Archive for the ‘Gaming & Culture’ Category

Required gamer viewing: The history of M2’s Japanese retro-port empire

May 19th, 2019

If you speak a certain language about classic video games, you probably know about M2, a Japanese game studio responsible for dozens of impressive arcade and console ports to newer home consoles. Yet even if you don't, a new hour-long documentary about the studio should still be considered required viewing for anybody who loves the best Japanese games of the '80s and '90s.

Produced by My Life In Gaming, a video channel known for a laser focus on retro gaming, the M2 Complete Works documentary (embedded below) is a sweeping, decades-long look at a game studio renowned among dedicated gaming fans. That's because M2 has produced some of the most impressive ports, emulations, and even fully blown remakes of classic series by Sega, Konami, Capcom, and SNK. (Listing them all would bury the embedded video below, but to get a sense of how impressive M2's work is, look into the Sega 3D Classics Collection. This series saw M2 deconstruct many original Sega arcade and console games, then fully rebuild them with pitch-perfect emulation and 3D depth effects for the Nintendo 3DS.)

The MLIG production duo of Coury Carlson and Marc Duddleson fill their documentary with original insights from M2 staffers, starting with the studio's college-aged efforts to build an arcade-perfect version of Gauntlet for the Sega Genesis and working up to its acquisition of dozens of '90s industry vets to keep the studio going through the '00s and '10s.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Gaming & Culture | Comments (0)

Everyone is “gun-fu” fighting: John Wick 3 is almost as good as the original

May 18th, 2019
"It wasn't just a puppy." Keanu Reeves is back, declaring war on the High Table in <em>John Wick: Chapter 3: Parabellum.</em>

Enlarge / "It wasn't just a puppy." Keanu Reeves is back, declaring war on the High Table in John Wick: Chapter 3: Parabellum. (credit: Lionsgate)

John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum is blowing up the box office this weekend with a projected $56.8 million opening. No sequel is likely to match the lean, mean, revenge-filled fury of the original film, but Parabellum comes close. Director Chad Stahelski knows exactly what his audience wants. This third installment advances the assassin's underworld mythology while stringing together a series of spectacularly choreographed fight sequences showcasing some of the finest stuntwork you're likely to see onscreen.

(Spoilers for first two films and mild spoilers for Chapter 3 below.)

For those who missed the first two movies, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a legendary hitman (known as the Boogeyman or "Baba Yaga") who tried to retire when he fell in love and got married. Unfortunately, he's drawn back into the dark underground world by an act of senseless violence after his wife's death. Nothing will stop John Wick from seeking retribution. The first John Wick grossed more than $88 million worldwide for a film that cost around $30 million to make, and it was praised for its brisk pace, heart-stopping action sequences, and stylish noir feel.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Entertainment, film, film review, Gaming & Culture, John Wick, Keanu Reeves | Comments (0)

Grumpy Cat’s death marks the end of the joyful Internet

May 18th, 2019
Grumpy Cat poses on the set as she makes her broadway debut in "Cats" on Broadway at The Neil Simon Theatre on September 30, 2016 in New York City.

Enlarge / Grumpy Cat poses on the set as she makes her broadway debut in "Cats" on Broadway at The Neil Simon Theatre on September 30, 2016 in New York City.

In 2012, America was halfway through President Obama's time in office. The first Avengers movie came out, and Hunger Games premiered. Hope was high, and Reddit—the Web's "front page"—was where anyone with a cute pet could get thousands of upvotes. Cats were the most popular, but occasionally a dog or two would slip in. Then, in September of that year, Bryan Bundesen posted a picture of his sister Tabatha's cat, Tardar Sauce, an 11-month old tabby with feline dwarfism that perpetually looked annoyed. The Internet was enraptured with Grumpy Cat.

That's how life on social media used to be. The biggest memeswere funny looking cats like Tardar and Lil Bub, or Mohawk Guy, and "Call Me Maybe." Memes weren't yet weapons of mass disruption (at least not on the scale that they came to be in 2016) and we still knew what a troll was. Now, Grumpy Cat is dead—the feline's owners announced her passing today on Twitter—and with her goes an era in which the Internet was more a place of joy than hate, uplift rather than harassment.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in dogs are better than cats, Gaming & Culture, Grumpy Cat | Comments (0)

Wandering Earth: Rocket scientist explains how we could move our planet

May 18th, 2019
Wandering Earth: Rocket scientist explains how we could move our planet

Enlarge (credit: NASA)

In the Chinese science fiction film The Wandering Earth, recently released on Netflix, humanity attempts to change the Earth’s orbit using enormous thrusters in order to escape the expanding Sun—and prevent a collision with Jupiter.

The scenario may one day come true. In five billion years, the Sun will run out of fuel and expand, most likely engulfing the Earth. A more immediate threat is a global warming apocalypse. Moving the Earth to a wider orbit could be a solution—and it is possible in theory.

But how could we go about it and what are the engineering challenges? For the sake of argument, let us assume that we aim to move the Earth from its current orbit to an orbit 50% further from the Sun, similar to Mars’.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Gaming & Culture, science, the conversation | Comments (0)

Star Wars: Outer Rim review—Piloting as Han or Boba Fett could use more thrills

May 18th, 2019
The game's player board.

Enlarge / The game's player board.

Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com.

One of the defining aspects of Star Wars is its dramatic sense of adventure. Hopping from planet to planet, quarreling with local cultures, and getting swept up in something greater than yourself are all essential to the property’s Midichlorian-infused DNA. That’s why it’s surprising to realize that we’ve never had a proper Star Wars adventure game.

But the new Star Wars: Outer Rim is just that, a star-hopping frolic in the vein of classic titles Talisman and Runebound. You select your pilot from an eclectic mix drawn from both the big and small screen. Favorites such as Boba Fett and Han Solo are of course included, but we’re also offered Ketsu Onyo from the Rebels television show and Doctor Aphra from a beloved comic series.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in ars cardboard, Gaming & Culture, Star Wars | Comments (0)

There’s a new Minecraft game coming, and it’s played entirely in augmented reality

May 17th, 2019

Microsoft may believe it has made augmented reality's killer app: the just-announced Minecraft Earth for iOS and Android.

AR on mobile devices may carry tremendous potential, but it's easy enough to argue that the mainstream value proposition hasn't arrived yet. Pokémon Go is probably the most oft-cited "killer app" for AR, but it's only barely a true AR app. And there are some neat shopping apps and educational tools (from Warby Parker and Ikea, for example) but none of them have made a big dent in the mainstream consciousness.

Minecraft Earth

At first glance, Minecraft Earth seems a bit like Pokémon Go, given that it seems to be location aware in some ways. But there's a bit more to it than that. Players will be able to construct builds on their living room tables either alone or in collaboration with others, then go and place them full-size in the outside world when they're ready. You can collect new mobs (both familiar and new) and resources around you to incorporate in your build, then fight them in the life-size version of the build. Fundamentally, it appears to be the basic Minecraft experience translated to augmented reality with geolocation features.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in ar, arkit, augmented reality, Gaming & Culture, microsoft, Minecraft, Minecraft Earth, pokemon go, Tech | Comments (0)

Xbox, PC get a little bit closer with the latest Xbox updates

May 17th, 2019
Xbox, PC get a little bit closer with the latest Xbox updates

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

The May 2019 update for the Xbox One's system software is now rolling out, bringing some small refinements to the friends list, messaging, and game/app list.

Starting with the last one first, the app list will now ignore "a," "an," and "the" when sorting or grouping alphabetically. This is the kind of change that makes me amazed that they weren't already doing this, as it almost always makes for easier-to-use listings. Video games don't even have The The to contend with.

The Messaging change is rather inexplicable. There's a sensible change: incoming messaging requests from your friends are now prioritized, with requests from non-friends put in a separate category. But for some reason, Microsoft is going to wipe all group messages as a result. You can save backups of the messages for a limited time at Xbox.com, and messages with individual users are safe, but the group messages are all going. There's no obvious justification for this change, as even if there were some significant change being made to group messaging, one would expect Microsoft to handle migrating the messages from old to new.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in console gaming, Gaming & Culture, microsoft, PC gaming, Windows, XBox | Comments (0)

Borderlands 3, other games temporarily removed from Epic Games Store sale [Updated]

May 17th, 2019
<em>Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2</em> took itself off of the Epic Games Store temporarily rather than take part in the recent "Mega Sale"

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 took itself off of the Epic Games Store temporarily rather than take part in the recent "Mega Sale"

[Update, May 18: Gearbox's Borderlands 3 is no longer available for pre-order on the Epic Games Store. The game was previously available for as low as $49.99 during the sale (before Epic's additional $10 off for all games over $14.99), down from its initial starting price of $59.99.

The Epic Games Store page for the game now simply lists a "Coming Soon" message where the pre-order links used to be. The "PC Digital" platform option has also been removed from the pre-order page on the official Borderlands webpage.

Epic and Gearbox representatives were not immediately available to comment on the pre-order pause for the Epic Games Store exclusive. But Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford appears to have deleted a recent tweet that read "Save $10 on Borderlands 3! Also works if you have already pre-ordered, I’m told. Epic sure wants to earn your trust."]

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in epic, epic games store, epic mega sale, Gaming & Culture | Comments (0)

What Microsoft and Sony’s streaming partnership means for gaming’s future

May 16th, 2019
Superheroes the Wonder Twins fist-bump in front of giant computer parts.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty / Hanna-Barbera)

In a rare move, console rivals Microsoft and Sony announced a major collaboration on Thursday to join forces on a potentially huge new gaming sector: the cloud. The companies announced today that they have entered into a "memorandum of understanding" to "explore joint development of future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure to support their respective game and content-streaming services."

The surprise move is the closest sign of collaboration between two fierce competitors in the console-gaming space, but it is probably not a sign that they will stop being competitors any time soon.

As part of the agreement, Sony will still use Microsoft's Azure servers and data centers for its own game and content-streaming services. That presumably includes PlayStation Now—the Sony game-streaming service launched in 2014 after Sony's 2012 acquisition of streaming company Gaikai—and PlayStation Vue, the company's Internet-based cable TV alternative.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in azure, gaikai, Gaming & Culture, microsoft, PlayStation, Sony, XBox, xclous | Comments (0)

Apple reversal allows Valve’s Steam Link streaming app on iOS, tvOS

May 16th, 2019

Valve's mobile Steam Link app, which lets users stream PC games to other screens inside and outside the home, is now available on Apple's iOS and tvOS App Stores.

The news comes almost a year after Apple revoked its approval for the Steam Link app to run on Apple hardware, citing what Valve said were "business conflicts with app guidelines that had allegedly not been realized by the original review team." Apple and Valve have not responded to a request for comment on what exactly changed in the intervening time period.

As we said in our review last year, the Steam Link app works acceptably well if you have the 5Ghz wireless router that's close to the target device. Even then, you may notice some screen-tearing and stuttering on high-res games that require the most video bandwidth.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Gaming & Culture, iOS, Steam, tvos, Valve | Comments (0)