[iPhone September 2018 Keynote] What Matters To You When Upgrading iPhones?

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As Apple unveils its new iPhone models this week, the iPhone XR, Xs, and Xs Max, I find myself once again thinking about what’s going to affect my hardware purchasing decision the most — the software.

My decision on when I’ll want to upgrade from my 6 Plus is going to depend a lot on how iOS 12 performs on my current phone when it drops next week and throughout the fall. I actually could’ve sworn I’d posted something here about that when Apple unveiled it in June but according to the search on this site I haven’t, so I guess I can go over my hopes for that too. Continue reading

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Late to the Party: Heretic and Hexen 1

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I’ve been on these games for the last few months but I recently finished the first two parts of Raven Software’s “Serpent Riders” series, Heretic and Hexen: Beyond Heretic. In my journey through old first person shooters, these two feel like an interesting milestone in FPS design. Continue reading

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Console Gaming Has An Amnesia Problem

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I’m very late to post here about the latest discussion over emulation and the distribution of video game ROMs. If you haven’t heard, a little while ago Nintendo sued a couple well-known distributors of pirated classic games — LoveROMs and LoveRetro, both of which are gone now. Soon after that another big one — EmuParadise, decided to shut itself down after 18 years, out of fear of the same fate. Downloading ROMs from places like that pretty much is piracy, and Nintendo is absolutely within its legal right to do what it’s doing, but you may have seen a lot of people recently either defending the ROM sites or criticizing Nintendo’s approach to fighting piracy.

Let me say this: The shutdown of those ROMs sites is such a big deal because the console video game industry is uniquely bad at preserving its history. I say “uniquely” because gaming console manufacturers ignore their history in a way no other entertainment medium or software industry does. Literature, film, music, even PC gaming and mobile gaming, all do a better job than console gaming at keeping legacy works easily available on modern hardware and services. Continue reading

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What New Shenmue Players Can Expect

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The remastered collection of the two Shenmue games is out now and I’m sure many are going into it without a clear idea of just what to expect. Shenmue is a kind of game that isn’t really common at all, at least not in the space of traditional console games. I was really into the first Shenmue when it originally came out in 2000 but haven’t played it in years. I thought I’d take this opportunity to give my own impression of what made it so special at the time and why it remains unique, and divisive, today. Continue reading

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Otakon 2018 Photoblog (And Late To The Party: Taiko no Tatsujin)

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Last weekend I attended Otakon 2018 in DC, and amidst the screenings, panels, shopping, and gaming, a highlight for me was getting to play the arcade version of Taiko no Tatsujin (also known as Taiko Drum Master) for the first time. A bit auspicious seeing as western countries are finally getting another one of those games this fall. Continue reading

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Will Discord and Twitch Succeed Where Origin and UPlay Failed?

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I had a blog post about Discord and its competition with Steam (along with other PC gaming services) ready to go that I’d written on Tuesday… and then on Thursday Discord went and announced it’s actually going to sell games.

Back in 2014 I did a post comparing Origin and UPlay to Steam, primarily through why each PC game launcher was created in the first place, and how that affected the current status of each one. Steam started as a way to facilitate the installing and patching of games, Origin as EA’s personal game launcher, and UPlay as Ubisoft’s customer loyalty program. To this day, people primarily install Origin and UPlay just to boot up EA’s and Ubisoft’s games respectively. That in itself is fine. Blizzard’s Battle.net gets away with it, Fortnite gets away with it, Minecraft gets away with it. Those services juts aren’t ever going to come close to competing with Steam.

Discord found another way to get onto millions of computers: as a chat app and a universal game launcher. Continue reading

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No Man’s Sky NEXT is Slightly Less Sci-Fi. That’s Good.

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Most people seem to agree No Man’s Sky is good now, after the massive “NEXT” update that added multiplayer and more or less rebooted everything else. I’ve only had a few hours with it post-update and messed around on a handful of planets, but there’s one changed element I’d like to point out, and it deals with how the game generates planets now. Continue reading

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What Actually Makes For A Good Old School RPG?

Octopath Traveler, a JRPG for Nintendo Switch.

Octopath Traveler is out now, critics are receiving it well, and it’s even doing well commercially, as Nintendo Switch owners wax nostalgic about Japanese RPGs and hail the coming of them to another Nintendo handheld. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about the genre. Some of my favorite games are JRPGs, but it’s actually been some years since I’ve played one to completion.

The common criticisms some people levy at JRPGs might center on things like turn-based combat being obsolete, or shounen anime tropes, but my issues with them are a little more complex. There are games where those things will get on my nerves, but at the same time some of my favorite JRPGs feel very old and traditional. I think it’s less about specific features and more about a general feeling each game tries to impart upon players. Continue reading

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Late to the Party: Kingdom Come Deliverance

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This past week I finished the main story of Kingdom Come Deliverance from Warhorse studios and found it pretty absorbing, but I also think it absolutely isn’t a game for everyone. It’s structurally very similar to Skyrim but Warhorse didn’t make it for anywhere close as mainstream an audience.

Probably the most important distinction which does the most to set Kingdom Come apart and might be a main reason I enjoyed it so much is that, well… it’s a detective adventure game. Continue reading

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