Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • Absolute Drift: Zen Edition

      • Drifting: The Art Of Sliding Sideways.
      • This is a driving experience like no other.
        • Journey from apprentice to master drifter as you hone your skill in a gorgeous minimalist world.
      • Push yourself to the limit on drifting tracks and wild mountain roads while you work to unlock trophies and elite events. Compete against ghosts of the top players in the world, or refine your skills by out-scoring your own ghost.
      • Chill out to over 3 hours of original electronic music by C41 and NYTE as you challenge your driving skills at every turn until you finally master the art of drifting.
  • Twitch

    • Adventures of Chris

      • Embark on a global adventure in this ‘90s-inspired adventure platformer.
      • Help a chubby underdog kid with wacky superpowers battle bizarre villains, unlock and customize special moves and spells, and save the world!

Stadia Developers may have been mislead before dismissal

    • Nathan Grayson and Ethan Gach
  • Developers at Google’s recently formed game studios were shocked February 1 when they were notified that the studios would be shut down,
    • Just the week prior, Google Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison sent an email to staff lauding the “great progress” its studios had made so far.
  • Mass layoffs were announced a few days later, part of an apparent pattern of Stadia leadership not being honest and upfront with the company’s developers, many of which had upended their lives and careers to join the team.
  • Stadia developers learned the news, first reported by Kotaku, at almost the same time as everyone else via an internal email and conference call with Harrison.
    • The messy rollout came after an already grueling year working through the pandemic.
    • It was reminiscent of Stadia’s own launch, which appeared rushed and left out many features promoted during the service’s reveal, only to be added months later.
  • Developers had to wait three days after receiving the news to directly share their confusion and frustration with Harrison in a second conference call on February 4.
    • This call was followed by a contentious Q&A where the Stadia boss was confronted about his email from just the week before which suggested anything but a wholesale shutdown of the studios.
    • Harrison expressed his regret over the misleading statements made in his previous email, according to four sources with knowledge of the call.
    • When asked what changed from the week prior, Harrison admitted nothing had and told those on the call, “We knew.”
  • It’s still not clear exactly why Google decided to abandon the first-party studios it started building up less than two years earlier.
    • In his blog post, Harrison referenced the rising costs of game development as a factor.
  • Google is looking to find work for displaced employees elsewhere in the company.
    • However, it is having trouble doing so as Google traditionally hires generalists, and game development requires a very specialized set of skills.
  • Developers hoped Stadia’s game studios would survive its issues, if for no other reason than that Google, in theory at least, could afford to burn through hundreds of millions trying to jumpstart a new gaming platform with exclusive content.
    • Instead, it ended up burning through the trust of some of the approximately 150 developers impacted by the abrupt change in direction.
    • Now, remaining Stadia employees have to pick up the pieces while wondering how they can trust leadership and how anybody can trust Stadia.

Apple gets patent for variable iPhone display refresh rates

  • A new Apple patent published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes an iPhone display that, with high refresh mode enabled, may be capable of updating content at two times, three times, or even four times the native refresh rate, as reported by Patently Apple.
    • For example, an ‌iPhone‌ with a 60Hz display would be able to increase its variable refresh rate to 120Hz, 180Hz, or 240Hz automatically.
    • The higher the refresh rate, the smoother the content on the display will be.
  • Rumors of 120Hz coming to the iPhone 12 proved to be untrue, but there is renewed confidence that ProMotion will make an appearance on the iPhone 13.
    • During the rumor cycle last year, some claimed that the ‌iPhone 12‌ would automatically switch between 60Hz and 120Hz depending on what the user was doing on their device in an effort to preserve battery life.
    • While the ability for a device to switch between 60Hz and 120Hz is not new, the patent describing the ability for an ‌iPhone‌ to push the refresh rate to as high as 180Hz or 240Hz is.
  • The lack of a 120Hz refresh rate on the ‌iPhone‌ so far could be linked to the fact that Apple tends to treads carefully when adding features such as ProMotion that could be detrimental to battery life or systemwide performance.
    • Rumors suggest that Apple will overcome this power consumption dilemma by adopting low-power LTPO display technology for iPhone 13 models, allowing for 120Hz without a significant impact on battery life.
  • A higher refresh rate could be beneficial for several use cases, such as gaming and augmented reality.
    • If a user is simply watching a movie or messaging a friend, the display could switch back to its 60Hz native refresh rate as a means to save battery life

Nintendo Direct

  • https://www.destructoid.com/stories/everything-that-happened-at-the-nintendo-direct-for-february-2021-620089.phtml
  • Pyra and Mythra from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 are coming to Smash Ultimate

    • Rex, the main character of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, is also making a small appearance through the ultimate moves of the two aegises, which are based on their level three artes from Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
    • The rest of the gang can be seen in the special stage coming with Pyra and Mythra, which uses the titan Azurda as a base.
  • Famicom Detective Club titles headed west on Switch for the first time

    • Available for the first time to western audiences
    • Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir (1988) and Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind (1989) bring anime murder most foul to the Nintendo platform, challenging players to pit their finest deductive skills against a list of suspects in two dark, creepy, and perhaps even supernatural dramas.
    • Put your thinking caps on, and stay one step ahead of a killer.
  • Nintendo Switch is getting in on the Fall Guys fun this summer

    • Fall Guys is currently in its third season on PC and PS4, and while it’s hard to beat the initial rush when everyone was figuring out their ideal traversal routes, there’s still a lot of joy to be found, particularly with the most recent content push.
    • There’s no doubt this game will click with the Switch audience.
  • The Outer Wilds will destroy the universe on Switch this Summer

    • Venture into a hand-crafted solar system and unravel the mysteries of the universe when the critically acclaimed OuterWilds comes to NintendoSwitch this summer!
  • Samurai Warriors V confirmed for Switch this summer

    • Experience exhilarating action set in a dramatic historical setting in SAMURAI WARRIORS 5.
    • As the latest numbered entry in the SAMURAI WARRIORS franchise, the story, characters, and visuals have been re-imagined to set the stage for a thrilling new series.
    • The story takes place after the Ōnin War during the golden age of the Sengoku period, and features a story that centers on the lives of two of the most representative military commanders of this era: Nobunaga Oda and Mitsuhide Akechi.
  • Legend of Mana is coming to Nintendo Switch and you can turn off enemy encounters

    • Legend of Mana is coming to Switch, PS4, and Steam on June 24 with enhancements like “remastered” graphics, a toggle for enemy encounters, the Ring Ring Land mini-game, and the ability to hear the original soundtrack or choose an arranged version.
  • Capcom Arcade Stadium launches today on Nintendo Switch

    • Capcom Arcade Stadium will arrive as a free dashboard bundled with 1987 shmup 1943: The Battle of Midway.
    • Players can then purchase three individual packs of games, each containing 10 classic titles.
  • Mario Golf Super Rush will have you running to Switch this June

    • Hit the green with up to four players locally or online and golf with familiar Mushroom Kingdom characters.
    • Modes range from Standard Golf to the energetic Speed Golf and an RPG-like golf adventure in story mode.
    • Intuitive motion or button controls, a shot gauge that adapts to the curve of the course, and other new features make it easy for both new players and seasoned pros to drive and putt with power.
  • No More Heroes 3, out in August, brings back odd jobs, which are used to ‘pay entry fees’ for boss battles

    • The legendary assassin Travis Touchdown makes his glorious return to the Madness!
    • Our hero, Travis Touchdown, must make it to the top of the Galactic Superhero Rankings in order to stop the evil Prince FU and his ten alien assassins from taking over the Earth.
  • Who needs Gotham Knights when you have DC Super Hero Girls Teen Power?

    • Join the fight as Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Batgirl from the animated series DC Super Hero Girls, and save Metropolis from some of DC’s most notorious Super-Villains!
    • Each hero can battle baddies with a unique set of abilities: Wonder Woman uses her warrior skills with the Lasso of Truth and Flying Shield, Supergirl has Heat Vision and Super-Breath, and Batgirl can invent crime-fighting gadgets like the Batarang and Bat-Hook.
    • But when you’re not out fighting crime, you have to balance the super life with their lives as teenagers!
  • In-game Mario merch is coming to Animal Crossing: New Horizons

    • Mario outfits and items to celebrate Mario’s 35th anniversary!
    • With the addition of a warp pipe, players now have a quick way to traverse their island.
  • Miitopia is bringing brand new adventures to Nintendo Switch

    • Cast your friends, family or anyone you choose in a hilarious adventure to bring down the face-stealing Dark Lord.
    • Create and customize Mii™ characters of anyone you like—from your favorite celebrities to your dreaded math teacher –and assign them roles and personality traits in the fantasy adventure of a lifetime.
    • You can even add wigs and makeup to give your characters more…character.
    • Watch your characters come to life as your favorite actor and dear old grandma team up to topple the villainous Dark Lord that resembles your grumpy neighbor!
  • Neon White might be the most out-there game in today’s Nintendo Direct

    • Neon White is a lightning fast first-person action game about exterminating demons in Heaven.
    • You are White, an assassin handpicked from Hell to compete with other demon slayers for a chance to live permanently in Heaven.
    • The other assassins seem familiar, though… did you know them in a past life?
  • Knockout City is a dodgeball-style sports title coming from Electronic Arts

    • Team up and duke it out with rival Crews in Knockout City™, where you settle the score with EPIC DODGEBALL BATTLES.
    • Brace yourself for outrageous fun and intense competition in an all-new take on team-based multiplayer games.
  • Star Wars: Hunters is a free-to-play online shooter coming this year

    • STAR WARS: Hunters™ will connect players in real time to battle in settings inspired by iconic STAR WARS locales.
    • Players will join squads of all-new and authentic characters, including daring Bounty Hunters, heroes of the Rebellion and Imperial stormtroopers, in an action game that immerses players in a fast-paced and visually stunning STAR WARS galaxy.
  • Project Triangle Strategy is a new HD-2D action-RPG with a Switch demo today

    • Command a group of warriors as Serenoa, heir to the Kingdom of Glenbrook in a tangled plot where your decisions make all the difference.
    • Key choices you make will bolster one of three convictions—Utility, Morality, Liberty—which together make up Serenoa’s world view and influence how the story will unfold.
    • When faced with truly momentous decisions, multiple characters will weigh in by casting their votes on the Scales of Conviction.
    • mIn these moments, the allies and decisions you make can determine the fate of whole nations and the continent of Norzelia itself.
  • World’s End Club, out in May on Switch, looks like a fine follow-up to Danganronpa

    • Renowned game writers Kotaro Uchikoshi and Kazutaka Kodaka return with a brand-new game that’s easy to dive into and full of twists and turns.
      • This charming and vivid story of friendship and mystery will captivate new and experienced players alike!
    • The “Go-Getters Club,” a group of misfit students from all over Japan, find themselves trapped in a strange theme park during a class trip.
      • In order to unravel the mystery of their circumstances and find an escape, they must take part in a “Game of Fate” that will test their bonds of friendship!
      • With colorful visuals, charming characters, accessible gameplay, and a compelling story, this is an experience you will never forget!
  • Ninja Gaiden Master Collection is slicing up Switch this year

    • Enjoy 3 games from the NINJA GAIDEN series in this single collection.
    • The nostalgic yet timeless high-speed action of the series unfolds on the latest hardware, so look forward to heated battles with fearsome opponents!
    • In addition to Ryu Hayabusa, the 4 female characters Ayane, Rachel, Momiji, and Kasumi are also playable. Pair up favorite characters, and switch between characters during battles.
  • Zelda Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity expansion pass features new weapons, characters, stages, and more

    • The pass will run players around $20 and includes purchase bonuses, as well as two waves of DLC content.
  • Hades deserves a physical edition and it’s getting one on Nintendo Switch

    • Announced during today’s Nintendo Direct, Hades will get a Switch physical edition with the game, a download code for Darren Korb’s soundtrack, and a 32-page character compendium on March 19.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD has button and motion controls

    • Take to the skies, draw your sword, and experience the earliest story in the Legend of Zelda series.
      • Join Link in his high-flying quest to save Zelda, a childhood friend who must confront her destiny.
      • Soar between floating islands and descend to the treacherous surface world in this updated HD version of the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
    • Master realistic swordplay that matches your movements
    • Swing your sword and angle your slashes to uncover and break through opponents’ defenses using intuitive motion controls.
      • Link will match the angle of each strike you make with the Joy-Con controller, creating immersive swordplay that relies on strategy and accuracy.
      • Movements feel smoother and more immediate thanks to the Nintendo Switch system’s increased processing power and HD graphics.
      • Take advantage of the newly-added button only control scheme—perfect for playing in handheld mode or on the Nintendo Switch Lite system.
  • Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is coming to Switch with a $40 Complete Edition in March

    • Now on Nintendo Switch, tackle hilarious missions and defeat epic bosses in the Weirding Woods, Mount Steep, and Neighborville Town Center to collect medals and unlock outrageous outfits.
    • Party with up to three friends and goof around in Giddy Park or dive into some 8v8 multiplayer in Turf Takeover, vanquishing opponents, blasting gnome bombs, bouncing on pink ooze – it’s the most fun you’ll have since sliced bread.
  • If it’s still on your bucket list, Stubbs the Zombie is getting a remaster on March 16

    • Be the Zombie. Kick A** and Take Brains.
    • It’s 1959 and the city of Punchbowl, PA, is a beacon of progress and ideal living.
    • Show the living that law and order are no match for a dead man on a mission.
    • Your boyfriend’s back Maggie and Punchbowl is gonna be in trouble!
  • Today’s Nintendo Direct ‘one last thing’ is Splatoon 3

    • Enter the Splatlands, a sun-scorched desert inhabited by battle-hardened Inklings and Octolings.
      • Splatsville, the city of chaos, is the adrenaline-fueled heart of this dusty wasteland.
    • Even in this desolate environment, Turf War reigns supreme and battles rage in new stages located in the surrounding wilds.
    • Dynamic new moves help these fighters dodge attacks and cover more ground, along with a new bow-shaped weapon to sling ink.
      • Stay tuned for more information to be revealed, as the Splatoon 3 game is scheduled to release for the Nintendo Switch™ system in 2022.

This Week In Gaming History

February 13 – 1995 – Oregon Trail II – Windows

  • Oregon Trail II is a sequel to Oregon Trail.
    • The game follows the basic structure of the predecessor, which is a simulation of traveling through towns and wilderness in the state of Oregon, with adventure-like gameplay elements and educational material.
    • The sequel changes, enhances, and adds many gameplay features.
  • The player is able to choose an occupation for the protagonist, such as banker, doctor, gunsmith, carpenter, journalist, butcher, pastor, artist, and many others.
    • Different occupations bestow various bonuses to the protagonist, and are equipped with passive skills, which will influence the rate of success during certain random events and activities.
    • For example, a high medical skill will make it more likely that the protagonist recovers from a disease; sharpshooting skill contributes to the instant-kill rate when hunting animals, etc.

February 14 – 2005 – Star Fox Assault – GameCube

  • The Lylat System has been at peace for several years after the mysterious disaster was averted on Dinosaur Planet.
    • But, alas, Andrew Oikonny, who has been kicked out of Star Wolf, seems to have taken over Andross’s army, and to make things even trickier, strange insect-like creatures called Aparoids have started to appear all around and destroy and assimilate objects.
  • Star Fox Assault marks a return to the space and air combat in the spirit of the original Star Fox and Star Fox 64 games.
    • In addition to this, Fox and friends get to fight on foot, using various different kinds of weapons, and the Landmaster tank.
    • The game includes a 10-mission campaign as well as a rather varied multiplayer mode.
  • The Aparoids may be based on either the Borg from Star Trek, or the Phalanx from Marvel Comics, as they are both techno-organic alien races bent on the assimilation of all organic life.

February 15 – 1996 – Nester’s Funky Bowling – Virtual Boy

  • Nester, once the mascot of Nintendo Power, and his sister Hester have decided to star in a bowling game
  • As with every other bowling game in existence, you roll a ball down an alley in an attempt to knock down 10 pins.
    • To do this in this game, you have to try and match up two gauges: Spin and Power.
    • The Spin gauge determines how far left or right the ball will go, and the Power gauge determines how hard your character throws the ball.

February 16 – 1993 – Mystery at the Museums – DOS

  • Mystery at the Museums is the second in the Adventures with Edison series.
    • The game is sponsored by Smithsonian Institution and allows the player to visit different museums.
  • A detective agency is searching for missing treasures.
    • They’ve been misplaced or hidden in museums.
    • Accompanied by Edison, a happy little fellow, the players visits the museums and must solve various puzzles.
    • Puzzle types include: match two or three hidden pictures of a kind, slide the tiles to compose the picture, falling block puzzle, match the constellation from a selection, etc.
    • The answers are fulfilled with additional educational information.
  • There are game sessions of different difficulties for childen in the age category 6-13+.
    • Finding all the treasures in a session places the winner in the High Scores table.
    • The looks of Edison may be adjusted. The game session progress is saved / loaded for each game profile.

February 17 – 2011 – Burrito Bison – Browser

  • During a peaceful shopping session, Burrito Bison was kidnapped by gummy bears and forced to wrestle.
    • The only way home is through three giant gates of Candy Land.
  • At the start the player chooses an angle and launches Bison into the air.
    • Without the speed he won’t be able to escape, so bounce at bears to maintain it.
    • Rocket pants will help to fall faster, but they have charges, gained by various actions.
    • Also, dead gummies drop money, which can be spent for upgrades after every run, increasing Bison’s attributes and chances to meet certain enemy types.
    • The enemies are divided into harmful cops, who should be avoided, and helpful ones, gaining speed via explosions or minigames (i.e. click button as fast as possible or at right timing).

February 18 – 2004 – Pitfall: The Lost Expedition – Xbox, PS2, GameCube

  • You play as Pitfall Harry, intrepid adventurer on a mission to rescue an archaeological expedition that has gotten lost in the Peruvian jungle.
    • Along the way you’ll do battle with your arch rival, Jonathan St. Claire, and help fulfill an ancient prophecy to save the world.
  • Gameplay takes the form of classic platformer action meets Metroid-style adventure as you explore through jungles, ruins, caverns, and mountains, looking for items that will open new avenues for exploration in a huge, connected world.

February 19 – 2009 – Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Windows

  • Plot:
    • In the 41st century everything is nothing but war.
    • Orcs, Eldar and countless other races fight against the Human Imperium with the sole goal to annihilate and eradicate them from the face of the galaxy.
    • One of those many battles is fought by the Space Marines Order “Blood Raven” that has begun to cleanse the planets of subsector Aurelia from Orcs, Eldars and Tyranids.
  • The single player campaign, which can also be played cooperative with a friend, consists of two parts.
    • The first part is the planet overview. Here the player sees which territories he has already conquered, the ones currently threatened and from where emergency signals are sent.
    • From that screen he also selects skills and equips his heroes, sees the messages of the day and ultimately decides to which battlefield he turns his attention next.
  • When the territory has been decided upon, the player needs to choose from his available squads a maximum of four to send into battle.
    • As opposed to multiplayer, new units cannot be built during the battles and there is only access to a very limited amount of reinforcements.
    • Each squad is led by a hero who gains experience in battle, levels up and can equip so-called war gear like better armor, dropped by boss enemies or awarded at the end of a mission.
    • At each level-up his stats also improve and he gets two skill points that can be allocated to the heroes four main characteristics including strength or stamina.
    • When the player invests enough points into one element, a new ability for the hero is unlocked and it can be used on the battlefield.
  • In multiplayer the player needs not only choose which of the four races he wants to play but he can also decide on one of three heroes that are roughly categorized based on offensive, defensive and support skill.
    • During the skirmishes the hero again gains experience, levels up and can then decide on the fly which upgrade to install.
    • And while in single player the hero can only be revived by other heroes once he dies, in multiplayer the player can revive him instantly for a price.
    • The longer he waits with the revive order, the less it costs.
  • The resources needed to pay the price and build new units in the army headquarters are automatically collected every few seconds once the player has conquered a requisite point on the map.
    • In addition, the player needs to conquer energy points to get the energy required to upgrade his units.
    • All these efforts are ultimately needed to either destroy up to five enemies or conquer and hold enough victory points until the enemies points’ account has reached zero.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II is mentioned in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by Tony Mott

Tidbits

  • God of War has a 60fps patch for PS5, and it really polishes an amazing game for the more powerful PS5.
    • Richard Leadbetter from Eurogamer said:
    • Let’s put it this way, across one hour and 45 minutes of play, just 33 frames were dropped from a total in excess of 378,000 – and those were in a non-playable cutscene.
  • Halo 3 received its last official new map all the way back in 2009, as part of the Mythic II Map Pack release.
    • Now, 343 Industries has announced that a new map, first featured in Halo Online, will be added to the next round of Master Chief Collection beta testing.
    • The Update to the Master Chief Collection will also include a server browser, to find specific game types.

 

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Today we cover the Legend Of Zelda franchise. All the games, in order of when Nintendo released them.

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