Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • Surviving Mars

      • 2018
      • City building simulation from the developers of the Tropico series modelled after real Martian data that has you building a colony on Mars by manufacturing resources and constructing buildings to ensure the survival of the colonists
      • This was given away by Epic back in October 2019, so you may already have it in your library

Security updates are available for Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches now

  • The updates aren’t flashy, and they haven’t released the fancy new watch-unlock for masks yet, but they fix a nasty vulnerability where attackers could use a malicious website to execute arbitrary code on your device, giving them the ability to hijack it
  • You’re safe if you’re running at least iOS 14.4.1, watchOS 7.3.2, and macOS 11.2.3

An estimated 60,000 US organizations, along with hundreds of thousands more worldwide, have been hacked recently thanks to holes in Microsoft’s Exchange mail software

  • A previously unidentified Chinese cyber espionage group that Microsoft dubbed Hafnium has apparently been using a combination of four newly-discovered flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server to gain complete remote control over affected systems
  • This has allowed them to siphon email communications from targets ranging from small business and local governments to banks, police, infectious disease researchers, and defence contractors
  • According to security researchers these hacks have been going on since at least January, and though Microsoft released emergency security updates on March 2nd there are still many organizations that have not yet patched their systems, leading to the Hafnium group amping up their attacks and actively scanning the internet for vulnerable systems
  • The worst part is that even if you’ve installed the security updates, if you were already compromised there is still a high chance that the hacking group has installed remote access tools on your server
  • Microsoft has commented that they’re working closely with the US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), along with other government agencies and security companies, to provide guidance and mitigation for its customers, and encourages anyone impacted to contact their support teams for help and resources
  • In the meantime the CISA has issued an emergency directive ordering all federal departments and agencies to either update the software or unplug the servers, and they’re urging scanning all Exchange Server logs with Microsoft’s detection tool to help determine if you’ve been compromised

Rumours of an upcoming Apple event are ramping up, with signs pointing to it occurring on March 23rd

  • We’re expecting more information about iOS 14.5 and App Tracking Transparency, as well as the release of the now-essential Unlock With Apple Watch feature for times when FaceID fails because of a mask
  • Other rumours circling have the release of AirTags, Apple’s Tile-like tracker, popping up around this time
    • I’ve also seen a new beta feature called “Item Safety Features” that will alert you if there is a tracker following you that you don’t own, so that they can’t be used as easily for nefarious purposes
  • And there have been suggestions that new iPads will be coming with mini-LED displays and faster processors
    • This one seems especially likely after reddit user nanosplitter21 found an iPad case on a shelf in Target marked as being compatible with the “New iPad 11” (2021)”, and when they tried to purchase it the till said it could not be sold until April 6th

Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media is officially complete, and they’ve publicly welcomed Bethesda, id, Arkane, and more to the Xbox team

  • The announcement wrapped up by saying that more Bethesda games are coming to Game Pass later this week, adding more value to the juggernaut subscription service
  • As of March 12 we’ll be able to play the DIshonored and Doom series, Fallout New Vegas, Fallout 4 and 76, Prey, Rage 2, Elder Scrolls Morrowind, Skyrim, and Online, The Evil Within, and the new Wolfenstein series
  • It’s a good time to have an Xbox

You might have heard that Denuvo software has come to the PS5- well the good news is it’s not as bad as you may have feared

  • Denuvo anti-cheat software made a bad name for itself causing performance issues on PC games like Doom Eternal and demanding the ability to access a worrying amount of information on your computer
  • The Denuvo piece on PS5 is actually a pretty different beast- it’s a lot more like the anti-cheat and anti-piracy software that was available on the PS4 (which was also by Denuvo)
  • All that’s happening here is that code from the same company (but not the same code that caused problems on PC) is being made available in the PS5 tools library, making it easier for developers to prevent hacking and modding of their titles

This Week In Gaming History

March 6 – 1996 – Ripper – DOS, Macintosh

  • Ripper is an interactive FMV adventure that is played out in the New York of 2040.
    • Brutal killings reminiscent of Jack the Ripper soon get personal and you, crime reporter Jake Quinlan, must solve the mystery.
  • The game plays much like other Take 2 Interactive works, such as Black Dahlia.
    • Solve puzzles and react quickly in combat settings to survive. There are 4 possible endings, and 3 hours of video footage.
  • Thank you to Jeanne and J. Jones for this interesting trivia I found on the Moby Games site.
    • Your CD-Rom drive may not be recognized if it is not designated as Drive D.
      • In addition, it appears that Ripper was not made as a Windows “native” game.
      • While it will run within a DOS window when started in Windows, problems with stuttering sound and lagging graphics are common. The game plays best from the DOS prompt using a Boot Disk.
    • If at the command prompt you accidentally type RIPER (one P) instead of RIPPER (two P’s), instead of going into the game you are greeted with a movie of a rotting apple!
    • Features an all-star cast including Christopher Walken, Burgess Meredith, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, Paul Giamatti, Jimmie JJ Walker and Scott Cohen.
      • Ripper also features music from the Blue Oyster Cult.

 

March 7 – 2000 – ChuChu Rocket! – Dreamcast (North America)

  • ChuChu Rocket is an action puzzler, designed predominantly as a multi-player game.
    • You have indirect control over mice, and must guide them to the safety of a rocket, and away from a cat.
    • You do this by placing arrows on the ground, which they will follow.
    • The multi-player game is a frantic all-against-all duel, in which each player’s mice will only follow instructions of their own colour.
    • You can play this mode on your own against CPU opponents, or take on a series of predefined puzzles
  • After closing their hardware development branch, ChuChu Rocket! became the first video game released by SEGA on another console, namely the Game Boy Advance, in 2001.
  • The Dreamcast and Game Boy Advance versions of ChuChu Rocket appear in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

March 8 – 2011 – Dragon Age II – PS3, Windows, Xbox 360

  • Plot:
    • One of the key events early in the first game was the destruction of the village Lothering by the Darkspawn.
    • However, we weren’t told that there was at least one person who survived the onslaught: a human named Hawke.
    • Having become a refugee, Hawke travels to an area known as the Free Marches – more specifically, the city of Kirkwall. Hawke’s family shares the fate with many other Ferelden refugees; the authorities of Kirkwall are suspicious of the newcomers, and the path to financial stability is anything but easy.
    • Meanwhile, the appearance of the mysterious race of Qunari heralds more trouble to the inhabitants of Kirkwall, as does the growing tension between the Templars and the mages.
    • Hawke is caught in the middle of these political and social conflicts – what shall be the hero’s own path?..
  • Dragon Age II uses a “framed narrative” format: the story is narrated over a decade later by one of Hawke’s companions.
    • Similarly to Alpha Protocol, the narrative is rather flexible; motivations and events vary depending on the player’s moral choices during the game.
    • The game also adopts the “wheel-based” dialogue system from Mass Effect games: short responses that reflect different tones and attitudes the player wishes to choose for Hawke.
    • Also similarly to Mass Effect, the main character’s race and name cannot be changed; however, everything else (appearance, gender, classes) can be freely customized.
  • The combat system is quite similar to the one used in the previous Dragon Age game (which, in its turn, dates back to the combat style used in Baldur’s Gate), though it has been noticeably sped up.
    • Hawke can only be human, but the player can customize his or her physical appearance and character class (warrior, mage, or rogue).
    • The player controls Hawke and up to three active party members, either “programming” their actions by assigning actions that should be taken under certain conditions (for example, healing a party member if his HP drops below 20%), or issuing commands to each character manually.
    • The ability tree is also similar, the player being able to learn new abilities as the characters level up. Many abilities from the first game return, but some are absent or replaced with new ones.
    • The abilities are divided into various disciplines, which correspond to the fighting style of the character.
  • Cancelled expansion
    • An expansion to Dragon Age II, named Exalted March, was planned, but cancelled before announcement.
    • Bioware’s reasoning was that other opportunities for the franchises came up, and that there was no room for it because Bioware’s team sizes are fixed and all of them were busy with projects.

March 9 – 1998 – Yoshi’s Story – Nintendo 64

  • Loosely based on the Super Famicom/SNES game Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Yoshi’s Story follows the adventures of six Yoshis as they search through sunny woods, dark caves, soaring mountains, steaming jungles, vast oceans, and gloomy castles for the Super Happy Tree, which has been stolen by the dreaded Baby Bowser.
    • Yoshi can walk, run, swim, leap, flutter, and fire his payload of eggs. The action takes place in storybook “pages” made up of bookmaking materials and other familiar textures, including cut-paper forests, denim clouds, inflatable plastic islands, and stacks of colored spools.
  • The game pioneers use of the Rumble Pak as a key element of the gameplay experience, the player being able to feel invisible but treacherous currents when Yoshi swims through oceanic depths.
    • The Rumble Pak can also help the player locate hidden fruit or other objects by rumbling when Yoshi smells something.
    • With a light touch of the Control Stick it becomes possible to float on a leaf, ride a friendly dragon, and tiptoe past a swarm of angry bees.
  • Cancelled GBA Port
    • One of the first Game Boy Advance demos was a level from Yoshi’s Story.
    • However, it was eventually decided that the downgrades would be too significant, so it wasn’t made into a full game.

March 10 – 2009 – MadWorld – Wii

  • MadWorld is a stylish action beat-em up game, that puts player in the role of a police detective gone rogue and taking part in a violent TV show, in which contestants are encouraged to mutilate each other in increasingly violent and gruesome ways.
  • The game’s unique presentation is achieved through a three-colour palette scheme.
    • All the environments, objects and characters are rendered in black and white, as if drawn in a comic book.
    • The only other colour present is red, which accounts for the gallons of blood flowing from the victims of Jack, the game’s protagonist.
    • Aside from being inspired by comic books, MadWorld’s presentation is also taking hints from the competitive TV shows, with two over-enthusiastic hosts commenting every event happening in the game.
  • The core of the MadWorld experience is a series of challenges, player must take part in.
    • Each challenge presents a confined arena, in which player should score points by defeating his enemies in the most elaborate way possible and take part in the so-called Bloodbath-Challenges, which present additional rules and timed mini-games (like ManDarts or ManGolf) for racking up the points.
    • Once a sufficient amount of points was met, players must fight a unique boss enemy for the current challenge.
    • When boss is defeated, the player will be free to proceed to the next challenge.
  • The game also features a heavy use of quick time events in conjuncture with Wii motion-sensitive controls for the finishing moves, mini-games and general tasks, such as avoiding being hit by the enemy.

March 11 – 2014 – Titanfall – Windows, Xbox One

  • Titanfall is a first-person multiplayer shooter for up to twelve players simultaneously.
    • Set on a war-torn planet with two factions (Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) and the Militia), it features battles between pilots on foot or boarding large mech-style Titans.
    • The game can be played in six game modes: Attrition (team deathmatch with hostage rescuers against kidnappers), Capture the Flag, Hardpoint (capture and hold three locations), Last Titan Standing (last player alive wins, all players start in a Titan), Pilot Hunter (score for the team by killing pilots, not Titans – at the end of the match there is an epilogue where respawns are disabled and the losing team needs to reach an evacuation point/dropship for additional experience points), and Variety Pack (mix of all game modes).
    • There is also a Campaign mode for each faction with a mix of different game modes and bits of story between each mission.
  • The game is fast-paced and while on foot pilots are able to wall jump and link jumps in a parkour style using a jet-boosted belt.
    • In a general game players start by choosing a pilot type.
    • Some of the available weapons include assault rifles, SMGs, shotguns, sniper rifles and smart pistols.
    • During the match a timer counts down (generally three minutes) until a Titan can be deployed.
    • The timer countdown can be shortened by killing other players.
    • When a Titan drops down from the sky a pilot can board it. Playing as a Titan has completely different movement, but it is still agile.
    • The pilot’s double jump is for instance replaced by a dash as a Titan cannot jump, crouch or seek cover.
    • A Titan has very different weapons and is much stronger to take on other Titans.
    • It can be ejected at any time when under attack and it is possible to issue commands to have it follow or guard you.
    • Other players can attempt to board and throw out a player.
    • These can be repelled by activating electric smoke and a Titan has also distinct abilities such as the vortex blocker to stop incoming projectiles, gather them and return them in midair.
    • It is also possible to crush pilots.
    • When a Titan is destroyed a new countdown timer is started.
  • Other game elements include burn cards (up to three per match) for temporary power-ups and AI-controlled minions with three types: grunts, marvins and spectres.
    • The game has a persistent experience system and pilots can level up.
    • This influences for instance the loadouts for both pilots and Titans prior to each match.
    • The available slots for pilots offer room a primary weapon with mod and/or attachment, an anti-Titan weapon, sidearm, tactical ability (for instance cloak, stim or active radar pulse) and kits with specific abilities for different tiers.
    • For a Titan the loadout consists of the chassis, primary weapon with mod, tactical ability, ordinance weapon and different kits.

March 12 – 2018 – Oedipus Dating Sim – Windows

  • “Thousands of years ago, lived a man named Oedipus, king of Thebes and slayer of The Sphinx.
    • A man whose fate was to kill his father, Laius, and then marry his own mother, Jocasta.
    • But what if he could have gamed the system and cheated his own fate?”
  • With the generous help of three fates and Dionysus, the Olympian god with his own TV show, your task is to find a date for Oedipus
    • But it won’t be as straightforward as it seems. At first, you won’t know their true identities.
    • Once you romance each character to a certain level, their true identity will be revealed to you.
    • After that, you must avoid pairing Oedipus with Jocasta.
    • A piece of cake, right? Well, other complications will certainly arise and maybe, with a little ingenuity, you can even end up with Jocasta and not be punished for it. But how?
  • This game was designed with replayability in mind.
    • That means that there are many different choices to make, with lots of nooks and crannies to explore.
    • While the overall structure of having 15 days with 4 time periods each remains the same every time you play, each character’s American name, location in the Casino Hotel and alcoholic beverage of choice will change.
    • If you have additional questions not answered by the dialog trees, you can also try typing the question directly to the character.

Tidbits

  • Tesla has admitted to California that their ‘Full Self Driving’ mode is not actually capable of being fully self driving
    • The feature costs Tesla owners up to $10,000 to unlock on top of the original purchase price of their car, but according to correspondence between Tesla’s general counsel and the California DMV it is not an autonomous system, and currently no features on the car make their vehicles autonomous
  • Utah legislature has passed a bill mandating a default “porn filter” on any electronic devices sold in the state starting in 2022
    • What exactly that might entail is anyone’s guess, and how they plan on enforcing it is an even better question
  • T-Mobile announced that, starting April 26, they’ll be selling their customers’ web and mobile app data to advertisers unless they specifically opt out
    • A spokesperson said “We’ve heard many say they prefer more relevant ads so we’re defaulting to this setting,”, and I’m sure this has nothing to do with advertising companies paying top dollar for tracking information going forward
  • Apex Legends hit the Nintendo Switch on Tuesday, and early reactions are that is just isn’t very good, running at both lower resolutions and frame rates than other platforms and leaving its players at a competitive disadvantage
    • Worst part is that, though you can opt to only play with other people on Switch, by default you’re thrown into the wild with all the players on other consoles that can see and react better than you can
  • Daylight savings is coming up this Sunday, and since it happens twice a year it’s a good reminder to do general maintenance like clean your gutters, change the batteries in your smoke alarms, and rate/review us!

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Free games

  • Twitch

    • Truberbrook

      • 2019
      • A point-and-click sci-fi mystery adventure game with hand-made scenery and stop-motion elements married with 3D animation
  • Epic Games

    • Remnant: From the Ashes

      • 2019
      • Third person action RPG shooter that borrows mechanics from the Soulsborne games with the addition of more gunplay on top of melee combat, where the earth has been decimated and overrun by an interdimensional evil called the Root
    • The Alto Collection

      • Alto’s Adventure
        • Join Alto and his friends as they embark on an endless snowboarding odyssey. Journey across the beautiful alpine hills of their native wilderness, through neighbouring villages, ancient woodlands, and long-abandoned ruins.
      • Alto’s Odyssey
        • Join Alto and his friends and set off on an endless sandboarding journey to discover its secrets. Soar above windswept dunes, traverse thrilling canyons, and explore long-hidden temples in a fantastical place far from home.

Trump has apparently issued executive orders that will ban not only TikTok but also WeChat from operating in the US if they aren’t sold by their Chinese-owned companies by the end of September

  • As we’ve reported Microsoft is already looking at buying TikTok from its parent company ByteDance, but this is the first we’re hearing about anything to do with WeChat
    • WeChat started life as a popular chat platform, especially for communicating with people in China as other US messaging apps are banned by the Chinese government, but has grown with abilities like transferring money and shopping online
  • Trump’s order alleges that TikTok “automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users,” such as location data and browsing and search histories, which “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.”
    • There’s some basis to these worries, since a Wall Street Journal report found that the app tracked Android users’ MAC addresses for over a year, as recently as November 2019
      • A MAC address is a globally-unique identifier for any device that connects to a network, and is normally blocked so they had to build a workaround to even get the information
    • The order also claims that the platform censors or disseminates content in keeping with the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda, citing “when TikTok videos spread debunked conspiracy theories about the origins of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.”
  • And the one for WeChat is pretty similar, but also includes a ban on financial transactions with its owner Tencent
  • I can see where this is all coming from, but as TikTok said in a statement it sets a dangerous precedent in forcing foreign companies to sell to American ones if they want to operate in the US
  • And you have to wonder how much of this is fuelled by the stunt organized by many TikTok users which had them registering for thousands of tickets to the Trump campaign rally in Tulsa but not showing up, which likely contributed to the sparse attendance
    • As we’ve seen before, when something hits Trump’s ego he’s likely to lash out in toddlerific fashion
  • It’s gotten to the point where TikTok is apparently planning to sue the Trump administration, challenging the executive order and arguing that the action is unconstitutional as it does not give the company a chance to respond
    • They also state that the national security justification is baseless, according to a source talking to NPR, and that it’s built on pure speculation and conjecture

Epic Games has decided to take on Apple and their App Store in a calculated move regarding in-app purchases

  • Earlier this week, Epic introduced a new direct payment option in the Fortnite app for iPhone and iPad, allowing players to purchase in-game currency at a discount by bypassing Apple’s in-app payment framework and giving the money directly to Epic Games
  • The problem with that is Apple’s App Store guidelines are specifically against that, saying that not only do purchases of in-game currencies need to go through the App Store, but also that you’re not even allowed to tell someone about other purchasing options
    • This makes sense to a point, because Apple generally gets 30% of App Store sales and if someone could say “Hey, pay on our website and it’s cheaper!” then that revenue would drop significantly
  • Epic Games knows exactly what they’re doing in flouting these regulations though, and in an FAQ they described not only Apple’s but also Google’s 30% commission as “exorbitant”, leading them to introduce an alternate payment system to offer 20% discounts
    • If you’re doing the math at home, I guess they’re grabbing that extra 10% for themselves
  • So just hours after the new payment option was brought online, Apple pulled the Fortnite app from the App Store
    • In a statement provided to MacRumors, Apple said that Epic Games knowingly violated the App Store guidelines, and just because they want to push for a special arrangement doesn’t change the fact that the same set of rules should apply to everyone
    • One thing to note, this doesn’t stop anyone from playing the game if they’ve already downloaded it, it just stops new downloads
  • Shortly afterward, Epic announced a new Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite short riffing on Apple’s 1984 ad and likening Apple to Big Brother
    • The fact that they had this ready in the chamber shows they knew exactly what they were doing when breaking those rules and how Apple would react
    • And they’re definitely going guns-blazing, claiming at the end of the video that “Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices”, even though as we previously said anyone that already downloaded it can still play
  • Then Epic Games filed a pre-prepared lawsuit against Apple for pulling Fortnite, accusing Apple of being “the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation”, imposing “anti-competitive restraints” and using “monopolistic practices in markets” against developers
    • It’s a little hard to justify this though, since Apple basically built a walled garden and made it attractive enough for people to want to play in it. Just because you break the rules and get kicked out doesn’t mean they owe you a spot inside.
  • Epic says it’s not looking for a cash payout, but instead wants to secure relief in the iOS app distribution and payment processing market for consumers and developers
    • Digging in to the lawsuit, it looks like they’re using this situation as a wedge to argue that iOS should be as open to third-party software as the Mac is. In fact, they’re almost saying it’s illegal not to be
  • At this point is feels like Epic Games is jumping on the antitrust bandwagon, protesting that Apple’s not making enough space for them to thrive, but I wonder how it would feel if this kind of thing was applied globally.
    • Look at Fortnite- it has a huge audience and I have no way of making money off of it. If I draw a gun skin and want to sell it inside of Fortnite there’s no way for me to do so. Because Epic is stifling my innovation and imposing anti-competitive restraints by forcing people to use its own currency inside the game instead of giving players a chance to give me money for my work.

Microsoft’s rumoured Xbox Series S has been confirmed by leaked controller packaging, and the controller’s pretty nice too

  • The new Xbox controller has slight design tweaks all over the place, with a redesigned d-pad, textured triggers, a new share button, and a slightly smoothed out shape
    • It reportedly even works on the current generation Xbox One, with onscreen graphics matching the updated controller
  • The packaging specifies that the controller works with the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles. The Series X has already been announced, but this is the first official word we’re hearing of the Series S
    • The S is expected to run the same CPU as the Series X, but with less RAM and a slower GPU
  • Twitter user @zakk_exe managed to buy the controller from someone on the online classifieds app OfferUp who “got it from a homie”

Facebook is facing yet another lawsuit over how the company uses the personal information of its users, this time because of Instagram

  • Last month Facebook offered a $650M settlement for illegally collecting biometric data via its photo tagging feature
    • If approved, affected users could be paid up to $400 each
  • Now a new case has been filed in California, accusing Facebook of collecting, storing, and profiting from the biometric data of over 100M Instagram users.
    • The biggest problem is that there was no consent involved, and users weren’t even made away of the data harvesting.
    • Instagram apparently let people know at the start of this year, but it’s believed to have occurred for some time before that
    • The lawsuit states that the unauthorized collection of this info would be a violation of Illinois privacy law, in which case Facebook could be forced to pay up to $5000 per violation

This Week In Gaming History

August 8 – 2013 – Cookie Clicker – Browser

  • Cookie Clicker is an endless game where the entire point is to gather cookies, then use them to buy items and upgrades which do nothing but gather cookies even faster.
  • It is highly regarded as the first, at least, the most influential incremental clicker game.

August 9 – 2018 – Discord Nitro Beta Releases

  • On the Discord Blog, this was posted “Today, we’re slowly rolling out a beta test to about 50,000 of our Canadian players and will be expanding to more over time. These players will see an upgraded version of Discord Nitro that has access to a curated selection of games along with the current subscription perks. They’ll also see a new Discord Store tab in the home screen with individual games for purchase.”
  • Released on the Beta, the following games for Windows:
    • Bridge Constructor
    • Dandara
    • Darksiders: Warmastered Collection
    • Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition
    • GoNNER
    • Kathy Rain
    • Kingdom: New Lands
    • Metro: Last Night – Redux
    • Slime-san: Superslime Edition
    • Super Meat Boy
    • System Shock: Enhanced Edition
    • Tormentor X Punisher
    • de Blob

August 10 – 2004 – Ben’s Game – Windows

  • A special 3d game designed by Ben Duskin and LucasArts. Ben is a 9 year old with Leukemia. Ben worked with the Make-A-Wish foundation to find a developer for Ben’s game. Ben wanted to make a game that would help kids battle cancer.
  • The game involves a changeable character riding a skateboard over an imaginary playing field, made of red blood cells and cartoon representations of viral infections. The character collects innoculents to shoot at his enemies. The player pivots his character in order to steer around objects and collect bonus shots.

August 11 – 1993 – Samurai Shodown – Neo Geo

  • In early feudal Japan, a man named Shiro Tokisada Amakusa preaches a heretic religion. Little does anyone know that Amakusa is really a servant of the evil Ambrosia, who had possessed and taken over Amakusa’s body, as Ambrosia wishes to shroud the world into eternal darkness. Now, the player must select from out of 12 fierce warriors and plus 3 bonus characters in order to fight for the honor of defeating Amakusa once and for all, while fulfilling a specific mission for each and every warrior in the game.
  • The Genesis version of the game does not however include the Earthquake which has been removed due to its 16-bit memory capacity and technical size limitations.

August 12 – 1981 – PC-DOS Included Game – DOS

  • Included with IBM’s PC-DOS was Microsoft’s BASICA (Advanced BASIC) interpreter and several programs, one of which was a game and hence is of interest to us: DONKEY.BAS.
  • Directing a sports car on a stretch of rural road, the player must beware of donkeys roaming its picturesque lanes. Spot a donkey ahead and the player must quickly determine whether to switch lanes with the space bar before the car’s course brings it into a messy head-on collision. With each burro successfully traversed, the car moves a little higher on the road — closer to earning a point for the player (after passing eleven mules) but also giving less response time between the appearance of the titular donkey and its potential impact.
  • The game credits two people for coding the game
    • Neil Kozen, whose other credit is for designing Forza Motorsport
    • Bill Gates

August 13 – 2013 – Papers, Please – Steam

  • Papers Please is a simulation game based on the life of a immigration inspector charged with checking passports at the border of a fictional communist state, Arztoska.
    • The game is set after the conclusion of a six year war with neighboring Kolechia, the war has moved the combatants boarded and left the city of Greznin split.
    • Kolechia controls the west and Arztoska the east. The game begins with the player being selected for border duty in Arztoska’s monthly labor lottery. He (the player character is unnamed) and his family are relocated to the city of Greznin.
  • A powerful game paralleling the Cold War in Europe.

August 14 – 1989 – Altered Beast – Sega Genesis, North America

  • You are a hero raised from the dead by the god Zeus to rescue his daughter Athena.
    • With scenery inspired by Ancient Greece, you have to fight hordes of undead and demons, with a boss at the end of each level until you meet the god Neff, who holds the girl captive.
  • Made by Team Shinobi, creators of the first Shinobi game, as well as Golden Axe
  • Fun podcast fact, the bit crushed audio from this game “Rise From Your Grave” is used as a bumper on the Last Podcast On The Left.

Tidbits

  • Researchers are rejoicing over changes to the names of human genetics, all because of Excel
    • Apparently there were genes with names like “Membrane Associated Ring-CH-Type Finger 1”, which was abbreviated to MARCH1. The problem was that Excel would automatically format that as the date 1-Mar and confuse data with no way to turn the feature off
    • There are manual options to prevent this, but they need to be applied to each spreadsheet and for many people that aren’t necessarily power users the data would just end up corrupted each time it was exported
  • Control is taking fire for how it’s unveiling the new Ultimate edition as part of the release of its second expansion
    • The Ultimate Edition will come with all updates and content, including both expansions, and see a Steam release for the first time
    • The problem is that only people who buy the Ultimate Edition will get an upgrade to the next-gen version when it comes out for the Series X and PS5
      • People who bought the game day one, or even those who purchased the season pass, will not get the free upgrade on next-gen consoles and would need to buy the game all over again
  • MIcrosoft’s new Surface Duo Android tablet finally answers the burning question “Hey, how much would it cost to slap a hinge on two 6” tablets?”.
    • The answer is apparently $1400 USD
  • Halo Infinite has officially been delayed until 2021, citing COVID-related impacts and other development challenges and saying the extra time will help them deliver the most ambitious Halo game ever
    • I’d quote Miyamoto about this, but as we’ve seen over the years with No Man’s Sky and Duke Nukem Forever development time doesn’t necessarily equate to quality

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Free games

– Epic Games

    – Close to the Sun

        – 2019
        – First-person horror adventure similar to Bioshock that puts you in the role of Rose Archer, trying to save her sister Ada in an alternate 1897 that has Tesla and Edison fighting for technological dominance around the world

    – Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments

        – 2014
        – Adventure mystery game in the same series as The Devil’s Daughter, that has you exploring crime scenes and examining clues to link deductions and attempt to find the culprit in six different mysteries

Update to last week’s PSA- Apple has released iOS, macOS, and watchOS updates that fix the issue with FaceTiming older devices, so if you’re using FaceTime to keep in touch with people still using systems that don’t support the latest software you’ll want to prioritize updating

Continuing their past security and privacy shenanigans, Zoom is really cementing why they shouldn’t be used if you can avoid it
– Their latest mistakes include “accidentally” routing calls through China, which is the last place on earth you’d want your poorly encrypted video chats routed through, and exposing thousands of videos online because the file names are easily accessible
    – The Washington Post found that, because Zoom names every video recording with the same format, a simple online search can reveal a long stream of videos that anyone can download and watch.
    – Reporters found things like one-on-one therapy sessions, training orientation for healthcare that included private names and phone numbers, meetings including financial information, and elementary school classes in which children’s faces and personal details were exposed
– Zoom has really been playing fast and loose with security and privacy, and it’s time that we let them know that’s not okay

Researchers are now calling on people to wear cloth masks when leaving their homes for essential reasons

– One big thing to note is that they’re not saying physical interaction is okay if you wear a mask, but that if you have to go out anyway a cloth mask has a chance to improve risks of transmission
– Using cloth masks will free up stock of medical-grade equipment for those who need it on the frontline of healthcare (seriously, if you have any paper or N95 masks please donate them to a hospital. Medical professionals need them more than you do), and professors at Yale say that even if cloth masks reduce transmission by 10% (and that’s likely a very conservative number) each one could have a value of $3000-$6000 due to their impact in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
    – Best estimates say that their protective value is even closer to 40-50%
– You can find plenty of cloth masks online nowadays, and if you’re feeling crafty the CDC has released guidelines on how to make your own with a few different methods suggested for all skill levels, from sewing a fancy one to cutting one out of a t-shirt to just folding a bandana around a coffee filter- https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
– The biggest thing though is to make sure you’re practising good hand hygiene, washing them frequently, and not touching your face.
    – Be conscious of your mask and hands, because you may end up wanting to touch your face more to adjust and position your mask while wearing it
    – Make sure you have one that fits comfortably, don’t touch it, and if you do make sure to immediately wash your hands
    – Also note that once you’ve worn your mask it’s contaminated- don’t just throw it in your pocket for later use. Make sure to wash it frequently and be aware that it can contaminate whatever it comes into contact with before you do so

Sony has unveiled their new DualSense controllers for the upcoming PS5, and they’re very pretty

– It looks like they’ve taken cues from the Xbox One and Switch Pro controllers in making things a little more rounded and smooth, continuing the evolution of the classic Playstation controller mold that the PS4 revamped
– They’ve also added haptic feedback for more meaningful vibration, similar to Nintendo’s Joy-cons, and adaptive triggers so that they can dynamically change the resistance of the pull depending on context (like drawing a bowstring)
– The controller also has a built-in microphone array for quick conversations so you don’t need a headset
– All in all this seems like a great improvement of the DualShock 4, and I’m really looking forward to using one

In a move with some great timing, Google’s Stadia is now free for anyone with a Gmail address

– And the cherry on top is that Stadia Pro, including access to nine games, is free for the next two months
    – Destiny 2: The Collection
    – Grid
    – Gylt
    – SteamWorld Dig 2
    – SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
    – Serious Sam Collection
    – Spitlings
    – Stacks on Stacks (on Stacks)
    – and Thumper
– You’ll be able to play games on a computer, Chrome tablet, Pixel phone, and other supported Android devices including the Chromecast Ultra
    – You can also play with any supported USB or Bluetooth controller, or your mouse and keyboard
– After the two month free trial you’ll be charged $9.99/month, but you can cancel your subscription online if you choose

Tidbits

– Apple has purchased the popular weather app Dark Sky this week, announcing that while there will be no changes to the app itself they will be ending Android support this July. They’ll also be shutting down the API at the end of 2021, affecting other popular apps like Carrot Weather that use them as a data source
– Users of the digital wallet app Key Ring will want to update as soon as possible due to a large security breach
    – Security researchers have found that the app accidentally exposed personal info for over 44M users due to misconfigured cloud servers
        – The potentially compromised data includes names, birthdates, emails, addresses, and loyalty card info
    – Key Ring hasn’t made a public statement so we don’t know how long the data’s been out there, so anyone using it will want to update the security settings for anything linked to it and perhaps rethink continuing to use it at all
– Apple’s had a tough time with AirPod replacements, with many individual AirPods being shipped to customers with an unreleased firmware preventing them from being used
    – In order to have both AirPods synced to your phone at once they need to have matching firmware. The problem here is that they can’t be downgraded to the current version, and the newer firmware hasn’t been released to the public, so users are having to work back and forth with Apple trying to get AirPods that will actually work together with varying amounts of success
    – The hardest part is that this all has to occur through the mail, since Apple Stores are now slated to be closed until at least May

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PS2J 291 News – Boring School Stuff Folder

Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • GoNNER

      • 2016
      • A roguelike game often described as a shooter version of Spelunky- a procedurally generated 2D platformer that has you journeying in deep and dark places for a trinket to cheer up a giant landbound whale named Sally
    • Offworld Trading Company

      • 2016
      • A sci-fi RTS from the publishers of Sins of a Solar Empire that has you waging economic warfare on Mars, using anything from corporate takeovers to sabotage
  • Twitch

    • Bomber Crew

      • 2017
      • Strategic simulation game that has you picking the right crew to keep your Avro Lancaster bomber in tip top shape and complete your World War II era missions
    • Whispers of a Machine

      • 2019
      • A point and click sci-fi nordic noir that tells the story of a cybernetically augmented detective investigating a string of murders in a post-AI world
    • Mugsters

      • 2018
      • A physics-based sandbox puzzle game that has you outrunning, outmanoeuvring, and outsmarting the aliens that have taken over Earth and enslaved humanity
    • Furi

      • 2016
      • A twin-stick hack and slash shoot ’em up bullet hell consisting entirely of boss fights. The jailer is the key, kill him and you’ll be free.
    • Epistory – Typing Chronicles

      • 2016
      • An atmospheric action-adventure typing game following a girl riding a giant fox fighting insectile corruption in an origami world

With the COVID-19 coronavirus concerns in full swing, Google has cancelled their annual I/O developer conference and many are speculating that Apple may at the very least modify their own WWDC this spring

  • Other events like this year’s Game Developer’s Conference and Mobile World Congress events were previously postponed or cancelled due to concerns about the virus
  • With supply chains in China certainly being affected, it might just make sense to delay the product announcements as well and keep the developer portions of the presentations limited to online sessions
    • It’s gotten to the point where Apple Stores have been warned that replacement devices will be facing supply constraints for the next 2-4 weeks, so be warned if your phone needs a repair you might be caught with a loaner device in the meantime
  • Apple’s even sent care packages, called CareKits, to staff they have currently stranded overseas, that include things like coffee, tea, cookies, facemasks, and an iPad
  • If you’re interested in helping fight COVID-19, you can donate your unused computer resources by downloading the Folding@home client. That will add your computer to a pool that lets researchers farm out processing tasks to see how the virus attaches itself to human lungs, which they need to understand if they’re going to stop it
    • Similar efforts have contributed to research on diseases like cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s
    • Check out the full details at foldingathome.org
  • There’s also a similar piece of software available called Foldit, but instead of just using your extra processing power it’s actually a puzzle game that has you changing a protein’s shape to block how the virus infects people. According to PCGamer, Foldit helped researchers decode the AIDS virus back in 2011
    • If you want to take a crack at it, with no medical degree required, you can go to fold.it and give it a go

What do US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, Best Buy, Walmart, the RCMP, and a sovereign wealth fund in the United Arab Emirates have in common? Well according to Buzzfeed News they, along with thousands of other organizations, have been using a controversial facial recognition startup that’s facing legal threats and violating App Store regulations left and right

  • Clearview AI is apparently on a quest to create a global biometric identification system by scraping social media and the internet at large, and it’s for sale to anyone who wants it
    • They have paid contracts with organizations like ICE, US Attorney’s offices, and Macy’s, and have users at the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, Interpol, and the NBA
  • The New York based startup has claimed it’s tech is meant as a tool for North American law enforcement, but it’s been used by more than 2,200 government agencies and companies across 27 countries
    • So we have this product featuring a treasure trove of identifying information on a ton of people, accessible to anyone that can pay, oh and also they’ve been breached at least once so presumably a few people that haven’t paid as well
  • The hardest part here is that the US just doesn’t have any laws or regulatory framework for this kind of biometric tracking- there’s literally no accountability for their ability to gather up this information and sell it, leading to government agencies running literally thousands searches and most likely acting on the information received
    • We could have ICE agents walking into a supermarket, scanning people, and immediately deporting them without due process or investigation
    • And this is all based on the tech of a company that can’t even keep their client list confidential
    • It’s one thing to have a database of internally gathered mugshots, or even shared between agencies, but when you outsource it to a third party whose interests are purely monetary and scrapes the internet at large for information it gets really scary
  • All in all there’s a complete lack of transparency here- Clearview is providing free trials to anyone who wants them, even officers in police departments that have explicitly banned the app, and provided its software to private and public institutions all over the world
  • This stuff is so shady that they didn’t even want their iOS app distributed through Apple’s App Store- they abused the developer program, similar to Facebook’s Research app that paid users to spy on their information early last year, so that users could sideload the app without it being reviewed by Apple
    • In a response to Buzzfeed’s inquiry Apple investigated and suspended their developer account, effectively preventing the app from running

Overwatch Competitive Play Hero Rotation

  • To make competetive Overwatch more dynamic, Blizzard has implemented a Hero Rotation
  • First banned characters are
    • Orisa
    • Hanzo
    • Mei
    • Baptiste

Cool looking game: Nocturne

  • For free on Steam, try Nocturne: Prelude
  • The game caught my eye with a bright colour pallette
    • Cool high quality pixel graphics
    • and rhythm based combat
  • Here is the copy thy have on their Steam page:
    • Rich Narrative
      • The digital afterlife survived humanity’s extinction.
    • Nocturne: Prelude is the first chapter of a story-driven RPG set within a digital afterlife. Millennia have passed since humanity’s extinction; but somehow you’ve only just arrived.
    • Your conscience was uploaded to a world where a sentient AI has taken control, twisted creatures roam the land, and a vast corruption spreads.
    • Rhythm Combat
    • Master an entirely skill based rhythm combat with fierce battles and unexpected challenges. With multiple difficulty options, Nocturne: Prelude is a game suitable for beginners and veterans of the rhythm genre.
    • Find equipment to unlock powerful combat buffs or special abilities. Defeat enemies to unlock them in Arcade mode, where you can challenge them again for highscores.
    • Classic RPG
    • Make friends, battle enemies, and traverse a beautiful world as it falls apart around you. The perfect balance of heart-pumping musical combat, magnificent worldbuilding and deep story.
    • Nocturne: Prelude was inspired by decades of traditional RPG’s that immerse you in fantasy worlds.
    • FEATURES
    • Meet a cast of unique characters who’ll challenge what it means to be alive.
    • Explore a vast and beautiful pixel art world.
    • Master an entirely skill based rhythm combat system.
    • Fierce battles with unexpected twists.
    • Challenge your highscores in Arcade mode.
    • Multiple difficulty modes suitable for beginners and veterans of the rhythm genre.
    • Original soundtrack composed with a mix of digital and live performances.
    • Befriend a giant orange fish.
  • Nocturne: Prelude is the first chapter of Nocturne, released for free. The main story contains about 1-2 hours of gameplay.

Tidbits

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake’s demo of officially available now, ahead of its April 10th release
    • I specify ‘officially’ available, because there was already a sizeable leak at the end of last year, with many getting their hands on the full playable demo at the time
  • Apple has agreed to pay up to $500M to settle the class action lawsuit over throttling the performance of older phones
    • The whole issue came about when iOS 11 hit, when it had an undocumented feature that managed the battery life of older phones to prevent unexpected shutdowns- benchmarks took a hit, but the devices stayed reliable
    • The problem was that they didn’t give any feedback or options for this feature until iOS 13 came out late last year, so while they’re not admitting any wrongdoing they’re still willing to pay each affected user $25 if the settlement is approved
      • As MrMcLargeHuge said in the arstechnica comments section, “They were correct from a technical standpoint, but wrong from a PR standpoint.”
  • The director of MI5, Britain’s Security Service has called on tech companies to find a way to allow spy agencies “exceptional access” to encrypted messages, and that he finds it “increasingly mystifying” that intelligence agencies aren’t able to easily read secret messages of suspects they’re monitoring
    • While he refers to cyberspace as an unregulated “Wild West” that is largely inaccessible to authorities, it kind of seems like they’ve gotten lazy with how easy it’s been to spy on users up to this point. Now that we’re putting locks on our messages they want a copy of the keys

 

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Free Games of the Month!

Security

  • There was a big FaceTime bug discovered this week that lets you listen to audio from the person you’re calling before they pick up
    • If you try to FaceTime someone, then while it’s ringing use the Add Person button to add your own phone number, it will start a group call that includes the person you originally dialled even if they haven’t accepted it- allowing you to eavesdrop on whatever they’re doing
    • Added on to that, if the person on the receiving end hits the power button (turning off the screen and silencing the ringtone without rejecting the call itself) their device will start to send video as well
    • Class action lawsuits about the privacy implications are already in progress in the US and Canada, citing reports that people contacted Apple about this back on January 20th but didn’t receive a response
    • Two things to note here are that:
      • This only works while the device is ringing, so if you reject the call it breaks the connection
      • And some good news- Apple has actually taken the Group FaceTime functionality offline, preventing people from exploiting this bug, until they release an update next week fixing the issue

News

Battlestate Games, the makers of the tactical first-person shooter Escape from Tarkov, is making headlines after abusing DMCA takedowns against two separate YouTube channels

  • Back in December Polygon reported on the nearly 50 DMCA claims against YouTuber Eroktic, wherein rather than claim piracy or unfair use, Battlestate posted the takedowns because of allegedly incorrect info and overall negativity about their game
    • They stated that while only a few of the videos had the misinformation, “negative hype” was present in all of them so they feel justified in their takedown claims
  • Shortly after this article went up on Polygon’s site, they were contacted by another YouTuber that goes by EL_Dee, saying that they too had received 47 DMCA claims
    • The cause of these was apparently because they had Battlestate’s watermark and logo, as shown on Tarkov’s title screen, but many other YouTubers use the same images
    • EL_Dee believes they were also singled out because of “negative hype”
  • Battlestate tried to push blame for the claims on to what they claimed was a subcontractor, but in actuality seems to be a company with many close ties to them and their staff
  • Even more damning is that prior to the claims being filed Tarkov’s project leader and producer, Nikita Buyanov, had requested that the videos be taken down and sent privately. Buyanov said that EL_Dee had the attention of the devs “so it is no reason for all of us to go hostile”
  • Regardless of who authorized the claims they appear to be a clear form of censorship, and they’ve had serious and lasting impacts on the livelihoods of both Eroktic and EL_Dee, losing hundreds of Twitch subscribers and thousands of YouTube views. All over some videos that just weren’t 100% positive about the game

Bandai Namco and CyberConnect2 have announced an upcoming game called Dragon Ball Project Z, releasing sometime this year

  • Billed as an action role playing game, it’s looking to be “the most dramatic and epic telling of the Dragon Ball Z story”
  • There aren’t a lot of details yet, but apparently you’ll be experiencing the story from Goku’s perspective
  • From the looks of their teaser it’s going to be tackling a large part if not all the series’ story, so it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out

You know those shady Android free TV boxes? Turns out they’re illegal! Who woulda thought?

  • The maker of the Dragon Box, build to let users watch video without cable or streaming subscription, has agreed to shut down and pay $14.5M in damages to the plaintiffs
    • Their lawyer initially said the lawsuit would backfire, but when you being sued by a group including Netflix, Amazon, Columbia Pictures, Disney, Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros their lawyers might know what they’re doing

Piranha Plant

  • Neutral special
    • Ptooie 14% (held), 18% (thrown, early), 13% (thrown, late)
      • The Piranha Plant spits up a metal spiky ball, keeping it suspended by blowing air upwards. The spiky ball can then be blown either in front or behind the Piranha Plant. The spiky ball has transcendent priority, and the move stalls Piranha Plant’s descent if used in the air, making it a very deadly edgeguarding tool. Based on the Ptooie enemy introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3.
  • Side special
    • Poison Breath 1.2% (uncharged, center loop), 0.6% (uncharged, edge loop), 2.7% (fully charged, center loop), 1.6% (fully charged, edge loop)
      • The Piranha Plant spews a damaging cloud of poison in front of it. If all hits connect, it will deal a great amount of damage. The cloud itself has no knockback, and deals no hitstun, but it can be countered/reflected. If an opponent attempts to shield against this attack, it will do detrimental damage to the shield itself. The move is chargable, and it can be saved for later use. During execution, Piranha Plant changes its color to match the Putrid Piranha enemy from the Paper Mario series.
  • Up special
    • Piranhacopter 1.2% (hits 1-8), 4% (hit 9)
      • The Piranha Plant spins its leaves in a fashion akin to a propeller, causing it to rise upward. It can be angled to the left and right during the ascent. Based on the Jumping Piranha Plants from Super Mario World.
  • Down special
    • Long-Stem Strike 8.4% (uncharged, close), 12% (uncharged, far), 18.2% (fully charged, close), 26% (fully charged, far)
      • The Piranha Plant retreats into its pot/pipe, and extends outward to bite opponents in the direction aimed. This also extends the character’s hutbox. Piranha Plant gains super armor during the charge, and intangibility on its head during the bite. Likely a reference to Elasto-Piranhas or Stalking Piranha Plants.
  • Final Smash
    • Petey Piranha 49% total
      • The Piranha Plant summons Petey Piranha, who stomps around the stage with his cages from his boss fight in The Subspace Emissary. Opponents that get too close will get trapped in his cages. When the Final Smash is nearly over, Petey Piranha will breathe fire at both of the cages, then slam both of the cages to the ground, dealing heavy damage and knockback to the opponents who were trapped in the cages. It is possible for Petey Piranha to fall off stage, taking any trapped opponents with him, though is not a guaranteed KO if the opponent has leftover jumps, a strong recovery or both.

Tidbits

  • Google+ is shutting down this April due to low use
    • All the accounts , pages, and photos will be deleted starting April 2nd, and rolling out over a few months
    • If you’ve got anything you want to keep, make sure to download it asap
  • The Dragon Ball FighterZ roster is growing again this year with the creatively named FighterZ Pass 2
    • Confirmed are Jiren, Videl (and the Great Saiyaman), Broly, and SSB Gogeta

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Josh brings up quick meal ideas, mostly Kraft Dinner based. Google is trying to make Chrome the next game platform. Josh recommends an artists YouTube channel, Alan has another trilogy for our fans.

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

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

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

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

And talk to us in the comments!
Or…

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