Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 coming to the Nintendo Switch

I've always had a soft spot for Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. They were met with middling enthusiasm from critics, but they served up a whole lot of what I wanted: the ability to build my own team of Marvel heroes to open cans of whoop ass on the forces of evil. Long before Diablo 3, the Ultimate Alliance games allowed me to scratch my "quest for gear" itch, without having to log on to World of Warcraft and deal with other people. Providing me with juuuust the right combination of mindless button mashing, light tactics and story to keep me coming back, they used to be among my favorite games to turn to when I needed to switch my brain off for an hour or two.

Soon, there'll be a new addition to the franchise for me to play.

From The Verge: Nintendo has announced Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order exclusively for the Switch. The game was announced through a trailer shown off at The Game Awards, which are currently in progress; it’ll be out in 2019. Team Ninja, the studio behind Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive, and Nioh, is on board as developer, marking its first Nintendo collaboration since Metroid: Other M.

I'm curious about how it'll work for the Switch. The PSP version of the first installment in the series was playable, but often felt cramped on the portable console's tiny display. I guess I'll have the opportunity to find out in 2019. Read the rest

Game strategy guide publisher Prima is no more

Gamers of a certain age remember what it was like to walk into Game Stop or Electronics Boutique, pick a game, then be tempted by the siren call of a Prima guide at the front counter. Before the Internet offered walk-through videos Twitch streams and online guides, the guides churned out by Prima were one of the best ways to enrich/ruin your gaming experience with all of the hacks, loot locations and maps required to play every game in your library from soup to nuts. Sadly, after years of service to gamers and scads of books, Prima's calling it a day.

From Kotaku:

Thanks to the rise of sites like GameFAQs—and major gaming publications like IGN commissioning their own online guides, which bring in monstrous amounts of traffic—print strategy guides have struggled for years now. In 2015, Prima purchased and swallowed its biggest competitor, BradyGames, and has been consistently churning out guides for both print and the web, but it wasn’t enough to survive what the company called “a significant decline” in the world of print video game guides.

I feel a lot of nostagia for Prima's dead tree guides, but they've honestly have had their day. Books were fine back in the days before updates, expansion packs and patches. But as games have become more dynamic, the books became far less useful and were often out-of-date within weeks of hitting store shelves.

Image via Custom Tombstone Maker Read the rest

Google to add Xbox One controller compatibility to Android

Given a choice of which controller I’d rather use to play games, my response is always Xbox One. I like how beefy it feels run my hands. I bought one for playing Steam games with a while back and have never regretted the decision. I’ve never felt the urge to use it with my smartphone—I do my gaming on the go with a PS Vita or Nintendo Switch. But I totally get the appeal: Being able to rock emulators using physical controls or play games developed for Android without being driven mad by how lousy an input device a display can be at times, could be pretty sweet. Up until now, gaming on an Android device with an Xbox One controller was a wonky experience as there were mapping problems galore. Thanks to Google, that’s all about to change:

From The Verge:

Google is now officially supporting Xbox One controllers with Bluetooth in its latest Android Pie release. XDA-Developers reports that a Google engineer has closed a long standing bug report on the Xbox One controller mapping issues, noting that they’re fixed in Android Pie.

“This bug should be fixed in P… therefore, marking this as fixed,” says the unnamed Google engineer. The fix has been placed into the core of Android Pie, so all releases of it will include it. A variety of games support Bluetooth controllers in Android, and CNET reports that even Fortnite will be getting support soon. That will make playing Fortnite on Android a lot more interesting on the go, especially if other game developers start to see mobile as more of an opportunity to include controller support. Read the rest

Laser cutters and 3D printers revive century-old a magic lantern show of Erewhon at the Edinburgh Fringe

James Coutts writes, "Indiana University Victorian Studies PhD candidate Mary Borgo Ton assembled an international group of artists/makers, a media archaeologist, laser cutters and 3D printers to create magic lantern slides that have not been made in 100 years for a show running in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe called Erewhon: "An antique magic lantern projector, an iPhone and a live musical score shine a new light on Samuel Butler’s classic sci-fi novel. A Victorian explorer discovers a colony of refugees; time travellers from the 21st century escaping their dependence on its technology. This delightful neo-historical head-scratcher playfully welds future, past and present into a glittering bracelet of time." Read the rest

New, unusued Robotron cabinet found still in the box

Robotron: 2084 is one of my favorite games of all time. It has the rapidly-escalating-curve-of-difficulty I prefer in arcade games -- the first level is easy, the second is harder, the third is like, huh, yikes, and then by the ninth screen you need heart defibrillation. Plus, the single-screen nature of play is wonderfully claustrophic: You can't escape anywhere, so you're frantically weaving through hordes of killer robots, constantly scanning for shifting escape routes that possess pixel's-breadth tolerances.

It's pretty rare to find functioning Robotron cabinets anywhere. The last time I played one was a few years back at Yestercades in New Jersey, and I hadn't laid hands on one for a decade or more before that. I've never seen hard numbers, but my suspicion is that Robotron cabinets simply weren't made in the volume of more-common games like, say, Asteroids.

So I was fascinated to read this post about a guy who got his hands on a completely new Robotron game, never-opened and still in its original box.

From whence did such an item emerge? An even crazier story: A warehouse in Vancouver of a former 80s amusements firm, which went extinct and left behind seven stories of mint, in-the-crate arcade and pinball games.

As Tony of The Arcade Blogger writes:

In 2006, someone stumbled across a warehouse in Gastown, Vancouver that had effectively been sealed shut in around 1983. I’m told the place was known to collectors, but the story of new games stacked floor to ceiling was regarded as an urban legend.

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The final trailer for Avengers: Infinity War is upon us

Looks great, but honestly it could use more Hawkguy. Read the rest

What's up with NASA's warp drive spaceship?

Here's the best way I can sum up this story: Yes, some NASA scientists are working on a design for a warp drive. No, that doesn't mean warp drives are real.

Warp drives — as a purely theoretical thing and/or science-fiction plot device — involve manipulating space-time to allow a spaceship to go faster than the speed of light. It's basically loophole that would allow you to get around those pesky laws of physics. Swiss bank account:taxes::Warp drives:speed of light. You get the picture.

Harold White of NASA’s Johnson Space Center is currently leading an effort to design a warp drive space ship. But, as Amy Teitel explains in a story for Vice's Motherboard, the fact that this is happening does not necessarily mean a real working warp drive is possible. It's more about the fact that NASA is partly in the business of letting really smart people try things that are kind of crazy and unlikely, if they can back up the idea with a reasonably plausible hypothesis. Speculative research is a thing that happens.

The problem is that breaking the light barrier isn’t at all like breaking the sound barrier. The sound barrier–properly, the aerodynamic effects of pressure waves interacting with a body as it approaches the speed of sound–was broken with a cleverly engineered aircraft and an at-the-time state of the art rocket engine.

Bell’s X-1 was, importantly, a physical aircraft made of matter, not made of sound. But the atoms and molecules that make up all matter are connected by electromagnetic fields, and that’s the same stuff that light is made of.

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