The best video games of this young century

Get your angry hat on, someone's made a list of the best video games of the 21st Century. What are The Guardian's picks?

3. Dark Souls (2011)

You are dead, which comes with few advantages, but at least you can’t die again – not for good, anyway. Plunging you into a never-ending cycle of death and rebirth in a world where almost nothing still breathes, Dark Souls sets you off with nothing and lets its horror-tinged dark fantasy unfold as you flail and struggle to survive. Invigoratingly uncompromising and influential, it was the breakthrough game of FromSoftware and visionary director Hidetaka Miyazaki. Despite two more Dark Souls games and a raft of imitators, there is still nothing like it.

2. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)

Doing for the open-world game what Half-Life 2 did for the first-person shooter, Breath of the Wild tears up and throws away all the things that make exploration a chore – checklists, objective markers, forests of icons – to make way for true adventure. Breath of the Wild counts on your curiosity, intelligence, self-determination and ingenuity, giving you a thousand ways to apply them. Its thrillingly open wilderness makes other games feel like a quaint miniature train ride by comparison.

Number one is, I dare say it, obvious. Read the rest

Awesome 'Dark Souls' game-inspired embroidery project

Seriously impressive game-inspired stitching project right here. Read the rest

Enjoy being an unpleasant goose in Untitled Goose Game

In Untitled Goose Game, you are the goose: an irascible, annoying, hostile bird waddling around the environs of your pond, attacking children and ruining things.

It's a lovely morning in the village, and you are a horrible goose.

Makes me think of a cross between Katamari Damacy and Postal. It's made by Aussie developer House House -- Jacob Strasser, Nico Disseldorp, Michael McMaster and Stuart Gillespie-Cook--and published by Panic. Read the rest

The weird sexually-themed ad campaign for a Candy Crush style game

Lily’s Garden is a variant of Candy Crush, a brainlessly addictive match-three smartphone game. The thing that makes Lily's Garden different, says Brian Feldman of New York's Intelligencer, is its bizarre ad campaign, which has Lily telling her friend about the penis size of men she knows, and magically erasing her pregnancy by swiping away the "positive" line on a home pregnancy test.

From the article:

The reality of Lily’s Garden is even more complicated. For one thing, the fake-pregnancy story line is not present in the game itself. According to Stella Sacco, the game’s writer, those ads were created by a separate team. “All of those are all totally fabricated for, I guess, virality,” she said “And to that degree, I would say that it worked.” Lily’s Garden has a similarly intricate story line, but fans hoping for more information about the Lily from the ads might be found wanting.

Most mobile games are designed to appeal to every demographic on Earth simultaneously. Consider this: what is the narrative of Candy Crush? Nobody knows, it’s just bright colors and harmless shapes. Plus, most games have their narrative crafted to justify the mechanics of that game. For instance, if a developer makes a game where you can just hop into any car in the virtual world, the player’s character might be designated a car thief in the narrative, as in Grand Theft Auto. But according to Sacco, Lily’s Garden and its narrative structure is very deliberately targeted at what I’ll call (non-pejoratively!) “Facebook Moms,” women over 30 who make up the largest audience for these types of mobile games.

Read the rest

Why CRTs are great for modern video games

Photo of CRT monitor and an old CRT Macintosh

First it was vinyl, then it was cassette tapes -- now the latest old media that's being praised for offering warmer, richer, higher-quality experiences? Read the rest

Baby crocodiles "sound like a game of Galaga"

Crocfest posted this video of baby crocodiles in a tub.

Incredible video of complex social behavior from yearling Cuban crocodiles upon seeing their caretaker, Brad Valle, at Dragonwood Conservancy in Florida. We understand that Brad had to dress up like a crocodile only once!!

On Twitter, @xFREESKIMASK45x pointed out they "sound like a game of Galaga." Read the rest

Sadistic browser game of the day: Tetromino Slide

Tetronimo Slide is an unusually annoying variant of Tetris which adds a sliding mechanism similar to the game Threes. You no longer have to think and thumb quickly in the face of falling blocks, but have you thought about what happens if they can slide about after they land? You will, if you click that cursed link. Read the rest

Game champion threatens to sue records website that disallowed his precious Donkey Kong score

Billy Mitchell long held the high-score record for the arcade classic Donkey Kong, but his reputation suffered after his best times were shown to have been made using emulators rather than arcade hardware. Now he's threatening to sue one of the top scorekeeping websites, which struck his scores from the record, and the publishers of The Guinness Book of Records, which cites it as a source.

Owen S. Good:

This week, lawyers for Mitchell sent a letter to Twin Galaxies and Guinness World Records demanding that both “retract their claims against Billy Mitchell” and restore the scores to their world record leaderboards, where Mitchell had been a fixture since the early 1980s. Attorneys made the same demand of Guinness World Records, which uses Twin Galaxies as its source for the video game high score records it recognizes.

At issue is the April 12, 2018 finding by Twin Galaxies, after a three-month investigation and deliberative process, that the gameplay in two million-point scores Mitchell claimed for Donkey Kong were not produced by original, unmodified arcade hardware. The implication in that finding is that Mitchell used an emulator running the game to produce the scores, and emulators allow different control schemes, display setups, and even the means to cheat or manipulate a score or performance.

Here's the letter. An excerpt:

its investigation did not provide Billy Mitchell fair opportunity to provide evidence to prove his innocence. Throughout the investigation, Twin Galaxies had a double standard. Specific evidence against Mitchell was accepted, while evidence of equal stature was rejected.

Read the rest

This guy re-made a classic Nintendo home arcade video game console

Seriously impressive re-creation of a Nintendo “Home Arcade” classic video arcade unit by an inspired retrogaming enthusiast. Read the rest

11 new games released this year for ... the Atari Lynx?

Atari's Lynx was a full-color portable 16-bit game console released in 1989. It was doomed in the face of Nintendo's all-conquering GameBoy, Atari's poor support, and its own overpowered hardware--given a couple of hours, every Lynx is a big box of dead batteries. But its beautiful graphics and unique design means it still has a lively homebrew scene. This year, 11 new homebrew games came out for it courtesy of a single competition. (According to Wikipedia, Atari didn't release this many games annually for the Lynx until its third year on the shelves, with only 76 official releases over the entire life of the system)

Atari Gamer, has been running the Atari Lynx 30th Birthday Programming Competition over the past few months and we now have the final submissions! All eleven of them! That's right, that's eleven new games for you to play and rate. We do admit that some are very well polished and others are more on the "tech demo" side, but all are worth having a look at.

Though the Atari Lynx may not have been as successful in the past, it really was and is an amazing gaming console. Its impressive feature set and the ease of developing games for it make it ideal for home brewers. Whether you're on the advanced side and code in Assembly or just starting out and writing games in C with the TGI library, you can have a lot of fun with the Lynx (see programming resources here). The amount of submissions for this competition has been overwhelming and it just shows how amazing the Lynx home brew scene is!

Read the rest

Sony insists the X button is actually the "cross" button

On the iconic PlayStation game controller, a design refined but fundamentally unchanged since 1994, the main buttons are an ◯, ⬜, △ and ✕. The last of these is called an "X", right? Pronounced "ecks" or some such. NO. It is, Sony insists, the cross button.

Responding to an enquiry on Twitter, the official PlayStation UK account writes:

Triangle Circle Cross Square

If Cross is called X (it's not), then what are you calling Circle?🤔

Fans are shocked and appalled. But true believers know that the buttons are in fact 1,2,3 and 4. If you know why, well, why ruin it for everyone else? Read the rest

CELLivilization: Civilization implemented in Microsoft Excel

Sid Meier's Civilization, significantly refined in sequels by Brian Reynolds and others, is a true classic of computer gaming. And now you can play the elaborate historical strategy game as an Excel spreadsheet. Behold CELLivilization, by s0lly.

This is my first game in Excel, with the first iteration (v1.0) created in just around a week for the OLC CODEJAM 2019 The gamejam's theme is destruction, which is apt for this game's v1.0 iteration, given that the only way to win is to destroy the opposing team.

The game is very light on features (basically just build units and attack the opposition), but I will add on additional features - DLC you could call it - if people are keen to see more!

One is torn between two thoughts: (a) Excel has become a sprawling, shambling monster and will expand until everything is in it, and (b) Excel is a surprisingly accessible programming environment in a world where most game development platforms are horribly intimidating to beginners. Read the rest

Playable 'Super Mario Bros' 19-foot mural

This is a really incredible game-inspired DIY art project. Read the rest

"Who Said That?" is a fun quote quiz book

Who Said That? is a chunky 340-page book that tests your trivia knowledge on the origin of famous quotes. The quotes are arranged by topic (Love and Marriage, Work and Money, Politics and War, Aging, etc.) and are presented in different ways to keep things lively.

Sometimes you'll be asked to choose which person said a particular quote:

"History is made by active, determined minorities, not by the majority, which seldom has a clear and consistent idea of what it really wants."

A: Margaret Mead

B: Theodore Kaczynski, a.k.a. the Unabomber

C: Susan B Anthony

D: Maximilien Robespierre

Answer: B. This line occurs in the Unabomber’s infamous manifesto. Kaczynski’s brother read it in the newspaper, recognized his older siblings writing style, and tipped off the FBI, leading to Ted’s arrest.

Other times you'll be asked which quotes a person actually said:

John Lennon said only one of these quotes. But which is it?

A: "We thought we’d be really big in Liverpool."

B: "We're more popular than Jesus now."

C: "Everything is OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end."

D: "There was no play on words, we just didn’t know how to spell the word 'beetle.'"

Answer:B. Lennon’s "bigger-than-Jesus" comments in 1966 sparked outrage in America, leading to boycott and death threats. Lennon would remain controversial until his untimely 1980 death. "If there is such a thing as genius, I am one," he once said. "And if there isn’t, I don’t care."

There are a number of other question formats, too. Read the rest

Birdspotting, a forthcoming game about exploring the countryside in search of avian delights

Birdspotting looks like the ne plus ultra of walkabout games, putting the player in a remote yet pleasant section of country and handing them a pair of binoculars. It's by Joram van Loenen and Khalil Arafan and they've been working on it since January 2018.

I especially like the implication in the trailer that it should be played at low resolution.

Read the rest

Tetris gives you random tetrominoes, right?

Only the very first version of Tetris, by Alexey Pajitnov and Vadim Gerasimov, doled out bricks at random. The result is a pure puzzle, but one with a high likelihood of frustrating (and even theoretically unplayable) sequences. Accordingly, developers have introduced bias and ratio management to balance short-term unpredictability with long-term playability. There's even a a history of Tetris Randomizers to enjoy, with code examples to show the various approaches.

Here's the rule from Nintendo's definitive 1985 edition:

To cut down on piece floods (repeating pieces) a history check was added to the randomizer. This simple check would,

• choose a piece, • check if the piece was the same as the last, • If it was it would chose a new piece, but only once, • and whatever was the result, was the piece dealt.

This still didn't fix the problem of piece droughts, which was solved by switching to virtual "bags" of pieces in 2001's Tetris Worlds, so the likelihood of getting a piece increases each time you don't get it, and vice versa, for each bag of pieces. But now it's rather easy to predict, so what next? Things get really complicated with Tetris: The Grand Master 3 - Terror-Instinct (2005).

See also Bastet, a version of Tetris that simply calculates the worst possible piece for any given deal, and deals you it.

My doubtless-unpopular opinion is that predictability is not only fine, but desirable. In fact, the sequence of pieces should be deterministic in competitive Tetris, in a way that a beginner can understand, that an average player can predict some of the time, that a master can predict most of the time. Read the rest

Thousands sign up to play unauthorized hide-and-seek game at Ikea, police called in

This weekend, police were called to an Ikea store in Glasgow, Scotland when employees learned that thousands of people had signed up on Facebook to play an unauthorized game of hide-and-seek in the maze-like building. According to The Scotsman, "groups of youths who looked like they were only there for the game were turned away from the shop.
" From The Scotsman:

The trend for using Ikea’s giant warehouses for games began in Europe a few years ago - and has seen people hiding in fridges, under beds and in the firm’s big blue shopping bags.

..

However in 2015, IKEA was forced to impose a ban because the events were getting out of control.



Citing health and safety a spokesman explained: ‘We need to make sure people are safe, and that’s hard if we don’t know where they are.’



Rob Cooper, IKEA Glasgow Store Manager said: “The safety of our customers and co-workers is always our highest priority. We were aware of an unofficial Hide and Seek Facebook event being organised to take place at our store today and have been working with the local police for support.



“While we appreciate playing games in one of our stores may be appealing to some, we do not allow this kind of activity to take place to ensure we are offering a safe environment and relaxed shopping experience for our customers.”

"Police called to Scottish IKEA after thousands sign up for hide and seek" (The Scotsman)

image: Google Maps Read the rest

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