YouTuber Uses Fan Made Tools To Showcase Unused Content In New Super Mario Bros. U

Popular Mario superfan and YouTuber, Ceave Gaming, recently made a video showcasing some of the unfinished and cut content hidden in New Super Mario Bros. U. Ceave used a fan-made level editor for the game to show the unused content.

Ceave used the fan-created level and game editor, named Miyamoto after Mario’s creator, to dig deep into the game’s files and get some of the cut content working again in the game.

Some of the more interesting pieces of cut content include tumbling ice blocks, which work perfectly when added back into the game. These ice blocks flip and flop in a certain pattern and according to Ceave, these cut blocks are basically complete and finished. Why they were cut is unknown.

Another type of cut block is also icy. Smaller ice blocks that slide across the level were cut, though similar looking blocks that don’t move are found in the game. Ceave believes that these blocks were cut because of the slippery ice surface which might have made it too tricky to jump on and makes movement on them feel sloppy.

A smaller item that was cut are these strange floating blocks. These blocks only work when placed on water. Why these were cut is anybody’s guess, but they do look odd and out place. They clip into nearby blocks in a way that looks too messy for a Mario game.

A surprising number of visual filters, backgrounds, and enemies were cut too. The snowy particle effects that were cut are really interesting because they look so nice and seem like a perfect fit for snowy levels.

The entire video is interesting and as always Ceave is entertaining to watch and listen to and it should be noted, Ceave is an extremely talented Mario player. Not long ago he was able to beat a Mario game without collecting a single coin. He has also beaten Mario games while doing other strange challenges, like getting the lowest score possible.


MLB The Show’s Road to the Show is so much better with these two community toolkits

If you’re starting — or like me, restarting — a career in MLB The Show 19’s popular Road to the Show career mode, two indispensible character creation tools are now available thanks to the game’s dedicated community. One of them makes the creation and customization process go a lot more smoothly.

That’s Operation Sports user Baseballking888’s list of animations. In MLB The Show, players can give their creations (whether RTTS or in the main game) any of 1,329 batting swings and 712 pitching deliveries. Many of these are listed under their owner’s name, either because they’re currently an MLB player or they’re an old-timer licensed to appear in the game.

But more than 2,000 are listed under nothing more descriptive than “All-Star Windup 36.” Thanks to Baseballking888, we know that’s kaopectate enthusiast Chan Ho Park. The reason these animations can’t be listed by their owners’ names is because they’re no longer in the league, so Sony San Diego Studio no longer has license to identify those players. Instead, Baseballking888 takes on that task for us every year, so now I know where to find Dan Haren’s delivery and Todd Helton’s swing.

San Diego Studio keeps retired players’ animations in the game because they’d be silly to throw out these assets, and they help diversify to behavior of the thousands of CPU ringers who make up the AA and AAA minor league populations. And on that note …

The next great toolkit deepens Road to the Show, and it’s also a huge bonus for those who go deep into the general manager’s role of Franchise. That’s RidinRosters’ fully-named roster of real minor leaguers, current for 2019. Again, because of licensing, no player without MLB service can be a member of the MLB Players Association, and therefore they are not covered by the group license to their likeness. (This is why big-time call ups always take a week or so after their debut to make it into the game.) So while MLB The Show 19’s career modes will see real-life players down in AA or AAA, most of them are randomized bots. The rosters can be found by searching for the username “RidinRosters” from MLB The Show 19’s Vaults menu; they stock the game’s 60 minor league teams with their real life lineups.

Unfortunately, not all of these players’ names are in the equally voluminous dialogue library recorded by play-by-play announcer Matt Vasgersian (and stadium P.A. Alex Miniak, of San Diego’s Petco Park, who this year replaced Mike Carlucci after 22 years). So the price paid here is a lot of “No. 14 comes to the plate.” But for those who don’t want to wait for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to be called up, create your player, have him choose to be drafted by Toronto, and join Vlad in AAA Buffalo.

What’s that you say? You can choose your team in Road to the Show again? Yes. After a disastrous, puritanical experiment last year that stripped out every means of selecting the team you play for, the option is back in MLB The Show 19, and it’s even more convenient than in the preceding titles. Now, after your player completes his two (instead of three) scouting combine games, a conversation option will allow you to pick the team you hope drafts your player. Lo and behold, they do. In the past, you’d have to hold out your star from the draft for four years before it would give you the option of sliding into your favorite nine’s GM. This is much better.

And finally, in my review I’d mentioned that the ShowTime time-slowing perk was gone from Road to the Show. My mistake — it’s one of the perks on the mode’s “Lightning Rod” personality branch, which I hadn’t noticed because that was the slowest developing fork of my player’s conversation history, and because I’d imported a character from MLB The Show 18.

MLB The Show 19 is available now on PlayStation 4.


Something Ain’t Right With The Latest Dinosaur Added Into Jurassic World Evolution

The newest DLC was recently released for the park building game Jurassic World Evolution. This new update included some new features, like a photo mode for consoles, but more importantly, it added some new dinosaurs. But one of these new dinos is a bit broken.

Proceratosaurus is a small carnivore which was added in the newly released DLC, Carnivore Pack, alongside two other meat eaters. Fans in the Jurassic World Evolution community were excited about the new dinosaurs but soon discovered that Proceratosaurus had some body issues. Specifically, its neck and tail seem prone to just completely collapse in horrifying ways.

Screenshot: Suninho94 (Reddit)

This wasn’t a random bug that only one or two players encountered. On the game’s subreddit and on YouTube, you can find numerous photos and videos of this small carnivore suffering from deflated neck and tail syndrome.

Screenshot: Grimpeace (Reddit)

Fans were generally happy with the latest batch of new creatures, especially because the new dinos even have some unique animations included. (This is noteworthy because many previous dinosaurs in the game shared multiple animations.)

However, players are disappointed and a little bit amused about this bug and are hoping Evolution developer Frontier Developments is able to solve their bendy and broken dinos soon. Frontier did confirm they are aware of the problem and are working on a fix.

This little carnivore isn’t just bending in weird ways, other players have discovered that if the dinosaur is tranquilized it will sometimes begin to spin around in the air and fold into odd shapes.

It seems the scientists over at Jurassic World needed to keep these little meat eaters in their tubes a bit longer.


Buzzwole Is An Alien That Communicates Exclusively In Body Building Poses

Every Pokemon is interesting and worth talking about. I don’t play a ton of Pokemon, but I do enjoy the universe and I love learning more about the creatures in it. So, Here’s Another Pokemon! It’s Buzzwole! This Pokemon was suggested by Kotaku reader Aeternus. Thanks!

Buzzwole Details

Type: Bug/Fighting

Average Height: 7‘10“

Average Weight: 735.5 lbs.

First Added In Generation VII

The first time I saw Buzzwole I didn’t understand what I was looking at. I remember thinking to myself “This doesn’t look like a Pokemon. It seems alien and weird.” Turns out, Buzzwole is basically an alien and my initial reaction was accurate.

Buzzwole, according to multiple Pokedex entries, is from another world. One entry even says “…it’s alien to this world…” So I guess that explains why it looks like this. Buzzwole feels like it fell out of a totally different TV show or franchise. That head really throws me for a loop, it looks like someone took a plate and stuck a pole to it and then put that on to the body of bodybuilder who was cosplaying as an alien.

Just like a bodybuilder, Buzzwole is often seeing striking poses that show off the creature’s massive muscles. It is believed that this is its primary form of communication. How other Buzzwoles see these poses, considering they don’t seem to have eyes, is not explained.

According to Bulbapedia, the proboscis isn’t just for show. Buzzwole actually uses it to suck the energy from enemies to make itself stronger. Which feels like a shitty thing to do. Some poor kid throws out their cute Bulbasuar and suddenly Buzzwole is just stabbing it with its proboscis and sucking out its life force, which also means it probably is sucking out some blood.

Favorite Fan Art

Illustration: Nakazahart (Tumblr)

Nakazahart made this cute picture of Buzzwole and their trainer having a drink and sharing a nice moment together. It also made me think about having a mosquito-like proboscis and how that seems like it could be useful when trying to drink stuff. Well, maybe not for coffee? That might be painful unless you cover your nose straw with some kind of insulated sheath.

Random Facts

  • Buzzwole is both the heaviest bug type and tallest fighting type Pokemon in the franchise.
  • Apparently, Buzzwole was seen completely destroying a dump truck with one punch.
  • Buzzwole was created by British artist and designer James Turner, who in 2010 became the first Westerner to officially create Pokemon for Gamefreak.

Best Comment From Last Week

So… Doing some math because that 185 mph is terrifying. According to bulbapedia the average mass of a Skarmory is 50.5 kg. 185 mph is 82.7 m/s. It’s momentum is 4176.35 kg/m/s.

…Holy shit.

Assuming this thing is durable enough it could probably go through a building without slowing down much. Even more ridiculous when you realize that all that force is concentrated on small surface areas, like the bladed wings or sharply angled front of the body.

Calling this critter a mobile guillotine would be an understatement.

Holy shit indeed. I wonder if a Skarmory has ever crashed into an airline jet mid-flight. I hope those folks survived that encounter.

Next week, another Pokemon gets their moment in the spotlight. If you have any suggestions for future Pokemon I should cover, let me know in the comments below. Also, share any fanart or stories you have about this week’s Pokemon.


More than 1,200 accounts banned for cheating in Fortnite World Cup

Epic Games gave bans to more than 1,200 Fortnite accounts and revoked cash prizes that more than 200 players had won following Epic’s investigations of cheating in the first week of Fortnite’s World Cup Online Open. The crackdown caught cheaters who had played in multiple regions, shared accounts and teamed up, and one account was even permanently banned for using cheat software.

That cheater (whom Epic did not name) used the cheat software during the tournament’s semifinals. The account involved had played “for less than five minutes” before being discovered and banned, Epic said. The great majority of the other accounts sanctioned received two-week bans for their misconduct.

Of them, 196 players forfeited their winnings after they were caught circumventing region locks to play in several regions. Epic said that will change the prize payouts for others in the tournament, but their improved finishes won’t be reflected on Fortnite’s in-game leaderboard.

Nine prize winners lost their money for sharing accounts, and one winner’s earnings were vacated for teaming. Epic Games said it has added a “real-time teaming detection algorithm” to its competitive play. Teaming, in which players in a solo mode work cooperatively and create a competitive disadvantage for others, can get players banned even in competitive non-tournament play. Custom matches aren’t monitored for teaming.

After the first week of solo-play qualifiers ended, two players — including one who qualified for the World Cup — were accused of cheating. Epic Games appeared to reference this in its note to the community yesterday.

“We appreciate the community’s concern around the integrity of the competition,” the studio said, “but questioning the results of an individual participant without direct evidence unfairly tears apart what should be a crowning moment of achievement for an individual or team who earned their way there and performed when it counted.

“Our primary goal is to support competition that is fun, inclusive, and in line with the overall spirit of Fortnite,” it added. “Unsportsmanlike conduct from participants is not within that spirit, and will not be tolerated in Fortnite competition.”

The Fortnite World Cup Online Open tournament qualifiers got started April 13 and will continue for the next nine weeks. The second week of qualifiers will focus on Duos play. Winners cash in on a $1 million prize pool, and the best performers are tabbed for the World Cup of Fortnite, to be held July 26-28 in New York. This post has more about the tournament format.


Capcom Is Killing It Right Now

So far, 2019 has been an especially good year for Capcom. Just in the first quarter, the publisher has released new Devil May Cry and Resident Evil games, and both titles have gone on to find tremendous commercial and critical success. These recent entries represent a fundamental return to the roots for their respective series, and in the broader sense, they also show a clear shift in the company’s vision.

With over four decades in the business, Capcom has produced some of the most influential games, and each of those games feels like a decidedly Capcom-made experience that’s difficult to replicate. However, as many fans are aware, Capcom’s track record isn’t flawless. But if anything, its recent successes help alleviate the notable missteps that have left long-time fans frustrated and disappointed–myself included. With this in mind, I felt it was worth talking about why it’s been especially great to see Capcom coming back into its own as a creative force in the industry.

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Over the years, the company has evolved and reinvented itself in a number of interesting ways. And in most cases, technology and external pressure were the driving factors for strong innovation and change. With the launch of hardware like the PlayStation 2 and GameCube during the early 2000s, Capcom pushed for a number of new entries in its most popular franchises like Resident Evil 4, along with the creation of new IPs such as the original Devil May Cry. This period was a particularly exciting time for fans, as it pushed Capcom to create new experiences that made the most of the new hardware at the time. Several of these titles would go on to become best-sellers and fan-favorites, placing Capcom in a position as one of the industry’s premier developers.

When looking at where they’re at now, it shows a clear pivot from the troubled period the company was in during the late 2000s and early 2010s–a time where a sudden shift in the gaming market in the wake of the PS3 and Xbox 360 put Capcom in a bind. Though there were standout hits like Street Fighter IV–which revitalized the fighting game scene and propelled it to esports stardom that carried over to Street Fighter V–this period in its history proved to be challenging after the departure of several key creatives, including Shinji Mikami and Hideki Kamiya, and the closure of internal developer Clover Studio.

Mega Man 11 (2018)

Around the early period of the 2010s, there was pressure to follow the evolving gaming market, and all signs seemed to be pointing towards the West. This shift was spearheaded by former Capcom designer and head of global development Keiji Inafune–one of the key creatives behind Mega Man–who lamented the state of the Japanese game development scene in a September 2010 article in the New York Times.

“I look around Tokyo Games Show [2010] and everyone’s making awful games; Japan is at least five years behind,” said the former head of global research and development. “Capcom is barely keeping up. I want to study how Westerners live and make games that appeal to them.”

This belief motivated the push for more western-style entries in key franchises, with the aim of attracting a broader audience. With Capcom investing time and resources into western developers, acquiring Blue Castle Games and forming Capcom Vancouver, it sought to refocus some of its key brands like Bionic Commando, Devil May Cry, and Dead Rising to create more global appeal. This also had an influence on internal developers at Capcom, emphasizing more of a western-style for their own games, which was especially noticeable in the Resident Evil series. The 6th main entry reached a crescendo of over-the-top action and kitchen-sink style game-design, along with the underwhelming Umbrella Corps, an esports-driven shooter that was poorly received by fans.

Capcom hitting such highs as of late by basically being Capcom has been a welcome sight to see.

Though some of these games saw critical and commercial success, including Ninja Theory’s 2013 stylish-action reboot DmC: Devil May Cry, it also led to other games that missed the mark–such as Bionic Commando and Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, the latter of which turned the familiar survival-horror experience into a squad-based shooter. What made some of these western-centric games a tough sell was that they often didn’t exhibit the same level of craft and style as Capcom’s internal titles. In essence, the push for westernization by Capcom coincided with a drop in quality and effectively diluted the franchises that brought the company success in the first place.

Following Inafune’s departure, and after lack of successes for many of its key titles, Capcom refocused efforts in-house in recent years and produced a number of games that reaffirmed its standing as one of the industry’s top developers. There have been four games in particular that have helped Capcom re-establish itself as a premier publisher, and in turn, rejuvenate their aging franchises for the modern era. One of the biggest assets that Capcom has employed for this current resurgence is a focus on prioritizing its own internal talent and technology, prompting the creation of the RE Engine–the successor to their proprietary in-house engine MT Framework.

In 2017, Resident Evil 7 was released, returning the series’ focus to classic survival-horror gameplay, which it had gradually phased out in the sequels following the series’ reinvention with Resident Evil 4. As an incredibly macabre, and atmospheric horror title, greatly emphasizing player disempowerment in comparison to its direct predecessors, this return to the series’ roots was the first game to use the RE Engine. It was also the first game in the survival horror series to feature VR functionality, allowing for a greater sense of immersion during the near relentless experience.

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However, as Capcom realigned focus, it continued to show some signs of growing pains in the face of the shifting gaming landscape. 2017’s Marvel Vs Capcom: Infinite, the latest game in the popular crossover fighting game series, was a misfire due to its scaled-back approach and other stylistic changes that rubbed fans the wrong way. The company also closed its sole western development studio, Capcom Vancouver. Though it became the core Dead Rising studio following the success of the sequel, the following games, unfortunately, didn’t leave much of an impact.

In 2018, Capcom released Monster Hunter World, the latest entry in the co-op focused monster-slaying series. It would eventually go on to become the company’s biggest hit in years, surpassing 11 million units as of March 2019. What makes this a particularly surprising turn of events is the fact that Monster Hunter games can often feel unapproachable for newcomers, often chucking players into the deep end fairly early on. With a particularly steep learning curve for its main systems and some long, drawn-out battles against even some of the lower-end beasts, past entries could make for a challenging game to invest yourself in. However, Monster Hunter World offered an exciting and surprisingly accessible point of entry for many players, allowing them to learn the expansive systems to take on the bigger challenges that await.

Most recently, Capcom launched both Resident Evil 2 and Devil May Cry 5, the latest entries in franchises that helped define the developer in the 2000s. Powered by the RE Engine, both games take advantage of modern technology to reintroduce players to the kind of gameplay that made each series stand out during its prime. Both games would go on to become best sellers, with Resident Evil 2 selling over four million copies, and Devil May Cry 5 passing two million sold in just 10 days. In some ways, the consecutive releases of the RE2 remake and DMC5 serve as something of a one-two punch focusing on the type of gameplay experience that made Capcom such a beloved developer for many fans.

Monster Hunter World (2018)

Capcom also has become one of the more proactive developers in quality issuing remasters and remakes of older titles. These re-releases often serve as a great opportunity for new players to experience some of Capcom’s finest games for new platforms. Currently, Capcom is still in the business of re-releasing past titles, with 2019 seeing the return of the original Onimusha, Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen for Switch, and the collection for the Phoenix Wright series.

In many ways, the developer’s recent successes match that of its strong and innovative run during the early 2000s, bolstered by the need to make changes that leaned into what it does best. In an interview with USGamer, Devil May Cry 5 director Hideaki Itsuno–who has had a hand in other franchises including Street Fighter, the Capcom VS series, and Dragon’s Dogma–attributed the recent successes with a strategic change the company applied some years back.

“About three or four years ago, there was a shift where it wasn’t so much about focusing on what the market wanted,” said the DMC5 director. “It was more of a shift of, ‘Let’s make what we want to make, and what we consider to be the highest quality and the best game.’ Three or four years later, which is now, is when you’re starting to finally see those games come out. It’s nice to see that success.”

This internal shift focusing on new games within its core franchises have all earned stellar approval. Games like Resident Evil 7, the RE2 remake, Devil May Cry 5, Monster Hunter World, and Mega Man 11–the latter of which is the first installment in more than a decade–have gone to become standout hits, inspiring more confidence for what’s next. Capcom hitting such highs as of late by basically being Capcom has been a welcome sight to see.

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Following the launch of Devil May Cry 5, Capcom USA CEO Kiichiro Urata stated on social media that “Capcom is back”, and with how things are going, that’s hard to dispute. In many ways, it appears that Capcom has rediscovered its identity after years o. In addition to the first major expansion for Monster Hunter World, and more re-releases in the wings for 2019, Capcom’s strong year is looking to continue at a steady pace. Here’s hoping we’ll be able to see that growth and momentum carry on for the years to come, and perhaps lead to the revival of other classic Capcom titles.


Mortal Kombat 11: Catch Up On The Entire Story Of The Series So Far

Though the games are mostly about beating up other players and taking them out with gory, brutal fatalities, the Mortal Kombat series is steeped in lore. Ten games in, its story is pretty convoluted–there are the various realms, the different gods, a bunch of character backstories, and plots filled with sorcerers, spells, zombies, and even time travel.

With Mortal Kombat 11 quickly approaching, we’ve dug back through the stories of the Mortal Kombat games to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know–and, honestly, probably some things you don’t. It’s all about Raiden trying to save Earth and prevent the end of all reality, and long-time baddie Shao Kahn basically mucking that up. But there are a huge number of evil players, and they’re all likely to be relevant once again in Mortal Kombat 11, which promises more time-bending weirdness.

Here’s the entire story of the Mortal Kombat series thanks in large part to the Mortal Kombat Fandom wiki and a few handy YouTube videos, from the first release in 1992, all the way through the following 27 years.

Before The Games

First and foremost, it’s important to understand how the world of Mortal Kombat is laid out. There are special, powerful Elder Gods, who preside over multiple distinct dimensions known as the realms, and a bunch of lesser gods who hang around those various realms, with their own agendas–usually to protect places and people from the scarier folks of other realms.

The major realms are Earthrealm (Earth as we know it, more or less), Outworld (a conquest-happy barbarian wasteland), Edenia (a beautiful magical paradise), and the Netherrealm (Hell). There are more but they vary in size and importance, but if they exist, Outworld wants to dominate them. In Mortal Kombat, that doesn’t just mean sending occupiers to another dimension to take over; when a realm is conquered by another, they literally merge together, mixing their landscapes.

The Elder Gods figured they should regulate all this realm-merging nonsense somehow. They created the Mortal Kombat tournament, in which, once a generation, champions from competing realms would face off. If one realm beats another realm 10 times in a row, the victor wins the right to take over the loser.

Outworld wasn’t just warring with other realms; it was creating an empire. For centuries, Outworld was ruled by Onaga, who was obsessed with taking over as many other realms as he could. Onaga was particularly scary because he could raise the dead, making his army effectively invincible. He and his followers were also noodling on a way to make him invincible.

Onaga eventually was betrayed by his lieutenant, Shao Kahn, with the backing of the Elder Gods. Shao Kahn took over the role of ruler and protector of Outworld, but like Onaga, his lust for power got the better of him. Shao Kahn took on his own campaign of conquest, with the help of Shang Tsung, his sorcerer minion. His primary target: Edenia.

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Meanwhile, On Earth

Separate of all the scary Outworld stuff were the events going down on Earth. One of the Elder Gods, Shinnok, decided he wanted to take over Earthrealm and make everyone worship him and be all-powerful. Shinnok was more than a regular god thanks to his special amulet, which was linked to his powers and allowed him to travel between the realms without the Elder Gods being able to stop him.

Luckily, Earth had Raiden, the god of thunder, who wasn’t an Elder God but powerful nonetheless. He battled Shinnok in an intense war that lasted millennia, caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and toppled civilizations, and even tore holes between realities. A race of dinosaur-descended folks (e.g. Reptile) came through those tears, and while most were wiped out with the extinction, some made it to the realm of Zaterra.

Raiden eventually defeated Shinnok, snagged his magic amulet, and imprisoned him into the Netherrealm for all eternity. For untold centuries, Shinnok was tortured and stuck in Hell, which was a pretty good result for Raiden.

Shao Kahn Comes For Earth

When Shao Kahn took Edenia, he next turned his attention to Earthrealm, which apparently is, like, the best one. In Edenia, he killed the realm’s king and took its queen, Sindel, for his own. At Sindel’s urging, Kahn spared the princess, Kitana; instead of killing her, he raised her to be a skilled assassin and member of his guard.

Sindel might have been conquered, but she wasn’t done fighting. She commited suicide in order to create a magic ward on Earth, which prevented Shao Kahn from stepping foot in the realm, which made it a lot harder for him to conquer.

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Shao Kahn sent Shang Tsung to kick off the Mortal Kombat tournament on Earth. Raiden had prepared for this, though, and created an order of Shaolin monks dedicated to seeking out the best fighters on Earth every generation to fight in the tournament. The Great Kung Lao won the tournament, and Earthrealm was safe.

Shang Tsung had a trick this time, though. He brought the four-armed Goro to serve as Outworld’s champion, and the monstrous fighter promptly kicked the Great Kung Lao’s ass and killed him. The plan worked beautifully, and despite Raiden and Earthrealm’s best efforts, Outworld won the next eight tournaments. One more, and they’d be able to invade and merge Earthrealm with Outworld.

Shinnok’s Not Done

But wait! Shinnok is still a thing. After being tortured in the Netherrealm for a quarter of forever, Shinnok met Quan Chi, a sorcerer wandering around the realm. The pair made a deal: Quan Chi would help Shinnok in exchange for being his right-hand man and gaining the power to rule with him. They teamed up and eventually took over the Netherrealm. But even being King of Hell kind of sucks, on account of it’s still Hell, so Shinnok and Quan Chi started working on getting out and back to Earth.

On Earth, Quan Chi hired the Lin Kuei to find a map that would eventually lead to where Raiden had hidden Shinnok’s amulet, which is what’s depicted in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. Quan Chi also hired the Lin Kuei’s rivals, the Shirai Ryu, for the same job to increase its chances of success. Sub-Zero, the ninja sent by the Lin Kuei, was successful in finding the map, and in the process killed Scorpion, from the Shirai Ryu. Quan Chi repaid the Lin Kuei by wiping out the Shirai Ryu, and when Sub-Zero tracked down the amulet, Quan Chi stole it and took it back to the Netherrealm. That was when Raiden decided to clue Sub-Zero in on what was happening, and the ninja went to the Netherrealm to undo the mess he’d created.

Sub-Zero defeated Quan Chi and got the amulet back before Shinnok could use it to escape the Netherrealm. He returned the amulet to Raiden, and then allowed Shang Tsung to hire him to fight in the next Mortal Kombat tournament–although he had secret orders from the Lin Kuei to assassinate the sorcerer.

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Finally, The Original Mortal Kombat Games

That brings us (oh my god, finally) to the original Mortal Kombat. Shang Tsung had orchestrated the tournament yet again, Outworld was one victory away from taking over Earth, and Goro was ready to wallop all challengers. But Shang Tsung didn’t bank on Raiden and his new flock of champs, including Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, and Liu Kang (or on Sub-Zero, sent to kill Shang Tsung, or Scorpion, resurrected by Quan Chi and driven by revenge against Sub-Zero). Liu Kang went on to defeat Goro and Shang Tsung to win the tournament. Meanwhile, Scorpion killed Sub-Zero, whose soul went to the Netherrealm and became Noob Saibot.

In Mortal Kombat II, Shang Tsung tried doubling down in repentance for his failure. He and Shao Kahn sent forces led by Baraka to attack the Shaolin monks, baiting Earth’s fighters to Outworld for another tournament to get around the usual rules of Mortal Kombat. The idea was that if Earth won the Outworld tournament, Outworld would stop bothering them altogether–but if Outworld won, it would count as the tenth victory and allow Outworld to take over Earthrealm. It was a dumb gamble, but the Earth fighters were all upset, so they decided to go for it.

Luckily, Liu Kang defeated Shang Tsung and Shao Kahn to win the tournament, again. He and Kung Lao headed off to restart the Shaolin monk order that would stand ready to defend Earthrealm. Meanwhile, Sub-Zero’s brother (now bearing the name Sub-Zero) showed up in the tournament with his bud Smoke in an attempt to find out what happened to the original Sub-Zero. They were also fleeing the Lin Kuei, who had started turning their clansmen into cyborg ninjas–namely, Sektor and Cyrax. Sub-Zero and Smoke were apparently in line for the conversion and bailed on the clan instead, an act equivalent to treason, which was why the two cyborgs began hunting them. Sub-Zero got away, but Smoke was captured and got the robot treatment.

Oh, and Kitana switched sides, realizing that Shao Kahn was a jerkbag and that her sister, Mileena, was not her sister at all, but some monster clone person created by Shang Tsung.

In Mortal Kombat III, Shang Tsung and Shao Kahn’s other shadow priests managed to resurrect Sindel and brainwashed her into being evil and loyal to Shao Kahn. That broke the ward over Earthrealm, and it also gave Shao Kahn the ability to cross into the realm to go after Sindel for some reason. Apparently, this is a significant loophole that allowed him to skip doing a bunch of stupid tournaments and just invade Earthrealm outright.

Raiden gathered a bunch of Earth heroes to fight Shao Kahn, again, and again, Liu Kang beat him, this time liberating Edenia in the process of saving Earthrealm. Kitana managed to save Sindel, Johnny Cage was killed by Motaro, Kung Lao almost killed Baraka but didn’t, then was supposedly killed by Shao Kahn. Anyway, Earth was saved.

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Another Invasion Though

On to Mortal Kombat 4. With Shao Kahn defeated, Quan Chi and Shinnok were ready to execute their plan and attack Earthrealm and the heavens, where the Elder Gods live. With the help of Noob Saibot and the Edenia traitor Tanya, Shinnok escaped to Edenia to wage his war, kidnapping Sindel and Kitana in the process. Mostly, Shinnok was very mad everyone let him rot in Hell for like a million years, and was out for vengeance on everyone, but specifically Raiden. His ultimate plan was to corrupt the Jinsei, the sort of life force of Earthrealm, to gain even more power.

As usual, though, nobody planned for Liu Kang, who beat Shinnok and sent him back into the Netherrealm. Meanwhile, Quan Chi revealed himself as the guy who orchestrated all the events of Mortal Kombat Mythologies and who killed Scorpion’s clan and family, just as he was attempting to banish Scorpion back to the Netherrealm. Enraged, Scorpion grabbed Quan Chi and dragged him back to Hell along with him, wrapping things up pretty nicely for everyone who was not Scorpion.

Crucially, though, we learned that when Quan Chi took Shinnok’s amulet from Sub-Zero way back in Mortal Kombat Mythologies, he switched it out for a fake. That meant the one Raiden took back to Earthrealm was, in fact, the copy. Quan Chi still had the real one.

Quan Chi And Shang Tsung Team Up

The deadly alliance of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance is one between Quan Chi and Shang Tsung. Quan Chi used Shinnok’s amulet to escape the Netherrealm, and at some point, he found out about Onaga’s unbeatable mummified army. He approached Shang Tsung about filling those soldiers with souls–which Shang Tsung routinely steals from people, it’s kind of his whole deal–so they could use them to take over all the realms. They started enacting their plan by taking out key opposition. They headed to Outworld and took down Shao Kahn, then went to Earthrealm and killed Liu Kang. (It turned out that Shao Kahn, in fact, faked his own death, hoping to see how things shook out as he worked to regain the Outworld throne.)

Despite his best efforts in rallying a bunch of heroes to his cause, this time, Raiden wasn’t able to turn back the bad guys. In Mortal Kombat: Deception, we found out that Raiden and a band of top fighters, including Kung Lao, Sub-Zero, Sonya, Jax, and Kitana, challenged Quan Chi and Shang Tsung at Shang Tsung’s palace, but were ultimately defeated, with all the mortals getting killed (except for Sub-Zero, who wound up elsewhere). Raiden tried to stop the deadly alliance on his own but couldn’t handle it. In the final moments, Quan Chi and Shang Tsung turned on each other for control of Shinnok’s amulet, with Quan Chi emerging victorious. But hold that thought for a second…

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The Deception In Mortal Kombat: Deception

The Konquest mode of Mortal Kombat: Deception sets up the events of that game, ranging back 41 years before the battle between Raiden, Shang Tsung, and Quan Chi. A warrior named Shujinko was visited by Damashi, who claimed to be an emissary of the Elder Gods. Damashi put Shujinko on a quest to collect special artifacts, the Kamidogu, from each of the realms and gather them together. Shujinko was deceived, however–decades later when he completed the task, he discovered Damashi was actually Onaga, with the Kamidogu allowing him to be reborn into the world once again.

Onaga’s plan: get Shinnok’s amulet; control everything. So Onaga showed up at Shang Tsung’s palace to get the amulet and his invincible army at the start of Mortal Kombat: Deception’s main story. Quan Chi briefly teamed with Shang Tsung and Raiden against their common foe, but they were beaten. Raiden tried to sacrifice himself using all his god powers to blow up the whole place, but Onaga emerged pretty much unhurt. Onaga claimed the amulet, and Raiden eventually reconstituted, but came back as a red-eyed, corrupted, villainous version of the god.

Onaga resurrected the other Earthrealm warriors to fight for him. Mileena disguised herself as Kitana (deception again!) to lead the Edenia forces against Onaga, and the Elder Gods saved Scorpion, who Shang Tsung and Quan Chi had seemingly destroyed in their “Soulnado” (yes, it’s a tornado of souls), to be their champion. The ghost of Liu Kang and the telekinetic ninja Ermac also managed to unbrainwash all the resurrected Earthrealm warriors, and they stood against Onaga, too.

In the end, it was Shujinko who stopped Onaga. He did a thing where he summoned all the power of the other warriors, and used it to destroy Onaga’s Kamidogu. That weakened Onaga, which allowed Nightwolf to do a magic thing to chuck him into the Netherrealm.

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Mortal Kombat Causes The End Of The Worlds

Now it’s Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. The rise of Onaga brought out all the bad guys everywhere and banded them together under one banner. All the warriors on the good side were converging to defeat them.

This is actually all part of a prophecy made centuries earlier by Delia, the wife of Edenia’s protector-god, Argus, according to the Mortal Kombat Fandom wiki. She foresaw a battle in which all the super-strong Mortal Kombat warriors fought each other until they destroyed all the realms with their power. To stop it, she and Argus enacted a plan: zap the warriors’ powers. They created Blaze, a fire elemental that would draw all the warriors to the right place, because whoever beat it would get insane power. Then they put their two sons, Daegon and Tavin into stasis, with the idea that when the armageddon battle came, they’d get woken up and go on a quest to defeat Blaze, get its power, and either kill all the warriors or magically remove their powers. Shinnok messed that up, waking up their son Daegon centuries too soon. He turned super evil, and spent the years preparing to kill his brother, Taven, so he could get Blaze’s power, which would turn one of the two brothers into a god.

Taven awoke and completed his quest, then managed to defeat Daegon. But Taven failed to stop the warriors and defeat Blaze, like he was supposed to in order to ward off armageddon. Instead, it was the worst possible person who wound up on top with Blaze’s power: Shao Kahn. All the other warriors were killed in the process and by Shao Kahn. The apocalypse had not been canceled, in fact, and now the realms would be dominated by an unstoppable Shao Kahn.

Except, that is, for one last thing. Raiden, defeated and dying, used some kind of magic amulet to send a message through time to his younger self to try to prevent the apocalypse. The young Raiden realized he had to prevent the future, but he only had one clue to work with. Those were old Raiden’s final words: “He must win!”

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Mortal Kombat: Groundhog Day

So now we’re back to the beginning (sort of), but it’s the 2011 Mortal Kombat (or Mortal Kombat 9), which used time travel to reboot the series timeline and covers a new version of the events of Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II, and Mortal Kombat III. Raiden knew something bad is coming, but didn’t have much information. Not knowing what the message meant, Raiden assumed it referred to Liu Kang defeating Shang Tsung in the first tournament.

The events of Mortal Kombat mostly played out the way they did in the first timeline, but with Raiden trying to make some changes for the better. He convinced Scorpion not to kill Sub-Zero, for instance, but Quan Chi showed up during their battle and manipulated Scorpion into murdering Sub-Zero anyway, creating Noob Saibot. Raiden stopped things from going too wrong, like when he talked Cyrax out of killing Johnny Cage, and eventually Liu Kang won the Mortal Kombat tournament like the first time. But Raiden’s magic amulet, the one he used to send the message back in time, cracked a little–telling him that Raiden hadn’t stopped the bad future from happening.

Next up are the events of Mortal Kombat II, which saw the heroes heading to Outland for Shao Kahn’s tournament. Raiden tried to change some things again, guessing that “He must win” meant Kung Lao in the second tournament, rather than the always-winning Liu Kang. But Shao Kahn wound up killing Kung Lao, and Liu Kang won anyway. When Raiden tried to save Smoke from getting turned into a cyborg ninja, the Lin Kuei captured and converted the younger Sub-Zero instead. More cracks in the amulet.

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Mortal Kombat III came next with Shao Kahn launching his invasion of Earthrealm. Again, Raiden tried to make some changes to alter the future, but continued to suck at it. He saved Johnny Cage’s life and Sub-Zero was reprogrammed by the Earthrealm fighters to give him back his free will. But Shao Kahn killed Shang Tsung and used his power to strengthen the brainwashed Sindel–and she, in turn, killed a bunch of humanity’s best fighters.

Desperate for the answer, Raiden went to the Netherrealm to ask for Quan Chi’s help–but got turned down. But his conversation with Quan Chi did finally help Raiden figure out what “He must win” meant, which has probably been obvious all along. “He” in this case is Shao Kahn. Liu Kang constantly defeated Shao Kahn in the original timeline but was never able to kill him, which allowed Shao Kahn to keep hanging around until he finally brought about armageddon. If Earthrealm lost and Outworld merged with it, the Elder Gods would be forced to step in.

And step in they did. Shao Kahn won his invasion but broke the rules of Mortal Kombat. The Elder Gods powered up Raiden and he fought Shao Kahn, defeating him and blowing him apart once and for all. Everyone was saved, except Liu Kang–Raiden accidentally killed him when he disagreed with the plan to let Shao Kahn win.

As it turned out, though, this was all part of Quan Chi and Shinnok’s plan, somehow. That might not, uh, make sense, but this was all about bringing Shinnok back to take over. Thanks to Raiden being terrible at time travel, most of the best fighters on the good side were now dead, and Shinnok would be able to take over a whole lot easier.

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Shinnok Comes Back

Finally, we’re coming to Mortal Kombat X. Shinnok and Quan Chi made their play, backed by undead versions of the warriors that had died in Mortal Kombat 9. It turned out, though, that Johnny Cage, who replaced Liu Kang as Earth’s best fighter, was a member of a long line of warriors created by the gods. His special powers kicked in to allow him to defeat Shinnok and imprison him in his amulet. Quan Chi tried to kill Johnny and resurrect him as a member of his undead forces, but Raiden used all his godly powers to fight the move–and the interaction of their powers not only saved Johnny, it restored the other undead folks in the room to their human forms.

Quan Chi got away, but Shinnok was defeated and everybody got to chill out. Sub-Zero and Scorpion remade their clans and finally buried their hatchet, while Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade had a daughter together, and Jax had a daughter of his own. Twenty-five years later, Kano managed to get hold of Shinnok’s amulet and sell it to Mileena, causing the next generation of fighters to go hunting for it.

The Earthrealm fighters had an uneasy alliance with Kotal Kahn, the new leader of Outworld, who sent is lieutenant D’Vorah to help them find Mileena. When they did, Kotal Kahn kept the amulet–but didn’t know that D’Vorah was actually working with Quan Chi to get it. The Earthrealmers worked together to find and capture Quan Chi, but Scorpion and his clan showed up to get his vengeance on the man who caused the deaths of his family. Scorpion killed Quan Chi, but not before D’Vorah delivered the amulet and he used it to release Shinnok.

Back once more, Shinnok was able to corrupt the Jinsei, the Earthrealm’s mystical life force, with his evil magic, just like he planned the first time. That gave him intense powers and turned him into a demon–but Johnny and Sonya’s daughter Cassie Cage fought Shinnok and defeated him, thanks to Johnny’s special warrior bloodline. Raiden sacrificed himself to purify the Jinsei and save the world. Unfortunately, Raiden came out corrupted again. Now he’s back to being sort of evil Raiden, with Shinnok’s amulet and Shinnok’s severed head–still living, thanks to him being a god.

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More Time Travel In Mortal Kombat 11

We don’t know too much about the story of Mortal Kombat 11, but comments from Ed Boon suggest that time travel is coming back in a big way. It seems we’ll be seeing another time rewind at the hands of Kronika, the Keeper of Time. The new villain was apparently pretty happy with the way history had turned out, and didn’t appreciate Raiden’s meddling with the plan and rewriting history, as is apparent from the game’s story trailer.

This won’t just be another return to the beginning of the story, though. Apparently, Kronika is causing the various timelines are going to “fold” together, with past events merging with present ones, and characters will run into themselves from the past and future. Perhaps most notably, that means Shao Kahn is back, and various forces of Earthrealm and Outworld are going to need to band together to defeat him and stop Kronika and her time-bending plans.


Photo gallery: Tokyo game landmarks at night

Liam Wong is an artist who describes himself as “in-between mediums,” having worked in film, games, and photography. And up until March of this year, that meant working for Ubisoft, helping shape the look of games like Far Cry 4.

But now he’s left the house of Assassin’s Creed and is branching out in various ways — one of them being a book of photography of Tokyo in the evening hours, called TO:KY:OO.

“I never thought about ever going to Japan when I was younger,” Wong says. “I guess ‘cause it felt like such a faraway place.

It’s apt then, that Wong’s upcoming book presents Tokyo as a blend of nostalgia and distance. Many shots only show subjects in silhouette, with the focus on the city itself. What remains is a series of snapshots of nocturnal Tokyo that is anything but sleepy. Many of the images have a color pop that feels part cyberpunk, and part surreal.

For the past five years, Wong’s interest and experimentation in photography has been growing. It started as a hobby, he says. A way to document his traveling while working at Ubisoft. “I never planned to become a photographer,” he says.

When Wong visited Tokyo for the first time, it was for a press tour promoting Far Cry 4, which released in 2014. He started by capturing shots on his iPhone, before eventually investing in a DSLR (a Canon 5D III) before his second trip there.

The pictures in TO:KY:OO span the course of three years worth of trips to Japan. Wong continued to take pictures on return trips, and started to share them online after friends encouraged him to show his work.

For his photography, he felt he had something to offer when his shift went from capturing shots that are enticing to look at to capturing moments in time. One that comes to his mind is a photo of a taxi driver waiting in the rain for a couple coming out of a love hotel from his second Tokyo trip in December 2015. He says that he just happened to be there at the right moment with the right lens.

This image is actually two shots combined to create a double exposure shot. “I watch a lot of film,” Wong says. “And I always love how […] sometimes you’ll have a main character that can see the reflection in a window and you can kind of get a glimpse of [the reflection] at the top. But it tends to [have] that kind of nostalgic feeling.”
Liam Wong

“Before, I wouldn’t really be capturing moments,” Wong says. “I study a lot of classic photographers now, where you can really feel there’s a moment there and not just ‘Here’s a picture that looks cool.’”

“A lot of my work just happens to be stuff that does look nice to look at,” he says. “But the moments are the ones that kind of stick out.”

Wong has many influences, from films like Blade Runner and Enter the Void, and anime like Ghost in the Shell and Akira. Video games were also influential. Wong mentions old school titles like Snatcher and how he and his older brother would play games on their Amiga. The brothers were then inspired to make artwork in Deluxe Paint, which is where Wong’s interest in digital art started.

Another inspiration for Wong has been filmmaker Ryuhei Kitamura. Kitamura made one of the first Japanese films Wong ever saw as a teenager, Versus, but also inspired Wong because he has worked in video games as well as film (Kitamura directed cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes). Kitamura discovered Wong through Instagram.

It was Kitamura who introduced Wong to Hideo Kojima — for the second time, it turns out. Kojima is the creator behind the aforementioned Snatcher which inspired Wong at a young age, but is better known for the Metal Gear series.

Wong met Kojima for the first time at an E3 booth promoting Far Cry 4. He says he ended up having to unexpectedly play co-op with Kojima there, fumbling over the controls in what he calls “full panic mode.”

That wouldn’t be his last chance to make an impression on Kojima, though, as Kitamura introduced the two a second time while in Tokyo.

“I think at some point [Kitamura] was like, ‘Oh I’m going to be in Japan. Are you there?’,” Wong says. “And he’s like, ‘Let’s go. Let’s go take pictures’ … and he said, ‘Can I ask Kojima if he wants to come?’”

Wong photographed both of the artists, and took several shots of Kojima alone, though Wong did not have much experience taking portraits. Kojima later wrote his praise for Wong’s photography, penning a foreword for TO:KY:OO:

“Liam’s ‘photos’ are not just photos. In his ‘photos’, you can feel what cannot be normally seen, layered structures of evolutions and decadence of the cities, the atmosphere of the people who had lived and died there. A single ‘photo’ holds a balanced harmony of beauty and the disordered.”

Since leaving Ubisoft, Wong has been working on multiple projects. In addition to the book, he’s also working on a new game with some friends, though he declines to say much about it at this point. And he plans to continue to work in-between mediums, seeing the benefits of them crossing over with one another.

“I think that [my background in games] comes through in little tricks I do in post that make it feel a bit more surreal,” Wong says. “I play with chromatic aberration, which is very much a triple-A video game thing. I put that a lot in my pictures, just so it gives it this weird look.”

For Wong, taking the leap from a full-time dream job to freelance was an intimidating prospect, he says, but one that he felt he needed to make.

“I think any creative person will always at some point have that courage to kind of want to make something on their own; make something they can put more of themselves into.”

Wong’s book TO:KY:OO is currently crowdfunding on Volume. You can see a series of Wong’s photos relating to the game industry below.

This shot was taken in an arcade named after Kowloon City in Hong Kong. “I was kind of going to these little different places that were video game-themed, and that kind of inspired me to go a bit more ‘out there’ in terms of color,” Wong says. “When I first started it was actually quite minimal in terms of, let’s say post-processing or just style. Then at some point I got a bit more inspired by older games, like Snatcher is a good example, but also things like vaporwave and synthwave can be seen there in terms of the color palettes and stuff. And so I began to kind of merge that into my work.”
Liam Wong
Filmmaker Ryuhei Kitamura (right) introduced Wong to Hideo Kojima (left) for the second time after discovering Wong on Instagram.
Liam Wong
Kojima invited Wong to his studio to take pictures. “I think I had plans that I instantly dropped and said, ‘Yeah, I’ll be there. Let me know the address,’” Wong says. “And it was the first year anniversary of Kojima Productions … and I got to go to the studio and all of the employees had cleared out.”
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Kojima got playful for some of the photos taken at Kojima Productions. “I have one picture where he’s like doing this La La Land pose,” Wong says. “I just like that because it’s not what you would typically see of a developer … seeing someone that’s just kind of like, ‘I don’t care. I’ll just do this, something funny.’”
Liam Wong

“This picture is actually in Osaka,” Wong says. “It’s this tiny little arcade in this tiny mall that you just walk past. But I just loved the Sailor Moon arcade machines and Mario Bros. and [the machines are] just on loop, just the audio playing.”
Liam Wong

A self-portrait of Wong
Liam Wong


Smash Bros. stage builder brings the inevitable: memes, dongs and moderation

Super Smash Bros. stage builder mode, which allows players to create and share custom stages, has gone about as expected in its first week on offer. Which is to say there’s a bell curve of content, the first third of it being patently offensive stuff, the last third of it being really creative and humorous, and the middle and most plentiful third being dicks.

Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but it does describe the moderation headache Nintendo (and by extension, Smash fans) signed up for when this toolkit launched. A blanket proscription on “political statements” already created problems yesterday, for example.

The creator says the stage was deleted and their account was suspended for nine hours. So far there aren’t any tools for reporting another user’s content, so it appears that this is up to Nintendo’s in-house moderators to spot and act upon. The trans-rights stage creator said a customer support rep told them they didn’t agree with the decision, and advised them to run that up the chain of command, and start a thread about it in the game’s support forums.

However, a similar user-created stage earlier in the day appeared to have no problems being uploaded and shared.

As the player observed further down the thread, the proliferation of “porn, 9/11 and Sans [the Undertale NPC],” in user-generated content make this “Miiverse all over again.” Others have had the same reaction:

Not everything is objectionable of course. Here’s Avengers Tower, getting ready for Avengers: Endgame next week.

And more than 15 years later, Trogdor endures to burninate the thatched-roof cottages.

And this player is working on a working calculator, a staple of UGC levels.

And nothing can stop the inexorable march of Steamed Hams.

But yeah, penises, it should be no surprise. By using the skyline here, the creator was able to disguise Waluigi’s schlong and defeat the advanced penis recognition heuristics Nintendo is said to have built into the stage creator, to keep phalluses (phalli?) from going online.

Yet for every Mario-Farting-You-Out-His-Butt stage, there are nice homages to games like Snipperclips and Excitebike. Again, we’ve gone through this before with Super Mario Maker and the Miiverse, so it will probably require some forbearance — both in seeing offensive, or just offensively clichéd crap, or for a moderation dragnet catching legitimate things, until everyone’s enthusiasm levels off.


Insomniac Developer Reveals A Spider-Man PS4 Easter Egg Nobody Noticed

Spider-Man on PS4 was filled with little secrets and easter eggs. From a failed marriage proposal to Seinfeld references and more, the game is packed with easter eggs. But one secret was so subtle it seems nobody actually noticed it until someone at Insomniac revealed it on Twitter.

Yesterday, Elan Ruskin, a programmer at Insomniac, revealed a hidden easter egg in Spider-Man that involved pedestrians. Specifically, the easter egg involved Orthodox Jewish pedestrians in the game. In real life on Saturdays when you play Spider-Man, these NPCs won’t spawn in the city. This is a reference to the Sabbath and how many Jewish individuals will not work or go out on Saturdays.

This is another small detail in a game that is already stuffed with small audio and visual details. So, because today is Saturday, you shouldn’t see any of these citizens shown in the picture above if you fire up Spider-Man.

It seems this secret has been in Spider-Man since the game launched and because it was so subtle, nobody really noticed. It makes me wonder what other easter eggs are hiding in Spider-Man on PS4 that players have yet to find.


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