TIME Video Games

Here’s Another Great Reason To Buy a Wii U

Nintendo 64
Yvonne Hemsey—Getty Images Product shot of Nintendo 64 game system with games and controller is photographed December 7, 1996 in New York City.

Classic N64 and DS games are coming to the console

Nintendo fans, rejoice: Classic Nintendo 64 and DS games are coming to the company’s Wii U console, it announced Wednesday evening. The N64’s Super Mario 64 and the DS’ Yoshi’s Island DS are now available for $9.99 each.

The old-school titles will be available through the Wii U Virtual Console, essentially an emulator that lets gamers play old titles on the modern Wii U system. Previously, the Wii U Virtual Console only had games for the older NES and Super NES systems as well as the Game Boy Advance. The older Wii console had N64 games, and if you’ve already bought them there, you can port titles over to the Wii U for $2 as they become available, IGN notes.

It’s unclear how many Nintendo 64 titles the company plans on bringing to the Wii U. Here’s holding out hope for classics like GoldenEye and Star Fox 64. You can go ahead and keep Superman, though — we’ll pass on that.

TIME Research

Level Up! Gamers May Learn Visual Skills More Quickly

HaloFest for Xbox One
Matt Sayles—Invision/AP Xbox fans play games from the popular “Halo” franchise at HaloFest at the Avalon Theatre in Los Angeles on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014

Practice not only makes perfect, it may improve gamers' ability to learn

A small study from Brown University suggests video gamers, who are already known to have a better visual-processing skills, may also be able to improve on those attributes faster than the average person.

According to Brown University press, the study analyzed nine gamers and compared them with nine nongamers during a two-day trial. Researchers required participants to complete two visual tasks, one right after the other. The next day they repeated the exercises (in a random order) and compared how participants improved.

What they found is that the second task interfered with the ability of nongamers to improve on the first — while gamers improved equally well on both exercises.

“We sometimes see that an expert athlete can learn movements very quickly and accurately and a musician can play the piano at the very first sight of the notes very elegantly … maybe [gamers] can learn more efficiently and quickly as a result of training,” senior author Yuka Sasaki said.

The authors admit the findings require more study, conceding that there is no proof that video games caused the learning improvement, since people with quick visual-processing skills could be naturally drawn to gaming.

TIME Video Games

Super Mario 64 In-Browser Game Gets Taken Down

Super Mario In-Browser Nintendo Take Down
Yoshikazu Tsuno—AFP/Getty Images Nintendo's characters Super Mario and Luigi performing in Tokyo, Japan, on April 26, 2014.

Nintendo wasn't pleased with the computer-friendly remake

It’s game over for the in-browser version of Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 that took the Internet by storm this week.

Nintendo issued a takedown notice Tuesday to the server hosting the 1996 game’s browser version, created by Royston Ross, who recreated just the first level (Bomb-Omb Battlefield), TorrentFreak first reported Tuesday.

“The copyrighted work at issue is Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 video game (U.S. Copyright Reg. No. PA0000788138), including but not limited to the audiovisual work, computer program, music, and fictional character depictions,” the company told the server Cloudflare, which posted its correspondence with Nintendo.

While the in-browser game is no longer available, you can still get a glimpse of the remake in a video Ross posted online:

Read next: Exclusive: Inside Nintendo’s Bold Plan to Stay Vibrant for the Next 125 Years

[TorrentFreak]

TIME Video Games

Google Maps Is Now a Giant Game of Pac-Man

Google Maps Pac-Man
Google Maps Google Maps Pac-Man

Now you can finally battle those demons that plague you in your hometown

Remember when Google turned its logo into a game of Pac-Man back in 2010 and office workers collectively spent millions of hours running away from ghosts? Google is now trying to 1-Up that interactive project by turning Google Maps into a giant version of the popular arcade game.

On the desktop version of Google Maps, users can search for nearly any part of the map that has a large number of roads and immediately convert a city into a Pac-Man maze (rural areas don’t work). The signature pellets, blue walls and ravenous ghosts immediately appear in place of street names and landmarks. Users can share their high scores with others via social media and share their specific maps so others can try to top them.

Pac-Man is also available on the Google Maps mobile app, but the game the game is limited to specific locations that Google is revealing through a series of clues that seem to point to famous global locales such as Times Square in New York and the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

The game is likely part of Google’s planned April Fools Day tricks for this year. Last year the company turned Maps into a giant game of Pokemon on April 1.

TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone Games of the Month

Lastronaut
Lastronaut Lastronaut

Play our favorite iPhone games of March

Every week, TIME rounds up our favorite iPhone games of the past few days. Here are the best of the best for March, from mind-straining puzzle games to mad-dash runners.

TouchTone

This is one of the most fascinating games for iPhone at the moment. A lot like the celebrated Papers Please, TouchTone is about cracking a code and finding patterns with an eye for red flags. The game presents you with puzzles you must break in order to find important messages pertaining to national security. It’s a true, tough challenge that feels a bit like propaganda, but if you can get over that part of it, TouchTone will keep you occupied for hours.

TouchTone is $2.99 in the App Store

Spring Ninja

Spring Ninja is an adorable runner-type game in which you control a ninja with springs beneath its feet, jumping from column to column in order to beat your high score. The challenge is to jump from one platform to the next without falling off or overshooting. Be prepared to invest lots of practice time to master the art of spotting your next landing.

Spring Ninja is free in the App Store

Heartbeats

A game that feels like a Gogol short story, Heartbeats is a puzzling little challenge that will take you plenty of time to crack. The appeal of this game is largely in the way it’s designed — as a series of scrawled, eerie doodles. The game tells a story, too: you must solve the puzzles one man left behind as his life’s legacy to learn more about him. Each level presents a unique task that will make you work hard and think differently. A strange game that should make the top of the charts in little time.

Heartbeats is free in the App Store

Lastronaut

An endless runner game with an arcade backdrop, Lastronaut tells the story of a world overrun by a mechanical army that must be destroyed. Jump, run, dodge, and attack wave after wave of enemy forces as you run through the map. Pick up robot weapons and different gear in order to last as long as you possibly can.

Lastronaut is free in the App Store

Under the Sun

In Under the Sun, the goal is to lead your character through a series of puzzle-based desert island maps. In this 3D puzzle game, try to navigate natural obstacles such as trees and rocks in order to get to reach your fire before it gets dark. But every move you make alters the map just a bit. Thankfully, you can tinker with time and go backwards if you make a mistake.

Under the Sun is free in the App Store

TIME Video Games

Halo 5: Guardians Finally Has a Release Date

Halo 5: Guardians is due out later this Fall

Microsoft’s Xbox team has announced the release date for the long-awaited next installment in the Halo franchise, Halo 5: Guardians — and unfortunately it will involve seven more months of waiting.

“The Master Chief returns October 27th,” the Xbox team announced on its official Twitter account.

The announcement coincided with the release of a teaser trailer and a new Twitter hashtag, #HUNTtheTRUTH, that will surely be used in the coming months to keep the buzz going. Above. is the first installment of the 7-month-long tease.

Microsoft has estimated the Halo franchise has made the company $3.38 billion in total.

TIME Video Games

You Can Now Play Super Mario 64 In Your Browser

Well, the first level anyway

For millions of 90s kids, Super Mario 64 is the video game equivalent of Proust’s madeleine — evoking a simpler, more exciting and infinitely more awesome time. And the game’s first level — that lush green hillside with bright gold coins, giant rolling cannonballs and a tense boss battle providing a taste of the epic, princess-saving journey ahead — has now been recreated in HD and can be played in your browser.

Developer Roystan Ross created the level to demonstrate a custom character controller he created, according to TechCrunch. He had to sacrifice larger features like the chain-chomp and the final battle with the Big Bob-omb, but other than it’s a pretty accurate rendition.

It may not the same as holding that three-pronged N64 controller in your hands, but you can play it online using a downloadable plugin called the Unity web player.

The project is not affiliated in any way with the game’s parent company Nintendo, but it does provide a glimpse of what the cross-platform forays that the video game giant recently announced it would attempt might look like.

TIME Gadgets

This Is the Best Budget Gaming Laptop You Can Buy

vwyN5xcAFPdIeUZH_setting_fff_1_90_end_500
Asus Asus ROG GL551JW

Asus ROG GL551JW has the best gaming performance and build quality for a lowest cost

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy.Read the full article below at TheWirecutter.com.

the wirecutter logo

There’s no such thing as a perfect budget gaming laptop, and every one we’ve tested so far has at least one serious flaw. But after 40 hours of research and testing, we determined that the $1,100 Asus ROG GL551JW is the budget gaming laptop we’d recommend for most people because it has the best gaming performance and best build quality among the competition, and for the lowest cost.

The GL551 has uncommonly good build quality compared to nearly everything else in this category. Plus, it keeps the most important parts of a gaming laptop at a reasonable temperature—which cannot be said for the competition—and has a comfortable keyboard.

Who’s this for?

Expensive gaming laptops aren’t for everyone. Desktop computers offer better gaming performance per dollar, and ultrabooks are slimmer, lighter, and have much better battery life. Budget gaming laptops are a good fit for students and others who want to play games but have a tight budget and need a portable PC.

How did we pick what to test?

First, we determined the best possible combination of components that fit in our budget. Our ideal budget gaming laptop costs under $1,200 and has an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M graphics card or better, an Intel Core i7 4700HQ CPU or higher, 8 to 16 GB of RAM, and at least 500GB of storage. We looked at every gaming laptop currently available, tested three finalists ourselves, and concluded that the Asus ROG GL551-JW DS71 is the best for those on a budget. (For more information on our criteria for narrowing down the field, see our full guide.)

Our Pick

The $1,100 Asus ROG GL551JW has amazing specs for its price. That’s the whole point of a budget gaming laptop. On the inside, it has a mid-range Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M graphics card with 2GB of dedicated memory, an Intel Core i7-4720HQ processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. (We originally tested last year’s model, the GL551JM, but the GL551JW is identical aside from its more powerful graphics card and faster CPU.)

With these specs, you won’t be able to play recently-released games on Ultra settings. Games like Dragon Age: Inquisition, Far Cry 4, and Watch Dogs must be bumped down to High or Medium settings to run at a decent framerate on any budget gaming machine.

 

Like every budget gaming laptop we tested, the GL551 gets too warm, with a surface temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit. But the underside of the chassis and the WASD keys stay at a reasonable temperature between 92°F and 94°F, which can’t be said for most of the competition. The fan on the left side of the laptop isn’t loud enough to distract from games or movies.

The Asus ROG GL551 has a comfortable, red-backlit keyboard and a decent trackpad. It also has uncommonly good build quality for a budget gaming laptop. Most are plasticky, hollow-feeling, and creaky. The keys on the Asus are deep enough, responsive, and comfortable to type and game on. The Asus is sturdy, and we expect its metal lid and palmrest to hold up better over years of heavy gaming.

The Asus’s battery lasted about 3 and a half hours during ordinary work at 50 percent brightness. It’s not what we consider to be “good” battery life, but it’s what you can expect from any budget gaming laptop at the moment. The Asus ROG GL551 weighs 5.95 pounds— nearly twice as heavy as an ultrabook, but much less than the 17-inch gaming laptop we recommend for people with bigger budgets.

The Asus has a few drawbacks, but they are not deal breakers. Few cheap gaming laptops have great screens, and the Asus GL551’s 17-inch 1920×1080 screen is bad. It has a pinkish tint and there’s little distinction between different intensities of white and black at the far ends of the spectrum, making it potentially difficult to spot enemies lurking in the shadows. The GL551’s speakers are flat, tinny, and quiet, so pick up a decent pair of headphones to get the most out of your gaming experience.

Runner up

If our pick sells out, we recommend the $1,100 Lenovo Y50 with an Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M with 4GB graphics memory, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB hybrid hard drive. It has a better keyboard and speakers than our pick, but it had the hottest temperatures and the worst screen of the three laptops we tested. The Y50 also has a weaker graphics card and creaks and flexes more under pressure.

Some Lenovo laptops sold in 2014 and early 2015, including the Y50, contained Superfish: potentially dangerous adware that allows fake security certificates. If you buy (or already bought) this laptop, go here to see if you’re affected and here to remove the program and its certificate.

What if you want to upgrade?

If you’re not constrained by funds and want good gaming performance, it’s worth it to get something better. Check out our guide to the overall best gaming laptop.

In closing

The Asus ROG GL551JW-DS71 is the best budget gaming laptop for most people because it has powerful specs for the price, is well made, and is cheaper than the competition. It has a comfortable keyboard, and it keeps its most-used keys and bottom cooler than any other budget machine we tested. It’s not perfect, but no cheap gaming laptop is.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to The Wirecutter.com.

TIME portfolio

Meet America’s First Video Game Varsity Athletes

The newest route to college is through a video game

Correction appended, March 27, 2015

Parents who think that video games are an academic distraction, take heart: pounding on the controller can now help pay for college.

Last fall, Robert Morris University in Chicago became the first college in the US to make competitive gaming ­ or “e-sports” ­ a varsity sport, and offer athletic scholarships for players. “My parents were always telling me to get off the Xbox,” says Jonathan Lindahl, a freshman e-sports player at Robert Morris. “So I’m really rubbing it in their faces.”

At Robert Morris, video game scholarships can be worth up to half of tuition and housing, or $19,000. What’s more, since the NCAA doesn’t regulate e-sports, they’re not bound by the rules of amateurism. A couple of Robert Morris players, for example, recently played in a semi-pro tournament and each earned around $1,000. Want to get paid as a college athlete? Stay on the Xbox.

Robert Morris spent $100,000 ­and received help from video game sponsors ­ to retrofit a classroom into a full-fledged gaming hub with hi-tech monitors, headsets, and chairs. The players look a bit like fighter pilots, and play League of Legends, a five-on-five battle game popular among college students. The top Robert Morris team has qualified for Sweet 16 of the North American Collegiate Championship (NACC), which starts on March 28: traditional sports powers like Michigan, Georgia Tech, Texas A&M are also in the mix. The “Final Four” will be held in Los Angeles in early May. Each member of the winning team will receive $30,000 in scholarship money.

A sure sign that college video games are like traditional sports: one member of the Robert Morris squad, freshman Adrian Ma, 18. left the school in November to join a pro team. “The opportunity was too good to pass up,” says Ma. A second school, the University of Pikeville in Kentucky, will offer e-sports scholarships this fall. For gamers, March Madness has indeed arrived.

Read the full story, The Varsity Sport of the Virtual World, in the latest issue of TIME magazine and on TIME.com.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the name of the student in slide 9. His name is Zixing Jie.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com