TIME viral

Watch Cats Attempt to Play Candy Crush 

The video game is catnip to humans, too

Cat videos and Candy Crush are two of the most addicting things in the world, so what happens when they come together? This video compiles cats from all around the world trying their luck at the matching video game, and the results are hilarious.

The cats swipe madly at the candies—which might be as good a strategy as any for the game’s higher levels. The video is destined to join the same pantheon of animals-playing-video-games videos that includes skateboarding dog plays video game and this frog trying to catch virtual ants.

At least you don’t need to spend extra money to keep playing with cats. Unless you’re in a cat cafe, that is.

TIME Video Games

Boom: Microsoft Releasing a $399 Xbox One Without Kinect in June

The surprise announcement comes on the heels of revelations that the company will unbundle popular entertainment apps from Xbox Live $60-per-year subscription requirements.

Things must either be tough enough sales-wise, or Microsoft’s just feeling generous enough spirit-wise, that it’s paying heed to games luminary (and ex-Microsofter) Peter Molyneux’s bold early April declaration, when he said in an interview, “I’m sure they’re going to release an Xbox One without Kinect. It would be unthinkable that they wouldn’t.”

Make that thinkable: Microsoft just announced a new Xbox One SKU, and it’s priced to compete with Sony’s PlayStation 4 at $399. The only catch: no Kinect.

That’s as tectonic a move as any we’ve seen in years. It’s almost surely Microsoft capitulating on some level, because all we heard about from company executives in the months leading up to the Xbox One’s November launch (and ever since) is how absolutely essential Kinect is (or was) to Microsoft’s view of the gaming-verse.

The new model will be available on June 9 in the U.S. The announcement follows recent news that Microsoft intends to let loose various entertainment apps from behind the company’s $60 a year Xbox Live paywall, including access to popular streaming video apps like Netflix and Hulu.

TIME Video Games

Nintendo Apologizes for Not Allowing Same-Sex Relationships in Tomodachi Life

Nintendo Tomodachi Gay Marriage
This photo provided by Nintendo shows a screenshot from the video game, "Tomodachi Life." Nintendo/AP

The company issued a formal apology Friday and promised to be "more inclusive" and "better [represent] all players" in future versions of the life simulation game. The apology comes after a wave of protests demanding the company include same-sex relationships in the game

Stating that it’s “committed to fun and entertainment for everyone,” Nintendo issued a formal apology Friday afternoon for it’s failure to include same-sex relationships in the upcoming 3DS game Tomodachi Life.

Billed as a “life simulation,” Tomodachi Life allows players to use virtual avatars knowns as Miis to engage in everyday activities with each other, from eating to modeling clothing to falling in love with other Miis right up to (and including) marriage. The same-sex controversy arose when, in the original Japanese version of the game, players unearthed a glitch that allowed users to re-gender male characters as female, allowing the semblance of same-sex relationship. But Nintendo eliminated that bug, unleashing a wave of protests and campaigns demanding the company enable same-sex relationships as part of the game’s upcoming North American and European release (it launches stateside and in Europe on June 6).

Here’s Nintendo’s apology in full:

We apologize for disappointing many people by failing to include same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to change this game’s design, and such a significant development change can’t be accomplished with a post-ship patch. At Nintendo, dedication has always meant going beyond the games to promote a sense of community, and to share a spirit of fun and joy. We are committed to advancing our longtime company values of fun and entertainment for everyone. We pledge that if we create a next installment in the Tomodachi series, we will strive to design a game-play experience from the ground up that is more inclusive, and better represents all players.

It’s impossible, standing on the outside, to say how “significant” the development change Nintendo refers to would have been, but Nintendo’s quality control is legendary in the industry — it does nothing lightly or easily. The company is doubtless hoping its formal apology and promise to be “more inclusive” and “better [represent] all players” in future versions will quell or at least mitigate some of the outrage.

TIME Video Games

5 Great No-Fuss Sites for Finding Classic Computer Games

You could sit there at your desk pretending to work all day or you could play some of your favorite old-school computer games instead.

Actually, pro tip: a lot of these sites contain old adventure games that require you to do a lot of typing. And typing sounds just like work. You’re now pretending to work by playing old-school computer games. Everyone wins! Except your company, but it’s not like you’re employee of the year anyway.

Let’s move on. Here are five sites that remind us all of simpler times.

GOG.com

GOG
GOG.com

The “GOG” in GOG.com stands for good old games, and the site delivers. With more than 700 retro titles, you’re bound to feel the warm tickle of nostalgia coursing through your now-withered veins. This site is your childhood, in web form. And now you have money.

Games generally run between $5 and $20 or so, depending upon their popularity and year of release. Everything you buy is kept in a library you can access whenever you like, and games can be easily downloaded and installed on any of your computers.

Steam

Classic games on
Steam

Like GOG.com, Steam’s classic games section sports a bunch of blasts from the past. Keep an eye out for sales, as they happen often: Some games can dip as low as a few bucks, while collectors editions and multi-packs can run upwards of $30 in some cases. You’ll need to download and install the Steam app in order to access your games, too, but they’ll all be there waiting for you when you’re ready to play.

Web-Adventures.org

Web Adventures  Full Games List
Web-Adventures.org

The half hour I spent playing Zork while researching this piece? Not the worst half hour of my life. I forgot how hard it is to try to retain a mental map, though. That’s the challenge of text-based games where your imagination processes all the graphics. Web-Adventures.org houses just shy of 20 old-timey text-based adventure games, all playable right from within your browser.

Sarien.net

Sarien  Instant adventure gaming
Sarien.net

Speaking of browser-based adventure games, if you ever got hooked on Sierra games as a kid (like I did, repeatedly), Sarien.net is a must-visit site. It’s home to seven versions of classic Sierra games (King’s Quest I to III, Police Quest, Space Quest I and II, and more), all of which are playable from within your browser. You can create save points and everything, and the kicker is that you can see other people’s characters wandering around if a bunch of you are playing the same game at the same time.

AGD Interactive

Adventure Game Downloads
AGD Interactive

If you can’t get enough Sierra (obviously I can’t) but you wonder what some of your favorites would feel like as more modern-day reboots, you should absolutely check out AGD Interactive’s site. This game studio has painstakingly recreated the first three King’s Quest games and the second Quest for Glory game — with completely overhauled graphics, music and all-new voice tracks. They’re all free, too, which is insane.

Bonus Level

If you’ve somehow managed to play your way through the five sites mentioned above, make sure to also check out Abandonia. The site houses almost 1,400 old-school titles, some of which are available to download if they’ve been deemed “abandoned” by their creators, and others that contain links to where you can purchase them. Even if you don’t play a single game, the site itself is a blast, with screenshots and writeups of all the old classics.

If you do decide to get your hands dirty by downloading some old titles, you’ll need to use emulation software to run them. In that case, the gold standard for most old games is DOSBox. If you’ve never used DOS, DOSBox can get a little tricky but it’s worth learning — see a good how-to here. It’s an excellent life skill to have, like knowing how to golf or being able to French-roll your jeans. I don’t have to tell you that the conversation at every dinner party invariably ends up being about DOSBox once everyone gets a few drinks in them, so you might as well know what you’re talking about.

And if you really want to do some digging, the Internet Archive has a collection of more than 5,700 classic games, many available for download or playable in-browser. It’s a lot to wade through, but there are some real gems if you’re patient.

TIME Video Games

Unreal Tournament Is Coming Back, and It Won’t Cost You a Dime

Epic Games

Does this mean the Unreal vs. Quake rivalry is back on?

If you were a PC gamer at the turn of the century, there’s a good chance you remember Unreal Tournament. Perhaps it was your gateway drug to online multiplayer, or the game of choice for LAN parties in your college dorm.

Fifteen years later, Epic Games is bringing back the classic first-person shooter for Windows, Mac and Linux. But instead of selling the new Unreal Tournament on store shelves, Epic will offer it for free.

Epic promises that this won’t be a typical free-to-play scheme, riddled with microtransactions and premium subscriptions. Instead, Epic will make money through a couple of unorthodox methods:

  • The game’s code and content will be available to anyone with an Unreal Engine 4 subscription, which costs $20 per month. Epic says that it will turn to Unreal Engine 4 developers from outside the company for input on the game.
  • Developers will eventually be able to create mods and other custom content, and sell them to players through a controlled marketplace. Epic will take a cut of the sales.

Essentially, Epic is using its position as a maker of game development tools to circumvent the usual (sometimes exploitative) free-to-play business model. Unreal Tournament won’t just be a free game, but a marketing hook for Epic’s lucrative game engine business. It’s a smart tactic, at least in theory.

There’s a lot we still don’t know. The game is nothing more than a promise at the moment–Epic says it’s involving outside developers from “the very first line of code”–so all we have to go on is nostalgia until Epic has something to show. Also, we don’t really know the extent to which outside developers will influence the game, and how well their participation will work in practice. Project lead Steve Polge told Polygon that a playable alpha will take “several months” to create.

But as a concept and a business model, it sounds more promising than Quake Live, which has been around for five years but has languished in recent years under its freemium business model. As someone who remembers the old Unreal Tournament vs. Quake III Arena rivalry, and preferred the former, part of me hopes Epic can get the last laugh.

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

TIME Video Games

Nintendo Says No to Gay Weddings in Upcoming Game

By trying to avoid controversy, the company has generated just the opposite.

In Nintendo’s new social simulation game Tomodachi Life, you can do just about anything… but if you’re gay, you can’t get married.

The most recent simulation game from Nintendo allows users the chance to participate in all kinds of activities, from watching the sunset, to raising a baby, but one gamer pushed back on the opposite-sex limitations in the game by launching a social media campaign to persuade the company to change its mind.

Nintendo responded by saying it “never intended to make any form of social commentary,” but the statement has done nothing to quell the growing backlash from users.

TIME Innovation

Fly like an Eagle with Oculus Rift and This Funky Contraption

'Birdy' bills itself as an attempt to fly using virtual reality and a weird-looking table

Want to play a virtual reality version of Flappy Bird? This bizarre-looking Oculus Rift meets massage table meets Rube Goldberg mashup won’t do that yet, but it probably could — and while you’re waiting, it’ll let you fly like an actual bird by flapping your arms and sticking your face in front of a fan.

The table thing is something called Birdly, which describes itself as “an attempt to fly.” Like a bird, that is, not Superman: specifically the Red Kite, a bird of prey in the same class as eagles and hawks. The folks behind Birdly devised a platform on which you lay flat, stomach down, your arms resting on movable panel sections and your hands slipped beneath straps that let you raise and lower the panels like a pair of wings, rolling, nicking or heaving as you go.

Strap on Oculus VR’s Rift virtual reality headset and you’re transported to a virtual landscape (or rather, suspended above it), enjoying a bird’s perspective on the world. And in addition to the fan (which provides wind feedback that changes based on your speed in the simulation), Birdly provides smells and sounds, so if you’re flapping through a forest, you’ll also be able to smell the trees, or the dirt.

[Engadget]

TIME Video Games

Nintendo’s Wii U Will Boot Even Faster This Summer

There's a system update in the offing that'll add a quick boot menu and faster application load times.

It’s not clear when exactly Nintendo plans to unleash this little speed-related Wii U boon — Joystiq says it’s heard this summer — but the video above indicates the benefits could be considerable: a system update that delivers a quick start menu that appears the moment you tap the Wii U GamePad’s power button.

Better still, the applications you can launch now load notably faster. Joystiq notes the original simulated demonstration showed New Super Mario Bros. U loading in about 19 seconds, whereas in the the demo above, it takes just 14 seconds.

[Joystiq]

TIME Nintendo

Nintendo Planning ‘Completely New’ Systems for Emerging Markets

The company's planning to dive into the figurine market dominated by Skylanders and Disney Infinity, too

On the heels of alarming fiscal figures and plummeting Wii U sales, Nintendo says it plans to design and market entirely new game systems which it hopes to sell in emerging markets, Bloomberg reports.

The idea, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed in a new interview, is to bring new gaming concepts to those markets instead of following competitors’ leads and selling less expensive versions of existing platforms.

“We want to make new things, with new thinking rather than a cheaper version of what we currently have,” said Iwata. “The product and price balance must be made from scratch.”

Iwata also indicated that Nintendo hopes to make headway in the highly popular figurine market, currently dominated by Activision’s Skylanders and Disney’s Infinity series, by selling figures based on Nintendo’s stable of iconic characters, like Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong. The figurines would communicate with Nintendo’s devices using the near field communications (NFC) technology used by the company’s Wii U games console.Nintendo recently announced an NFC device for its portable 3DS system that allows gamers to scan objects with the device and transfer them to the Wii U.

Under pressure by analysts and pundits to engage the smart device market, Iwata also reiterated Nintendo’s position on smartphones. “We have had a console business for 30 years, and I don’t think we can just transfer that over onto a smartphone model,” he said. Iwata also expressed concern that trying to sell games designed for smartphones might harm other aspects of Nintendo’s business, adding that depending on revenue from smart devices “cannot be a pillar” for the company.

[Bloomberg]

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

TIME Video Games

Nintendo Says No to Gay Weddings in Upcoming Game

General Nintendo Imagery As The Company Reports Earnings
A statue of Nintendo Co.'s video-game character Mario stands at the company's showroom in Tokyo on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Tomohiro Ohsumi—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Nintendo delicately rebuffed requests from gay gamers and rights advocates to simulate same-sex weddings in its upcoming release, Tomodachi Life, saying that they "never intended to make any form of social commentary"

Dozens of countries across the globe now allow gay marriage, but it’s still verboten in some virtual worlds. Nintendo has resisted calls from gay rights advocates to allow avatars in same sex relationships to marry in its new life simulator game.

A Nintendo representative told the Associated Press that the company “never intended to make any form of social commentary” with its upcoming release, Tomodachi Life. In the game, an avatar called a “Mii” can go shopping, visit amusement parks and do just about anything other than marry another avatar of the same sex.

That design feature irked Tye Marini, a 23-year-old gamer who’s in the process of arranging his own real-life gay marriage. “I want to be able to marry my real-life fiancé’s Mii,” he says.

Marini launched a social media campaign to pressure the company into creating a same-sex marriage option. Nintendo declined, saying, “The relationship options in the game represent a playful alternate world rather than a real-life simulation.”

 

[AP]

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