There have been so many “Star Wars” games, and most of them were not good. Hell, some of the ones I list here aren’t good. But they all deliver an experience you can’t get anywhere else, and that’s worthy of some praise.
“Masters of Teras Kasi”
How we haven’t been inundated with “Star Wars” fighting games is anyone’s guess — aside from “Soul Calibur IV” letting you play as Yoda or Darth Vader, “Masters of Teras Kasi” on the original PlayStation console is the only one. And it was the style of fighter that was easy to learn and enjoy, so we remember it fondly.
“Rebel Assault 2”
Not actually good, but still great. It’s a game that defies description because there’s nothing from the past two decades to compare it to. For that reason alone it makes the list.
This weird and cheap little “Zelda”-esque thing had Yoda sending Luke Skywalker on bite-sized randomly generated missions, and somehow it was extremely engaging.
We’d been flying in space battles for years with “X-Wing” and “TIE Fighter,” but “Rogue Squadron” gave us something new bringing our starfighter into a planet’s atmosphere. “Rogue Squadron” was also built to be accessible, which was a pretty new thing for a “Star Wars” game.
“Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast”
If we’re being honest, the beloved “Jedi Knight” video game series is pretty mediocre all the way around. “Jedi Outcast,” though, is the peak as it features the closest we’ve ever gotten to realistic video game lightsaber combat.
“The Force Unleashed”
The “Star Wars” universe is full of stories about good apprentices going bad and wreaking havoc on the good guys, but we’ve very rarely gotten the inverse. That made “The Force Unleashed” a really novel experience. You play as Darth Vader’s secret apprentice in the years between the original and prequel trilogies. You’re a dark side force user and soldier for the Empire who goes rogue in a really epic way.
“The Old Republic”
Bioware attempted to meld their style of story-focused role-playing game with a “World of Warcraft”-style online game, and that was a mistake. But it’s still full of really outstanding “Star Wars” stories that are better than most all of the ones you’d get elsewhere. It’s also funnier than most others.
“Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords”
Obsidian Entertainment created an experience that manages to subvert basically every way “Star Wars” has ever operated, starting with its predecessor. It’s a total downer, every character is in a bad mood, and none of the decisions your character makes will ever be greeted with approval from her master. “There are no right choices” is not the normal “Star Wars” way, and it works perfectly.
Read original story Top 13 Best ‘Star Wars’ Video Games Ever (Photos) At TheWrap
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From 3D in high school to race tracks in games
I was in high school when I began working with 3D software, and this new obsession eventually landed me a job at Ratbag. While there, I helped make tracks for the PC racing game Powerslide, and designed Dirt Track Racing. We made it part way toward an unreleased car combat game that looked a lot like GTA meets Mad Max, before I left to form my own company. I’d been inspired by reading Robert Kiyosaki’s book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
Leaving game development to start a business
With a little background in photography, and experience using textures in 3D, I somewhat blindly jumped ship with the thought to make some random texture maps and sell them on Turbosquid. I drifted towards doing skies, because no one looked at me like I was a big weirdo, as they would when I was taking photos for dirt textures! Plus I could go to the same location every time and get a different end product!
To fund the business, I sold my Nissan Silvia sports car and promptly ran out of money a year later(!).
After scraping the bottom of my bank balance for another year after that, Hyperfocal Design began making decent money, and since that point has been a fairly solid, reliable source of passive income, meaning I don’t have to actively work on the business to make money. That’s only partially true, of course, since the longer I neglect the business, the less it gets promoted, the less updates go out, the more competition comes in, and the less money I make.
…went something like:
- 5 years at Ratbag
- 2 years of scraping through to get Hyperfocal off the ground
- A few more years doing well (during this time, Ratbag ‘went under’ – closed by the publisher, Midway)
- A year trying my hand at professional poker (I really love the game, but boy is this a stressful career choice!)
- A few more years at Hyperfocal
- After getting a real creative itch again, went back to developing games with Saxon Druce from Ratbag
- A few years of making Zombie games with Saxon before parting ways
- 1 year creating Unknown Orbit, solo (first Unity title)
- 1 year back to Hyperfocal
- 1 year making prototypes + vr prototypes
- Now: Over a year working on Exo One
During this time, I very rarely ever worked on Hyperfocal every day, except for the latest 1-year stretch. Mostly I’d put in a few months here and there, which allowed me more time to do whatever else I liked – semi-professional poker, training for triathlons, traveling, surfing, bread making, and whatever else I was interested in at the time.
While I’ve been comfortable from Hyperfocal’s income, it doesn’t bring in the big dollars or allow me to hire employees or anything like that. But with a pretty low-key lifestyle I haven’t had to worry too much about money, while simultaneously not being chained to a desk 8 hrs a day. I’m also confident that if I had a higher income target, I could have certainly made it happen (as I did recently in 2015 where I dedicated the whole year full time).
When Ratbag went under, I was particularly glad that I’d gone and formed a business where no single entity (a publisher in this case) could ‘fire me’ or cut off my entire income stream. For Hyperfocal to die off, I need to lose every one of 100’s of customers a year, which isn’t likely.
Back to games
So since I began making games again with Saxon 8 years ago, I’ve been mostly making indie games while Hyperfocal pays the bills. If Hyperfocal ever started declining too much, I was perfectly free to take some time to prop it up. I wasn’t forced either way to do one or the other, and I was never at risk of sudden and complete income loss.
I’ve also been fortunate that the zombie games we worked on together contributed a little to some additional passive income, which has certainly been a nice additional safety net.
Setting up your own content creation/passive income streams
If you’re a game developer, or someone with skills in 2D/3D art, coding, sound, music, etc, there are good opportunities to create niche ‘content’, plugins, assets, etc that may help supplement your income, or fund your lifestyle entirely. Especially since so many game developers use Unity these days.
If this sounds interesting to you, I’d ask myself:
- Where do my skills lie
- What do developers need (in my case, choosing skies was a nice choice, since so many games take place outdoors!)
- What niches are under served or don’t suffer as much from multiple, similar assets.
- What could I teach? (unless you’re a complete beginner, there’s people out there who know less than you!)
I’d personally (as an artist type!) look at assets that tick one of these boxes:
- Don’t require constant updating as new Unity versions come out (or even assets that are completely untied from any software)
- Can be sold for a higher price. Lower prices typically = you dealing with more support issues.
- Has a creative aspect that can’t be easily copied (so making yet more 3D, real-world gun models would probably be a poor choice! )
Since working on Exo One, here’s just a few things I’ve noticed, which may or may not be of interest:
- Substances and procedurally generated textures are now pretty amazing, and there’s not enough of them
- Despite already having music in the game, I get a deluge of emails from musicians wanting to help (good luck, musicians!)
- But zero emails from voice actors, despite, as above, already having voice/story/narration in the game
- “Sim-lish” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1_NVYPMmhE (voices that sound like a language, but are just gibberish, to go with text), is popular in games, but there’s zero libraries out there as far as I can see
- Real time volumetric skies are starting to look rather awesome!
- Having decent support and response time from plugin developers is incredibly important, especially when so many people like myself are solo or small teams that rely on that support to put a game out.
- Ensuring plugins work with other plugins is pretty huge
- Platforms like Patreon and Kickstarter can help you get things started
To end with, I’ll just say I’d encourage you to think about whether you have some skill that you can use to create products to help create your own passive income streams. As real-time graphics have gotten increasingly realistic, often a product or ‘content’ can also be sold to people in film/vfx and architectural visualization as well.
Depending on your skills, products could include art assets, sound/music libraries, plugins, a course where you teach something, etc.
Market your stuff!!
Perhaps the biggest challenge these days with almost anything, is that everyone is doing it – you will absolutely need to do some marketing and promotion! I also encourage you to put your face and name behind your business, to give it a personal angle.
Throughout Hyperfocal Design’s life, I’ve rarely put much if anything into promotion for my products, outside of sending an email to my newsletter. “Back in the day”, I got by with newsletters + Google search, but you can no longer guarantee a good Google placing. In 2015 when I finally decided to stop being a wuss-bag and actually market Hyperfocal’s latest product, I had my best year ever! It is hard, and your ego is on the line, but power through!
Tell me your experiences
If you’re currently selling on the Unity asset store, I’m curious to know your experiences as well!
I’m happy to answer any questions you have in the comments.
I’m currently Kickstarting Exo One, and the campaign is now in its final days. If you like the look of it, please consider spreading the word, thanks!
The morning Inbox thinks it knows why Mario + Rabbids was made, as one reader defends the most recent Hitman from is critics.
To join in with the discussions yourself email firstname.lastname@example.org
Amazing and spectacular
Having just seen the new trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming it got really me pumped at the idea of the new Spider-Man game, which I assume is coming out this year and will be at E3. Insomniac are obviously a really good developer but even as a fan I’m a bit stuck as to how they can expand on the previous games. The problem is of course he’s always based in New York, at least in the films, and fighting the same group of bad guys (I know Vulture was in previous games, and I’m sure Shocker was too).
I think if they try and build up the on-foot combat that could be one answer, as it’s usually all about the web-slinging. The first PS1 game had quite a lot of interior stuff, with walk on walls and so on, and that kind of went away in later games. I also notice a lot of gadgets in the trailer, such as the flying spider drone thing, so that could be a good way to differentiate it too.
But one thing I do want them to go back to is the way the webs worked in Spider-Man 2. Make it so you have to actually keep the rhythm up and web-slinging is not automatic. I hope the game is good because someone really needs to put a fire under Disney’s ass and get them to make more games. I know Avengers is on the way in like 2020, but we need more. Maybe Spidey will show the way for games just as the original Raimi films did for movies.
Not a Dead cert
I’m not too surprised Red Dead Redemption 2 has been delayed, and to be honest I don’t care. Having jumped on the Nintendo Switch band wagon (something I was told you I’d never do after the fiasco that was Wii U).
After reading the letter suggesting GTA for Switch, I’d like to see Red Dead Redemption 2 come to the Nintendo Switch. After all, spring 2018 is a year away so plenty of time to announce a Switch version. Hopefully Borderlands 3 will be ported in addition to other new games.
GC: GTA V is technically possible because it started as a last gen game, but we don’t see anyway that Rockstar could release Red Dead Redemption 2 on Switch without significant compromises.
Borrowing the keys
I’m no gaming industry expert, and this thought is borderline conspiracy theory, but it seems unusual for Nintendo to pimp out Mario to Ubisoft in such a big way with the Rabbids crossover. It’s very un-Nintendo of recent times and echoes Mario and co. appearing in a few EA Sports games during the GameCube era (strange times).
My thinking is Nintendo is using Mario as a bargaining chip for Ubisoft’s support, they don’t come much bigger then Mario and it seems a win-win for both parties – Ubisoft get a guaranteed hit and the biggest gaming mascot and Nintendo get some sorely needed third party games. I may be totally wrong but there’s something deeper to this game…
GC: We think that’s fairly plausible. After being burned by ZombiU we can imagine Ubisoft needing some convincing to make another exclusive, and being lent Nintendo’s most valuable property is certainly not an offer you get every day. This was obviously long before the Switch became a hit though, and we doubt Nintendo would do the same thing today.
E-mail your comments to: email@example.com
In response to your reader’s query about breaking points, for me it’s a little more complex. If I don’t like a game I’ll still attempt it to complete but the slightest hint of a deal-breaking issue, then that’s that.
An example is The Order: 1886. I immediately saw through the fancy graphics to the bland and uninspiring gameplay beneath, but thought I’d give it a good go and play to the end. On the stage set on an airship I hit a bug where repeatedly shooting a foe hiding behind a desk would have no effect on him and I would run out of ammo. Being the patient type, I reloaded an older save and played through to that point again. It had the same issue.
I immediately swore repeatedly at the screen, removed the disk from the PlayStation 4 and angrily deleted the game.
Zeeshan (twohornedking – PSN ID)
A disappointing review of Disgaea 5. It sounds a bit like Disgaea 2, which simply was not as good as the excellent original due to the cast. Whereas Disgaea 4 is my favourite (even without Mid-Boss) and clearly once again too difficult a challenge to follow.
Having played the last few Disgaeas portably on PS Vita I skipped the PlayStation 4 reviews of Disgaea 5. So despite being one of my favourite series, Disgaea 5 only came onto my radar once it became available on Switch. Not sure if I am going to bother now as I still have loads of post story content left on Disgaea 4.
For people new to the series GC really are not lying about hundreds of hours of content. I spent 300 hours on the original and that only just got me to the final hidden boss and I was not strong enough to defeat him (or steal his equipment). Every instalment since then has gotten bigger, but the number of ways the players can exploit the mechanics has also increased meaning that you can get through the games quicker too. Most of the main stories for instance, can be finished off in 30 hours.
GC: Yes, Disgaea 4 was definitely one of the best of the series. It would’ve been better to port that but it’s perfectly understandable why they went with the newer game.
Only 60 hours
Despite my moaning a few weeks ago – after gaming it is my favourite thing to do – I’ve now put 60 hours in on Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
The items don’t feel as frantic as they once did and I’ve finally adjusted my set-up and tactics to match.
Now if I could only make the 8pm start times for our nightly tournaments I might be able to put a stop to the man of Steel’s lording about above me on the tables…
I have been playing Thumper on the Switch at the moment. It is very intense, yet a natural progression of games like Frequency and Amplitude. Where it feels better is the controls and starting off from sections within a level so it feels like less repetition, although some sections are very long.
Secondly, I started playing the game with the thumbstick but have found the four buttons/direction keys more accurate. This is the same for Puyo Puyo Tetris. Whether it was intentional or not or to simply cater for a second controller for certain games the four button combinations instead of a cross key works great.
Shout out to Zelda: Breath Of The Wild – the best open world game. My second is GTA V. Loving my Switch with Mario Kart on the go and ARMS looks interesting. Plus, Splatoon 2 being a no-brainer. I am happy with the output of games so far, except for Street Fighter II. Why not Street Fighter IV or V?
No clowning around
I have to respectfully disagree with fallofman69 about the new episodic Hitman. Regarding the gameplay, I think Io-Interactive evolved the series almost perfectly. The gunplay was fine; however, what I especially enjoyed were the unconventional weapons. I felt a certain amount of satisfaction when a re-purposed screwdriver or fire axe hit home.
As for criticisms of the story, in my opinion the overarching plots in every Hitman game have been both needless and nonsensical. It was the backstories of the individual targets that always interested me, and the little quirks and traits of the guards and the non-player characters that offered up opportunities within each level.
I’ve mentioned before that my only problem with the new Hitman game was a slight lack of adventurousness and showmanship in the levels. I do hope Hitman prevails, I still believe a mission involving a circus would be brilliant.
I just can imagine Mr 47 disguising himself as a killer clown, although come to think of it I believe you could dress up as a clown in Blood Money.
Just like to mention that Dishonored 2 on PlayStation 4 is only £9.85 at ShopTo. Great game, fantastic bargain.
GC: That’s disgustingly cheap, we highly recommend the game at any price.
I love it when GC gives a bad review. I know that’s probably not fair but it sounds like Ultra Street Fighter II thoroughly deserved its kicking. I don’t know what they were thinking with that price.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Grackle, who asks what’s your favourite role-playing game?
Role-playing games have seen their popularity ebb and flow over the years, but they’ve arguably never been more popular than now. So we want to know what you think of the genre in general and whether knowing a game is a role-player ever puts you off.
Do you play both Western and Japanese style titles, and what was the first role-playing game you ever played? How has your opinion of them changed over the years, and how would you like to see the genre evolve in the future?
E-mail your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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“Games Of Thrones”
Season 7 trailer promises death and mayhem [Video]
And Jon Snow is hailed the “King of the North,” you can be sure that there would be blood, death, and gore!
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The war is finally here!
The newly released trailer for season 7 of “Game of Thrones” by HBO features all your favorite characters preparing for the long awaited war.
As Cersei vows to defeat the numerous enemies from the four corners of the kingdom, Daenerys lays claim to the iron throne with her fierce dragons by her side.
And Jon Snow is hailed the “King of the North,” you can be sure that there would be blood, death, and gore!
It’s safe to say that viewers are at the edge of their sits in “Game of Thrones” will be returning to your screens almost three months later than it’s usual early-April start and will be premiering on July 16.
CNN reports that the show was delayed because the story required a snowy setting, which is impossible to create during the summer in their filming locations.
The season will consist of only seven episodes as opposed to its usual ten.
Watch the clip above.
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EA Access is widely considered to be the best value in all of gaming. Available on Xbox One for $30 a year, subscribers get unlimited time with the full back catalog of titles from publisher Electronic Arts — plus other perks including 10 percent off digital purchases and 10-hour game trials with new games.
“Madden NFL,” “FIFA” and “NHL” are added every year when their respective sports’ seasons reach their postseasons or have concluded.
Microsoft is doubling down on the subscription model by launching a service of its own on Xbox One. Available Wednesday, Xbox Game Pass goes for $10 a month and everyone with Xbox Live Gold can start off with a free 14-day trial. Game Pass features more than 100 titles with high profile franchises such as “Halo,” “Gears of War” and “Bioshock” featured prominently.
For sports fans there are some great games available. “NBA 2K16,” “The Golf Club” and “Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings” are there for the launch of the service. It’s expected that “NBA 2K17” will follow within the next few months, as publishers continue to look for a way to introduce more consumers to their revenue-generating modes at points in the year when interest would typically tail off. New games will be regularly added to Xbox Game Pass with some being shuffled out based on contractual obligations.
“NBA 2K16” is considered by many to be one of the best sports video games of all time, and it received a 5/5 score in the Sporting News review. Both “The Golf Club” and “Super Mega Baseball” are fan favorites with sequels on the way this summer.
The Xbox One will undoubtedly look appealing to consumers making a new console choice due in part to the subscription services. When spending so much money on the system itself, shelling out $60 for each individual game on top of it becomes even more painful. However, by combining the two subscription services, which amount to $12.50 a month — about a fifth of the cost for a single new game — they’ll have a gigantic library of great games to play immediately.
Bryan Wiedey posts sports gaming news and analysis daily at Pastapadre.com, is co-founder of the sports gaming site HitThePass.com, hosts the “Press Row Podcast” and be reached on Twitter @Pastapadre.
Exposing a small child to violent video games might lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, Randi Zuckerberg has warned.
The American businesswoman, whose passion is children and technology, is worried about the transfer of traumatic emotions and experiences from the digital world to developing minds. She’s equally concerned that children exposed to virtual reality might confuse real world with virtual experiences and develop false memories.
Ms Zuckerberg, who is visiting Sydney to attend the CeBIT Australia technology conference, said children should not be exposed to VR until they are aged about 13.
“I do a radio show in the US every week, I have a lot of psychologists and professors and we talk a lot about virtual reality now,” she said yesterday. “One person said there’s been studies that you develop memories when you’re in a virtual setting.”
Later in life, when people think back to childhood memories, they may recall false memories, she said.
She said children in the US were being treated for video game addiction.
Ms Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, was a keynote speaker at CeBIT Australia yesterday.
In an interview with The Australian she said it was not one-size-fits-all when it comes to children and technology. “There’s the 5 to 10 per cent of children who have autism, disabilities, where tech is the great levelling field for them,” she said.
But as a mother, she closely controls her children’s access to technology. “In my mind, tech time and screen time are different things. In my household, our kids get very little screen time, but they have tons of tech time. They play with robots, their engineering, doing blocks and logic. Having said that, I’m a mum and I live in the real world and sometimes you’ve just got to get something done or be on a phone call.”
She was also concerned that young girls didn’t get the same positive exposure to technology as boys. “When it comes to girls, you can play a little bit more with that (tech-lifestyle) balance,’’ she said. “There is something going on in society from a young age. At my six-year-old son’s school, which is very progressive, the robotics after-school class is already 80 per cent boys.
“I think it’s just as important for girls to be learning Minecraft as it is for them to be taking piano lessons.”
She had seen figures showing the number of women in tech was decreasing.and women received under 10 per cent of venture capital funding. “In the US there are over 500,000 open jobs right now, competing jobs that aren’t being filled because there’s not enough people graduating with the skill sets,” she said. “I can’t see why more smart intelligent women apply.”
Ms Zuckerberg’s company, Zuckerberg Media, invests in female start-ups.
Her other interest was promoting and producing children’s entertainment. She said her TV animation show DOT. would soon air on ABC TV. It premieres on ABC KIDS on June 19 and follows the 2013 publication of DOT. the book, and her business book Dot Complicated.
The preschool show is about a little girl named DOT. and episodes have a technology twist. “Instead of having a lemonade stand, it’s delivered via a drone,” she said. “And DOT.s mum is a tech entrepreneur and teaches DOT. to print a 3D bone for the dog. DOT. decides she is going to make a dog restaurant, and 3D-prints bones for all the dogs of the neighbourhood.”
At CeBIT Ms Zuckerberg detailed her top ten trends in digital technology. The first three involve the workplace which she said was now “ incredibly creative and entrepreneurial”. It was more mobile, and more people worked remotely, and customers were more demanding.
Young people had seven or eight different jobs by the time they were 30 and they were expected to be more assertive in the workplace. And they were building their personal brands at work as well as contributing to their company’s. Everyone was their own media company. But they needed to be careful.
“Some of the best things about social media are also the worst things about it. With the click of a button you can now broadcast a message to millions of people which cuts down on the marketing budget and resources. On the other hand you can ruin your reputation with one click of a button.
“There are lots of cases of people who manage multiple Twitter feeds and they think they’re using their personal account but they are using a client’s account. And they send something out.
“People should take ‘a few deep breaths’ before they post,” she said. “There’s my rule of thumb. If you feel like you should ask someone ‘should I post this’, you shouldn’t. If you even have one inkling in your mind and think you should get someone else’s opinion before you post this, you shouldn’t.”
She said too much computer time endangered young people learning even basic social skills.
“Even basic human skills like making eye contact and reading people for empathy — those are things I think are in danger of going away. When I think about how I hire people, if I had two people, and they’re both about the same talent in what they do, I’m always going to hire the person who’s just more fun and more empathetic to be around.”
Ms Zuckerberg also showed off her best and tackiest products for young kids.
This week: Nintendo has another new game system coming this summer; new expansions are already available for Lego Dimensions and Forza Horizon 3; and Ubisoft wants to help you learn guitar on your iPad. But first, Tom Brady has won every football award there is, and now he’s on the cover of a video game.
Tom Brady on the cover of Madden NFL 18
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be on the cover of the next football sim from EA Sports. Madden NFL 18 gets released for PS4 and Xbox One in August.
This is the first time that EA’s Frostbite engine, developed by DICE, has been used for the football game.
Ubisoft’s Rocksmith guitar-teaching system lands on iPad
Rocksmith isn’t like other music games, even though it comes from a game publisher. Instead, it’s more of a music app that can help users learn to play guitar or bass. Originally designed for consoles, Rocksmith is being developed for iOS devices, and in Canada it is already available as a free download for iPad.
You can use any acoustic guitar and the microphone of your device, or you can plug in an electric guitar or bass with an adapter. The system monitors your playing and adjusts the difficulty to your skill level.
The iPad version available in Canada comes with four free songs, and you can purchase other songs you want to learn to play
Race Hot Wheels cars in Forza Horizon 3
If you’ve ever wanted to take those crazy metal toy cars and race them in real life, Forza Horizon 3 is giving you the next best thing.
A new expansion for the game, costing $20, lets you drive those iconic cars on the classic orange tracks with loops and banks.
Forza Horizon 3 is available on Windows and Xbox One and is a Xbox Play Anywhere title, so you get copies for both systems when you purchase it.
New expansion packs bring Sloth and Chunk to Lego Dimensions
Three new expansion packs are now available for Lego Dimensions, which is available on every system.
The Goonies level pack includes Sloth, One-Eyed Willy’s pirate ship, and the Skeleton Organ. The level pack has you playing through the events of the film.
Hermione Granger is the minifig that comes with the new Harry Potter fun pack. She comes with the hippogriff, Buckbeak, from the third novel from J.K. Rowling.
And Lego City, which was recently ported to next-gen consoles, makes an appearance in Lego Dimensions with a fun pack featuring Chase McCain and his helicopter.
New Nintendo 2DS XL coming this summer
Nintendo’s 2DS, which lets players enjoy games created for the 3DS without having to bother with the 3-D of it all, is getting upsized.
The New Nintendo 2DS XL will be priced at $200 when it releases on July 28, and it is black with turquoise highlights.
The 2DS is a great option for younger kids whose eyes aren’t developed enough for 3-D visuals (Nintendo warns against kids under the age of 8 using the 3DS). It’s also great for those who don’t really care for 3-D.
The 2DS has the same screen dimensions as the New Nintendo 3DS XL but weighs less.
Releasing this week
- Rime, for PS4, Windows, and Xbox One, is an adventure puzzle game with a distinct art style. It’s coming to Nintendo Switch this summer.
- Ultra Street Fighter II is coming to Nintendo Switch this week.
Blasting video game zombies, aliens and gangsters might not seem intellectually stimulating, but current research shows these computerized conflicts actually sharpen a range of cognitive skills—including better multitasking, increased attention span, faster reaction time and greater visual acuity.
An important unanswered question, however, is what specific components of first-person-shooter and other action video games—e.g., “Call of Duty,” “Halo” or “Grand Theft Auto”—contribute to this cognitive improvement.
With support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Dr. Shawn Green, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has partnered with a video game company to build a customized game incorporating design elements used widely throughout the industry.
The goal: Isolate and identify those elements most conducive to human learning.
This knowledge would enable video game developers to create informative, yet engaging, products for education and job training. The Navy and Marine Corps are interested in such technology for jobs requiring substantial training time on computer simulators or virtual-reality displays—sonar technicians, radar, pilots and surgeons, for example.
“We know people will spend hours playing a video game,” said Dr. Ray Perez, a program manager in ONR’s Warfighter Performance Department. “Is there a way to use some of those entertainment elements to design training that will keep warfighters engaged, help them learn faster and perform their jobs better? What is the secret sauce?”
To identify those ingredients, Green and his laboratory team worked with E-Line Media—which develops educational games—to create a first-person-shooter fantasy product called “Elemental,” which can be played on a laptop or desktop computer. More “Harry Potter” than “Walking Dead,” the non-violent game enables players to shoot magical spells at otherworldly creatures.
“The spells look like colored projectiles,” said Green. “There are different spells for certain types of enemies, including rock and water monsters. We kept the game non-violent because we may want to design a kids’ version one day.”
Green and his team equipped “Elemental” with numerous game factors thought to boost human learning and cognition: changing background colors, rapidly appearing and disappearing objects, missions of varying complexity and intensity, and enemy characters that attack at unpredictable speeds.
“We wanted to create a commercial-quality, research-capable game that resembled the popular games out today,” said Green. “At the same time, it will allow us to study and magnify elements that enhance human learning, and scale back or even eliminate those that don’t.”
Green completed work on his game a few months ago and is now conducting experiments involving student volunteers. Each series of experiments lasts six weeks and involves 20 participants equally divided into two groups. One group plays a low-action version of “Elemental” while the other plays a faster, more intense high-action version.
Each participant plays 20 one-hour gaming sessions. Before each session, they undergo brain scans in an MRI machine. Another scan follows the session, during which Green looks for changes in regions of the brain associated with vision, attention, perception and motor skills—and what effects these could have on learning and cognition.
After six weeks, participants complete tests assessing visual sharpness and clarity, multitasking ability and skill tracking moving objects on a screen. Green will conduct his experiments for two years, after which he hopes to have a new, more refined test game ready for Sailors and Marines.
One of the reasons “Star Wars” blew audiences’ minds was that it put you into the middle of a space adventure like no movie ever had before. And the films became popular at the same time as video games — so you only had to pick up a controller to hop in the cockpit of an X-Wing or wield a lightsaber for yourself.
This week marks theof the day Star Wars first arrived in theaters. Relive the memories of those early years or take a glimpse into video game history with this video from our button-bashing buddies at GameSpot, tracing the beginnings of Star Wars video games.
The original film debuted in May 1977, less than four months ahead of the Atari 2600, which would become the first games console in many living rooms. Since then, the story of Star Wars is intertwined with the rise of video games.
The 2600 was the home of the first official Star Wars game, in 1982, based on “The Empire Strikes Back”. In the early years, you could play out scenes from the films themselves, taking on the Empire on the planet Hoth and the Death Star in various tie-in games. As graphics improved from blocky side-scrollers to vector-based 3D imagery, you could travel beyond the events seen in the movies, flying X-Wings and TIE fighters and becoming a Jedi or Imperial Stormtrooper in standalone adventures in the Star Wars universe.
Never one to miss a trick, Star Wars creator George Lucas created gaming outfit Lucasfilm Games in 1982. In 1990, this spin-off from Lucas’ multimedia empire became LucasArts, which produced various Indiana Jones and Monkey Island games — and some of the most fondly remembered Star Wars games ever.
The LucasArts era began with the legendary space battle simulator X-Wing in 1993. The following year the Imperial-themed sequel TIE Fighter let you fight for the Dark Side for the first time.
The advent of CD-ROM allowed 1993 hit Rebel Assault to add full motion video scenes to the gaming action. Dark Forces introduced us to Doom-style first person shooting and lightsaber action in 1995, while Shadows of the Empire landed on the N64 in 1996. Sadly, they weren’t all hits: fighting game Masters of Teräs Käsi proved to be a genre misstep too far.
Since then, games have been a huge part of the Star Wars phenomenon, with improvements in graphics and game play mirrored by the improvement of digital effects in the films themselves. Following the prequel trilogies, a new generation of gamers and Star Wars fans delved into the saga again, for example by becoming Jedi Knights in the Knights of the Old Republic.
In total, there have been more than a hundred Star Wars games across consoles, arcade machines, handhelds and mobile devices, from the Atari to the Super Nintendo and up to today’s consoles. JVC, Parker Brothers and Namco have all had a crack at producing Star Wars games, which are now in the hands of Electronic Arts since Disney bought out Lucasfilm in 2011.
Today, EA and Dice have revitalised the Star Wars Battlefront series to pitch you into combat based on the latest Star Wars films, including “The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One”.
And finally, let’s look to the future with the forthcoming Battlefront 2, coming to PS4, PC, and Xbox One on November 17. The game will draw on all eras of the saga with an all-new storyline, multiplayer action and content based on the forthcoming movie ““.
For more on Star Wars Battlefront 2 and the coolest games in the world, check out GameSpot.
Star Wars at 40: Join us in celebrating the many ways the Force-filled sci-fi saga has impacted our lives.
Tech Culture: From film and television to social media and games, here’s your place for the lighter side of tech.