PS2J News 329 – 2020 New Game Plus

Free Games

  • Epic Games
    • Crying Suns
      • 2019
      • Story-rich tactical rogue-lite that puts you in the role of a space fleet commander as you explore a mysteriously fallen empire, uncovering the truth about it and yourself
  • Twitch
    • Overcooked
      • 2016
      • A co-op party game where you and up to three friends work together in a kitchen to prepare meals, working around fires, shifting floors, and other obstacles
    • Sword Legacy Omen
      • 2018
      • Turn-based tactical RPG in a re-imagined King Arthur mythos where you play a vengeful knight in search of the long-lost Excalibur
    • Bridge Constructor Playground
      • 2014
      • Classic physics-based bridge building puzzle gameplay, but now with no fixed budget and next to no limitations on building materials
    • Alt Frequencies
      • 2019
      • An audio mystery set in a time loop. Record, rewind time and broadcast snippets of radio shows to expose radio hosts, conspiracy theorists, and politicians.
    • Along the Edge
      • 2016
      • Interactive visual novel set in the European countryside, where your choices impact the main character’s personality and appearance.
    • When Ski Lifts Go Wrong
      • 2019
      • Physics-based construction puzzler similar to Bridge Constructor, but this time you’re building different contraptions to carry skiers up the slopes with added control over the riders
    • Void Bastards
      • 2019
      • Science-fiction roguelike first person shooter inspired by BioShock and System Shock 2. Can you lead the misfit prisoners of the Void Ark through the derelict spaceships and myriad dangers of the Sargasso Nebula?
  • Playstation
    • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
      • 2018
      • Action adventure game continuing the narrative from Rise of the Tomb Raider, following Lara Croft as she races to stop a Mayan apocalypse that she has unleashed
    • GreedFall
      • 2018
      • Action RPG set in a 17th-century style fantasy world where you explore a remote island alongside other settlers, mercenaries, treasure hunters, and invaders, with combat, diplomacy, and stealth
    • Maneater (PS5)
      • 2020
      • Open world action RPG where you start as a shark pup tasked with surviving the harsh world while eating your way up the ecosystem
      • People who recently purchased Maneater on either PS4 or PS5 have reportedly gotten automatic refunds from Sony, giving them free access to the PS4 version, but otherwise it’s only free on the PS5
  • Xbox
    • Little Nightmares
      • 2017
      • A dark, whimsical side-scrolling platformer that will confront you with childhood fears as you escape The Maw- a vast, mysterious vessel inhabited by corrupted souls looking for their next meal.
    • Bleed 2
      • 2017
      • Side-scrolling arcade action platformer featuring air-dodging, bullet-reflecting, and tons of bosses, like a 2D Bayonetta bullet-hell
    • The King of Fighters XIII

      • 2010
      • A significantly modified entry in the King of Fighters fighting game series that removed the guard attack, critical counter, and clash systems, as well as the dynamic zooming camera, in favour of new enhancements to super moves, Hyper Drive mode, and Drive Cancel.

 

Facebook and Twitter finally locked Trump’s accounts this week after his disinformation and incitement led to a riot that breached the US capitol building

  • After years of being complicit with Trump’s hate speech under the guise of public interest, all it took was armed police having to retake the US Senate, killing four and arresting 52, for these platforms to recognize that freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences, nor does it mean you are entitled to a platform or an audience
  • This is what you get when you have websites dedicated to driving engagement with extreme, polarizing content under the guise of news or social interaction

 

A couple of sizeable cyberattacks came to light involving software development and network management tools, impacting everyone using tools from Jetbrains and SolarWinds (including the US government)

  • Security researchers apparently told SolarWinds that anyone could access their update server using the password ‘solarwinds123’, but since no action was taken hackers used that to push malicious updates to their software
  • Among the targets were dozens of email accounts and government encryption keys, showing pretty definitively that we can’t trust them with the encryption backdoors that they’ve been demanding for years

 

Apple stealth-dropped the new AirPods Max, wireless over-ear headphones with all the bells and whistles including a premium price tag

  • The stainless steel headphones bring the AirPods Pro featureset to over-ear sound quality, and apparently they sound great, but they also cost $780 CAD
    • They make premium noise-cancelling headphones from Bose and Sony look downright affordable at half the price
  • They also come with a bizarre headphone-cozy to cover up the earcups and put them into sleep mode, but it’s a soft case that only covers the earcups with minimal protection
  • Also, if you want to use them wired instead of wireless you need to buy a separate lightning to 3.5mm cable specifically from Apple, and unlike competitors like Bose they won’t work wired if the battery is dead

 

US state and federal governments are suing Facebook in twin antitrust suits, looking to split up their monopoly over our digital lives including separating out Instagram and WhatsApp

  • Considering in the 6 years since purchasing WhatsApp the messaging went from “privacy is coded into our DNA” to “you can get some neat features if you let us connect your data” to now “if you want to use WhatsApp your data will be used for advertising and Facebook products”, I think they’ve got a pretty good shot
  • It would be great if they would pry Oculus out of there as well, but I haven’t seen mention of that anywhere

 

Cyberpunk 2077 had a rough launch, leading to refunds and even being pulled from digital stores after running abysmally on previous-generation consoles

  • And I do have to take back some of what I’ve said about the game- directors and marketing claimed the game was done months ago and the delays were caused by polish, but it just straight up wasn’t done. They needed more time, not more deadlines
    • Apparently even though the next-gen version won’t be released till later this year they never showed it running on the Xbox One or PS4 before launch (you know, the consoles that it was released for), leading to a lot of disappointment when people received the game and saw that it looked so much worse than they expected
    • CD Projekt Red released a statement apologizing for that, saying they should have spent more time making it run better
  • Hopefully they can continue to develop it into the game it should have been released as, leading up to its actual PS5/Xbox Series launch

 

Facebook’s begun using full-page newspaper ads to slam Apple’s upcoming privacy measures, claiming they’re standing up for small businesses, titled “Apple vs the free internet”

  • Taking the Epic Games approach, Facebook’s defending their practices by holding up a small-business strawman and saying that they just want to protect the little guy by getting to do whatever they want
  • The ads say that Apple’s changes will limit small and medium sized businesses ability to run personalized ads, leading to less bang for their buck, and that’s really all Facebook’s worried about. Not the fact that Facebook won’t have as much access to data they harvest on everyone to sell those very same ads. 
  • This is very much the same problem that law enforcement is having with encryption and privacy- they’ve had free access to look through peoples’ windows for so long, they can’t stand the idea of people installing blinds and being allowed to close them if they want to
  • The privacy measure that has them up in arms, by the way, is just a popup asking if you want to allow an app to track your activity across other apps and websites. There’s a spot where they can explain why they need it, and buttons to either “Ask App not to Track” or “Allow”. That’s it.
    • Maybe instead of wailing and tearing their shirts over this, crying to businesses that they have no choice but to comply with the tracking transparency features, Facebook should be convincing users why they should click Allow

 

Popular video conferencing app Zoom continues to be awful, now accused by the US Justice Department of suppressing calls about Tiananmen Square at China’s behest

  • According to the Washington Post, Zoom executives worked with Chinese law enforcement to monitor calls both within and outside of China for discussions of political and religious topics deemed unacceptable by China’s Communist Party
  • The monitoring lead to disrupting video calls, terminating accounts, and delivering personal information about identified users to government officials in China
  • This proves pretty definitively that they don’t use encryption, your calls are not private, and we as a global community need to stop using Zoom

 

These Weeks in Gaming History

December 8 – 1997 – Command & Conquer: Sole Survivor – Windows

  • This game is strictly multiplayer game.
    • It broke records with the fact that there can be 51 players playing it at the same time.
    • Every player has only one unit, and only one is to be the sole survivor.
    • Otherwise, the graphic is same as in original Command & Conquer DOS and GOLD version, with some extra units as a difference.

December 9 – 1995 – WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness – DOS

  • WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness is a fantasy themed real-time strategy game and sequel to WarCraft: Orcs & Humansset on the world of Azeroth.
    • With the conquest of the kingdom of Azeroth in the first war, the orcs are now preparing for an invasion of Lordaeron and conquer the remaining human, dwarven and elvisch realms.
    • In an effort to counter this invasion the humans, elves and dwarves formed an alliance in the hope to avert the same fate the kingdom of Azeroth met.
  • The game comes with many new features such as fighting not only over land but also over sea and air, SVGA 640×480 resolution graphics with many newly-rendered buildings and units, multiplayer-support with up to eight players, as well as a Red Book audio soundtrack, and a scenario editor that allows players to design and create their own scenarios.
    • The editor requires Windows 3.1 or greater, even though WarCraft II is a DOS-based game.

December 10 – 2020 – Cyberpunk 2077 – PS4, Xbox One, Windows

  • Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world, action-adventure story set in Night City, a megalopolis obsessed with power, glamour and body modification.
    • You play as V, a mercenary outlaw going after a one-of-a-kind implant that is the key to immortality.
    • You can customize your character’s cyberware, skillset and playstyle, and explore a vast city where the choices you make shape the story and the world around you.
  • Become a cyberpunk, an urban mercenary equipped with cybernetic enhancements and build your legend on the streets of Night City.
  • Enter the massive open world of Night City, a place that sets new standards in terms of visuals, complexity and depth.
  • Take the riskiest job of your life and go after a prototype implant that is the key to immortality.

December 11 – 2001 – Shadow Hearts – Playstation 2 North America

  • Yuri Hyuga is a young harmonixer: a man who possesses the power of transforming into demons.
    • He meets Alice Elliot, a young British girl whose father was brutally murdered, and who is chased by a mysterious warlock who calls himself Roger Bacon.
    • Yuri and Alice travel through the pre-war China, dealing with demons, evil magicians, and Japanese occupation army.
    • The journey eventually takes them and their friends to Europe, where they have to confront their ultimate enemy, but also uncover the truth about their own pasts.
  • Shadow Hearts is a Japanese-style role-playing game set in a historical period (China and Europe of 1913, one year before the World War I) with plenty of supernatural elements mixed in.
    • The game shares plot-related and stylistic traits with Koudelka, to which it can be considered a sequel.
    • The player navigates a party of characters (up to three active combatants) over pre-rendered backgrounds.
    • Combat with regular enemies occurs randomly. During battles, characters use regular attacks or cast spells.
    • In addition to the regular health (HP) and magic points (MP), each character also has a special SP (“sanity points”) bar.
      • Sanity bar is gradually depleted in combat; when characters run out of SP, they become insane and hence uncontrollable, until their sanity is restored with items.
  • The game implements traditional turn-based combat style for the battles, adding to it a feature called Judgment Ring.
    • Every time a character performs an attack, a ring with a spinning arrow appears on the top of the screen.
    • If the player stops the arrow when it is over a critical area on the ring, the attack will be more powerful.
    • However, missing the larger hit area will cancel the attack completely.
    • Various types of attacks have rings of various difficulty; usually, the more powerful a spell is, the smaller the hit area is on the ring.
    • The Judgment Ring is also used for other purposes; it can help the player reduce prices in stores, and is needed to solve several puzzles.
  • All characters except Yuri learn new abilities automatically when leveling up.
    • Due to his demon-fusion abilities, Yuri can collect soul energy and use it to acquire various fusion forms.
    • When Yuri transforms into a demon he gains unique abilities, and continues fighting with the party as a controllable character.
    • He also has to travel to a graveyard in his own mental realm from time to time, in order to face his own inner demons and clear Malice, negative vengeful energy the party accumulates by killing enemies.

December 12 – 2000- Star Wars: Episode I – Obi-Wan’s Adventures – Game Boy Color

  • Play as Obi-Wan through many levels of battle droids, similar in style to Jedi Power Battles.
    • You can use your lightsaber, blaster or the force to defeat the enemy and advance to the final showdown with Darth Maul.

December 13 – 1996 – Sonic Blast – Game Gear (Japan)

  • Sonic Blast was released for Game Gear in conjunction with Sonic 3D Blast (aka Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island) for Genesis/MD and Saturn.
    • It boasted similarly rendered character sprites and colorful backgrounds.
    • The game was yet another addition to the series, plus Sega had hoped it would be a boost to the dying Game Gear’s title selection at the time.
    • Brazilian based TecToy re-released the game for Sega Master System in 1997, a year after the initial release (while many may think this is a pirated title, TecToy is indeed licensed to produce and release games under the Sega name).

December 14 – 2017 – Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory – PS4, PS Vita (Japan)

  • Brand new title from the “Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth”.
    • Set in the near future, the line between the real and digital worlds is blurred, become a hacker and utilize computer viruses called Digimon to tackle the incidents caused by hostile hackers other Digimons.
  • Scan, raise, train and battle Digimon in classic turn-based gameplay!
    • 「Adventure」…Take on the role of a hacker within the cyber space and resolve the digital woes! Command Digimons and utilize your hacking skills!
    • 「Training」…Seek out Digimons and put them through intensive training before evolving into stronger breeds!
    • 「Battle」…Form your very own Digimon team for battle! Take on fights effortless with mastery of Digimon skills and elements at your disposal!
      • A total of 320 Digimon variants available and a wide range of brand new support skills effectively expands your battle arsenal.
  • Team battle simulation & quests such as the ”Domination Battle”, ”Territory Contest” etc. along with enhanced online gameplay elements are added as well.
  • With just this title, you would have access to all the gameplay elements ”Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth“ world could ever offer!
  • Main story from the previous title ”Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth“ included with cross-save features and special bring-over bonus available as well!
  • New players could fully enjoy the ”Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth“ series like any existing players too!

December 15 – 1992 – Batman Returns – DOS

  • Frigid winter winds swept over an already chilled Gotham City.
    • Random street crimes were running at an all-time high, despite the holidays.
    • Down below, in the city’s frozen sewers, Oswald Cobblepot, known as The Penguin, planned more mayhem and schemed the take over of the frightened metropolis.
    • His loyal army of missile-packing Penguin Commandos and the bizarre Red Triangle Circus Gang are energized by the evil genius of the web-footed orphan.
    • A desperate call to Batman goes up.
  • Batman Returns is an adventure game with fighting sequences, based on the movie of the same name.
    • Control Batman’s combat style, and help conduct relentless interrogations of The Penguins many allies.
    • Use the Batcave computer to input clues, analyze evidence, and review enemy bios.
    • You’re in charge of weapons, too.
    • Stock Batman’s Utility belt with enough heat to match the diverse fighting styles of The Penguin and cold-blooded, sewer-dwelling minions.

December 16 – 2003 – The Sims: Bustin’ Out – GameCube, PS2, XBox

  • The Sims: Bustin’ Out is the console sequel to The Sims and the second Sims game to appear on the major consoles.
    • Sims can now leave their house and visit all different kinds of locations.
  • In the mission-based Bust Out mode, the player starts at Mom’s house learning that evil Malcolm Langrabb is repossessing items from all the Sims homes.
    • Your job is to make enough money to buy back all the goods and eventually evict him from his own mansion.
    • The game also features an open-ended Freeplay mode.
  • Bustin’ Out’s big new features are the ability to visit and move between houses through the single player progression as well as an online multi-player mode for 2 people on the PS2.
    • The servers for the online mode have since been shut down.

December 17 – 2002 – Super Bubble Pop – GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Xbox

  • A combination of Tetris and Bust-A-Move, Super Bubble Pop has you controlling a character along the bottom of the playfield, who you use to throw bubbles of different colours towards the other side of the playfield.
    • As you throw them down the line, they will stack up in piles of six.
    • Linking three bubbles together will pop them (remove them from the field), and if there is a stack of six, the bubbles on the way will form a new stack in front of it.
  • The aim of the game is to remove all bubbles from the field, but there is another way of completing a game.
    • Tokens will appear during play, and by collecting enough, you can move on to the next round regardless of what you have on the playfield.

December 18 – 1998 – Star Craft: Brood War – Windows

  • StarCraft: Brood War is an add-on for StarCraft (requiring the full version of StarCraft) and a direct continuation of its story.
  • Plot:
    • With the demise of the Overmind on the Protoss home world at the end of the original game, the Zerg are left leaderless.
      • In an attempt to regain control, a number of cerebrates merge to form a new Overmind. Kerrigan, a human/Zerg hybrid however wants to take control of the Zerg herself.
      • The Protoss are evacuating what is left of their people from their ruined home world.
      • Meanwhile the United Earth Directorate (UED) have learned of the recent developments in the sector.
      • Fearing for the safety of Earth they sent an expeditionary fleet there to secure it.
  • Brood War brings several changes to the game, altering some gameplay aspects of the game, the most important change being the addition of new units.
    • The Terrans receive the Valkyrie, a craft with air-to-air fighting capabilities.
      • They also obtain the Medic, which can heal all non-mechanic units and, through upgrades, can use the Restore (remove all ailments on a unit) and Optical Flare (reduce the sight range of an enemy unit to 1) powers.
    • The Zergs receive the Lurker, obtained after mutating an Hydralisk, which can, and actually must, burrow to attack.
      • They also gain the Devourer, after mutation of a Mutalisk, an air-to-air unit, whose acid shots have notably the specificity of temporarily lowering the enemy defense, allowing other units to do increased damage.
    • The Protoss receive the Corsair, an air-to-air unit, which has access to the Disruption Web power (which, once cast, prevents targeted enemy units from firing outside of the web).
      • The Dark Templars, already seen in the original StarCraft are now a producable unit.
      • Their main strength lies in their permanent cloaking, allowing them to deliver their strong close combat attacks unharmed.
      • Additionally, in the same manner as two Templars can be merged as an Archon in StarCraft, two Dark Templars can now be merged to obtain a Dark Archon.
        • A Dark Archon has access to several powerful powers: Mind Control (giving permanent control of the targeted unit), Maelstrom (temporarily rendering all non-mechanical units within the target area unable to do anything) and Feedback (removes from a target unit the amount of energy it has available for special powers and inflicts it this amount as physical damage).
  • Besides the new units, some units already featured in StarCraft can now be upgraded in certain areas.
    • For instance, the Terran Goliath can have the range of its ground-to-air missiles be tremendously increased. Similarly, the Zerg Ultralisk can now receive speed and armor upgrades.
  • Other changes include a better AI and some alterations of the cost of certain units.
  • Three new campaigns are available.
    • In order, a Protoss campaign featuring 8 missions, a Terran campaign also featuring 8 missions and a Zerg campaign comprising 10 missions (plus a bonus mission if some requirements are met in mission 9).
  • The add-on also comes with about 100 multiplayer maps.

December 19 – 1994 – Blackthorne – DOS

  • The planet Tuul was a peaceful place, until the evil warrior Sarlac used the power of the Darkstone to take control.
    • Blackthorne’s father, the good King Vlaros, sent him to Earth just as his kingdom crumbled around him.
    • Now, twenty years later, Blackthorne is grown and must return to Tuul to free it from the clutches of Sarlac.
  • Blackthorne is a platform action game played from a side-view with non-scrolling backgrounds.
    • It has certain similarities to Prince of Persia, being set in maze-like environments and focusing on exploration and occasional puzzle-solving.
    • Blackthorne fights enemies by shooting at them.
    • His default weapon, a pump action shotgun, can be upgraded throughout the course of the game.
    • Various types of bombs can be used to damage enemies, blow open doors, or destroy generations.
    • Keys must be often found to gain access to new areas.

December 20 – 2013 – TRIHAYWBFRFYH (The Rapture Is Here And You Will Be Forcibly Removed From Your Home) – Browser, Mac, Windows

  • TRIHAYWBFRFYH is a short experimental game based on the theme of loneliness in the works of H. P. Lovecraft.
    • Set in a misty setting with fields, hills and forests, the protagonist experiences the last 20 minutes before rapture, the end of the world.
    • A large alien or celestial shape looms above while time counts down.
    • The player is free to explore the environment in any direction.
    • Four type of trails, marked by large vertical columns in a different colour, can be tracked.
    • When the character gets near one of them, part of a Lovecraft story is narrated and the coloured sphere appears somewhere else.
  • There are no clear goals in the game except to explore, listen to the stories and hear the electronic music drone on as the inevitable rapture gets near.
    • At regular intervals lightning may strike or an earthquake may occur.
    • Movement is done with four keys along with the mouse to look.
    • The secondary mouse button provides a zoomed-in view.

December 21 – 2000 – The Broken Land – Windows

  • An RPG game in the dungeon crawl style of Diablo.
    • The basic story involves you saving Heaven (not Earth) by re-combining the 5 pieces Heaven was split into by a battle with the gods and the forces of evil.
    • Game play is hack-and-slash with limited interaction with NPCs and merchants.
    • Characters have limited upgrades available to them as do the weapons and armor.
    • The game was released with no printed manual (it was included on the disk, but was inaccurate to the actual game play).

December 22 – 1998 – South Park – N64

  • A comet is heading toward South Park, causing many of the enemies from early seasons of the shows (including cows, aliens, and clones) to rise up and attack.
    • The player takes control of Kyle, Cartman, Kenny and Stan to fight through the town in a first-person perspective.
    • Features new dialogue from the original voice actors on the show.
  • Single player takes the form of a “Story” mode divided into five episodes and fifteen linear levels.
    • The player will face weak minions (which change based on the episode), plus occasional sub-bosses which will try to escape into town.
    • The final level is devoted to a unique boss fight.
    • Players use quirky weapons ranging from infinite yellow snowballs to cow launchers and toxic Terrance and Phillip dolls.
    • Every weapon has a secondary fire, and players switch between the four main characters when they switch weapons – each of the four kids shares a single life bar because of this.
    • The kids will comment on game actions as they occur, with heavier profanity censored with bleeps.
    • The kids will get angrier (and fouler) as their health depletes, until they finally give up on saving the town and go home.
  • A multiplayer mode lets players take characters and weapons they unlock in Story mode into small deathmatch arenas.
    • The PlayStation version supports 2 players, the N64 does 4, and the PC version allows players to go online to search for opponents through GameSpy.
    • Players can set standard victory options like knockouts or time limits.
    • Voice samples for multiplayer are also included, so the characters will make comments and taunts when hit.
  • Graphics are rendered in 3D, in a style approximating that of the show.
    • Draw distance is limited by a heavy fog, with varying severity based on the platform.
    • None of the environments are interactive, and only enemies respond to weapon hits.
    • The N64 version supports the Expansion Pak.

December 23 – 2015 – Who’s Your Daddy – Linux, Mac, PC

  • Who’s Your Daddy is a two-player versus game in which one player controls a bumbling father, while the other takes the role of his infant son.
    • The father is responsible for the baby’s well-being, and as such needs to work to baby-proof the house.
    • He can also perform chores that will grant special abilities that help him keep an eye on the child and any hazards.
    • However, the player controlling the baby is given the goal of taking his own life through whatever means are available, such as drowning himself or ingesting poisonous chemicals.
    • The baby wins if he is able to commit suicide, while the father wins if he is able to keep his son alive until time runs out.

December 24 – 2009 – Tuper Tario Tros. – Browser

  • Tuper Tario Tros. is a mash-up of two classic games: Super Mario Bros. and Tetris.
    • Inspired by the puzzle platforming in Lucidity, this is the first in a series of deep water experiments by the developers to test experimental game prototypes.
    • The game starts like a traditional Super Mario Bros. platformer clone with the classic elements, enemies and power-ups, until Mario encounters a wall that cannot be passed.
    • From that point on, it is possible to switch to Tetris-style gameplay with the press of a key to move around and rotate falling blocks to redesign the level, creating lines to make blocks disappear or building bridges to cross gaps.
  • While in Tetris mode, Mario cannot be moved, but the gameplay is not paused.
    • Enemies continue to move around and the screen also moves forward at a steady pace.
    • Blocks can also be used to crush enemies.
    • At the end of the level, there is an additional section where both modes need to be used quickly in succession to complete a time-limited end sequence.

December 25 – 2010 – Coffee Forever – Mac, Windows

  • In Coffee Forever, you must find coffee!
    • You begin on a screen that is mostly hidden.
    • You must move about the screen, revealing more of the screen and finding and gathering cups of coffee.
    • Once the minimum number of them are found, the level is complete.
    • You must find the minimum number of cups before your coffee meter, a.k.a. the timer, runs out.
    • Also, be careful as there are spikes on the playing field. If the time runs out or you hit a spike, you lose a life.
    • Lose all your lives and the game is over.

December 26 – 2001 – Final Fantasy X – PS2

  • Tidus is a young athlete who lives in a futuristic city of Zanarkand – “the city that never sleeps”.
    • He plays blitzball, a ball game where players throw the ball while flying around.
    • Suddenly, a terrible disaster happens.
    • A huge dark wave engulfs the city, spawning monsters.
    • Tidus comes in contact with the mysterious creature, and as a result finds himself in a different world, a thousand years into the future.
    • The civilization he is used to doesn’t exist any more.
    • He learns that the world he knew was destroyed by Sin, a terrible being that is believed to be indestructible.
    • Tidus meets a young summoner named Yuna, and joins her as a guardian on her quest to put an end to Sin.
  • Final Fantasy X is Japanese-style role-playing game set in a world somewhat similar to South Asia.
    • Only individual locations can be physically explored; there is no “world map” in the game, and exploration is fairly linear.
    • Enemy encounters are random; the game abandons the series’ traditional ATB (active-time battle) combat in favor of a Conditional Turn-Based Battle system, in which the turns of the participants are determined by characters’ stats and actions, with turn order displayed in the upper corner of the screen.
  • The game also departs from the usual leveling up system.
    • There are no character levels in the game: instead, experience points received after battles can be allocated by the player directly to upgrade the characters’ parameters.
    • Each character has his or her special “sphere map”, with straight or branching paths containing spots that increase the character’s personal statistics, or teach him or her active and passive abilities.
    • The characters are given distinct class attributes, and it is possible top switch between all the party members during the same battle. Monster summons (called aeons in the game) now behave like playable characters, have their own hit points (HP), and can fight for the party until defeated.
  • Conversations that occur during cutscenes have voice overs, for the first time in the series.
    • The game features various mini-games, the most prominent of which are blitzball tournaments.

December 27 – 1995 – The Indian In The Cupboard – Mac, Windows

  • Inside of a young boy’s cupboard, the tiny toy figurine native american named Little Bear has come to life.
    • Letting the tiny man guide you through several activities will allow you to bring more toys to life and show your accomplishments on your wampum belt.
    • Some of the available activities include the bead pictures game, where you practice your artistry with carved Iroquois templates and colored beads.
    • There’s also the Music Mimicry game and the Symbols game and several more.
    • Completing all the activities successfully opens up a new area, the Bedroom 3-D environment and makes available six different quests.

December 28 – 2004 – MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf – Xbox

  • MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf takes place roughly one year after the original MechAssault game.
    • This is not a simple extension of the first game.
    • There are a lot of new missions, vehicles (mechs, tanks, and whatever else the player can find), and worlds to explore.
    • Jump in and let’s go for a ride.
  • The game adds new gameplay elements to the system used in MechAssault.
    • In the original game, the player was a Mech pilot and nothing else.
    • Here, the player is the only pilot in the game world.
    • This means that the player can now get out of a Mech and drive someone else’s Mech.
    • Want to drive a tank or some of the other vehicles?
    • Well, now it is possible.
    • Jump in many of the vehicles and take one for a ride
    • Of course, the Battlemech still rules the field.
  • Like the original game, Xbox Live is fully supported for multiplayer gaming.

December 29 – 2005 – Dead or Alive 4 – Xbox 360

  • The fourth installment in the Dead or Alive series (excluding Beach Volleyball) continues in a similar vein of fighting game.
    • Delivering another dose of combo heavy action set in a variety of highly interactive locations.
  • With Helena assuming control over DOATEC an eclectic cast of fighters from all corners of the world all battle each other for some personal goal. Each character has vastly different, and often unusual, motives.
  • In the main game’s story mode each character fights through a series of encounters, often with a bizarre context eg. taking exception to cruelty to a T-Rex and a fight over a fresh lettuce are both examples of the rather odd but still hilarious Japanese humour.
  • XBOX Live support allows players to watch fights while waiting for their turn in the arena.
    • VOIP is also supported, as with many Live games.
  • Featuring a graphical upgrade and an improved fighting system (tested by some top DOA players before release) Dead or Alive 4 is aimed not only at the older DOA players, but enticing new gamers due to the less intimidating control system, and giving slightly less advantage to the experienced.

December 30 – 2010 – Pong Solitare – Browser

  • Pong Solitaire is a joke game from the web comic artist Steve Napierski.
    • It is a mix between Pong and Solitaire.
    • The gameplay is similar to the classic Pong game, except that the opponent’s paddle occupies the entire height of the screen.
    • That way you can only lose, as you grow tired of bouncing it back to yourself all the time.

December 31 – 1996 – Diablo – Windows

  • Story:
    • Long ago a secret war raged between Heaven and Hell, each using humanity as its pawns.
      • While the Prime Evils of Hell were engaged in war their lesser lieutenants conspired to overthrow them.
      • They mutinied suddenly with the combined forces of Hell, overwhelming the three Primes.
      • Stripped of their power, they were banished to the mortal realm.
      • Human agents of Heaven, upon discovering this, found the three Primes and sealed them within gemstone prisons, each of them sent to a different corner of the earth and kept under guard to prevent them from escaping.
    • As years turns to centuries, however, the power of Heaven’s agents waned, until eventually not even the people of the town of Tristram knew that buried deep under their chapel was the soul of the Lord of Terror, Diablo.
      • As the strength of his prison waned Diablo reached out into the world, corrupting the dreams of the land’s good king, driving him to attack his neighbors.
      • The nation of Khanduras fought wars with no intention of winning, desiring only slaughter and suffering.
      • Now the lands lay scorched, home only to monsters and the dead.
      • Rumors spread of a way to stop the demons, as well as rumors of great wealth, and both draw adventurers from far to the small town of Tristram.
  • Players start by choosing their avatar’s class: either Warrior, Rogue, or Sorcerer.
    • Warriors have the highest maximum strength and can repair weapons and armor inside the dungeon, but this will lower the item’s maximum durability.
    • The Rogue has the highest maximum dexterity and can both see and disarm traps on treasure chests.
    • The Sorcerer has the highest maximum magic attribute and can recharge the charges on a spellcasting staff at the cost of his own mana.
  • Characters can equip armor, weapons, and accessories found in the chapel’s shifting dungeons, but strong equipment will have minimum attribute requirements to be worn.
    • Most equipment will have randomized stats, but some strong monsters will drop Unique weapons with set stats.
    • Magic can be learned by finding magic tomes, and leveled up by finding multiples of the same spell tome, but advanced spell levels can not be learned if the character’s magic stat is too low.
    • Upon destroying enough monsters to level up the player is rewarded with additional attribute points to distribute to whichever attributes they wish.
    • Occasionally the few people left in town will inform the player of a job they would like done, either an exceptionally strong monster that must be slain or a unique item found deep in the dungeon, and will reward the player in kind upon completion of the quest.
  • Diablo can be played cooperatively with 1 to 3 other players over LAN or BattleNet with the PC versions, or with 1 player locally on the PlayStation.
    • Players can team up to survive the depths of the dungeons, or turn on each other to steal one another’s items from their corpse.
    • The quest unique zones are removed from the online version of a dungeon, and instead quest monsters will be found wandering the level that would normally lead to their unique area.

January 1 – 1990 – Hugo’s House of Horrors – DOS

  • Hugo’s sweetheart Penelope has vanished after visiting a haunted house on a babysitting job.
    • In order to save her, Hugo must explore the area around, within, and beneath the house and solve its mysteries, while surviving its many perils.
  • Hugo’s House of Horrors is a graphic adventure game, controlled with a combination of the arrow keys for movement, and typed commands such as eat steak to interact with the environment.
    • Some challenges are puzzles which must be solved by clever use of items found in the house, while others require quick and careful movement, or test the player’s knowledge.
  • This game is the first game in the Hugo’s House of Horrors shareware trilogy.
    • This full game was released as a taster for the full trilogy which includes this game plus the titles Hugo’s Mystery Adventure, Hugo’s Amazon Adventure, a hint book and an automatic solver which plays the game like a movie.

January 2 – 2010 – Newton Adventure – Linux, Mac, Windows

  • Newton Adventure is a 2D platform game with a unique feature: in order to get through the 21 levels, the player has to rotate them and change gravity at 360°.
  • By using this special rotating power, the hero can jump to distant platforms, make enemies fall or move objects.
  • Divided in four themed worlds (arctic, jungle, Vatican and Egypt), the 20 levels have the same goals: find the door to exit and the key that open it.
    • The key is an object to be brought by pushing it or by making it fall using gravity change.
  • Aside from completing the levels, the goals is to make highest scores possible, by killing enemies, collecting items or accessing to special bonus zones.

January 3 – 2007 – Paws & Claws: Pet Vet – Nintendo DS

  • You Love Animals and They Love You!
  • Now you can pamper and rescue all of your favorite creatures at your own Paws & Claws Pet Vet.
    • Nurture and love the animals to grow your business and become every animal’s best friend!
  • Features:
    • Nurse all of your injured patients back to health through 20+ cases
    • Choose from 10+ different kinds of animals, from cockatoos and guinea pigs to dogs and horses
    • Visit the 3D clothing shop and choose from 9 cute outfits
    • Become the best vet and you’ll grow your business into the biggest pet clinic in town!

January 4 – 2001 – Thandor: The Invasion – Windows

  • After the defeat of the Golraths, the Alliance of Averes have collapsed and the allies have turned enemies.
    • But in the times of turmoil and despair, some faithful Alliance soldiers are planning for a return to the glorious Alliance…
  • Thandor is a 3D RTS game where you build units and battle other factions for control of resources (to build more units).

January 5 – 2004 – Sonic Battle – Game Boy Advance (North America)

  • Sonic Battle is a fast paced pseudo-fighting game, akin to Super Smash Brothers from Nintendo.
    • Rather than being 3D side-scrolling, this game employs a 3D isometric view- not a static, sprite-based field though, it is comprised of actual texture-mapped polygons.
    • The character sprites are 2D though, and while you think it wouldn’t work- it does 😛
  • You can have 9 characters to choose from, 5 modes of play; Story, Battle, Challenge, Training, and Mini Games; you can link up 4 GBA’s to fight your friends, each character has a bunch of moves you can use to beat the you-know-what out of whoever you’re fighting.
    • It has a system of selecting Aerial, Ground, and Guard based attacks, and depending on what type of attack you set for which area (aerial/ground/guard), you have a possibility of 9 total different special attacks to choose from (only 3 at a time in a match though) which you can change each time you lose 1 stock point.
  • Among the other many features, Sonic Team has also made the game more dynamic with the addition of a trainable character whose abilities and techniques you can raise and add to.
    • You get to pick and choose every aspect of the robot’s style (running, attacking, jumping, dashing, etc etc etc etc etc).
  • The game takes a moderate amount of time to play through as all the characters, and adds a longer lifespan to itself if you wish to play through and beat it completely (all characters, get all moves for the trainable robot, etc).

January 6 – 2010 – Born Into Darkness – Mac, Windows

  • Nathaniel Black joins the vampire Amber Blythe on a treasure hunt around the world, where they must follow the clues left on artifacts and ancient tombs to retrieve the lost Shroud of Lazarus.
  • Born Into Darkness is a hidden object game with adventure elements, where the main objective is to find all pieces of inventory items, to assemble and use them later.
    • The interface tray at the bottom shows the silhouettes of the required objects whose parts are scattered around the location.
    • As in most point-and-click titles, the player moves between scenes by clicking on obvious exit hotspots like doors and other openings.
    • The silhouettes can be selected to show the all the parts necessary to complete the object.
    • Once assembled, the item can be dragged and dropped from the inventory to a logical portion of the scenery to solve puzzles or perform certain actions.
  • The inventory is framed by blue and red hint jewels and medallions for each main character.
    • There are slots for six jewels that highlight the position of one of the required parts when activated, showing only pieces for silhouettes that match their colors.
    • Extra hints can be earned by selecting one of the medallions to play a mini-game.
    • On Nathaniel’s mini-game, the goal is to find and click on the words listed at the top of the medallion on a pile of juxtaposed text at the center.
    • On Amber’s mini-game, the player has to click on the flying ghost whose portrait appears on slots at the side of the medallion.

January 7 – 1998 – Sentry – Windows

  • Sentry is a freeware remake of Geoff Crammond’s all-time classic, The Sentinel.
    • Gameplay remains true to the original, in this battle for dominance via height.
    • Climb higher by building towers of boulders, gain energy by absorbing natural resources and teleport around the strange checkered landscape via robot shells.
    • Meanwhile, you must avoid the deadly gaze of The Sentinel, who looks out from the highest peak.
    • Get higher than him, then absorb him and take his place as ruler.
  • This Windows version includes texture mapping, dynamic lighting, music, an infinite supply of levels and a host of options.
    • There are even two different stereoscopic modes.

January 8 – 2016 – Punch Club – Linux, Mac, Windows

  • Punch Club is a sporting management simulation in which the player manages an upcoming boxer in training and preparation for a series of boxing matches at a local club, while searching for clues of who killed their father.
    • The game was developed as a humorous take on action films of the 1980s and 1990s.
  • The player controls an unnamed boxer whose father, who helped to train him, was murdered.
    • The boxer aims to continue his training and become the best boxer at a local league, while following clues to lead him to who killed his father.
    • The player manages the boxer around the clock through various locations in a city, including his home, the boxing gym, stores, and his work place.
    • Time progresses when the player is involved in any activity, including moving between these locations.

Tidbits

  • Apple launched their “Privacy Nutrition Labels” on the App Store, giving you a full breakdown of what information they’re collecting when you use the app
    • If you want a wake-up call just head over to Facebook’s or Instagram’s listing and scroll through the plethora of info they’re harvesting
  • It begins again- Samsung is deleting posts mocking Apple about not including USB wall adaptors with new iPhones amid plans to do the very same with their Galaxy S21
    • Xiaomi is in the exact same situation too, releasing ads for their Mi10 phone highlighting the included power adaptor and now removing it from the Mi11 citing the environment
  • Adobe Flash is officially dead, with support having ended on December 31st
    • But that which is dead may never die, and you can still see Peanut Butter Jelly Time over at the Internet Archive thanks to emulators
  • Watch Death to 2020 on Netflix
    • Hilarious mockumentary about the year we all just got through, with some great actors and excellent writing

A Smart Bird Feeder

  • Bird Buddy is a Wifi enabled bird feeder
    • Notifies you on bird visitors
    • Takes their photo
    • And organizes it into a collection which is easy to share
    • It will also track the species and catalog it in a collection for you
  • What features make it a Smart Feeder
    • There is a front facing camera, that is equipped with AI that can recognize over a 1000 bird species
    • The built in microphone will also identify birds by song as they approach or pass by.
    • The mobile app lets you access these features as well, wherever you are
  • The module is detachable and upgrade-able from the bird feeder itself.
  • Very much funded
    • A goal of 50,000 euro
    • At time of note taking, over 3 million euro
  • Add on’s:
    • Solar Roof
    • Wall Mount
    • Fence mount
    • Suet Ball holder
  • You are also helping bird conservation
    • Tracking info on bird species will help with migratory patterns and data will be accessible by experts
    • Every feeder also includes a guide to bird feeding

 

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PS2J 325 News – Shadow of Servers

Security PSA: Update your Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader software

  • There have been a bunch of new security threats patched recently, open up Reader or Acrobat and go to Help > Check Updates to make sure you have the latest version

Free games

  • PlayStation

    • Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (free 4K Cinematic Pack is also available)

      • 2017
      • Assassin’s Creed-style action RPG set between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that has you continuing the story from Shadow of Mordor to forge a new ring of power and amass an army to fight Sauron, including an improved nemesis system that has you gathering followers and making lasting enemies
      • It initially had microtransactions and lootboxes, but they were removed about a year later.
      • There’s also a free 4k cinematic pack, and the DLC season pass is 80% off until the 21st
    • Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition

      • 2017 Metroidvania with some influences from the Soulsborne games, where you traverse an ancient plague-infested kingdom, fighting bosses and unlocking new abilities. It’s got great atmosphere and tight controls, and deaths aren’t overly punishing
      • Voidheart Edition is the 2018 port of the game to PS4 and Xbox One, including the four DLC packs
    • Bugsnax (PS5)

      • 2020
      • An indie adventure game where you explore a mysterious island and attempt to find and capture the titular half-bug-half-snack creatures, taking inspiration from Pokémon Snap, Ape Escape, Dark Cloud, and Viva Piñata
  • Xbox

    • Aragami: Shadow Edition

      • 2016
      • Action adventure stealth game with solid reviews where you take the role of Aragami, an assassin with supernatural abilities like teleporting between shadows
      • Shadow Edition includes the prequel Nightfall DLC
    • Maid of Sker

      • 2020
      • First person survival horror based on Welsh and British folklore, where it’s 1898 and you’ve been invited by your lover to uncover the mysteries of the Sker Hotel after she notices her family’s strange behaviour
    • Swimsanity

      • 2020
      • Multiplayer 2D underwater shooter with co-op and versus game modes, and both online and local play
    • Lego Indiana Jones

      • 2008
      • Lego-themed action adventure game that loosely follows the first three Indiana Jones films with the same kind of tweaks, humour, and classic drop in/out co-op play that characterizes Lego games
    • Full Spectrum Warrior

      • 2004
      • Squad-based real-time military tactics game where you’re commanding two fireteams to cover eachother and complete objectives
      • It was initially developed to be a simulator for the United States military in an experiment to leverage the original Xbox for training simulations, and then was retrofitted into a retail release with improved graphics and sound
  • Twitch

    • A Knight’s Quest

      • 2019
      • Action adventure game that puts you in the role of Rusty, a clumsy adventurer who accidentally sets about the end of the world. Solve mind-bending puzzles, fight challenging enemies, defeat huge bosses and platform your way through a fantastic open world.
    • Smoke and Sacrifice

      • 2018
      • Open-world narrative-driven RPG with hand-painted graphics that has you playing a mother forced to give up her son, adventuring into a grotesque underworld on a quest that will lead her to a darker truth
    • Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan

      • 2016
      • Action RPG that was successfully Kickstarted in 2015 and is based on African mythology, it has you playing a prince betrayed by your future brother-in-law and forging alliances to bring him down, with real-time brawler-style combat that has an emphasis on making combos to defeat enemies
    • Victor Vran Overkill Edition

      • 2017 port of the 2015 PC release
      • Action RPG resembling a Gothic-fantasy fairy tale where both magic and science have a place in the world, and it’s up to you to help the city of Zagoravia fight off a demon infestation of unknown origin
    • Lethis – Path of Progress

      • 2015
      • Old school 2D city builder set in a Victorian Steampunk universe called Lethis, that has you building and managing cities to provide resources for the inhabitants and make your citizens happy
    • Extreme Exorcism

      • 2015
      • “A paranormal platformer where every move you make comes back to haunt you”
      • 2D pixel platformer that has you jumping around and taking down ghosts with a deadly arsenal from rocket launchers to boomerangs, but at the end of each round a ghost appears and mimics your every move from the round before. The longer you survive the more extreme the game becomes
  • Epic Games

    • Dungeons 3

      • 2017
      • A combination dungeon builder and RTS, you’re tasked with creating an underground dungeon for creatures to live in as well as defending it against invading heroes from the world above. You can also send units out of the dungeon and take over areas of the world map, RTS style

Epic slApple fight

  • Plans are in place to get Fortnite back on iOS and iPadOS using Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service
    • Apparently Nvidia has developed a version of GeForce Now that works in Safari on Apple’s mobile devices, likely similar to what Microsoft’s xCloud and Amazon’s Luna cloud gaming services are aiming to use
  • Though there’s been no official announcement of the Safari launch, if this is true then GeForce Now will be the one and only way to play Fortnite on iPhones and iPads
    • I’d be curious to see what the details of this deal are, if Nvidia is getting the 30% cut now or if they’re just happy with the subscription cost for the service

Apple’s released a bunch of software this week

  • iOS 14.2 and iPadOS 14.2 are here with new emoji, wallpapers, bug fixes, and more
    • There’s a fantastic new accessibility feature included specifically for people with impaired vision, and it sounds like an amazing idea
      • The feature is called People Detection, in your accessibility settings under the Magnifier, and it uses augmented reality and machine learning to detect where people and objects are around you
      • Particularly well-suited for the LiDAR sensor in the 12 Pro, it can help blind or low vision users understand their surroundings better, such as knowing how many people are in line at a grocery store or where the end of a subway platform is
        • It can even tell you if you’re within six feet of another person
      • Users can set up a minimum distance for alerts, and receive feedback though vibrations or through their AirPods
        • People Detection is fully compatible with VoiceOver, Apple’s screen-reader tech
      • This seems really useful on the iPhone, but with rumours continuing to mount of eventual AR glasses from Apple this could be a gamechanger for people with vision problems
    • Intercom is here, letting you send and receive messages between HomePods
    • HomePods can now be connected to the Apple TV 4K for wireless surround sound and Dolby Atmos audio
    • Built-in Shazam music recognition can be launched from the Control Center
  • WatchOS 7.1 is out now, with improvements and fixes like notifications if your headphone volume could permanently affect your hearing, and a fix for issues some people were having with their watch not unlocking their Max as expected
    • They’ve also added ECG support for the Republic of Korea and Russia
  • macOS 10.15.7 Supplemental Update is available for download, improving the security of your Mac

Cloud gaming on the Nintendo Switch has come west with two new games for the device

  • Previously the Switch saw games like Phantasy Star Online 2, Resident Evil 7, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey playable through the cloud, but only in Japan
    • They were using the Taiwan-based Ubitus GameCloud service so they could run the technically demanding titles on the portable hardware of the Switch
  • Now they’re releasing Control and Hitman 3 on the service as well, this time including the rest of the world in the fun
    • The games need a <100MB install on the Switch, then they stream gameplay to and from the cloud using checkpoint saves in case you lose connectivity
    • Control Ultimate Edition – Cloud Version is out now and includes the base game and the first two expansions, The Foundation and AWE. It also includes the Expeditions end game mode, photo mode, and all of the additional updates since the release of the original.
      • According to early reports, thanks to the cloud infrastructure it can get up to 30fps with ray tracing and 60fps without
    • Hitman 3 – Cloud Version is the conclusion of the World of Assassination Trilogy. The game is expected to be released on Windows PC as an Epic Games Store exclusive in January 2021. No launch date for the Switch version was offered. Expect the final product to include plenty of sandbox locations to explore, and creative ways to bring down your assassination targets.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor will be losing online features, and thus the access to come achievements, on December 31st

  • The 2014 title will be losing:
    • The Nemesis Forge, which means players won’t be able to transfer their nemeses from Shadow of Mordor to Shadow of War
    • Vendetta missions and leaderboard
    • And WBPay will no longer be available, but the epic runs “Orc Hunter” and “Gravewalker” will automatically be given to all players
  • Those vendetta missions being removed means that there will be some achievements that it’s no longer possible to get, so if you want to 100% Shadow of Mordor you have till the end of the year

Apple has launched a new service program for AirPods Pro sound issues, which had many users hearing static or crackling noises as well as problems with Active Noise Cancellation

  • I experienced this myself multiple times in a row, with replacements thankfully being smooth and relatively painless through the mail
    • The biggest issue I saw was when I had the AirPods in my ears and then anything somewhat loud happened, either me clearing my throat or listening to loud audio
  • The issue may affect AirPods manufactured before October 2020 (so, basically all of them), so if you’re having issues it’s definitely worth reaching out to Apple Support and having them replaced

This Day In Gaming History

October 31 – 1997 – Diddy Kong Racing – N64

  • It’s an island takeover when the evil space wizard, Wizpig, discovers Tiger Island!
    • After the islands prized racetracks become sealed up, Timber Tiger contacts his friend Diddy Kong to help him reclaim the racetracks and save the island before his parents return.
    • Along for the ride are the Kremling spy Krunch, Bumper Badger, Banjo (prior to meeting Kazooie in Banjo-Kazooie), pre-sweary Conker, Tiptup Turtle, and Pipsy Mouse.
  • Diddy Kong Racing is a racing game with similarities to Mario Kart 64, in that you race with a variety of cheery racers while using weapons.
    • However, the similarities end there.
    • DKR includes an adventure mode, which features bosses, an overworld to explore, many hidden secrets, the addition of hovercrafts and planes, and a unique way of racing called the “Silver Coin Challenge”. In this mode, in addition to coming first, you must also find the eight Silver Coins deviously hidden throughout the courses (some in alternate paths).
  • The game also features a strategic method of using weapons.
    • Each colored balloon on the track matches a specific weapon, and collecting the same type of balloon multiple times in a row powers it up (to a maximum of three times).
    • This gives the player the choice of snatching every balloon available and using it immediately, or storing the existing weapon, and using a more powerful version of it later.
  • Up to four players can compete in the races, but in order to play new tracks, they must first be unlocked in the single player game.
    • There are also four battle modes of play – two standard deathmatch maps, a capture-the-flag style battle where you must nab eggs and hatch three of them in your home nest, and another where you must be the first to return ten bananas to your treasure chest (with the limitation of only being able to hold two at any one time).

November 1 – 1994 – Donkey Kong Country – SNES

  • King K. Rool has stolen Donkey Kong’s banana stash, and Donkey Kong needs your help to get them back.
    • In search of K. Rool, the Kremling horde impedes your progress. Kremlings, crocodile-like creatures, include Kritters (they succumb to a simple jump on the head), Krushas (they are virtually indestructible), and others.
    • There are also other enemies that block your path, such as beavers, snakes, vultures.
    • Leading them are dastardly bosses, including Very Gnawty, Necky, Queen B., and Dumb Drum, and they all bar the way with their own special blend of villainy.
  • Donkey Kong is joined by Diddy Kong: these two primates differ significantly.
    • For example, Donkey Kong is generally stronger; he can destroy most enemies with a single jump and can lift barrels straight over his head to throw them farther.
    • On the other hand, Diddy is faster and not as strong as Donkey; he can run really fast and do cartwheels. Diddy carries barrels in front of him, creating a shield against frontal attacks.
  • The original Super Nintendo game was later released for Nintendo’s handheld systems.
    • The Game Boy Color version has an exclusive level (Necky Nutmare) and additional bonus games, Funky’s Fishing and five Crosshair Cranky minigames.
    • There was also the addition of collectible DK sticker packs scattered throughout the levels.
    • These sticker packs could be printed out using the Game Boy Printer.
    • The game also has two more difficulty options that become available after beating the game.
    • Beating the game once lets the player turn off DK barrels and beating the game a second time will let the player turn off checkpoint barrels.
  • The Game Boy Advance version also had additional bonus games.
    • It to has a version of Funky’s Fishing but instead of the crosshair themed games, there is now Candy’s Dance Studio, which hosts six dance games.
    • There is also the additions of a time attack mode called DK Attack, a harder difficulty mode called Hero Mode (can only play as Diddy Kong and the game no longer offers Donkey Kong barrels and checkpoints throughout the levels), and the sticker book idea from the Gameboy Color version was replaced with collecting scrapbook pictures instead.

November 2 – 2001 – Burnout – PS2, Later on Xbox

  • Burnout is an arcade style racing game in the mold of the Test Drive or Need For Speed series.
    • In this game, you are racing on realistic streets with real traffic to contend with.
  • There are 6 courses on which to race, 3 of which are reminiscent of Europe, and 3 from the USA.
    • There are several vehicles to choose from, ranging from compact cars to pickups.
    • However, they are not based on real makes and models.
  • One notable feature of Burnout is the “Burn Meter.”
    • The Burn Meter is a gauge that is filled by performing reckless stunts, like racing into oncoming traffic or power-drifting through corners.
    • Once the Burn Meter is filled, your car gets a super speed boost.
    • If you crash, the Burn Meter is reset and must be filled again to achieve a boost.

November 3 – 2006 – Nacho Libre – Nintendo DS

  • Based on the upcoming feature film starring Jack Black, Nacho Libre offers fans comedic wrestling mayhem–exaggerated moves, wacky props and lots of pratfalls delivered with a unique photo puppetry look.
    • Jack Black stars as Ignacio (friends call him “Nacho”), a cook by day in a Mexican orphanage, who moonlights as a lucha libre wrestler to raise money for the orphans.
  • Six play modes:
    • Story Mode (single player, tied to the movie plot)
    • Vs. Mode, Team Mode (2 vs. 2)
    • Battle Jam (2-4 player wireless brawls)
    • Quick Match
    • Championship Match (multiplayer only)
  • Wrestle in four different arenas from the movie
    • Play as 20 different luchadors based on characters from the movie.
    • Each has his/her own wrestling moves and special attacks.
    • Take on your opponents with headlocks, grapples, holds and pin moves or create combos for devastating, and comical, results
    • Use the Touch Screen to play eight themed mini games including Nachoball, Footrace, Bee Swat, Bullrun, Cliff Climber, Chariot Jump and more
    • Unique “photo puppetry” art style lends the game a distinctive, humorous look
    • Includes recreated cut scenes from the movie in between the action
    • Unlock bonus material after playing through Story Mode

November 4 – 2010 – Kinect – Xbox 360

  • The origins of the Kinect started around 2005, at a point where technology vendors were starting to develop depth-sensing cameras.
    • Microsoft had been interested in a 3D camera for the Xbox line earlier but because the technology had not been refined, had placed it in the “Boneyard”, a collection of possible technology they could not immediately work on.
  • In 2005, PrimeSense was founded by tech-savvy mathematicians and engineers from Israel to develop the “next big thing” for video games, incorporating cameras that were capable of mapping a human body in front of them and sensing hand motions.
    • They showed off their system at the 2006 Game Developers Conference, where Microsoft’s Alex Kipman, the general manager of hardware incubation, saw the potential in PrimeSense’s technology for the Xbox system.
    • Microsoft began discussions with PrimeSense about improvements in the capabilities of depth-sensing cameras, a reduction in size and cost, and a means to manufacturer the units at scale was required.
  • Nintendo released the Wii in November 2006, where motion control was the focus.
    • Microsoft felt pressure from the Wii, and began looking into depth-sensing in more detail with PrimeSense’s hardware, but at that time, could not get to the level of motion tracking they desired.
    • Microsoft also looked to create an equivalent of the Wii Remote, but it was discarded as it was still ultimately Microsoft’s goal to remove any device between the player and the Xbox.
  • Nearing the planned release, the problem of widespread testing of Kinect in various room types and different bodies accounting for age, gender, and race among other factors, while keeping the details of the unit confidential. Microsoft engaged in a company-wide program offering employees to take home Kinect units to test them.
    • Microsoft also brought other non-gaming divisions, including its Microsoft Research, Microsoft Windows, and Bing teams to help complete the system.
    • Microsoft established its own large-scale manufacturing facility to bulk product Kinect units and test them.
  • Somewhat recent Kinect news!
    • On May 7, 2018, Microsoft announced a new iteration of Kinect technology designed primarily for enterprise software and artificial intelligence usage.
    • It is designed around the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, and is meant to “leverage the richness of Azure AI to dramatically improve insights and operations”.
    • It has a smaller form factor than the Xbox iterations of Kinect, and features a 12-megapixel camera, a time-of-flight depth sensor also used on the HoloLens 2, and seven microphones.
    • A development kit was announced in February 2019.

November 5 – 1998 – Hey You, Pikachu! – N64

  • Hey You, Pikachu! is a Pokémon adventure game.
    • The game allows you to speak directly to Pikachu via the Voice Recognition Unit (VRU) included with the game, in order to tell Pikachu what to do and help direct the adventures the two of you embark on.
  • The game features 20 different minigames which you and Pikachu play together.
    • Some involve you catching water Pokémon, while another might send you search for ingredients for stew.
    • When the minigame is over, you go back home and sleep, waking up the next day to play another game.
    • As the game progresses more of the features and minigames are unlocked, and Pikachu’s friendship meter will grow.
  • Pikachu will understand around 200 different words or simple phrases like “come here”, “stop that”, and “eat it”. Voice communication is the primary method of interacting with the game, though the analog stick is used for navigation.

November 6 – 2012 – Halo 4 – XBox 360

  • The game sets the stage for a new story in which Master Chief returns to confront his destiny and face an ancient awakened evil that threatens all life in the universe.
    • The main campaign also heavily explores the relationship between Master Chief and his AI companion, Cortana.
    • Cortana is nearing the end of her life, before devolving into a state called Rampancy in which an AI begins to think itself to death.
    • The campaign features both first-person shooter and driving elements, and can be played either single player or co-cooperatively (either over Xbox Live or split-screen).
    • It features new weapons and an entirely new class of enemy characters called Prometheans.
  • And for some PS2J History
    • We did our first Live episode on Alan’s phone
    • I made the link ps2jshow.com/halo4 for anyone interested in some of our podcasting history

Tidbits

  • Development on Friday the 13th: The Game is coming to an end, with its last patch releasing sometime this month
    • The dedicated multiplayer servers will be shut down, but online play will continue with peer-to-peer hosting
  • The Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity demo is now up on the Switch eShop, and it looks pretty cool
    • It includes the first chapter of the game, and progress will carry over to the full release on November 20th
    • Without getting in to spoilers, they may be settings things up so that the story doesn’t end how we’re all expecting after seeing Breath of the Wild
  • There’s yet another Apple Event going on this year, scheduled for November 10th
    • Titled “One more thing”, there aren’t many clues about its focus but people are expecting AirTags (Apple’s new lost item tracking devices) and new computers with Apple’s fancy custom processors
    • We may also see more information on macOS 11, Big Sur
  • The new Apple One subscription bundles went live this week, offering a few different plans to save money if you subscribe to services like Apple Music, Apple TV, Apple Arcade, and iCloud Storage
  • Apple’s also spinning up their new “nutritional labels” for apps, giving people a breakdown on each app’s product page for what data types they may collect, what data may be used to track you, and what data isn’t linked to you at all
  • 2K Games and EA are under fire for misleading info when it comes to NBA2K card packs
    • Apparently one of the players, James Harden, was completely missing from the gatcha packs that he was supposed to be included in for the first 23 minutes of release, and enough whales were trying to get him right away that thousands of dollars were wasted
  • The source code for Watch Dogs Legion has already leaked, leading the way for mods and cracks ahead of its November 10th release
  • Mark Zuckerberg is trying to make the case that Apple’s ad tracking blocks will damage economic recovery from COVID-19
    • He specifically pointed the out mandatory notification when an app or website wants to track users, saying that letting people know they can opt out will hurt “small businesses and economic recovery in 2021 and beyond”, though I’m guessing this is just a redirect for how hard Facebook itself will be hit by the changes

iPhone 12 Pro mini review

  • The Pacific Blue is very pretty, and makes me want to use my phone without a case
    • The frosted glass back feels very nice, but I worry about drops and scratches
  • The extra RAM (6GB instead of 4GB) is actually noticeable when resuming games
  • The overall performance has been great too, and according to PhoneBuff tests have it out performing the Samsung Note 20 Ultra (that actually has double the RAM)
  • The camera is a huge upgrade over the X, especially night mode
    • It automatically runs long exposures if needed, and if the gyroscope detects it’s attached to a tripod it offers even longer options
  • The extra size isn’t really noticeable
  • Magsafe is slick for chargers, especially if you already use a lot of wireless charging, but from what I’ve seen online accessories like the leather wallet don’t really seem to stick in day-to-day use

Dead by Daylight mini mini review

  • Asynchronous 1v4 slasher game
  • Bit of a cash grab with its DLC, but on GamePass it’s a lot of fun
  • Wraith is my boy!

 

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

Thank you for your continued support Karen, we may not be podcasting today without your drive to make a podcasting community in Alberta. Listen to her and her daughter on Thats A Thing?!

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PS2J 307 News – Ransomware Quality Control

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Melbits World

      • 2018
      • Co-op puzzle platformer where you team up and use your phone as your controller to guide your characters through challenging, intricate levels
    • Kunai

      • 2020
      • Billed as a quirky, fast-paced action platformer, you play as Tabby, a tablet who joins the fight against a robot uprising using his kunai and ninja-parkour
    • Dear Esther: Landmark Edition

      • 2017 remaster first released in 2008 as a free-to-play mod for the Source engine, then later redeveloped into a commercial release in 2012
      • First person exploration and adventure game that is considered to have started the “walking simulator” genre, it has you exploring an unnamed island in Scotland, listening to a troubled man read a series of letters to his deceased wife
    • Dark Devotion

      • 2019
      • Action adventure game where you explore the secrets of a mysterious fallen temple and put your Templar’s faith to the test
    • Turok 2: Seeds of Evil

      • 1998
      • First person shooter originally released on the N64, it follows Turok’s efforts to stop a powerful alien entity from escaping the confines of his Lightship
    • Reus

      • 2013
      • God game where you control giants that can modify the nature of the planet through terraforming, creating life, and altering genes
    • GRIP: Combat Racing

      • 2018
      • Originally a Kickstarter campaign that I backed in 2015, it raised $154K of its $657K goal before it was taken down, but it was still announced to be pushed into early access
      • High octane hardcore combat racer inspired by Rollcage, Wipeout, Motostorm, and Podracer with gravity-defying twists and heavy weaponry
  • Xbox

    • WRC 8 World Rally Championship

      • 2019
      • The official game of the 2019 World Rally Championship, it’s a simulation rally racing game with new physics for all surfaces and a redesigned career mode
    • Saints Row 2

      • 2008
      • Sandbox action-adventure game that has you leading the Third Street Saints gang against three rivals and the corrupt Ultor Corporation, with a more comedic tone to set the game apart from Grand Theft Auto
  • PS4

    • NBA 2k20

      • 2019
      • Basketball simulation game featuring current and past players and teams, along with up to six custom expansion teams and the ability to relocate and rebrand any time
      • It also included, for the first time, all 12 teams from the WNBA, though they can only be played in one-game exhibition and single-season modes, and the game drew criticism for its gambling-based minigames that overshadowed the basketball in early trailers
    • Rise Of The Tomb Raider – 20 Year Celebration

      • 2016 update to the 2015 release, with updates including coop play and classic outfits as well as combat-free exploration and zombie modes
      • Action-adventure sequel to the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, it has standard ruins exploration and bowplay but this time set in Siberia
    • Erica

      • Bonus for the 10th anniversary of PS Plus
      • 2019
      • Live-action interactive adventure thriller with multiple endings that feels Heavy Rain-esque, putting you in the role of Erica, a brave young lady who is plagued with nightmares of her father’s murder and has to unearth the truth behind the tragedy
  • Epic Games

    • Hue

      • 2016
      • Puzzle platformer where you explore a grey land while searching for your missing mother, and along the way you uncover coloured pieces that reveal new puzzles. The more colours you find, the more complex the puzzles become

Co-Founder of Cards Against Humanity Max Temkin has stepped down following accusations of racist and sexist office culture (courtesy of Polygon)

  • For anyone unaware, it’s like a lewd version of Apples to Apples with references to politics, pop culture, sex, and so on
  • It started as a DIY print your own game distributed for free, but after a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign it became the focus of a multi-million dollar game company
  • In the past few weeks multiple former employees have shared stories of racist and sexist behaviours that largely affected Black employees, as well as some accusations of sexual assault by Temkin
  • Many people reporting these behaviours remained anonymous due to fear of retaliation, and that seems to have been well founded after several employees described being fired for confusing or unexpected reasons after raising concerns about discrimination at work
  • Cards Against Humanity’s official response is that “some of these accounts are true, others are not, and a few we are continuing to investigate”
  • It seems almost inevitable that a company trading on humour powered by shock and racial stereotypes, like all the variations on “A big, black dick” that exist in the game, would have some problems, but though they’ve tried to increase sensitivity and remove some cards deemed offensive, there are still many packs being sold today that include cards that marginalize vulnerable groups of people
  • There have also been stories shared from the writer’s room about how the head writers like Temkin would push for the inclusion of cards like “Saying the N-word”, despite the protests of the one Black employee on the team
  • A spokesperson pointed Polygon to 14 cards, out of the hundreds available for the game, that “reflect Black culture, history, and perspectives”. In a follow-up they clarified that the game has “well over 100” cards that do that, and the examples were merely a favourite sampling, but the gesture reeks of “I’m not racist, I have a Black friend”
  • Many former employees described their departure from the company as “escaping”, and since there was no real HR department to speak of they felt unheard and powerless even after leaving, for fear of lawsuits and reprisals. The Chief Operating Officer was the sole HR department, and was also in charge of finance, operations, and legal. His close working relationship with Temkin led to concerns about bringing issues forward.
  • Apparently Cards Against Humanity is hiring an independent third-party HR consultant to audit and improve its practices, but from the sounds of it a lot of damage has been done to a lot of lives
  • Former employees also spoke of Temkin yelling at employees, and said that people on staff often spoke on Slack about the most private places to cry after encounters with him, and that he exerted undue influence over not only people’s livelihood but also their personal lives- in one case, Temkin decided that an employee would have to stop seeing someone or they would get “kicked out”
  • And all of this from a company that has opposed Trump, donated money to charity, and given scholarships to women in STEM programs has left many with whiplash after experiencing what the company culture was like internally
  • As of June 9th Temkin has stepped down from the company and will have no staff interactions, and though he maintains 1/8th of the company’s shares he will not receive a salary.
  • With these reports becoming public and the employees gaining courage and support they’ve established the Cards Against Humanity Workers United union and begun to demand recognition from the company’s owners, looking to establish better collaboration and transparency between workers and management after the trust has been eroded so thoroughly already
  • In a statement provided to Polygon, the company’s leadership says that it intends to recognize the union, and that if the majority of their employees want a union they’re all for it

Reddit has officially, finally, banned the “The_Donald” subreddit

  • The ban was part of the site’s overhaul of its hate speech policies, and will affect the more than 790,000 users that used it to post memes, videos, and messages supportive of Trump
  • This came down because of the group’s consistent breaking of its rules by allowing people to target and harass others with hate speech
  • Reddit’s chief executive, Steve Huffman said “Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people. ‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that”
  • At the same time, Twitch temporarily banned Trump from the service for hateful conduct, for things like video of his kickoff rally where he claimed that Mexico was sending rapists to the US
    • Twitch has apparently begun issuing permanent bans to other streamers because of hate speech, with long-time popular streamer Dr Disrespect receiving one without specific details on why
    • It sounds like Twitch is taking moderation a lot more seriously, and not just allowing racist or hateful language just because it’s newsworthy due to its source
  • In the words of the Daring Fireball, “It’s a race to get out of Dodge as the whole world gets its footing back on the rightful notion that bigotry is shameful and must be shunned.”

Warning to all pirates running macOS, there’s a new ransomware making the rounds

  • The new EvilQuest ransomware variant is being spread through pirated Mac apps, according to Malwarebytes, and was initially found in a download for Little Snitch found on a Russion forum
  • The infected installation does install Little Snitch, a tool for monitoring network traffic on your computer, but also moves and installs files throughout your system to encrypt both system and personal files on your computer before prompting for a $50USD ransom
    • The malware apparently doesn’t work very well though, as the ransom instructions are often not displayed properly and you don’t actually get your files back if you pay it
  • Malwarebytes says their software can remove the infection, but any encrypted files will need to be restored from backups

Clone High is coming back!?!

  • For the multitude that missed it the first time around, it was an animated series about the teenage clones of historical figures going to high school together, that worked as an out-loud parody of teen soaps like Dawson’s Creek with things like every episode opening with “Tonight, on a very special episode of Clone High…”
  • It was cancelled after one season due in part to its depiction of the clone of Mahatma Ghandi and controversy outside of North America. Even the DVD release never made it outside of Canada
  • Well apparently Clone High’s creators went on to make a few films like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie, and Spider-Verse
  • So it seems like now that they’ve got some pull after a few hits, they’re bringing the show into the era of Riverdale, Pretty Little Liars, and 13 Reasons Why, so maybe we’ll finally get some closure to the first season’s cliffhanger two decades later. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with this

Tidbits

  • Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa has officially apologized for the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift issue, saying “Regarding the Joy-Con, we apologize for any trouble caused to our customers. We are continuing to aim to improve our products, but as the Joy-Con is the subject of a class-action lawsuit in the United States and this is still a pending issue, we would like to refrain from responding about any specific actions.”
    • Nintendo began offering free repairs for controllers afflicted with drift shortly after the lawsuit was filed, but with its built-in controllers the Switch Lite was also added to the class action suit a week after its September launch
  • Microsoft has updated their enforcement guidlelines for Forza Motorsport, banning players using the custom design feature to put confederate flags or swastikas on their cars
    • Some have raised issues with this, complaining that iconic cars like the Dukes of Hazard’s General Lee had nothing to do with race and featured a large depiction of the flag on its back, but just because an unproblematic show used the flag doesn’t mean it’s not a problematic symbol itself
    • Even the General Lee car itself, owned by pro golfer Bubba Watson, had its flags removed in 2015
  • According to rumours, Apple may be removing the charger and EarPods from new iPhone boxes, leaving just the phone and a USB cord
    • The switch would allow them to reduce packaging and waste, and for many long-time iPhone users it wouldn’t be a large issue, but it seems like the option should still be there to make sure you have everything you need if you’re buying for the first time
    • One idea I’ve seem on reddit is to either have two different versions, which could get confusing, or include a coupon for the value of the charger inside the box. Then you can get one for free or use the savings on another Apple device, though it’s still an additional step
  • Now through July 10th Apple is giving you an extra 10% bonus when adding funds to your AppleID
    • On your phone you can go to Settings, tap on your name, iTunes & App Store, tap on your AppleID, View AppleID, then tap Add Funds to Apple ID
  • After taking fire for reading iPhone clipboards every time users type a single character into the app, TikTok has promised to release an update to stop reading that information from devices
    • iOS 14 beta shows a notification each time an app reads your clipboard and so this was really highlighted in TikTok, but it’s also behaviour being seen in other apps like AccuWeather, Overstock, AliExpress, Call of Duty Mobile, Patreon, and Google News
    • TikTok claims it’s part of an anti-spam feature and they don’t actually read what you may have copied from another app, but there’s no way to verify that. With it being a Chinese company whose algorithm is a complete black box, you can assume that they’ve stored copies of whatever you had on your clipboard while using the app
  • Microsoft is officially shutting down their physical stores worldwide, except for four specific locations in the US, England, and Australia that will become “experience centers” that no longer sell products
    • The stores were originally inspired by Apple Stores both in concept and execution, but failed to really get a foothold in the market
    • verynicewebsite.net put it well – “I do enjoy their PR headline: “Microsoft Store announces new approach to retail.” The new approach: not doing retail.”

 

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

Thank you Breanne, our podcast friend and someone we don’t want to miss out on! 😉

And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
And talk to us in the comments!

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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PS2J 279 News – Edited as Desired

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Nuclear Throne

      • 2015
      • Top-down roguelike shooter that has you going through procedurally generated levels either solo or in co-op, working your way ever closer to the Nuclear Throne
    • RUINER

      • 2017
      • Top-down cyberpunk shooter where you play a silent, masked protagonist attempting to rescue your kidnapped brother from the failing conglomerate that controls the entire metropolis
  • Twitch

    • Double Cross

      • 2019
      • A Mega Man style action platformer that has you controling Zahra Sinclair, an agent of RIFT who can jump, walljump, and use her proton slinger to grab objects or swing herself around
    • Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition

      • 2015 remaster of the 2012 title
      • Action hack and slash RPG that has you exploring open-world regions, solving interactive puzzles, and kicking butt in a kind of God Of War / Ocarina Of Time hybrid
    • Planet Alpha

      • 2018
      • A side-scrolling adventure platformer where you’re pursued by relentless enemies and must harness the power of night and day as you struggle to survive
    • Sword Legacy: Omen

      • 2018
      • Turn-based tactical RPG in a re-imagined King Arthur mythos where you play a vengeful knight in search of the long-lost Excalibur
    • Turmoil

      • 2016
      • Simulation game inspired by the 19th century oil rush in North America, where you start from scratch to become a successful oil entrepreneur
  • Xbox One

    • Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter

      • 2016
      • Adventure mystery game in the same series as Crimes & Punishments, that has you exploring crime scenes and examining clues to link deductions and attempt to find the culprit
    • The Final Station

      • 2016
      • A side-scrolling shooter with a train simulator and exploration elements, where you have to balance taking care of the train and its passengers with exploring the apocalyptic world at each train station in order to keep moving
    • Star Wars Jedi Starfighter

      • 2002
      • A single-player or co-op spaceflight combat game set just prior to Attack of the Clones and during the Battle of Geonosis
    • Joy Ride Turbo

      • 2012
      • Combat kart racing game similar to the Mario Kart series
  • PS4

    • Nioh

      • 2017
      • Action RPG developed by Team Ninja where you play an Irish sailor pursuing a sorceror into the final battles of the Sengoku period in Japan
    • Outlast II

      • 2017
      • First person survival horror game that has you trying to find your wife while beset by a village of deranged end-times cultists with no way to fight back

AirPods Pro review

  • Very comfortable, though with the in-ear design it’s slightly harder to get them seated right (but I had pretty much perfect ears for the old style, so others may see it as an improvement), and the noise cancelling is solid
  • Transparency mode is ridiculously good, and it automatically switches to that when you’re just using one so you don’t have one blocked up ear
  • Announce messages seemed like a gimmick until I was busy on my computer and Siri read my incoming texts unobtrusively
  • The case looks bigger, but the just turned it on its side and stretched it a little, so it totally still fits in that 5th pocked on jeans
  • Also enjoying improvements from Gen 2, since I’m coming from G1- Hey Siri and wireless charging are handy to have
  • If you’re in the market for some new ANC headphones these are solid, but if you’ve got a good pair or are already using AirPods 2 then they’re a little harder to justify

Blizzard president J Allen Brack took a moment before the Blizzcon opening ceremonies to apologize for their punishment of professional Hearthstone player Blitzchung’s public support of Hong Kong’s protests

  • In the toothless statement he went on to say though that “Blizzard had the opportunity to bring the world together in a tough Hearthstone esports moment”
  • A few problems here:
    • It wasn’t a “tough Hearthstone esports moment”
    • He passed up another opportunity to “bring the world together” by saying anything at all in support of Hong Kong
    • He said nothing about the groveling they did to China on social media after the fact
    • And they still punished not only Blitzchung but also the commentators that were interviewing him

Overwatch 2 was announced, as expected, and we’ve got all the details

  • So it looks like this is kind of a pseudo-sequel; they’re releasing an updated game UI with revamped/remastered graphics and gameplay, along with multiple new heroes, maps, and a game mode, all for free for existing Overwatch players.
    • The new Push game mode, coming to quick play and competitive, has the two teams competing over a neutral payload that gets pushed in either direction based on who controls it
    • There will be four new maps: Toronto, Gothenburg, Monte Carlo, and Rio De Janerio
    • We also got a sneak peak at a couple of the upcoming heroes- Sojourn, the first Canadian OW hero that uses a cool gun that looks like a covenant sniper rifle, and Echo, an omnic that’s been teased in the base game for a while now
    • All skins, cosmetics, and other progress will carry over seamlessly
  • Where Overwatch 2 itself comes in to play is a new look for all heroes, a new co-op story mode and hero missions, and new hero talents for the PVE modes
    • The new modes seem to be permanent co-op modes like Halloween Terror or the Archives missions
    • Hero talents will have you levelling up and customizing hero abilities and ultimates to suit your playstyle
  • One nice thing with the new stuff coming is they can grow the canon inside of the game itself- right now we get lore dumps online but it has no real impact in-game
    • Overwatch re-forming and characters meeting or reuniting will have actual impact, instead of the current PVP grab-bag of characters having amusing interactions inside the dropship
  • If you want all of that stuff, you’ll have to buy the new… expansion, I guess? Plug-in? when it comes out at some point in the future for some currently undisclosed price
  • All in all it looks like they’re doing a fair amount to breath new life into the 3.5 year old shooter, though you’ll end up buying it again to see everything they have to offer

Tidbits

  • Real-time multiplayer is coming to Mario Kart Tour, but for now it will be limited to a beta offering only for Gold Pass subscribers
    • There aren’t any details on if it will require a subscription once it’s fully released, but if it does I can see it being a pretty sparse game with the subscription price costing more than their main console offering, Nintendo Switch Online
  • Sony’s PS4 is officially the second best selling console of all time, with about 2/3rds of the sales of the PS2
    • It’s doubtful that it’ll ever be number 1 though, as even though Sony says they’ll support it until at least 2021 the PS5 is expected to hit in 2020’s holiday season
  • DeepMind’s AlphaStar AI has officially hit Grandmaster status in Starcraft II, beating 99.8% of ranked human players with all three races, and I for one welcome our new robot overlords
  • Rudy Giuliani, one month after being named Trump’s cybersecurity advisor, apparently had to go to an Apple Store to wipe and restore his iPhone after getting it locked down from 10 unsuccessful passcode attempts
    • Many experts criticized the move, saying that there’s too much risk of employees gaining access to sensitive government information on the phone or in his iCloud backups
  • I don’t know how I missed this, but ghostwriter is getting rebooted on Apple TV+!
    • 90’s kids might remember the series running from 92 to 95 on PBS

Alan recommends QCode podcasts (Carrier, Edge of Sleep)

Literally Misleading

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Alert: Anyone still using an iPhone 5 should update their software immediately

  • As of November 3rd core functionality of the phones will break due to a GPS bug with daylight saving time, and if you haven’t already updated to iOS 10.3.4 by then you’ll have to manually do so through your computer- iCloud connections and over-the-air updates will no longer work

Samsung has released an update to address the fingerprint fiasco on their Galaxy S10 and Note 10 devices

  • A couple weeks ago we talked about the problem with Samsung’s revolutionary new ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor, and how by applying a screen protector to the device you can unlock it with anything from a piece of fruit to a small toy
  • Samsung’s now officially released a fix for this problem, and they’ve said they’ll be sending notifications to all users who have registered their fingerprints in their devices
    • They’re also asking anyone that has registered their fingerprint with a screen protector applied to remove it, then delete and re-register their prints, since the stored prints may include “incorrect” info
  • Time will tell if Samsung can earn back the trust of the security community though, with many banks worldwide pulling fingerprint verification from their apps on varying ranges of Samsung and Galaxy devices
    • The Bank of China even blocked it for Tab S6 users, which uses a standard optical sensor instead of the in-display ultrasound

Just days before Blizzcon is slated to begin, reputable leaks have popped up on ESPN of all places showing what appears to be Overwatch 2

  • From the looks of things it will be introducing a new PVE experience, possibly similar to some of their event game modes that have had a team of heroes playing against waves of enemies, as well as new game modes, maps, and heroes
  • There’s also new artwork hidden on the Blizzard Gear website featuring a group of Overwatch heroes charging into battle including Echo, a previously teased but unannounced character that may be going live alongside the expected announcement
    • There are also some minor costume changes in the new artwork, with Tracer, and Mei getting subtle tweaks and Genji wearing a hoodie and pants over his cybernetic body
  • It will be interesting to see what gets announced at Blizzcon, how many of these leaks get confirmed, and what the fate of Overwatch 1 will be with players having spent so many hours and earned so many unlocks but having its sequel coming down the pipe

Apple sneakily announced and released their new AirPods Pro this week, and they’ve got a lot of the changes I was hoping for after seeing Google’s Pixel Buds earlier in October

  • The redesign brings in rubber tips more in line with modern earbuds, smaller stems, active noise cancellation, and a fancy “Transparency” mode
  • They’ve also kept ear detection, which is my favourite feature of my old Gen 1 AirPods, but have swapped out tapping on the buds to activate Siri for squeezing the stem to control music more traditionally- one squeeze for pause/play, two for next track, three for back, along with a long squeeze to switch from ANC to Transparency
    • Apparently there’s some Apple trickery at work that makes it feel and sound like clicking a button, though there aren’t any actual moving “button”
    • They also still have the ridiculously simply pairing process with iDevices, where you just have to open the case nearby and tap the screen. New to iOS 13.2 though, you can also use this to temporarily share audio with a friends AirPods and have it playing through both sets simultaneously
  • So let’s dive in to what’s new:
    • Rubber tips – they’ve got the usual three sizes to customize your fit, but instead of having a little vent hole in the rubber like Google did to equalize pressure they actually have a vent system running through the AirPod itself
      • The vent doesn’t sacrifice water resistance though, as these are rated IPX4 and good for exercising and sweating all over
      • They also have a fit test you can run where it uses microphones both in and outside of your ear to gauge the seal around the Pods and see if you should adjust the sizing
    • Speaking of those microphones, the active noise cancellation uses them along with fancy software to process your environment 200 times a second and remove background noise by sending out special customized anti-noise
    • They also do some adaptive equalization, tuning the frequencies of the music to the shape of your ear to optimize audio quality
    • And then there’s the new Transparency Mode, which lets you hear your environment and your own voice while offering just a hint of noise cancellation to keep things clear and understandable if you want to hear traffic or transit announcements
      • You can swap between Transparency and ANC on the fly by squeezing the stem, from your iPhone’s Control Centre, or on your Apple Watch
  • Battery life is pretty much unchanged depending on your usage- turning off ANC and Transparency gets you the usual 5 hours of listening, while turning them on takes it down to 4.5, and you’ll see 3.5 hours of talk time on the phone. The case amps that up to 24 hours of listening, 18 hours of talk, and it can be charged via Lightning or a Qi wireless charge mat
  • All that can be yours for $250 USD or $329 CAD, and they’re available to order or pick up now

Apple’s also released a bunch of software updates

  • As I mentioned earlier iOS 13.2 is out, with not only audio sharing but also Deep Fusion photos for the iPhone 11 (taking multiple exposures using all the lenses and fusing them into one high-quality photo), and the ability to control whether your Siri dictation is used to improve the service and, if not, delete anything they might have archived
    • You can opt out by going to Settings > Privacy > Analytics & Improvements > Improve Siri & Dictation and toggling the slider off
    • And you can delete any saved Siri interactions from Apple’s servers by going to Settings > Siri & Search > Siri & Dictation History, and tapping on Delete Siri & Dictation History
    • This is all a much-needed improvement, especially from a company that claims to care so much about the privacy and security of your data
  • watchOS 6.1 brings support for the new AirPods, as well as finally allowing version 6 to be installed on Series 1 and 2 watches
  • and macOS 10.15.1 also brings AirPods Pro support and those Siri privacy settings
  • They did release audioOS 13.2 for HomePods as well, which brought the ability to differentiate between multiple voices and easily hand off audio by bringing your phone near the speaker, but it was soon pulled after users online started saying it bricked their HomePods
    • If you’ve already updated your HomePods Apple recommends you don’t reset or reboot it, even if iOS prompts you to, until they issue a fix.
    • In the meantime, if you’ve been affected by this issue you’ll need to contact Apple support and have it repaired or replaced

The Outer Worlds – Josh’s Impression

  • Great RPG
    • I’m not generally a fan of RPG’s but this one has really taken me by surprise
  • The setting is, as other have put it, is like 1984 by George Orwell, but with corporations instead of the government
    • When faster than light technology was discovered, companies spread out and bought the rights to many star systems.
    • This story takes place in a system controlled by The Board
      • The Board is made of the heads of massive companies that control everything
    • The technology is similar to Bioshock
      • Sort of less pipes and steam, more plug-n-play tech and Edison bulbs
      • But the main hook of it is fascinating technological advancements that can be maintained with a pipe wrench
    • Weapons are neat too
      • There has been knives, scythes, hammers, staves, all sorts of things
      • For ranged weapons there are your handguns, rifles, heavy machine guns, flame throwers and grenade launchers
      • Best part is ammo is only 3 types, Light, Heavy and Energy
    • Armour is simple as well
    • Stats
    • Companions
    • Healing
    • Time Dilation
  • Great conversations
    • Funny
    • Skills do well in it
  • Not too long
    • Has an end!
  • Lots of replay

Tibits

  • Apple’s copyright lawsuit against mobile device virtualization company Corellium over offering virtual iOS for development and testing hit an interesting development, when Corellium fired back saying Apple owed them $300K because they make it easier for security researchers to track down bugs
    • Corellium claims that its product is fair use and makes the world a better place, though the fact that one of their customers sells hacking tools to law enforcement and intelligence agencies makes it tough to believe in their altruism
  • In an interesting move EA has announced they’ll start publishing games on Steam again, leading many to speculate on their Origin launcher soon being shut down
    • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is already up on Steam, and other major titles will hit in the coming months. We’ll see multiplayer titles like Apex Legends next year, with cross-play between Steam and Origin versions

Alan recommends The Lost Boys

 

Literally Misleading

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Thanks to reddit user – MissBarker93
Movie – Man Survives thanks to his own feces
The Martian

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Thanks to reddit user -YodaFan465
After his father dies, a barber evades an MLM scheme

 

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