Sega released the Master System’s successor, the Mega Drive, in Japan on October 29, 1988, though the launch was overshadowed by Nintendo’s release of Super Mario Bros. 3 a week earlier. Positive coverage from magazines Famitsu and Beep! helped to establish a following, but Sega only managed to ship 400,000 units in the first year. The Mega Drive was unable to overtake the venerable Famicom and remained a distant third in Japan behind Nintendo’s Super Famicomand NEC’s PC Engine throughout the 16-bit era. Sega announced a North American release date for the system on January 9, 1989. At the time, Sega did not possess a North American sales and marketing organization, but ultimately decided to launch the console through its own Sega of America subsidiary, which launched later that year.
For the North American market, where the console was renamed “Sega Genesis”, former Atari executive and new Sega of America CEO Michael Katz instituted a two-part approach to build sales in the region. The first part involved a marketing campaign to challenge Nintendo head-on and emphasize the more arcade-like experience available on the Genesis, summarized by slogans including “Genesis does what Nintendon’t”. Since Nintendo owned the console rights to most arcade games of the time, the second part involved creating a library of instantly recognizable games which used the names and likenesses of celebrities and athletes. Nonetheless, it had a hard time overcoming Nintendo’s ubiquitous presence in consumers’ homes. Tasked by Nakayama to sell one million units within the first year, Katz and Sega of America managed to sell only 500,000 units.
While Sega was seeking a flagship series to compete with Nintendo’s Mario series along with a character to serve as a company mascot, Naoto Ohshima designed “a teal hedgehog with red shoes that he called Mr. Needlemouse.” This character won the contest and was renamed Sonic the Hedgehog, spawning one of the best-selling video game franchises in history. The gameplay of Sonic the Hedgehog originated with a tech demo created by Yuji Naka, who had developed an algorithm that allowed a sprite to move smoothly on a curve by determining its position with a dot matrix. Naka’s original prototype was a platform game that involved a fast-moving character rolling in a ball through a long winding tube, and this concept was subsequently fleshed out with Ohshima’s character design and levels conceived by designer Hirokazu Yasuhara. Sonic’s blue pigmentation was chosen to match Sega’s cobalt blue logo, and his shoes were a concept evolved from a design inspired by Michael Jackson’s boots with the addition of the color red, which was inspired by both Santa Claus and the contrast of those colors on Jackson’s 1987 album Bad; his personality was based on Bill Clinton’s “can do” attitude.
In mid-1990, Nakayama hired Tom Kalinske to replace Katz as CEO of Sega of America. Although Kalinske initially knew little about the video game market, he surrounded himself with industry-savvy advisors. A believer in the razor and blades business model, he developed a four-point plan: cut the price of the console, create a U.S.-based team to develop games targeted at the American market, continue and expand the aggressive advertising campaigns, and replace the bundled game Altered Beast with a new game, Sonic the Hedgehog. The Japanese board of directors initially disapproved of the plan, but all four points were approved by Nakayama, who told Kalinske, “I hired you to make the decisions for Europe and the Americas, so go ahead and do it.” Magazines praised Sonic as one of the greatest games yet made, and Sega’s console finally became successful. In large part due to the popularity of Sonic the Hedgehog, the Sega Genesis outsold its main competitor, Nintendo’s SNES, in the United States nearly two to one during the 1991 holiday season. This success led to Sega having control of 65% of the 16-bit console market in January 1992, making it the first time Nintendo was not the console leader since December 1985.
To compete with Nintendo, Sega was more open to new types of games than its rival, but still tightly controlled the approval process for third-party games and charged high prices for cartridge manufacturing. Technicians from American third-party video game publisher Electronic Arts (EA) reverse engineered the Genesis in 1989, following nearly one year of negotiations with Sega in which EA requested a more liberal licensing agreement than was standard in the industry before releasing its games for the system. As a result, EA signed what founder Trip Hawkins described as “a very unusual and much more enlightened license agreement” with Sega in June 1990: “Among other things, we had the right to make as many titles as we wanted. We could approve our own titles … the royalty rates were a lot more reasonable. We also had more direct control over manufacturing.” The first Genesis version of EA’s John Madden Football arrived before the end of 1990, and became what EA creative officer Bing Gordon called a “killer app” for the system.
Sega was able to outsell Nintendo four Christmas seasons in a row due to the Genesis’ head start, a lower price point, and a larger library of games when compared to the Super Nintendo at its release. Sega’s advertising positioned the Genesis as the cooler console, and as its advertising evolved, the company coined the term “blast processing” to suggest that its processing capabilities were far greater than those of the SNES. According to a 2004 study of NPD sales data, the Sega Genesis was able to maintain its lead over the Super NES in the American 16-bit console market. However, according to a 2014 Wedbush Securities report based on revised NPD sales data, the SNES outsold the Genesis in the U.S. market.
After the release of the Sega Genesis in 1989, video game publisher Accolade began exploring options to release some of their PC games on the console. At the time, Sega had a licensing deal in place for third-party developers that increased the costs to the developer. According to Accolade co-founder Alan Miller, “One pays them between $10 and $15 per cartridge on top of the real hardware manufacturing costs, so it about doubles the cost of goods to the independent publisher.” To get around licensing, Accolade chose to seek an alternative way to bring their games to the Genesis. As a result of piracy in some countries and unlicensed development issues, Sega incorporated a technical protection mechanism into a new edition of the Genesis released in 1990, referred to as the Genesis III. This new variation of the Genesis included a code known as the Trademark Security System. Accolade successfully identified the TMSS file. It later added this file to the games HardBall!, Star Control, Mike Ditka Power Football, and Turrican. In response to the creation of these unlicensed games, Sega filed suit against Accolade in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, on charges of trademark infringement, unfair competition, and copyright infringement. In response, Accolade filed a counterclaim for falsifying the source of its games by displaying the Sega trademark when the game was powered up. Despite winning an injunction in the initial district court case, as a result of Accolade’s appeal, the Ninth Circuit overturned the district court’s verdict and ruled that Accolade’s decompilation of the Sega software constituted fair use. Ultimately, Sega and Accolade settled the case on April 30, 1993. As a part of this settlement, Accolade became an official licensee of Sega, and later developed and released Barkley Shut Up and Jam! while under license. The terms of the licensing, including whether or not any special arrangements or discounts were made to Accolade, were not released to the public. The financial terms of the settlement were also not disclosed, although both companies agreed to pay their own legal costs.
In 1993, the American media began to focus on the mature content of certain video games. Games such as Night Trap for the Sega CD, an add-on, received unprecedented scrutiny. Issues about Night Trap were brought up in the United Kingdom, with former Sega of Europe development director Mike Brogan noting that “Night Trap got Sega an awful lot of publicity … it was also cited in UK Parliament for being classified as “15” due to its use of real actors.” This came at a time when Sega was capitalizing on its image as an edgy company with attitude, and this only reinforced that image. By far the year’s most controversial game was Midway’s Mortal Kombat, which we did back on PS2J 139,m ported to the Genesis and SNES by Acclaim. In response to public outcry over the game’s graphic violence, Nintendo decided to replace the blood in the game with “sweat” and the arcade’s gruesome “fatalities” with less violent finishing moves. Sega took a different approach, instituting America’s first video game ratings system, the Videogame Rating Council (VRC), for all its current systems. Ratings ranged from the family friendly GA rating to the more mature rating of MA-13, and the adults-only rating of MA-17. With the rating system in place, Sega released its version of Mortal Kombat, appearing to have removed all the blood and sweat effects and toning down the finishing moves even more than in the SNES version. However, all the arcade’s blood and uncensored finishing moves could be enabled by entering a “Blood Code”. This technicality allowed Sega to release the game with a relatively low MA-13 rating. Meanwhile, the tamer SNES version shipped without a rating. The Genesis version of Mortal Kombatwas well-received by gaming press, as well as fans, outselling the SNES version three- or four-to-one, while Nintendo was criticized for censoring the SNES version of the game. Executive vice president of Nintendo of America Howard Lincoln was quick to point out in United States congressional hearings in 1993 that Night Trap had no such rating. In response, Sega of America vice president Bill White showed a videotape of violent video games on the SNES and stressed the importance of rating video games. At the end of the hearing, Senator Joe Lieberman called for another hearing in February 1994 to check on progress toward a rating system for video game violence. Although experiencing increased sales, Sega decided to recall Night Trap and re-release it with revisions in 1994 due to the Congressional hearings. After the close of these hearings, video game manufacturers came together to establish the rating system that Lieberman had called for. Initially, Sega proposed the universal adoption of its system, but after objections by Nintendo and others, Sega took a role in forming a new one. This became the Entertainment Software Rating Board, an independent organization that received praise from Lieberman.
In 1990, Sega launched the Game Gear to compete against Nintendo’s Game Boy. The console had been designed as a portable version of the Master System, and featured more powerful systems than the Game Boy, including a full-color screen, in contrast to the monochromatic screen of its rival. Due to issues with its short battery life, lack of original games, and weak support from Sega, the Game Gear was unable to surpass the Game Boy, selling approximately 11 million units.
By 1991, compact discs had gained in popularity as a data storage device for music and software. PCs and video game companies had started to make use of this technology. NEC had been the first to include CD technology in a game console with the release of the TurboGrafx-CD add-on, and Nintendo was making plans to develop its own CD peripheral as well. Seeing the opportunity to gain an advantage over its rivals, Sega partnered with JVC to develop a CD-ROM add-on for the Genesis. Sega launched the Mega-CD in Japan on December 1, 1991, initially retailing at JP¥49,800. The CD add-on was launched in North America on October 15, 1992, as the Sega CD, with a retail price of US$299; it was released in Europe as the Mega-CD in 1993. In addition to greatly expanding the potential size of its games, this add-on unit upgraded the graphics and sound capabilities by adding a second, more powerful processor, more system memory, and hardware-based scaling and rotation similar to that found in Sega’s arcade games. The Mega-CD sold only 100,000 units during its first year in Japan, falling well below expectations. Although many consumers blamed the add-on’s high launch price, it also suffered from a small software library; only two games were available at launch. This was due in part to the long delay before Sega made its software development kit available to third-party developers. Sales were more successful in North America and Europe, although the novelty of full motion video (FMV) and CD-enhanced games quickly wore off as many of the Sega CD’s later games were met with lukewarm or negative reviews.
Sega experienced success with arcade games during the years it was supporting the Genesis. At the end of the 1980s, with the arcade game market once again in good shape, Sega was one of the most recognized brands in gaming. In the later part of the decade, it focused on releasing titles to appeal to diverse tastes, including racing games and side-scrollers. Some time after the release of Power Drift, Sega realigned its arcade development divisions into the Amusement Machine Research and Development teams, or AM teams, which were strictly segregated and often had rivalries with each other and with the consumer development divisions. In 1992 and 1993, the new Sega Model 1 arcade system board showcased Sega AM2’s Virtua Racing and Virtua Fighter (the first 3D fighting game), which played a crucial role in popularizing 3D polygonal graphics. In particular, Virtua Fighter garnered praise for its simple three-button control scheme, with strategy coming from the intuitively observed differences between characters that felt and acted differently rather than the more ornate combos of two-dimensional competitors. Despite its crude visuals—with characters composed of fewer than 1,200 polygons—Virtua Fighter’s fluid animation and relatively realistic depiction of distinct fighting styles gave its combatants a lifelike presence considered impossible to replicate with sprites. The Model 1 was an expensive system board, and bringing home releases of its games to the Genesis required more than its hardware could handle. Several alternatives helped to bring Sega’s newest arcade games to the console, such as the Sega Virtua Processor chip used for Virtua Racing, and eventually the Sega 32X add-on.
Development on Sega’s next video game console, the Sega Saturn, started over two years before the system was showcased at the Tokyo Toy Show in June 1994. The name “Saturn” was the system’s codename during development in Japan, but was chosen as the official product name. According to Kalinske, Sega of America “fought against the architecture of Saturn for quite some time”. Seeking an alternative graphics chip for the Saturn, Kalinske attempted to broker a deal with Silicon Graphics, but Sega of Japan rejected the proposal. Silicon Graphics subsequently collaborated with Nintendo on the Nintendo 64. Kalinske, Sony Electronic Publishing’s Olaf Olafsson, and Sony America’s Micky Schulhof had discussed development of a joint “Sega/Sony hardware system”, which never came to fruition due to Sega’s desire to create hardware that could accommodate both 2D and 3D visuals and Sony’s competing notion of focusing on 3D technology. Publicly, Kalinske defended the Saturn’s design: “Our people feel that they need the multiprocessing to be able to bring to the home what we’re doing next year in the arcades.” In 1993, Sega restructured its internal studios in preparation for the Saturn’s launch. To ensure high-quality 3D games would be available early in the Saturn’s life, and to create a more energetic working environment, developers from Sega’s arcade division were asked to create console games. New teams, such as Panzer Dragoon developer Team Andromeda, were formed during this time.
In January 1994, Sega began to develop an add-on for the Genesis, the 32X, which would serve as a less expensive entry into the 32-bit era. The decision to create the add-on was made by Nakayama and widely supported by Sega of America employees. According to former Sega of America producer Scot Bayless, Nakayama was worried that the Saturn would not be available until after 1994 and that the recently released Atari Jaguar would reduce Sega’s hardware sales. As a result, Nakayama ordered his engineers to have the system ready for launch by the end of the year. The 32X would not be compatible with the Saturn, but Sega executive Richard Brudvik-Lindner pointed out that the 32X would play Genesis games, and had the same system architecture as the Saturn. This was justified by Sega’s statement that both platforms would run at the same time, and that the 32X would be aimed at players who could not afford the more expensive Saturn. Because both machines shared many of the same parts and were preparing to launch around the same time, tensions emerged between Sega of America and Sega of Japan when the Saturn was given priority. Sega released the 32X on November 21, 1994 in North America, December 3, 1994 in Japan, and January 1995 in PAL territories, and was sold at less than half of the Saturn’s launch price. After the holiday season, however, interest in the 32X rapidly declined.
Sega released the Saturn in Japan on November 22, 1994, at a price of ¥44,800. Virtua Fighter, a faithful port of the popular arcade game, sold at a nearly one-to-one ratio with the Saturn console at launch and was crucial to the system’s early success in Japan. Fueled by the popularity of Virtua Fighter, Sega’s initial shipment of 200,000 Saturn units sold out on the first day, and was more popular than the PlayStation in Japan. In March 1995, Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske announced that the Saturn would be released in the U.S. on “Saturnday” (Saturday) September 2, 1995. However, Sega of Japan mandated an early launch to give the Saturn an advantage over the PlayStation. At the first Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles on May 11, 1995, Kalinske gave a keynote presentation in which he revealed the release price of US$399 (including a copy of Virtua Fighter), and described the features of the console. Kalinske also revealed that, due to “high consumer demand”, Sega had already shipped 30,000 Saturns to Toys “R” Us, Babbage’s, Electronics Boutique, and Software Etc. for immediate release. The announcement upset retailers who were not informed of the surprise release, including Best Buy and Walmart; KB Toys responded by dropping Sega from its lineup. The Saturn’s release in Europe also came before the previously announced North American date, on July 8, 1995, at a price of ₤399.99. European retailers and press did not have time to promote the system or its games, harming sales. The Saturn’s U.S. launch was accompanied by a reported $50 million advertising campaign that included coverage in publications such as Wired and Playboy. Early advertising for the system was targeted at a more mature, adult audience than the Sega Genesis ads. Because of the early launch, the Saturn had only six games (all published by Sega) available to start as most third-party games were slated to be released around the original launch date. Virtua Fighter’s relative lack of popularity in the West, combined with a release schedule of only two games between the surprise launch and September 1995, prevented Sega from capitalizing on the Saturn’s early timing.
Within two days of its September 9, 1995 launch in North America, the PlayStation sold more units than the Saturn had in the five months following its surprise launch, with almost all of the initial shipment of 100,000 units being sold in advance, and the rest selling out across the U.S. On October 2, 1995 Sega announced a Saturn price reduction to $299. Notwithstanding a subsequent increase in Saturn sales during the 1995 holiday season, new games were not enough to reverse the PlayStation’s decisive lead. By 1996, the PlayStation had a considerably larger library than the Saturn, although Sega hoped to generate interest with upcoming exclusives such as Nights into Dreams. Within its first year, the PlayStation secured over 20% of the entire U.S. video game market. On the first day of the May 1996 E3 show, Sony announced a PlayStation price reduction to $199, a reaction to the release of the Model 2 Saturn in Japan at a price roughly equivalent to $199. On the second day, Sega announced it would match this price, though Saturn hardware was more expensive to manufacture.
In spite of the launch of the PlayStation and the Saturn, sales of 16-bit hardware/software continued to account for 64% of the video game market in 1995. Sega underestimated the continued popularity of the Genesis, and did not have the inventory to meet demand for the product. Sega was able to capture 43% of the dollar share of the U.S. video game market and sell more than 2 million Genesis units in 1995, but Kalinske estimated that “we could have sold another 300,000 Genesis systems in the November/December timeframe.” Nakayama’s decision to focus on the Saturn over the Genesis, based on the systems’ relative performance in Japan, has been cited as the major contributing factor in this miscalculation. According to Sega Technical Institute head Roger Hector, after Sony’s release of the PlayStation, the atmosphere at Sega became political, with “lots of finger-pointing”.
Due to long-standing disagreements with Sega of Japan, Kalinske lost most of his interest in his work as CEO of Sega of America. On July 16, 1996, Sega announced that Shoichiro Irimajiri had been appointed chairman and CEO of Sega of America, while Kalinske would be leaving Sega after September 30 of that year. A former Honda executive, Irimajiri had been actively involved with Sega of America since joining Sega in 1993. Sega also announced that David Rosen and Nakayama had resigned from their positions as chairman and co-chairman of Sega of America, though both men remained with the company. Bernie Stolar, a former executive at Sony Computer Entertainment of America, was named Sega of America’s executive vice president in charge of product development and third-party relations. Stolar, who had arranged a six-month PlayStation exclusivity deal for Mortal Kombat 3 and helped build close relations with Electronic Arts while at Sony, was perceived as a major asset by Sega officials.Finally, Sega of America made plans to expand its PC software business.
Stolar was not supportive of the Saturn due to his belief that the hardware was poorly designed, and publicly announced at E3 1997 that “The Saturn is not our future.” While Stolar had “no interest in lying to people” about the Saturn’s prospects, he continued to emphasize quality games for the system, and subsequently reflected that “we tried to wind it down as cleanly as we could for the consumer.” At Sony, Stolar opposed the localization of certain Japanese PlayStation games that he felt would not represent the system well in North America, and advocated a similar policy for the Saturn during his time at Sega, although he later sought to distance himself from this perception. These changes were accompanied by a softer image that Sega was beginning to portray in its advertising, including removing the “Sega!” scream and holding press events for the education industry.
In January 1997, Sega announced its intentions to merge with Bandai, a Japanese toy maker that was Japan’s largest and the world’s third largest at the time. The merger, planned as a $1 billion stock swap whereby Sega would wholly acquire Bandai, was set to form a planned company known as Sega Bandai, Ltd. Plans for the merger were necessitated by the struggling financial state of both Sega and Bandai, with Bandai announcing their anticipated loss for the fiscal year and Sega announcing a lower than expected profit. Sega Bandai was planned to be an entertainment conglomerate, with an estimated $6 billion in revenue. Some financial analysts expressed doubt about this strategy; according to SBC Warburg Securities analyst Reinier Dobbelmann, “both companies have big ideas, but they don’t carry them out.”
Initially planned to be finalized in October of that year, the merger was called off in May 1997. Opposition to the merger had grown in the ranks of Bandai’s midlevel executives, with reasons cited including cultural differences with Sega’s corporate culture colliding with Bandai’s family-run business. This opposition had become so great that Bandai’s board of directors called a meeting to discuss the situation and decided to cancel the merger, although they did agree to a business alliance with Sega. The following day, Bandai president Makoto Yamashina resigned his position, taking responsibility for the failed merger and apologizing publicly for his inability to get the merger completed. In a separate press conference, Nakayama elaborated on his reason for agreeing to cancel the acquisition of Bandai, stating, “We will not be successful working together if Bandai’s management cannot take hold of people’s hearts.”
As a result of the company’s deteriorating financial situation, Nakayama resigned as president of Sega in January 1998 in favor of Irimajiri. It has been speculated that Nakayama’s resignation was in part due to the failure of the Sega Bandai merger, as well as Sega’s 1997 performance. Stolar would subsequently accede to become CEO and president of Sega of America.
The Saturn failed to take the lead in the market as its predecessor had. After the launch of the Nintendo 64 in 1996, sales of the Saturn and its games were sharply reduced, while the PlayStation outsold the Saturn by three-to-one in the U.S. in 1997. As of August 1997, Sony controlled 47% of the console market, Nintendo 40%, and Sega only 12%. Neither price cuts nor high-profile game releases proved helpful. Following five years of generally declining profits, in the fiscal year ending March 31, 1998 Sega suffered its first parent and consolidated financial losses since its 1988 listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Due to a 54.8% decline in consumer product sales (including a 75.4% decline overseas), the company reported a net loss of ¥43.3 billion (US$327.8 million) and a consolidated net loss of ¥35.6 billion (US$269.8 million). Shortly before announcing its financial losses, Sega announced that it was discontinuing the Saturn in North America to prepare for the launch of its successor. The Saturn would last longer in Japan and Europe. The decision to abandon the Saturn effectively left the Western market without Sega games for over one year. Sega suffered an additional ¥42.881 billion consolidated net loss in the fiscal year ending March 1999, and announced plans to eliminate 1,000 jobs, nearly a quarter of its workforce. With lifetime sales of 9.26 million units, the Saturn is considered a commercial failure, although its install base in Japan surpassed the Nintendo 64’s 5.54 million. Lack of distribution has been cited as a significant factor contributing to the Saturn’s failure, as the system’s surprise launch damaged Sega’s reputation with key retailers. Conversely, Nintendo’s long delay in releasing a 3D console and damage caused to Sega’s reputation by poorly supported add-ons for the Genesis are considered major factors allowing Sony to gain a foothold in the market.
While Sega struggled greatly with its consumer division during the Saturn years, its arcade divisions also faced difficulty in the later 1990s in part due to a market slump from the success of home video game consoles. Entering this period of time, Sega had partnered with GE to develop the Model 2 arcade system board, building onto 3D technology in the arcade industry at the time. This led to several successful arcade titles, including Daytona USA, Virtua Cop, and Virtua Fighter 2. The Model 2 was equipped with better hardware than any home video game consoles at the time. Despite the arcade market difficulties and the company’s struggles with the Saturn in its consumer division, Sega’s arcade division continued strong.
Aside from the Saturn, Sega made forays in the PC market with the 1995 establishment of SegaSoft, which was tasked with creating original Saturn and PC games. The mid-1990s also saw Sega making efforts to expand beyond its image as a strictly kids-oriented, family entertainment company, by publishing a number of games with extreme violence and sexual themes, and introducing the “Deep Water” label to mark games with mature content. In 1996, Sega operated a number of in-door theme parks not only in Japan with Joypolis, but also overseas, with Sega World branded arcades in the UK and Australia. From 1994 to 1999, Sega participated in the pinball market when it took over Data East’s pinball division.
Despite taking massive losses on the Saturn, including a 75 percent drop in half-year profits just before the Japanese launch of the Dreamcast, Sega felt confident about its new system. The Dreamcast attracted significant interest and drew many pre-orders. Sega announced that Sonic Adventure, the next game starring company mascot Sonic the Hedgehog, would arrive in time for the Dreamcast’s launch and promoted the game with a large-scale public demonstration at the Tokyo Kokusai Forum Hall. However, Sega could not achieve its shipping goals for the Dreamcast’s Japanese launch due to a shortage of PowerVR chipsets caused by a high failure rate in the manufacturing process. As more than half of its limited stock had been pre-ordered, Sega stopped pre-orders in Japan. On November 27, 1998, the Dreamcast launched in Japan at a price of JP¥29,000, and the entire stock sold out by the end of the day. However, of the four games available at launch, only one—a port of Virtua Fighter 3, the most successful arcade game Sega ever released in Japan—sold well. Sega estimated that an additional 200,000-300,000 Dreamcast units could have been sold with sufficient supply. Irimajiri hoped to sell over 1 million Dreamcast units in Japan by February 1999, but less than 900,000 were sold, undermining Sega’s attempts to build up a sufficient installed base to ensure the Dreamcast’s survival after the arrival of competition from other manufacturers. Prior to the Western launch, Sega reduced the price of the Dreamcast to JP¥19,900, effectively making the hardware unprofitable but increasing sales.
In America, Sega of America’s senior vice president of marketing Peter Moore, a fan of the attitude previously associated with Sega’s brand, worked with Foote, Cone & Belding and Access Communications to develop the “It’s Thinking” campaign of 15-second television commercials, which emphasized the Dreamcast’s hardware power. According to Moore, “We needed to create something that would really intrigue consumers, somewhat apologize for the past, but invoke all the things we loved about Sega, primarily from the Genesis days.” On August 11, Sega of America confirmed that Stolar had been fired, leaving Moore to direct the launch. Prior to the Dreamcast’s release, Sega was dealt a blow when EA—the largest third-party video game publisher—announced it would not develop games for the system. EA executive Bing Gordon claimed ” couldn’t afford to give us [EA] the same kind of license that EA has had over the last five years”, but Stolar recounted that EA president Larry Probst wanted “exclusive rights to be the only sports brand on Dreamcast”, which Stolar could not accept due to Sega’s recent $10 million purchase of sports game developer Visual Concepts. While the Dreamcast would have none of EA’s popular sports games, “Sega Sports” games developed mainly by Visual Concepts helped to fill that void.
The Dreamcast launched in North America on September 9, 1999 at a price of $199—which Sega’s marketing dubbed “9/9/99 for $199”. Eighteen launch games were available for the Dreamcast in the U.S. Sega set a new sales record by selling more than 225,132 Dreamcast units in 24 hours, earning the company $98.4 million in what Moore called “the biggest 24 hours in entertainment retail history”. Within two weeks, U.S. Dreamcast sales exceeded 500,000. By Christmas, Sega held 31 percent of the North American video game marketshare. On November 4, Sega announced it had sold over one million Dreamcast units. Nevertheless, the launch was marred by a glitch at one of Sega’s manufacturing plants, which produced defective GD-ROMs. Sega released the Dreamcast in Europe on October 14, 1999, at a price of GB₤200. While Sega sold 500,000 units in Europe by Christmas 1999, sales did not continue at this pace, and by October 2000, Sega had sold only about 1 million units in Europe.
Though the Dreamcast launch had been successful, Sony still held 60 percent of the overall video game market share in North America with the PlayStation at the end of 1999. On March 2, 1999, in what one report called a “highly publicized, vaporware-like announcement” Sony revealed the first details of its “next generation PlayStation”, which Ken Kutaragi claimed would allow video games to convey unprecedented emotions. The same year, Nintendo announced that its next generation console would meet or exceed anything on the market, and Microsoft began development of its own console.
In what has been called “a brief moment of remarkable creativity”, in 2000, Sega restructured its arcade and console development teams into nine semi-autonomous studios headed by the company’s top designers. Studios included United Game Artists, Hitmaker, Smilebit, Overworks, Sega AM2, Sonic Team, WOW Entertainment, Amusement Vision, and Sega Rosso. Sega’s design houses were encouraged to experiment and benefited from a relatively lax approval process. This resulted in games such as Rez, The Typing of the Dead, Seaman, and Segagaga. Sega also revived franchises from the Genesis era, such as Ecco the Dolphin. AM2 developed what Sega hoped would be the Dreamcast’s killer app, Shenmue, a “revenge epic in the tradition of Chinese cinema.” Incorporating a simulated day/night cycle with variable weather, non-player characters with regular schedules, and the ability to pick up and examine detailed objects (also introducing the Quick-time event in its modern form), Shenmue went over budget and was rumored to have cost Sega over $50 million. As the first fully 3D platforming game starring Sega’s mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Team’s Sonic Adventure was considered “the centerpiece of the [Dreamcast] launch”. Adventure garnered criticism for technical problems including erratic camera angles and glitches, but was praised for its “luscious” visuals, “vast, twisting environments” and iconic set pieces. It has been described as the Sonic series’ creative apex. However, it failed “to catch on with players in nearly the way that [Nintendo’s] Mario 64 had done”, perhaps due to a perceived lack of gameplay depth. In sports, Visual Concepts’ NFL 2K football series and its NBA 2K basketball series were critically acclaimed. Additionally, with the release of Sega’s NAOMI arcade system board, the focus of the arcade divisions shifted to produce titles that could easily be ported to the Dreamcast.
Sega’s initial momentum proved fleeting as U.S. Dreamcast sales—which exceeded 1.5 million by the end of 1999—began to decline as early as January 2000. Poor Japanese sales contributed to Sega’s ¥42.88 billion ($404 million) consolidated net loss in the fiscal year ending March 2000, which followed a similar loss of ¥42.881 billion the previous year and marked Sega’s third consecutive annual loss. Although Sega’s overall sales for the term increased 27.4%, and Dreamcast sales in North America and Europe greatly exceeded the company’s expectations, this increase in sales coincided with a decrease in profitability due to the investments required to launch the Dreamcast in Western markets and poor software sales in Japan. At the same time, increasingly poor market conditions reduced the profitability of Sega’s Japanese arcade business, prompting the company to close 246 locations. Arcade sales in 2000 dropped 16% in Japan, and 15% overseas, despite downsizing by competitors.
Moore stated that the Dreamcast would need to sell 5 million units in the U.S. by the end of 2000 in order to remain a viable platform, but Sega ultimately fell short of this goal with some 3 million units sold. Moreover, Sega’s attempts to spur increased Dreamcast sales through lower prices and cash rebates caused escalating financial losses. Instead of an expected profit, for the six months ending September 2000, Sega posted a ¥17.98 billion ($163.11 million) loss, with the company projecting a year-end loss of ¥23.6 billion. This estimate was more than doubled to ¥58.3 billion, and in March 2001, Sega posted a consolidated net loss of ¥51.7 billion ($417.5 million). While the PS2’s October 26 U.S. launch was marred by shortages, this did not benefit the Dreamcast as much as expected, as many disappointed consumers continued to wait for a PS2—while the PSone, a remodeled version of the original PlayStation, was the best-selling console in the U.S. at the start of the 2000 holiday season. According to Moore, “the PlayStation 2 effect that we were relying upon did not work for us … people will hang on for as long as possible … What effectively happened is the PlayStation 2 lack of availability froze the marketplace”. Eventually, Sony and Nintendo held 50 and 35 percent of the US video game market, respectively, while Sega held only 15 percent. According to former Sega of America vice president of communications Charles Bellfield, Dreamcast software sold at an 8-to-1 ratio with the hardware, but this ratio “on a small install base didn’t give us the revenue … to keep this platform viable in the medium to long term.”
In 2000, Sega and CSK Corporation chairman Isao Okawa replaced Irimajiri as president of Sega. Irimajiri had been replaced as a result of Sega’s financial losses. Okawa had long advocated that Sega abandon the console business. His sentiments were not unique; Sega co-founder David Rosen had “always felt it was a bit of a folly for them to be limiting their potential to Sega hardware”, and Stolar had previously suggested that Sega should have sold their company to Microsoft. In September 2000, in a meeting with Sega’s Japanese executives and the heads of the company’s major Japanese game development studios, Moore and Bellfield recommended that Sega abandon its console business and focus on software—prompting the studio heads to walk out. On November 1, 2000, Sega changed its company name from Sega Enterprises to Sega Corporation.
On January 23, 2001, a story ran in Nihon Keizai Shimbun claiming that Sega would cease production of the Dreamcast and develop software for other platforms. After initial denial, Sega of Japan put out a press release confirming they were considering producing software for the PlayStation 2 and Game Boy Advance as part of their “new management policy”. On January 31, 2001, Sega announced the discontinuation of the Dreamcast after March 31 and the restructuring of the company as a “platform-agnostic” third-party developer. The decision was Moore’s. Sega also announced a Dreamcast price reduction to $99 to eliminate its unsold inventory, which was estimated at 930,000 units as of April 2001. After a further reduction to $79, the Dreamcast was cleared out of stores at $49.95. The final Dreamcast unit manufactured was autographed by the heads of all nine of Sega’s internal game development studios as well as the heads of Visual Concepts and Wave Master and given away with 55 first-party Dreamcast games through a competition organized by GamePro magazine. Okawa, who had previously loaned Sega $500 million in the summer of 1999, died on March 16, 2001; shortly before his death, he forgave Sega’s debts to him and returned his $695 million worth of Sega and CSK stock, helping the company survive the third-party transition. He also talked to Microsoft about a sale or merger with their Xbox division, but those talks failed. As part of this restructuring, nearly one-third of Sega’s Tokyo workforce was laid off in 2001. By March 31, 2002, Sega had five consecutive fiscal years of net losses.
After Okawa’s death, Hideki Sato became president of Sega. Sato, a 30-year veteran of Sega, had previously developed Sega’s video game consoles. Because of poor sales in 2002, Sega was forced to cut its profit forecast by 90% for 2003. As a result, Sega began to look at opportunities for a merger to fix its financial situation. In 2003, Sega began talks with Sammy Corporation and Namco. Sato stated that he would select the partner that fit the business best. Sega made an announcement on February 13, 2003, of its decision to merge with Sammy. However, as late as April 17 of the same year, Sega was still in talks with Namco, which was attempting to overturn the merger and went public with its offer to be acquired. Sega’s consideration of Namco’s offer upset executives of Sammy. However, the day after Sega announced it was no longer planning to merge with Sammy, Namco withdrew its offer. Though Namco expressed that it would be willing to work with Sega on a future deal, Sega expressed it was not interested. Due to the failure to complete a merger, Sato was forced to step down. In 2003, he and COO Tetsu Kamaya announced they were stepping down from their roles, with Sato being replaced by Hisao Oguchi, the head of Hitmaker. As part of Oguchi’s restructuring plan, he announced his intention to consolidate Sega’s studios into “four or five core operations.” Sega’s studios were consolidated and reintegrated into Sega as its R&D division, no longer existing as independent companies.
Although talks of a merger had soured earlier, Sega and Sammy were able to resume discussions. In August 2003, Sammy bought the outstanding 22% of shares that CSK had, becoming Sega’s largest shareholder in the process. In the same year, Hajime Satomi, primary owner and president and CEO of Sammy, stated that Sega’s activity will focus on their profitable arcade business as opposed to their loss-incurring home software development sector. Satomi was determined to push this strategy, stating, “if [Sammy’s] vision does not agree with that of Sega then we might have to consider taking more shares.”
After the decline of the global arcade industry around the 21st century, Sega introduced several novel concepts tailored to the Japanese market. Derby Owners Club was an arcade machine with memory cards for data storage, designed to take over half an hour to complete and costing JP¥500 to play. Testing of Derby Owners Club in an arcade in Chicago showed that it became the most popular machine in the arcade, with a 92% replay rate. While the eight-player Japanese version of the game was released in 1999, due to size issues, the game was reduced to a smaller four player version and released in North America in 2003. Trading card game machines were introduced, with games such as World Club Champion Football for general audiences and Mushiking: King of the Beetles for young children. Sega also introduced internet functionality in arcades with Virtua Fighter 4 in 2001, and further enhanced it with ALL.Net, introduced in 2004.
During mid-2004, Sammy bought a controlling share in Sega Corporation at a cost of $1.1 billion, creating the new company Sega Sammy Holdings, an entertainment conglomerate. Since then, Sega and Sammy became subsidiaries of the aforementioned holding company, with both companies operating independently, while the executive departments merged. According to Satomi, Sega had been operating at a loss for nearly 10 years and lacked a clear financial base. Sammy feared stagnation and overreliance of its highly profitable pachislot and pachinko machine business, and wanted to divesify its business in new fields using Sega’s broader range of involvement in different entertainment fields. Sega Sammy Holdings was structured into four parts, three of which were Sega: Consumer Business (video games), Amusement Machine Business (arcade games), Amusement Center Business (Sega’s theme parks and arcades) and Pachislot and Pachinko Business (Sammy’s pachinko and pachislot business). Satomi did state that not all Sega executives were in favor of the takeover. While it is unclear for his reasons, head of Wow Entertainment (previously Sega AM1) Rikiya Nakagawa resigned a week after the merger. Sega would also restructure the development studios again, consolidating the divisions further into the Global Entertainment, Amusement Software, and New Entertainment R&D divisions.
In 2005, Sega sold Visual Concepts to Take-Two Interactive, and purchased UK-based developer Creative Assembly, known for its Total War series. In the same year, Sega Racing Studio was also formed by former Codemasters employees. In 2006, Sega Europe purchased Sports Interactive, known for its Football Manager series. Sega of America purchased Secret Level in 2006, which was renamed to Sega Studios San Francisco in 2008. In early 2008, Sega announced that they would re-establish an Australian presence, as a subsidiary of Sega of Europe, with a development studio branded as Sega Studios Australia. In the same year, Sega launched a subscription based flash website called “PlaySEGA” which played emulated versions of Sega Genesis as well original web-based flash games. It was subsequently shut down due to low subscription numbers. In 2013, following THQ’s bankruptcy, Sega bought Relic Entertainment, known for its Company of Heroes series. In 2008, Sega announced the closure of Sega Racing Studio, although the studio was later acquired by Codemasters. Closures of Sega Studios San Francisco and Sega Studios Australia followed in 2010 and 2013, respectively.
In 2007, Sega and Nintendo collaborated using Sega’s acquired Olympic Games license to create the Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games series, which has sold over 20 million in total. In the console and handheld business, Sega found success in Japan with the Yakuzaand Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA series of games, amongst others primarily aimed at the Japanese market. In Japan, Sega distributes games from smaller Japanese game developers and localizations of Western games. In 2013, Index Corporation was purchased by Sega Sammy after going bankrupt. After the buyout, Sega implemented a corporate spin-off with Index, and re-branded the video game assets of the company as Atlus, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sega.
For amusement arcades, Sega’s most successful games continued to be based on network and card systems. Games of this type include Sangokushi Taisen and Border Break. Arcade machine sales incurred higher profits than their console, portable, and PC games on a year-to-year basis until 2010s. In 2004, the GameWorks chain of arcades became owned by Sega, until the chain was sold off in 2011. In 2009, Sega Republic, an indoor theme park in Dubai, opened to the public. In 2010, Sega began providing the 3D imaging for Hatsune Miku’s holographic concerts. In 2013, in co-operation with BBC Earth, Sega opened the first interactive nature simulation museum, Orbi Yokohama in Yokohama, Japan.
Due to the decline of packaged game sales both domestically and outside Japan in the 2010s, Sega began layoffs and reduction of their Western businesses, such as Sega shutting down five offices based in Europe and Australia on July 1, 2012. This was done in order to focus on the digital game market, such as PC and mobile devices. The amount of SKU gradually shrunk from 84 in 2005 to 32 in 2014. Because of the shrinking arcade business in Japan, development personnel would also be relocated to the digital game area. Sega gradually reduced its arcade centers from 450 facilities in 2005, to around 200 in 2015. In the mobile market, Sega released its first app on the iTunes Store with a version of Super Monkey Ball in 2008. Since then, the strategies for Asian and Western markets have become independent. The Western line-up consisted of emulations of games and pay-to-play apps, which were eventually overshadowed by more social and free-to-play games, eventually leading to 19 of the older mobile games being pulled due to quality concerns in May 2015. Beginning in 2012, Sega also began acquiring studios for mobile development, with studios such as Hardlight, Three Rings Design, and Demiurge Studios becoming fully owned subsidiaries.
In the 2010s, Sega established operational firms for each of their businesses, in order to streamline operations. In 2012, Sega established Sega Networks for its mobile games; and although separate at first, it merged with Sega Corporation in 2015. Sega Games was structured as a “Consumer Online Company”, while Sega Networks focused on developing games for mobile devices. In 2012, Sega Entertainment was established for Sega’s amusement facility business, and in 2015, Sega Interactive was established for the arcade game business. In January 2015, Sega of America announced their relocation from San Francisco to Atlus USA’s headquarters in Irvine, California, which was completed later that year.
Over the course of the existence of Sega Sammy Holdings to 2015, Sega’s operating income generally saw improvements compared to Sega’s past financial difficulties, but was not profitable every year of operation.
In April 2015, Sega Corporation was reorganized into Sega Group, one of three groups of Sega Sammy Holdings. Sega Holdings Co., Ltd. was established, with four business sectors under its organization. Haruki Satomi, son of Hajime Satomi, took office as president and CEO of the company in April 2015.
Sega announced at the Tokyo Game Show in September 2016 that they acquired the intellectual property and development rights to the games developed and published by Technosoft. Factors that influenced the acquisition included the former Technosoft president stating that they did not want the Technosoft brand to desist, and so handing over the intellectual properties to Sega was the only other option. Sega and Technosoft also had an established collaboration during the Genesis/Mega Drive era and so this pre-established relationship was also a factor when acquiring the brand rights to Technosoft games.
In April 2017, Sega Sammy Holdings announced a relocation of head office functions of the Sega Sammy Group and its major domestic subsidiaries located in the Tokyo metropolitan area to Shinagawa-ku by January 2018. Their stated reasoning was to promote cooperation among companies and creation of more active interaction of personnel, while pursuing efficient group management by consolidating scattered head office functions of the group, including Sega Sammy Holdings, Sammy Corporation, Sega Holdings, Sega Games, Atlus, Sammy Network, and Dartslive. In October 2017, Sega of America announced its own online store, known as the Sega Shop. Ian Curran, a former executive at THQ and Acclaim Entertainment, replaced John Cheng as president and COO of Sega of America in August 2018.
Following a 70% fall in profits for the 2018 fiscal year in comparison to the previous year, despite a 35% increase in the sale of console games and success in its PC game business, Sega announced that it would focus on releases for its existing intellectual property instead of new ones. Sega blamed the loss on miscalculations of the market and having too many games being developed. Projects in development at Sega include a new game in the Yakuza series, Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers, Project Sakura Wars, the Sonic the Hedgehogfilm, and the Sega Genesis Mini. In 2019, Sega acquired Two Point Studios, known for its positively reviewed Two Point Hospital.

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Free Games

  • Epic

    • Moonlighter

      • 2018
      • Action RPG that has you managing your shop by day, working with inventory and making money to expand your town, and exploring dungeons and fighting hordes of enemies by night to earn loot
    • This War of Mine

      • 2014
      • War survival game inspired by the Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, it focuses on the civilian experience of making difficult decisions and trying to keep your people alive by gathering and crafting resources while avoiding snipers and hostile scavengers
 

Security warning

  • there are eight different browser extensions out there that are stealing data from millions of customers and a long list of companies including Apple, Walmart, Amazon, 23AndMe, SpaceX, Skype, and many more
  • The extensions are
    • Branded Surveys (Chrome)
    • FairShare Unlock (Chrome and Firefox)
    • HoverZoom (Chrome)
    • Panel Community Surveys (Chrome)
    • PanelMeasurement (Chrome
    • SaveFrom.netHelper (Firefox)
    • SpeakIt! (Chrome)
    • SuperZoom (Chrome and Firefox)
  • The tracking activity has been reported to Chrome and Mozilla, who have disabled the add-ons and removed them from their marketplaces, but even after being disabled they continue to track and send user data
    • The only way to stop them is to completely uninstall the extensions involved
  • Leaked data includes user names, addresses, credit card info, passwords, files stored in the cloud, tax returns, genetic information, medical history… the list goes on
  • It just goes to show that we need to be careful about what browser extensions we download and use, since even though they’re on an official storefront doesn’t mean they’re safe
 

Nintendo has officially responded to the Joy-Con drift controversy

  • An American law firm is investigating a potential class action lawsuit
  • Their official stance is that affected players should visit support.nintendo.comand open a ticket to get your controllers repaired
    • This ticketing system seems to be a new development, since as recently as July 19th they just had basic troubleshooting steps like updating your system and recalibrating your Joy-Cons
  • Even with Nintendo offering repairs many people aren’t satisfied, citing high repair costs ($50 CAD out of warranty), slow turnaround, and the drift issues coming back very quickly (in some cases within days)
    • Systems carry a 12 month warranty, but controllers bought separately are only covered for 3 months
    • There are also a few unsubstantiated reports of Nintendo offering free out-of-warranty repairs, and refunds to people that already paid out of pocket, but it hasn’t been consistent so far.
  • It’ll be interesting to see how the Switch Lite fares, with its built-in controllers
 

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is now slated to launch this September

  • They’ve apparently extended the plastic layer reviewers were peeling off to sit under the bezels, making it clear that it’s not supposed to be removed, and added reinforcements to protect the display from dirt and debris getting under it
  • End of the day this is still a $2000 USD concept tablet that folds into a phone with a surprisingly small screen, but we’ll see what people think of it this fall
 

FaceApp is under fire for processing photos and device-related data in Russia

  • A new warning tells users that photos will be uploaded to servers and not processed on their devices, but that was just added last week
  • Another piece to note is that you’re granting them a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use your data
 

Google Stadia’s director was on a Reddit AMA recently trying to reassure people that paying money for games that exist only in their service is completely safe

  • He went on to compare it to Gmail, Docs, Music, etc that have persisted for years
  • He declined to mention things like Nest, Google+, Inbox, and Reader, which have all been shut down. In many cases with little notice and no replacement on offer
  • If you want to see their track record you can check out killedbygoogle.com
 

Overwatch’s new Tank Sigma

 

ROLE

Sigma occupies the tank role. He is a full tank and uses a barrier to prevent damage.
 

SIGMA ABILITIES

Primary Fire – Hyperspheres

  • Fires limited ranged projectiles that can bounce off of walls. The orbs explode after a certain range and do area damage. This does 120 damage if you direct hit both of the orbs.
 

Experimental Barrier

Hold to propel a floating barrier; release to stop. Press again to recall the barrier to you.
  • This is Sigma’s main shield and what he will use to prevent damage for your team. It starts with 1,500 HP and can be placed on the map in front of you. It moves forward until you release the shield button. You press the button again to bring the shield back to you. The shield is just like Reinhardt’s shield where it needs to be recharged, and doesn’t have a separate health pool like Orisa’s shield.
 

Accretion

Gather a mass of debris and throw it at an enemy to knock them down.
  • Gathers rocks and throws them. Hitting a target at close range will only deal damage, further away targets will be hit by a knock-back and CC.
 

Kinetic Grasp

Absorb projectiles in front of you and convert them into shields.
  • Absorbs in coming damage and converts the damage up to 400 shield for Sigma.
 

Ultimate Ability – Gravitic Flux

Manipulate gravity to lift enemies into the air and slam them back down.
  • Sigma’s ultimate ability floats Sigma into the air (you can kind of fly around slowly) and allows you to place a black hole like ability on the ground. Any enemy within this area gets floated up into the air, and eventually they are slammed down onto the ground for 50% of their hp. You can fire Hyperspheres immeddiately after you’ve set the black hole.
 
Also they added Role Queue
  • For Quick play and Ranked
 

Tidbits

  • This week has brought new updates to iOS and watchOS, including releasing ECG and irregular heart rhythm notification functionality in Canada and Singapore
    • The walkie-talkie feature has also been re-enabled, and you can now migrate to a new iPhone by wirelessly connecting it to your old one; no computer required!
  • Amazon is apparently using police departments in the US to advertise their Ring seurveillance cameras in exchange for free products and access to an interactive map of active cameras where they can request footage stored in the cloud
    • The access is without a warrant, which is pretty damning, and Amazon’s agreement requires police to “keep the terms of this program confidential”, which means they clearly know it’s shady
  • Stjepan Sejic (styapun shayitch), the Croatian artist known as Nebezial online and behind the very popular Sunstone comic, is officially bringing his Harley Quinn origin story concept to DC
    • Harleen will be a 3 book series with oversized, 60 page volumes, and follow Dr Quinzel’s descent into madness as she grows more and more attached to the Joker
 

Alan recommends the Pokemon Go Team Rocket event

 

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

A huge thanks to Zane, for believing in us for so long.
And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
 
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
 
And talk to us in the comments!
 
 
Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow
 
A Facebook Page exists as well.

Free games

  • Epic

    • Limbo

      • 2010
      • Black and white stylized puzzle platformer with a wonderful dark, eerie atmosphere, praised as an excellent example of video games as an art form
 

Update to last week’s story about the Zoom video conferencing vulnerability

  • It looks like many of Zoom’s partner apps, like RingCentral and Zhumu, have similar problems that allow attackers easy access to laptop cameras and microphones, so this week Apple released another silent security patch to block the vulnerability
  • Also, I’ve done a bit of research and if you’re concerned about Apple’s ability to run these kind of security updates you can block them in System Preferences > Software Update > Advanced by unchecking “Install system data files and security updates”
  • Right now I’m happy that Apple notifies the press when they release these patches, but in a perfect world they’d be visibly included in your updates list
 

Lifehacker is urging users to update their Logitech wireless dongles immediately

  • A few years ago, hackers discovered they could take control of computers by exploiting a vulnerability in Logitech wireless dongles- the piece you plug in to your computer to connect to wireless mice and keyboards
  • Patches were released to fix this all the way back in 2016, but there was no recall and even new devices rolling out of the factory today may be at risk
  • If you use any wireless Logitech devices, make sure you visit the Logitech support website and download/run the latest firmware update files as soon as possible to fix the loopholes
    • You’ll need to re-sync your devices to the dongle afterward, but the added (or, you know, extant) security is well worth the time
 

Facebook is apparently being fined $5B by the FTC for their role in the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal

  • The original scandal is related to the 2016 US election, where Cambridge Analytica collected info on tens of millions of Facebook users without consent to create targeted political ads
  • The data collection came from an app that claimed to be a survey for academic use, but in reality it gathered information on not just the people taking the survey but also their friends
  • The problem here is that the fine is laughable when it comes to Facebook’s revenue
    • It’s the largest fine in FTC history, but they had $15B in revenue in the last 3 months, and $22B in profit last year
    • Facebook’s stock price actually went up after this fine was announced
  • End of the day it’s a start, but slap a zero on the end of it and then we’ll talk
 

In somewhat related news, Facebook is vigorously over-defending itself against a lawsuit brought by the attorney general of the District of Colombia

  • The lawsuit is related to the same Cambridge Analytica scandal and says that is was a violation of DC consumer protection law
  • Facebook’s response to it denies “each and every allegation” in the lawsuit, including pieces that aren’t so much allegations as they are just basic statements of fact.
  • For example, paragraph 11 says “To begin using the Facebook website, a consumer first creates a Facebook account. The consumer can then add other Facebook consumers as “friends” and by accumulating Facebook friends, the consumer builds a social network on the Facebook website.”
    • Facebook’s response was that they deny the allegations in paragraph 11
  • They’ve also denied pieces that they’ve publicly admitted to in the past, leaving many people wondering just what’s going on with this defense strategy
 

Police are warning the public about a new scam targeting iPhone users

  • Scammers are using social media to recruit victims by promising payments in exchange for becoming a game tester
  • Users are asked to log in to a particular Apple ID on their iPhone, then the scammers will activate Lost Mode on the device, locking the victim’s phone and extorting payments before promising to unlock it afterward
  • The worst part is that you need the Apple ID’s password to remove it from your device, so if they changed it after locking your phone then you remain at their mercy
  • Anyone that’s been hit by this scam should get help from Apple at getsupport.apple.com
 

Space fact of the day, featuring the male ego, bought to you by Mary Robinette Kowal

  • Author of the Lady Astronaut books Alan, recommended back in 242
  • To facilitate going to the bathroom, NASA developed a sheath kind of like a condom that came in small, medium, and large.
  • Every man said they needed a large, even when they didn’t which led to some messy situations
  • So they re-branded the sheaths to Extra-large, Immense, and Unbelievable
 

Tidbits

  • A US law firm is looking at opening a class action lawsuit regarding the Nintendo Switch and Joy-Con controller drift
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man is officially now the best-selling superhero video game of all time, beating both Arkham Knight and Arkham City
    • It’s doubly impressive considering the Batman games were on multiple platforms, whereas Spider-Man was a PS4 exclusive
  • Nintendo’s announced an invisible upgrade to the Switch coming this August, offering up to 2.5 hours longer battery life
    • The gains are likely achieved using a similar processing upgrade that is included in the Switch Lite
  • There was a cool announcement made at the Comic-Con 20th anniversary Batman Beyond panel
    • They’re releasing a blu ray HD remaster of the full series, including the Return of the Joker movie, coming this October
  • Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi has officially been signed for a fourth Thor movie
    • No details yet, but I’m excited
 

Alan recommends Spinderella

  • A solid board game for ages 6+ that I’ve only ever played with a group of 20 or 30-somethings
  • You try to get your three ants to the end of the board, but depending on dice rolls other players can move the hanging spiders around to try and grab your pieces and send them back to the start

 

Literally Misleading

Game – Small business owner deals with the sins of his father while his life is becoming a living hell!
 
If you have a Literally Misleading Description, message Josh directly on our Discord, or Twitter @fushigiyami

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

A huge thanks to Zane, for believing in us for so long.
And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
 
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
 
And talk to us in the comments!
 
 
Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow
 
A Facebook Page exists as well.

Free games

  • Sony

    • In a last-minute swap Sony changed out Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 in favour of
    • Detroit: Become Human Digital Deluxe Edition

      • 2018
      • Narrative adventure game similar in style to Heavy Rain, following three different androids in their struggles with their growing humanity, that hit some rough waters in the press with their handling of historical and thematic allegories
      • Includes Detroit: Become Human, Heavy Rain, Detroit digital art book and soundtrack, 2 dynamic themes, and 22 PSN avatars
    • Horizon Chase Turbo

      • 2018
      • Modern take on 90’s arcade racers like Out Run and Top Gear with stylized graphics and four-player local co-op
  • Twitch

    • For the King

      • 2017
      • A strategic RPG that blends tabletop and roguelike elements in a challenging turn-based single-player or co-op adventure that spans the procedurally generated realms
    • The Escapists

      • 2014
      • Top-down strategy game where you assume the role of a prisoner that must escape from 6 different prisons
    • Cultist Simulator

      • 2018
      • Card-based narrative-driven simulation game where you try to create a cult-like following in a nameless society with different elements like people, health, emotions, items, lore, and more
    • Yooka-Laylee

      • 2017
      • An open-world Banjo-Kazooie style platformer that’s colorful and fun, plus you can see us in the credits as backers!
  • Epic Games

    • Torchlight

      • 2009
      • This critically acclaimed Action-RPG dungeon crawl has you choosing from three powerful heroes to adventure the procedurally generated depths for endless treasure and glory.
 

Any Mac users of the video conferencing app Zoom have had an interesting time with security this week

  • Earlier in the week a substantial security issue came to light with Zoom that was apparently reported to them back in March- before they released an update on Tuesday, uninstalling the app the regular way wouldn’t actually remove it from your computer
    • By installing it you also installed a web server on your system that can be used to reinstall the app without your permission
    • So if you clicked on a meeting invite link, or even visited a compromised website, Zoom would launch you into a conference call with your webcam on by default. Even if you thought you’d removed it from your computer
    • If you wanted to remove the app from your computer entirely, it involved opening your Mac’s Terminal and running commands to kill the web server, then completely removing the hidden files it put on your computer, and finally removing it as you would any other app
  • Tuesday’s patch removed the web server, but Apple has now taken it one step further
    • Using their behind-the-scenes security systems built in to macOS, they’ve worked with Zoom to push out a silent update yesterday that takes care of removing the webserver regardless of what version of Zoom you have installed.
  • All said and done this was a bit of a mess, and highlights why installing applications on your computer willy-nilly isn’t the best idea
    • You can use your browser to join meetings instead of an app for most if not all of the major web conferencing providers, which is a lot less intrusive
 

Good news on the security front, it looks like Amazon has enabled 2FA for all accounts

  • You can enable it by going into your account settings under Login & Security and clicking on Two-Step Verification Settings
  • There are options for both using an app like Google Authenticator or Authy or using a phone number, though if you use an app it will still optionally ask for a phone number as a backup
    • Many security experts recommend using an app since text messages and phonecalls can be intercepted, though 99% of the population doesn’t need to worry about that
  • One thing to note is any legacy apps or devices trying to log in to your account will now need an extra step
    • When login first fails Amazon will send a one-time password to your phone that you need to then add to the end of your normal Amazon password
 

Nintendo’s announced their new Switch Lite, the Switch console that doesn’t switch

  • The changes include shrinking the console down a bit, with a 5.5″ screen instead of the original’s 6.2″, permanently attaching the controllers, adding a proper d-pad on the left, and removing the HD rumble, kickstand, and ability to connect to TV’s
    • Thanks to the smaller screen and a processor change the battery will get about 30 minutes longer life as well, depending on the game, even with it weighing a third less than the original
    • It comes in three colours: turquoise, grey, and yellow
  • Nintendo is planning on keeping both versions on the market, distinguishing the Lite as a portable-focused version of the switch while keeping the original around for its flexibility
    • They’ve promised that all Switch games capable of handheld-mode will work on the Lite, so you could play games like 1-2 Switch or Just Dance, but you’d have to pair additional controllers to it and find a way to prop it up
    • The surprising news from this though is they’re also keeping the 3DS/2DS consoles around as well, so we’re still not seeing them switch to a single-console focus
  • Apparently one idea for this device is a second Switch for a household that already owns one, to be more portable or give more options for people that want to play different games at the same time
    • While there’s no capability to transfer games and saves between devices, because Nintendo still adamantly refuses to look at Xbox Live or PSN for the last decade, they’ve said that is the eventual intention
  • Coming this September for $260 CAD ($200 USD)
 

The Chinese company Xiaomi is gearing up to launch their new phone, the CC9, and alongside it their new “Mimoji” avatars.

  • Now keep in mind, these are not to be confused with Apple’s Memoji. Xiaomi’s Mimoji are completely separate and distinct from that, despite them being almost identical-looking customizable 3D torso-less characters that you can pose and send to friends.
  • In a press release Xiaomi refute any claims that it’s a clone, saying that they’ve conducted internal audits and found no evidence of plagarism
    • This is of course after their Mi 8 phone last year that was nearly identical to the iPhone X, and the Airpods clone they release earlier this year
    • Unfortunately someone should have told their marketing team that, since apparently the product page for the Xiaomi CC9 showcased Apple Music Memoji ads
      • The ads were also seen on multiple e-commerce websites alongside Xiaomi’s official Mimoji graphics
      • According to their public relations general manager, staff “uploaded the wrong content” to the websites, though if they had those Apple videos so readily available and easily mistaken I’m curious what exactly their internal audit was looking for

 

YouTube is starting to fix the copyright claiming system

 
In a series of Tweets:
Lots to come w/ copyright – today we’re starting w/ a few changes: : Manual claims now require timestamps showing exactly what is claimed : Improved editing tools will easily remove manually claimed content & automatically release claims
 
More about timestamps : They’ll help you know why you got a manual claim and what part of your video to edit if you choose to make changes. Copyright owners who repeatedly fail to provide accurate data for timestamps will have their access to manual claiming revoked.
 
Updates to our editing tools for manual claims will help you:  Mute the timestamped segment of your video  Replace claimed audio w/ a song from our Audio Library  Trim out a timestamped segment altogether
 
There are more changes to come than we can count on one  for copyright – this is just the beginning! We’ll continue to share updates as our teams work to make things better for you.
 
 
 

Congrats to Cooooouk

James Downing on getting his LOZ Link to the Past 1000% Official shirt on an official Nintendo Stream
 
 

Tidbits

  • Apple has temporarily disabled the Walkie-Talkie app for Apple Watch due to an eavesdropping bug
    • According to their statement they were just made aware of the issue this week and while there are specific conditions and events that need to happen to exploit it, and they’re not aware of it being used against a customer, they’ve disabled the app until a fix can be deployed
  • In a surprise move, The Walking Dead issue #193 is apparently the final comic in the series
    • In order to disguise the end the duo behind the series, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, arranged with Image Comics to advertise three more issues to retailers
  • For $10, you can turn your copy of Starcraft Remastered into a Newgrounds Flash game
    • All the graphics were created by the YouTube channel Carbot Animations, and look goofy in the best ways
    • The official mod is available to buy from Blizzard and has been tested at an official tournament in South Korea
 

Alan recommends Hey Riddle Riddle

  • It’s a riddle podcast with fantastic energy hosted by three great improvisers: Adal Rifai, Erin Keif, and JPC
  • The riddles are fun, the weird improv scenes are hilarious, and if you’re at all decent at riddles it’s a nice ego boost to solve them before the hosts do

 

Literally Misleading

Family member Scott, adds another great one. Check out his twitter @scottybomb and his podcast The Read-Along, its a weekly book club for where you can follow along with Scott and Anita!
 
Movie – Lost in a foreign land, our protagonist must learn to communicate with the locals to help him stay out trouble, and find a way home.
 
If you have a Literally Misleading Description, message Josh directly on our Discord, or Twitter @fushigiyami
 

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

A huge thanks to Karen, for believing in us for so long.
And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
 
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
 
And talk to us in the comments!
 
 
Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow
 
A Facebook Page exists as well.

Free games!

  • Sony

    • Pro Evolution Soccer 2019

      • 2018
      • Simulation soccer game and the only real competitor to EA Sport’s FIFA licensed franchise
    • Horizon Chase Turbo

      • 2018
      • Modern take on 90’s arcade racers like Out Run and Top Gear with stylized graphics and four-player local co-op
  • Epic Games

    • Rebel Galaxy

      • 2015
      • A space western-style trading and capital ship combat sim that has you battling pirates, exploring anomalies, befriending aliens, scavenging battle wreckage, mining asteroids, and discovering artifacts. Choose your path as a roguish do-gooder, crafty space-trader or power-hungry privateer
  • Twitch

    • Aegis Defenders

      • 2018
      • 2D platforming and tower defense game that was Kickstarted back in 2014, that has up to four players exploring and puzzle-solving to prepare for each level’s tower defense phase
    • Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure

      • 2016
      • A local multiplayer game that has you going head-to-head in fast-paced, hard-hitting, and sometimes (allegedly) hilariously unfair action, or going through the co-op story mode to unlock the full roster of characters
    • 10 Second Ninja X

      • 2016
      • Side-scrolling puzzle platformer where you must destroy robots through each level within 10 seconds
    • The Metronomicon

      • 2016
      • Action RPG that has you battling to the beat of the soundtrack while switching between your team of four heroes to heal, do damage, and work with status effects
 
 

Security warning for Discord users, courtesy of @splitsplatted on Twitter

  • There’s a phishing scheme going where people are receiving fake Discord server invites that will steal your account credentials
    • The fake links seem to be using very similar URL’s to the real thing- instead of discord.gg, you’ll see discordgg.ga
  • The link will take you to a forged Discord login page that will take your credentials and lock you out by changing your email and password
  • Then it’ll go through your friends, DMs, servers, and groupchats, sending the same message to more people and gaining control over more accounts
  • The best way to fight this is to spread the word, be careful what you click, and use 2FA on your account- that’ll stop it dead in its tracks
 
 

Apple has announced the launch of a voluntary recall and replacement program for the Mid-2015 15″ Retina MacBook Pros this week due to battery failure and overheating issues

  • This might be related to a reddit post earlier this year that showed a MacBook Pro that overheated and caught on fire, damaging the owner’s home
  • You can check which model you’re using by clicking on the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen and then clicking on About this Mac
  • If you have one of these laptops, Apple is asking you to stop using it until it can be serviced at a Genius Bar or authorized repair centre
    • The batteries will be replaced free of charge, but you could be without a laptop for 1-2 weeks
  • It’s kind of interesting that this took so long to happen though, considering that just over a year ago I was having battery and overheating issues with the same model of MacBook that led to them completely replacing the computer in question
 

Dr Disrespect, a popular Twitch streamer, got suspended from Twitch and his E3 badge revoked after streaming from inside a bathroom at the convention

  • For some reason he and his cameraperson decided to walk into a public bathroom with the camera still rolling, invading the privacy of everyone inside and breaking California laws prohibiting the use of cameras in bathrooms
  • He then walked through it and shouted “Bodyguard!” while random people, including one that appeared to be a child, used the urinals in the background
    • Other clips taken later show him re-entering the bathroom two more times and using a urinal
  • The consequences of breaking not only Twitch terms and conditions but also the law live on-stream? Apparently a two week ban, because he’s already back online
    • Even while the ban was active he didn’t seem to take it seriously, leaving it as a side note in his E3 video titled “Mishaps lead to Recaps”
  • Twitch apparently declined to comment on the situation, but it’s pretty ridiculous that they’re letting this happen with just a slap on the wrist. Clearly the money Dr Disrespect brings in for the company is more important than basic human decency
 
 
Samsung accidentally made the best argument to not buy one of their smart TV’s last week on Twitter
  • A now-deleted tweet has them telling users to “Prevent malicious software attacks on your TV by scanning for viruses on your TV every few weeks”, with a video attached detailing the apparently laborious process
  • Now, this could be automated and probably should since, as The Verge points out, most people don’t even know how to change settings like motion smoothing on their TV’s, but it seems that the onus is on users to figure out to to protect themselves
  • There haven’t been any recent vulnerabilities reported, so it’s unclear why Samsung posted and then deleted the tweet, but keep in mind that back in 2017 WikiLeaks revealed a piece of CIA software called “Weeping Angel” that could turn Samsung TV’s into listening devices
  • It’s never a bad idea to scan your tech for malicious software and viruses, but the need to do so is a reminder on why you might not want a smart TV in the first place
 

CNET’s testing shows why we’re just not ready for 5G cell phones, and it might not be why you think

  • Australia is currently offering 5G connectivity to some parts of Sydney, and during a series of tests it really was lightning fast- a 2GB game download took 54 seconds, and a full movie download from Netflix took about a minute and a half
  • That said, the range is still pretty limited- coverage drops in and out within the space of a block, with speeds varying significantly, and it will take a lot of antennas to service a full city
  • The biggest problem though? Data usage. Less than half an hour in to testing they were notified that they’d reached 50% of their 20GB monthly data plan
 
 

Sega Genesis is still a Brazilian best seller!

 
Based on sales figures from 2012, there are 5 million Sega Master System consoles on the Brazilian market.
Compare that to when Sega was its most popular in the US, where it sold 3 million copies in its lifetime.
 
This is because during the Sega and Nintendo rivalry, Nintendo ignored the Brazilian market, as it was about two-thirds the size of the US market. But Sega made a licensing agreement with Tectoy, a large toy manufacture. Because of this, Nintendo piracy was high by the time Nintendo wanted in their market.
 
Tectoy was able to manufacture Master System and Mega Drives in Brazil, and continued to make updates and even new games for the console, as the gaming market had nostalgia for Sega, and not the absent Nintendo.
 
Import taxes are also keeping the console alive. For example, the launch of the PS4 in 2013, it was being sold in the US for $399, but to buy one in Brazil, the USD equivalent was $1899. And if people wanted to play games, they could pick up a Master System, with 132 built-in games for about $50.
 
Another crazy thing the Brazilian gaming market, is their version of the PlayStation 2, was produced in 2009, and the only version of the console to receive it own version of Netflix. The last generation of consoles being the PS3 and Xbox 360 are gaining ground, but current generation is hardly represented.
 
 
 
 

Nintendo is considering opening up their massive library

 
From JapanesseNintendo.com:
When asked at the 79th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders earlier today, when we can expect content from more recent past consoles such as Nintendo 64 and GameCube, Nintendo say they are looking at extending the Nintendo Switch Online service
“At this place we cannot tell new information about future classic hardware among others, but we are thinking about providing an extension of the online service which is currently providing Famicom [NES] software, as well as other methods of providing them. We also recognise that there are opinions wanting to play past titles.”
 
 
Tidbits
  • Dr Mario World, Nintendo’s latest foray into mobile freemium gaming, is coming to iOS and Android on July 10th
    • It looks like the usual Dr Mario gameplay but with stamina, a premium currency, and purchasing items all slapped on top
  • Facebook’s lawyers, in court and in a rereshing display of honesty, are saying that any legal charges of privacy invasion are invalid because the simple act of using Facebook negates any user’s expectation of privacy
  • Huawei has confirmed they’re delaying the launch of the $2600 folding tablet we talked about back in episode 239, citing concerns and a wish to be cautious after Samsung’s folding smartphone hit reviewers with a flop and a shatter
  • With no prior warning EVE Online players were shocked this week when large, powerful fleets of non-player character ships attacked and killed players throughout the game all at once, destroying many home bases permanently
    • It’ll be interesting to see what kind of expansion or in-game event this was a prelude to, and serves as a great example of the risk/reward appeal of EVE and its full economic sandbox
 
 

Alan recommends The Fisher King

  • Comedy/drama starring Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges
  • Tells the story of a radio shock jock who tries to find redemption by helping a man whose life he inadvertently shattered
  • Fantastic acting and a ton of heart
 

Literally Misleading

Movie – Road trip! A man and his son go on a cross country journey and traveling light, they plan to get to the beach, and hope to meet more people like them.
 
If you have a Literally Misleading Description, message Josh directly on our Discord, or Twitter @fushigiyami
 

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

A huge thanks to Karen, for believing in us for so long.
And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
 
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
 
And talk to us in the comments!
 
 
Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow
 
A Facebook Page exists as well. 

Mike’s Links

Instagram Facebook Twitch  

Electronic Arts and EA Sports

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
Battlefield 5: Chapter 4 (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
The Sims 4 Island Living (PC)
FIFA 20 (PS4, Xbox One, and PC)
FIFA 20 Legacy Edition (Nintendo Switch)
Madden 20 (PS4, Xbox One, and PC)

Take-Two Interactive/2K Games

Borderlands 3 – Hole in one for looter shooters. The art style is the same, but more refined. Way higher quality, but still has the cartoon look.
The Outer Worlds – Interesting looking new IP

CD Projekt Red

Cyberpunk 2077 – Keanu real was really cool. This game looks baller.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition – On Switch? Looks like its on a computer from 1998.

Konami

Contra Rogue Corps (Xbox One PS4, PC and Switch)
Contra Anniversary Collection

Bethesda

Deathloop (Platforms unknown) (Trailer)
Doom Eternal (Xbox One PlayStation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch)
The Elder Scrolls: Blades (debuting on Nintendo Switch; iOS, Android updates)
Fallout 76: Nuclear Winter (Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC sneak peek)
Ghostwire: Tokyo (Platforms unknown)
Wolfenstein: Youngblood (PS4, Xbox One and PC)
Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot (VR)
Commander Keen (iOS and Android)

Square Enix

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (PS4, Nintendo Switch and mobile)
Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers (PC)
Circuit Superstars (Square Enix Collective, developer Original Fire)
War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius
Romancing Saga 3
Scarlett Grace
Dragon Quest Builders 2
The Last Remnant Remastered (coming to Nintendo Switch)
Trials of Mana: Collection of Mana (coming to Switch)

Ubisoft

Ghost Recon Breakpoint (Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC)
The Division 2 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC)
For Honor (Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC)
Watch Dogs Legion (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Stadia) (game play available)
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (game update)
Roller Champions (PC download available now, other platforms unknown) – Roller Derby + Rocket League + Quiddich
Gods & Monsters (Xbox One,PlayStation 4, PC, Stadia and Switch)

Sega

Panzer Dragoon: Remake (Nintendo Switch)
Phantasy Star Online 2 (Xbox One) – Mechs always make me more interested in a game, but MMO’s are too much dedication for me. I may try it as it is a Free To Play model.
SEGA Genesis mini console coming September 2019 with mini games like Mega Man:The Wily Wars, Earthworm Jim, Sonic the Hedgehog 1 & 2, Ecco the Dolphin and 35 more classic games.

Namco Bandai

Tales of Arise – Its been 4 years between Tales Of games, and I am only aware of them from fans of the series I have known.
Dragonball Z: Kakarot – That same old DragonBall Story, but you’re the Carrot! As most DBZ things they show up to Frieza, and leave my boy Cell in the wings.
Code Vein
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan
RAD

Various

Elden Ring (via FromSoftware) –  An ode to “I’mma finish my books when I die”
Dying Light 2 (from Techland) – Zombie Parkour Batman
Way to the Woods (Team 17) – Beautiful adventure game as a Deer with magic antlers
Dauntless (coming to Nintendo Switch via Phoenix Labs)
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics (En Masse Entertainment)
Dead by Daylight (coming to Nintendo Switch via Koch Media)
New Super Lucky’s Tale (coming to Nintendo Switch via Playful Corp.)
Empire of Sin (John Romero multi-console game)
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (Playtonic)
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin (Playtonic)

Microsoft

*Phil spencer wore a Psyconauts shirt!
They also bought out DoubleFine. Which has lost a lot of credibility with me after Tim Schafer started Fig. A strange platform where it was like Kickstarter
Halo Infinite (release window, coming to Xbox Project Scarlett)
Gears 5 –  I am way out of the loop, and I’m totally lost with the trailer.
Escape – They Matrix’d themselves to pull an Independence Day? 3 Player Co-Op
Terminator Dark Fate Crossover – Sure happened.
Blair Witch – Thought it was evil dead at first, great use of the IP
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (Xbox One and PC) – I want to 100% this biyatch
Psychonauts 2 – Still looking cool
Bleeding Edge
Battletoads – Y tho. I don’t get BattleToads.
Age of Empire II: Definitive Edition (PC) – Always loved when I got to play this, but I never owned it myself
Wasteland 3 – This game made me realize I have post-apoc burnout
Microsoft Flight Simulator (PC first, Xbox One later) – Looked great for its time, and looks amazing now!
Minecraft Dungeons – Isometric Dungeon Crawler for up to 4 players
Spiritfarer (coming to Xbox Game Pass) – Super adorable graphics and characters. I am really looking forward to playing this one!
12 Minutes (Xbox One and PC) – Abstract horror groundhog day? The carpet from the hallway is from the Overlook Hotel in the Shining
Forza Horizon 4: Lego Speed Champions Expansion – The crossover loos really cool, but I am not a simulated racing game person.
Crossfire X – Over the top guerrilla fighting in a modern setting
Gears Pop! – Neat remixes of franchises.
New Elite Controller – I may get this, as in ask for money towards one for a holiday.
Gamepass has a ton of cool looking indie titles added to the library, as well as Gamepass Ultimate which is GamePass on Console, PC and Xbox Live Gold!
Project Scarlet

Nintendo

Luigi’s Mansion 3 (new trailer and release window)
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (new trailer, but delayed)
Super Mario Maker 2 (new trailer)
Astral Chain (new trailer)
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (new trailer)
Cadence of Hyrule ~ Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition
Dragon Quest Builders 2 (coming to North America via Nintendo)
No More Heroes 3 (announced for a 2020 release date window)
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6

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

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

Overview and History

Because everyone can’t play everything, Assassins Creed is an action-adventure franchise. It depicts a centuries-old struggle, now and then, between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. The series features historical fiction, science fiction and characters, intertwined with real-world historical events and figures.
The Assassin’s Creed games primarily revolve around the rivalry between two ancient secret societies — the Assassins and the Knights Templar — and their indirect relation to an ancient species pre-dating humanity, referred to within the games as “those who came before”, whose society, along with much of Earth’s biosphere, was destroyed by a massive solar storm thousands of years before the games. The games’ real-world chronological setting begins in the year 2012, but most of the gameplay is in historical settings.
Gameplay is broken into two different styles of play. One is first person, playing in present time. Its played in first person and you can explore your environment. Interaction with the world is minimal. Mostly observing what happens around you, and collecting evidence. The other style is what the franchise has been loved for. It’s played in a third-person perspective in an open world environment, focusing on stealth and parkour. The games use a mission structure to follow the main story, generally assigning the player to complete an assassination of public figureheads or a covert mission. Alternatively, several side missions are available, such as mapping out the expansive cities from a high perch followed by performing a “leap of faith” into a haystack below, collecting treasures hidden across the cities, exploring ruins for relics, building a brotherhood of assassins to perform other tasks, or funding the rebuilding of a city through purchasing and upgrading of shops and other features.

Assassin’s Creed – 2007

PS3, Xbox 360, Windows

After completing Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time near the end of 2003, Patrice Désilets (Dee-Zee-Lay) was instructed to begin work on the next Prince of Persia game, with plans for it to release on the seventh-generation consoles. However, at that time, neither Microsoft nor Sony had revealed what their next consoles would be. The initial development of the game from January 2004 was aimed as a PlayStation 2 title, following the same linear approach that The Sands of Time had taken. However, as more information came in about the capabilities of the next-generation consoles by September 2004, Désilets’ team considered expanding the Prince of Persia acrobatic gameplay into an open world which would be feasible on the newer systems.
Désilets wanted to move away from the lead character being a prince simply waiting for his reign to start, but a character that wanted to strive to be a king. He came upon one of his university books related to secret societies, and its first material related to the Assassins, and recognized that he could have the lead character in the game being the second-highest Assassin, seeking to be the leader of the group. As such, the game began work under the title Prince of Persia: Assassin, inspired by the life of Hassan-i Sabbah and making heavy use of Bartol’s novel Alamut. The assassin character was fleshed out over the course of the game’s three-year development in an iterative fashion. The team had some idea of how the character dressed from Alamut and other historical works, in all white-robes and red belt, but had to envision how to detail this in the game. One of the first concept sketches, drawn by animator Khai Nguyen suggested the concept of a bird of prey, which resonated with the team. The assassin was named Altair, meaning “bird of prey” in Arabic, and eagle imagery was used heavily in connection to the Assassins. The team did take some creative routes to meet narrative goals and avoid technical limitations of the consoles. Altair was to be a heroic character with a bit of a “badass” edge, and the artist borrowed elements of the G.I. Joe character Storm Shadow, a similarly-skilled hero. Rendering long flowing robes was impossible to do on the newer hardware, so they shorted the robe and gave it a more feathered look, resonating the “bird of prey” imagery. Similar routes were taken with other parts of the gameplay as to take liberties with accuracy as to make the game fun to play. The team wanted Altair’s parkour moves to look believable, but sacrificed realism for gameplay value, allowing the player to make maneuvers otherwise seemingly impossible in real-life. Having “leaps of faith”s from high vantage points into hay piles and using hay piles to hide from guards was a similar concept which borrowed from Hollywood films, but Désilets observed that Alamut described similar actions that the Assassins had undertaken.
To drive the story, the team had to come up with some goal that both the Assassins and Templars were searching for. Philippe Morin had suggested using the apple of Eden, which the team initially thought to be a humorous aspect for everyone fighting over an apple. However, as they researched into the game more, the team found that many medieval paintings of royalty and other leaders holding spherical objects similar to globus cruciger that represented power and control, and recognized that an artifact named the Apple of Eden would fit well into this concept.
Among this work was the idea of the Animus, which came about after the team’s decision to focus on the Assassins. The team considered that the player would travel through several different cities, and potentially recount numerous assassinations over the past thousand years, including some fantastical ones such as John F. Kennedy which would require some element of time traveling. Désilets had seen a program on DNA and human history and was inspired by the idea if DNA could store human memories, then they could have an in-game machine that could be used for time and location jumps as well as explaining other aspects of the game’s user interface to the player. Désilets considered this similar to what they had established in The Sands of Time. There, the game effectively is a story told by the Prince, and while in the game, should the player-character die, this is treated as a mistelling of the Prince’s story, allowing the player to back up and retry a segment of the game. Ubisoft’s marketing was not keen on the Animus idea, believing players would be confused and be disappointed that the game was not a true medieval experience. The game’s first trailer show at Electronic Entertainment Expo(E3) 2006 focused heavily on the medieval elements due to this. Later marketing materials closer to the game’s release hinted more directly at the science fiction elements of the game.
In contrast to Prince of Persia, where the general path that the player takes through a level is predefined, the open world approach of this game required them to create cities that felt realistic and accurate to historical information but which the player had full freedom to climb and explore. Outside of special buildings, they crafted their cities like Lego bricks, with a second pass to smooth out the shapes of the cities to help with pathfinding and other facets of the enemy artificial intelligence. To encourage the player to explore, they included the various towers that help to reveal parts of the map. Historical, these cities had such landmark towers and inspired by those, the developers incorporated them into the map, making these points of interest and challenges for players to drive them to climb them. Another factor was guiding the player and devising missions for the player that still gave the player freedom for how to approach it but still creating specific moments they wanted the player to experience. For these cases, they used simple animations developed in Adobe Flash to lay out the fundamentals of what actions they wanted, and then crafted levels and missions around those.
As they started to recognize the need for cities in this open world game, Désilets wanted to make sure they were also able to simulate large crowds, as this had been a limiting factor due to hardware limitations during the development of The Sands of Time; with the PlayStation 2hardware, they could only support having up to eight characters on screen for The Sands of Time, but the next-generation hardware was able to support up to 120 people. Having crowds in the game also led to the concept of “social stealth”, where the main character could mask themselves in the open, in addition to staying out of sight on rooftops.
Around late 2005 to early 2006, following nearly two years of development, the concept for Prince of Persia: Assassin had the game’s titular prince was AI-controlled, watched over by the player-controlled Assassin that served as the Prince’s bodyguard and rescued the Prince from various situations. Ubisoft’s management and the development had debates on this direction; Ubisoft’s management wanted another game in the Prince of Persia franchise, and was not keen on releasing a game with that name where the Prince was not the lead character. The development team counters that with a new generation of consoles, they could potentially make it a new intellectual property. Near the 2006 Game Developers Conference, Ubisoft’s marketing team came up with the idea of naming the game Assassin’s Creed, which Désilets recognized fit in perfectly with the themes they had been working on, including tying into the creed of the Assassins, “nothing is true; everything is permitted”. The prince character was dropped and the game focused solely on the assassin as the playable character.
Following the E3 2006 presentation and the name change to Assassin’s Creed, the Ubisoft Montreal team grew to support the last year of the game’s development. Added team members included those that had just finished up production on Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, as well as former staff that had recently been let go from Gameloft, another publisher owned by Ubisoft’s co-founder Michel Guillemot.
During Microsoft’s E3 2007 press conference, a demo was shown taking place in Jerusalem. Features that were demonstrated included improved crowd mechanics, the system of chasing a fleeing target, as well as deeper aspects of parkour. This was the first time when Altaïr could be heard speaking. A later showcase had a video showing an extended version of the E3 demo and included Altaïr trying to escape after his assassination of Talal the Slave Trader.
The game was released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on November, 2007. A pirated version of the game has been in existence since late February 2008. According to Ubisoft, a computer bug was purposely inserted into the pre-release version of the game by the publisher itself to unpredictably crash the game and prevent completion as a security measure, though players were able to use extra content available on the Internet to bypass it. The presence of the bug and performance of the pirated version of the game was believed by Ubisoft to lead to “irreparable harm” for the game and resulted in low retail sales; NPD Group reports that 40,000 copies of the PC title were sold in the United States in July, while more than 700,000 copies were illegally downloaded according to Ubisoft.
Game Informer awarded Assassin’s Creed a 9.5 out of 10, praising the control scheme, replay value, and intriguing story, but expressing frustration over the “repetitive” information gathering missions. Metacritic has an aggregate score for the PS3 and 360 versions at 81%, and 79% for the PC release. Assassin’s Creed won several awards at E3 2006. Game Critics awarded it “Best Action/Adventure Game,”: from IGN, “Best Action Game,” “PS3 Game of the Show,” “Best PS3 Action Game,” “Best PS3 Graphics”; from GameSpot and GameSpy, “Best PS3 Game of the Show”; from GameTrailers “Best of Show,” and from 1UP.com, “Best PS3 game.”

Assassin’s Creed II – 2009

PS3, Xbox 360, Windows

Ubisoft’s Yves Guillemot officially confirmed that Assassin’s Creed II was in development in late November, 2008, during the company’s financial performance report. This was followed by Michael Pachter speculating in GameTrailers’ “Bonus Round” that game would change its setting to the events of the French Revolution, which turned out to be false.
The framing story is set in the 21st century and follows Desmond Miles as he relives the genetic memories of his ancestor Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The main narrative takes place at the height of the Renaissance in Italy during the 15th and early 16th century. Players can explore Florence, Venice, Tuscany and Forlì as they guide Ezio on a quest for vengeance against those responsible for betraying his family.
In the game, the Auditore family’s countryside villa, located in Monteriggioni, acts as Ezio’s headquarters: the surrounding property can be upgraded, drawing income for the player’s use. There are several outlets for using currency, with vendors selling items such as medicine, poison, weapons, repairs, upgrades, paintings, and clothing dyes. When these shops are renovated, Ezio receives discounts at the shops on the goods they sell. Purchasing weaponry, armor sets, and artwork also contribute to increasing the villa’s overall worth, in turn generating more income for Monteriggioni.
The PC version of the game utilizes Ubisoft’s Uplay platform, which includes a digital rights management (DRM) system that initially required all users to remain connected to the Internet while playing. In the initial retail version, any progress made subsequent to the last checkpoint was lost if the Internet connection was severed. Ubisoft stated that if the disconnection was temporary, the game would pause. In addition, the company argued that there were numerous checkpoints spread throughout Assassin’s Creed II.
Review aggregator site Metacritic gave the PlayStation 3 version a score of 91 and the Xbox 360 version a 90. The PC version suffered a hit, but still a respectable 86%. At the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards, Assassin’s Creed II was named Best Action Adventure Game, and IGN named it as the Action Game of the Year for Xbox 360 and Xbox 360 Game of the Year.

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood – 2010

PS3, Xbox 360, Windows

The story is set in the 21st century and features series protagonist Desmond Miles who, with the aid of a machine known as the Animus, relives the memories of his ancestors to find a way to avert the 2012 apocalypse. The main story takes place immediately after the plot of Assassin’s Creed II, featuring Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze in 16th century Italy and his quest to restore the Assassin order, and destroy his enemies: the Borgia family.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood was developed by Ubisoft Montreal. Montreal also worked on both of the other main Assassin’s Creed games in the series and was thus chosen to lead production for the third installment. A new Assassin’s Creed episode featuring multiplayer was announced during Ubisoft’s 2009 fiscal third-quarter results while not revealing its name. In early May 2010, a GameStop employee published on the internet some images of a pre-order box featuring the Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood title while Ubisoft was teasing the game on Facebook and Twitter. Ubisoft then confirmed the authenticity of these pictures. Brotherhood has not been numbered like Assassin’s Creed II because players, and even developers themselves would have expected a new setting and a new ancestor while this is only the continuation of Ezio’s story.
The game was developed primarily by Ubisoft Montreal in Canada. Production was aided in part by four other Ubisoft developers: Annecy, Singapore, Bucharest and Québec City. The multiplayer mode is mainly developed by Ubisoft Annecy, the studio responsible for creating multiplayer mode in Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Ubisoft also announced plans for downloadable content (DLC) after the game’s launch. Two sets of free DLC have already been released under the names “Animus Project Update 1.0” and “Animus Project Update 2.0”. The first includes the new map Mont Saint-Michel and one new mode, Advanced Alliance. The “Animus Project Update 2.0” was released in January 2011, was also free, and included another map, mode and the introduction of a player grading system. From the perspective of performance, Ubisoft have commented that they hope the gaps between the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions will be even smaller with Brotherhood.
While still in development, creative director Patrice Désilets left before the game’s presentation at the E3 2010. Ubisoft and production manager Jean-Francois Boivin stated that he only took a “creative break” after completing his task on Brotherhood. A teaser trailer of the multiplayer mode was released on the official site before the E3. A cinematic debut trailer was diffused during Ubisoft’s E3 2010 press conference along a walkthrough of the game’s beginning. The Microsoft Windows version has Nvidia 3D Vision and multi screen support through AMD Eyefinity. It also uses Tagès copy protection, as well as Ubisoft online services platform, but doesn’t require an always-on Internet connection to play. Late November, 2010, a novelization of the game was published. The novel is a sequel to the previous novel.
The game introduces a new management system: the player can recruit new members by destroying any of twelve “Borgia towers” around Rome where papal troops are stationed and then rescuing disgruntled citizens in their districts from being harassed by guards. The player, as Ezio, can then send them to assignments around Europe or call them for support during missions (if they are not already occupied). Tasking the novice Assassins makes them gain experience, and the player is able to customize their appearance, skills, and weapon training to some degree by spending the skill points they have earned. Assassins can die on missions, from which they will not return. Ezio masters new gadgets, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s parachute, which can be used when jumping from tall buildings, along with poison darts, a faster acting poison, a crossbow, and the ability to hold and throw heavier weapons like axes.
Horses play a larger role in Brotherhood, not only used as a means of transport (inside the city for the first time) but as a component of acrobatic sequences and advanced combat as well, allowing ranged weapons to be used while riding them. Brotherhood also introduces various types of horse-related assassinations, featuring horse-to-horse assassinations. There are environmental objects like the flower pot in Assassin’s Creed II to move faster inside the city (a system of tunnels around the city allow fast travel), as well as new objects such as merchandise lifts to quickly climb up high buildings or structures.
Unlike previous installments, Desmond can leave the Animus at almost any time. This allows Desmond to explore the present-day town of Monteriggioni. The player is also offered virtual training, a mini-game where the player may test their free-running or combat skills.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is the first game in the main series to feature a multiplayer mode. The players are Templars in training at the Abstergo facility. They use the animi (plural for animus) seen at the beginning of Assassin’s Creed II to access memories of old Templars and to acquire their skills using the “bleeding effect”. There are eight game modes (Wanted, Alliance, Manhunt, Chest Capture, Advanced Wanted, Advanced Alliance, Escort and Assassinate) and different maps, including the areas from the second and the third game like Florence, as well as new maps like Rome, Castel Gandolfo, Siena and Mont Saint-Michel. The gameplay in multiplayer mode is similar to the core gameplay of the series, as players are required to use their assassination and stealth skills. The players must hunt down targets while being hunted themselves. Players earn points by performing assassinations, defending against pursuers, attaining bonuses or completing mode-specific objectives. It also contains a variety of characters, most of which must be unlocked.
Brotherhood was received very well by critics, Metacritic ratings are 88% for PC, 89% for 360 and 90% for PS3.
It won best Action Adventure game in the Spike TV Video Game Awards 2010 The game has also been nominated for 7 British Academy Video Games Awards in 2011, including Best Game. It won an award in the Action category, losing to Mass Effect 2 in the category for Best Game.

Assassin’s Creed Revelations – 2011

PS3, Xbox 360, Windows

This story is again set in the 21st century and features the series protagonist Desmond Miles who, with the aid of a machine known as the Animus, relives the memories of his ancestors to find a way to avert the 2012 apocalypse. Revelations features two other returning protagonists: Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad in 12th and 13th century Masyaf, and Ezio Auditore da Firenze in 16th century Constantinople. The main story follows the Assassin Ezio’s journey to unlock the secret of Altaïr’s vault in Masyaf using disc-like artifacts containing Altaïr’s memories.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was initially conceived as a Nintendo 3DS game called Assassin’s Creed: Lost Legacy about Ezio traveling east to the Assassins’ former city of Masyaf, where he would have discovered the origins of the Assassin Order. It was first announced during Nintendo’s E3 2010 press conference. It was quietly cancelled and its main concept was developed into Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.
In November 2010, Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot teased “something Assassin’s related” in 2011, despite an earlier statement by Ubisoft Montreal’s Jean-Francois Boivin that no Assassin’s Creed game will be released in 2011. Geoffroy Sardin of Ubisoft later confirmed that there will be a “big” Assassin’s Creed game in 2011. Guillemot also explained that ultimate goal for Ubisoft is to release new games in the franchise annually along with Ubisoft’s most popular other franchises. In February 2011, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot confirmed that the next Assassin’s Creed game would be released during its next fiscal year, which starts on April 1, 2011, and ends on March 31, 2012.
On April 29, 2011 the game’s name was released on the official Assassin’s Creed Facebook page, with a link which led to a flash file. The teaser clip included the words, “Altaïr Ibn La-Ahad, Son of no one” in Arabic which hints that Altaïr, the main protagonist of the first game, may once again be the main protagonist of the game. A third teaser clip for the game showed the city of Constantinople, which hints at it being the setting for the game. In the E3 rumor section of its April 2011 issue, Xbox World 360 said Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is not Assassin’s Creed III, but suggests that game is also secretly in the works. Revelations was likely to be “another slimline Brotherhood-style offering”, Xbox World 360 stated. On May 5, Game Informer released details of the game, and the game was “officially” announced by Ubisoft at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011.
The game was developed primarily by Ubisoft Montreal in Canada. Production was aided in part by five other Ubisoft developers: Annecy, Massive, Quebec, Singapore, and Bucharest. Lead writer Darby McDevitt said that Revelations would not answer all the burning questions clouding the series, stating “Well, we won’t answer everything because Desmond’s story continues. But fans will definitely know most of the important details of Ezio and Altair’s lives, and how they fit into the grand scheme.” McDevitt also stated that 85 percent of Assassin’s Creed’s overarching plot is already “mapped out”. McDevitt claimed original Creed protagonist Altaïr had his story arc written for two years, and that Ezio’s ultimate fate was planned during the development of Brotherhood.
Voice of Desmond Miles, Nolan North, urged Ubisoft to adopt motion capture methods similar to Naughty Dog’s Uncharted. Speaking in an interview, North admitted there is a “disconnect” in the Ubisoft game’s current setup, which has voice actors provide voice facial animation separately from body motion capture, which is recorded by different actors. “I wish it wasn’t done separately,” North said. “Don’t get me wrong, the mo-cap actors do a great job, but there will always be somewhat of a disconnect when it’s done this way. After my experiences on the Uncharted franchise, where the actors do both performance and voice, I can honestly say there is absolutely a difference.”
The PC version of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations does not force players to always be online to work like its predecessors, despite Ubisoft’s recent claims that its policy is a success, insisting it has seen “a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection”. Even then, the always-online DRM was permanently removed from all single-player games. It does, however, require a one-time-only online activation the very first time the player plays the game, which will permanently bind the activation code to the player’s account, and thus, it does not need to be activated again on the same account if the game is reinstalled for some reason. This also applies to reinstalling on another computer. Following that, the player can permanently play the game in offline mode.
Metacritic scores are straight across the board a good game, PC, 360 and PS3 are all 80%. 1UP gave the game a rating of B+, stating “While Revelations lacks that one supreme improvement or standout mechanic that defined AC2 and Brotherhood each, it’s still a damn fine sendoff for Altair and Ezio.”

Assassin’s Creed III – 2012

PS3, Xbox 360, Windows

The story of Desmond using the Animus reliving his ancestors memories to try and advert the 2012 apocalypse. The flip side of the story is set in the 18th century, before, during and after the American Revolution from 1754 to 1783, and follows Desmond’s half-English, half-Mohawk ancestor, Ratonhnhaké:ton (Ra-doon-ha-gay-doon), also known as Connor, as he fights the Templars’ attempts to gain control in the colonies.
Work on Assassin’s Creed III began in January 2010 (almost immediately after the release of Assassin’s Creed II) by a senior team of Ubisoft developers. The title was in development for two and a half years and had the longest development cycle since the first Assassin’s Creed. When Ubisoft first revealed Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood in 2010, as new details came to light, there was some confusion within the gaming community as to whether this would be Assassin’s Creed III. According to the developers, Brotherhood was not Assassin’s Creed III, and the third installment would not star a “pre-existing character.” Ubisoft Montreal’s developers stated in their interviews that Assassin’s Creed III would be released eventually.
Jean-François Boivin of Ubisoft also stated that each numbered title in the series will introduce a new lead character and a new setting. Patrice Désilets, former series’ creative director, said that the series has always been planned as a trilogy. He also commented on the story of Assassin’s Creed III, saying that it would focus on Assassins’ quest to prevent the end of the world in 2012, and their race against time to find temples and Apples of Eden built by “Those Who Came Before”. Desmond would be searching for clues as to the locations of these temples, by exploring memories of one (or more) of his other ancestors.
Ubisoft said that when Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption released midway through Assassin’s Creed III’s development, it was surprising to see Rockstar had included wild animal hunting and a giant frontier to explore—features both planned for its own sequel. Lead writer Corey May said Ubisoft’s now looking at Red Dead’s success and trying to take the formula in “new directions”. Similarities between these two games are down to “a convergence of minds”, said Assassin’s Creed III writer Matt Turner. Creative Director Alex Hutchinson said Ubisoft steered clear of making the Assassin’s Creed III protagonist a female character because the game’s setting is not a strong match. Hutchinson said while many people wanted to see female assassins in the series, the American Revolution setting makes it difficult this time around.
Assassin’s Creed III features new weather simulations such as snow, fog, and rain. The seasons can also change i.e., Summer and Winter, which not only affect visuals but also gameplay, as the player will find that they run slower in deep snow. Snowfall can reduce visibility for the player and enemies, aiding stealth. Unlike the past games, this one includes animals varying from domestic (horses, cows, dogs) to wild (deer, wolves, bears). The wild ones are found in the Frontier and can be hunted for meat or marrow in order to be sold. The quality of the kill determines the price, encouraging the player to hunt silently. For this, traps and bait can also be used.
The economy is now based on the Davenport Homestead, which also acts as Connor’s adoptive home. The site can be visited by people such as carpenters, tailors, etc. suffering from displacement due to the war. Helping and interacting with these non-player characters(NPCs) will encourage them to settle in the Homestead. From there on, the player can craft various items and trade with them, and then sell the goods to the cities via caravan. The player can also help them build relationships with each other, which will then result in the formation of a small village. The player can also upgrade the Homestead manor as well as Connor’s ship, the Aquila.
A revamped version of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s recruitment feature returns as players can enlist citizens to the Assassins’ cause by completing “Liberation” missions. They also have a much larger skill set, which allows them to start a riot, provide a covert escort, act as a personal bodyguard, etc. Other side missions include collecting Almanac pages, exploring underground tunnels to locate fast-travel stations, joining hunting and fighting clubs, investigating frontiersman rumors about UFOs and Sasquatch, “peg-leg” missions in which Connor goes to underground forts and wastelands to uncover the legend of Captain Kidd’s treasure, and others.
Assassin’s Creed III also features naval expeditions. Using Connor’s warship, the Aquila, the player can navigate the high seas. Control of the ship relies on environmental factors such as wind direction and speed, local presence of storms, high waves, and rocks. Engagements are by cannon, with broadsides covering both flanks of the ship, swivel guns that can be used to damage smaller ships which can also be boarded to find treasure, and chain shots from the broadsides as well to take down the masts of larger ships and disable them. The Aquilais used in the side missions known as “Privateer missions” and is also used in some of the main missions.
The Wii U version of the game has extra features. The player has the ability to change weapons on the go and the map is always visible on the Wii U Gamepad. The Wii U version also supports Off TV Play. With this feature enabled, the main screen is redirected to the Wii U Gamepad.
Ubisoft recommends the PC version of the game to be played with a controller even though it will still support keyboard and mouse setup. Ubisoft Montreal’s creative director Alex Hutchinson admitted: “We’re definitely supporting PC, we love PC, but I think it’ll be PC with a controller. I don’t see us investing hugely in a mouse and keyboard setup. I think if you want to play on PC and you want to play Assassin’s Creed, you have a controller.”
Assassin’s Creed III received positive reviews, with critics praising the visuals, narrative, combat style, hunting mechanics, naval missions and Homestead system, while complaining about the game’s glitches and some of the missions’ prescriptive layouts. Metacritic has the PC release at 80%, 360 at 84% and PS3 and WiiU releases at 85%.
The 2013 D.I.C.E. Interactive Achievement Awards, the game won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Animation and was nominated for Adventure Game of the Year, and Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design. Losing those two categories to The Walking Dead by Telltale Games, and Journey by thatgamecompany, respectively.

Assassin’s Creed IV – 2013

PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Windows

This game continues the struggle of the Assassins and Templars. The framing story is set in the 21st century and describes the player as an Abstergo agent. The main story is set in the 18th century Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy, and follows notorious Welsh pirate Edward Kenway, grandfather and father of Assassin’s Creed III protagonist Ratonhnhaké:ton and antagonist Haytham Kenway, respectively, who stumbles upon the Assassin/Templar conflict. The attempted establishment of a Republic of Pirates utopia (free from either British or Spanish rule) is a significant plot element.
I missed this title when it came out, Alan had to tell me how great it was, when he played it on the WiiU. It was given away for Xbox Games With Gold, and it was a fantastic experience. I loved how much I was able to complete, but pretty frustrated that achievements were on both single player and multiplayer, so I couldn’t get them all.
The game features three main cities; Havana, Kingston, and Nassau, which reside under Spanish, British, and pirate influence, respectively. In addition, locations like Port-au-Prince and smaller locations like Greater Inagua are used as main story points. It also features 50 other individual locations to explore, including atolls, sea forts, Mayan ruins, sugar plantations, and underwater shipwrecks, with a 60/40 balance between land and naval exploration. It has a more open world feel, with missions similar to those found in Assassin’s Creed, as well as fewer restrictions for the player. The world opens up sooner in the game, as opposed to Assassin’s Creed III, which had very scripted missions and did not give players freedom to explore until the game was well into its first act. The player will encounter jungles, forts, ruins, and small villages and the world is built to allow players much more freedom, such as allowing players to engage, board, and capture passing ships and swimming to nearby beaches in a seamless fashion. In addition, the hunting system has been retained from Assassin’s Creed III, allowing the player to hunt on land, and fish in the water, with resources gathered used to upgrade equipment.
A new aspect in the game is the Jackdaw, the ship that the player captains. The Jackdaw is upgradeable throughout the game, and is easily accessible to the player when needed. In addition, a new underwater component has been added. The player has access to a spyglass, allowing the examination of distant ships, along with their cargo and strength. It can also help determine if an island still has animals to hunt, treasures to find, high points to reach for synchronization or additional side-quests to complete, such as assassinations and naval contracts. An updated form of the recruit system introduced in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood has returned, allowing Edward to recruit crew members. While Kenway’s crew will remain loyal to him, they can be promoted to captain acquired ships, and are needed to assist in boarding enemy vessels, they cannot assist in combat or perform long-range assassinations, as in previous games. Ubisoft removed this aspect of the brotherhood system, believing it allowed players to bypass tense and challenging scenarios too easily.
In the present day, at the offices of Abstergo Entertainment—a subsidiary of Abstergo Industries—in Montreal, Quebec, players engage in modern-day pirating through the exploration of Abstergo’s offices, eavesdropping, and hacking, all without combat. As well, various “hacking” games, similar to previous cluster and glyph puzzles, are present, that uncover secrets about Abstergo.
Multiplayer also returns, with new settings and game modes, though it is only land-based.
In early February 2013, during its quarterly financial call to investors, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot confirmed that the next Assassin’s Creedgame, due for release some time before April 2014, would feature a new hero, time period, and development team. Development began in mid-2011 at Ubisoft Montreal by a separate team from the one on Assassin’s Creed III, with additional work done by Ubisoft studios in Annecy, Bucharest, Kyiv, Milan, Montpellier, Singapore and Sofia.
Lead content manager Carsten Myhill stressed away from the sentiment that the sequel should have been a spin-off in the same vein as Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood or Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, given the ostensible similarities with Assassin’s Creed III. He stated “The whole feeling of the game is completely fresh and new. It will feel very different from Assassin’s Creed III. I think it completely warrants the Assassin’s Creed IV moniker, not only with the new name and setting but the attitude and the tone of the experience.” Assassin’s Creed IV is the first main series numbered title to carry a subtitle, a decision which Myhill says was made to clearly distinguish the pirate theme from the rest of the franchise.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag received “generally favorable” reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic, with critics praising the open world gameplay, side-quests, graphics and naval combat. Aggregate scores for PS4 at 83%, PC with 84%, WiiU and 360 at 86%, and 88% for the PS3 release.

Assassin’s Creed Rogue – 2014

PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows

This game still follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. The story is set in the mid-18th century during the Seven Years’ War, and follows Shay Patrick Cormac, an Assassin-turned-Templar who hunts down former members of his Brotherhood after being betrayed by them. Gameplay in Rogue is very similar to that of Black Flag with a mixture of ship-based naval exploration and third-person land-based exploration with some new features.
Naval aspects from previous games return with the player controlling Shay’s ship, the Morrígan. The Morrígan has a shallower draft compared to Edward Kenway’s Jackdaw from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, allowing for river travel. New features include new ship-based weapons such as releasing an oil slick which can then be ignited, Puckle guns, and the ability for enemies to board the Morrígan during ship-to-ship combat. The arctic environment also adds features to naval gameplay and exploration, as certain icebergs can be rammed with an icebreaker. However, the underwater diving missions featured in Black Flag do not exist as swimming in the North Atlantic causes the player’s health to rapidly deplete due to the frigid water, though Shay is able to swim in the waters of the ‘river valley’ area.
For combat, the game introduces an air rifle, similar to the blowpipe from the Black Flag which allows the player to silently take out enemies at a distance. The air rifle can be outfitted with a variety of different projectiles, such as firecrackers. The player can also use it as a grenade launcher, which fires off shrapnel grenades and other loads. Hand-to-hand combat has been slightly altered, and now enemy attacks can be countered with timing, similar to the Batman: Arkham series of games. Enemy Assassins feature archetypes similar to previous games, using skills that players have been using throughout the series; they can hide in bushes, blend in with crowds, and perform air assassinations against the player. Poison gas can now be used as an environmental weapon, and Shay has a mask that can mitigate its effects.
Side missions and activities return, with a number of them based on those of the previous games. Reflecting Shay’s role as a Templar, the game introduces a new side mission: Assassin Interception. These mirror the Assassination side missions in previous games, in that Shay, after intercepting a messenger pigeon carrying an assassination contract, must prevent an innocent being assassinated by finding and killing Assassins hidden nearby.
By March 2014, an Assassin’s Creed game code-named “Comet” was revealed to be in development, set for release on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. By the end of the month, additional reports indicated that “Comet” would be set around 1758 in New York, as well as feature sailing on the Atlantic Ocean. The game would be a direct sequel to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and would feature a Templar named Shay as the main protagonist. Haytham Kenway from Assassin’s Creed III and Adéwalé from Black Flag would also make appearances.
The game was officially announced on August 5, 2014, following a leak of the title. Game director Martin Capel described the game as finishing the series’ “North American saga” and that the game was designed to accommodate specific fan requests, such as taking on the role of a Templar. The game is intended to “fill the gaps” of the story between Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flagand has “a crucial link” to the events of the previous games. In addition to Ubisoft Sofia’s work on the game, contributions are also being made by Ubisoft studios in Singapore, Montreal, Quebec, Chengdu, Milan and Bucharest. Ubisoft also stated that the game was being envisioned without multiplayer components “at this stage”, but did not rule out any modes being added after the game launched. March 2018, a remaster of the game was released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The game got average to positive reviews. Daniel Krupa from IGN gave the game a 6.8/10. He praised the engaging story, the nuanced lead character, atmospheric scenery, but criticized the lack of Templar abilities included, bland encounters with other main characters, uninspired side quests, empty world, as well as the frustrating combat and traversal system, which he stated has shown no improvements. He also criticized the game for not encouraging the player to explore the world.
Metacritic’s aggregate scores have the PS4 and Xbox One remasters at 71%. The PS3 and 360 releases at 72% and up to 74% for the PC.

Assassin’s Creed Unity – 2014

PS4, Xbox One, Windows

The struggle between Assassins and Templars continue. The other side of the story is set in Paris during the French Revolution; the single-player story follows Arno Victor Dorian in his efforts to expose the true powers behind the Revolution. The game retains the series’ third-person open world exploration as well as introducing a revamped combat, parkour and stealth system. The game also introduces cooperative multiplayer to the Assassin’s Creed series, letting up to four players engage in narrative-driven missions and explore the open world map.
The game was meant to be rebuilt, with fencing being used as an inspiration for the new system. In addition to returning weapons from previous games, Assassin’s Creed Unity introduces the Phantom Blade. The Phantom Blade uses the mechanics of a crossbow to fire a silent projectile at a great distance, while still serving the same role as the Hidden Blade in previous Assassin’s Creed games. Navigation for the game was also overhauled: new “Free-run up” and “Free-run down” commands were added to make it easier for the player to scale buildings in either direction. Additionally, Arno learns new moves throughout the game, but the player can also purchase new skills as well. With the updated, larger crowds, new interactions with them are also available. The crowd regularly presents many activities, appearing organically, that the player can then choose to engage in at their leisure. Examples include scaring a group of bullies by pulling out a weapon, “settling” a disagreement between two civilians by killing one of them, which is usually a Templar, or chasing down a thief who has just pick pocketed somebody.
For the first time, the series allows players to customize the characters’ abilities, adopting a skill tree that enables players to assign points earned through gameplay to improve their skills in stealth, melee, and ranged combat, and health. Players are also able to customise their weapons, armour and equipment to further complement their individual style of play. Players also have a wider selection of weapons available, including swords, axes, spears, rifles, pistols and throwable items, such as smoke bombs. The expansion DLC, Assassin’s Creed Dead Kings, adds the formidable guillotine gun, which from gameplay I saw on YouTube, is a grenade launcher with an axe head for close combat fighting.
Assassin’s Creed Unity also introduces cooperative multiplayer to the series. Players can enter taverns, which act as social hubs in the game, where you can see if any friends are playing the game at the current time. If they are currently in a mission, they will appear as a “ghost” version of their player, allowing you to approach it to request to join their mission. If accepted, you are transitioned to their game and both of you reset to the most recent checkpoint, and continue on from there. Up to four players can join together in this fashion. The player will take on the role of Arno, customized within their own game, with other players appearing as their own customized version of Arno in their own sets of equipment, weapons, and armor. Many missions and activities will be available for cooperative play (which the player can also complete on their own), but there are some story missions that are single player only.
There are significant tie-ins with the Assassins Creed Unity Companion App, a “freemium” click app with limited “direct ties to the overall story of Unity”. There are a significant number of chests, assassination targets, and other collectibles that are visible to all players but only accessible to those who have completed certain goals within the app. Following an update in February 2015, this requirement is no longer necessary, meaning players who have downloaded the update, can now collect all the chests in the game without having to play the companion app.
Chris Carter from Destructoid gave the game 7/10, praising the new movement system, likable lead characters, iconic setting, smooth animation and improved draw distance. New additions such as character customization and huge crowds were also praised. However, he criticized the predictable story, technical issues, and the mission design of co-op multiplayer, as it is impossible to play some missions solo. He stated that “Unity feels like a step back. … It lacks that grand sense of roaming the uncharted seas in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, or even the open-ended feel of the wilderness in Assassin’s Creed III, but it’s a journey worth taking if you’re already into the series.”
The Metacritic aggregate scores are 70% for the PC and PS4, and 72% on the Xbox One.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – 2015

PS4, Xbox One, Windows

The modern setting is still Assassins against the Templars. The other story is set in Victorian era London and follows twin assassins Jacob and Evie Frye as they navigate the corridors of organized crime, and take back the city from Templar control. The open world design lets players freely roam London.
Composed of the greater area of Victorian London, consisting of seven boroughs, the world of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is much larger than previous entries in the series. The player can also perform side missions, which were designed to reflect the fight for power in London, and are cohesive to the game’s main story. In keeping with a historical context that more closely resembles the modern day, the city guard of previous iterations is replaced by a Victorian-era police force, who will rarely attack the player unless a crime is committed in their presence; the player’s main enemy is instead a Templar-controlled street gang called the “Blighters.”
The game lets the player control two characters: twins Jacob and Evie Frye. Jacob is a hot-headed brawler, specializing in close-ranged combat, while Evie is strong in stealth and relies on her intelligence and wit. Additionally, Evie is the first playable female protagonist of the main series. The main weapons of Syndicate include brass knuckles, a compact revolver, a cane-sword, and the traditional Nepalese curved kukri knife. The game also introduces new systems to navigate the world: a rope launcher, which allows the player to rappel up structures, or create a zip-line between buildings; carriages, which can be piloted or simply occupied by the player, and can be the setting of fights and parkour chases; and a train, which serves as the main base for the player throughout the game. Unlike its predecessor, the game has no multiplayer mode, and does not feature a companion app.
I have not covered the details of all the DLC content that adds on to the games, but this one has an extra story that I find really interesting:
“In 1888, Jacob Frye meets Mr. Weaversbrook and warns him not to publish Jack’s letters as he wants to spread fear in London. He then receives word of another murder and goes to investigate. Jacob goes after the Ripper, who begins following him before eventually attacking. As the Ripper pursues Jacob, it is revealed that he knows Jacob personally, and possesses Assassin abilities. After escaping, Jacob reaches his lodgings, but the Ripper arrives and attacks again, with Jacob seemingly being killed.
Following the incident, Jacob’s sister Evie arrives from India, having been summoned by Jacob some time before, where she is greeted by police inspector Frederick Abberline, who informs her that Jacob is missing and presumed dead. He also tells her that she may be the last Assassin remaining in London, and the only one capable of stopping the Ripper. After finding Jacob’s lodgings, Evie takes some non-lethal fear tools used by the Indian Brotherhood. She also deduces that the Ripper is in fact one of Jacob’s Assassin Initiates. Afterwards, she kills the Ripper’s lieutenants who have been aiding in his crimes and frees a number of prisoners he had been keeping hostage. All the while, the Ripper stalks Evie.
With more murders occurring, Evie is pressured to find the Ripper quickly; after the Ripper’s final murder, Abberline makes it plain unless she delivers the Ripper, he will not be able to stop her from being arrested for the crimes – Evie vows to stop the Ripper or die trying. She re-examines all of his old crime scenes and finds hidden clues that lead to him, as well as learning the fact that all of the women he murdered were Assassins. She later finds a message left by the Ripper, which reveals that he never forgave Jacob for failing to protect his mother from being killed by Starrick’s men. Evie deduces that the Ripper is waiting for her at Lambeth Asylum, where he was imprisoned before Jacob recruited him into the Brotherhood. Meanwhile, the Ripper returns to the Asylum and murders his former tormentors and destroys all records of his true identity. Evie arrives shortly after the Ripper and kills him in battle.
Afterwards, she finds an imprisoned but still alive Jacob. With the Ripper dead, Abberline agrees to cover up the Ripper’s identity as an Assassin in order to protect the Brotherhood.”
Daniel Krupa from IGN gave the game an 8.2/10, citing the design of the city and the lighthearted plot as high points, while criticizing the repetitive combat, yet saying it was better than Unity’s combat. Metacritcs scores the PC release at 74%, PS4 with 76% and 78% for the Xbox One.

Assassin’s Creed Origins – 2017

PS4, Xbox One, Windows

Set in Ancient Egypt near the end of the Ptolemaic period (49–47 BCE) and recounts the secret fictional history of real-world events. The story follows a Medjay named Bayek, and explores the origins of the centuries-long conflict between the Brotherhood of Assassins, who fight for peace by promoting liberty, and The Order of the Ancients—forerunners to the Templar Order—who desire peace through the forced imposition of order.
* The Medjay were an elite paramilitary police force, serving as desert scouts and protectors of areas of Pharaonic interest.
Development of Assassin’s Creed Origins started in early 2014, after the completion of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The series had been following a yearly release cycle, but after the launch of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate in 2015, Ubisoftchose to delay the release of Origins until 2017. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot cited a desire to focus on the quality of the individual titles, the opportunity to develop future games with new engines, and the disappointing sales of Syndicate as the reasons behind the decision.
During production of Assassin’s Creed III in November 2011 Ubisoft conducted a fan survey exploring potential settings for future titles. Ancient Egypt was one of the most popular choices, but Alex Hutchinson, the creative director of Assassin’s Creed III, dismissed the results as he considered Ancient Egypt—as with the other two chosen settings, feudal Japan and World War II—as being “the worst choices” for a setting. The development team hired Egyptologists to assist in making the open world more accurate to the time period.
The “eagle vision” mode, which was used by the franchise to give the player the ability to scout an area by highlighting enemies and objects, has been replaced by a Bonelli’s eagle named Senu as a companion. The player is able to take control of Senu and scout an area in advance, highlighting enemies which will then be visible when they return to controlling Bayek, the game’s main character. The player can also tame various predators which will serve as a companion for the player and assist them against enemies. Naval combat, underwater exploration and tomb raiding return to the series.
The game also features revised combat mechanics. Previous titles in the Assassin’s Creed series used a “paired animation system” whereby the player character would engage with an enemy and combat would be dictated by a series of predetermined animations based on player inputs and scripted AI movements. Origins moves to a “hit-box system”. When the player wields a weapon, they will strike at whatever is in range, allowing them to hit enemies directly, injure individual body parts, and creating the possibility of missing an enemy entirely. Complementing this is the way weapons fall into different categories and are rated on their damage dealt, speed and range. Enemies will be drawn from several basic archetypes that use a variety of tactics in combat which, combined with the hit-box system, will require the player to learn the attributes of individual weapons and tailor their playing style to succeed in combat. As enemy combat is also dictated by the hit-box system, the player has been equipped with a shield and needs to balance their offensive and defensive capabilities. Locations within the game world are designed to enable the player to choose their playing style by offering stealth and open combat as equally-viable choices for completing objectives.
Origins introduces an arena-based combat system where the player fights waves of increasingly difficult combinations of enemies culminating in a boss fight. While the introduction to the arena is incorporated into the main story, the arena mode stands alone from the wider narrative. The game world features several arenas, with a variety of enemy combinations and unique bosses not found in the game world. The player is able to unlock additional weapons and equipment by completing arena fights.
Colin Campbell of Polygon gave the game a score of 8.5/10, writing, “In essence, Assassin’s Creed Origins is much the same game as the original Assassin’s Creed, which came out a decade ago. It’s a formula that people like to play, and it’s certainly been honed and improved over the years. Origins is, then, undoubtedly the best iteration of this formula yet. But I yearn for a fresh approach and new ideas, something that astounds the senses as much as the wondrous world this game inhabits.”
Metacritic aggregate scores have the PS4 at 81%, 84% for the PC and 85% on Xbox One.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – 2018

PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Stadia

Set in the year 431 BC, the plot tells a fictional history of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Players control a male or female mercenary who fights for both sides as they attempt to unite their family and uncover a malign cult.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey places more emphasis on role-playing elements than previous games in the series. The game contains dialogue options, branching quests and multiple endings. The player is able to choose the gender of the main character, adopting the role of Alexios or Kassandra. The game features a notoriety system in which mercenaries chase after the player if they commit crimes like killing or stealing.
The player character, is a mercenary, and a descendant of the Spartan king Leonidas I. They inherit his broken spear, which is forged into a blade to become a weapon that grants the player special abilities in combat. The game uses a skill tree system that allows the player to unlock new abilities. The three skill trees are “hunter”, which focuses on ranged attacks through use of a bow & arrow, “warrior”, which focuses on weapons based combat (swords, spears, axes etc.), and “assassin”, which focuses on stealth & silent take-downs. This replaces the system used in Origins, which granted the player a series of passive abilities.
The hitbox combat system introduced in Origins returns and is expanded upon to grant the player access to different special skills when the ability bar fills up. These skills include calling a rain of arrows and a powerful kick to knock opponents off-balance, and are similar to the “Overpower” mechanic introduced in Origins that let the player use a powerful finishing move in combat. The game also features a gear system in which each piece of armor the player wears has different statistics and provides a range of advantages. These can be equipped and upgraded individually.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey also features naval combat again, with the player having access to Hellenistic-era warships to explore the Aegean Sea. The conflict between Athens and Sparta is represented through a “War System” which enables players to take contracts from mercenaries and participate in different large-scale battles against hostile factions. The war system can change a faction’s influence over a region.
The player can develop romantic relationships with non-playable characters of both genders, regardless of their own character’s gender. Creative director Jonathan Dumont commented that “since the story is choice-driven, we never force players in romantic situations they might not be comfortable with (…) I think this allows everybody to build the relationships they want, which I feel respects everybody’s roleplay style and desires.” Players and critics appreciated this inclusion of queer romance options. However, many reacted negatively to a plot development in the Legacy of the First Blade DLC in which the player character has no choice but to enter into a relationship and have a child with a person of the opposite gender, considering that this invalidated their character’s identity and the roleplaying aspects previously emphasized by Ubisoft. Ubisoft responded that “we strive to give players choice whenever possible in Odyssey and apologise to those surprised by the events in this episode”. Ubisoft later stated that the forced romance would be removed with a future patch along with a modified cutscene. However this consisted of editing the cutscene slightly so that the player could tell their child they were only doing it for the blood-line – the child is still compulsory.
EGMNow gave the game an 8.5/10, writing “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey lives up to its namesake. By fully investing in becoming an action RPG, Odyssey’s characters, combat, story, and scope are beyond anything the series has accomplished so far. Its ambitions might get the better of it sometimes, like in how it divides its story moments or in how the leveling system can get out of hand, but the overall experience is, simply put, epic.” Metacritic aggregate scores have the PS4 version at 83%, the PC release at 86% and the Xbox One release is up at 87%.

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

Free Games

  • Epic Games
    • Transistor
      • 2014
      • From the creators of Bastion and Hades, it’s an isometric sci-fi themed action RPG that has you running through a stunning futuristic city wielding an extraordinary weapon of unknown origin
  • Ubisoft
    • In light of the fire at the Notre Dame de Paris, which caused its roof and 300 foot spire to collapse, destroying almost all of one of the oldest surviving timber frames in Paris, Ubisoft is giving away Assassin’s Creed Unity (which heavily features the landmark) on PC this week until April 25th to give more people a chance to experience it and raise awareness
    • They’ve also announced a 500K Euro donation to aid the restoration and reconstruction, and encourage others to contribute if possible
    • Assassin’s Creed Unity
      • 2014
      • Action-adventure game set in Paris during the French Revolution, using the classic third person open world we’ve come to expect but also revamping combat, parkour, and stealth after the previous entry, Black Flag
 

You might recall us talking about Facebook earlier this month, and how to confirm your email they expect you to hand over your email account’s password

  • Turns out, giving access to your personal information to a company in the business of selling your personal information was a bad idea- who knew?
  • According to Business Insider, Facebook harvested 1.5M people’s email contacts list without consent, and “unintentionally uploaded them”
  • A Facebook spokesperson has also confirmed that the harvested contacts were NOT just used to recommend friends, but also “improve ads”
  • This has gotten to the point where the Irish Data Protection Commission is now in contact with Facebook and considering next steps
 

Smash Ultimate v3.0 is here!

  • First up we’re finally seeing Joker from Persona 5 added to the roster as part of Challenger Pack 1, and his playstyle looks pretty interesting
    • He’s got some moves with a knife and gun, and it looks like he has a charge gauge that allows him to summon his Persona, which upgrades his attacks, greatly improves his recovery, and gives him a combination counter and reflect move
    • His final smash is also interesting- it triggers similarly to Marth’s, with a horizontal rush, but a quick press of the thumbstick makes him sweep back in the other direction in case you missed the first time
  • And speaking of Persona, we’re getting a Persona stage called Mementos with 11 different audio tracks that can affect the appearance of the stage and Joker’s victory screen
  • We’re also seeing new paid DLC Mii costumes for Morgana, Yu, Makoto, Teddie, Tails, and Knuckles
  • The stage builder we saw leaked in an ad last week made an official appearance, but if it supports 8 player stages they’re keeping it on the down-low
    • It does have new things like customizable moving or spinning platforms and multiple layers for decorative elements
  • They’re also adding in the ability to edit and share videos, download other players’ Mii setups, and adding Smash World on the Switch Online app for voice chat, browsing videos and custom stages, and managing your spirit teams
 

Disney has revealed some of the details on their upcoming Disney+ service, and it sounds pretty dang decent

  • Disney+ will launch in the US on November 12 for $7/month
  • It’ll include a huge library of old movies and shows, including Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars titles, along with new content made exclusively for the service
  • There won’t be any ads (which really should be a no-brainer on a paid service) and users can download things to watch offline whenever they want
  • All said and done, this could offer Netflix the kick in the pants we need to stop them from continuing to raise their prices
 

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is hit reviewers this week, and it’s not looking good

  • Multiple reviewers are having the devices break after just a few days of use
  • The Verge had theirs sprout a random bulge on the display, possibly due to some debris getting into the hinge, but whatever it was pressed into the display hard enough to break it
  • CNBC’s screen started flickering and failing after the first day
  • And Bloomberg’s started showing similar screen issues after two days
  • All told, it’s a rough start for the $2K device. This is really a prototype, but somehow they’re going forward with preorders
 

Labo VR is getting some tough reviews online, citing tiny experiences and terrible screen resolution

  • It also only tracks rotation, not movement, which is pretty standard for a cardboard headset but a tougher proposition in 2019
  • You also have to keep one hand on the headset holding it to your face the entire time, which gets tricky when playing mini games like putting, playing basketball, or throwing a boomerang
  • And it doesn’t help that Nintendo continually breaks immersion with not only how short the playtimes are on their bundled game, but also prompts to take a break every five minutes
  • End of the day, if you already have a switch and you’re curious about VR, then this is maybe a good idea… but it seems like there are also better options available
 
 

Tidbits

  • The first trailer for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has hit, and it looks solid!
    • I mean, it’s still coming from EA so be wary, but if they finish it we could finally see a good Star Wars game for the current gen of consoles
    • Releasing on November 15th
  • Speaking of Star Wars and trailers, the new Episode IX trailer looks solid!
    • It’s called The Rise of Skywalker, and the tagline is “This Christmas, the saga comes to an end”
  • The new all-digital edition of the Xbox One S is coming this May, and it’s kind of disappointing
    • It’s basically the existing S with no disc slot, and it’ll sell for about as much as retailers are already selling the S in game bundles (though Microsoft is trying to keep it $50 cheaper than the disc-spinning alternative)
  • In a cool earth-friendly move, Japan is making their medals for the 2020 olympics out of discarded smartphones and laptops
    • The requisite gold, silver, and bronze will be extracted from around 50,000 tons of recovered or donated e-waste and obsolete gadgets
    • For perspective, it takes about 100 fliphones to recover three grams of gold
 

Recommend Buffy the Vampire Slayer

  • I’m very late to the party, but I’m really enjoying it
  • Half delightfully 90’s high school life, half Supernatural-style monster of the week (though, I suppose Supernatural is really Buffy-style monster of the week really)
  • It looks like a series that people had a lot of fun making

 

Literally Misleading

This one is from Fanily member Scott. Check out his twitter @scottybomb and his podcast The Read-Along, its a weekly book club for where you can follow along with Scott and Anita!
 
MOVIE – “A man must join forces with an amnesiac to track down the man who kidnapped his son.”
 
If you have a Literally Misleading Description, message Josh directly on our Discord, or Twitter @fushigiyami

 

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

A huge thanks to Dalton, for believing in us for so long. And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us. And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!

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And talk to us in the comments! Or…

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Top story this week, two college students stand accused of costing Apple nearly $900,000 in losses with their creative counterfeiting scheme

  • The scam had the students ordering large amounts of fake, unusable iPhones from China, and then sending them in to Apple while claiming they were under warranty
  • All the claims indicated “No power/wired charging issues” as the reason, to explain why they wouldn’t start up, and then they just needed to get lucky and have Apple employees send a replacement before the fakes were found out
  • All told they sent in over 3000 warranty claims, and while about half of them were rejected the other 1500 phones were replaced by Apple no questions asked
  • The real phones were then sent back to China and sold to bargain-hunting consumers
  • The worst part here is if they’d operated on a smaller scale they might not have even gotten caught- Apple seemed content with sending hundreds of warranty replacements to a random person’s home address, and the only reason they were caught was because Hong Kong customs officials seized several shipments of the fake iPhones after noticing the shipping methods and packaging didn’t match Apple’s usual standards
 

The Switch is getting VR support on some major titles this month

  • You might recall us talking about Nintendo’s Labo VR headset back in episode 240
  • First, Super Mario Odyssey is getting a bite-sized bonus experience with mini missions set in the Cap, Seaside, and Luncheon Kingdoms
  • Then, from what I’ve read, Breath of the Wild is getting full VR support!
    • It doesn’t convert the game into first person, but rather makes your head the camera for more fine-tuned control and immersion
    • According to Nintendo, “turning the feature on and off is a snap”
  • It’ll be interesting to see how the graphics change in these modes to get the framerates that VR really needs, plus there aren’t any details yet on how exactly the cardboard headset will strap on, or if you have to just hold it the whole time
  • Both experiences require free software updates, coming on April 25th
 

Sony’s PlayStation Network ID change system is finally live this week, but it hasn’t really improved much since we talked about the beta release back in episode 221

  • The name change is only supported by games originally published on or after April 1, 2018
  • At least 10 games have known “critical issues” , including Everbody’s Golf and Little Big Planet 3, that can have users losing ingame progress, progress toward trophies, and in-game currency either earned or paid
  • There are also a bunch of games like Bloodborne, Uncharted 4, GTA V, The Last of Us, and Warframe that have problems ranging from just displaying your old ID to reverting all settings back to their defaults
  • There’s a list of games that Sony has tested available on the PlayStation website, and if that all sounds good you can get your first name change for free and then future changes are $10 (or $5 for PS+ subscribers)
 

Third party controller company PDP is bringing a basic missing feature to the Switch

  • Their new wired controller coming in June will include a headset port for any games using Vivox in-game chat (like Fortnite)
    • Currently the Switch has very limited voice chat support, so games like Splatoon require you run a separate app on your phone and use a splitter to combine the audio manually
  • Potentially the hardware could work with any in-game chat, but it will be up to game developers to decide how they want to proceed with support
 

Amazon’s coming under fire this week after Bloomberg reported on their Alexa Improvement facilities, where thousands of employees listen to voice recordings captured whenever Alexa thinks it hears a trigger word

  • Even more damning, rather than scrambling identifiers and distorting audio, they actually link your first name, account number, and serial number to the recording
  • There is a way to turn off the feature, but it’s on by default and not immediately apparent when you’re setting up a new device
  • If you’re concerned about privacy you should absolutely go through your Alexa settings and review exactly what’s getting sent where
 
 

Design and Game Awards

 

Tidbits

  • Netflix has removed the ability to AirPlay videos from your phone to other devices, which has been a feature for the last 6 years, citing technical limitations
    • A spokesperson provided some more details later, saying that because AirPlay support is rolling out for third-party devices they’re taking their ball and going home
      • I mean, they’re saying there isn’t a way to tell what device is being streamed to or to certify the experiences, which is kind of a non-answer considering they already couldn’t tell what TV you’re using so…
  • A new ad for Smash Bros Ultimate on Nintendo’s YouTube channel may have accidentally spoiled a Stage Builder mode coming soon
    • Within the first couple seconds of the video you can see the Smash Ultimate menu including an icon for Stage Builder in the bottom corner, so it’ll be interesting to see if they announce that update in the next Nintendo Direct
  • Using 10 radio telescopes working in parallel to act as a giant telescope the size of Earth, astronomers have put together the first-ever picture of a black hole
    • It’s an amazing feat of technology and programming years in the making, and we’ve gotten our first good look at this super massive black hole that’s 55M light-years away and about the size of our entire solar system
 

Recommend The Academy by Bentley Little

  • It’s an paranormal horror/thriller that’s centred around a high school that suddenly starts going through some unsettling changes
  • It does a great job of building an atmosphere of dread and unease
  • If you’re looking for a creepy slow burn with moments of solid wtf, you’ll probably like it

 

Literally Misleading

MOVIE – Brothers party their way all the way to success!

 

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

A huge thanks to Dalton, for believing in us for so long. And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us. And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!

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

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

And talk to us in the comments! Or…

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Free Games

  • Sony
    • Conan Exiles
      • Early access 2017, released 2018
      • No holds barred open world survival game with some controversial pieces like sliders for boobs and dicks, and the ability to own slaves
    • The Surge
      • 2017
      • Sci-fi action RPG that’s the spiritual successor the Lords of the Fallen, which is a viking love-letter to the Soulsborne franchise
  • Microsoft
    • Xbox One
      • Technomancer
        • 2016
        • A sci-fi action RPG set on a Mars colony but this one is more story- and choice-driven, being compared to mid-2000’s BioWare games but without the polish or storytelling finesse
      • Outcast – Second Contact
        • 2017 remake of the 1999 adventure game of the year and cult classic, Outcast
        • Third or first person open world shooter where you play an ex Navy SEAL stranded on an alien world trying to get home
    • Classic
      • Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2
        • 360
        • 2007
        • Tactical shooter where you can take control of friendly units like drones, tanks, and aircraft to out-maneuver and take down the enemy
      • Battlefront 2
        • Original
        • 2005
        • Critically acclaimed first and third person shooter based in the Star Wars universe, with a campaign retelling portions of the main story from the perspective of a veteran Stormtrooper and really fun multiplayer
        • It also includes a Risk-style Galactic Conquest mode that seems pretty slick
  • Epic Games
    • Oxenfree
      • 2016
      • Gorgeous, well-written supernatural mystery graphic adventure where you play a teenage girl exploring the mysteries of a local island
      • We saw this offered by Twitch back in October, and before that on Xbox One in September 2017
  • Twitch
    • It’s not a game, but it is handy- they’re giving away up to a year of Nintendo Switch Online
      • If you’re a Twitch Prime subscriber you can get three months of NSO for free, then 60 days after you redeem that you can grab another 9 months.
      • Best part, if you’re already a subscriber the time just stacks on to your current subscription
      • One thing to note- redeeming the offer will turn on automatic renewal, so if you don’t want to pay for NSO after the free time is up you’ll want to disable that in your Nintendo eShop account settings

Top story of the week, it’s time to pick up your copy of No Man’s Sky on PS4 before prices go back up!

  • Though the digital edition is still full price, many have seen discs offered for $10-20
  • And why do you care? Because existing owners on PS4 and PC are getting free VR support this summer as part of the Beyond update
    • This is something that people immediately looked for when it first released in 2016, and the fact that it’s coming now, for free, is pretty amazing
  • Apparently this won’t just be a VR mode, and the studio is billing it as the “entire game brought to life in virtual reality”
    • They’ve also mentioned that multiplayer will be supported with both VR and nonVR players together
  • Looking at the trailer they’re supporting full motion controls even while piloting your ship or exocraft
    • This is gonna be good

Apple’s Show Time event was this week, and here are some of the highlights for what we’ll see from them this year

  • They’re getting their own credit card, working with MasterCard and Goldman Sachs, with some interesting security features and underwhelming rewards
    • The physical card is laser-etched titanium with no visible numbers
      • If you want to buy stuff online you’ll need to get the card info from the Wallet app, which has a dynamic number for each device you own that you can regenerate on-demand
      • The physical card seems to be mainly a backup if you need swipe or chip-and-pin instead of tap
    • On the rewards side of things, they’re offering fairly average cash back rewards while pushing to keep those rewards inside the Apple ecosystem
    • And it also has some built-in analytics to help you see how you’re spending your money, with a neat feature using machine learning to translate those weird merchant names you see on your credit card statement into actual businesses
  • Apple News+ is folding in a bunch of news and magazine subscriptions to a single app for $10/month, which isn’t bad all said and done if you read magazines
    • Apparently the content will be specifically formatted for the app, instead of just PDF magazine pages displayed on your phone
  • Apple Arcade is an interesting one- for a subscription price that they haven’t announced yet, you get access to a bunch of new and exclusive games that can be played on- or offline on the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV
    • Seems to basically be Apple’s answer to the Xbox Game Pass
  • And then there’s Apple TV Channels and TV+
    • Channels seems to be like if you sliced up Netflix and purchased specific bits and pieces, looking to bring things like HBO and other streaming services traditionally locked behind cable subscriptions to the internet at large
      • Channels will be on not only Apple hardware, but also some smart TV’s, Roku, and Amazon devices
    • And then TV+ is where they’re hosting their fancy new content which we heard a bit about but didn’t see any trailers or much detail at all. The presentation seemed mostly to be “Look, Steven Spielberg! And Jason Momoa! And Oprah! Wow!”

Facebook… did a good thing?

  • They’ve announced that their terms of service will be updated next week with a new anti-hate rule
    • Specifically, this means anything falling under white nationalism or white separatism will be banned from the platform
  • Apparently the reason it’s taken them this long is because it wanted to leave room for national pride, but there’s no reason you can’t be proud of your country without being hateful about it
  • With the new ban, Facebook also says that when users search for terms connected to white supremacy on its platforms, they’ll be redirected to Life After Hate- a non-profit organization founded by former members of hate organizations offering crisis intervention, education, support, and outreach to former or current members of similar groups
    • They didn’t go into details on exactly what the search terms are, and whether searching for hateful memes or talk show hosts would trigger things the way using nazi search terms would

But don’t worry if Facebook doing something in the right direction confuses you, they also did a dumb thing to balance it out

  • Facebook has posted an article called “Keeping Passwords Secure”, in which they fess up to keeping passwords for hundreds of millions of users stored in plain text, dating all the way back to 2012
    • They were accessible by over 20,000 employees, not to mention people getting access through possibly nefarious means
    • At this point Facebook says no abuse seems to have happened, but really how would they know for sure

Tidbits

  • watchOS 5.2 released this week, bringing ECG support to Hong Kong and many parts of the EU
    • Still no word on a Canadian release
  • A crisp new trailer for Borderlands 3 dropped this week, and it looks as fun as ever
    • Fingers crossed they recapture the magic of the main series after the slightly-off release of the Pre-Sequel
  • Apparently Nintendo is working on two new Switch models, working on a two-pronged approach
    • According to the Wall Street Journal, one will have some sort of enhanced capabilities, while the other will be a cheaper option removing things like the fancy vibration feature to become a successor to the 3DS
  • In a delicious bit of karma, AT&T’s “5G E” service, which has drawn a lot of fire for not actually being 5G, has apparently tested out to actually be, on average, slightly slower than their competitors 4G networks
    • I’m not sure how this will affect Sprint’s lawsuit over the false advertising, but I’d like to think some lawyers just got very happy
  • Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves will be back in Bill and Ted 3: Face the Music
    • The announcement video is some pure Bill and Ted nostalgia with the actors jumping right back into their roles as the Wyld Stallyns and thanking fans for their support

Recommend Just 6 Weeks

  • It’s an free app that sets up a workout regimen to get you to 100 pushups in 6 weeks, with paid options for other things like situps or pullups
  • I’ve gone from 33 pushups across 5 reps to 94 in about 5 weeks
  • It does ramp up a little aggressively, so I’ve had to repeat workouts before moving on (technically I’m partway through week 4), but it’s been good with not a lot of time commitment
  • It’s also been nice having it keep track of the numbers for me, since I don’t really feel different and then I see I’ve about tripled what I could do a month and a half ago

Literally Misleading

(Movie) Meeting his girlfriends family gets awkward when they take for granted that they can just use him for his looks.

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