PS2J 320 News – Gritty Humans and Pretty Anime Folk

Free games

  • Xbox Gold

    • The Book of Unwritten Tales 2

      • 2015
      • A comedy point and click adventure game that has you switching between four different protagonists that has you working against a magical force that’s turning beasts into puppies and castles into dollhouses
    • Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut

      • 2016
      • A killer puzzle game where you control Skullface, a psycho slasher bent on slaughtering camp counselors at the title campground. Slide an adorable voxel murderer around hundreds of isometric puzzle levels to squash, flay, and decapitate hapless victims in this darkly comic homage to 80s horror.
    • Sphinx & the Cursed Mummy

      • 2003
      • Third person action adventure game inspired by the mythology of ancient Egypt where you play both the demi-god Sphinx and the undead mummy Tutankhamen in a combination of combat and puzzle-solving
  • Ps plus

    • Need for Speed: Payback

      • 2017
      • Racing game set in an open-world fictional version of Las Vegas, focused on action driving with three different playable characters working together to pull of action movie like sequences and heists
    • Vampyr

      • 2018
      • Action RPG set in Spanish Flu era London where you play Jonathan Reid, a doctor turned vampire torn between the Hippocratic Oath and his newfound bloodthirsty nature
  • Twitch

    • SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell

      • 2016
      • A first-person speedrunning parkour game that plays like a combination Quake 3 and Super Meat Boy with a focus on quick action and reflexes
    • Dead Age

      • 2016
      • A zombie apocalypse RPG with turn-based combat and permadeath that has you managing survivors, crafting materials, and making tough choices to defend your camp against the undead
    • Surf World Series

      • 2017
      • A single or multiplayer surfing trick game that looks like Tony Hawk on the water
    • Layers of Fear

      • 2016
      • A psychological horror game where you control a disturbed painter trying to complete his magnum opus as he navigates through a victorian mansion, with disturbing secrets about the painter being discovered
    • Silver Chains

      • 2019
      • First-person horror game with a focus on story and exploration, where you search for clues in an abandoned manor to unravel the truth about the terrible events that occurred
    • Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl

      • 2020
      • Retro 8-bit sidescrolling brawler that has Jay and Silent Bob battling their way out of the mall and back to the Quickstop
    • Darkside Detective

      • 2017
      • Point and click mystery game that has you solving the dangerous and confusing cases of Twin Lakes, with everything from flesh-hungry tentacles to mafioso zombies in the mix
  • Epic Games

    • Pikuniku

      • 2019
      • Puzzle adventure game that has you getting through levels and solving puzzles by kicking and pushing objects, swinging from your legs, or curling up and rolling around. The game is focused on single player but also has local co-op specific levels

Epic Games vs Apple updates

  • During a hearing this week with both companies, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers criticized Epic’s decision to breach their contract with Apple in the first place by offering their custom payment system in an attempt to avoid App Store fees
    • Apparently Epic claimed that it didn’t pose a security threat to Apple because they’re a well-established company and partner
    • Judge Gonzalez Rogers reportedly told Epic “You did something, you lied about it by omission, by not being forthcoming. That’s the security issue. That’s the security issue!” and “There are a lot of people in the public who consider you guys heroes for what you guys did, but it’s still not honest.”
    • She was also not particularly persuaded by Epic’s arguments that Apple was violating antitrust law, or that they harmed Epic’s ability to distribute Fortnite through the App Store
      • “Walled gardens have existed for decades,” said the judge. “Nintendo has had a walled garden. Sony has had a walled garden. Microsoft has had a walled garden. What Apple’s doing is not much different… It’s hard to ignore the economics of the industry, which is what you’re asking me to do.”
      • “The 30% of what you complain seems to be the industry rate, right? Steam charges 30%. Microsoft: 30% … If you go to consoles: PlayStation, Xbox Nintendo all charged 30%. Physical stores: GameStop, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart all charge 30%. Apple and Google charged 30%. It’s all 30%, and you just want to gloss over it. You don’t want to address it,”
      • Epic’s Bornstein says alternatives to the smartphone have their own constraints. “For example you can’t play an Xbox when you are, you know, on a bus.”
      • YGR: “You can’t play, but you can play on a Switch.”
  • We’re still waiting for a decision on whether Fortnite will be allowed back on the App Store temporarily, but Judge Gonzalez Rogers did recommend that the case be taken to a jury trial in July to settle the issues permanently

iOS security recommendations

  • Settings > Passwords > Security Recommendations
  • Breaks down all your saved passwords that may need to be changed based on priority, and includes info on whether they’re easily guessed, reused, or if they’ve been included in a previous data breach
  • It also gives you a link right to the affected site if you want to go ahead and change the password
  • Thanks to that I’ve tightened up my password security on a lot of different sites
  • One thing to note here is that the current conspiracy theory going around on Facebook, saying that iOS 14 widgets are acting as key loggers and stealing passwords, is completely false
    • Apparently part of the fuel for this is that people are getting notifications after upgrading that their passwords were involved in a breach- this is just because the notifications are new. The breaches are old.

Google announced a bunch of new stuff this week at their hardware event, including a new streaming service client

  • Not a streaming service itself, but Google TV is a client for Chromecast that shows content from services like Netflix and Disney+, alongside Google Play and YouTube videos
  • They also announced
    • a new standalone Chromecast model that comes with a remote control for $50USD, so you can use Google TV without streaming content from your phone
      • Unfortunately Stadia was left out in the cold here- you can get it going with a bit of fiddling, but there’s no native support
    • a 5G enabled Pixel 5 with somewhat underwhelming specs but a 90hz screen and IPX8 waterproofing that will set you back $700USD
    • another 5G phone, the Pixel 4A 5G, that’s basically an upgraded Pixel 4A XL and working as a budget version of the Pixel 5 without the fancy display and waterproofing and a $500USD pricetag
    • and a new Nest Audio speaker that we don’t have a lot of details on yet, but looks like a Google Home and a Google Home Max had a child and is apparently 75% louder than the Google Home it’s replacing

The new Spider-Man: Miles Morales game for the PS5 exists in a weird spot for a sequel, working almost like reverse DLC

  • You can get the game on the PS5, and if you want to play the remastered version of the PS4 Spider-Man you can either get the Miles Morales Ultimate Edition or buy the remaster from within the Miles Morales game
  • It’s apparently a full next-gen remaster with overhauled environments, ray-traced reflections and shadows, new skies and weather, a brand new face model for Peter Parker, 3D audio, instant loading, and a more powerful photo mode
  • Unfortunately all of this comes at a price- the trophy list will be separate from the original PS4 release, so trophy hunters are stuck starting from scratch

This Day in Gaming History

September 26 – 1995 – Command & Conquer – DOS

  • Command & Conquer develops ideas from Westwood’s previous game Dune 2, forming a real-time strategy (RTS) game.
    • The control system involves selecting units with the mouse and then directing them, while the opponents make their moves without waiting for a “turn” to end.
  • The game focuses on a war between two organizations, The Brotherhood of Nod and the Global Defense Initiative.
    • The player can take control of either side for more than 15 missions. Both have different units and structures, including artillery, tanks and light infantry.
  • In most missions, a base needs to be built first in order to build new units and structures.
    • Most important are the harvesters, which collect Tiberium and deliver it to a refinery, where it’s converted into money, thus funding the construction of a base and an army.
  • The game also features FMV mission briefings and victory cutscenes.

September 27 – 2004 – Dream Works’ Shark Tale – GameCube, PS2, Xbox

  • Shark Tale is inspired by the movie of the same name and follows the adventures of Oscar, a blue-streaked cleaner wrasse fish.
    • Oscar seems to have got himself into a bit of trouble as he needs to earn money to pay off a loan shark.
  • The game consists of over 25 chapters with each chapter having three missions to perform.
    • The three missions are broken into a regular one, a bonus one, and an elite one.
    • Completing missions earn Oscar fame points which affect his fame rating.
    • Also, depending on how well Oscar performs missions will determine how much money he earns to pay off his debt.
    • Missions are varied including things like escaping a shark, erasing graffiti, and a dancing segment.

September 28 – 1995 – Mario Clash – Virtual Boy – Japan

  • This game is essentially a single-player sequel to Mario Bros.
    • While the Super Mario Advance games would later contain a graphically-enhanced version of Mario Bros., Mario Clash contains many more additions and changes to gameplay.
  • As before, the goal is to clear a screen of enemies and move on to the next level.
    • However, rather than doing this by flipping an enemy upside-down from underneath and kicking them away, you throw shells at them.
    • Also, taking advantage of Virtual Boy’s added depth, there is a front area and a back area which can be traveled to and from using pipes.
    • Shells can also be thrown at enemies on the other depth area.

September 29 – 1996 – Super Mario 64 – N64 – North America

  • Mario is invited to Peach’s castle, but when he arrives Peach is nowhere to be seen.
    • He soon learns from Toad that Bowser has once again kidnapped her.
    • The Koopa King has also put a spell on her castle, imprisoning her subjects.
    • So it is up to Mario to break the spell and rescue Peach.
  • Super Mario 64 is the first Mario game done entirely with 3D graphics.
    • The core gameplay is similar to previous platform installments, focusing on jumping, avoiding obstacles and defeating enemies.
    • Levels can be explored without time limits.
    • Stars must be collected in order to unlock new areas, eventually gaining access to various parts of Bowser’s castle.
    • Defeating Bowser on each floor procures keys necessary to unlock big doors and enter other floors, which contain more areas.
  • Mario has more moves at his disposal in this installment.
    • Besides running and jumping, he can now walk, crouch, crawl, climb, and punch enemies.
    • Double and triple jumps, long jumps, wall jumps and backflips can be executed as well.
    • Swimming underwater now depletes Mario’s oxygen level.
    • Items must be picked up and carried in some instances in order to solve puzzles.
  • Power-ups include the Wing Cap, which allows Mario to fly; the Metal Cap, which protects him from damage (including environmental hazards such as poisonous gas); and the Vanish Cap, which makes Mario ethereal, allowing him to walk through certain obstacles (such as wire mesh). Mario can also enter cannons and be shot from them; combining this with the flying ability grants access to high areas.

September 30 – 1997 – Postal – Windows/Mac

  • You’ve just gone off the deep end, and in your deeply demented mind, you’ve decided that this little peaceful town no longer needs peace and quiet.
    • You gather your arsenal as you plan your next move…
  • Postal is best described as a three-quarter view isometric shooter with a disturbing theme.
    • Instead of shooting at demons, monsters, bad guys and terrorists, your targets are typical citizens like a high school marching band, ordinary pedestrians, and even Santa Claus!
    • You are provided with an arsenal of diverse weapons to choose from, ranging from good old fashioned guns to flame throwers.

October 1 – 2015 – The Beginner’s Guide – Windows, Mac, Linux

  • Probably a first, The Beginner’s Guide is presented as a guided tour through the work of another developer, named Coda.
    • This developer is real and created numerous experimental small games using the Source engine from 2008 to 2011, the year in which he stopped developing games altogether.
  • The player is guided through this list of small games by the voice of Davey Wreden, the actual director of the game and co-designer and co-writer of The Stanley Parable.
    • Similar to that game, The Beginner’s Guide can be considered a game about game design and about how players interact with games and, in a way, communicate with game developers.

October 2 – 1997 – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – PlayStation – North America

  • Symphony of the Night is a direct sequel to Rondo of Blood.
    • Unlike the previous installments of the series, the game is set in a castle which the player can explore freely with many different paths, although often items in certain areas need to be found that will allow passage to others.
    • The action-based gameplay incorporates now strong RPG elements.
    • The hero receives experience points for defeating enemies, gains levels and becomes more powerful.
    • There is also money to be found in the game, and various accessories to buy. In a separate screen, players need to equip attack weapons, shields and other items.
    • Magic plays an important role, as well as secondary weapons and a large amount of “special moves” that are executed similar to advanced one-on-one fighting games.

Tidbits

  • After 11 years in operation, FarmVille is officially shutting down at the end of the year
    • The developer cited the end of support for Adobe Flash and an unwillingness to migrate to a new platform as the main causes
  • Los Angeles Comic-Con is moving forward with an in-person event in December, making it one of the first Southern California festivals to do so since the March shutdown
    • Precautions they’ll be taking include doubling their floorspace, spreading out activities across their own halls, splitting each day into five-hour sessions with deep cleaning between, cutting ticket sales, and live-streaming all guests and main panels for an optional virtual experience
    • It sounds like they’re trying, but I’d still be really hesitant to buy tickets
  • Apple and Microsoft are working together a bit more than usual now, with the Apple TV app soon becoming available on the Xbox
    • Content will include Apple TV+ subscriptions, which could save some money for people that have been eyeing up an Apple TV 4k box
    • This could also be a good sign for Game Pass, if the two companies can improve their collaboration and get eachother’s streaming services on their hardware
  • As part of Amazon’s announcements last week that flew under the radar, they also introduced a drone camera for inside your home
    • The Always Home Cam will set you back $250 and is a fully autonomous drone that can fly around and show your any room in your house
  • CD Projekt Red is drawing fire this week after doubling back on their commitment to avoiding mandatory crunch time for Cyberpunk 2077
    • Studio Head Adam Badowski released a statement lamenting this decision and how necessary it is, and promising 10% of the company’s 2020 profit to the team, but this will likely make people think twice before taking him at his word again
  • Star Wars Squadrons has launched to a lot of praise, especially for its multiplayer, including the fact that a day-one patch has implemented full support for flight stick, throttle, and pedal assemblies. Combined with VR, the immersion sounds awesome

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PS2J 318 News – OOPS! All Events

Free games

  • Twitch Prime

    • Q.U.B.E. 2

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

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

    • Football Manager 2020

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

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

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

Apple- Time Flies event

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

  • Apple Watch

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

  • Apple Fitness +

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The App Store slapfight continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week In Gaming History

September 12 – 2002 – Battlefield 1942 – Windows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 16 – 1998 – Fuck Quest – DOS

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

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

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

September 18 – 2018 – Nintendo Switch Online service – Switch

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

Tidbits

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

 

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PS2J 228 Special – 2018 in Review

Thanks to Jen for the suggestion on doing an episode about looking at our year.

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