New XBox and Windows game controller for people with disabilities

Microsoft's new accessible game controller has a retro vibe, enormous buttons, and a range of attachments tailored to specific disabilities.

The new Xbox Adaptive Controller, which will be available later this year, can be connected to external buttons, switches, joysticks and mounts, giving gamers with a wide range of physical disabilities the ability to customize their setups. The most flexible adaptive controller made by a major gaming company, the device can be used to play Xbox One and Windows 10 PC games and supports Xbox Wireless Controller features such as button remapping.

Reminds me of the original arcade Street Fighter "punchable" buttons (see the photo from Ars Technica, below). There's a certain irony here, because (in their primitive 80s form) they were unreliable and made the game too difficult, leading arcade operators to replace them with normal buttons. Because the punch-plates were pressure sensitive, though, the game required six normal buttons to play properly, kicking off the myriads-of-buttons era in which games became markedly less accessible.

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What's inside one of those magic chess boards?

Square Off is a crowdfunded chess board that uses a computer and magnets to move pieces physically while playing a human opponent. YouTuber What's Inside? does a teardown to see how it works. Read the rest

Secrets from games that you can't find by playing them

The Cutting Room Floor is a wiki collecting programming secrets from old games: messages hidden in the code, levels and characters that never show up in-game, and anything else unused or left on the editing room floor. Unused Zelda cutscenes. An impossible-to-find spell in Planescape: Torment. Some too-secret levels in Bionic Commando. The unusued Duke Nukem 3D sample "DUKE_PASSWIND". Read the rest

Procedurally-generated Space Invaders

Kjetil Golid wrote code that generates high-definition space invaders for all imaginary Earth-defense needs. The javascript library p5.js is part of the magic. Read the rest

Nintendo bringing back the NES Classic

Withdrawn from sale to promote the 16-bit SNES Classic, Nintendo's NES Classic is finally coming back. Pulling it from shelves at the height of its popularity was a canny move by the Japanese game giant, but one that enraged fans and left industry-watchers scratching their heads. All that anguish and pontification is now wiped from the high score chart of history with one fell, swooping press release.

Don't pay $200 for old stock on Amazon's official-looking NES Classic page; the real thing will be $60 when it is out again on June 29th.

Pictured here is "Shaved Mario" by November17 on Twitter. Read the rest

A puzzle expert shows off some of his favorites

Tim at Grand Illusions chose several of his favorite "photogenic" puzzles to share. Some of them he has not solved yet, and even some that he's solved are still quite challenging to replicate. Read the rest

Atari "VCS" delayed to 2019

Atari's retro game console, annoyingly given the same name as the 1977 original, won't be showing up until 2019, reports Andrew Tarantola. But you'll be able to pre-order it soon anyway.

We're also finally getting a hint at the system's capabilities. Atari announced on Monday that it has partnered with AMD for the console's processor. The VCS will support 4K resolutions, HDR and 60fps gameplay. It will offer both internal and external storage, built-in WiFi, USB 3 and Bluetooth 5 capabilities.

The company is still tight-lipped as to what you'll actually be able to do with the VCS, however.

Charming as it is, the high price demands 21st century performance. Another benefit of a good video chip will be mining Ataricoin. Read the rest

A handheld version of Oregon Trail!

The Oregon Trail Handheld Game is a Target exclusive at $25, but for $29.20 you can get resold/new ones with Prime -- it's a straight port of the Apple ][+ game with a specialized keypad, about the size of a G1 Gameboy. (via Red Ferret) Read the rest

Kickstarting a playable version of the CIA's previously secret training card-game

When Freedom of Information Act enthusiast Douglas Palmer used public records requests to explore the games that the CIA uses to train its analysts, he laid the groundwork for republishing these games for general use. Read the rest

Hot competition in the world of replacement jewel cases for Sega games

Sega made nice jewel cases for its video games, providing ample space for manuals and a nice thick spine for shelf display. But they cracked easily, and Sega's departure from the console business meant fans went for many years without an easy replacement source. But then there were two – in competition.

Sega collectors can finally rest easy, knowing that they’ll now be able to get replacements for their shattered cases from multiple sources—whether that’s Limited Run, or VGC Online, or from hypothetical bootleggers in China. It still remains to be seen whether the demand for these replacement parts can sustain multiple businesses.

One of the surprises in the story is the cost of molds required to make jewel cases. The simultaneous emergence of two competitors, each making big capital investments in the same generic product for the same tiny market, puts both in trouble from the outset. But one spent $150k to make perfect molds in the U.S., whereas the other spent only $8k to crank them out in China. Mr. $150k banked, unwisely, on the assumption that he'd have the market to himself and would never have to worry about cheap competition for his high-quality replicas. Mr $8k just wanted to make cheap Sega cases available and didn't care about third shift copies – but the results are apparently pretty rough, so enthusiasts may well opt for the more expensive alternative. Read the rest

Scientologists were all up in Neopet's business

Since its launch in 1999, Neopets has enjoyed a pretty colorful history. The game offers users the ability to create a virtual pet to take on adventures and, using virtual and real-world currency, feed and trick out their digital pets with swag, homes and other online sundries. It was originally aimed at kids, but grew a cult-following of oldsters, too.

Oh, and it used to be run by Scientologists.

According to The Outline, the company that originally owned the Neopets brand employed business practices deeply rooted in Scientology. Up until the point where NeoPets was sold to Viacom in 2005, Neopet's CEO and practicing Scientologist Doug Dohring rocked L. Ron Hubbard’s Org Board business model in order to keep things running smoothly – provided you considered turning your employees against one another smooth.

From The Outline:

The information currently made public about Org Board is vague — introductory workshops are required to learn more about it. The business model contains seven divisions: Communications, Dissemination (sales/marketing), Treasury, Production, Qualifications (quality control), Public (public relations), and, most important to the system, Executive. The symbiotic divisions are arranged to create a “cycle of production” that parallels the church’s “cycle of action,” which Scientology.org describes as “revealing what underlies the continuous cycle of creation, survival and destruction—a cycle that seems inevitable in life, but which is only an apparency.” It is also made up of seven stages.

As part of putting Org Board into play, employees are called upon to spy on the work practices of other employees. Read the rest

Review: Zotac's Zbox EN1070K is the tiny game PC that could

Regular readers will know I'm fond of tiny computers. During my search for one powerful enough to play games on, I found several beautiful and well-made options. But none were so wee as the Zotac Zbox EN1070K [Amazon], which is roughly the size of a Sega Dreamcast. I've had it for six months, now, and can report that it's great: easily the most enjoyable, compact, no-nonsense game-ready PC I've ever owned.

Miniaturization is accomplished by using the MXM video card form factor originally devised for laptops. In the past, this would have resulted in a severe performance compromise. But current Nvidia models hit close to the numbers posted by full-size counterparts. Even with Zotac slightly underclocking the GTX 1070 (presumably for heat reasons), it benchmarks close enough to the full-size model that I doubt I could tell the difference side-by-side.

There's even a model with the GTX 1080 [Amazon] in it, but it's twice the size of this one and I wanted small, and it turns out the 1070 is more than enough for every game I've tried, outpacing the GTX 970-equipped PC I upgraded from. The latest games on the highest settings on 4k monitors would be pushing it, I'm sure, but if you need that, maybe a PC the size of a hardback novel isn't in your future.

There are compromises to bear in mind. Upgrading the i5 Kaby Lake CPU is possible, but I won't be chancing it for a long time -- it voids the warranty and requires almost complete disassembly. Read the rest

Celebrate Myst's 25th anniversary through this Kickstarter

In 1993, Cyan Inc.'s Robyn and Rand Miller created Myst, a magical interactive story/puzzle published on CD-ROM that forever changed the landscape of immersive gaming. Myst proved once and for all that videogames could be art. To celebrate Myst's 25th anniversary this year, Cyan launched a Kickstarter for a marvelous "historical anthology of the complete series, along with some special, Atrus-approved, authentic game artifacts." The games will be playable on Windows 10. (Mac editions may be in the future.) The Myst 25th Anniversary Collection will certainly spark the imagination of anyone who plays it, including those developing the next generation of immersive experiences.

Myst: 25th Anniversary Collection (Kickstarter)

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Banned Donkey Kong champ promises proof in emulator scandal

Billy Mitchell is an infamous game champion whose Donkey King high score was long the record. But video of his current best time was apparently recorded using an emulator rather than real arcade hardware, making it easier to cheat and ultimately losing him his place in the record books. Now he's speaking out, promising to show that everything was done according to the rules: "witnesses, documents, everything will be made available."

It's amazing how they caught Mitchell, by spotting subtle discrepancies in how MAME emulation software and original hardware refresh the screen. The top image (below) is video of a bona-fide Donkey Kong cabinet, and the bottom image is Mitchell's provided video, now thought to be recorded by connecting an emulator to an arcade CRT monitor. Each GIF covers 1/60th of a second or thereabouts, and is slowed to show the game's girders being drawn out of the usual order.

Another famous game champ, Todd Rogers, was likewise put to pasture recently. Modern hardware analysis made his claimed times and scores too incredible to believe, and he could not produce evidence of having made them. Read the rest

Cheap gaming headset just as nice as my expensive one

This $33 Bengoo stereo gaming headset is every bit as nice as my $100+ one.

Gaming and marijuana do not mix. I break headsets and controllers pretty regularly, every few months something gets dropped hard, or yanked off my head by a dog running past and catching the cable (OUCH!!!) I get tired of replacing them.

This Bengoo headset feels every bit as nice as the expensive SkullCandy set it is replacing. The plastic is just as plastic. The ear cups and padding are plenty comfortable. The sound and volume control seems very much the same.

The headset has a very nice cable that annoyingly has permanently affixed stereo and USB jacks. I have used the velcro cable tender that came with to hold the un-used cable end (USB for me) out of the way. The volume and mute controls are super functional and in a good place on the cable.

The mic works well. Adjust the sensitivity if it is not picking up your clear and cogent call-outs.

There is minor price variation based on the color you pick. The unit is labeled "Kotion" who appears to be the manufacturer. I am not sure what a Bengoo is, a Benji is my brother.

I can direction-ally identify footsteps in Fortnite again.

BENGOO G9000 Stereo Gaming Headset for PS4, PC, Xbox One via Amazon

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$200 Street Fighter II selvedge denim jeans

The gimmick here is that the jeans have the emblem of Shadaloo -- the criminal syndicate operated on the side by Street Fighter II's evil dictator M. Bison -- sewn on them. $200 is quite normal for fancy denim but I'm not shoryuken expect this purchase to be respected by even the most committed fans. Read the rest

Watch how to solve a maze hidden inside a metal cylinder

YouTuber Mr. Puzzle demonstrates Revomaze, a maze puzzle hidden inside a metal cylinder. Read the rest

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