TIME Video Games

The Next Call of Duty Is Apparently Black Ops III

We'll know for sure on April 26

Call of Duty: Black Ops III, anyone? That’s the presumptive punchline at the end of Activision’s trippy teaser for a new game, which not-so-cryptically sports the hashtag #backinblack, making this either the third installment in the mega-publisher’s storied spy-thriller shooter Call of Duty sub-series, or a really weird promo for a joint endeavor with AC/DC.

But surely the Roman numerology at the end (“III”) gives it away, if not the callout to “Mason” (as in Black Ops mainstay Alex Mason) at the beginning. And the line “Everything you know is wrong” makes it sound like the game’s going to be bouncing Mason off the whole introspective ret-con trope.

Symbols, GPS coordinates and looping lines of letters and numbers fill the screen as sinister Dr. Evil-ish voices threaten and goad. It’s an Internet sleuth’s dream come true, even if the end result of all the busywork’s something like “Mother may I have the next clue, please?” We should know more on April 26, the game’s official worldwide reveal.

As for the question “The numbers Mason, what do they mean?,” someone get Damon Lindelof or Carlton Cuse on the horn.

Update: Activision has now confirmed Call of Duty: Black Ops III is happening, longtime developer Treyarch’s helming, and we’ll see it this year.

TIME Video Games

The 15 Biggest Video Games Coming Out This Spring

Check out our springtime list of PC, console and handheld video games to keep an eye on

These are the biggest games for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U and Nintendo 3DS out this spring, including Bloodborne, Mortal Kombat X, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Xenoblade Chronicles 3D.

  • Mario Party 10

    Nintendo’s jamboree four-player Mario Party series comes to the Wii U, harboring its peculiar melange of boardgame-like mini-games, with this particular batch crafted to avail itself of both the Wii U’s unique second-screen controller and Nintendo’s wirelessly programmable Amiibo figurines.

    Wii U

    March 20

  • Bloodborne

    The popular line on developer From Software is that the studio makes counter-culturally punishing hack and slash games. That’s too easy. Once you isolate each game’s patterns, they’re relatively simple to crack. The difficulty’s in sussing the patterns, it’s true, but these games trade as much on their ambience, and Bloodborne‘s no different: an abattoir of the arcane that’s as gratifying to rubberneck as unravel, piece by bloody piece.

    PlayStation 4

    March 24

  • Pillars of Eternity

    A bona fide old-school PC roleplaying escapade inspired by several popular turn of the century Dungeons & Dragons computer gaming hits, Pillars of Eternity resurrects bygone staples like isometric (top-down, off-center) camera angles, round-driven tactical combat and an almanac’s worth of statistical esoterica. But it’s all thoroughly modernized here, and as friendly as this sort of world-building exercise is likely to get.

    PC

    March 26

  • Axiom Verge

    Give Petroglyph (Command & Conquer) developer Tom Happ five years to fiddle in his spare time with a side-scrolling platformer, and you get Axiom Verge, an homage to games like Metroid and Castlevania, but one that layers in its own curiosities and inventions, adding to a growing chorus of recent, deceptively throwback games that bristle with progressive surprises.

    PC, PlayStation 4, PS Vita

    March 31

  • Story of Seasons

    A Harvest Moon-like (developer Marvelous Entertainment is known for its work on the long-running Harvest Moon series), Story of Seasons lets players raise ye olde crops and livestock, but in this case you can peddle your wares in an online market composed of various “countries,” each with unique trade-related demands.

    Nintendo 3DS

    March 31

  • Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin

    Another Sisyphean From Software ordeal, Scholar of the First Sin packages last year’s Dark Souls II with all of its expansion content, upgraded for the latest consoles and sporting new enemies, items as well as support for more simultaneous players in online sessions.

    PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    April 2

  • Etrian Mystery Dungeon

    The dungeon-exploring Etrian Odyssey series meets the roguelike Mystery Dungeon games. It’s not clear yet how that mashup’s going to distinguish itself, but it presumably involves random-generated dungeons, three-dimensional environments and chess-like (I go, you go) combat.

    Nintendo 3DS

    April 7

  • Affordable Space Adventures

    2015’s list of Wii U games feels worryingly sparse with The Legend of Zelda slipping to 2016. While you’re waiting, there’s Affordable Space Adventures to think about, a clever-sounding Wii U exclusive that hands you control of a tiny spaceship with discretely playable and granular systems, allowing friends to crew aspects of the ship like thrust, stabilization or scanning in concert.

    Wii U

    April 9

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

    One of the smartest roleplaying games in the genre’s history comes to the New Nintendo 3DS (and only to the New 3DS–it’ll be the first that taps the new handheld’s souped up processor). This is your chance to play what by all accounts looks to be the definitive version.

    Nintendo 3DS

    April 10

  • Grand Theft Auto V

    It’s a shame a studio as stately as Rockstar’s made players on the most popular and generationally resilient video game platform around wait a full year and a half to play the company’s 2013 magnum opus. If you’re one of PC gaming’s many slighted, however, the Windows version appears to be definitive (that is, if you have a PC powerful enough to crunch it).

    PC

    April 14

  • Mortal Kombat X

    It’s another Mortal Kombat for the latest-gen hardware, meaning a compendium of even more graphically intricate carnage erupting from the business end of whips, chains, bows, swords, hats, hammers and various weaponized limbs.

    PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    April 14

  • Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China

    Assassin’s Creed Unity was the first critical misstep in Ubisoft’s annual stealth-parkour franchise, in part because the company oversold it as its boldest rethink since the series debuted in 2007. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China, a downloadable 2.5D platformer (it’s a 2D side-scroller with 3D elements), will be the first in a trilogy of diversions designed to fill the space between Unity and the series’ next installment, ostensibly due this year and reportedly set in Victorian London.

    PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    April 21

  • Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker

    Sporting the world’s weirdest name and likely bound to scare off anyone not in the tactical roleplaying Tensei-series know, Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker revisits the acclaimed 2012 Nintendo DS game (of the same name, sans the “Record Breaker” appendage) by way of a new scenario that picks up where the original game left off.

    Nintendo 3DS

    May 5

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

    You won’t need a copy of Wolfenstein: The New Order (reviewed here) to play developer MachineGames’s standalone prequel expansion, which takes series protagonist William “B.J.” Blazkowicz back to Hitlerian climes circa 1946, canvassing two pivotal alternate history events leading up to the last game’s break with World War II and Man in the High Castle-ish leap forward.

    PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    May 5

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

    You may want to take the rest of the year off to play The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Polish developer CD Projekt Red’s apparent bid to eliminate every other game from your playtime schedule. Imagine Skyrim multiplied by Skyrim and you’re in the ballpark of this East European-inspired fantasy-verse. And if hundreds of potential hours of freeform gameplay isn’t enough to sate your Heisenbergian appetites, the studio just announced two expansions due for release over the course of this year into early next, totaling some 30 hours of additional content.

    PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    May 19

TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone Games of the Week

TIME.com stock photos Social Apps iPhone
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Try 'Ducktails' and 'Hellrider'

Had enough Candy Crush and looking for some fun new games to play on your iPhone? Here are five favorites TIME rounded up this week.

DuckTales: Remastered

DuckTales, originally released in the late 1980s and 1990s, was one of the best adventure games ever. Now, it’s been remastered for iOS — which means no more crummy, hard to see graphics. Take Scrooge McDuck on a string of journeys through dangerous terrains, traps and maps until you find your treasure. It’s an expensive game, but it’s a small price to pay for reliving one of the best games ever developed – or discovering it for the first time.

DuckTales: Remastered is available for $9.99 in the App Store

Hellrider

Imagine Mad Max, but instead of fighting other humans, you’re battling an army of skeletons. Clobber your way through various maps and destroy your enemies. Despite the fact that Hellrider follows the basic arcade game principle of running through levels and smashing enemies to bits, the game is remarkably designed and never gets boring.

Hellrider is free in the App Store

Tiny Dangerous Dungeons

Until the day Nintendo decides to get launch a full suite of titles for iOS, games like Tiny Dangerous Dungeons will have to do. Take your character (who is wearing a suspiciously Mario-like outfit) through spooky arenas and over obstacles until you reach the end of each level. There’s not much enemy-fighting in this one, which is why it’s so endearingly like games of yesteryear, down to the blocky graphics and monochrome display. It’ll look really cool on your iPhone screen.

Tiny Dangerous Dungeons is free in the App Store

Last Voyage

Unlike almost every puzzle game, Last Voyage is a strange quest through time and space. One moment you’re solving something that looks more like a Rubik’s Cube, and the next, you’re racing from chapter to chapter and beaming around stars at warp speed. The puzzles are almost impossible to solve, but it’s incredibly rewarding once you unlock the next stage. Though the graphics are basic, games like Last Voyage are bringing a new level of complexity to the realm of iOS puzzle games.

Last Voyage is available for $0.99 in the App Store

Phil The Pill

A game that looks like it could be turned into a Cartoon Network show, Phil The Pill is the story of a character who must restore order to his once peaceful universe of strange animated characters. Enemies have invaded Phil’s village, and it’s up to him to fight his way through alleyways and mazes in order to liberate his town’s princess and free his fellow citizens from invaders.

Phil The Pill is free in the App Store

 

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.

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