Free Games

  • Twitch

    • The Academy: First Riddle

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

    • Sunless Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week In Gaming History

February 20 – 2003 – Train Tracking – Windows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 25 – 2002 – Circus Maximus – PS2, Xbox

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

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

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

Tidbits

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

Mini-review

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

 

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More details have come to light about Ring’s agreement with police in the US, and it just keeps getting worse

  • We talked previously about how in exchange for promoting Ring’s video doorbells police could access a portal to show where cameras may be located and request user footage from a certain timeframe
    • Well apparently even if a user declines, police can go straight to Amazon with a request for the footage as long as it’s within 60 days and the video is in the cloud
      • An officer talking to cybersecurity site Government Technology brought out one of my favourite lines: “If you’re a good upstanding person who is doing things lawfully, nobody has concerns”
  • According to Gizmodo, another part of that deal has Ring tapping directly in to real-time 911 dispatch data, which it then uses to curate crime news for its app
    • Once a call is flagged their “in-house news team” reviews and reformats the info before pushing it as an alert to Ring users within a certain radius
  • On top of all that, documents found by Motherboard and ArsTechnica show that Ring was offering police information on who was buying their cameras through the provided subsidies, including names, emails, and home addresses
  • Bottom line here seems to be, be careful what you put in the cloud and be aware of who owns the clouds you’re using

Apple’s credit card, known as the Apple Card, is now officially available in the US

  • The Apple Card is an Apple Pay focused credit card that comes with some interesting spending tracking features, decent cash back rewards, no fees at all, and a slick white titanium physical card if you so choose
    • The card is pretty minimalistic, only showing your name, the Apple logo, and the chip and magnetic strip
      • The minimalistic card comes at a minor price though: Apple Support has already released an article talking about handling, care, and cleaning of the card that all sounds pretty unique for a credit card
        • They say to store it in a wallet, pocket, or bag made of soft materials, and to place it in a slot without touching another card to prevent scratches
          • So far not unreasonable
        • They then go on to say that it shouldn’t be kept in leather or denim, saying those fabrics may cause permanent discolouration, which kind of rules out how most of the population I’m aware of carries their cards
          • So basically if you want your shiny new Apple Card to stay shiny and new, it’s time to buy a microfiber wallet
    • If you want to see your card number, expiry date, or even previous statements and balances you need to open up the Wallet app
    • Hopefully at some point they at least open up a web interface, in case your phone is lost or stolen and you need to access that information
  • After a limited pilot now anyone with an iPhone can apply- just open up your Wallet app, tap the plus sign to add a card, and follow the prompts to sign up
  • One thing to note here is that part of the terms and conditions has you agreeing to arbitration instead of a lawsuit if something goes pear-shaped, which can often favour companies over consumers
    • If you’re worried about that it’s dead easy to opt out though.
    • After you’ve got the card set up you just open it up in Wallet, tap the ellipsis, and then Message. This will let you text the help line that you want to reject arbitration and they’ll connect you with staff who can help
  • All in all it seems kind of cool, and once it comes to Canada you can bet I’ll compare its interest rates and rewards to my existing credit cards

Samsung isn’t the only company having trouble getting a folding phone out there- Huawei is also delaying its foldable smartphone, saying it’s “unlikely to come out before November”

  • The folding Mate X was originally announced for the middle of 2019, but has had a couple of delays now likely due to the bleeding-edge tech involved in folding screens
  • The phone does look cool, with an 8″ display that folds around the front and back leaving only a 6″ display turned on when closed, but at $2,600USD I’d want something a little stronger than plastic protecting the rear display when it’s closed
SUPERHOT is officially available on Nintendo Switch, so if you haven’t played it by now you’re running out of excuses
  • It’s a fantastic, stylized first-person shooter where time only moves when you do
  • They’ve added optional gyroscope aiming and motion controls, to make things more intuitive and accessible whether you’re docked or in handheld mode
  • And it’s running at a smooth 60fps, which is basically the minimum nowadays. Maybe my eyes are spoiled, but anything lower just feels choppy

Minecraft is adding BEES!

From the official Minecraft snapshot notes:
Bee
We’re buzzing with excitement!
Can someone tell Cory to stop making bee puns now?
  • Bees are cute, fuzzy, neutral mobs
  • Don’t hurt them, they don’t want to hurt you
  • If a bee does sting you, it will leave its stinger in you and eventually die, dropping nothing 🙁
  • Bees love pretty flowers and spend their lives gathering pollen from them
  • After gathering pollen, bees fly back to their home nest
  • Bees help you by growing crops while carrying pollen back to the nest
  • Bees can be bred using flowers
  • Bees like sharing the location of their favorite flowers with other bees
  • If a bee can’t find nectar, after a while it will return home for a bit
  • If a bee doesn’t have a home nest, it will wander around until it finds one it can use
  • Bees don’t like the rain and they sleep at night. They will go back to the nest in these cases
Bee Nests/ Bee Hives
In real life, bees dance in their nests to show other bees where flowers are!
  • Bee Nests spawn naturally in Flower Forests, Plains, and Sunflower Plains biomes
  • When a bee visits this block and completes its journey undisturbed, the level of honey increases
  • Max of 5 levels of honey
  • Level 5 is quite…sticky
  • Bees use nests and hives to share flower locations with other bees
  • Sometimes bees that already know about a flower will choose not to use this information
  • Bee Hives are crafted by players using honeycomb and wood planks
  • Use a silk touch tool to get the block with the bees stored inside
  • Bee Nests will be destroyed unless you use silk touch
  • Use shears when at full honey to get honeycomb
  • Use a bottle when at full honey to get a honey bottle
  • Campfire smoke calms bees – place one underneath the nest / hive to keep them in chill mode
  • Redstone-friendly!
  • Bees like Bee Nests and Bee Hives the same amount! They don’t play favorites 🙂
  • Added the Honey Bottle!
Honey Bottle
  • Organic, gluten-free, delicious locally-farmed honey!
  • Use an empty glass bottle on a hive or nest that is full of honey to get a bottle of honey!
  • Drink it!
  • ???
  • Profit!
  • Oh yeah, also craft it into sugar!
  • Added Honeycomb!
Honeycomb
Disclaimer: Cannot be used to comb your hair
  • Shear a full-honey hive or nest to obtain
  • Craft with wood planks to create a Bee Hive
Dispenser
  • Dispensers can now fill bottles with water and honey
  • Dispensers can now shear honey combs from Bee Nests and Hives

Slay the Spire is on Gamepass!

Josh has been playing this a LOT!
And I am proud to say that I was able to Slay the Spire for the first time on this Xbox version. For fans, I did it with the Hidden. Which surprised me, because Ironclad is my favourite.
Don’t know what I’m talking about, this is the Steam Description and Features:
Slay the Spire by Mega Crit Games
We fused card games and roguelikes together to make the best single player deckbuilder we could. Craft a unique deck, encounter bizarre creatures, discover relics of immense power, and Slay the Spire!
Features
  • Dynamic Deck Building: Choose your cards wisely! Discover hundreds of cards to add to your deck with each attempt at climbing the Spire. Select cards that work together to efficiently dispatch foes and reach the top.
  • An Ever-changing Spire: Whenever you embark on a journey up the Spire, the layout differs each time. Choose a risky or safe path, face different enemies, choose different cards, discover different relics, and even fight different bosses!
  • Powerful Relics to Discover: Powerful items known as relics can be found throughout the Spire. The effects of these relics can greatly enhance your deck through powerful interactions. But beware, obtaining a relic may cost you more than just gold…

Tidbits

  • Webkit, the engine behind the Safari web browser, has announced a big new policy that’s great for consumers: user tracking will now be treated as a security exploit, and will be blocked accordingly
    • They go on to mention that no exceptions will be made, and they will block any attempts to circumvent their protections universally
  • Insomniac Games, developers of Ratchet & Clank, Sunset Overdrive, and more recently Marvel’s Spider-Man, has officially been acquired by Sony Interactive Entertainment
    • They’ve been developing PlayStation exclusives for years, but now that they’re an actual first-party developer for the platform it’ll be cool to see what comes next
  • The Matrix is apparently getting a fourth film, with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity
    • The movie will see Sense8 writers Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell joining Lana Wachowski in writing it, so I’m cautiously optimistic
  • It sounds like Sony and Disney failed to come to a new agreement in how to share Spider-Man, so he seems to be out of the MCU once more
    • Sony released a statement saying they hope that might change in the future, but for now it sounds like Tom Holland will have to look elsewhere for his super team

Alan Recommends The Boys on Amazon Prime Video

  • Based on the comic series by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, and developed for TV by Eric Kripke, the creator of Supernatural
  • It’s a dark comedy based in a world a lot like what I imagine what would happen if superheroes were real- they end up completely managed by a corporate PR machine, so we end up with just as many movies and tv shows but in this case they’re all marketing for real people
  • So you end up with a lot of supers that are just arrogant and corrupt people, which is why the vigilante group The Boys exists to try and keep them in check
  • It’s a solid adaptation with a lot of great differences that keep it fresh for fans of the comics while not just being changes for their own sake

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We do a belated cover of the Smash Ultimate direct. As well as an intersection IMAX Marvel movie event thats happening across the country. Josh recommends a podcast with actor interviews and Alan recommends a podcast that can get a little dark.

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