TIME Gaming

Nintendo Allows Same-Sex Marriage in Role-Playing Game

fire-emblem-fates
Nintendo

“We believe that our gameplay experiences should reflect the diversity of the communities in which we operate.”

A Nintendo videogame released in Japan on Wednesday and drops in the U.S. in 2016 will break new ground by including the option for same-sex marriage for the first time.

The characters in the popular role-playing game series Fire Emblem will be able to marry people of the same sex. Nintendo issued this statement to announce the decision:

“We believe that our gameplay experiences should reflect the diversity of the communities in which we operate and, at the same time, we will always design the game specifications of each title by considering a variety of factors, such as the game’s scenario and the nature of the game play. In the end of course, the game should be fun to play. We feel that Fire Emblem Fates is indeed enjoyable to play and we hope fans like the game.”

The gaming company had previously received criticism for not offering same-sex relationship options in its games. The new game will be called Fire Emblem Fates in North America and is playable on Nintendo’s handheld 3DS console.

[Japan Times]

TIME e3 2015

You Can Download These 9 Free Nintendo Games Right Now

Wii U
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Nintendo's Wii U console, above, and touch-pad controller sit on display during an interview with Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America Inc., in New York, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012.

A new way to celebrate E3

Nintendo has a gift for Wii U owners in honor of the E3 gaming conference this week: demos of nine new indie games for free.

Through the Nindies@Home program, Wii U owners with an eShop, Nintendo’s online game story, account can download these nine demos until June 22, Nintendo said on Monday. People who download the demos will then have the option of getting a 15% discount on the first month for the full-length games once they launch.

Here are the available demos:

  • Extreme Exorcism from Ripstone
  • forma.8 from Mixed Bag
  • Freedom Planet from GalaxyTrail
  • Lovely Planet from tinybuild and Qucktequila
  • Mutant Mudds Super Challenge from Renegade Kid
  • Rive from Two Tribes
  • Runbow from 13AM Games
  • Soul Axiom from Wales Interactive
  • Typoman from Headup Games and Brainseed Factory
TIME xbox

The Xbox One Is Now Better and Cheaper

CHINA-US-COMPUTERS-GAMES-INVESTIGATION
JOHANNES EISELE—AFP/Getty Images

There's a new model of the gaming console, and the old model got a price cut

Gamers everywhere, rejoice: the XBox One is about to get more powerful, and it will have less of an impact on your wallet.

The newest model of the popular console will have more than 1 terrabyte of memory. That model will go on sale for $399. The existing model, with around half of that memory — around 500 gigabytes — will see its price slashed to just $350.

Microsoft said the price cut will be permanent.

The Seattle company also announced a new wireless XBox One controller featuring a headphone jack, so you can talk to your gaming buddies directly through your controller.

TIME Apple

Apple Just Gave Gamers a Huge Reason to Hope

Apple is making one very important technology change

Big news, Mac gamers: Metal, the codename for Apple’s pitch to one-up OpenGL in iOS, is coming to OS X, according to Apple software engineering VP Craig Federighi at this year’s WWDC. To be fair, it’s a long-expected move, but one that’s as potentially big news for gaming on a Mac as it was when Federighi unveiled the tool a year ago.

Back then, Federighi claimed Metal would dissolve most of the “thick” traditional layer between games and computing hardware, and replace it with one that offers “near bare-to-the-metal access” to Apple’s processors. Federighi called the performance difference Metal offers “stunning.”

A year later, it’s hard to gauge the impact of Metal’s existence. A glance at Apple’s iOS game store reveals pretty old-scool, non-Metal chart-toppers, from Minecraft and Plague Inc. to Terraria and Angry Birds. But in theory, and accepting Apple’s performance claims at face value, adding Metal to OS X sweetens the pot for intrepid developers looking to get more bang for their buck out of Apple’s Mac hardware.

The million dollar question, of course, is how likely Macs are to slough off decades of market share creep. Apple’s been selling Macs at record-breaking levels in recent years, it’s true, and Cupertino now consistently ranks among the top five computer vendors by brand name. But when you break those figures into meaningful operating system market share, Microsoft Windows’ high double digit percentages practically entomb OS X’s low single digits.

Will Metal for OS X woo more developmental investors? Perhaps (and speaking as a Macbook user, I can only hope so). The company’s managed to enlist powerhouse game developer Epic to pitch Metal at the API’s unveiling back in 2014, and Epic was back onstage today to trumpet the Mac announcement with a moderately impressive demo.

So Apple’s got the ballyhoo part down pat. All that’s missing? The games themselves.

TIME Video Games

Nintendo Says It Isn’t Making an Android Console

Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo Super Smash Bros.

Sorry, Mario: No Google for you

Nintendo is putting the kibosh on rumors that its next gaming console will run on Google’s Android operating system.

The Android-on-Nintendo rumors were first sparked by a Japanese publication earlier this week. But a Nintendo official is making it clear that the new system, codenamed NX, will not run Android.

“There is no truth to the report saying that we are planning to adopt Android for NX,” a Nintendo spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal.

Though console gaming is what made Nintendo famous, the company recently announced that it was expanding into mobile games, possibly bringing your favorite Nintendo franchises — Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers, and the Legend of Zelda, for example — to mobile devices.

Read more: 3 Reasons Nintendo Should Switch to Google Android

TIME Video Games

How Minecraft Players Are Funding Stem Cell Research

Game Minecraft in education
Chicago Tribune—MCT via Getty Images Bobby Craig, left, and Doogy Lee create worlds in Minecraft that parallel what they have bene reading in "The Hobbit" as part of their fifth grade class studies at Quest Academy in Palatine, Ill.

They're logging 10,000 hours for the cause

Online video game streaming service Twitch is hosting a 24-hour Minecraft marathon to benefit the National Stem Cell Foundation.

The Saturday, June 6 charity marathon, called Reason2Play, is slated to feature top Minecraft players. According to a release by the NSCF, the Minecraft players said they’d log 10,000 hours on the intensely popular video game in order to help fund stem cell science. During the marathon, Twitch will promote the Reason2Play effort and ask viewers to make donations to the NSCF.

The foundation likens Minecraft’s use of blocks to create structures in-game to stem cells being the “building blocks of the human body.”

“Mastering Minecraft requires a great deal of ingenuity, creativity, and social cooperation,” said Dr. Paula Grisanti, the chair of the National Stem Cell Foundation, in a statement. “Not only that, it has proven to be a highly successful educational tool all over the world.”

“Reason2Play is a terrific opportunity to make the connection to stem cell research and treatment among gamers because they value skill, innovation, and dedication,” added Grisanti.

The company behind Minecraft was acquired by Microsoft last year for $2.5 billion. At the time, the 10-year-old daughter of Fortune’s Jennifer Reingold penned a letter to CEO Satya Nadella about the game.

TIME Video Games

How The Witcher 3 Just Got Significantly Better

Just about a week after its initial release

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt launched last week to a fanfare of critical acclaim. CD Projekt Red’s massive, open-world role-playing game is being heralded as a “shot across the bow of the open world genre” (Polygon) and “one of the biggest games of the year” (PC Gamer). TIME’s games reviewer, Matt Peckham, has neither been seen or heard from since he loaded a promotional code for the game into his Playstation 4 more than a week ago.

But there has been some controversy over the game’s graphics. Some players have complained that the final version’s graphics aren’t quite what developer’s implicitly promised in early demonstrations and promotional videos. And most reviewers have dinged the game for occasionally stuttering frame-rates on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions. Extensive benchmarking of The Witcher 3 for PC seems to show that some of the title’s built-in graphics technology can significantly affect frame rates.

MORE: 10 Tips for Mastering The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

A new patch for the PC version of the game, released by CD Projekt Red on May 25, aims to begin addressing some of the issues. It also adds some player-requested features such as extensive key-binding options. From the 1.04 patch notes:

-Rebinding of all keys is now available after switching on the ‘Unlock Bindings’ option in the Options\Key Bindings submenu.

-Corrects an issue in the dialogue system that might have caused dialogue looping in certain scenes.

-Fixes an issue with incorrect behavior of Wild Hunt warriors after they were affected by the Axii Sign.

-Corrects a bug that caused spontaneous combustion of gas clouds.

-1280 x 720 resolution is now properly displayed as a valid resolution option.

-Fixes boat stuttering in cutscenes.

-Texture rendering quality for the high and ultra presets has been improved.

-Further improvements made in NVIDIA Hairworks performance.

-A few additional gwent cards are now available in the Prologue area.

-Fixes an issue where users with usernames incorporating non-Latin characters were unable to import saves from The Witcher 2.

-Includes a series of overall stability and performance improvements.

-Fixes issues related to alt + tabbing and minimizing the game window.

-Updates the game icon.

-Enlarges the loot pop-up window in the UI.

-Fixes an issue where, in certain circumstances, the comparison window could extend beyond the game borders in the UI.

-Upgrading items included in gear sets no longer destroys rune sockets on said items.

-Introduces small tweaks in the UI for gwent.

-Corrects some missing translations in localized versions.

TIME Video Games

This Is the Best Game on the Apple Watch

I'm convinced Apple's newest device might actually be fun to play games on

A few weeks in, the things the Apple Watch does well are pretty obvious. It’s a great fitness and exercise tracker. It’s built-in apps work as advertised. It’s a nice-looking physical object. It tells the time.

But as a new product, running a 1.0 operating system, there’s also a lot to improve on. One of the biggest outstanding questions is whether or not people will use the Watch to do things they’re already used to doing on their phones, like reading the news and playing games.

The later in particular, seems in greater doubt. Most of the titles released so far are either relatively light-weight (and benign) extensions of their phone counter parts or uber-simple incarnations of popular games. Most of these don’t last past an initial blush of gee-whiz.

Lifeline, a newly released game by 3 Minute Games, could change that. It’s the first game I’ve loaded on my Watch that is not only fun to play, but fun to play specifically on a wearable.

MORE: These May Be the Most Absurd Apple Watch Accessories Yet

The premise is fairly is simple: A far-off radio signal connects you to Taylor, a young student who was selected to study rats in space. He sends a distress signal when he crash lands on a moon somewhere—all of this is communicated through simple text messages. From there, it’s essentially a choose-you-own adventure style narrative with the player directing Taylor to try this or that, go here or there, and so on.

Communication goes silent as Taylor follows your instructions, taking time to travel somewhere for example. This real-time aspect is what makes Lifeline a convincing simulation of actually working with someone. That, and its extreme simplicity, make Lifeline a compelling game to play on your watch.

This also works because of a strong story. Lifeline was written by Dave Justus, a co-writer on the also narratively excellent The Wolf Among Us. It can be played solely on a phone, but if you have an Apple Watch, it’s worth downloading.

TIME Innovation

Why Read Hamlet When You Can Play It?

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Why read Hamlet when you can play an immersive time-traveling video game version instead?

By Jess Joho in Kill Screen

2. Here’s how to attract female engineers.

By Lina Nilsson in the New York Times

3. Everyone is losing in Yemen’s war.

By Adam Baron in Foreign Policy

4. Google and Facebook could save — or consume — journalism.

By Emily Bell in the Columbia Journalism Review

5. We know how to dramatically reduce teen pregnancies, but we don’t. Here’s why.

By Nora Caplan-Bricker in the National Journal

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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