Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Escape Machine City: Airborne

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

    • Creature in the Well

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week In Gaming History

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

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

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

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

March 22 – 1996 – 3D Tetris – Virtual Boy

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

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

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

March 24 – 1998 – Die By The Sword – Windows

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

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

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

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

Or…

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

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

Tidbits

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

Doug Hallett Graduate Scholarship in Medicine

 

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PS2J News 332 – Track or Not To Track

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Algo Bot

      • 2018
      • Puzzle game that has you maintaining a pan-galactic colony ship by managing a cute robot through a visual programming language
    • Little Big Workshop

      • 2019
      • Management sim with an open-ended sandbox experience where you start with a small tabletop workshop and expand to a desk-filling factory, running multiple production lines and managing your cute workers
  • Epic Games

    • Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition

      • 2018
      • 2D platformer and Metroidvania based on the Afro-Brazilian warrior of the same name that has you traversing the world by warping between white surfaces
      • Trials of Fear Edition adds a bunch of things like new areas, a new boss, new powers, and a new secret ending
  • Sony

    • Concrete Genie

      • 2019
      • Action-adventure game where you discover a paint brush that can bring your art to life, infusing them with different personalities and powers depending on how you draw them
    • Control Ultimate Edition

      • 2020 bundle version of the 2019 release, including the Foundation and AWE expansions, brand new to the PS5 and Xbox Series in February
      • Action-adventure game that revolves around the Federal Bureau of Control, a secret US government agency tasked with containing and studying phenomena that violate the laws of reality. You play as the new director and use your powerful abilities to defeat the deadly Hiss
      • This is a messy one- the developers set it up so that only people that own the Ultimate edition can get a free upgrade to the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles, so players that bought it in the first year of release are left out in the cold
        • They also stated that save files could be brought forward to the latest consoles from the original release if you bought Ultimate Edition on the last-generation consoles, but just yesterday they announced that there is actually no way to bring your old save file to the next-gen consoles
        • Now Ultimate Edition is being made free on PS4 and PS5 two weeks after it was just on sale, but unlike ManEater they aren’t offering any refunds for people that jumped on the deal, even if they haven’t booted it up yet while waiting for the PS5 release
    • Destruction AllStars

      • Brand new 2021
      • Vehicular combat game billed as a “global sports entertainment event where stars & cars collide”, where each hero vehicle has different abilities and once your car has been destroyed you need to survive on foot
  • Microsoft

    • Gears 5

      • 2019 optimized for the Xbox Series
      • Third-person shooter that takes place months after the events of Gears of War 4 that has you uncovering the origins of the Locust and the truth behind your family history
    • Resident Evil

      • 2015 HD remaster of the 1996 release
      • Survival horror game that helped define the genre, where you play a member of the elite task force S.T.A.R.S as they investigate the outskirts of Raccoon City following the disappearance of your team members
    • Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition (also on Epic)

      • 2018
      • 2D platformer and Metroidvania based on the Afro-Brazilian warrior of the same name that has you traversing the world by warping between white surfaces
      • Trials of Fear Edition adds a bunch of things like new areas, a new boss, new powers, and a new secret ending
    • Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb

      • 2003
      • Action-adventure game that has you taking the role of Indy as he travels to 1935 China to prevent a powerful artifact from falling into evil hands, pitting you against evil Nazis and the Asian underworld
    • Lost Planet 2

      • 2010
      • Third-person shooter set 10 years after Lost Planet: Extreme Condition where terraforming efforts have started to change the face of the planet but mankind is still locked in a civil war for thermal energy

Apple’s released updates for pretty much all of their devices except for Mac, including bug fixes, security updates for vulnerabilities that may have been exploited in the wild, and a new Unity watchface inspired by the Pan-African flag

  • Some people online think the security updates may be related to the GreyKey iPhone hacking device, but we have yet to see any solid reports
  • Related to the new watchface, as part of Black History Month Apple has also introduced a limited-edition “Black Unity” Apple Watch and sport band, using the colours of the Pan-African flag and inscribed with messages like “Black Unity”, and “Truth. Power. Solidarity.”
    • They also have plans to use their apps like Maps and Music to spotlight Black businesses, musicians, developers, writers, influencers, and news stories

Facebook is apparently preparing an antitrust lawsuit against Apple for an unfair approach to privacy and default apps

  • Facebook is claiming that the App Tracking Transparency features, allowing users to opt-out of being tracked, are unfair because they don’t appear for Apple’s built-in apps
    • The problem here is that Apple doesn’t track users or share data for advertising purposes, so it doesn’t really apply
  • Facebook will apparently also be focusing on Apple’s refusal to allow other messaging apps to be set as the system default, claiming that limitation is an effort to prevent people from switching to competing brands
    • I’m sure this has nothing to do with them lobbying Apple in September to allow Facebook Messenger to be the default messaging app and being soundly rejected
  • The big bullet point here seems to be that Facebook’s accusing Apple of making changes to line their own pockets, while the reality seems to be that all Apple’s doing here is giving us control over how Facebook monetizes us
  • We’ll have to see if these actions actually get filed, but a lot of it just seems like an tantrum because Facebook will have to start asking permission before harvesting data from iPhone users

In related news, Google is actually pulling the tracking features from their iOS apps

  • Many of Google’s apps still have yet to submit their data privacy labels to the App Store, which will show what data they’re gathering, but in the meantime they’ve announced that rather than ask users to allow themselves to be tracked Google will instead remove tracking altogether
  • Google’s warned that app developers may see a “significant impact” to their Google ad revenue on iOS after the new policy takes effect, but if tracking is so important to their business then they could always leave it in and use the permissions prompt to justify it to their users
  • The fact that they’d rather stop than ask permission is pretty dang telling

Microsoft revealed plans to double the price of Xbox Live Gold this week, drawing so much fire that they reversed course 15 hours later

  • In their planned rollout their cheapest option would have stayed at $60, but cut down to 6 months instead of the current 12
  • The prevailing theory is that this change would have been to push more people toward Game Pass Ultimate, which offers the benefits of Gold with the Game Pass subscription service that’s pretty solid but not necessarily for everyone
  • On the plus side, now instead of doubling the price of Gold they’re keeping prices as-is and also making changes for free-to-play games to allow them online without a Gold membership
  • So it at least shows that they’re open to criticism and willing to make their services a little better instead of much worse

Disney’s making changes to its Disney+ lineup as part of their Stories Matter initiative, an effort to reckon with the company’s history of racist stereotypes and negative depictions

  • Several titles with problematic content like Peter Pan, Aristocats, The Lady and the Tramp, and Dumbo, have been removed from profiles set up for children, though they can still be viewed from regular accounts
  • When watched they also display a strong condemnation of their contents, saying that the stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now, acknowledging the harmful impact, and saying they want to learn from it and spark conversation so that parents can make sure their children have a good mental framework in which to place these movies
  • Conversations about race and stereotypes aren’t easy to have with kids, but you can’t just throw those types of racist caricatures at impressionable minds willy-nilly without doing some harm in the process

This Week In Gaming History 2000’s Edition!

January 23 – 2001 – The Typing Of The Dead – Sega Dreamcast (North America)

  • This is essentially the same game as the arcade light-gun rail-shooter House of the Dead 2, except they’ve turned it into a edu-tainment typing trainer.
    • Instead of guns, your characters have keyboards strapped to them, and instead of shooting the zombies that constantly jump out at you you’ll need to type out the words attached to the zombies in order to kill them before they crack open your head and feast upon the goo inside.
    • The game ranks you on your typing speed and provides various tutorials and other edu-tainment sundries.
  • Otherwise it’s pretty much the same game as House of the Dead 2.
    • Much like the Resident Evil series, the zombie hordes have gone from infesting a vaguely gothic creepy old mansion to infesting a vaguely gothic decaying city, and its your job to stop them and save the human race (as usual).

January 24 – 2000 – Crazy Taxi – Sega Dreamcast (United States)

  • Crazy Taxi is an arcade-like racer where the player takes the role of a taxi driver who weaves his way through crowded streets, across sidewalks, and even underwater, in a wild and frantic race to deliver passengers on time.
    • The courses are largely set inside cities crowded with general traffic and pedestrians (which can’t be run over, they dive away).
    • The main goal is to bring as many customers as possible to their destination in time.
    • Available customers are marked through circles and the color represents the distance and the fare they offer.
    • Green means long rides with plenty of money, and red ones are very short.
  • In the main Arcade mode, there is a timer that quickly runs down.
    • It can be replenished by picking up customers.
    • While driving reckless maneuvers are encouraged.
    • Players can disregard all traffic rules and customers give extra tips for speedy and dangerous driving, but these can only be cashed when the customer arrives at his destination in time.
    • By the same token, the reward at the end of a ride is based on the amount of time left, as each customer also has a personal timer.
    • The city is filled with slopes and jumps, and the game uses a very loose driving model.
    • No damage can be done to the car, so driving as fast as possible is encouraged.
    • While driving players can toy with the gears to perform two special tricks: a crazy drift and a crazy boost to speed up more quickly.
  • Next to the Arcade mode, there is an Original mode and Crazy Box where specific goals need to be met on closed down courses.
    • In the regular modes, it is possible to disregard the usual timer and play for a fixed amount of minutes.
    • At the end of the race, the player is rewarded with a license, either D, C, B or A, with S for outstanding performance.
    • Next to the interactive courses from the arcade version, there is a new course for home consoles.
    • There are four cabs and drivers to choose from.
    • The cars have different statistics and the drivers’ different attitudes while racing.
    • The game has a soundtrack featuring The Offspring and Bad Religion (not for the Xbox 360 version).

January 25 – 2005 – Playboy: The Mansion – PS2, Windows, Xbox

  • Live the life of Hugh Hefner in this “Virtual Hef” simulation.
  • As a young Hugh Hefner, it is the player’s goal to build the Playboy empire through sexy parties and putting together Playboy magazine every month.
    • Build friendships and business contacts with celebrities, political figures, musicians, sports stars and more through hosting events and charming over people.
  • On the business side, Hef has to hire a staff to take photos and write articles for the magazine.
    • The “Playboy Photoshoot” mode allows the player to take the role of photographer.
    • On the personal side, invite friends into your inner circle, and find a girlfriend… or two…. or more.
    • The better the parties Hef throws, the more fame he gets, as well as more interesting people to fill the magazine.
    • More money means a larger staff, and more items (toys and furniture) for Hef to display in the Mansion.
  • Doing well in the game earns Hef points which can be used to purchase extra features, such as cheats and archive photos of Hef and past issue covers.

January 26 – 2003 – Devil May Cry 2 – PlayStation 2

  • Devil May Cry 2 is the sequel to Devil May Cry and once again casts you as Dante, the demon slayer.
  • You control Dante as you battle demons through various levels, ultimately reaching the conclusion and to find out just why these demons are trying to kill everyone.
    • To aid you in your quest, you once again have your trusty sword and various attributes, as well as new moves, like running on walls, aerial kicks, and multi-directional shooting.
  • This time around, Dante is not alone, as you have a partner, named Lucia.
    • Just as much of an asskicker as Dante, Lucia utilizes a kind of knife which she can rapidly throw at her enemies.
  • All the special skills from the first game are here, again activated by your Devil Trigger, which has been improved for the sequel’s release.

January 27 – 2004 – Cops 2170: The Power of Law – Windows

  • COPS 2170 is a tactical strategy game of squad combat with RPG elements set in a futuristic cyberpunk world.
    • It is a prequel to Paradise Cracked, an earlier game by the same company.
  • In the game you control Katy, a new officer fresh from the academy that aims to make a solid career in the police force.
    • You will control her as your main character and recruit additional partners to undertake several missions, which usually involve combat across the urban sprawls of the future against several factions and gangs in the city.
    • As the game progresses a plot starts to surface involving a deranged criminal who aims to bring the city to its knees.
  • You can control up to 6 characters and additional backup NPCs, each with their own stats and equipment and issue orders to them on squad-based turns.
    • Since you are part of the police force there’s no resource management and instead the equipment availability is decided by your rank, which depends on the conditions in which you complete each mission.
    • The game uses a fully polygonal engine and features branching mission objectives and different outcomes based on your in-game actions.

January 28 – 2003 – Black & Bruised – GameCube, PlayStation 2

  • Black & Bruised is a cartoonish take on boxing with 18 different boxers, each with their own personality and fighting style.
    • There are five different modes including multi-player, exhibition, and a story mode told with CG with each boxer’s life story is played out in story mode.
    • Each boxer has a different special attack and power-ups can be picked up to use in matches.
    • There are 30 different facial expressions for each boxer reacting to punches and misses giving them a life-like appearance.

January 29 – 2001 – Oni – Windows, Macintosh, PlayStation 2

  • Plot:
    • It’s 2032.
    • The planet is now ruled by the World Coalition Government which annexed 80% of the countries, with the remaining quickly dragged into the WCG.
    • While their official goal was to solve humankind’s problems, it was about money.
    • Massive spending bankrupted poorer countries, and soon all traces of individual government disappeared.
    • For those who were poor, the situation didn’t improved one bit, and for the richer, maintaining the status was done at the expense of their privacy and personal freedoms.
    • To make things worse, life outside the major cities, far from the atmosphere processors is nearly impossible, as the so-called “Wilderness Preserves” are poisoned, and those who venture into them risk a painful death.
    • Konoko, fresh out from TCTF (Technology Crimes Task Force, a secret police to take cyber drugs and weapons from the streets, as well as explore the induced technophobia to operate and investigate on a blank check permission) academy is placed under the command of Terrance Griffin and Dr. Kerr and linked to a SLD – an android – called Shinatama, who is neurally linked to her.
    • However, Konoko knows next to nothing about her past, other that she was orphaned at the age of three and felt “different” to other people while was being brought up under the wing of TCTF.
    • After many years in training, she has finally the chance to prove herself to Griffin and the TCTF, and so, heads for a warehouse rumoured to be under the control of the Syndicate, a criminal organization which grew exponentially after a young man called “Boss Muro” climbed to the top of the organization.
  • Inspired by the classic Anime series Ghost in the Shell by Shirow Masamune, gameplay is a mix between generic third-person shooter and a classic beat’em up.
    • While Konoko has at her disposal several hand-to-hand acrobatic moves (with more unlocked as the player advances), she can also find weapons in the levels, and the decision to go armed or bare-fisted is only up to the player.
    • Each weapon either draws from ballistic or energy cell clips, the number of rounds in each clip depending on the weapon: a Black Adder (a short, one-hand machine gun like an Uzi) can get 30 rounds from a ballistic clip, while a Mercury Bow (a sniper railgun sans scope) only two.
    • Combined with the limited availability of clips, this adds a strategic element to the game, as the player can only carry a weapon at a time, so if a powerful weapons runs out of ammo, the player must choose between keeping the weapon and fight hand to hand with the enemies until Konoko finds fresh ammo clips, or discard it for a lesser gun that uses different ammo.
    • However, if the player runs out of ammo completely when facing a tough challenge, Konoko can “overdose” on hypo sprays (used to heal damage) by using them over her natural health bar, which provides her with faster movement and tougher blows.

Tidbits

  • Reddit took to the stock market this week to inflate the price of stocks like GameStop in order to stick it to hedge funds that have been banking on the prices dropping soon
    • It got to the point where trading had to be frozen multiple times, and the popular trading app RobinHood took the potentially illegal position that their users are now no longer allowed to buy those stocks, only sell
    • Because of this multiple government officials from both sides of the aisle, including AOC and Ted Cruz, have called for an investigation and potential sanctions against RobinHood
  • CDPR has released modding support tools for Cyberpunk 2077, with promises to keep them up to date as patches continue being developed, so we should hopefully see some interesting things added to Night City as time goes on
  • In local news, Edmonton has a new Smash Bros inspired burger joint called Burger Brawl, that has two chefs pitting burgers against each other elimination-style each weekend with new challengers announced each Thursday. Check them out at burgerbrawl.ca

Looking forward to playing The Medium this weekend

  • The Medium is a psychological horror game played in third-person as Marianne, a medium who can travel into the spirit realm.
    • Being able to inhabit both worlds aids puzzle solving.
    • Her psychic abilities may also be used against hostile forces and are recharged by interacting with energy spots called spirit wells.
  • The Medium is developed by Bloober Team, who came up with the idea in 2012.
    • Bloober meant to enhance the immersion by changing their traditional perspective from first- to third-person and taking advantage of Xbox Series X/S’s background streaming.
    • They modelled the supernatural setting after Zdzisław Beksiński’s dystopian surrealist artwork.
    • Lead designer Wojciech Piejko said The Medium imparts the message that “there is no universal truth”.
    • Composers Arkadiusz Reikowski and Akira Yamaoka were tasked with scoring the physical and spiritual plane, respectively.
    • Using synthesiser and analogue sounds, Reikowski likened his approach to that of Stranger Things and Chernobyl.
    • Yamaoka worked on the Silent Hill franchise, which inspired the game, including its fixed camera angles.
    • He was persuaded to take on the music when Piejko gave him a gameplay demonstration. Singer Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, also of Silent Hill fame, will contribute vocals.
    • Troy Baker voices the primary antagonist, known as the Maw, for whom another actor performed the motion capture on stilts.
  • The Medium was originally announced for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U in 2012, but for want of better technology, reappeared in May 2020 as a Microsoft Windows and Xbox Series X/S title.
    • Originally scheduled for 10 December 2020, the release was eventually delayed to 28 January 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

 

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PS2J News 317 – Next Gen Gaming OAC

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Vostok Inc

      • 2017
      • Billed as The Wolf of Wall Street with lasers, this clicker with added shoot ‘em up elements has you playing a newly appointed CEO with the goal of becoming the richest space-capitalist around
    • Shock Troopers

      • 1997
      • Top down run and gun arcade shooter that has you fighting through mountains, jungles, and valleys to rescue a scientist and his granddaughter from a terrorist group
    • Metal Slug 3

      • 2000
      • Run and gun sidescrolling shooter that added more weapons and vehicles to the Metal Slug series, as well as introducing branching paths
    • Garou: Mark of the Wolves

      • 1999
      • The ninth and final instalment of the Fatal Fury series, it brought in a new feature where if you get down to a certain area of your health bar you can perform special attacks and recover health
    • The Last Blade 2

      • 1998
      • Arcade style weapons-based fighting game originally for the Neo Geo
    • Samurai Shodown V Special

      • 2004
      • The ninth Samurai Shodown title, it’s an upgraded version of Samurai Shodown V and the last official game for the Neo Geo
    • The King of Fighters 97 Global Match

      • 2018 re-release of the 1997 game
      • The fourth King of Fighters game and the final chapter in the “Orochi Saga” story arc
    • The King of Fighters 98 Ultimate Match Final Edition

      • 2014 re-release of the 2008 re-release of the 1998 title
      • The fifth King of Fighters game with multiple releases bringing full balance overhauls, additional characters, and a new Ultimate mode
    • The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match

      • 2015
      • Ninth King of Fighters title that abandoned the newer 4v4 match format used in previous games and went back to the 3v3 fights previously seen in KoF 98
  • Epic Games

    • Railway Empire

      • 2018
      • A tycoon simulation game where you’ll create an elaborate and wide-ranging rail network with different trains, stations, factories, and attractions to stay ahead of your competitors
    • Where the Water Tastes Like Wine

      • 2018
      • Narrative-driven adventure game that has you exploring a Great Depression era United States, gathering and learning oral stories, and passing them along

Epic vs Apple

  • Epic Games is now asking the courts to force Apple to put Fortnite back on the App Store, saying that active users on iOS declined over 60% after removal
    • Their justification is that iOS is the biggest platform for Fortnite, with nearly a third of users having played on iOS and more than half of those using iOS exclusively
    • Now they’re saying that they may never see those users again, while playing their sad violin about how Fortnite is more than just a game and the social community is something that people rely on
    • End of the day, if the app is so important maybe you should just remove your direct payment option while the court case proceeds?
  • Apple has now counter-sued Epic Games for stealing the 30% commission with their direct payment option, accusing the company of “self-help and subterfuge” as it embarked on a plan of “commission-theft” by introducing the payment option that goes directly against App Store guidelines
    • With the legal term “self-help” meaning that Epic created the very circumstances that they started their lawsuit over, it kinda seems like an open and shut case

While we wait for any word on the PS5’s price, Microsoft has released that and more for their new consoles

  • The flagship Xbox Series X, the new mini-fridge of gaming, will cost $499USD with a $35/month Xbox All Access financing option from Microsoft
    • This thing is a solid rectangular obelisk that will run 4k 60fps, with some titles even hitting 120fps for buttery-smooth multiplayer in Halo Infinite
  • And the sleek little Xbox Series S has finally been officially announced, costing $299USD or $25/month with Xbox All Access
    • The S looks pretty cool, kind of resembling a flat speaker, but behind that speaker is a sizeable fan keeping the whole thing cool (and hopefully staying somewhat quiet while doing so)
    • It’s smaller than any other Xbox Microsoft has sold previously, but still packs in 500GB of storage and the performance apparently comparable to the Xbox One X
    • It’s also gone all-digital, meaning that there’s no disk drive for anyone still playing with physical game discs
  • Xbox All Access, for anyone not keeping up with Microsoft’s myriad memberships, is a two year financing program that gets you an Xbox with no upfront cost as well as Game Pass Ultimate (including Xbox Live Gold) for the contract period
    • With Game Pass Ultimate alone costing $15/month USD it actually seems like a decent deal, leaving your grand total for the Series S at $240 ($50 savings) and the Series X at $480 ($20 savings)
  • On top of that, EA Play is now included in Xbox Game Pass for PC at no additional cost*
    • The full library of 89 titles is available now for Game Pass PC and Game Pass Ultimate subscribers
    • Members will also get a 10 hour free trial for select games (most often the newest launches from EA Sports) and a 10% discount on EA DLC or microtransactions
    • At the same time, the standalone Xbox Game Pass for PC will be moving from $5USD to $10, but Game Pass Ultimate is unchanged so it’s just become a better deal since PC is included
  • On a related note, just a quick reminder for everyone- currently the best way to buy Game Pass Ultimate is to let it expire, load up your account with however much Xbox Live Gold time you can up to a max of three years, then upgrade that time to Game Pass Ultimate for a reduced fee (the first time you do it, it only costs $1)
    • The trick is you have to use the specific upgrade link for your region- https://www.xbox.com/en-CA/live/gold/upgrade
    • If you just buy Game Pass Ultimate it converts your Gold time but uses 4 months of Gold to equal one month of Ultimate, but using the upgrade link it’s currently 1:1
  • Now that Microsoft’s put all that information out there, we’ll see how long it takes Sony to undercut them (if they can, anyway)
  • Both Xbox Series consoles can be expanded with another terabyte of storage using an expansion card, and will launch this November 10th. Preorders open September 22nd

Apple’s officially announced their fall event, titled Time Flies, for September 15th, and we’ll have all the details in the next episode

  • People are expecting new Apple Watches and maybe iPad Airs, but iPhones seem less likely and may be delayed till October
  • We can also expect to hear some release dates on the upcoming iOS releases, but the new macOS (Big Sur) likely isn’t ready for primetime yet and will also wait for next month at minimum

Unfortunately it sounds like Apple may be delaying the privacy improvements to iOS that have Facebook and other advertisers concerned for their futures

  • The new privacy rules were slated to take effect with iOS 14, prompting users before allowing any kind of cross app tracking
  • Apple will instead give developers the option to use the prompt when it becomes available, including the ability to display why they’re asking for the permissions, but want to give developers time to implement the change before enforcing it early next year
  • Other new things like viewing which apps are accessing GPS, microphone, camera, and clipboard still remain on track for the initial iOS 14 release

The minds behind Hyrule Warriors, the Dynasty Warriors style brawler set in the Zelda universe, are making a fully canonical entry in the series

  • Titled Age of Calamity, it shows the story 100 years before Breath of the Wild and has you taking part in the original fight against Calamity Ganon
  • In some Halo Reach style story telling, we know where the story ends but playing through how it gets to that point should still be pretty dang fun
  • Best part here is that this time it’s not just Koei Tecmo doing their own thing, but it’s a full co-production with Nintendo’s Zelda team
  • The first Hyrule Warriors was fun but the story felt pretty disjointed, so getting them to work with the core Zelda team and having it link in smoothly to the rest of the universe should hopefully make things even better

This Week In Gaming History

September 5th – 2018 – Scythe: Digital Edition – PC/Mac

  • Scythe is a board game for 1 to 5 players designed by Jamey Stegmaier and published by Stonemaier Games in 2016. Set in an alternate history 1920s Europe, in Scythe players control factions which produce resources, build economic infrastructure, and use giant dieselpunk war machines called mechs to fight and control territory. Players take up to two actions per turn using unique player boards, with the game proceeding until one player has achieved six achievements, at which point the players receive coins for their achievements and territories controlled, with the player with the most coins winning.
  • The game was originally released via Kickstarter, raising over $1.8 million. Scythe received very positive reviews, with particularly strong praise for the game’s artwork, which was produced by Polish painter Jakub Różalski under the name World of 1920+. As of 2020, Scythe is ranked 11th among all board games on BoardGameGeek.
  • The 1920+ universe is also featured in the video game Iron Harvest planned for release in September 2020.

September 6th – 2008 – Chex Quest 3 – PC

  • Chex Quest is a non-violent first-person shooter video game created in 1996 by Digital Café as a Chex cereal promotion aimed at children aged 6–9 and up. It is a total conversion of the more violent video game Doom
  • Chex Quest 3 was developed and released as a service to fans by former Digital Café members Charles Jacobi (art director and lead artist) and Scott Holman (programmer). Former Digital Café sound design leader Andrew Benson, also contributed several songs for the game. Originally intended as a single standalone level, Jacobi announced the development of a full sequel at the Chex Quest Fan Page (Chexquest.org) in June 2008, and the full game was released in September.
  • Chex Quest 3 employs the ZDoom source port, and is considerably larger in size than the previous two games. Jacobi’s release of Chex Quest 3 also included ZDoom-based versions of Chex Quest and Chex Quest 2, with significant enhancements and noted problems redressed. Chex Quest 2 in particular had been remastered, with some levels significantly revised or completely overhauled.
  • Charles Jacobi credited the praise and compliments of fans, especially through fan-made projects such as one titled “The Ultimate Chex Quest”, as inspiration to complete this project.

September 7th – 2008 – Spore – PC/Mac

  • Spore is a 2008 life simulation real-time strategy God game developed by Maxis, published by Electronic Arts and designed by Will Wright. Covering many genres including action, real-time strategy, and role-playing games, Spore allows a player to control the development of a species from its beginnings as a microscopic organism, through development as an intelligent and social creature, to interstellar exploration as a spacefaring culture.
    • It has drawn wide attention for its massive scope, and its use of open-ended gameplay and procedural generation. Throughout each stage, players are able to use various creators to produce content for their games. These are then automatically uploaded to the online Sporepedia and are accessible by other players for download.
  • Spore was released after several delays to generally favorable reviews. Praise was given for the fact that the game allowed players to create customized creatures, vehicles and buildings. However, Spore was criticized for its gameplay which was seen as shallow by many reviewers; GameSpot remarked: “Individual gameplay elements are extremely simple”. Controversy surrounded Spore due to the inclusion of SecuROM, and its digital rights management software, which can potentially open the user’s computer to security risks.
  • I know Alan and I were really excited for this game, but it turns in to Galactic Babysitting Adventures.

September 8th – 2008 – Amnesia: The Dark Descent – PC/Mac/Linux

  • The game follows the amnesiac protagonist, Daniel, as he explores Brennenburg Castle while trying to solve various puzzles and avoiding monsters. Instead of fighting, Daniel’s main tools for survival include running and hiding.
    • The game was critically acclaimed upon release, and has gone on to spawn two sequels: Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, and the yet to be released Amnesia: Rebirth.
  • Amnesia is an exploration-based horror adventure game played from a first-person perspective. The player is able to interact with the environment in a wide variety of ways, such as picking up and moving objects, opening doors, closets, and drawers, operating valves and levers and lighting up areas.
    • There are no weapons and no combat mechanics in the game, making the player unable to fight the different monsters that he encounters. Thus the only way to get past the creatures is by running away and hiding from them until they lose interest.
    • The player can hide from monsters in a variety of ways, such as staying in the shadows, hiding in closets, barricading doors, etc.
  • Separate from the player’s health bar is an indication of the character’s sanity. Being in darkness too long, witnessing unsettling events, or staring at monsters will reduce Daniel’s sanity, causing visual and auditory hallucinations and drawing the attention of monsters, as Daniel begins to whimper.
    • Light sources help restore sanity, and if none are available Daniel may use tinderboxes to ignite candles in wall sconces and candelabra or deploy an oil-burning lantern found near the beginning of the game.
    • However, the number of tinderboxes and the amount of oil available are both limited, and standing in a light source also makes the player more noticeable to monsters.
    • Sanity is fully restored once Daniel completes an objective or progresses the game’s story. It may also be restored by staying in the shadows until Daniel passes out, but this leaves him extremely vulnerable to any nearby monsters.

 

September 9th – 1995 – Ridge Racer – PS1

  • Ridge Racer is a racing game developed and published by Namco. It was released initially on the Namco System 22 arcade system board and ported to the PlayStation console in 1995 in North America. It is the first title in the Ridge Racer series released for arcades and home consoles. The aim is to finish in first place in a series of races. The PlayStation version supports Namco’s NeGcon controller.
  • This controller is something I found really interesting
    • The NeGcon, is a motion-based video game controller manufactured in 1995 by Namco for the PlayStation. One of the first third-party peripherals for the system, the controller is connected by a swivel joint, allowing the player to twist the halves relative to each other. The controller also replaces the “symbol” buttons on the original PlayStation controller with two “A” and “B” buttons, as well as “I” and “II” buttons that allowed for analogue control.
    • The NeGcon was created to replicate the analog-stick movement used in the arcade game Cyber Sled (1993); the name comes from the Japanese word “nejiru”, meaning “to twist”. The controller was intended for use in racing games, including Ridge Racer, Gran Turismo and Wipeout. Critical reception for the NeGcon was highly positive, being praised for its responsive control in games and unique design.

September 10th – 2001 – Advance Wars – Game Boy Advance

  • Advance Wars is a turn-based tactics game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo.
  • It was released in North America on September 10, 2001 with a later release date in Japan and Europe, but the game release was put on hold in both Japanese and European regions due to the following day’s September 11 attacks.
    • Although the game was released in Europe in January 2002, neither GBA game was released in Japan until the Game Boy Wars Advance 1+2 compilation on November 25, 2004.
  • The game was originally intended to remain exclusive to Japan, like the previous entries in the series, which were kept in Japan due to Nintendo feeling that consumers would not be interested in turn-based games, or in such complicated games.
    • In order to alleviate this, the developers made the mechanics easy to understand, adding in an in-depth tutorial that didn’t require players to read the manual.
    • Designer Kentaro Nishimura commented that “Advance Wars’ success shifted Nintendo’s attitude over western tastes.”

September 11th – 2015 – Super Mario Maker – WiiU

  • Super Mario Maker is a side-scrolling platform game and game creation system developed and published by Nintendo for the Wii U home video game console, which released worldwide in September 2015.
    • Players are able to create and play their own custom courses, based on Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U, share them online, and download and play courses designed by other players.
  • Reviews for the game range between near perfect, and perfect scores.
    • Even though, a bulk of the content was made by other players with a passion to make Mario levels.
    • My favorite being Ross O’Donovan, streaming on twitch as RubberNinja. He was contender and frequently a top creator on Super Mario Maker. Now with Super Mario Maker 2, he is making levels to be played in his Super World. He does make some tricks in his levels, but he does focus on good game design and fun, interesting game play.

Tidbits

  • Suda51 has officially announced that No More Heroes 3 will be delayed to a 2021 release date
    • On the plus side they’ve also brought on Darick Robertson, graphic illustrator for the comic The Boys, to do illustrations for the game
  • CDProjektRed has been under fire this week thanks to microtransactions that don’t even exist
    • People were lining up their pitchforks thinking that the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, a single-player game, would have microtransactions included, despite CDProjektRed repeatedly saying that’s not the case
    • Turns out it was all sparked by some confusion- there will be a separate multiplayer Cyberpunk game released completely separately next year that will have microtransactions, but they’re reportedly aimed at not being too aggressive
  • The Witcher 3 Complete Edition is coming to the PS5 and Xbox Series X this fall with faster load times, a bunch of visual and technical improvements, and ray tracing fanciness
    • Best part is that though it will be a standalone purchase, it’s also a free update to everyone who owns the game on PC, Xbox One, or PS4

 

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Free games

  • Epic games

    • Bad North: Jotunn Edition

      • 2018
      • A real-time roguelite strategy game where you must defend the kingdom from the Viking invaders who killed the king, and guide the procedurally generated island’s people to evacuate

Motorola’s bringing their Razr back, and as an Apple user I’m kinda envious

  • The resurrected Razr is what I’ve been dreaming of for over a decade- a modern smart flip-phone
  • At its core it’s an Android phone with a 6.2″ screen that folds down like the flip-phones of old, and the media they’ve released so far is gorgeous
  • Apparently they’ve got a special hinge that allows the display to expand into a round curve instead of folding into a crease, allowing the full display to stay completely smooth while it’s open
  • On the downside it looks like there have been some compromises to get us there- the processor is a bit slower than what you’ll find on most flagship phones nowadays, but you get a lot of RAM and 128GB of storage.
    • It also only runs Android 9 at the moment, instead of the current version 10
  • The front of the phone also has a smaller 2.7″ OLED for notifications, music controls, selfies, and such
  • The device is expected to launch sometime this January for $1500 USD, which is pretty steep for a smartphone though damn economical for the folding devices we’ve seen thusfar
  • It’s also launching in the States as a Verizon exclusive, with no unlocked version available at release, so the potential user-base is cut down a fair bit
  • Still, it’s another step forward with tech that I’d love to see Apple’s take on
  • If it catches your fancy, preorders open on December 26th

A weird bug hit households this week with the release of Pokemon Sword and Shield causing Roku devices to crash

  • The streaming content set-top boxes and, in some cases, TV’s themselves would hit a hard shutdown if the new Pokemon games were played while connected to the same network
  • Apparently the problem was caused by the games continuously sending out wireless signals looking for other Switches playing the games, which Roku attempts to interpret. When it couldn’t process the info the software would then crash
    • From the sounds of it the problem is that Pokemon is communicating on the same port that Roku uses to share update information with other local devices
  • If you’re seeing this issue Roku released a patch yesterday that should fix the issue, so you should go to Settings, System, and Update to pull the latest version
    • Though please don’t be tempted to continue your Pokemon adventure while the device is updating, or at least put the Switch in airplane mode first

Apple has replaced the controversial 15” MacBook Pro, with its problematic butterfly keyboard and tricky to get used to Touch Bar, with a fancy 16” version that fixes pretty much everything

  • The recent versions of the MacBook Pro have had a lot of vocal people complain about the low-travel keyboard that seems to get jammed up or break fairly easily (it’s so bad that there’s a free repair program at Apple Stores) and the Touch Bar, which replaced the F and Escape keys with a touchscreen
  • Enter the new 16” Macbook Pro: it replaces the 15” pretty much dollar for dollar with a larger Retina display, while also bringing back the more familiar keyboard switches from the Magic Keyboard and a physical escape key to the left of the Touch Bar, and adding in some impressively improved speakers with an extra hour of battery life
  • It can be maxed out with a ridiculous processor, 64GB of RAM, an 8TB SSD, and an 8GB AMD Radeon Pro 5500M graphics card

Stanford Medicine has published further results from the Apple Heart Study that kicked off in 2017, confirming that the Apple Watch accurately notify users of atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat) 84% of the time

  • It also showed that it detected some problems in early stages of development that didn’t happen frequently enough for medical ECG patches to detect, specifically in younger participants
  • Two of the coolest parts of this is that a) since the study started before Apple Watches came equipped with ECG technology this just relied on the basic heart rate monitor, and b) it was all done completely remotely through an iPhone app

In accordance with new App Store guidlines, Apple has removed 181 vape-related apps and is outright banning them from its platform

  • This change seems to have been brought on by CDC reports that vaping as resulted in at least 2,172 cases of respiratory illness/injury, though many of these cases may have been related to the inclusion of vitamin E acetate in the oils used in some third-party or black market cartridges
  • One manufacturer, PAX, who relies heavily on their app to add features and change settings on their devices, is now calling on Apple to rethink its decision, saying that the ban prevents consumers from having access to important info and the ability to better control their cannabis experience
    • Apparently though the temperature can be set using the device alone, the app includes information on branded vape pods including strain information and access to state-regulated test results

Disney+ is taking fire for not providing the first 20 seasons of Simpsons in their original 4:3 “fullscreen” format until 2020

  • All the episodes currently on the service are only shown in their “remastered” state, with colours tweaked and the top and bottom of the screen chopped off
  • In some cases this might not make a big difference, but many of the 429 affected episodes including visual gags that are just gone, like when Homer takes a tour of the Duff factory and it shows Duff, Duff Lite, and Duff Dry all coming out of the same pipe
  • On the plus side, they’re finally fixing it- weeks after the launch of Disney+, they finally released a statement saying that the episodes will be made available in their original format sometime in early 2020

And lastly some great news for people looking at the Xbox Accessibility Controller- Logitech is now selling their Adaptive Gaming Kit with special buttons to take advantage of the flexibility of the controller

  • Retailing for $100 USD, It includes 12 individual buttons
    • 3 2.6” and 3 1.4” buttons with mechanical switches, four “light touch” buttons that require low force to operate, and two variable triggers similar to modern controllers
      • The kit also includes full-colour sticker labels for the buttons in all the sizes, so that you can get a full controller experience with the different customized options
      • The triggers are a big win, since pressure-sensitive controls are apparently rare when it comes to this kind of accessibility
    • It also includes two velcro-style boards you can mount them all on in different configurations, whatever is most comfortable to you

Tidbits

  • Just in case you thought capitalism wasn’t completely broken, Amazon is apparently paying $0 in taxes in the US for 2018 after reporting more than $11.2B in profits
  • Heliogen, a clean energy company backed by Bill Gates, has apparently found a way to use AI and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that they generate heats over 1000 degrees C
    • This means that, for the first time, solar energy can be used for high-energy industrial applications like manufacturing cement, steel, and glass
  • Continuing the constant update train, Apple’s released iOS and iPadOS 13.2.3 this week, including fixes for Mail, Files, and Notes search, viewing attachments in Messages, and downloading new emails and content from Exchange accounts
  • Good news for Origin launcher users, your account wasn’t (probably) hacked this week
    • Many people online received an email saying they’ve redeemed an Origin Access membership code, even if they haven’t, but apparently that was just EA’s way of gifting a month of Origin Access Basic to users opted in to its two-factor authentication
  • Half-Life is back! (kind of)
    • Valve went to Twitter this week to announce Half-Life: Alyx, their flagship VR game, that’ll be unveiled later this week.
    • So far it looks like this is a prequel set between Half-Lifes 1 and 2, further confirming Valve can’t count to three
    • We’ll have all the details in our next episode once they’ve been released

Alan recommends Evolution – Learning Creatures

  • More of a simulation than game, conceptually it kind of strikes me like Kerbal Space Program
  • Use joints, bones, and muscles to build any kind of 2D creature you can imagine
  • Machine learning and neural network fuel adaptation to different scenarios
  • You can even look at the source code and see how the actions are being determine

 

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

Reddit User – WyngZero
A goat teaches the progeny of incest to kill things effectively
Hecules

This Week:

Reddit User – red_4
An ex-con makes it big.

 

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Nintendo Switch Online is live. Josh likes a mockumentary on Netflix and Alan suggests something most people can do!

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