Category Archives: Gaming News

Gaming News

We have some questions after seeing Wario shirtless

Wario goes topless in the upcoming Mario and Sonic at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. A screenshot shows Dr. Eggman and Wario standing on the winners podium, shirtless, wearing skin-tight jammers. Dr. Eggman looks like his same old, pear-shaped self, but we have some concerns about Wario.

It’s not that we want Wario to feel bad about himself, but we just have a couple questions. For one, how does a thick-mustached, bellissmo son-of-a-mamma like Wario have no stomach hair? Second, and perhaps more importantly, where are Wario’s nipples?

This isn’t the first time Mario and Sonic at the Tokyo Olympic Games has raised questions related to swimwear. Why, just this summer, Polygon asked why Sonic couldn’t ride his surfboard barefoot. Now, we have a nipple-less Wario. It seems that there is no happy middle.

It is 2019 and this isn’t Nintendo’s first time designing a shirtless Mario franchise character. Mario could go shirtless in Super Mario Odyssey. Again, like now, the shirtless character shook fans everywhere, except that time, it was because Mario had nipples. In response to the online hysteria, Polygon’s Julia Alexander posed a hypothetical question: wouldn’t it be weirder if he didn’t have nipples?

Today, we can finally answer definitively, yes. It is weirder, and people are not OK with it.

A closeup shows that Wario with two faint areolae, but no nipples protruding from them.

We will never understand why Wario doesn’t have nipples, but at least fans came up with a somewhat suitable explanation for the Dr. Eggman’s and Wario’s baby-chested bareness.

Look, Nintendo, it’s just … you’re begging for trouble when you put two shirtless characters next to each other and one has nipples while the other doesn’t.

If a clean-shaven man is your idea of a good time, Mario and Sonic at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 comes to Nintendo Switch in 2020.


Sony’s Uncharted movie loses another director

Sony’s decade-long struggle to make the Uncharted video game franchise into a feature film has hit another snag. Director Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane, Black Mirror) has exited the project, the fifth director to join and subsequently leave the film, according to a report from Deadline.

While Trachtenberg may have moved on, Deadline says actor Tom Holland is still attached to play a young Nathan Drake in the Uncharted prequel-style film. Sony is said to be meeting with directors to keep the project moving.

PlayStation Productions, the movie and television division of Sony set up to adapt video game properties for other media, is now reportedly part of the producing team. PlayStation Productions set up shop earlier this year and is led by Asad Qizilbash, an 11-year veteran of Sony’s PlayStation marketing group, and overseen by Shawn Layden, chairman of SIE Worldwide Studios.

Sony’s Columbia Pictures announced its intention to make an Uncharted movie in the summer of 2009. Back then, director David O. Russell was attached to make the movie with Mark Wahlberg, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci as a justice-dealing family of antiquities experts.

“This idea really turns me on that there’s a family that’s a force to be reckoned with in the world of international art and antiquities … [a family] that deals with heads of state and heads of museums and metes out justice,” Russell told the LA Times in 2010.

Since then, Russell has been succeeded by directors Neil Burger, Seth Gordon, Shawn Levy, and Dan Trachtenberg, and the film has burned through a variety of screenwriters and screenplays. Despite those production bumps, Sony announced a release date for Uncharted earlier this year: The film is supposed to hit theaters on Dec. 18, 2020.


Mod turns Red Dead Redemption 2 into a soothing bird simulator

Red Dead Redemption 2 is actually a darn good bird simulator. Through the magic of mods, YouTuber jedijosh920 transplanted Arthur’s consciousness inside a parrot, an eagle, a turkey buzzard, and other avians for a tour of the map like you haven’t seen before.

The mod makes for a strangely peaceful 24-minute video, even when they swoop into Armadillo for the first time and interrupt the Del Lobos gang’s shootout with Sheriff Palmer. In addition to being shot, the birbs can die if they slam into the ground at too fast a speed.

Late in the video, around the 20-minute mark, Jedijosh even makes it to Mexico (Nuevo Paraiso) which is currently accessible only by a glitch. They speculate that the territory is either part of some kind of DLC extension later, or a new expansion for Red Dead Online. Nuevo Paraiso and Guarma make for the most intriguing flyovers in this soothing diversion.

The detail and attention paid to Red Dead Redemption 2 has been described and marveled at before, and this video is just one more exhibit. It shows how, even as atmospheric extras, that the player may not see close up, if at all, birds were still rendered with enough detail that they could function as a player character/tour guide.


Eliza, an AI visual novel, has the most unexpected endings of the year

Whenever I play a game, my excitement tends to be front-loaded into the first few hours. By the time I’m at the end, I’ve already sated myself on early gameplay, and the ending is a neat little cap on the rest of the experience.

But Eliza, the new visual novel from developer Zachtronics, challenged me on that by delivering with five endings. It was only when I selected what I assumed would be the “bad end” that the entire game flipped for me, and I was left in awe at the audacity — and execution — of Eliza’s narrative.

[Ed. note: This article spoils several of the endings for Eliza.]

Eliza was frustrating to me. This is thematically appropriate, as in the narrative, the AI program Eliza is a source of frustration for many of the characters. Eliza is a digital therapy provider built to listen to people’s problems; it’s been adapted to provide accessible mental health resources to people in need. I play Evelyn, one of the engineers on the original Eliza project.

There’s a twist to Eliza, and it’s that patients talk to a proxy. Evelyn is now serving as one of these proxies as she gets her life together. Get her life together from what, exactly? Evelyn is frustratingly vague about this throughout the entire game. It’s heavily implied it was a reaction to the death of a colleague, but Evelyn freely talks about him with her new friends and colleagues.

Evelyn comes across as rudderless and uncertain. She doesn’t spend enough time with any one person for them to really impact her, although there are flashes of insight here and there.

So, my first playthrough culminated with me choosing to ignore Eliza’s suggestions, and disconnect from Eliza. I turned my back on big tech and chose to call Nora, a former coworker and current electronic DJ. It’s implied our relationship is romantic, and Evelyn is happy in her new life as an artist. She won.

Eliza - Evelyn, a woman in a hoodie and jacket with short black hair, talks with Nora, a blonde woman in a t-shirt and jacket. The on-screen text says: “NORA: We should be building amazing things for ourselves. Not for anyone else.”
Evelyn and Nora share a happy end.

This was a perfectly fine ending. A story about a woman returning to big tech after a crisis of confidence, realizing she doesn’t fit in, and finding her true passion in making music with a girlfriend is a good story. But I still felt irritated; a good ending wasn’t enough to make up for the six hours I spent playing Eliza. I wanted resolution for other plot threads in Evelyn’s story, answers to other questions raised in the narrative.

So I reloaded an earlier save and chose what I assumed would be the “bad” ending. That’s when Eliza knocked my socks off.

There’s a guy in the game, Rainer, who is a die-hard capitalist who believes in using Eliza to collect as much personal data as possible and create a new world-changing AI. He’s annoyingly vague about the details, but he has seemingly unlimited resources, and he wants to hire Evelyn to bring his plans for Eliza to fruition.

Surely, this is the bad end, I thought. In Eliza, Rainer’s every word is laden with menace. No one else on the cast trusts him. So, I accepted his offer.

I expected this to go wrong, for Evelyn to embrace her dysfunction or burn out. Instead, she immediately excels in her new role. We see her leading meetings, setting goals, helping Rainer plot the course of the corporation. That’s a good ending in how it’s framed; Evelyn is doing something she’s good at, and she can be proud of her work.

Then, the tone shifts. Evelyn has a one-on-one conversation with Rainer where he congratulates her, and they talk shop. Evelyn admits she no longer feels; she sees herself as a vessel for advancing Eliza. Rainer approves and tells Evelyn he’s been the same throughout the entire game. Capitalism was just a means to an end in order to build this order of what is effectively machine priests, heralding a new era of transhumanism.

What? What?? Going from domestic and flirty music-making to the game’s two most grounded and AI-focused characters admitting they see themselves of heralds of a new kind of consciousness was a big jump. There’s such a determined tone to the way they speak about Eliza and her inevitable progress, enough to almost make it come off as grim … but they’re also totally devoted to the future ahead.

Eliza - Rainer, a handsome man in a suit, stands in a room with Evelyn, a woman in business attire. The on-screen text says: “RAINER: The only meaningful destiny in this world of ours is to serve the creation of a higher form of being.”
Rainer’s ending reveals his true end game.

It reminds me of a bit in Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty that always stuck with me. There’s a scientist aboard Raynor’s ship who serves as kind of a love interest. The ship comes upon a planet that is infested and will soon join the Zerg armies. The scientist begs for your help. She thinks she can come up with a cure, she just needs more time. You need to stop the Protoss from purging the entire planet.

You can agree with her and protect the infected Terrans, or you can go ahead and help the Protoss with the purging. If you agree with the scientist, she was totally right, and everyone is saved. She leaves the ship after thanking Raynor, gone forever. If you don’t take the risk, she becomes infected and Raynor has to kill her. It was the protagonist choice that determined reality, instead of having branching consequences.

Eliza does something similar, and it completely changed the way I looked at the game. There’s enough in this visual novel to support every ending. At the end of seeing a client with Eliza, a little Uber-style screen shows up displaying your performance and tip. I found it frustrating and video game-y. Why was it there? Then, in one of the endings, I completed an Eliza session with a character who was previously frustrated, hopeless, and ended the session by storming out. He thanked me sincerely, and shared that he was doing better.

Then, the score screen came up. Five stars, and a hundred dollar tip.

That’s just one example of how every ending takes something — a series of text conversations, sessions with an Eliza client, an interaction at dinner — and validates it. It’s bizarre, but it works so well. At the end of the day, playing Eliza feels like a dating simulator, but I’m not looking to select my partner — I’m choosing my philosophy.


Dragalia Lost event ends with a dragon living her dream as a J-pop idol

The summer event in Nintendo and CyGames’ mobile game Dragalia Lost has come to a close, and the companies dropped a performance video of the event’s main character, Siren, performing songs as an idol.

The two-part event told the story of Siren, a dragon whose voice was rumored to sink ships, and her desire to perform and sing to people. Throughout the stories, Siren conquers the stigmas against her and becomes an idol who can perform. To celebrate, an adorable video showed her singing, to the praise of the adventurers she met along her journey.

The three songs she sings, titled “Singing in the Rain,” “Polaris,” and “Across the World,” are original songs by producer Taku Inoue, who’s known for his work in the Tekken series, but also the Idolmaster franchise. The video released is reminiscent of the CG-style used in the Idolmaster games, which is no surprise, as CyGames also helps develop Idolmaster: Cinderella Girls Starlight Stage.

This isn’t Dragalia Lost’s first dip into music. Another character, Lucretia, had a song as well, though this is the first time a character had a pop song by a producer as prolific as Inoue. Japanese pop-star Daoko also has singles featured in the game as boss battle and menu music.


House of X, Powers of X, and X-Men comics reviews and spoilers

artwork of X-Men Cyclops, Jean Grey, Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine

Everything you need to know about the new comics from Jonathan Hickman


The world of the X-Men is changing forever with Jonathan Hickman’s twin miniseries’ House of X and Powers of X. House of X is kicking off Professor Xavier’s new plan for all mutantkind, and Powers of X writing a brand new “past, present and future of mutantkind.”

Nothing is set in stone for Marvel Comics’ most uncanny heroes, with a major new status quo and some enormous character reveals. For all latest news, reviews and spoilers from the House of X and Powers of X comics, follow our story stream below.


Joan Lee, daughter of Stan Lee, weighs in on Sony/Disney split

Joan C “JC” Lee, daughter of the late Stan Lee, says Marvel and Disney lack “genuine respect for Stan Lee and his legacy,” according to TMZ.

Lee’s comments arrive in reaction to the recently reported spat between Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures, over Marvel Studios’ right to use Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Sony’s right to produce Spider-Man films with Marvel Cinematic Universe characters.

“Marvel and Disney seeking total control of my father’s creations must be checked and balanced by others who, while still seeking to profit, have genuine respect for Stan Lee and his legacy,” she told TMZ.

“Whether it’s Sony or someone else’s, the continued evolution of Stan’s characters and his legacy deserves multiple points of view,” she continued.

Spider-Man is a co-creation of Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko.

Perhaps most shockingly, Lee also told TMZ that she did not receive condolences from Disney after her father’s death in 2018.

“When my father died, no one from Marvel or Disney reached out to me. From day one, they have commoditized my father’s work and never shown him or his legacy any respect or decency. […] In the end, no one could have treated my father worse than Marvel and Disney’s executives.”

Stan Lee made cameo appearances in 23 films in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, some during a period in which his affairs were managed by Keya Morgan, who now faces charges of elder abuse in the state of California for his treatment of Lee.

Following his death, many of the folks behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe spoke publicly about the debt they owe to Lee’s work, including Marvel Studios producer Kevin Feige and Disney CEO Bob Iger. The film studio has also made multiple visual and textual tributes to Lee following his death in MCU theatrical releases.


Sony, Disney, and the Spider-Man dispute

Despite having appeared in some of the most recent Marvel Cinematic Universe titles, Sony and Disney’s dispute over producer credits and character licenses is expected leave Spider-Man out of the upcoming Marvel Studios films. Despite Spider-Man: Far From Home and Avengers: Endgame being huge box-office champions for both parties, the future looks grim.

According to Deadline, the dispute is over money. A lot of money.

“Disney asked that future Spider-Man films be a 50/50 co-financing arrangement between the studios, and there were discussions that this might extend to other films in the Spider-Man universe. Sony turned that offer down flat […] Sony proposed keeping the arrangement going under the current terms where Marvel receives in the range of 5% of first dollar gross, sources said. Disney refused.”

For the latest information about the deal, the studio’s comments, Spider-Man’s future slate of films, and how all of this affects the Marvel Cinematic Universe, stay up to date with our story stream below.


NFL player with one hand can make a spectacular one-handed catch in Madden 20

Shaquem Griffin doesn’t have a left hand. He was born with a condition that prevented it from developing fully, and his parents later had it amputated. That hasn’t stopped him from playing in the NFL, where he is a second-year linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks. And it also doesn’t stop him from making one-handed catches. With his left arm. In Madden NFL 20.

As spied by Twitter user Black Adam Schefter (great handle, by the way), here is Griffin dropping back into pass coverage and spearing an Eli Manning lob with his left arm. Griffin’s player model is a fully accurate representation of his real-life arm, but it appears that — for physics purposes, anyway — no exceptions could be made for him in the video game.

I’m OK with this! Griffin’s story, after all, is that he performs at the highest level of linebackerdom regardless of his condition — enough so that I have him on my Ultimate Team and haven’t even noticed his left arm. Here’s what Griffin, a right outside linebacker who is third on Seattle’s depth chart, looks like in the roster menu.

screenshot of Seattle Seahawk Shaquem Griffin in the roster editing menu of Madden NFL 20
Shaquem Griffin in Madden NFL 20
Screenshot via EA Sports

But this does point out how bonkers, if not routine, one-handed catches have become in Madden since Odell Beckham Jr. graced the cover of Madden NFL 16 four years ago. You don’t even have to take control of a receiver or defender and hit triangle/Y (“aggressive catch”) to see them; AI players pull off one-handers with regularity, enough that the commentary team of Charles Davis and Brandon Gaudin will gently mock the trend.

It follows, though, that EA Sports didn’t or couldn’t develop special code for Griffin, beyond just adjusting his CTH rating. This isn’t like, for example, Pat Venditte in MLB The Show 16, where his switch pitching was an entirely new skill that the developers had to accommodate. EA Tiburon probably just masked an altered left arm over his model — because it’d be really disrespectful to give him two full arms — and then left his playing ability the same as that of any other 69-rated ROLB.

Madden NFL 20 is now available on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One.


Delightfully obtuse puzzle-platformer Fez is free at the Epic Games Store

The latest free game at the Epic Games Store is Fez, the beloved puzzle-platformer. It will be available for free at the storefront from Aug. 22 through Aug. 29.

In Fez, a magical hat (a fez, of course) allows the main character Gomez to manipulate his 2D environment, revealing it to be one side of a 3D universe. To save his world, Gomez must twist and turn his very reality. Like the 8-bit games it’s inspired by, Fez neither holds your hand through the mechanics nor punishes you with excessive or unfair deaths. Rather, it’s full of those aha moments that make puzzle games so satisfying.

Six years after its release, Fez is still one of the best spiritual successors to the NES era, since, as we wrote in our initial review, “It doesn’t just love the games it borrows from — it understands them.”

Fez is available to download for free at the Epic Games Store now, on both Mac and Windows PC. It will be replaced on Aug. 29 by Inside, developer Playdead’s follow-up to previous free game Limbo, and my own favorite game of 2018, Celeste.