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Tag: Gaming

Rovio electrifies Angry Birds with new levels

Posted by Alan at 8:06 AM on November 26, 2013

Fans of the Rovio series of games can rejoice today, as the Finnish game maker is rolling out an update to its flagship mobile product. While it’s probably no longer the most popular Angry Birds, the original has become a classic in the minds of many gamers.

“Today Angry Birds received an electrifying new update with 30 fun-filled levels set in Professor Pig’s lab”, the company states. It then proceeds to describe that customers will find the new levels contain a bonus — the Bomb Bird has now become electrified. “His temper has grown after he accidentally stumbles upon powerful potions and electricity in the Professor’s lab”, as Rovio describes it.

Not to let a marketing opportunity fail to pass them by, the studio is also pushing a new tee-shirt emblazoned with the logo “shockwave”. It has also release a short trailer video to get you familiar with this latest update. You can watch the video below, but beating the levels is something we can’t help you with.

Twitch Cracks Down on Non-Gaming Content

Posted by JenThorpe at 7:01 PM on November 25, 2013

TwitchTwitch is a great place to check out if you want to watch people play video games. For example, I’ve been watching people stream as they play the beta of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. Its awesome to get a glimpse of what will be in the upcoming expansion.

Sadly, though, it seems that some of the people who use Twitch to stream themselves playing video games are abusing the service. Recently, Twitch streamer Darckobra was banned after he chose to do some “not safe for work” (and completely inappropriate) things while streaming. I’ll leave you to visit the Gamer Revolution article for further details about exactly what happened.

The guy, and his wife, were playing a PS4 game called The Playroom. The game uses the PlayStation Camera and requires a DualShock 4 wireless controller. The camera shows your living room on the screen, and adds playful little robots that you can interact with. In other words, it is an augmented reality “game” that is designed to show off what the PS4 can do.

Twitch sent out the following tweets to show that they will be cracking down on “non-gaming” content:

It is possible to stream The Playroom through Twitch.tv (or Ustream) through the Live From PlayStation feature. Parents should be aware that watching a stream of The Playroom may or may not be appropriate for children to view. That’s rather sad, since it looks to me like The Playroom is something that is primarily entertaining to children.

A Microsoft Future

Posted by Andrew at 5:56 PM on November 14, 2013

Microsoft Windows 8Last week’s “Microsoft Fantasy” here on GNC suggested that Microsoft was in danger of fading into irrelevance; that it should retreat to servers and gaming; that it should re-orient its mobile strategy around Android. I suggest that Microsoft is now very well positioned to offer far more than its competitors. And to negate any ad hominem attacks, I’m no Microsoft fanboy – I’ve a Linux desktop, Android tablet, Nexus smartphone and a Chromebook – but I can see a better strategy in Microsoft than defeat and retreat.

There are three players in the OS space – Microsoft with Windows, Google with Android and Apple with iOS. Each of these pairings has strengths and weaknesses. Microsoft is strong in servers, PCs and gaming. Google is good in mobile. Apple’s strength lies in PCs, entertainment and mobile. Obviously there are other players, such as Sony who are strong in gaming, but they can be discounted without OS aspirations.

Microsoft is a large organisation. It can be slow to respond and doesn’t always identify and embrace future technologies as fast as it should. The internet and Internet Explorer is a pretty good example. Other times, it moves into new markets, starting slowly and building up: look at the Xbox – it’s the market-leader. Certainly Microsoft has never been strong in the smartphone market being overshadowed previously by Blackberry and Palm, but it has a track record of trying tablet-type devices. Anyone remember Windows XP Tablet Edition? No, you probably don’t, but it existed.

But let’s think about how Microsoft’s competitors can realistically move in on their turf. For all the rise of BYOD, most large organisations use Windows on the desktop, Exchange for email, Ms Server on the tin. Google is trying hard to offer software as service in the cloud but there’s still lots of nervousness about the cloud and the leaks about US snooping aren’t going to help. Apple isn’t big in business by any stretch of the imagination and this is unlikely change. Both Apple and Google are into entertainment but neither have expressed much interest in hardcore gaming. It’s certainly not impossible for a hot Android or iOS console to come out but for now I think we can discount that.

Accepting then that Microsoft is reasonably unassailable (without being complacent) in gaming or business, let’s look at mobile and tablets in particular. Both Apple’s iPad and Android-based tablets are great devices, but even the most ardent fan will admit that tablets are generally best for consumption rather than production – it’s watching videos, surfing the web, listening to music. For creation, most people return to the keyboard and mouse on a desktop or laptop. Looking at business, while opportunities exist for tablets in business without a doubt, the bread and butter is still going to orient around Word and Excel.

The trend to mobile has been going on for years: from the desktop to the laptop to the tablet. But it’s extension to new devices, not extinction of the old. When laptops came out, did all the desktops go away? No. And it will be no different with tablets. We can see the rebalancing in the slow down of PC sales but this is entirely to be expected.

And this is Microsoft’s killer advantage – a potentially seamless suite of devices and form-factors from servers, through desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Business in particular want to use what they have already invested in – ActiveDirectory, Group Policies, Sharepoint. Microsoft and its partners are responding to this with devices that offer both a touch interface via the Modern UI and a traditional desktop for legacy applications where a keyboard and mouse is needed. The bottom line is that there’s no longer any need to shoehorn in Apple or Android onto the infrastructure at extra cost.

But what about the consumers? They’re not businesses, they’ve no investment, they’re not going to be swayed by ActiveDirectory concerns. They want apps! Absolutely, but let’s be honest about apps – most key apps and popular games are available across all platforms, and the relative low cost of apps means that it is easier to jump ship to a different OS.  Windows 8 isn’t perfect, but I would lay good money that if a 7″ Windows-based tablet was available for Nexus 7 money, they’d sell shed-loads. A similar argument follows for smartphones and Windows Phone has actually been doing quite well recently with solid gains according a recent IDC survey.

Microsoft is ahead of the game in recognising that the future is not a tablet future, but a touch future, and building touch into the core of Windows is a winner. For me, all Microsoft needs to do it get the prices down, tweak the usability of Windows 8 and continue with the “Windows Everywhere” advertising. It’s a Microsoft future.

Dig out your wallet — white Xbox One on Ebay

Posted by Alan at 6:20 AM on November 12, 2013

In ten days Microsoft will launch the next generation game console, the Xbox One. The $500 device is designed to take over the living room, bringing just as many entertainment options as it does games. If you have pre-ordered one, or plan to grab one later, then you can expect it to come in black.

However, if you have some spare money sitting around, and wish to support a good cause, then you can grab an ultra-rare white build of the console.

Xbox Live chief Larry Hryb, AKA Major Nelson, has one up for auction and the money goes to benefit Wounded Warrior Project. “The winning bid will not only receive the extremely limited edition white Xbox One (console, Kinect and controller) but will also receive one year of Xbox Live, and a copy of each of our first party launch titles including Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome, Dead Rising 3, Killer Instinct and Crimson Dragon”.

As of this writing, the bid stands at $11,300, but at least the shipping is free. Of course, the money also goes to a good cause, so that is the real benefit in spending the the rather hefty fee.

white xbox one

Asphalt 8 for Android goes free

Posted by Alan at 7:12 AM on November 6, 2013

asphalt 8

There is no shortage of good games available on the Android platform, from sports to shooters to racing. You can even relive your youth through classic arcade games from Atari and Activision. And, if you like fast cars with exotic names like Lamborghini, Ferrari and Bugati, then there are games for you as well.

Now Android customers who happen to fall into that category get a special treat. Asphalt 8: Airborne has gone free for the Google mobile operating system.

If you aren’t familiar, it’s an arcade-style racing game with lots of high-performance cars, exotic locations and scattered platforms and ramps around the tracks that allow you to fly your car and do stunts with it. You get none of the realism of games like Real Racing 3, but instead you do get perhaps a bit more adrenaline.

The developer describes it as “The best Android arcade racing game series reaches a new turning point! Perform dynamic, high-speed aerial stunts in an intense driving experience powered by a brand-new physics engine”.

All of this may mean that Asphalt 9 is on the horizon, but that’s fine. You won’t be paying for a game that may become outdated — free is free.

 

Angry Birds goes Kart Racing on December 11

Posted by Alan at 7:10 AM on October 15, 2013

Rovio continues to find new ways to market its industry leading mobile game franchise, Angry Birds. This time, instead of teaming with another major franchise, as it did for Star Wars, the Finnish company is heading to the race track.

Today Rovio unveiled Angry Birds Go, a new racing game set to hit app stores on December 11. “It’s a complete first for the Angry Birds series, featuring high-octane downhill racing, upgradable karts, tons of characters with unique special powers and a fully rendered 3D world”, the company announced today.

The game will be free to play, and Rovio has partnered with Hasbro to integrate TELEPODS into the racing game. For now, a gameplay trailer has been released to tease you with what can be expected this holiday season.

Battle.net Adds New SMS Protect Service

Posted by JenThorpe at 3:19 PM on October 3, 2013

Battlenet logoGamers who play any of the games by Blizzard Entertainment may want to check this out. Battle.net has introduced a new way to protect your account from hackers. The new service is called SMS Protect. If you currently have your account protected by an authenticator, it is possible that you received an email from Battle.net about this.

It will send a text message to your cell phone every time suspicious activity is detected on your account. You will also get a text if your account is flagged for suspicious login activity, if your password has been changed, or if account security features are added or removed.

In other words, if something nefarious appears to be happing to your account, you won’t have to wait until you get home, and try to log in, to find out about it. You can get a text message about it, while you are away from your computer. All you need is a standard cell phone with a data plan. You also need to be in one of the countries that is currently supported by SMS Protect.

The sooner you know something has gone wrong, the sooner you can try to fix it. If you want to get texts, you have to log into your Battle.net account and enable the texts. (The “default” mode has the texts turned off).

Those of you who play World of Warcraft, Diablo III, or Starcraft hopefully are already using an authenticator to protect your account. The key-fob authenticators are still useful, and so are the mobile authenticators for iPhone, Android and Blackberry. Those will still function as intended. You are not required to change over to the SMS Protect service if you do not want to. SMS Protect is simply one more tool to use to protect your characters and loot from hackers.

Former Nintendo President has Died

Posted by JenThorpe at 4:43 PM on September 20, 2013

NintendoHiroshi Yamauchi, a visionary who is credited with transforming Nintendo from a trading card company to a leading force in video games, has died of pneumonia. He was 85 years old. He ran Nintendo from 1949 until 2002, and had an enormous influence on the gaming industry.

Yamauchi was a driving force behind getting Nintendo into arcades. How many of you remember putting quarters into a Donkey Kong machine (after waiting around for your turn)? He was president of Nintendo during the NES, the SNES, the N64 and the Gamecube.

I’ve never met Hiroshi Yamauchi. I didn’t know him personally. Yet, I find myself saddened by his death. Where would console gaming be today without his influence? I think back to happy memories of playing Super Mario Brothers on the NES with my siblings for hours upon hours.

One of my siblings has autism. He was able to completely memorize all the details and patterns in Super Mario Brothers. His interest in the game encouraged him to try and communicate more with the rest of the family. He wanted to teach us how to play the game better. This was remarkable, and would not have happened without the existence of the NES.

I’m certain that I am not the only gamer who has fond memories involving Nintendo games. What are some of yours?

Wreck-it Ralph hits Windows Phone

Posted by Alan at 3:49 AM on September 6, 2013

Disney is no stranger to hit movies — in fact most of the studios releases are expected to be box-office successes, and Wreck-it Ralph did not disappoint.

Now the blockbuster flick attempts to become a cross-over hit as a game. The game brings five fun sub-games within, inspired by some of the movie’s most memorable scenes. There’s Fix-It Felix Jr., where you fix what Ralph has wrecked; Hero’s Duty, which lets you suit up as Sergeant Calhoun and blast cy-bugs; Sweet Climber, where fizzy jet packs help get you toward the top; Turbo Time, a fast race for the gold; and Flight Command, a flight simulator that strengthens all of your piloting skills.

Wreck-it Ralph for Windows Phone is not free, but $0.99 is  rather small fee to pay for more than 100 levels of entertainment, involving wrecking, fixing, blasting and soaring. Good luck.

wreck it ralph

Be Freddy for a day in Angry Birds

Posted by Alan at 2:29 PM on September 2, 2013

Freddy Mercury, the iconic lead singer of rock legend Queen, and one of most recognizable and best voices in music, passed away back in 1991. However, his memory lives on in the form of the Mercury Phoenix Foundation. The organization proclaims that “since 1992, The Mercury Phoenix Trust has been raising millions to fight AIDS worldwide and thanks to advances in treatment, many are able to live longer with the disease, but there is still no cure. Around the world, mainly in countries stricken with poverty and lack of education, people are dying. The fight is not over yet…”

This year Rovio, the Finnish game maker behind the Angry Birds empire, is once again supporting the foundation with a “Freddy for a Day” tournament this week in Angry Birds Friends. The tournament features six levels inspired by Freddie and some truly iconic songs.

Essentially, this is a fundraising initiative arranged by The Mercury Phoenix Trust, which aims to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS by encouraging people to dress as Freddie Mercury for a day.

Customers can help support the drive by purchasing the Freddy Bird tee-shirt. If you do not have Angry Birds Friends on your phone or tablet, you can play right from your PC at friends.angrybirds.com.