.3 fixes some important things like an issue that could stop your phone from ringing when called. You know, that minor thing that no one really uses phones for anyway
    • It also fixes some issues with daylight savings time and the Health app, restoring from iCloud backups, Apple Watch connections, and Game Centre performance
  • The macOS Catalina updates are even more important, though mainly for people that haven’t installed it yet
    • They’ve fixed issues for Macs with low disk space, an issue that prevented users from accepting iCloud terms and conditions, and another problem that stopped setup from completing at all in some cases

A major flaw in Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and Note10 has been discovered that means pretty much any fingerprint can unlock it with the help of a cheap screen protector

  • The phone’s inscreen fingerprint sensor uses ultrasound to detect your fingerprint ridges, making each fingerprint unique
  • Unfortunately some screen protectors (namely every single one that wasn’t developed specially for these devices with specific adhesives or cutouts) don’t play nice with that technology since they may leave a tiny air gap that interferes with scanning, meaning that no matter who puts their finger on the sensor it lets them in
    • To be clear, this isn’t about you teaching it your fingerprint while the protector is on and then it opens for anyone. A Galaxy S10 that is fingerprint locked properly can be unlocked by anyone if they have a $3 piece of plastic to put on the screen
      • So it looks like if there isn’t a clear reading it just unlocks anyway, which is probably the opposite that you want to happen
  • Samsung says they’re aware of the malfunctioning fingerprint recognition and will soon issue a software patch, though I’m not sure what the patch will do. Maybe disable the sensor when a screen protector is applied? Either way, it looks like another case of Samsung releasing tech before its time

Overwatch Halloween

Junkestein’s Revenge is back!

And a new addition to this year is weekly unlocks.
You earn rewards by winning games in Quick Play, Competitive Play, or Arcade.

This week, Oct 15th to 21st, which you may have missed a bit, but can still catch up, is all Junkrat.

  • 3 Wins is an Inferno Junkrat Player Icon
  • 6 Wins is an Inferno Junkrat Spray
  • and 9 gets you the Inferno Junkrat skin!

Week 2, Oct 22nd to 28th is Baptiste.

  • 3 Wins is an Vampire Baptiste Player Icon
  • 6 Wins is an Vampire Baptiste Spray
  • and 9 gets you the Vampire Baptiste skin!

Week 3, Oct 29nd to Nov 4th is Sombra.

  • 3 Wins is an Demon Hunter Sombra Player Icon
  • 6 Wins is an Demon Hunter Sombra Spray
  • and 9 gets you the Demon Hunter Sombra skin!
    • Which is nice, since it was a reward for buying a BlizzCon ticket last year.

And we have some awesome skins this year.

And this is the list of them from good skin, to best, in my opinion.

  • Inferno Junkrat (Epic)
    • He looks like he has magma inside him. Cool idea, but you cannot hide at all in game
  • Gorgon Lucio (Epic)
    • Green armour with black necrotic skin, glowing green eyes and Snakes for dreads.
  • Vampire Baptiste (Epic)
    • Mostly a recolour. He has a Blade-esque haircut, with glowing trim
  • Will-O’-Wisp Tracer (Legendary)
    • Pumpkin with teeth with an open maw and eerie teal glow. I like her striped pants and excess of leg belts.
  • Scorpion Widowmaker (Legendary)
    • She has a ninja like mask, and armour is segmented and coloured like a desert scorpion.
    • Also, her venom Mines have a scorpion tail
  • Warlock Ashe (Legendary)
    • She had bad ass horns, and her outfit is styled in the same aesthetic as Witch Mercy
    • Bob is a stone Golem, with glowing under-detail
  • Pharaoh Anna (Legendary)
    • She is a mummy with ancient egyptian armour and cloth wrappings
    • Her coat has a glowing green interior and on the outside some hieroglyphs
  • Demon Orisa (Legendary)
    • I am a fan of skulls, and she has a really agressive skull head with two sets of horns
    • Her armour is bone, with raw muscle connecting and as the under detail
    • Her chest is an exposed rib-cage with a flame inside it
    • She has 4 goat legs with the shaggy goat pelt
    • And the center of the energy core on her weapon is a living goat eye

Overwatch on the Switch- if you’ve been looking at buying it, think again

  • Not only are there massive performance issues, with many instances of character models not loading in for unreasonable amounts of time and just being denoted by glowing balls of light and being stuck at 30FPS (half the frame rate of all the other platforms), but they decided to pull one of the dumbest moves a game release can- the physical box you buy in stores doesn’t have a cartridge in it. Just a download code.

Overwatch is too much to Switch

  • Core teamwork component is tough to come by
  • The Switch has trouble with its wireless connection
    • Except for the few with the LAN adapter in Docked mode
  • Accuracy is lacking
    • JoyCon drift is a rampant issue
    • As well as a 30 frames per second, reports are there is input lag
  • The lower quality graphics makes the TV experience fuzzy
    • Handheld looks good though
  • Also bad timing to be released!
    • For political climate
    • and 3 Years after the hype

Tidbits

  • The Last of Us Part II now has a release date, and is officially coming February 21st
  • Ready for a nostalgia-blast? The Internet Archive has been updated with more than 2500 DOS games featuring classics like The Secret of Monkey Island and The Incredible Machine 2
  • Fallout 76 is due to become a more true-to-form Fallout title in early 2020, with the introduction of the Wastelanders free update
    • The update will bring proper NPCs and dialogue trees into the game, rather than the current mix of audio tapes and linear conversations with robots
    • They’re also bringing private servers and some changes to the Atomic Shop to balance out the pay-to-win strategy that’s currently in place
  • Google’s announced the latest generation of their Pixel Buds wireless headphones, and it looks like they’ve learned a lot of good lessons from Apple’s AirPods
    • The battery life is about the same, and they have a similar charging case (though I kind of like its design more than Apple’s), but they sit tightly in your ear like most earbuds nowadays (though they have a vent on the bottom to let in external noise)
    • They’ve also got voice-activated Google Assistant integration and some fanciness called “adaptive sound”, which apparently adjusts the volume of what you’re playing depending on surrounding noise
    • I really like what I’ve seen of them, and hopefully the next-gen AirPods keep up

Alan recommends Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency on Netflix

  • Inspired by the books by Douglas Adams, the series does a great job of building a world from how the books felt rather than being locked in to what they did
  • Interconnectedness of all things
  • Cancelled after two seasons
  • It’s odd and ambitious, but carried forward with some great acting and fun, absurdist plot

 

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

Game – Sadistic architect values efficiency over safety. (PolyBridge)

This Week:

Movie – Artist tries his best against the wishes of his grandfather and clingy aunts

 

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A huge thanks to Dalton, for supporting us for so long.

And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
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A Facebook Page exists as well.

Free games

  • Microsoft

    • Inside

      • 2016
      • The spiritual successor to Limbo, Inside is another deceptively simple platformer where you control a small boy in a big, very dangerous world
    • Big Crown: Showdown

      • 2019
      • Four player action/fighting/party game with one-button combat that has you dodging obstacles and slamming into your friends on an auto-scrolling level
    • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

      • 2007 re-release of the 1997 title
      • Platform adventure action that introduced non-linear levels and RPG elements to the series, following four years after the events of Rondo of Blood, and featuring Dracula’s son Alucard exploring his father’s castle
    • Meet the Robinsons

      • 2007
      • Video game tie-in to the Disney animated film, it has you helping Wilbur Robinson save the future by travelling to the past and putting things back in order.
  • Epic Games

    • 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
 

China is forcing tourists to install malware on their phones to enter the country

  • Foreigners crossing some borders into the Xinjiang region are having their phones seized by border guards and being forced to install a piece of Android malware that gives a ton of data to the authorities
    • Analysis of the app shows it gathering all of the phone’s calendar entries, phone contacts, call logs, and text messages, then uploading them to a server
  • The malware also scans the device for a specific set of files, including extremist Islamic content, academic books on Islam by leading researchers, PDFs related to the Dalai Lama and even music from a Japanese metal band Unholy Grave (who have a song called “Taiwan: Another China”)
  • Apple users aren’t safe either- it also appears that there are machines for searching iPhones at the border, since iOS doesn’t give the same access to apps that Android can, but that hasn’t been confirmed
  • This is yet another piece of oppression against populations in the region that are already subject to physical searches and CCTV facial recognition. Be careful out there
 

Samsung is being hit with a lawsuit from Australian consumer watchdogs

  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is suing them for ads showing a swimmer using the device while sitting at the bottom of a pool or while in the ocean
  • According to the lawsuit, the ACCC says they did not know or test the effects of pool or saltwater exposure
    • One thing to note here, if you’ve ever tried to use a wet touchscreen phone you’ll know that it’s inaccurate at best and impossible at worst with that conductivity all over the place
  • Either way, Samsung’s Galaxy phones are marketed as being resistant to water 1.5 meters deep for 30 minutes, but the ACCC contends that does not cover all types of water so they might have a case
 

Researchers have shown a proof-of-concept attack that involves using a drone to project fake street signs on the side of a building

  • In a video posted online they successfully tricked a Mobileye driver assist system into thinking the speed limit jumped from the actual 30km/h to 90
  • Mobileye says they don’t believe this counts as spoofing because a human would not be tricked, but once we get into self-driving cars any time a computer accepts illegitimate input that’s going to be a problem
    • Even if the system relies on other sources like GPS to verify the speed limit, this is one more safeguard removed
  • I could almost see this happening in the next Mission Impossible, where an AI driven vehicle is redirected by fake signs and a spoofed GPS signal projected from a drone tailing it
 

The Google exec in charge of the new Stadia game streaming service says he thinks data caps won’t be a problem, proving that humans can function normally with their head lodged firmly in the sand

  • When pressed he said that he expects data caps would be raised because “ISPs are smart [and] they understand that they’re in the business of keeping customers happy and keeping customers with them for a long time,”
  • With the service taking up to 16GB per hour, using up 1TB within 65 hours of gameplay, the rules might be a little different than he’s expecting even before looking at internet providers’ history of nickel and diming consumers into the ground
 

Good news for Shenmue III backers disappointed at the move from Steam to Epic- you can now get a refund

  • During the 2015 Kickstarter campaign fans were told that it would be coming to Steam (and also that it would arrive December 2017, but that’s Kickstarter for you)
  • Then during this year’s E3 the developer and publisher revealed that the PC version would be exclusive to Epic Games
  • At first all the refund requests were being denied, leading to many angry comments on the campaign’s page, but now apparently they’ve reversed that decision thanks to Epic covering the refunds so that the development funding isn’t affected
  • All in all it’s a classy move from Epic, but highlights the problems with these kind of storefronts locking consumers in. These are the new console wars
 

Tidbits

  • After the revelations about Amazon employees storing and reviewing recordings of Alexa conversations we covered in 246 and 249, it’s come out that Amazon keeps recordings of Alexa commands “until the customer chooses to delete them”
    • You can delete them under the Alexa Privacy section of your Amazon account, but if they’re relying on users to tell them when to delete them then they should really tell us
  • A random new quality of life feature called FaceTime Attention Correction is hitting this fall in iOS 13, which makes on the fly adjustments while using the video chat to make it look like you’re making eye contact
  • Exciting news- After more than a couple false starts trying to hit the big screen, Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novel is officially being adapted into a streaming series on Netflix
  • Everyone needs to go check out the ridiculously unusable website userinyerface.com
    • Made by a design firm, it puts you through a gauntlet that breaks every web form common practice in the worst ways
 

Alan recommends

Shopping at your local farmer’s market

 

Literally Misleading

Game – With little information, and being a little special, the protagonist chases after their son’s captors, after warming up to the world.
 
If you have a Literally Misleading Description, message Josh directly on our Discord, or Twitter @fushigiyami
 

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

A huge thanks to Karen, for believing in us for so long.
And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
 
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
 
And talk to us in the comments!
 
 
Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow
 
A Facebook Page exists as well.
Free games
  • Epic Games
    • Thimbleweed Park
      • 2017
      • A haunted hotel, an abandoned circus, a burnt-out pillow factory, a dead body pixelating under the bridge, toilets that run on vacuum tubes… you’ve never visited a place like this before.
      • In Thimbleweed Park, a dead body is the least of your problems. Switch between five playable characters to uncover the surreal secrets of this strange town in a modern mystery adventure game from the creators of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion. The deeper you go, the weirder it gets.
Top story this week, Reggie Fils-Aime is stepping down as president of Nintendo of America effective this April
  • After being with the company for 16 years, and leading it for 13 of them, he’s moving on to spend more time with family and friends
  • The reins will be passed to Doug Bowser, the current head of sales and marketing, who has been working with Reggie for the past four years
    • They’re already leaning into the memes, with Bowser posting a photo thanking everyone for the warm welcome that has plushes of Mario and Luigi tied up together on a shelf
  • Reggie’s posted a heart-felt goodbye on the Nintendo of America Twitter account, thanking fans for their never-ending support and passion
In a bit of a roller coaster, some large Pokemon Go YouTube channels were deleted, then restored, this week
  • Apparently they had some innocuous videos flagged, and according to YouTube they were reviewed and given strikes for sexual content, specifically involving minors
    • This process even had one user’s GMail account completely disabled, leaving them unable to contact YouTube through normal means
  • Once the channels got in touch with YouTube to argue their case though, they were reinstated before the end of the day, saying that the YouTubers were taken down mistakenly
  • The root of the mistake seems to be the titles of the videos, referring to combat power as CP
    • It’s a common term in the Pokemon Go community, but it’s also unfortunately used as shorthand for child pornography
  • In the end it’s good that YouTube is making these kinds of efforts, but considering Google’s pockets I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a human to look at cases once they’ve been flagged for review
Niantic is bringing some quality of life improvements for everyone not playing Pokemon Go, to settle the class-action lawsuit from annoyed homeowners
  • The app will delivery courtesy reminders whenever 10 or more people are playing in the same location
  • They’ll also work with public parks to remind users of a location’s hours and make the associated stops inaccessible when closed, open a complaints reporting site, and grant removals for Pokestops within 40m of a single-family property
  • The named plaintiffs are also getting $1000 each, while the lawyers are requesting over $8M in fees and expenses
Samsung unveiled a bunch of new tech at their Unpacked event this week, and we’ve got a quick overview
  • Folding phones are finally here, and they’re absurdly expensive and unnecessary!
    • Samsung has announced the Galaxy Fold, launching April 26th and starting at $1980 USD
    • It strikes me as the worst of both worlds- when unfolded it looks like a typical Android tablet, which have generally been lacking, and when folded it’s a really thick phone with gigantic bezels (seems like almost a full inch each on the top and bottom)
    • It feels like this is basically a folding tablet, with the exterior screen kind of tacked on to make it also a phone
    • If nothing else it will bring the foldable display technology some more popularity and inspire others to innovate further with the tech
  • They announced the new Galaxy S10 with an interesting ultrasonic fingerprint scanner hidden behind the somewhat excessive 6.7” edge-to-edge display
  • It’s also 5G ready, which is jumping the gun a bit because the networks sure aren’t
  • Samsung also announced Galaxy Buds, an Airpods competitor that can wirelessly charge from the S10 using PowerShare, and a fancy new batch of smartwatches to complete their matching set
Samsung Washer Video  *Josh referenced this
Facebook may be facing multi-billion dollar fines after their role on the Cambridge Analytica user information scandal
  • The root of the investigation is whether Facebook violated the terms of a 2011 settlement with the FTC, prohibiting Facebook from misrepresenting the privacy or security of user info and requiring consent before overriding privacy settings, after they were found to have “deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.”
  • The current investigation started in March of last year, after 87 million users’ info was given to a political consulting firm that did work with the Trump campaign
    • I’d be surprised if they weren’t also taking into account some of the more recent revelations, like making the posts of 14 million users public despite privacy settings set otherwise and giving away private information and photos left and right
  • If they fight the fines, which is sounds like they may based on their usual denials and non-statements, they could face a massive privacy lawsuit from the FTC and the US Government
Speaking of Facebook and bad data policies, a bunch of apps have come under fire for sending personal information to Facebook without user consent or controls
  • Among some of the worst offenders tested by the Wall Street Journal are
    • Realtor.com sends info on the listings that a user views, including location, price, and if they’re marked as a favourite
      Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor, the most popular heart-rate app on iOS, sends a user’s heart rate to Facebook immediately after it’s recorded
    • Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker tells Facebook when a user is having their period, or if they’re trying to get pregnant
Tidbits
  • Razer is closing down their game store after being open only 10 months
    • They were just reselling Steam and Uplay games, so as long as you make sure to activate your codes before Feb 28 you’ll be safe
    • They’ll also apparently still honour any existing preorders
  • Pokemon Go is now allowing players to switch teams, with a couple asterisks
    • It costs 1000 coins (earnable in gyms or by spending money), and can only be done once per year
  • The Netflix/Marvel partnership is officially over, with no more seasons of The Punisher and Jessica Jones, the last two Marvel series being made on the platform, being produced
    • The third season of Jessica Jones will still air sometime this year, but that’ll be the end
    • Time will tell if the eventual Marvel streaming service will continue the existing Netflix stories, or if they’ll need to reboot things
  • The final pieces of Shovel Knight, initially set to release on April 9th, have been delayed by “several months”
    • Originally revealed with a 2018 launch date, Shovel Knight: King of Cards, Shovel Knight Showdown, and the physical release of Treasure Trove have all been pushed back to an unspecified date this year, along with the associated amiibo three-pack
Recommend the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne
  • It’s an urban fantasy series that feels like a blend of The Dresden Files and American Gods, creating a world with people, monsters, gods, and goddesses from a wide array of mythologies and pantheons
  • It all comes together really well and sucks you in, with the books feeding in to eachother pretty directly
  • Including novellas I’ve devoured 17 books in the last three weeks, and I can’t wait to read the last few and see how it ends

Bad Description of Movies and Games

War veteran trys to radicalize a young man to assassinate key members of the government. (Movie)

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

A huge thanks to Dalton, our favourite fan. And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us. And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link! Also, make sure to check out RIPT Apparel for sweet 24 tee shirt designs. And don’t forget to use the coupon code PS2JSHOW for 10% off! We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB And talk to us in the comments! Or… Discord Server Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow Facebook

The Grinch Smash Bros leak has hopeful fans’ hearts shrinks 3 sizes. Apple launches new products for the holiday season. Josh recommends a spooky Syfy original, Alan has a book series that he promised is a quick read.

For more info, Patreon supports get access to our show notes!

A huge thanks to Dalton, our favourite fan. And thanks to all our Official Fans that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!

Also, make sure to check out RIPT Apparel for sweet 24 tee shirt designs. And don’t forget to use the coupon code PS2JSHOW for 10% off!

We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB

And talk to us in the comments!
Or…

Discord Server
Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow
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