TIME Video Games

The Mobile Game House of Cards Made Famous Just Dropped to 99 Cents

President Frank Underwood's favorite indie game gets a discount

If you haven’t heard the chorus of praise for Monument Valley, the mobile game that TIME ranked among the 10 best games of 2014, now is the time to take note. The sleeper hit from indie game maker UsTwo —which has developed a cult following of diehard fans, including President Frank Underwood from Netflix’s original series House of Cards, who can’t get enough of it—is now on sale for a new low price of $0.99, down from $3.99, in the iTunes and Google Play stores. Puzzle addicts, buy at your own peril.

TIME Video Games

Star Wars Is Coming to Disney Infinity

Even characters from The Force Awakens will make it to the game

Toy-game wonks, listen up: Disney’s Infinity video game series will, as rumored, mark its third outing by packing Luke, Han, Leia, Darth Vader and many more into all new Star Wars-themed play sets when version 3.0 arrives for all the current and last-gen consoles, PC and mobile (iOS, Android) platforms this fall. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuting this December, I’m sure you’re totally surprised!

Disney, which harbors some of the world’s most iconic entertainment franchises (Star Wars, The Muppets, Marvel, and of course all the core Disney IP), announced Tuesday that Disney Infinity 3.0 will hit this fall. The Star Wars: The Clone Wars-focused starter pack, which includes a “Twilight of the Republic” play set, Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano, will set you back $64.99. That’s a little lower than its typical asking price, says Disney, and all of the 1.0 and 2.0 figures and power discs will be compatible with 3.0.

Disney says it plans to release three Star Wars play sets, the first (above) set during Episodes I-III, the second during the original trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) and the third, available a bit later this winter, based on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In addition to those, expect new 3.0 play sets that tie into Infinity‘s previous Pixar- and Marvel-angled installments, a few tweaks to Toy Box mode (new gameplay types, including racing, platforming and farming) and new characters, including Ultron (The Avengers: Age of Ultron), Sam Flynn and Quorra (Tron: Legacy), Mulan (Mulan) and Olaf (Frozen).

Back to Star Wars, because that’s why you’re here, Disney says that in addition to the Clone Wars-themed “Twilight of the Republic” play set, another dubbed “Rise of the Empire” will check various original trilogy boxes, letting you play as Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca and Vader, pilot X-Wings or the Millennium Falcon in space battles, or poke around planets like Tatooine, Hoth and–wait, sorry, not a planet–Endor.

And that’s just for starters. Disney says to expect more figure and play set announcements in the lead up to the game’s release.

TIME viral

See the Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight Recreated as a Game of Punch-Out!!

"No hugs!"

The so-called fight of the century happened last weekend, but now you can relive the boxing bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in the way you’ve always dreamed of: as a game of Nintendo’s Punch-Out!!

In the video game version of the match, the Mayweather and Pacquiao avatars throw a few punches and then can’t stop hugging each other.

Mayweather won both the real and Punch-Out!! matches, but as the Nintendo referee proclaims at the end, “Meh.”

Read next: Manny Pacquiao’s Hometown Fans Dejected but Still Plan Hero’s Welcome

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Video Games

The 10 Best Star Wars Games

That you can play right now... May the 4th be with you

Happy Star Wars day! Want a trove of games—released a long time ago, but in a galaxy just down the way—to help you while away the nearly 5,500 hours that stand between today and the ballyhooed debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 18?

Here you go then, a compendium of gaming’s brightest vamps on George Lucas’s Campbellian space opera, now living in what Disney calls its “Star Wars Legends” line (formerly the “Expanded Universe”). That, if you hadn’t heard, is Disney’s controversial wave-of-the-hand relegation of everything not the films, TV shows or recent books to “maybe it did/didn’t happen” status. So much for Luke Skywalker rubbing elbows with Kyle Katarn, or you usurping a 4,000-year-old Sith Lord to become one yourself.

But never mind that, because games are innately anti-canonical—subversion’s in their DNA. And while some on this list were more genre acolytes than pioneers when they first appeared a decade or more ago, a few managed to be exemplars of the medium for their time.

My only guideline in culling these 10 from the record books, was that they had to be playable on currently available platforms. So think of these as less a “best Star Wars games ever” lineup (though they’re nearly that) than the best you can sample without having to track down the original hardware or software.

  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

    Arguably the apotheosis of all the Star Wars games, Bioware’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic transported players thousands of years into the galaxy’s past, folding iconic lore like Jedis, Sith Lords, lightsabers and droids into a baroque reinterpretation of Lucas’s science fantasy verse. You’ll find some who’ll swear Bioware’s take on Star Wars bests even the original trilogy (including The Empire Strikes Back), and given the caliber of games Bioware was releasing at the time (both Baldur’s Gate installments), it’s easy to see why.

    How to play: Android, iOS, GOG.com, Mac, Steam

  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords

    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords was a bug-riddled and unfinished mess when it first arrived in late 2004. Time and sufficient patching have thankfully rectified most of its shortcomings, allowing players to experience one of the most insightful and reflective Star Wars stories on the books. Credit design lead Chris Avellone (Planescape: Torment, Pillars of Eternity), whose exhilarating vamp on the Star Wars universe simultaneously deconstructed it.

    How to play: GOG.com, Steam,

  • Star Wars: The Old Republic

    What if the esteemed studio that gave us Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic crafted a modern MMO that revisited the era’s storied 4,000-year-old playground? EA’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, released in 2011 and still going strong, capitulates to MMO tropes (like fetch-and-deliver quests ad infinitum), but dressed in better-than-average, more personalized storylines.

    How to play: swtor.com

  • Star Wars: TIE Fighter

    Sure, 1993’s Star Wars: X-Wing was terrific, but it took 1994’s TIE Fighter to catapult developer Totally Games’ series to legendary status. For the first time in gaming history, players could campaign for the other side, exploring the Empire’s strangely compelling machinations–peace by the sword–through ingenious white-knuckled sorties, piloting vulnerable Imperial star fighters without combat backstops like deflector shields. TIE Fighter remains one of the best flight simulations ever made, a tour de force of mission design, plausibly brutal Newtonian deep space dogfighting and subversive storytelling.

    How to play: GOG.com

  • Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

    My favorite moment in the friendly, rollicking, collection-angled Lego Star Wars games happens early on, in Lego Star Wars itself when you’re poking around Mos Eisley, playing co-op with a friend. At one point you come across a pile of unassembled Lego bits and bobs. You don’t have to do anything. You can just walk on by. But tap a button to whip the mess together, and you’ll find yourself staring down an Imperial AT-ST. At which point my companion yelled: “We just built our own boss monster!”

    How to play: Android, iOS, Mac, Steam

  • Super Star Wars

    I’m skirting my platform stricture here, but if you’re still rocking a Wii, you can pull this platforming run-and-gun down via Nintendo’s Virtual Console for 800 points ($8). Take note of the game’s first-person, pseudo-3D levels, where you can zip around flattened Tatooine landscapes in Luke’s land speeder, lobbing energy balls at enemies. Nintendo called this “Mode 7″ back in the day, and while it looks dated today, seeing it in games like F-Zero and Super Star Wars in the early 1990s was a revelation.

    How to play: Virtual Console (Wii)

  • Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II

    Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II stands as the first Star Wars game that let you experience, however crudely, the combat life of a Jedi Knight. Other games had let you swing the franchise’s iconic lightsaber or pull off Force tricks from sidewise perspectives, but Dark Forces II put that lightsaber (and those force powers) in your hands, then leveled the camera where your eyes would be, propelling you through puzzle-filled levels flush with enemies you could optionally choke or throw or envelop with tendrils of bluish lightning.

    How to play: GOG.com, Steam

  • Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast

    Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast may harbor lower lows (uneven level design) than its predecessor, but it’s also packing higher highs (lightsaber play, force powers). And it remains an essential play if the whole “be a Jedi Knight” thing ranks high on your list of Star Wars-ian fantasies.

    How to play: GOG.com, Mac, Steam

  • Star Wars: Empire at War

    No one’s yet produced a Star Wars strategy game to rival the genre’s best, but Star Wars: Empire at War comes the closest. Developer Petroglyph, harboring designers who’d worked on pioneering the real-time strategy games Dune II and Command & Conquer, folded competent terrestrial and space-based real-time strategy battles into a galaxy-spanning meta campaign that gave players control of heroic figures like Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader and the Emperor himself.

    How to play: GOG.com, Mac, Steam

  • Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds

    Yes, developer Ensemble slapped a coat of Star Wars paint on Age of Empires II, but worse things have happened in gaming. The result was a respectable, reasonably deep real-time strategy game that offered just enough Star Wars flavor—albeit steeped in prequel lore, fair warning—to make it passably more than Age of Empires 2.5.

    How to play: GOG.com

TIME Video Games

Watch the End of Fast & Furious 7 Recreated in Grand Theft Auto 5

The biggest game meets the biggest movie

Dramatic street races are already a key ingredient of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, so it’s a natural fit to see the game’s engine being used to recreate scenes from Fast & Furious 7.

An enterprising fan has re-imagined the Paul Walker tribute in Furious 7 within the world of GTA, complete with look-alike models of Walker and Vin Diesel (admittedly, though, Vin looks a bit too much like Lex Luthor).

Perhaps these two franchises should have an official crossover, given their huge blockbuster statuses. Furious 7 just passed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 to become the fourth highest-grossing movie ever globally, while GTA5 is one of the best-selling games of all time, having sold more than 45 million copies.

TIME celebrities

Britney Spears Inks Video Game Deal With Makers of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood

Clive Davis And The Recording Academy's 2012 Pre-GRAMMY Gala And Salute To Industry Icons Honoring Richard Branson - Roaming Inside
Larry Busacca— Getty Images Kim Kardashian (L) and and Britney Spears attend Clive Davis and the Recording Academy's 2012 Pre-GRAMMY Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Feb. 11, 2012 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Spears is the latest celebrity to try to replicate the success of Kim's game

Britney Spears wants in on the money-making machine of Kim Kardashian’s hit mobile video game.

Spears has inked an eight-year mobile gaming partnership with Glu Mobile, the makers of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, said Glu Mobile CEO Niccolo de Masi during an earnings call on Thursday.

The singer joins fellow artist Katy Perry, who announced a similar deal with Glu Mobile in February, in trying to replicate the $74.3 million revenue generated by Kardashian’s app since its release last June.

The game will be launched in the first half of 2016.


Why the Halo Xbox One Tournament Was Just Canceled


It crashed and burned this weekend

Ground control to Master Chief: you haven’t made the grade, and you’re continuing to leave scads of Halo fans in the lurch.

That’s the sentiment the folks at Halo developer 343 Industries must be seeing a lot of the past 48 hours, after having to cancel a Halo tournament this weekend because of connectivity issues. The tournament was part of the Halo Championship Series (HCS), the official eSports moniker for the sci-fi shooter franchise. It’s been active since November last year in partnership with the Electronic Sports League (ESL), a global eSports outfit that boasts some 5 million members worldwide.

The Halo mothership tweeted the cancelation (the first cup of the second season of the HCS) Saturday night:

So what gives? Here’s everything we know.

This was supposed to be the HCS’s Season 2 kickoff

As reported by Eurogamer, this weekend should have seen the HCS’s inaugural Season 2 cup rolling through two days of matches. While Saturday’s events apparently transpired without hitches, Sunday’s lineup ran into connection issues that ultimately scuppered the tournament’s finale.

The issues were apparently surfacing already Saturday afternoon

An unofficial HCS Twitter account reported “a lot of protests going on late Saturday afternoon,” attributing it to possible “connection issues.” The official Halo Twitter account cancelation appeared a few hours later.

It’s because the Halo: The Master Chief Collection is still broken

The Halo: Master Chief Collection was supposed to be Microsoft’s Halo magnum opus, an Xbox One-optimized smorgasbord of Halo goodies for completists wanting a fresh look at Microsoft’s iconic series. Instead, it’s turned into more of an embarrassing memento mori.

The trouble lies with the compilation’s ballyhooed online features—in particular, fundamentals like matchmaking—which have been glitchy since the game’s launch on November 11, 2014.

Microsoft and 343 have been releasing patches for the game for months

No one knows why the collection’s matchmaking remains broken six months on, but after forcing players to download multiple, occasionally mammoth post-release patches for half a year (including a few recent patches everyone thought had rectified the issues), the game still isn’t tournament ready.

It’s probably nothing to do with Halo 5‘s multiplayer systems, but it’s certainly not helping the brand

Halo 5: Guardians lands on October 27 this year, and looks to be the most important Xbox One game Redmond’s going to release (as in ever, thinking about it’s importance in relation to console life cycles and install base buildup). If the game fails to bolster Xbox One sales, with Sony’s PlayStation 4 way out ahead of the Xbox One in global sales, it could be catastrophic for the entire Xbox platform.

TIME Video Games

This Video Game Trailer Will Raise Your Pulse and Make You Sweat

Everything is exploding

Just Cause 3, the next installment in the go-anywhere, destroy-anything open world series, is scheduled for a 2015 release on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Developer Avalanche Studios just unveiled a new trailer for the title (above) that gives a pulse-quickening sneak peak at the new title’s gameplay. It looks, well, explosive.

Tech blog The Verge spoke to Avalanche Studios founder and creative director Christofer Sundberg about the title:

[We’re] designing a game that constantly encourages exploration and challenges players not to break the game, but explore the game. I like to see our players as anarchists. You can’t really tell them what to do. If you tell them to go right, they will absolutely go left. Or up and down, in this case. So, design a game that really encourages experimenting and exploring and not trying to set up rules for the player. Because many games try to limit. It’s sort of a caged freedom.

For more, click here.

TIME Video Games

Your Favorite Maddening Toy Is Now on the Apple Watch

Bandai Namco

Tamagotchi virtual pets are back on Apple's smart watch

Get ready to relive the ’90s on your futuristic smart watch. Bandai Namco has brought Tamagotchi, the just-exciting-enough digital pets that adorned many middle schoolers’ keychains 15 years ago, to the Apple Watch.

Like most Apple Watch programs, the Tamagotchi app works in conjunction with a previously released iPhone app. On the watch, users will be able to check their Tamagotchi’s status, let it go to the bathroom and feed it. Users can also get an alert if the pet calls out for attention.

Perhaps more Tamagotchis will survive on the Apple Watch than the pets did when they were relegated to their own separate devices, which were easily lost. It’s harder to forget to feed a pet that’s constantly yelping directly on your wrist.

TIME Video Games

Minecraft Finally Added a Female Default Character

Ascot Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup And Concert
Miles Willis—Getty Images Young racegoers play in a Minecraft tournament during Ascot Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup and Concert at Ascot Racecourse on August 9, 2014 in Ascot, England.

"She brings thinner arms, redder hair, and a ponytail"

Minecraft will debut a new default character this Wednesday, “Alex,” the first female to crack the game’s digital glass ceiling.

Alex will join Steve, the game’s male lead, as the only other default character available to Minecraft’s fans for free.

“Now, everyone loves Steve,” Minecraft’s Owen Hill explained on parent company Mojang’s official blog. “He’s probably the most famous minecrafter in the world, and has excellent stubble. But jolly old Steve doesn’t really represent the diversity of our playerbase.”

Hence, the introduction of Alex. “She brings thinner arms, redder hair, and a ponytail,” Hill wrote.

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