Sega made a traffic safety game in 1988, and collectors now have it

Game preservationists have found, saved, and even shared and translated, an extraordinarily 33-year-old cartridge for the Sega Master System. It’s about traffic safety.

Game de Check! Koutsuu Anzen was never put up for sale (it, and a system, were available for rent as part of a public service campaign by an insurance company). SMS Power, a group dedicated to preserving Sega’s 8-bit legacy, managed to find a complete kit in a Yahoo! Auction at the end of 2019.

Considering that a loose cartridge was sold on the same site for about $33,000 in 2009, and the seller of this kit had sought a similar price, SMS Power crossed its fingers and hoped its modest bid was enough. It was, and for 521,000 yen (roughly $4,800) they won it.

The story doesn’t end there. SMS Power linked up with the NPO Game Preservation Society in Tokyo to help with handling the materials and transporting them. NPO scanned all printed materials and dumped the cartridge’s ROM before the briefcase arrived, “in order to avoid any risk that the game may be lost or damaged while transporting.”

And from there, SMS Power and NPO Game Preservation Society even created a translation patch so that an unofficial English version of the game could be made available as a ROM.

The screenshots of that translate the game as Let’s Check With a Game! Traffic Safety, which contains three mini-games: a “Driving Sense Test,” “You’re the Best Driver,” and “Pyonkichi’s Adventure.” The last looks like a game in which a rabbit ventures out into the real world and gets into encounters where he has to make a safe choice.

Game de Check! Koutsuu Anzen was a product of Tokio Marine and Fire Insurance Ltd., and was developed by Sega in 1987. The kit that SMS Power won includes all documentation, and the group even found two newspaper articles from 1988 that described the campaign’s purpose and execution. It was intended for use in traffic safety campaigns at kindergartens and in day care, as well as in community centers such as neighborhood or residents’ associations. Tokio Marine sent 200 copies of the game and 100 units of the hardware to its branches across Japan.

SMS Power has uploaded scans of all the manuals and the original, unaltered ROM. If you want the game’s soundtrack well, here’s that, too!

Source: Polygon.com

Forced out villagers in Animal Crossing: New Horizons are glitching their new islands

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has a serious glitch involving the game’s adoption feature — whereby players may take in villagers that leave others’ islands — that can potentially ruin your experience.

This post on The Bell Tree Forums describes a potential workaround to resolve the glitch, and others say Nintendo is even aware of the bug, but for now the best defense to be vigilant and inspect villagers before taking them in.

That’s because, according to this Reddit thread, if the villager in question has been forced out of another player’s island, the plot of land on your island that is meant to become their new home will be bugged, and there’s apparently no fix. The glitched plot will simply read “ ’s New Home,” with the building supplies awaiting their arrival. Players cannot place any more plots for new villagers, and the evicted villager in question never moves in.

With only 10 plots for your island, plus the fact this involves a form of amiibo trading among players, it’s easy to see why this bug is being treated with such alarm by the Animal Crossing community.

The PSA making the rounds describes the problem in detail. The key detail is that a villager who leaves another player’s island of their own accord is entirely safe and won’t glitch their new island. Only ones that have been forced out by another player (and with villagers capped at 10 per island, many have good reasons for doing so) will bring this glitch to someone else’s island.

So, if you’re doing a trade with another player, ask for (or kindly provide) a screenshot showing the dialogue portion where it says the villager is “thinking of leaving,” which ensures they weren’t forced out through the campsite.

Otherwise, Bell Tree Forums has a very complicated workaround that might fix the glitched plot, involving removing the plot of land. But it doesn’t work all the time. In any event, players are asked to report this bug to Nintendo.

A player in the Animal Crossing: New Horizons subreddit said they informed Nintendo about the problem, and were told that “they’re in the process of fixing but can’t fix the bug without messing up other bugs right now, so this could take a few days if not, maybe a week.”

Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched March 20 and so far has gotten two patches, one to address an item-duplication glitch that threatened to wreck the game’s economy. That came in just a few days after players sent out word about it on the internet.

Source: Polygon.com

Castlevania’s Netflix anime is on for season 4

Castlevania’s third season on Netflix premiered on March 5, and they didn’t wait long to tell us No. 4 is confirmed, too.

Word went out on Friday with a very brief video announcement over Twitter. The animated series’ 10-episode season ended on a cliffhanger that seemed to express confidence a fourth season would be coming (and it may even orient the story toward the first game), so this is hardly a surprise to fans.

The third season we just watched was also quickly confirmed (five days after it premiered in October 2018), it just took a little while longer to hit Netflix. But that one also had a bigger episode order (with attendant budget), and writer Warren Ellis said he “went a bit mad and kind of tested the boundaries of the thing.”

The first two seasons (the 4-episode debut in July 2017, and the 8-episode run in 2018) adapted the 1990 prequel game Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse. The third season drew material from 1997’s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and 2005’s Curse of Darkness.

Source: Polygon.com

$10 off Cyberpunk 2077 pre-orders at Amazon, and more of the week’s best deals

Cyberpunk 2077, the upcoming video game based on the tabletop role-playing franchise, isn’t due to be released until September, but Amazon is already offering a discount on pre-orders. All customers (i.e. not just Amazon Prime members) can save $10.05 off the new game for PC, Xbox One, and PS4, bringing it down to $49.94.

For those who’d prefer something a little more chill, Amazon is also discounting last year’s new Pokémon game, Pokémon Sword/Shield. The Switch title is down to $49.49 right now, which is $10.50 off retail price.

Finally, both the D&D Essentials Kit and D&D Starter Set are on sale at Amazon. Either one is a fantastic introduction to the most popular tabletop roleplaying game of all time. (For help on running a virtual D&D session, see our handy guide.)

Consoles and accessories

Video games

Miscellaneous

Source: Polygon.com

Nier is getting a remaster and its title is quite a mouthful

Nier, the 2010 game and the sub-franchise it started, celebrates its 10th anniversary this April and on that occasion, a remaster of the game’s Japanese release is coming soon, as well as a new mobile game called Nier Reincarnation.

The remaster (trailer at top) is formally called Nier Replicant ver. 1.22474487139. It’s launching on PlayStation 4, Windows PC via Steam, and Xbox One. Nier Replicant was the Japan-only launch for the game, on PlayStation 3. Western markets, and the Xbox 360 in Japan, got a version titled Nier Gestalt. Here’s an explanation of their differences.

The trailer for Nier Reincarnation, for Android and iOS (above), doesn’t give up much beyond a scene-setting trailer. Translating the game’s official page on Square-Enix’s site, Reincarnation is called a free-to-play role-playing game, with microtransactions implied.

Nier was a spinoff of the Drakengard franchise, and spawned its own direct sequel, Nier: Automata on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC in 2017 (and later Xbox One).

Source: Polygon.com

6 TV trailers that have us hyped this week

A million trailers drop online every week, which can make it hard to keep track of what’s actually coming up in theaters and on home screens. To help parse through the endless stream of upcoming streamable releases, we’ve assembled a list of the most exciting (and in some cases, weirdest) trailers that came out this week, along with a hype level rating, tracking whether these particular trailers actually excited us about the upcoming product. Afraid you might have missed something? Fear no more.

This week’s trailers highlight a wealth of streaming goods headed our way — Netflix’s animated movie The Willoughbys, Chrissy Teigen’s Chrissy’s Court, Dad Chris Evans on Defending Jacob, and more.

Four kids with absurdly neglectful parents send them off on a very dangerous safari in hopes of finding a family who’ll actually love them. Think A Series of Unfortunate Events with a splash of The Addams Family and a hint of Mary Poppins in the form of an eccentric nanny voiced by Maya Rudolph.

Movie release date: April 22 on Netflix

Hype level: 7. Looks pretty cute!

The Great

You know Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, which took the ill-fated Queen of France and imbued her life with some modern glitz, pastel-toned aesthetics, and young Kirsten Dunst? Take that, but trade Marie Antoinette for Catherine the Great and Kirsten Dunst for Elle Fanning.

Series release date: May 15 on Hulu

Hype level: 8. Catherine the Great is objectively cooler than Marie Antoinette, I am just saying.

Chrissy’s Court

A Quibi original! Gasp! It’s happening. This one is basically Judge Judy, but if Chrissy Teigen were in charge of the judging. Word’s out on just what the cases will be or how the show will even be structured, but hey, Chrissy Teigen is there.

Series release date: April 6 on Quibi

Hype level: 10. If Chrissy Teigen is there, sign me up.

It’s Chris Evans, but instead of Captain America, he plays the father of a teenage boy accused of murder. Did the kid actually do it? Is Chris Evans the Dad covering up a heinous crime? Is Chris Evans hotter as a dad? All these questions and more will be answered in the Apple TV Plus original.

Series release date: April 24 on Apple TV Plus

Hype level: 6. Gritty crime might not be what I’m looking for right now but Dad Chris Evans is.

Run

Seventeen years ago, Ruby Richardson (Merritt Wever) and her college boyfriend Billy Johnson (Domhnall Gleeson) made a pact that if at any point, either one of them texted the word “RUN” and the other replied with the same, they would drop everything and meet in Grand Central Station to travel across America. Seems like a terrible-in-real-life but amazing-in-a-series pact to make.

Series release date: April 12 on HBO

Hype level: 10. Domhnall Gleeson and Merritt Wever are as winning a combo as we’ve ever seen!

Tigertail

Master of None co-creator Alan Yang’s feature directorial debut is Tigertail, which stars Lee Hong-Chi and Tzi Ma as the young and old versions of Grover, a man whose desire to go to America changes his life forever. Even just from the trailer, the film, which deals with the immigrant experience and the sacrifices we make, looks like a tearjerker.

Movie release date: April 10 on Netflix

Hype level: 10. Don’t look at me. I’m not crying.

Source: Polygon.com

Doom Eternal Easter egg shouts out the game’s elite QA team

This is pretty slick. Doom Eternal’s QA team got props in the game twice: Once in the regular credits, and once in-world, thanks to their comrades on the rest of the development team.

Jordan Garland, himself a QA lead for Rockstar Lincoln (UK), noticed and tweeted out his thanks in solidarity. The team is id Software’s QA team, led by Addison Ziegler and supervised by Dan Silva.

In the Doom canon, looks like these folks are the Union Aerospace Corporation’s crack unit of problem solvers. “Observe. Excel. Observe.” That’s an on-brand motto for the team in both realities.

It sort of reminds me of another great in-world “credits sequence”; that being NCAA Fooball 14, where the high school team for the single-player Road to Glory team was made up of EA Tiburon developers. So, your teammates were literally those who made the game.

Doom Eternal launched last week to wide praise, especially for its ability to blend physical comedy with best-in-class gore.

Source: Polygon.com

A live-action Steven Universe would need a new approach, says Rebecca Sugar

Transforming animated characters into living, breathing live-action variations is all the rage. Fan artists have dedicated themselves to creating wrinkly models of every cartoon character. Scooby-Doo, George of the Jungle, Paddington, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Popeye, courtesy of acclaimed director Robert Altman, all made the jump. For Disney, the conversion is a business model.

So it’s not a stretch to wonder if Steven Universe, the long-running Cartoon Network series which wrapped its run on Friday night with the conclusion of Steven Universe Future, could reincarnate into live-action sometime down the road. Would creator Rebecca Sugar ever entertain the notion?

“I’m always interested in learning new things, so I’d love to learn what that might mean in live action,” Sugar told Polygon via email, “but I love the fascinating history of animation, and the loaded visual language I get to work with.”

Sugar told Polygon that she has no plans to continue the story of Steven Universe, aside from the upcoming End of an Era artbook. But in musing on the possibility of a live-action Steven Universe story, the animator and storyteller touched on an aspect of the series that often goes overlooked. The series is known for tackling major emotional and behavioral concepts, and Steven Universe Future finale was no exception. But from the beginning, Sugar also set out to make a show about the paradigms and styles that have made cartooning such a diverse medium.

“A lot of elements of Steven Universe are meta-commentary on the kinds of cartoons they’re based on,” Sugar said. “Spinel [from Steven Universe: The Movie] is the most obvious: a cartoon that’s been trapped in time and not allowed to evolve. But the dynamic between the Crystal Gems and the Diamonds also has to do with modern Cartoon Network cartoons interacting with an ‘older’ generation of cartoons.” For Sugar, those range from the illustrative work of Winsor McCay and Nell Brinkley to the Golden Age Disney movies and 1970s-era anime.

Steven Universe’s online fanbase has entertained the live-action adaptation thought experiment since the show first premiered in 2013. One fortified fan wiki page imagines a movie directed Maleficent’s Robert Stromberg, starring Stranger Things’ Gaten Matarazzo as Steven, Chris Evans as Greg, Amy Adams as Rose, Rebel Wilson as Amethyst, Bella Thorne as Pearl, and Estelle as Garnet (because who else, really?). But for Sugar, any live-action treatment of Steven Universe would involve more than just plugging famous faces into the roles.

“If I were to approach these characters in live action, the whole thing would need to be conceptualized differently. I’d need to find ways to express ‘tradition’ and the ways it can be stifling and phony, vs. what feels ‘modern,’ liberated, and honest.”

Source: Polygon.com

Dragon’s Lair movie coming to Netflix, with Ryan Reynolds starring

It may seem like this should have happened years ago but, hey, Ryan Reynolds was only 6 years old when Dragon’s Lair hit arcades. The Laserdisc adventure game is getting a feature-length adaptation courtesy of Netflix and the Deadpool star.

The Hollywood Reporter reported yesterday that Netflix closed the deal for rights to the game, and that Reynolds is aboard both as a star and courtesy his production label, Maximum Effort. Don Bluth, the ex-Disney animator who both designed and illustrated the original game, is also listed as a producer.

Bluth and partner Gary Goldman, in 2015, turned to Kickstarter and Indiegogo to raise money for a big-screen adaptation of their game, but were unsuccessful. The game memorably cameoed in the first episode of Netflix’s Stranger Things 2 in 2017.

The script is being worked on by Dan and Kevin Hageman, who paired up for 2014’s The Lego Movie. Netflix’s Dragon’s Lair is a live-action adaptation.

Dragon’s Lair debuted in 1983, kicking off the eye-popping Laserdisc genre for the still-nascent arcade scene. In it, players use timely inputs of a joystick and the Sword button to correctly present the game’s hero, Dirk the Daring, extricating himself from a variety of traps and ambushes inside a mysterious castle. Dirk eventually reaches his goal, which is to rescue the voluptuous Princess Daphne from captivity in the lair of the evil Singe.

If you’re wondering, all of the scenes in Dragon’s Lair add up to a cartoon film about 10 minutes long. Multiple YouTubers have put them together; here’s one such anthology.

Although visually impressive, and a staple of pop culture nostalgia, the Laserdisc games didn’t really catch on. It was followed by Cinematronics’ Space Ace (also produced by Bluth) in 1984, and Stern Electronics even delivered Cliff Hanger in 1983 — a Laserdisc game based on two Lupin III films. Otherwise, the time and production needed for these games, to say nothing of their high cost to players (50 cents, instead of 25) limited the genre’s spread.

Reynolds’ next project is also video game-themed: Free Guy, which Reynolds’ lead character is a hopeless NPC in a Grand Theft Auto-style game world, who starts fighting back. That’s due to premiere in July but, as with most everything right now, plans are TBA.

Source: Polygon.com

A few of the straight-up funniest comedies now streaming

Browsing Netflix’s comedy section brings up a wide range of formats, from schmaltzy rom-coms to raunchy stand-up specials, and pitch-black comedies to goofy kids movies. It seems like we could all use a laugh right now, but not all movies branded as comedies will make you laugh out loud — some are more of a chuckle quietly to yourself situation.

That’s why we’re rounding up 10 of the straight-up funniest movies available on streaming right now, from classics like Groundhog Day and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? to newer indies like Booksmart and Oh, Hello on Broadway. Any one of them is guaranteed to leave you in stitches.


The Birdcage

robin williams goes bug eyed in the birdcage Image: MGM

Based on the French play La Cage aux Folles, The Birdcage stars Robin Williams as Armand, the owner of a South Beach drag club, and Nathan Lane as Albert aka Starina, his partner and star drag queen. When their son, Val, brings home his fiancée — who happens to be the daughter of a Republican congressman — Armand agrees to host a dinner for her family. Hijinks ensue as the flamboyant men try to pass as straight. Williams and Lane are perfectly matched, and their banter is frequently laugh out loud funny. Plus, the message of acceptance is sweet, even if a bit dated.

The Birdcage is streaming on Amazon Prime.


Booksmart

Booksmart - Molly and Amy confer by the lockers Francois Duhamel/Annapurna Pictures

Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is sweet, charming, and kind; it’s also raunchy, rowdy, and positively packed the the brim with jokes. Booksmart stars Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein as high school best friends and straight-A students who agree to spend their last night before graduation making up for all the fun they missed while hammering away at extra homework and studying for AP tests. Of course nothing goes according to plan, and the two spend the evening bouncing around from party to party. (These shenanigans are often punctuated by visits from Billie Lourd, who steals every scene she’s in with a captivating weirdness.)

Our review called Booksmart, “a smarter, funnier Superbad.” It will be a crime if it doesn’t join the canon of essential coming-of-age comedies.

Booksmart is streaming on Hulu.


Clue

colonel mustard looks at mrs. white who is feeling flames on the side of her face burning, burning Paramount Pictures

This cult classic comedy turns the board game Clue into an intriguing whodunnit, but with a script by comedy pros John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers) and Jonathan Lynn (My Cousin Vinny), the mystery takes a bit of a backseat to the offbeat humor. With an incredible cast of comedy legends — Christopher Lloyd, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, and Lesley Ann Warren — as the chromatic characters of the board game, every scene is packed with zingers. And still the classic wrap-up scene in which the murderer is unveiled is as satisfying as any Agatha Christie. Or should I say wrap-up scenes: the theatrical release had three different endings. (All three endings are included in the home release.)

Clue is streaming on Amazon Prime.


Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

White Goodman (Ben Stiller) and the Globo Gym cobras prepare for Dodgball Photo: 20th Century Fox

“If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” Rip Torn’s motto as dodgeball legend Patches O’Houlihan was an instant classic one-liner in the unapologetically goofy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Starring Vince Vaughn as the owner of a struggling small gym who enters a dodgeball competition to raise the money and avoid foreclosure, Dodgeball mostly serves as a vehicle for Ben Stiller to flex (literally and metaphorically) as the villainous owner of the corporate rival, Globo Gym. Still, the supporting cast of Christine Taylor, Alan Tudyk, Chris Williams, Justin Long, and Stephen Root more than hold their own.

Dodgeball is streaming on HBO (also available as an Amazon Prime or Hulu add-on).


Groundhog Day

groundhog day Columbia Pictures

Groundhog Day is so synonymous with its time-looping narrative structure that it’s easy to forget just how freakin’ funny it is. Yes, writer Danny Rubin and writer-director Harold Ramis turned a standard Bill Murray comedy into a deep text worthy of spiritual analysis, but what keeps us coming back to Groundhog Day is Murray’s hilarious performance as misanthropic weatherman Phil Connors. Always delightfully witty, even as he moves from cynicism to denial to opportunism to nihilism and ultimately to acceptance and hope, Phil Connors is one of the best comedy protagonists of all time.

Groundhog Day is streaming on Netflix.


Heavyweights

The boys of Camp Hope raise their fists in a screenshot from Heavyweights Photo: Walt Disney Studios

Love Dodgeball but want a PG option? Ben Stiller’s White Goodman shares a lot in common with his Heavyweights character, Tony Perkis. Both are egotistical-yet-insecure fitness gurus who spend most of the movie intimidating a group of scrappy underdogs. In the Disney movie, co-written by Judd Apatow, Perkis takes over a beloved fat camp and starts terrorizing the campers. I rewatched the 1995 film soon after Disney Plus launched and was pleasantly surprised that it mostly holds up — both in terms of jokes and subject matter.

Heavyweights is streaming on Disney Plus.


Oh, Hello on Broadway

Gil (Nick Kroll) and George (John Mulaney) clasp hands over a giant tuna puppet in a screenshot from Oh, Hello on Broadway Photo: Netflix

When John Mulaney (SNL, New in Town) guest starred on Nick Kroll’s sketch show, Kroll Show, as George St. Geegland, a crotchety old Upper West Sider who hosts a public access prank show called Too Much Tuna with his friend Gil Faizon (played by Kroll), instant classic characters were born. Both veterans of the New York alt comedy scene, Kroll and Mulaney eventually brought the increasingly deranged George and Gil all the way to Broadway. The Netflix recording of the stage show is just as weird and silly and stupid as the sketches; It’s so much fun to watch these two men clearly having just the best time.

Oh, Hello on Broadway is streaming on Netflix.


Step Brothers

Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (Reilly) perform for a crowd. Sony Pictures Releasing

One of the most quotable movies ever made, Step Brothers is chock full of incredible one-liners like: “I’m Dale, but you have to call me dragon.”; “DID WE JUST BECOME BEST FRIENDS?!”; and, “It’s the fucking Catalina Wine Mixer.” Those lines aren’t especially hysterical on paper — it’s the performances from Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, two comedic actors at the top of their game, that make them classics. As aimless and juvenile step brothers who hate each other on site, the movie is at its best when Ferrell and Reilly are hurling insults at each other, but the supporting cast of Adam Scott, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins, and Kathryn Hahn all get in a few choice zingers of their own.

Step Brothers is streaming on Netflix.


Throw Momma From the Train

Owen (Danny DeVito) and Larry (Billy Crystal) sit on the floor in a screenshot from Throw Momma from the Train Photo: Orion Pictures

Writers-block-afflicted novelist Larry Donner (Billy Crystal) gets pulled into a web of misunderstanding and murder by his student Owen Lift (Danny DeVito) in this spoof of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. Owen thinks that Larry agreed to kill his overbearing mother (Anne Ramsey) in exchange for Owen killing Larry’s ex-wife Margaret (Kate Mulgrew). Larry, of course, agreed to no such thing. The ensuing tension between Crystal, DeVito, and Ramsey is silly and fun, as Larry tries to avoid being accused of Margaret’s murder even while Owen hounds him to hold up his end of the perceived bargain.

Throw Momma From the Train is streaming on Amazon Prime and Tubi.


Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Bob Hoskins angrily confronts an animated rabbit. Buena Vista Pictures

That director Robert Zemeckis managed to pull off an original comedy-mystery story in which Warner Bros. and Disney cartoon characters “act” alongside live-action humans is an almost unbelievable feat. The movie is as funny as it is groundbreaking, with Roger Rabbit enlisting the help of toon-hating detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) to help exonerate him of the murder of Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye).

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is streaming on Disney Plus.


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Source: Polygon.com

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