PS2J 323 News – 10 23 2020

Reminder: Get your flu shot, if you can!

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Stick it to the Man! (free on Epic last month)

      • 2013
      • Indie adventure platformer that puts you in the role of Ray, a hard hat tester that suffered a bizarre accident and woke up with a giant pink spaghetti arm sticking out of his brain. With his awesome new powers he can read minds and change the world with stickers but he’s on the run for a crime he didn’t commit.
  • Epic Games

    • Costume Quest 2

      • 2014
      • Action RPG from Double Fine that has players assuming the identity of one of two twin siblings, Wren or Reynold. Explore spooky time-traversing landscapes, don adorable new costumes that transform into powerful Hallo-warriors, and collect even Creepier Treat Cards to wield in combat against a legion of hygiene obsessed baddies.
    • Layers of Fear 2

      • First person psychological horror game with an emphasis on exploration and story. Players control a Hollywood actor who heeds the call of an enigmatic director to take on the lead role in a film shot aboard an ocean liner.

The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Google for antitrust violations, after a 16 month investigation into anticompetitive practices in tech

  • With how much control and breadth Google holds over the technology landscape right now, from search to email to cloud storage to mobile to collaboration tools to streaming video to web browsers… it’s a lot
  • The DOJ is alleging that Google uses their position to block competition and prevent rivals from getting a foothold in any of their related businesses, including deals that make its search platform the default on iPhones and Android
    • Android devices can’t even delete the Google Search app
  • The lawsuit also mentions Google’s advertising practices within its search business, controlling over 70% of the search advertising market, 80% of general searches, and 95% of searches from mobile devices
  • Kent Walker, a Google Senior VP, said the lawsuit is “deeply flawed” and “would do nothing to help consumers”, noting that people use Google because they choose to and that users can change their default settings to use alternative services
  • I could see this resulting in, at the very minimum, phones and browsers giving you a selection of search engines at setup instead of always defaulting to Google. Duck Duck Go has been a great alternative, but even I didn’t think to switch my default settings for a long time
  • Depending on how this case goes it could result in a lot of other government actions against tech companies, including Facebook, Amazon, and Apple

Ahead of the next-generation of Xboxes next month, the Xbox app on iOS has been updated with Remote Play

  • Similar to Sony’s PS4 Remote Play feature, this has the games being played on your own Xbox using a Bluetooth controller paired to your phone, with audio and video streamed to your device
  • It’s pretty slick and even supports play outside of your own Wifi network, so you can have a full Xbox experience on the go wherever you are as long as you have a data connection
  • When the connection is first made you have to boot up your console to enable the feature, and it will run through a few tests to make sure things will work smoothly, but then when you use it your Xbox will run silently with no indication it’s being played- no power light or startup chime
  • Unfortunately at the moment it seems like there’s an audio glitch on some devices, where the sound coming through the phone is choppy and distorted, but a fix is in the works and once they release that everything else seems great- visuals are clear, and latency is minimal
  • One neat feature though is that when the console is being played remotely it looks like you can still play it locally as well, so depending on if that’s a bug or a feature we could see couch co-op games played from anywhere with a cell signal

It looks like Xbox All Access is coming to Canada as well, offering a Series X and 2 years of GamePass Ultimate for $40/month, or a Series S for $30/month with no interest

  • All said, assuming you’d have paid for full-price GamePass anyway the plan saves you $40 on the X and $60 on the S
  • One thing to note is that Game Pass Ultimate maxes out at three years, so if you already have more than a year banked you’ll want to wait before redeeming the included 2 year code
  • All Access should be available at launch on November 10th

NBA 2K21 has apparently added unskippable ads to their full-price game, on top of all the microtransactions and gambling they’ve already shovelled in

  • Ads for the Oculus Quest 2 have reportedly appeared during loading screens, regardless of how long the game actually takes to load, with the button to proceed disabled until the ad plays in full
  • This is on top of having paid $70 for the game, and being charged extra if you want to upgrade to the next-gen version coming next month
  • This might sound like familiar ground, with EA having done something similar by adding ads to UFC4 and its replays, but that move drew so much fire that they quickly reversed course and removed them
  • Time will tell how long it takes 2K to do the same

One day after launching their Apple TV app, short-form video service Quibi is shutting down

  • In case you missed it, in the 6 months it existed, the idea behind Quibi was to be like Netflix but for quick 5-10 minute videos for about $5/month
  • It also had a gimmick where you could switch your phone between landscape and portrait while you watched and the video stream would adjust accordingly, showing you video formatted for that orientation
  • Unfortunately it failed to really take off, aiming for people waiting for coffee or on the bus but launching right when the pandemic initially hit hardest, and ended up with less than 1/10th of their projected subscribers
  • It also doesn’t help that they had some pretty unappealing licensing deals and some say their contracts were specifically set up to avoid involvement with the Screenwriters and Screen Actors Guilds to cut costs
  • They attempted to sell to companies like Facebook, Warner Media, and Apple, but there weren’t any takers, so things are just shutting down

Ubisoft is revamping its Uplay and Ubisoft Club platforms into Ubisoft Connect, and the future looks pretty dang bright

  • The new service will include the Uplay reward structure, but more importantly its biggest addition is cross-platform progression
    • You’ll be able to take your save files from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Immortals Fenyx Rising, and Riders Republic, as well as future Ubisoft games, from one platform to another seamlessly with crossplay and cross-progression
  • Ubisoft Connect will be launching alongside Watch Dogs: Legon on October 29th

GM has unveiled a new electric Hummer this week, with a 350+ mile range and “crab mode” for diagonal off-road movement

  • If you’re confused by why I’m talking about this I have yet to get to my favourite part- the digital cockpit system was designed in the Unreal Engine with Epic Games
  • It kind of makes sense when you think about it- modern vehicles run on computers, so bringing advancements from gaming regarding performance and interface is a logical next step

This Week In Gaming History

October 17 – 2001 – Devil May Cry – Playstation 2

  • Legend has it that 2000 years ago in the depths of hell, a demon rebelled against the devil, waging a one-man war in support of the human world.
  • In the present, Dante, a private investigator of the supernatural, realizes that the devil is rallying to rise again against mankind.
    • Deep within Dante’s blood lies the power of ancient demons and as his power builds he transforms into a demon state where he can use his power against evil he encounters.
  • Josh’s commentary
    • First horror game I enjoyed and played completely!
    • Was the first game I wasn’t allowed to play, so of course I played it in secret, sorry Mom
    • It appealed to my inner Edge-Lord and the Way Too Cool attitude Sonic reinforced in me.

October 18 – 1994 – Sonic and Knuckles – Genesis

  • Sonic and Knuckles continues the story directly from where Sonic the Hedgehog 3 left off.
  • Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were originally planned as a single game
    • According to designer Takashi Iizuka, the team “really wanted to hit a home run”, with larger stages that took longer to develop.
    • As ROM cartridges were too small to contain the game and publisher Sega wanted it released in time for a promotional deal with McDonald’s, Sonic 3 was split in two, with Sonic & Knuckles as the second part.
    • Despite the split, the developers wanted the games to feel like a single experience.
    • According to Roger Hector, vice president and general manager of STI, the lock-on technology was conceived two and a half years before the release of Sonic & Knuckles, between the releases of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
    • The team explained their situation to Sega’s hardware division, which gave them the lock-on adapter.
    • The team knew that players would likely use the adapter to insert games beside Sonic 3, so they implemented the Blue Sphere minigame for most games.
    • They made Knuckles playable in Sonic 2 if that game was inserted because the team found his playstyle suited its levels.
    • However, the team did not implement the same feature for the original Sonic the Hedgehog as it “didn’t really feel right”.
  • I love the logo that is shown on the cartridge and box.
    • This and Sonic 3, are games that I would be able to rent, but buying my own copy always eluded me.

October 19 – 2010 – Fallout: New Vegas – PS3, 360, Windows

  • The followup to Fallout 3, but developed by Obsidian Studios
  • Lots of people think of New Vegas, when it comes to great Fallout titles.
    • The consensus on this game, from what I remember, is that it is a cool new story, with all the popular mods that came out for Fallout 3 built in.
  • Reviews are consistently high
    • With the caveat that it is really fun, but buggy as well.

October 20 – 2020 – Amnesia: Rebirth – PS4, Windows

  • You can’t let out a breath. The creature is only inches away.
    • Its sole purpose – to feed off your terror. And so you crouch in the dark, trying to stop the fear rising, trying to silence what lies within you.
  • “I know you. I know what you’re capable of.”
  • In Amnesia: Rebirth, you are Tasi Trianon, waking up deep in the desert of Algeria.
    • Days have passed.
    • Where have you been? What did you do? Where are the others?
    • Retrace your journey, pull together the fragments of your shattered past; it is your only chance to survive the pitiless horror that threatens to devour you.
  • “Do not allow yourself anger, do not allow yourself to fear.”
  • Time is against you.
    • Step into Tasi’s shoes and guide her through her personal terror and pain.
    • While you struggle to make your way through a desolate landscape, you must also struggle with your own hopes, fears, and bitter regrets.
    • And still you must continue, step by step, knowing that if you fail you will lose everything.
      • First-person narrative horror experience
      • Explore environments and uncover their histories.
      • Overcome puzzles that stand in your way.
      • Carefully manage your limited resources, both physical and mental.
      • Encounter horrific creatures and use your wits and understanding of the world to escape them.

October 21 – 2003 – Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III – Rebel Strike – GameCube

  • Be a part of the epic battle between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire as a member of Rogue Squadron, an elite group of fighters who are the best chance for the Rebel’s to destroy the Empire once and for all.
  • Taking the part of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Wedge Antilles, your mission is to re-live the battles of the original Star Wars trilogy, from escaping the first Death Star to riding Tauntauns on Hoth, to the final battle at Endor.
    • For the first time you can fight the good fight in the air and on the ground, swapping between your X-Wing, a speeder bike and many other attack craft.
  • Included in the game is the complete version of Rogue Squadron II, specifically built for two player co-op play.
    • Plus there are multiplayer battle modes and full cutscenes straight from the original trilogy.
  • Critics rated the game quite highly
    • In the 80s and higher
    • Good for a licensed game, but Rogue Squadron stands on its own like the Jedi Knight or Knights of The Old Republic games.

October 22 – 2007 – Bee Movie Game – PS2, Wii, Windows, XBox 360

  • Once a week I like to find a terrible looking licensed movie game
  • Play as Barry B. Benson and prove that there’s more to being a bee than just making honey.
  • Playing as Barry, you retell your story through a series of flashbacks, while you work odd jobs around New York and Barry’s hive.
    • There are various mini-games that need to be completed to continue the story.
    • Gameplay includes controlling Barry on foot, in the air, and driving around town.
  • Exclusive to the Wii version are 3 Bee speedway tracks, 4 additional maxi-games and 6 new competitive 2-player arcade games.

October 23 – 2017 – Fuzion Frenzy – Xbox One Compatibility Update

  • When Xbox was trying to compete with Playstation 2 and GameCube, they needed a party game
    • And this is the one with no follow up whatsoever
  • Fuzion Frenzy is a party game with six arenas and more than 45 different mini-games for up to four players to partake in.
    • Fuzion Frenzy provides real-time play for all players in both the main game and the mini-games, no waiting for your opponent to take their turn.
  • After typing this I am learning there is a Fusion Frenzy 2
    • Reviews tanked by a glance
    • Going a google image search, looks like a lot of the same or similar games but with a 360 polish

Tidbits

  • There are some reports of the new Apple Watch SE overheating and, in some cases, even burning a visible yellow patch on the top-right of the display
    • Given how consistent the spot’s placement it this is likely a hardware defect, and if you notice anything like that you should absolutely contact Apple Support
  • The UK is set to close a loophole in their distracted driving laws that currently allow drivers to take photos or play games
    • Apparently the law was originally worded to ban devices that “perform an interactive communication” while driving, but many have successfully argued that filming or playing games doesn’t count since there’s no communication happening
  • Addressing issues of users being locked out of their hardware, Facebook’s Head of VR is now telling users to make sure their Facebook accounts are “in good standing” before buying an Oculus Quest 2
    • Considering how arbitrary the lockouts have been lately, and how they can ban you for things like not providing your legal name or your behaviour even in single-player games, it really feels a lot more stifling than any other platform’s account requirements
  • NASA has announced they’re teaming up with Nokia to install a 4G network on the moon, as part of their Artemis program aiming at making the moon habitable by 2028
    • This would greatly improve astronauts’ ability to communicate with the earth via voice or video, as well as transfer important data
    • As an added bonus, NASA also says that the moon network will eventually be upgraded for 5G
  • Early adopters of the Oculus Quest 2 have been having a rough time with the Elite headstrap, with many reports online of the arms cracking or even breaking under normal use
    • Some blame the issue on how people are taking the headset off at the end of a session, but either way it seems very fragile for such a new piece of hardware with some people saying they’ve gotten maybe 2 hours of play before it broke
  • The Halo Master Chief Collection has been confirmed as getting a free upgrade for the Series S & X, amping things up to 120fps in campaign and multiplayer, supporting 4K resolutions on the X, and cross-generation play for those still running an Xbox One
    • The upgrade hits for existing owners or anyone with GamePass on November 17th

 

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PS2J 318 News – OOPS! All Events

Free games

  • Twitch Prime

    • Q.U.B.E. 2

      • 2018
      • Sequel to the original Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion, and a physics-based puzzle game, interacting with specific blocks in the world to solve puzzles and make it to the end of each level
    • Bridge Constructor

      • 2011
      • Physics-based simulation puzzle game that has you working with different gaps, materials, and cost limitations to make bridges that can support different combinations of traffic
  • Epic Games

    • Football Manager 2020

      • 2019
      • European football-management simulation game offering playable teams in 53 different countries across 5 continents
    • Stick It To The Man!

      • 2013
      • Indie adventure platformer that puts you in the role of Ray, a hard hat tester that suffered a bizarre accident and woke up with a giant pink spaghetti arm sticking out of his brain. With his awesome new powers he can read minds and change the world with stickers but he’s on the run for a crime he didn’t commit.
    • Watch Dogs 2

      • 2016
      • Action adventure open world game where you play a hacker trying to take down the city’s advanced surveillance system, completing missions in a variety of ways in increase the follower count of your group DedSec

Apple- Time Flies event

  • No iPhone announcement after all, so we can likely look forward to that in October

  • Apple Watch

    • New initiative from Mount Sinai health system, where researchers are using Watch data to research COVID
    • WatchOS 7 will track VO2 Max, the volume of oxygen you consume when exercising at max capacity, a good indicator of fitness and overall health
      • Notification if it drops to low levels
    • Series 6
      • Blue aluminum, gold stainless steel, graphite stainless steel, and PRODUCT(RED)
      • Blood oxygen
        • 15 seconds to measure, takes periodic readings including while you sleep
        • Helpful indicator of respiratory and cardiac health
      • Fancy dual-core processor
      • Improved always-on display
      • New always-on altimeter
      • New watchfaces
        • GMT shows multiple timezones
        • Count-up lets you track elapsed time
        • Chronograph pro has multiple time scales
        • Typograph give you custom styles focusing on large numbers
      • New stretchable one-piece loop band, in both solid and an attractive braided silicon
    • Family Setup
      • One iphone can set up multiple watches, for kids or other people without their own phone
      • Includes location notifications and movement tracking
    • Apple Watch SE
      • Uses slightly older chips (still twice as fast as the series 3) along with the fancy new display
      • Same accelerometer, gyro, compass, and altimeter as the 6, but no ECG or blood oxygen
    • New lineup starts at:
      • Series 3 $199
      • SE $279
      • Series 6 $399
  • Officially removing the USB wall adapter from the Apple Watch, marketing it as an environmental initiative

  • Apple Fitness +

    • Fitness service with trainers and music (integrated with Apple Music if you want to save a playlist)
    • Workout videos shown on your TV along with biometrics from your watch
    • Launching with yoga, cycling, dance, treadmill, strength, core, hiit, rowing, and meditation
    • New workouts every week, with different levels and recommended workouts
    • Three month free trial, and will be available before the end of the year
    • $9.99/month, $79.99/year
  • Apple One

    • iCloud storage
    • Music
    • TV+
    • Arcade
    • News+
    • Fitness+
    • Individual plan- $14.95
      • Includes Music, TV+, Arcade, 50GB storage
      • $19.95 for family access
    • Premier- $29.95
      • Adds News+ and Fitness+, along with 2TB storage
  • iPadOS 14

    • Better Pencil integration with automatic writing-to-text
    • Scribble lets you handwrite in any text field
  • iPad

    • New 8th gen base model is getting the A12 chip from the XS and the iPad Air
      • Also works with Apple Pencil
      • Smart connector for the fancy Apple smart and magic keyboards
      • Starts at $329 ($299 for education)
    • Air
      • Redesigned, more similar to the iPad Pro
      • USB-C, rounded corners, smaller bezels, and the smart connector
      • New colours including rose gold, green, and sky blue
      • TouchID integrated into the power button
      • No FaceID or TrueDepth camera
      • Brand new 6 core processor, 40% faster than the previous model
      • This all brings the Air ($599) close to parity with the Pro ($799), especially if you don’t want FaceID
  • New software for iPads, iPhones, Watches, and AppleTV’s all hit this week, with no mention of macOS

    • All kinds of fanciness that we’ve talked about previously including home screen widgets and better sleep tracking, along with picture-in-picture video
      • They’ve added an App Library, so iPhone users don’t need to have every app installed available on one of their homescreen pages
      • Not to mention additional options with Shortcuts and Automations that Reddit immediately took to to make their iPhones moan when power cords are plugged in
    • They’ve also released a new firmware for AirPods Pro that adds spatial audio and dynamic head tracking, so when paired with iOS14 supported audio will always sound like it’s anchored to your device

Sony’s announced more details on the PS5, and we’ve got some highlights

  • Pricing of the disk-version of the PS5 matches the Xbox Series X at $499USD, and the diskless model is $399
    • That’s a good chunk more than the Series S’s $299, but considering you get the same specs rather than a pared down version it makes sense- the PS5 blows the Series S out of the water, spec-wise
    • You could even look at it like they’re coming in at $100 less than the Series X, with an optional upgrade to include a disk drive
  • Demon’s Souls Remake looks amazing, with everything rebuilt from the original art, sound, music, and feel along with fancy new haptic feedback
    • You can still see the trailer mirrored on other sites like IGN, but Sony had to pull the original because it mistakenly said it was coming to other consoles and PC
    • This alone might sell me a PS5
  • Spider-Man Miles Morales looks pretty solid
  • Hogwarts Legacy could be the open world Harry Potter game we’ve been waiting for
  • Deathloop looks like a lot of fun, especially for fans of the Groundhog Day genre
  • God of War Ragnarok was revealed, and after the last title in the series is yet another reason to buy a PS5
  • Playstation Plus Collection
    • It feels like conceptually they’re trying to compete with GamePass, and they might get there eventually, but right now it’s mainly a selection of excellent PS4 games that all PS+ subscribers can play on the PS5 at launch for no additional cost
      • God of War
      • Bloodborne
      • Monster Hunter World
      • Final Fantasy XV
      • Mortal Kombat X
      • Fallout 4
      • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
      • Ratchet & Clank
      • Days Gone
      • Until Dawn
      • Detroit: Become Human
      • Battlefield 1
      • Infamous: Second Son
      • Batman: Arkham Knight
      • The Last Guardian
      • The Last of Us: Remastered
      • Persona 5
      • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
  • Pre-orders are available now, with launch on November 12th in North America, Japan, Australia, NZ, and SK, and the 19th everywhere else

Facebook has announced the Oculus Quest 2- the new king of VR, if you don’t mind Zuckerberg’s ever-tightening fist

  • It’s kind of ridiculous how good the headset is, especially for its price and the fact that it’s wireless
  • $299USD gets you a thinner, lighter Quest with higher resolution with 50% more pixels per eye
    • And for $100 more you can get 256GB of storage, which you might end up needing if games start really using the increased pixel-count. The base model only getting 64GB of storage is nearly criminal nowadays
    • It actually just edges out the Valve Index when it comes to resolution, and that one goes for $1000
    • It’s using LCD instead of OLED though, so expect blacks to look less black, and the field of view is a fair bit narrower than the Index so you’re locked to only 90 degrees
    • They’ve also increased the framerate from 72hz to 90hz, but currently that’s only supported on the main menus
  • Another change is the IPD adjustment, to set the distance between your eyes
    • The Quest had a slider for a range of measurements, but the Quest 2 only has three set positions that Facebook says accommodates between 68mm and 58mm
  • The base head strap is even more basic than the Quest’s, more matching the Oculus Go, but they’re handling it a lot better with first party peripherals
    • You can get alternate face linings, protective lenses, a higher-quality Elite Strap, and even better an amped up Elite Strap with an additional battery to help counterbalance
  • Facebook definitely hasn’t skimped on the processor though, going from one that was midrange even at launch to a top of the line Snapdragon XR2 that is more than twice as fast
  • They’ve also improved the battery life on the slightly redesigned controllers, while at the same time making them a little bigger to be almost a hybrid between the original Oculus controllers and the first gen Quest
  • But now where it gets ugly
    • The Quest 2 will be the first piece of Oculus hardware that requires a Facebook account to run
      • This combined with the low price reminds me of the adage “If you get something for free, you might be the product being sold”
    • And on top of that, Facebook has said that if you link your Oculus account to a Facebook account that violates their rules, like not using your real name or birthdate, your account could be completely disabled and you might lose access to any games or content you’ve already paid for
      • In many cases Facebook has asked for an unredacted picture of a user’s driver’s license to be sent in to verify that information, but it seems ridiculous that they have any business getting all that information just so I can play VR games. Beyond billing info they have no use for my personal info, besides to sell it to someone else
  • All that said, if you’re okay with what Facebook does and want what is unfortunately one of the best VR headsets available, you can pick yours up on October 13

The App Store slapfight continues

  • Court documents in the Epic vs Apple lawsuit show Apple saying that Epic Games can’t re-apply to their developer program for at least one year
    • Epic is trying to overturn that ban, but assuming no changes it’s unlikely we’ll see Fortnite back on iOS before summer 2021
  • Apple also seems to be accusing Epic of using this whole situation as a publicity stunt
    • Apparently compared to October 2019, July 2020 had seen interest in Fortnite decrease by nearly 70%, and this mess that Epic Games has invented for themselves is an attempt to boost their own reputation
    • They also deny that Epic is losing huge amounts of money, saying that though Epic says iOS is their biggest platform based on number of users only 10% of consumers play regularly on iPhone, and that according to Epic’s own disclosures Apple is the smallest piece of the pie when it comes to revenue
    • An excellent quote from Apple’s filing:
      • Epic started a fire, and poured gasoline on it, and now asks this Court for emergency assistance in putting it out, even though Epic can do so itself in an instant by simply adhering to the contractual terms that have profitably governed its relationship with Apple for years. This Court was right when it previously ruled that “‘self-inflicted wounds are not irreparable injury.’”
  • In addition to that, a new filing today from Mark Grimm, a Game Developer Manager at Apple, highlighted the lengths to which Apple went to accommodate Epic in recent years
    • Apparently engineers on both sides remained in near-constant contact for the last two years to make sure Fortnite could run smoothly at all times and across a variety of devices, including substantial engineering support to help it to run on older iPhones
    • Grimm also wrote about the amount of hardware and software resources shared, saying that they’ve even coached Epic about unreleased iOS tech and even sent engineers to their HQ to help get them up to speed, on top of Apple optimizing their iOS and Mac systems to improve the performance of Unreal Engine
  • A separate filing from Mike Schmid, Apple’s Head of Games Business Development, added even more background
    • Apparently Epic threatened on multiple occasions to essentially hold Fortnite hostage, threatening to release updates on competing platforms first and even in some cases said they would terminate their relationship with Apple and remove their games from the App Store, if Apple didn’t comply with demands
    • This reportedly got to the point where Apple staff in Australia were brought in to the Epic relationship team, to provide 24 hour coverage
    • On top of all that, Schmid says they even worked closely with Epic to allow in-game features that were not previously allowed, such as gifting within apps, by amending App Store Guidelines
    • “This example,” Schmid writes, “demonstrates Apple’s attentiveness to the developer community, including the needs of developers like Epic, which in this instance made a request that Apple could accommodate on terms that would apply equally to all developers, large and small, and that would at the same time adequately ensure user safety and security.”
  • It almost seems like Epic got so used to Apple giving them whatever they demanded that they threw a tantrum when told they couldn’t have their own App Store on iPhone, but we’ll have to see how the Epic Games team responds to the latest filings
  • I agree that the App Store has some room to evolve, but Epic really shot themselves in the foot repeatedly here

In a new interview with IGN, Xbox director of program management Jason Ronald gave some more detail on the differences between the Series S and X

  • Apparently the core capabilities between the two consoles are basically the same, so the primary difference will be resolution- 1440p on the S and 4k on the X
    • Even though theoretically the Series S could have performance somewhat comparable to the One X, it will not apply any of the One X specific enhancements for better framerates or 4k resolutions
    • Backwards-compatible titles could benefit from improved texture filtering and other bits and bobs though, so the Series S isn’t completely left out in the cold
  • They’re leaving a lot up to developers though, like whether to allow ray tracing, increase the framerate, or even try for 4k on the S
  • The goal is apparently not to have exclusive titles on the X, but rather to get lower-res options for the S
  • And as an added bonus, game file sizes could be around 30% smaller for the S if developers stick to 1440p textures
  • It will likely still lead to some fragmentation but hopefully not as much as previously thought

Apple’s made some changes that are kind of good news for game streaming services, but with a BIIG asterisk

  • They’ve announced updates to their App Store review guidelines introducing new rules for things like Microsoft xCloud
    • They’re allowed, which is great, but apparently all of the games included in the subscription need to be downloaded directly from the App Store…?
    • From the looks of it, all 150+ xCloud games would need to hit the App Store separately, with updates going through the full review process and all in-app purchases going through Apple
    • They’re allowed to have a catalog app to help users sign up and find games, but all games must have their own App Store product page
  • All said and done, this feels like a PR move so Apple can say they’re not blocking streaming game services while at the same time making the way forward as torturous as possible, when really it should work as smoothly as Netflix or YouTube

Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time remake leaked, and it looked rough, so they released the reveal trailer, which also looks rough

  • With a high nostalgia factor you’d think this would be a priority, but it was seemingly shunted off to Ubisoft India
    • While I can understand that studio being excited to sink their teeth into potentially one of the biggest AAA games developed in the country, doing it for the first time with a remake of something this high-profile could have been a misstep
  • Honestly, I think they would have been better off just upscaling the original assets. It definitely doesn’t look like a game from 2020
    • Reddit user Bolt_995 put it well: “This is a PS2 game remade to look like a PS3 game on a PS4 and the release date is set during the launch window of the PS5”

The saga of TikTok continues, with Beijing opposing the sale that the US is dead set on forcing

  • According to Reuters the Chinese government would rather see the video app shut down in the US instead
  • Oracle is trying to get around that by becoming their “trusted tech partner”, not their owner, but the exact details have yet to be hashed out
    • From the sounds of it Oracle would house data from US TikTok users on its own servers, to hopefully alleviate security concerns
  • The US Treasury Secretary also floated the idea of them opening a TikTok Global HQ in the US and creating 20,000 jobs, but who knows what kind of basis that has in reality if any
  • Yet to be seen is:
    • If this deal will satisfy Trump’s government
    • If it will satisfy the Chinese government
    • What will happen to TikTok’s fancy algorithm, likely the driving force behind any offer, with China saying it’s off the table

This Week In Gaming History

September 12 – 2002 – Battlefield 1942 – Windows

  • Battlefield 1942 is a massive online multiplayer shooter roughly based on World War II, but with emphasis on balance and fun.
    • Join armed forces of United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany or Russia, and battle up to 63 of your friends online.
    • Have access to up to twenty different authentic weapons. Control any of the 30+ vehicles over land, on water, or in air.
    • Combat takes place in four theaters; South Pacific, North Africa, and Eastern and Western Europe.
    • Have epic battles with up to 64 players on the same map, or hone your skills in single-player mode against AI bots.

September 13 – 2003 – Star Trek: The Neutral Zone – Windows

  • Star Trek: The Neutral Zone is a free, simple deathmatch game where players (and bots, named after characters from the Star Trek series, but unlicensed) choose a ship to destroy others in order to reach the frag limit.
    • There is a variety of ships available with their graphics taken from Star Trek: Bridge Commander and possibly a few of its mods.
    • But apart from the visuals, they do not differ in any way. All of them are armed with phasers and photon torpedoes, with the colour of phasers chosen by the player in the options menu.
    • Occasionally, certain power-ups appear on the map.
  • Up to two players can play on the same computer, and a TCP/IP multiplayer mode is available.
  • On Moby Games, the site I reference, this was the only game released this day on 2003.

September 14 – 1994 – Math Blaster: In Search of Spot – Genesis

  • The Genesis release was the one release that was confirmed to a firm date
  • A follow-up to the original Math Blaster! games, Math Blaster: In Search of Spot is an educational title with arcade elements designed to help students learn maths while having fun.
  • The game allows students to practice basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills in addition to fractions, decimals, percents, estimation, and number patterns.
    • The subjects can be practiced separately or together in review. Six levels of difficulty are provided.
    • Like the previous titles, the game also includes an editor to create new problem sets (present in the PC version only).
  • Math Blaster’s friend and assistant, Spot, is kidnapped by the evil Trash Alien at the beginning of the game.
    • The Galactic Commander gives Math Blaster the mission to follow the Trash Alien to his home planet and rescue Spot.
  • The game starts with a complete mission (story mode).
    • The mission consists of a series of four (three in the console versions) math activities (mini-games) strung together with cut-scenes. The activities can also be played separately, for practice or for score.
  • The activities you can do are:
    • Trash Zapper – Solve equations to gain tractor beam power, then use the tractor beam to collect space trash.
    • Number Recycler (PC version only) – Create equations by pushing around columns of numbers and operators. Correct equations allow you to turn the trash you collected into fuel.
    • Cave Runner – Use Math Blaster’s jet pack to fly through a cave. He has a number on his chest, and it must be arithmetically between the numbers on each side of an opening in order for him to pass through. Droplets of water falling from above can change this number by performing an operation on it. There are also gems which can be collected for bonus points, and in higher levels, monsters appear that can knock Math Blaster down.
    • Math Blaster – The Trash Alien’s spaceship displays an equation, and the four portholes serve as multiple-choice answers. Use the jet pack to fly into the correct portholes while avoiding floating trash and energy blasts from the ship. Bonus gems also appear at random, and after five problems a bonus round occurs where players get a chance to collect as many gems as they can within a time limit.
  • Upon finishing the complete mission, the player is presented with a certificate that can be printed out (PC version only). Their final score is also added to a high score board for their account.

September 15 – 1990 – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – DOS

  • A good example of the difference a little multimedia can do, the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes plays like a textmode proof-of-concept of the better-known Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective.
    • The basic investigative elements remain the same: managing time dashing to various locations around Olde London Towne in search of clues, but here instead of successfully receiving them as video clips you often get cryptic encoded messages in “fill-in-the-blank” form, intended in total to spell out, some directly and some through phonetic wordplay, the name of the killer, the method they used, and their motive for committing the crime.
    • Characters from the original tales including Dr. Watson, Mrs. Baker and Inspector Lestrade help to establish the flavour of literary canon as you investigate all-new crimes (some user-contributed!)

September 16 – 1998 – Fuck Quest – DOS

  • This is a parody of the Sierra-style games like Space Quest, King’s Quest, etc. Similar interface, sounds, and graphics.
  • This is a small game that’ll make people who have played the Sierra games laugh, although I don’t think anybody else will understand the point.
    • Probably R-Rated because of not-so-subtle sexual content. Can be finished quickly.
  • The art appears to be done in a single pass on MS Paint
    • Includes level design, like The House Of Porn, which is a pair of breasts.
  • Has an average score of 1.4 out of 5

September 17 – 2002 – Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer – GameCube, PS2, XBox

  • You know Tony Hawk, Matt Hoffman but now it’s Kelly Slater’s Pro sport game
  • Do you like to surf? Have you ever imagined surfing at different remote locations around the world? Well, Kelly Slater takes you around the world on his boat to surf some of the more famous beaches. With a control scheme similar to all the other Activision O2 brand games, it’s easy to jump into the game and surf.
  • Game Play Modes:
    • Infinite Time – With no clock, no objectives, and nobody around, this gives you the best opportunity to just enjoy the surf.
    • High Score – With 3 minutes, how high of a score can you get?
    • Icon Challenge – See how many icons you can collect and how high of a score you can get before time runs out.
    • Career Mode – Select a surfer and journey around the world to surf the best waves on the best beaches. As you progress you will unlock new beaches, new surf boards, and new tricks which will be usable in all the other modes of play.
    • Multiplayer Modes:
    • Push – Two players surf simultaneously in an attempt to “push” the split screen towards their opponent’s half of the screen. As you score points the screen gets pushed more. The winner is decided once one player is pushed from the screen.
    • Head to Head – Similar to Push but the screen is stationary and the winner is the person with the highest points when the time runs out.
    • Time Attack – Players take turns to achieve the most points possible. The more points you get the less time is alloted to your opponent.
  • The Pros in the game: Kelly Slater, Lisa Andersen, Tom Carroll, Tom Curren, Nathan Fletcher, Donavon Frankenreiter, Bruce Irons, Rob Machado, Kalani Robb, and some other secret characters.
    • Secret characters which I looked up!
      • Tony Hawk
      • Travis Pastrana – A extreme Motorsport athlete
      • “Tiki God”
      • “Surfreak”
  • The beaches in the game: Sebastian, Trestles, Mavericks, Antarctica, Jaws, Pipeline, Teahupoo, Bells, Curren’s Point, Kirra, G-Land, J-Bay, Mundaka, Cortez Bank, and perhaps some other tucked-away hide-aways.
  • The PS2 version of the game also includes a playable demo of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4.

September 18 – 2018 – Nintendo Switch Online service – Switch

  • The Nintendo Switch was formally announced in January 2017, with its release on March 3, 2017.
    • Nintendo stated in its pre-release announcements that the system would eventually require purchase of a paid “online service”, but that they would be available to all users at no charge until the service launched.
    • Features announced included a companion smartphone app, as well as access to a free Nintendo Entertainment System game per-month. The service was initially planned for late 2017.
    • By June 2017, Nintendo pushed back the service’s release until 2018, but did establish the pricing plans for the service, with an average annual price of US$20, depending on region.
    • Then-Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé explained that the delays were to ensure that the service was “world-class”, and had enough of its announced functionality available on-launch to justify its cost.
    • Nintendo aimed for a lower price point in comparison to PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, as the service does not include the same range of features as these subscription services provide.
    • Then-Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima stated that the price point was a subject of importance in designing the Switch’s online services, and that regardless of what competitors were doing, “it’s a matter of getting our content to the consumer at a price point that would make them happy, and then we’re willing to look at what else we can do going forward.”
  • A Nintendo Direct two days before the release detailed the full set of features that would be part of the Online service, including a larger and persistent library of NES games for subscribers, as well as cloud save support.
  • The 20 games at launch were:
    • Balloon Fight
    • Baseball
    • Donkey Kong
    • Double Dragon
    • Dr. Mario
    • Excitebike
    • Ghosts’n Goblins
    • Gradius
    • Ice Climber
    • Ice Hockey
    • The Legend of Zelda
    • Mario Bros.
    • Pro Wrestling
    • River City Ransom
    • Soccer
    • Super Mario Bros.
    • Super Mario Bros. 3
    • Tecmo Bowl
    • Tennis
    • Yoshi, A puzzle game

Tidbits

  • Borderlands 3 has joined the growing number of games that are releasing free updates to next-gen consoles for anyone playing it on the current generation
    • They’re also adding 3 and 4 player split screen, as well as 4k 60fps single player
  • Super Mario 3D All Stars has leaked onto the internet, showing that all the games are just emulated and upsampled versions with no real tweaks
    • On the plus side, the fact that there are now internal Nintendo emulators for Wii, GameCube, and N64 games on the Switch could mean there are more classics coming
  • Fall Guys has released a mid-season update increasing the chaos and the fun
    • They’ve amped up the anti-cheat, added extra random obstacles to familiar levels, and thrown in Big Yeetus- a large hammer that can launch you to victory or hilarious defeat

 

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