Snake, the game most famous for its appearance on ancient Nokia phones, is making a temporary comeback over the next day or two (depending on where you are in the world) with a version being added to Google Maps for an April 1 treat.
It’s available from April 1 on both iOS and Android, and Google says it’ll be live “for about a week”. To access it, just slide out the menu, pick a city and try not to make too many jokes about the state of everyone’s actual public transport system.
After a busy last week, this week is much quieter. No huge games, but for Switch owners looking for some demon killing, Darksiders Warmastered Edition hits the portable system this week.
I just started playing the first Darksiders game. I needed something to play as I take some time away from The Division 2. I don’t have any excuse for why I never played either 1 or 2 when they first came out. Honestly, my reason for not playing Darksiders is mostly that I’m one person and there are too many games in the world for me to play.
Anyways, as I mentioned earlier, this is a quiet week. Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid hits the PS4 after releasing for other platforms. A remastered Borderlands 1 hits PS4 and Xbox One and a new digital Dragon Ball card game is coming out later this week too.
Some other stuff is coming out this week! Check out the list below:
Monday, April 1
Darkest Hunter | Switch
Super Catscape | PC
Homegrove | PC
UNI | PC
Tuesday, April 2
AngerForce: Reloaded | PS4, Xbox One, Switch
FAR: Lone Sails | PS4, Xbox One
Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid | PS4
Darksiders: Warmastered | Switch
Sword & Fairy 6 | PS4
SpellKeeper | Switch
Dorakone | PC
Serious Sam: Tormental | PC
Hexa Path | PC
Jetstream | PC, Mac
Brood | PC
Wednesday, April 3
Borderlands: Game Of The Year | PS4, Xbox One, PC
Bow To Blood: Last Captain Standing | PS4, Xbox One, PC
Shadow Blade: Reload | Switch
Terrawurm | PC
Star Chef: Cooking & Restaurant Game | PC
Guide | PC
Super Tennis Blast | PC
Thursday, April 4
The Friends Of Ringo Ishikawa | Switch
HOB | Switch
Skorecery | PS4
Mechstermination Force | Switch
Overwhelm | Switch
Death Mark | PC
Pitfall Planet | Switch
Pressure Overdrive | Switch
Royal Adviser | Switch
Sephirothic Stories | Switch
SMASHING THE BATTLE | Switch
War Theatre | Switch
Islanders | PC
Galactic Campaign | PC, Mac
Friday, April 5
Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission | PC, Switch
Many games are about escapism. Allowing the player to escape from their boring or shitty life and experience something incredible or impossible. In the popular shooter series Halo, players become the Master Chief; a badass super soldier capable of destroying armies of enemies by himself. He is in command of soldiers on the battlefield and travels around the galaxy, seeing gorgeous planets and fighting evil aliens. And for the most part, the player and the Master Chief always win.
This form of escapism, allowing players to do the impossible and save the world, is common in tons of games released every year.
Manhunt is different. It isn’t about escapism. Manhunt instead is a game about punishment and suffering.
The game starts with James Earl Cash, the character you play as, getting tied down and given a lethal injection. He is being executed for being a criminal who murdered people before the start of the game. Regardless of how you feel about lethal injection, in the world of Manhunt, this is Cash’s punishment for what he did.
Yet you escape death, thanks to a murder loving snuff film director named Starkweather. He pulled some strings and instead of lethal poison, James Earl Cash is given a powerful sedative. This is when Cash discovers the real punishment isn’t death. It is sneaking and running his way through Hell.
Sometimes, death is better.
After that brief setup, players are thrown into a rundown city filled with hunters; organized groups of killers who want to murder you.
Manhunt might seem like a game all about murder and violence, for example, you’ll see multiple executions and fights while playing. But that’s only a part of Manhunt. Most of the game is spent hiding and sneaking from shadow to shadow, avoiding enemies and danger.
The whole experience is terrifying.
Unlike the Master Chief, James Earl Cash is vulnerable and always being hunted. You’re not a hero or a badass in Manhunt. You’re a scumbag murderer trying to escape a nightmare.
I don’t want to be James Earl Cash, even for a brief period of time. His life and his situation aren’t things I want to “escape” into. Instead, I watch from behind my controller, happy I’m not there.
One of the main reasons I never felt like escaping into the world of Manhunt, is because of the fantastic work done to make the atmosphere of the game feel oppressive and shitty. Every level in Manhunt is awful. I don’t mean the level design is bad, instead, I mean they all look and sound like shitholes. Shattered glass everywhere, crumbling buildings, broken down cars on every street. Oh, and did I mention the hundreds of dangerous killers everywhere?
In a game like Skyrim, you want to stop and live in the village you just saved. In Manhunt, you never want to return to that slum you just sneaked your way through.
Playing Manhunt is about being afraid and suffering. Even when Manhunt throws you a bone, it quickly takes it away and calls you a piece of shit for even thinking about touching that bone.
For example, towards the end of the game, you fight a large and dangerous naked man who is also wearing a pig head as a mask. His name is Pigsy and his weapon of choice is a rusty chainsaw.
Eventually, after a tense and dangerous fight, you defeat Pigsy and take his chainsaw. In every video game, chainsaws are often shorthand for “Go kick some ass!” In Doom, getting the chainsaw is fun. You feel powerful and it improves your ability to fight demons.
But in Manhunt, this isn’t the case.
After getting the chainsaw, The Director calls in a team of well-equipped mercs to hunt you down and kill you. That new chainsaw you got, well good luck using it. To kill with it you need to turn the motor on and rev it. This creates a loud and continuous noise, which is very bad when you are trying to sneak from shadow to shadow, quietly.
All of this might sound bad. It might make Manhunt sound awful, but I actually really enjoy Manhunt because it is so different from so many other games.
For a medium filled with heroes being heroes and saving the day, it’s a nice change of pace to have a game like Manhunt spit on you, kick you in the stomach then point towards another room where you’ll get kicked and spit on some more. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a masochist?
This always oppressive and shitty atmosphere is why the executions in Manhunt are so great. It’s the one time where you get some revenge. You get to dish out some punishment of your own and you decide how brutal you want to be. And you might be surprised how brutal you can be when you hate everything around you and feel no remorse for the people hunting you down.
Manhunt doesn’t let you choose to be non-lethal or give you an option to be good. Your only option with enemies is deciding how quickly and painfully you want to kill them. Sure, you can avoid a few enemies, but many during many enemy encounters it will be nearly impossible to complete levels without taking a few lives.
Murdering in Manhunt is all about timing. How long you hold the button will decide how brutal the murder. Hold it long enough and you will stab people in the eyes and cut heads off.
By the end of Manhunt you probably won’t like James Earl Cash, which is fine. Manhunt is a wonderful example of a game with a protagonist who is someone you probably wouldn’t want to spend any time with. No one wants to go get a beer with James Earl Cash, that dude’s a deranged murderer.
Unfortunately, going back to Rockstar developed games from this era is always tricky. The games use awkward and clunky controls and they never look very good. Manhunt is (mostly) different than other Rockstar games from the PS2.
Due to being more linear and smaller than something like GTA San Andreas, the game’s visuals hold up better than you might expect. And the low res textures and grimy feel actually work in the game’s favor. After all, Manhunt was never meant to look “nice”. It was meant to look depressing and dirty, and it achieves that goal in every level.
Manhunt’s controls, however, don’t hold up nearly as well. The main issue is that the controls and the gameplay feel loose and yet oddly rigid. But again, because the levels are smaller and you move around slower, the controls hold up better than say Vice City’s awful movement and combat controls.
If you do go back and beat Manhunt, you’ll find it has no happy ending or nice cutscene where you save the day or turn the evil bad guy into the police. Instead, you kill his lackeys and then kill him. Then you leave. Credits roll. Good job, scumbag.
And while Manhunt would get a sequel, it would have almost no connections to the previous game and instead would take the series into a different direction. That game is fine, but it never comes close to capturing the horror and oppressive feel of Manhunt.
Honestly, I’m not even sure if Rockstar could re-capture that feel in a future game. Improved visuals might end up making a Manhunt 3 feel too real and uncomfortable.
I’m fine with the world never getting another Manhunt 3. Instead, I recommend for those curious to creep back to their PS2 and experience Manhunt, preferably in a dark room. Alone. Good luck, killer.
It isn’t the first time T-Series has overtaken PewDiePie, but it has maintained the lead long enough to call the contest. T-Series, for its part, changed the header image for its channel to a banner thanking fans for making it the world’s largest YouTube channel. “Making India Proud,” it adds.
The PewDiePie and T-Series feud goes back to August 2018, when Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg became aware of T-Series’ growth. He urged his fans, which he affectionately refers to as his “army of 9-year-olds,” to deter T-Series’ growth. Kjellberg’s channel has been the most subscribed channel on YouTube since 2013, but T-Series’ growth has skyrocketed due to multiple factors. For one, the channel is based in India, where 225 million monthly users log onto YouTube. It is also a leading source of Bollywood content on YouTube, which means users all over the world looking for Bollywood videos or videos from their favorite Indian artists can find it all on T-Series.
Many on YouTube feel that the T-Series-PewDiePie feud is an indictment of a greater struggle within the platform: the ongoing clash between creator-based channels against corporate entities. T-Series is a massive corporation that can churn out multiple videos a day; Kjellberg is one man.
Throughout late February and into March, T-Series and PewDiePie oscillated in the top spot at least seven times. But with the recent controversies and a dark shadow hanging over the PewDiePie name, for the first time, it looks like PewDiePie isn’t going to make up that subscriber difference.
On its 25th anniversary, Windjammers is finally getting a sequel. But despite a new art-style and slightly more complex gameplay, the studio behind Windjammers 2 said it wants to stay as true to the pure joy and simplicity found in the original.
I played the game for half an hour at PAX East, and while the show floor was packed with people, it was easy to get lost in the loud electronic sounds, flashing neon colors, and twitchy action of DotEmu’s modern take on Ice Hockey meets 90s arcade brawler.
The original Windjammers was created by Data East for the Neo Geo in 1994 and was recently re-released on PS4, Vita, and Switch. In it, two players fling a glowing disc back and forth trying to get it to hit the other’s net. The disc speeds up with each throw until someone eventually scores. The disc can bounce off walls as well as be tossed up into the air forcing the other player to come out of their net to catch it. Different characters have different strengths and weaknesses but otherwise, that’s it. Decades later the formula still works, but the game executing it has clearly aged.
Windjammers 2 is an attempt to excavate that infinitely satisfying loop and give it a fresh coat of paint and a few new bells and whistles, with emphasis on “few.”
Rather than go recreate the pixel art of the original, Jordi Asensio, one of the game’s developers, told Kotaku DotEmu wanted to do something a little different to make the sequel stand out from a lot of the retro-remakes going around. So instead, the team opted for a new look inspired by the original game’s arcade cabinet art. Still colorful and fluid, the new hand-drawn style looks crisp in HD while still playing into the bright, beachy, laid-back aesthetic of the first game.
The biggest new addition to gameplay revolves around an EX meter players can build up during a match. Using it deploys a special power shot that’s different for each character, sometimes sending the disc whizzing by in elliptical orbits while other times snaking around in a series of 90 degree turns reminiscent of Centipede. There are also new types of reverse shots that add provide a few more tools for dealing with what your opponent throws at you.
The leap reminded me of going from Street Fighter II to Street Fighter III. It’s frantic but snappy, and even standing at a booth amid a mass of thousands, I still got bit by that “just one more match” bug.
“It’s Windjammers but it’s more fast-paced than the original,” Asensio said. “Not by speed but because you have more moves you have more decisions to make in the same amount of time.” There are still some open questions like how the game will handle on Switch (I demoed the game on PC), especially with the Joy-Con since local coop is a big part of the game’s appeal. Robust online play is another important feature that I wasn’t able to test out. Even the smallest bit of extra lag could make the game incredibly frustrating to play.
“We actually tried to play Windjammers on an old CRT and it’s even better because you have no lag,” said Asensio. “Today you have lag with the Bluetooth controller, with the internet connection, and with the monitor—you have a lot of frames of lag. In the old system, the arcade, you are connected to the game, you’re really moving transistors when you move. It’s like an electron cannon that is bombarding your brain through your eyes.”
His hope is DotEmu can bring as much of the magic of the original arcade experience, from the cabinet art to the lightning-quick responsiveness, to a new generation. There’s no set release date yet beyond this year, but Asensio said the team plans to start testing Windjammers 2 with some of the best old-school Windjammer players by this summer.
The combat in The Division 2 feels great and is one of the main parts of the game that keeps me coming back. Yet, one of my favorite things in The Division 2, quarantine zones, aren’t about combat or even shooting really. Instead, these spaces are focused on exploration and narrative. I really wish there were more of them too.
The quarantine zones are wonderful small puzzle boxes, filled with tiny stories of how people lived and died in this world. In the game’s fiction, these zones are areas of the map that contain deadly chemicals or the dangerous dollar flu, the disease behind the massive epidemics seen in the game. To protect people, these buildings have been quarantined off. They are covered in yellow hazmat tarps, chainlink fences, and clear plastic doors.
These zones feel quiet and dangerous in a way most other parts of the map don’t. The first time I walked up towards one, I felt a tinge of nervousness entering the building. Warning signs, hazmat equipment, and UV lights litter the outside and inside of these areas. Your character even dons a gas mask when entering, to avoid inhaling any of the deadly particles or chemicals still contained inside.
Once inside, the main goal of each quarantine zone is to explore them entirely, collecting all the audio and text recordings sprinkled in the area. Each of these zones tells different stories of different groups of people. One area contained folks who were sick and needed a place to stay in a world where they are seen as bringers of death. Another area detailed the tragic story of a massacre of survivors. One area even told the sad story of a young child dying of the disease or an old woman talking to her dead family as she drifts towards her own death. These aren’t happy stories, but they do add more to the world, making the wasteland of D.C. feel more human and believable.
To find all of these bits of storytelling, players will need to solve puzzles and navigate the buildings’ hallways, sewers, tunnels, and ladders. None of the zones are particularly challenging to work out, but they provide just enough difficulty that solving some of the puzzles still feels satisfying. Many of the puzzles involve finding fuse boxes and shooting them or flipping switches to unlock doors somewhere else in the zone. While these puzzles won’t stump most folks, they do provide a nice change of pace from the usual shooting and looting.
Some of the areas these zones are located in are also fascinating to explore. One of my favorites is a museum housing models of ancient creatures, like mammoths. That particular zone even contained some other surprises that I won’t spoil here. Each of these zones feels distinct from one and other, with each filled with unique details and lore.
Sadly, some of these quarantine zones, or Q ZONES as nobody says, don’t always work right. I got stuck in an elevator during one zone, forcing me to restart the zone after fast traveling away and back to the area. Another zone is marked as unfinished on my map, even though I’ve found everything in the building.
In fact, I loved exploring them so much that I was sad to find out there are only five currently in the game. The Division 2 will be receiving updates for potentially years to come, so maybe future updates will add more of these zones to explore. I really hope so. These quarantine zones were a fantastic change of pace and helped flesh out the world more. I just hope future zones are less buggy and a little bigger and more complex.
Star Citizen’s next update, alpha 3.5, will deliver the game’s newest world — ArcCorp, a sprawling, overbuilt planet that makes Coruscant look like a model of urban planning.
That won’t be the only feature the game delivers. Female avatars may be chosen for player characters for the first time, among several other choices in an overhauled character creation suite. There’s also a new flight control system and, of course, six vessels on sale from $65 to $95.
ArcCorp, in the game’s Stanton system is covered in man-made structures. Players may explore the main landing zone of Area18 and find jobs to take on there from the game’s NPC quest-giver Also in alpha 3.5, gravity will be incorporated into atmospheric flight, making that part of the experience more true-to-life (or true to what we’d imagine, I suppose).
As for player customization, Cloud Imperium Games founder Chris Roberts said in a statement that it would rely on a “revolutionary Gene Splicing system,” that allows players to blend features to create a realistic character.
“The advantage of this approach,” Roberts added, “is you always get realistic looking players, not immersion breaking ‘monsters’ that sometimes can be created using more traditional techniques.”
More on the update to Star Citizen’s Persistent Universe is here. There was no timeframe given for alpha 3.5’s release. Star Citizen is working toward a 2020 launch for the long-awaited single-player version of the game, Squadron 42. Development on Star Citizen began in 2012.
I am not an expert at video games, but as I have worked in the creative industry for over 30 years, I know and appreciate great design. I’ve found a perfect match with Yoshi’s Crafted World. The game itself may seem easy or even childish to jaded players, but it gave me a special opportunity to appreciate the beautiful design that can often be found in modern Nintendo games.
Yoshi’s Crafted World contains its premise in its name. As Yoshi, I hop around a variety of worlds filled with creatures and backdrops “crafted” from paper, cardboard, wood, sticky tape, plastic, and other common household items such as bottle tops, soda cans, pingpong balls, and even plastic drinking straws — no plastic straw ban in Yoshi land.
In one stage, origami flowers are “cut” from corrugated cardboard and finished with painted string. They wave back and forth between painted cardboard bushes. In another stage, Yoshi builds a train using an iced coffee can and some cardboard wheels. A tea light candle burns gently beneath the can to produce just enough steam to propel the little craft.
A lake of magma comes complete with geysers of lava that look like they have been fashioned from liquid candy. A forest of wooden twig trees with paper leaves has cardboard bridges that swing up or down when Yoshi drops an acorn into one of the two string nets hanging beneath. A plane made from a painted cardboard tube, using what I assume are lollipop sticks for a propeller, flies through crushed paper clouds. It goes on and on. It’s not just that the design of each item is beautiful; the trick is that you can see how each one was “made” using household items.
All of this superb creative work means that I have been playing the game slowly, carefully, and in a constant state of joy. I find myself looking forward to each new world to see how Nintendo’s designers have recycled these “crafted materials” in new and imaginative ways. I’ll sometimes replay older stages before moving onto the next one, just in case I missed anything.
Yoshi’s Crafted World is a game that prizes tiny creative decisions, catering to an audience that will look for them.
Felt vs. foam
We usually look at characters and items in video games as completed things, and we judge how they look in those terms. But the developers of Yoshi’s Crafted World spent so much time modeling the materials that make up each item that it’s fun to figure out how each item was built, and then pick out the details. The game’s crisp, bright lighting design makes it easy to see all the work that went into the “crafting.”
Cardboard has relief and imperfections. Occasional scraps of paper and cardboard have printed text, which is especially noticeable when playing the flip side of a stage, that give the impression that this particular piece was cut from an old cereal box. Yellow gaffer tape has a plastic sheen, the printed names on the metal soda lids look old and faded, wooden twigs have grain, and aluminum cans are scratched and dull.
Is Yoshi made of fuzzy felt or foam?
Yoshi and the other characters in the game are “made” of felt. Or at least I think it’s felt. I initially thought the texture was a kind of foam. My Polygon colleagues were also split on whether it looked like foam or felt. Some even thought that Yoshi’s texture was neither, and looked more like velour, or velvet, or even, possibly, microsuede.
The fuzzy felt texture distinguishes Yoshi and the other principal characters from the crafted world they inhabit. Nintendo’s designers haven’t mixed their metaphors; cardboard, paper, brushed metal, cloth and wood are used for the set, while shiny hard plastic and precious metal is used for the items you collect. It’s akin to theatrical technique, and helps me to know what is what at a glance.
In fact, “theatrical” is a word that I would use to describe this game in its entirety. The different worlds each look like a puppet theater set built by children for their toys. Or maybe it’s a shoebox diorama. I get the feeling that action in Yoshi’s Crafted World is all taking place on a kitchen table or a child’s bedroom floor.
Focus on Yoshi
But it’s not just the consistent scale that makes these sets so convincing, they also have a fabulous sense of depth. Yoshi is confined to moving left, right, up or down in the majority of the stages, but the set occasionally opens up and allows me to move upstage (toward the background) or downstage (toward the screen), giving me the opportunity to pass through doors or behind scenery to find more coins or smiley flowers.
What makes this movement so impressive is the use of follow focus, a photographic term that describes the technique of continuously focusing the lens to keep the subject sharp as it moves toward or away from the camera. For example, the focus shifts with Yoshi as I move toward the back of a set, dropping the foreground out of focus and moving to the background where clouds and textures become sharp. The opposite occurs if Yoshi moves back toward the viewer.
The follow focus effect is particularly apparent when targeting an egg on a cloud, mole, or airplane full of Shy Guys. Once you move the crosshairs over a target, that target snaps into focus. If you move off that target, it becomes soft again. Yoshi’s Crafted World is certainly not the first or only game to use this technique, but its use is highly effective in making me feel as if everything in this space is a seemingly real three-dimensional object crafted from paper and cardboard, and not a flat two-dimensional virtual world.
I appreciate this game for what it is: a beautiful example of exemplary creative direction and technical execution that never gets in the way of the simple enjoyment of playing a great game. And likewise, and perhaps more uniquely, the game itself never gets in the way of me enjoying the world. It’s easy, sure, but perhaps a better descriptor is “comfortable.”
The Division 2 is a game filled with some incredible technology. Players can use automated turrets, bullet blocking drones and hyper-advanced weaponry. But currently, a lot of Division 2 players just want a simple flashlight.
Over on The Division 2 subreddit, you can find multiple posts and comments from players about how the game is lacking a flashlight. Sure, players have powerful guns, incredible tech and even full access to the White House, but many players would be happier if they could carry a small flashlight or activate a headlamp.
“Can someone shed some light? It’s completely terrifying in the underground, and I’m scared of the dark,” wrote one player on in a post simply called “Can I Get A Flashlight?” Other players in this post agreed that The Division 2, especially in sewers and buildings, can get really dark. For many, turning up the brightness doesn’t work or makes the game look too foggy or strange.
Making players more frustrated with this admittedly silly situation is that in the world of The Division 2 flashlights exist. According to some folks in the community, they have found in-game backpacks that have flashlights attached to them, though your agent can’t use the flashlight. Even if you equip the bag.
Another player shared a conversation they overheard at a friendly settlement between two AI guards. It was during the night and the player walked by a small group of friendly soldiers when he heard one mention putting away their flashlight. “I just looked at her. Feeling sad knowing that they have flashlights and I do not.” They then ended their post telling asking Massive, developers of the game, to add some flashlights, please.
Some players are figuring out how to better see in the world without a flashlight. Players are suggesting to others to use the chem launcher and equip the variant that lets you create fireballs. Other players are using the simple method of shooting and using the flash of the weapon to see around them in the dark.
One creative player, Reddit user Langy01, came up with a crafty way to illuminate their game without a flashlight. They simply hold and aim a grenade, which creates a bright circle reticule that can be used to add some extra light to a dark tunnel.
The lack of flashlights isn’t seen by the community as a major problem or something that is ruining the game. Like the floating square that blocked some stairs, this is a small issue that players are having fun with. You can even find some humorous posts where players run with the idea that the in-game SHD, the government agency agents are part of, is still trying to research flashlights. Others have joked that flashlights are banned and Division agents aren’t allowed to use or even collect them.
The Division 2 has mostly had a smooth launch, with not many game-breaking bugs. So players in the community have little to complain about and instead, small things, like missing flashlights, have become popular “issues” to talk about. This is in stark contrast to the recent launch of Anthem, which is still filled with problems involving loot and balancing.
So with a lack of serious complaints, players have taken to the internet to have fun. Which is a nice change from what usually happens.
But seriously, they want some flashlights. Or even just a flare gun.
If you’re already a Nintendo Switch Online customer you can still take advantage of the deal. Instead of your free months happening now, your free months will stack on top of the months you’ve already paid for. The deal is available through the end of September.
If you have a Nintendo Switch and Amazon Prime it’s pretty much a no-brainer.