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Destiny 2 Xur location and items, Sept. 13-16

If you played Destiny, you may be familiar with Xur, the weekly Exotic item merchant. In Destiny 2, he’s back, and he now appears all over the map. This week, you can find Xur on Titan, taking shelter in a small shack to the east of The Rig.

Destiny 2 Xur Titan Bungie

Xur’s inventory this week consists of the following:

  • Coldheart, trace rifle: 29 Legendary Shards
  • The Dragon’s Shadow, Hunter chest: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Hallowfire Heart, Titan chest: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Chromatic Fire, Warlock chest: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Isochronal Engram: 97 Legendary Shards
  • Invitation quest: 9 Legendary Shards

Xur’s inventory caps out at 731 if you’re 750. He also offers specific rolls on each armor piece each week, giving out different perks for the same pieces.


Xur is finally selling Coldheart this week. This was a pre-order exclusive gun when Destiny 2 first launched and became available to all when Curse of Osiris was released last December. Coldheart is a trace rifle, meaning it fires in a constant beam. Its first exotic perk, Cold Fusion, causes the Coldheart to fire in a beam made of Arc damage. Its secondary perk, Longest Winter, causes Coldheart to deal more and more damage the longer it remains on the same target.

The Dragon’s Shadow

In terms of Hunter exotics, Dragon’s Shadow is only decent. Its exotic perk, Wraithmetal Mail, will reload all of the Hunter’s weapons when they dodge, which also increases movement and handling speed for a brief time after. This bonus is mostly valuable in PvP. However, Hunters already have Foetracer and other excellent PvP exotics to take. If you’re a hardcore PvP player or find yourself caught 2v1s frequently, pick this up. If none of that applies to you, skip it.

This week’s roll:

Slot 1: Unflinching Auto Rifle Aim, Unflinching Energy Aim, Unflinching Machine Gun

Slot 2: Bow Reserves, Hand Cannon Reserves

Hallowfire Heart

This is a pretty situational exotic chest piece. The main perk is Sunfire Furnace, which improves the recharge rate of your abilities when Hammer of Sol is charged. This exotic forces you to play Sunbreaker, which is great, since it’s probably the Titan class you’re using thanks to Hammer Strike.

Hallowfire Heart will only benefit you when you are holding onto your Super and not using it — it definitely takes some getting used to. This is one of our favorite Titan exotics nonetheless, and can be really powerful if you learn how to use it.

This week’s roll:

Slot 1: Unflinching Fusion Rifle Aim, Enhanced Unflinching Bow Aim, Enhanced Unflinching Linear Fusion Aim

Slot 2: Auto Rifle Reserves, Scout Rifle Reserves

Chromatic Fire

Chromatic Fire is a new Warlock exotic added in Forsaken. Its exotic perk is Crystalline Transistor. Getting precision kills with your Kinetic weapon creates an elemental explosion — like the Dragonfly perk — based on your current subclass. This perk is useful if you’re fighting large groups of enemies at once, or need extra elemental help against enemies.

This week’s roll:

Slot 1: Unflinching Bow Aim, Unflinching Submachine Gun Aim, Unflinching Sniper Aim

Slot 2: Bow Reserves, Submachine Gun Reserves


If you haven’t completed the Invitation quest yet, Xur is still offering it for nine Legendary Shards.

Source: Polygon.com

All the sinister secrets of Powers of X #4

Marvel’s House of X/Powers of X event is complicated, full of references to the X-Men past and hints at the X-Men future. Jonathan Hickman, R. B Silva, and Pepe Larraz are delivering a beautifully rendered and textually dense reinvention of one of the biggest franchises in comics history.

That’s too much for just one comics editor to dig into, so we reached out to the folks at the Xavier Files, whose in-depth annotations of House of X and Powers of X impressed us, educated us, and entertained us. Now you can enjoy the Xavier Files’ Hox Pox Tox right here on Polygon — so crack open your copy of House of X #4, and read along! (You can find the first three annotations here).

HoxPox header Zachary Jenkins

Powers Of X #4 opens in X as Professor Xavier and Magneto enlist Mister Sinister as a sleeper agent to procure samples of all mutant DNA. Little do they know that Sinister has secrets and lies of his own to share. In X¹ we learn the origin of Krakoa, their missing half Arakko, and Apocalypse’s ancient sacrifice to save the world. And in the far future of X³, the Librarian and others unveil their plan to ascend.

Chris Eddleman: Rob, I’m pretty excited about this issue. I’m really interested to see if we’re going to see the fallout of last issue, as Powers tends to touch slightly on current events. Even if it doesn’t, however, we were promised something. Something Sinister. I can’t wait to see Mister Sinister, especially considering how much he’s been alluded to in previous issues, and also especially because Jonathan Hickman writes an amazing Sinister. It’s also been quite some time since we’ve seen our blue friend the Librarian, so it would be great to check in with them as well.

Robert Secundus: Mister Sinister is probably my favorite villain in X-Men, and I have loved the previous few times previously that Hickman has written him. From the first issue I’ve been hoping for him to show up, and now that he’s finally here — well, let’s just jump in and see what delights the fashionable, charming, delectable Sinister has in store for us!

Page 2:

A quote attributed to Professor X: “I fear our needs will far outlast our desires. We have many hard choices ahead of us,” in Powers of X #4, Marvel Comics (2019). Joanthan Hickman, Tom Muller/Marvel Comics

CE: Another Professor X epigraph. He seems to be getting quite a few in this story. The Professor here is alluding to difficult times in mutantkind, and to me seems to be emphasizing the surviving versus thriving nature of mutantkind’s history in the world. Mutants will always have pressing needs in a world that hates and fears them, and as he says — hard choices are ahead. Maybe even in this issue!

RS: The phrasing here is a bit weird. It sounds to me like it’s playing with stock sentiment — beware ambition outweighing ability — but I’m not sure what it’s actually saying. Surviving precedes thriving, but here they coincide before surviving might succeed thriving. It’s odd.

Page 3:

CE: We get our title, which as we know from our cracker-jack Krakoan translation skills, is “Something Sinister.” The code also references Sinister With the Cape, which alludes to something later in this issue. It’s also amazing.

RS: It would be really odd given the series so far — but entirely appropriate for this particular issue — for the code to just reflect a silly goof.

Page 4:

Professor X and Magneto approach Bar Sinister and are halted by a guard, in Powers of X #4, Marvel Comics (2019). Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva/Marvel Comics

CE: We’re back at X⁰, which does not literally mean taking place in the first year of X-Men. Otherwise I might tear my hair out, because this Xavier suddenly has his X-Men Vol. 2 era hoverchair, while in his previous Powers of X appearance, he was in the classic variety.

Bar Sinister first appeared in Hickman’s Secret Wars (2015) as the domain of Mister Sinister on the patchwork dimension known as Battleworld. This is the first appearance of Bar Sinister in the main Marvel Universe, and it looks like the ruby version of the Emerald City.

RS: Let’s talk about recurring motifs, because that first panel recalls quite a bit of what we’ve seen so far. First of all, this is the third [Ed. note: dope-ass] island we’ve encountered, after Krakoa and Island M, and it’s framed very similarly to our introduction to the latter. Second of all, this is our latest in a long line of towers — from the Tarot card (which warns of doom), to the House of M on Krakoa, to the citadels of Nimrod the Lesser and Nimrod the Greater. All of these are visually extremely similar in design. Finally, we encountered a land of red crystal in HoX #1, in the Jerusalem Habitat.

RS: A minor note: I love how all Sinisters are sassy, but they are divided as to whether sassily praise or condemn capes as a fashion choice.

Page 5:

CE: This Sinister calling Xavier a square and getting wrecked by Magneto is pretty great. I like this duo dynamic between Charles and Erik.

RS: We so rarely get to see them when they’re purely aligned. Above all else this recalls to me their relationship in X-Men: First Class [Ed. note: the movie, not the excellent comic].

Page 6:

CE: So big reminder, Sinister has a ton of bodies all with some amount of autonomy. This was first established in Kieron Gillen and Co.’s Uncanny X-Men run, and provides for a lot of opportunity in this issue for R.B. Silva to design an absolute mountain of Mister Sinisters. It’s pretty great. Also, Sinister’s love for the cape harkens back to our code in the title page. Sinister here is very into fashion — but that’s pretty much always true. He’s theoretically from Victorian England, but our boy will always be an ’80s glam rocker.

A capeless Mister Sinister orders the execution of a majordomo-type Mister Sinister, for failing to inform him that he should wear a cape, in Powers of X #4, Marvel Comics (2019). Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva/Marvel Comics

RS: Sinister isn’t just a man. He’s a system.

CE: And you can’t trust the system, Rob.

Page 7:

RS: I really love the last few panels of the previous page, and their conclusion here. It’s grotesque humor/horror; Sinister operates on gloriously, bafflingly Looney Tunes impulses. Throughout this issue he’s hilarious. But we’re only really able to laugh because slapstick violence is contained to this specific isle and these interchangeable copies. When Sinister reappears, it promises to be tense, because these scenes have already established for us how capricious and how brutal he can be.

CE: “Oh we have our ways.”

Those ways of course, being Moira MacTaggert.

Page 8:

CE: To me, library as a term in HoxPox immediately brings me back to X³, which is where our blue pal the Librarian lives. It makes me wonder if this Sinister library is connected in any way. However, Sinister building libraries of genetic material is really classic Sinister, and has happened in tons of stories. It’s interesting to see his disdain for the mutant gene here, considering how obsessed Sinister becomes with the Summers-Grey bloodline for the purpose of making Cable. [Ed. note: Historically, Sinister has not possessed an X-Gene. Even here, the X-Gene isn’t really his.]

RS: Building on your first point: the Mutant Library of X² was its strongest connection to X³, and we know that Sinister had access to a genetic databank before he betrayed Mutantkind. I think it extremely likely (though not yet confirmed) that the far-future Librarian and his library are both the result of what we see here. On your second: Most recently, in The Hunt for Wolverine: The Adamantium Agenda, Sinister was revealed to have catalogued the DNA sequences of all homo sapiens on Earth. The absence of mutant genomes in the digital data was explicitly noted as odd.

Page 9:

A caped Mister Sinister reassures Magneto and Professor X that he is the main Sinister, the one with a mutant gene, in Powers of X #4, Marvel Comics (2019). Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva/Marvel Comics

CE: Ah! There’s our favorite incarnation of Sinister — with the cape! This is apparently the mutant version of Sinister, aka something we never knew before. Given the nature of Mister Sinister, it’s unclear if this is the version that has been seen throughout most of Marvel history but, I would assume so. Also, Xavier’s plan here is very sneaky but allows for a pretty easy retcon.

RS: He’s certainly coded as the version we’ve primarily seen, as the ribbon-cape and diamond-halo match his standard 616 costume. Now, we’re assuming that X⁰ as we see it is unfolding in Moira X’s lifetime, right? With respect to Xavier’s plan, it is interesting that, given Moira IX’s knowledge of Sinister’s treachery, they’re proceeding with his assistance anyway.

CE: I’m guessing they’re really banking on the brainwashing plan.

RS: Oh, and the comedic pacing of these pages is delightful, as is the third panel here, which almost seems to break the fourth wall.

Page 10-12:

CE: Okay, this is going to be time for wild, and I must repeat — WILD speculation, much like Sinister is likely doing in his gossip column. Before we address these secrets, it’s important to note the code says “Lies” so it might all be completely wrong!

Sinister Secret 1

CE: This one is completely baffling. Red shoes could be a reference to Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz but honestly, this one is escaping me.

RS: “The Red Shoes” is the name of a fairy tale that I think Sinister would adore; it concerns a woman who refuses to take off her excellent heels and so is cursed by an angel to endlessly cut a rug. What relevance that could have to this issue, other than its relevance to Sinister’s own flare, I do not know.

Sinister Secret 2

Jumbo Carnation exits a club in New X-Men #134, Marvel Comics (2003). Gran Morrison, Keron Grant/Marvel Comics

CE: This is a reference to Jumbo Carnation, the mutant fashion designer who appeared New X-Men #134, tragically dying from a Kick overdose while being attacked by humans. His “return” could be in the form of mutant fashion taking off but, given how many dead mutants are popping back up, could be literal.

RS: Keep in mind too that “mutant fashion” has been discussed a decent bit by Hickman in interviews.

Sinister Secret 3

CE: This is referencing Madelyne Pryor, the clone of Jean Grey who did make a deal with the demon N’asthirh back in the 80s. As for what she left behind, I suppose we’ll find out. However, she did leave behind her son Cable, who is, in fact, much more than a secret. Or even a pile of them.

RS: There are a couple of versions of her currently running around the 616. We last saw the original, resurrected Pryor swearing to create a Sisterhood of Evil Mutants in X-Men Vol. 4 #12. More recently, a Madelyne Pryor from Battleword briefly mentored the time-displaced Hank McCoy in the art of black magic, in X-Men: Blue. [Ed. note: This was Inferno era Goblin Queen Maddie.]

Sinister Secret 4

CE: This seems to imply something washing up on either Bar Sinister or Krakoa. It’s awfully vague. [Ed. note: I think it’s our X² friends ending up in the main timeline but I have little to no evidence to support that.]

Sinister Secrets Revealed

CE: It’s revealed here that Mutant Sinister got his mutant gene from deceased X-Man John Proudstar, also known as Thunderbird. He first appeared in Giant-Size X-Men #1, and died two issues later (Uncanny X-Men #95). He honestly never got very much to do, and it’s curious when or why Sinister snagged his DNA. His mutant powers were kind of vague, with enhanced strength, senses, and stamina.

Sinister Secret 5

CE: This has got to be the love quadrangle that is Wolverine-Jean-Cyclops-Emma Frost. The hint there is “best there is at what he does.” “Married with a kid” is funny though, considering the only kids Jean has are Cable and Rachel Grey, who are both not really your traditional child situation.

Sinister Secret 6

CE: Progerian is a word used to describe people with a condition of premature aging. That would strongly point to Ernst, a mutant child who resembles an elderly lady. In Spider-Man and the X-Men, Ernst briefly betrayed the X-Men to Sinister to get her friend Martha a new body. [Ed. note: Relevant to note here that Martha is a telepathic brain in a jar.]

Ernst tearfully explains her reasoning for betraying the X-Men’s DNA to Mister Sinister — she just wanted to help her friend — in Spider-Man and the X-Men #6, Marvel Comics (2015). Elliott Kalan, Marco Failla/Marvel Comics

RS: If you’ve seen that panel where a pterodactyl tells Spider-Man, “I don’t want to cure cancer. I want to turn people into dinosaurs,” this is that series! It’s only one trade, and worth a read. Just to add a bit to the arc you mention, Chris, Ernst stole and gave Sinister DNA samples of residents of the X-Mansion, which would have massively added to his library.

Sinister Secret 7

CE: The two brothers here are Scott and Alex, the two original summers brothers. Their third brother is Vulcan, who was introduced in X-Men: Deadly Genesis. [Ed. note: The first story to do a major retcon of Krakoa.] However, Mister Sinister himself suggested there was a third Summers Brother in the 90s, and boy was there a lot of speculation. Guesses ranged from Gambit, Mister Sinister, Apocalypse, and the greatest of them all — Adam-X the X-Treme. It’s looking like maybe more brothers are on the way, or Sinister is toying with us again. [Ed. note: For what it’s worth, writer Fabian Nicieza intended Adam-X the X-Treme to be the third Summers brother when he introduced the mystery. While that didn’t fully pan out, several elements from Adam-X the X-Treme’s story were used for Vulcan.]

Mister Sinister lets slip that there may be a third Summers brother, in X-Men #23, Marvel Comics (1993). Fabian Nicieza, Andy Kubert/Marvel Comics

Sinister Secret 8

CE: This is another reference to Apocalypse and his First Horsemen, seen in these miniseries and Marvel Comics #1000. This seems to imply that these Horsemen are somewhat of a first love for ol’ En Sabah Nur, and that anyone else would get dumped.

Sinister Secret 9

CE: This could mean a bunch of people. Cypher and Warlock have a tight friendship that isn’t a couple. Fireworks definitely seems like a Jubilee thing, and she was rather tight with Synch back in the ’90s. Anyway, this one is a bit vague.

RS: Frankly, this one could go in a ton of directions.

Sinister Secrets Revealed

CE: Inferno is the storyline in the ’80s which involved the X-Men mixing it up with demons from Limbo, along with the Goblyn Queen herself, Madelyne Pryor. Squaring the circle refers to doing the impossible, which makes me think of this whole plan that Moira/Charles/Magneto have been putting together. [Ed. note: Specifically, the demons in Inferno were mixed with the Techno-Organic Virus, similar to the Phalanx.]

RS: Inferno built on YEARS of continuity, and its ramifications were felt for years following. It involved far more than we can cover here. Most importantly for our purposes, it culminated with the revelation of Sinister as the unseen hand which had been manipulating Pryor, the Summers family and, by extension, the X-Men. Also Daredevil fought an evil vacuum cleaner and it was rad.

A horrible insect-like monster vacuum cleaner perches atop a seemingly unconscious and prone Daredevil, in Daredevil #262, Marvel Comics (1989). Ann Nocenti, John Romita Jr./Marvel Comics

Sinister Secret 10

CE: This secret seems to imply that the mindwiped mutant version of Sinister was swapped with another version at some point, which means that the plan is likely completely upended. I’m sure this one will come to a conclusion sooner rather than later.

RS: Before we move on, look at the diamond — it’s not quite entirely filled in. It looks to me like a loading bar in a video game, and it’s almost, but not quite done.

Page 13:

CE: “Months ago” definitely seems like an interestingly vague way of talking about this length of time. It’s been six months of time skip for Krakoa to be established as a nation, according to House of X #1 but, this seems to be way before that. It’s great to see Doug here. That poor guy never seems to get to do anything interesting, given that his power is pretty non-combat oriented.

Interestingly, “the Krakoa situation” was referenced in this week’s Invaders #9. If there was any question that Moira’s tenth life wasn’t the Marvel Universe we all know and love, this should put it to rest.

A Roxxon executive discusses Atlantian technology, and mentions the existence of the state of Krakoa, in Invaders #9, Marvel Comics (2019). Chip Zdarsky, Carlos Magno/Marvel Comics

RS: I was a little disappointed to see Doug’s most recent plotline dropped; at the conclusion of the previous volume of Daredevil, he had joined Daredevil’s task force to take down Mayor Kingpin. That kind of story of political and legal intrigue would have given him far more space to shine than most stories about punching evil purple robots. That said, it looks like HoXPoX might actually catapult Doug into being one of the most important X-Men, which to me makes the sacrifice worth it.

Two details are interesting here: Doug already has his transmode arm and Xavier has not yet begun to wear Cerebro. This means that there’s still a LOT we don’t know about recent events both immediately before and immediately after this scene.

Page 14:

CE: Really don’t love Xavier wearing a pith helmet for many reasons. To be more X-Men-specific, his evil pseudosister Cassandra Nova wore one back in the first issue of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, prior to committing genocide. Also, Doug is very much in the right here. Krakoa has killed its fair share of mutants, and Xavier is definitely to blame for a lot of that, as we saw in X-Men: Deadly Genesis. But this is the nice Krakoa, apparently. Reminder that the original Krakoa was launched into space, and one of its clone children was the Jean Grey School’s lawn in Wolverine and the X-Men. I think we’re supposed to think of this island as the original though, which is kind of odd to me.

Cassandra Nova, dressed in very 19th century British colonial garb, complete with pith helmet, with Bolivar Trask, in New X-Men #114, Marvel Comics (2001). Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely/Marvel Comics

RS: I guess it didn’t have a stable orbit? And somehow fell back to Earth both without breaking up and without causing an extinction level event upon impact.

CE: I mean, it is comics.

Page 15:

Professor Xavier and Doug Ramsey walk through Krakoa’s jungle. Doug’s tenchorganic hand brushes against nearby plants, in Powers of X #4, Marvel Comics (2019). Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva/Marvel Comics

CE: Cool shots of Doug’s Warlock arm (which still hasn’t been explained really), and also on this very Ent (or Great Deku Tree) looking incarnation of Krakoa. Also, it appears that when Doug’s Warlock arm touches plants, they become techno-organic looking. Very cool detail.

RS: Another interesting parallel, Cassandra Nova took Donald Trask to talk to a big robot in the jungle while Professor X takes Doug to talk to the Great Deku Tree.

Left: Doug Ramsey and Professor X talk to Krakoa in Powers of X #4 (2019). Right: Cassandra Nova and Bolivar Trask observe a huge Master Mold factory, which looks like a seated Sentinel, in New X-Men #114 (2001). Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva, Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely/Marvel Comics

Left: PoX #4 Right: New X-Men #114 (2001) Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely

Page 16:

CE: Doug talking about fricatives, which are consonant sounds in languages created by squeezing air through spaces in your mouth. An example in English is the “th” sound. I enjoy Doug’s talk about truly communicating. Comics tend to like to make telepathy seem deeper than language at times, so it was cool to see the language guy get to trump psychic powers for once.

RS: I think both that that tendency and the tendency to downplay Doug’s powers come from the nature of comics, a predominantly visual medium. Comics can connect directly with a reader by just showing the image they hope to convey rather than describing it. And I think one thing HoXPoX has done more effectively than any of Hickman’s previous Marvel work is demonstrate just how powerful words can be within that visual medium. In the infographics generally, but particularly in the final sequence of HoX #4, we’ve seen just how a careful use of text can be immensely powerful, particularly if that text is treated as an image.

Page 17:

The twilight sword, raised by an unknown hand, punches through rock and earth, black lightning arcing from its blade, in Powers of X #4, Marvel Comics (2019). Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva/Marvel Comics

CE: We see the true Krakoa origin story, which would be a small retcon of his original origin as “mutation caused by radioactivity” that was presented long ago. There seem to be quite a few demons on this page, which reminds us of Inferno. The Twilight Sword here definitely makes me think of the sword created by Surtur, one of the Fire Giants from Thor comics but, I don’t think we can be sure. [Ed. note: For those of you about to say “ummm, actually Surtur didn’t forge Twilight until he destroyed the Burning Galaxy in Thor #337”, I posit this question: “What if Surtur calls all his swords Twilight?”]

RS: Krakoa’s original origin was revisited most recently in Journey Into Mystery: The Birth of Krakoa #1, which revealed that Nick Fury Sr. and Krakoa, like, hung out.

Now, I can think of two possible parallels for this origin in the material we’ve seen so far: one Hellenic, one Gnostic. The former is most famously found in Plato’s Symposium. Last time, we mentioned the Promethean creation myth. In this version, instead, humanity began as a primordial race powerful enough to rival the gods. This power was due to its dual nature: Humans originally were creatures with two heads, four arms, etc etc. Zeus destroyed their might by slicing all humans in two, creating both love and, in a way, despair. Each individual person always longs for true unity with their counterpart, just as Krakoa here mourns the loss of their other half.

Now, if Krakoa’s emotions are most reminiscent of the Greek legend, the strife and chaos depicted, to me, seems far more reminiscent of the Gnostic. This is a bit reductive, but Gnosticism says the evils of this world — vice, chaos, violence, suffering, death — all result from the sundered nature of our world and ourselves. The evil Demiurge created the material world apart from the spiritual world, in which, originally, all was One; we are spiritual beings now separated from the original unity by being trapped in these rough bodies.

Page 18:

CE: The “man who was not a man” is Apocalypse [Ed. note: If the Giant A on his belt didn’t give it away.] The phrase “he stood in the gap” is also a reference to Hickman and Weaver’s SHIELD miniseries, as that phrase is used to describe people who joined the organization, such as Apocalypse himself. [Ed. note: Oh yeah, Apocalypse was one of the original agents of SHIELD.]

Also, this references his original “First Horsemen.” If it isn’t glaringly clear yet, they are going to be important. They’ve been brought up on page or in the Muller charts and text more times than plenty of very popular X-Men characters so please be on the lookout for these folks. Importantly, now we know where they went, and why. Krakoa also not being whole seems like a big foreshadow.

Apocalypse awakens his original four horsemen in a page from Marvel Comics #1000, Marvel Comics (2019). Jonathan Hickman, Dustin Weaver/Marvel Comics

RS: We’ve talked before about the possibility that the X² X-Men may have traveled through Xorn’s black hole to another realm. The language here concerning collapsing portals to other realms feels very familiar. I’m not saying that this confirms North, Cardinal, and Rasputin are alive on Arakko — I’m just saying that we now have an instance of characters in the text clearly traveling through a portal to another realm, a realm that we know must be accessible given the timeline of Moira IX (as Apocalypse did bring back those First Horseman).

Page 19:

RS: “It’s better if I show you” mirrors Prof X and Moira’s conversation in PoX #1.

Page 20:

CE: The Professor seems to be very busy, what with leaving Doug seemingly very soon after they arrived. Given the diagram on the next page, Doug didn’t just make a language, he seems to have almost built a complete system.

RS: I think, if we accept Magneto’s ideas in HoX #1, that this infographic argues that language is such a system. Language is the foundation of culture; Krakoan is a language which arises from the land; these are the societal roles which spring out of and protect that land and that culture. Language, culture, land, societal roles, the individuals that fill them — they’re all part of the same unified organism.

Page 21:

A graphic showing the four main systems that maintain Krakoa: Transit/Monitoring, Defense/Observation, Secondayr/External Systems, Overwatch/Data Analysis. A fifth rumored system, a “skunkworks” is also listed, in Powers of X #4, Marvel Comics (2019). Jonathan Hickman, Tom Muller/Marvel Comics

CE: As we can see, Doug’s creation of the Krakoan language and interface eventually spawned many subsystems, crewed by some very familiar mutants. Black Tom Cassidy (also a guy who is not unlike a tree) is another bad guy that likely needed amnesty, and we’ve seen Sage, Beast, and Trinary doing work in previous issues. The symbol in red (and we careful readers remember red means important) is L for Laboratory. Forge has the power to create amazing machines, so he would work fantastically in an R&D capacity. Of note, it says that it’s possible that Forge is making biological machines, which is not usually something he’s capable of doing.

[Ed. note: A quick aside on skunkworks. It is an innovation strategy where a small group is isolated from the larger team to break routine organizational procedures. The most famous project developed this way was Lockheed Martin’s SR-71 Blackbird. X-Fans might recognize this as the jet the X-Men claim to have modified despite that fact that that statement is more wild than a man with knives in his hands.]

Page 22:

CE: We’re back to X³, where we last left our blue friends and their little buddy Nimrod. These folks have an odd attitude to me. Ascending because it just so happens to be the next step to them, instead of some deep-seated need. But that’s what they want to do, so I suppose we’ll go with it. The Seer-Self of the Elder looks a lot like that Orb back in Powers of X #3, that turned that baby in a Cable lookalike with its techno-organic baptism.

RS: I’m a bit confused here. The way that orb works (and the general relationship between organic and machine life in this issue) seems to be opposed to what we saw in #3. The Bapto-Orb seemed to transform organic life into machine life. It goes in the opposite direction here; organic brain patterns are imposed on blank slate machines. It’s unclear whether the Blue Folks are unwilling or unable to become machines themselves.

RS: One thing I really appreciate though: This seems to be depicting a far more feasible, far more standard conception of uplifting an intelligence into a machine than is usual in Marvel stories, and it depicts the one great limitation of such an uplift: Your own consciousness is not transferred. It is merely duplicated, and so even if your mental twin has been made immortal, you still will perish.

Page 23:

CE: These Phalanx are either very good at taking the bait, or got the idea behind this whole plan.

Page 24:

The Phalanx entity tells the elder the correct code phrase — “There was a city on the mountain and behind it the sun shone brightly and then too brightly as it expanded to consume the city the mountain the world” — in Powers of X #4, Marvel Comics (2019). Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva/Marvel Comics

CE: The code sequence has interesting phrasing. To put it plainly, the phrase seems to imply a “too much of a good thing” scenario. I wonder if this is supposed to allude to the Krakoa, or just the ideas that Xavier and co are putting forth.

RS: I think you’re right. The way the Sun is described here sounds a lot like a grey goo scenario — endless consumption and expansion. But it also sounds quite a lot like a very common image in discussions of Christian societies, just taken to a monstrous extreme — the Shining City on the Hill. The Hill has become a mountain, and the Shine didn’t just light the whole world, but annihilated it.

Page 25:


The Phalanx are leaving this message “Seen.” That’s cold.

Page 26:

CE: As I alluded to a bit earlier, the blue folks have bamboozled the Phalanx into accepting their intelligence, now in seer self form. The choice to zoom in on Nimrod for several panels is interesting, and makes me wonder if he’s not done with his plans.

Page 27:

The Librarian explains the nature of the Ascension these future people have discovered, in Powers of X #4, Marvel Comics (2019). Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva/Marvel Comics

CE: Nimrod again seems intrigued, somewhat taunting the blue people that in their biological selves, they are still not good enough for the Phalanx. This continues the theme of Powers of X of transhumanism by mutation versus transhumanism by machine, two diverging paths from the ancestor that is humanity. We’re left wondering if their offer is accepted, but the Phalanx sphere looks awfully — intense.

RS: The thing is, the veiled Blue Person suggests that it’s not possible for the Phalanx to assimilate biological entities. This is a bit odd, given that we see a biological entity partially assimilated by the transmode virus earlier in this very issue.

Page 28:

CE: We’re starting to really see references to prices that Xavier has had to pay to ensure the survival of mankind, in this case working with a chaotic entity like Sinister. [Ed. note: Much like the opening data page, this is also Xavier discussing what he fears may come from what he has done.]

Page 29:

CE: Usually we don’t comment much on these reading orders but, it’s important to note that next week’s issue, House of X #5, is highlighted in red. The last time we had one of those issues, we found out about the Moira retcon. So expect some big stuff.

Page 30:

CE: The Krakoan reads “Society” as we said last week.

Page 31:

CE: The Krakoan reads “For the Children” which seems to imply that Sinister is much like the Wu-Tang Clan.

Final Thoughts

CE: This issue was a very interesting beast, as the forward momentum that we experienced last issue seems to have come to a screeching halt in favor of hints and backstory. It seems as though a lot of the back and forth between House of X and Powers of X is used to contextualize an idea that is going to come up, such as House of X #2 giving us the Moira retcon to show the long term planning happening in Powers of X. This seems to be another case of that. This catalogue of mutant DNA is definitely going to be a part of Xavier’s plan post “Battle at the Sun” and may even lead somehow to those pod people we saw way back in the opening pages of this dual miniseries. Next week is a red issue, and I’m itching to read it, Rob.

RS: The one thing that both intrigues and worries me — we are well past the halfway point and we’re still getting seeds, not fruits. I’m wondering now just how complete a story HoXPoX will be by its end. Is this its own first chapter in an ongoing story, or is it a prologue that can’t stand on its own? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Chris Eddleman is a biologist and co-host of Chrises On Infinite Earths

Robert Secundus is an amateur-angelologist-for-hire

Zachary Jenkins runs the Xavier Files Media Empire and is a co-host on the podcast Battle of the Atom. Shocking everyone, he has a full and vibrant life outside of X-Men.

Source: Polygon.com

The Surge 2’s story trailer shows off the tech-filled dystopia of Jericho City

The post-apocalypse is coming to the big city in the The Surge 2’s pre-launch story trailer. The sequel to the 2017 action game, The Surge, it will likewise put players at the controls of a super-powered exoskeleton that can be modified on the fly. Today’s trailer gives fans their first glimpse of the game’s new characters and includes a brief, but still mysterious, description of the game’s story.

The narrative of The Surge 2 appears to put players in the shoes of a brand new character as they explore the futuristic Jericho City. It’s a massive departure from the first game, which took place in the interior of a ruined industrial laboratory. As they explore the Jericho, players will run into “Nano-Cultists,” the ruling government’s military force tasked with maintaining order. They’ll also cross paths with a mysterious girl named Athena.

The threads linking The Surge 2 with its predecessor are still a bit of a mystery. The action is set sometime after the end of the first game, which concerned the launch of something called the Utopia rocket. The weapon was originally intended to help save the Earth by killing off 95% of life on the planet, but players could find a certain item in the game that would make the rocket harmless. That gives the game a slightly different ending. It’s not entirely clear from today’s trailer which ending is canonical. For now, it isn’t even clear whether or not the original game’s main character, Warren, will make an appearance in The Surge 2.

The Surge 2 will be released on Sept. 24 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Source: Polygon.com

What the Disney movie of your birth year says about you

Disney’s upcoming streaming service, Disney Plus, will soon be the home for the studio’s history of theatrical animated movies, a span of time encompassing more than 80 years of filmmaking and multiple generations who grew up with Disney films.

Most people “have” a Disney movie — the one we watched in theaters, the one we shoved in the VHS over and over again, the one we begged our parents to rent from Blockbusters — but with so many movies scattered throughout the past, the big question today is: what Disney movie was bestowed upon you?

Turns out, the Disney movie released the year (or year range) of one’s birth says a lot about a person. With eight decades worth of films (full-length theatrical releases, not anthologies!) and eight decades worth of people to study, we’ve broken down the true, hard, actual science of what your designated Disney movie birth year says about you.


1937 – 1939: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Kids these days have it too easy. Back in your day, being the first, full-length animated feature meant something! And you had to bust ass to prove yourself. You’re a traditionalist and you’re not afraid of lamenting the good old days. You think more folks these days should be committed to cleaning, cooking, and caring for others. Kids these days are too wrapped up in things like “social media” and “buying avocado toast” and “trying to remain positive despite the inevitable destruction of our planet.”

You think nothing is as good as some fresh baked apple pie. You get a little thrill at seeing a freshly made bed. It’s the small things in life.

Pinocchio casually looking at his flaming finger Disney

1940: Pinocchio

When people ask you about the past, you lie, coating it in a cheery, idyllic light. Everything was better back then, you say, even though you definitely lived through multiple wars. Secretly, though, you’re really glad for Wi-Fi and tablets and the polio vaccine. But you’re not about to let the youngins know that.

In your youth, you had a strong parental figure that cared greatly for you, but in an effort to find yourself, you distanced yourself from them. Eventually, you realized that life is less about finding yourself than it is about creating yourself, and turned back to your guiding figure. Eventually, you became that strong parental figure for someone — at least, you hope.

1941: Dumbo

You were a bit of a misfit in your younger days and got bullied a lot at school. You find yourself crying more easily than the average person. At an early age, you were also thrust into the spotlight, perhaps unwillingly. All of this has shaped you into the person you are today: resilient and strong-hearted, even if you do get emotional. But emotion is not a weakness; in fact, you consider it one of your greatest strengths.

Some call you old-fashioned, especially when it comes to your world views.

bambi looks at flower in a field of wildflowers Disney

1942 – 1949: Bambi

Everyone was jealous of you because you were the favorite child. Your family and extended community fawned over you. Was all the praise deserved? You certainly think so. You’re successful and you earned that success, dammit.

You hate doing yard work. The minute your kids were old enough to mow the lawn, you made them do it. When they moved out, you hired the kids next door.

Cinderella right after the magical dress transformation Disney

1950: Cinderella

You’re a hard worker who always sees a job through. Some might call you old-fashioned now, but they forget just how much you paved the way for them. Kind to a fault, sometimes people take advantage of your good nature. You struggled with standing up for yourself when you were younger. Sometimes younger folks tell you that you should be more confrontational, but you know that you’ve gotten this far in life by virtue of being a good person. The important people in your life recognize that and wouldn’t have you any other way.

Because you’re so big hearted, you’ve often taken to caring for stray animals. Maybe too many stray animals. It’s kind of a problem. You’ll do something about it. Eventually.

alice surrounded by some giant talking flowers, trippy man Disney

1951 – 1952: Alice in Wonderland

You had a lot of … fun … in your adolescence and young adulthood. You went through a phase in which you felt totally disconnected from reality. While your friends and family urged you to be practical, you followed your whims and indulged in all your fantasies. And then you got a little lost trying to find your way back to reality. Maybe you never did. Blink twice if you’re trapped. We’re coming for you. Blink twice. Two times. Not once more. Blink three times and it’s game over.

wendy and peter pan in front of big ben Disney

1953 -1954: Peter Pan

You’re not just a Boomer, you’re a cool Boomer. Hell, you’re reading Polygon right now, aren’t you? You’re young at heart and you’ve always been. You keep up with the times. You game. You say “yeet” even if you’re not sure what it mean. Some people might have thought you were immature when you were in your early adulthood, and OK, they weren’t totally wrong, but those old stooges just didn’t know how to have fun.

Also you love peanut butter. It’s good. It’s solid. It’s a comforting staple. However, you have mixed feelings about jelly.

tramp and lady share a romantic spaghetti meal Disney

1955 – 1958: Lady and the Tramp

You’re a true romantic, and a little suspect of all the dating apps and other forms of digital connection-making. When you were younger, you wined and dined your partner. You showed them how much you loved them. You still do because — not to get too mushy — you have so much love to give.

Contrary to your hopeless romantic leanings, your favorite movie is The Godfather.

prince phillip and aurora meet in the forest, about to dance to once upon a dream Disney

1959 – 1960: Sleeping Beauty

You’re a bit of a dreamer — whether it’s day or night — but instead of finding yourself actively trying to escape reality, you tend to just wish things were different. You construct elaborate scenarios that sometimes feel more real than reality. Engaging with the real world feels like a hassle, and puts you to bed on the early side. But you do it anyway.

You also really love classical music. You go to orchestra concerts, the opera, and ballets! Nothing makes you feel as alive as a sweet symphony. Bravo, maestro!


1961 – 1962: One Hundred and One Dalmatians

You pulled yourself up by the bootstraps. Though your life hasn’t been easy on the professional front, you’re surrounded by a network of loved ones. You have a goofy sense of humor, which just naturally draws people towards you. You also have a great taste in music. Sure, maybe you were out of work for a bit, and maybe you struggled to pay rent from time to time, but you never let that get you down. You’re really protective of your family and will do anything for them.

You went through a phase of your life where you were really into interpretive dance. You’ve since destroyed all evidence of that phase.


1963 – 1966: The Sword in the Stone

You often feel unwanted. Maybe you feel like your parents wanted another child. Maybe you feel like your friends want someone cooler. You struggle with that insecurity and your way of dealing with it is putting 110% into all that you do. You work hard, you play hard, you hope to prove yourself worthy. And even if people doubted you before, at this point in your life, you’ve proved your place in the world.

You’re one of those people who takes St. Patrick’s Day a little too seriously, regardless of whether or not you actually have any Irish blood.

mowgli sits on baloo’s stomach as the bear floats idyllically on a river Disney

1967 – 1969: The Jungle Book

Forget feeling unwanted: you feel like you don’t belong literally anywhere. You have a hidden dark side that you suppress in order to fit in. Sometimes you wonder if it’s really worth it to do so. You had a lot of mentors in your youth, but none of their teachings really stuck with you. Instead, you’ve sort of become a mosaic of personalities. In your younger days, you shirked responsibility, but the consequences of your actions quickly caught up with you and you learned not to do that ever again. It was a devastating, yet formative experience.

You’ve always been drawn to fire. The burn. The glow.

marie, toulouse, and berlioz look up Disney

1970 – 1972: The Aristocats

You appreciate the finer things in life. You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth and should someone try to take that away from you, you will hiss and cry and spit. Early in life, you checked out how the other half lives. It was fun! Maybe this lasted a bit longer than one adventure. Maybe you went abroad and decided to become an artist and sleep on a mattress in a studio apartment. Maybe you got really into DIY punk. Eventually, you snapped out of this because you realized you really, really missed designer shoes and flying business class. Still, though, your rebellious phase is a fun talking point at cocktail parties.

You have one or more prints in your home of the Eiffel Tower. It’s probably a soft, faded pink on some sort of wood like surface, with a quote about Paris. You unironically say stuff like “It’s wine o’clock!”

Robin Hood, being hot Disney

1973 – 1976: Robin Hood

You’re a revolutionary. Even in your middle age, your passion for justice hasn’t quieted. You’re here to make this world a better one, in whatever way you can. Maybe you personally haven’t experienced injustice, but a lot of important people in your life have and you’re not about to let that fly. You hand out flyers, you participate in marches, you make donations — as long as you’re fighting the good fight, you feel alive. You’re extremely ready for election day.

You don’t know what the kids mean when they say “furries.”

Bianca and Bernard look shocked Disney

1977 – 1980: The Rescuers

You’ve been asked to tone down your ideological leanings multiple times in your life and you’ve done so. Perhaps that is why you feel like a compromised version of yourself. Not that you aren’t successful, but sometimes you feel like your peers are better recognized than you, even though in your opinion, you’ve done basically the same exact thing. You’re trying not to be bitter about it, though, and enjoy your own quirks and personality for what they are. It’s just so hard to be flanked by two hot foxes.

In love, you are often insecure and think that your partner is so much cooler and more put together than you are. This has been a recurring theme throughout your life.

a sad todd Disney

1981 – 1984: The Fox and the Hound

Your home life was tinged with strife. You had a very close relationship in your childhood and formative years that changed you for good, but perhaps not for the better. Conflict surrounds you even in your adulthood. Perhaps a significant figure in your life walked out very early on. Perhaps a long lasting friendship dissolved. This has all made you very wary and distrusting.

Sometimes you wonder about whether the chicken or the egg came first. This thought plagues you.


1985: The Black Cauldron

You always think you could do better, but only after the fact do you realize, yeah, maybe you should’ve stuck to what you believed in more. You were good. You could’ve been even better if you and others had seen the potential. You’ve been through a lot in your life and you’re struggling to make sense of it all.

The Lord of the Rings franchise is kind of an anchor. You’re pretty into Lord of the Rings. LIke you got really mad about the Hobbit movies because the Lord of the Rings was so good.

Basil and Dr. Dawson look alarmed Disney

1986 – 1987: The Great Mouse Detective

Some call you a bit stuck up. You think you’re better than those people. They can suck it. You have few close friends who are dazzled by your genius. That’s why you keep them around after all. Your sharp powers of observation mean that you pick up on things that other people just don’t notice. Whether that means using your deduction skills to get to the bottom of a case, staying up to date on the hottest gossip or knowing exactly what local political drama is about to unfold depends. One thing’s for sure — everyone goes to you when they need to online stalk their Tinder match.

You’re the type of person who has a catchphrase. It changes a lot, but you like to have a go-to unique ditty to just pull out in any occasion.

a group of dogs and oliver Disney

1988: Oliver & Company

You love the city. The thought of living in the suburbs is worse than death. You like a fast-paced life, full of excitement and thrills. You are ambitious, taking big risks to get what you want. At one point in your past, you totally shunned your less than savory past to fit in with the cool kids. That ended up not panning out for you — but you learned. You took more risks, some grandiose, others calculated. Most of them did pay off. You realize that your past is what makes you strong, so instead of turning away from it, you actively embrace it.

You have formed your life and identity around the musical stylings of Billy Joel.

Ariel singing “Part of Your World” and reaching a hand out to the surface Disney

1989: The Little Mermaid

People used to tell you how much they loved you, and you relished in their praise. You were on top of the game, the most popular person around. Today, you just can’t keep up with the times. Your big quest is embracing change. But that’s the reason you got super popular in the first place! You were constantly looking to the future, aiming for the next best thing, pushing boundaries. Maybe get in touch with the innovator you used to be instead of dwelling on the past.

You’re also probably a hoarder. You like to collect mementos of your past and keep the close. There are boxes and boxes under your bed that are just full of old ticket stubs.

bernard, bianca, and jake Disney

1990: The Rescuers Down Under

In the shadow of someone who came before you, you’re trying to make your own name. This could be at work, in your family, within your personal relationships, in your own creative goals — the point is, you feel the pressure to live up to something. And you’re trying tooth and nail to do so. Does it always work out? Results vary. Good thing the person who came before you wasn’t actually that great either. They just set some standards that you have to live by. But you’re trying new things, trying to push away from the shadow that you have been cast in.

You love to go camping, and everyone knows, because whenever you have an upcoming camping trip you just talk about “going off the grid” and “getting in touch with nature” and then when you get back all you do is talk about how great it was to “go off the grid” and “get in touch with nature.” Just letting you know.

Beauty and the Beast

1991: Beauty and the Beast

When you were growing up, you craved adventure and glory. Now that you’ve achieved some success, you just crave stability and some normalcy in life. In your youth, you were heralded as a smart kid — even if you did feel like a bit of an oddball from time to time — and you achieved great success in your adolescence. Nowadays, you feel like your accomplishments don’t stack up. Sometimes you feel an urge to reinvent yourself to prove something to your naysayers, but by doing so, you’ll lose sight of who you are and what made you special. Remember that your successes were well-earned.

You still mentally sort people into Hogwarts houses when you meet them. You’re also really into Myers-Briggs stuff. You spend a lot of time debating the Houses and personalities of fictional characters. What do you mean Belle isn’t totally an INFP Ravenpuff?!

jasmine and aladdin on the magic carpet Disney

1992 – 1993: Aladdin

You had a bit of a rough start in life, but once you looked inward and realized you were but a diamond in the rough, you passionately chased after your dreams. You changed a lot about yourself to get to where you are today — and you’re still changing. With each experience, you’ve learned from your mistakes. It’s not so much about losing yourself as it is about finding yourself. Though you had a bit of a rocky start, at this point in your life you’re pretty comfortable with who you are and now that you’ve sort of settled in, you’re ready to see the world.

You have a thing for Netflix comedy specials, very niche podcasts, and old cartoons. New versions of said cartoons are never as good as the idealized versions in your memory.

simba with a fake mane made of flowers in The Lion King (1994), during the “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” sequence Disney

1994: The Lion King

Everyone had pretty low expectations for you, honestly, but you’ve blown them all out of the water. Sure, the ones who doubt you may say that your success comes from the uncredited works of others, but first of all, they can’t prove that and second of all, at the end of the day, you’re the one who packaged it all up in an innovative way and claimed your throne. Take that naysayers! But credit is due: you struggled to get where you are, dealt with some internalized guilt, put in the hard work once someone kicked some sense into you, and your success — while surprising — isn’t unearned. One thing’s for sure: you’re at the top of your game, bay-beee, and there’s no end in sight just yet. You wear your crown with pride.

You’re still mourning the loss of Vine and don’t really “get” TikTok. Isn’t it just a less cool version of Vine?

pocahontas, but made up of all the colors of the wind — get it? Disney

1995: Pocahontas

In your childhood, you felt the weight of great expectations thrust upon you. Everyone wanted you to succeed. Everyone thought you would achieve great things. You did not. It wasn’t by any fault of your own, really, but some combination of all the pressure to succeed, all the meddling by higher-ups who thought they knew you better, and the fact that you were basically forced to grow up very quickly. You’re still trying, though, and maybe it’s more about finding your own path than it is about following what others have set out for you. Listen to your heart instead of what everyone else wants from you. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain, even if others express disapproval.

You’re also, like, really into recycling and if you haven’t ziplined before, it’s definitely on your bucket list.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Quasimodo holding onto a rooftop cross Disney

1996: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

You have a strong moral code and a very clear view of what is right and what is wrong. You are a bit of a snobbish intellectual type, but c’mon — it’s totally justified when you’re as smart as you are. You don’t like to admit this, but you have a hidden dark side, one that easily succumbs to anger and temptation. It scares you a bit and you do your best to keep it in check, but when it overwhelms you, it totally takes control of your personality. Stay strong, remember that deep inside you know what is right and what is wrong and that the side of justice always wins in the end.

Also, you probably vape.

Hercules holds Phil the satyr Disney

1997: Hercules

You have a wacky sense of humor and use it to deflect from your issues. When things get rough, you sometimes instinctually just yeet out of the situation. But that’s not to say you don’t know the value of hard work. You just prefer to do the work you personally find rewarding. You have this inner thirst to prove yourself and find a place where you belong, but perhaps a misguided approach to how you should be doing it. Sometimes you bend over backwards to please people, other times you make the wrong jokes at the wrong time.

You crave social media clout and validation, sometimes to an unhealthy degree. You have to remember that true happiness doesn’t come from likes and retweets, but from your loved ones. But those likes and retweets are pretty sweet.

Mulan I’ll make a man out of you song Walt Disney Pictures

1998: Mulan

Anyone who tells you that you can’t do something is going to be proved wrong. You’re very protective of those close to you and will do anything to prevent them from coming to harm. Gutsy, determined, and not afraid to speak your mind, you don’t believe there is such a thing as one right way to live your life. But this confidence didn’t come right away and it took you a little while to figure out your own path. One thing’s for sure, you’re here to take names and kick ass — grim economic future be damned!

You love fitness classes and tag your instagram photos with #wanderlust.

Tarzan stands besides a projected image of a man Disney

1999: Tarzan

You long to find a group of people who will accept you unconditionally. But it’s been a bit of a struggle. You don’t always fit in. Sometimes you just feel like an entirely different species. You often feel caught in an in-between; when people talk about the transition period between generations, you always feel like they’re specifically talking about you. You feel drawn to the past, but have a clear-eyed vision for the future, even if sometimes you’re not sure how to execute it. But don’t worry: out there, somewhere, you’ll find your people soon. You’re adaptable and a quick-learner.

You’re also really into electric scooters.

Disney and Disney

2000: The Emperor’s New Groove and Dinosaur

You have two moods: attention-seeking self-centered diva or the literal most boring person on the planet. There is no in-between. One minute you’re clamoring for attention, the other you are but a dusty dinosaur walking across a dusty landscape looking for dusty water. Your flamboyant side has a great, rocking sense of humor — which you use to cope with the side that basically is just struggling along. You’re trying. You really are.

You fear llamas. Something about their blank, vacant, yet totally unhinged eyes gets to you.

milo standing in front of a chalkboard Disney

2001: Atlantis: The Lost Empire

You’re very studious and you have a plan to totally save the world. If only people would listen to you! You are brimming with potential, could probably be president one day, but no one takes you seriously. They just don’t get you. Maybe you’re inexperienced. Maybe you’re too quirky. Maybe you need some polish. But if someone just gives you a chance, you know that you’ll blow them all away. Sometimes, your overeagerness means you don’t really listen to advice, though. Not just from your superiors, but from the people you’re supposedly trying to help. Take a moment to cool your steam-powered jets and tune into them.

You have a very diverse group of friends that just naturally gravitated together over shared interests. This is somewhat of a bragging point for you.

Disney and Disney

2002: Lilo & Stitch and Treasure Planet

Oh, you are totally weird. Like really weird. But how that weirdness manifests depends on who you’re with. Sometimes people get you. And when people get you, they totally get you and your weirdness is like the coolest thing about you. But there are times when your weirdness is just too far out there. They just don’t vibe with you, if you know what I mean? Not your fault: You’re a really passionate person when it comes to your interests and hobbies and you’re not afraid to push the limits when it comes to creativity. Aliens crash landing in Hawaii? Steampunk Treasure Island? That’s all totally entry-level to the vast limits of your mind.

You’re really into memes, to the point where anything that originates on Twitter you dub as “normie.” Please, it’s all about deep fried Facebook shitpost groups. Keep up.

Kenai the grizzly looks deeply annoyed Disney

2003: Brother Bear

There are great plans for your future, but you’re not sure you’re going to be able to achieve what everyone thinks you’re capable of. Because of that insecurity, you often lash out against others and keep them at an emotional distance. You have a grumpy exterior and let very few people in. How can you love others when you hardly love yourself? But if you just take a chance on letting someone in, you might find out that it’s not so scary.

You keep a picture of your favorite celebrity somewhere in close vicinity of you at all times. Maybe it’s your phone background. Maybe it’s a framed picture in your bedroom. Maybe you printed it out on computer paper to tape in your locker. Wherever it is, it’s never far.

three cows. one wears a hat. she looks pissed off. Disney

2004: Home on the Range

Things seem to be falling apart right now. The future is bleak. Your home life may be kinda whack. Things are being held together by strings as you try to figure out what even your future will be like. But don’t have a cow, man. Things will perk up. And you’ll always be known for your classic style.

You love taking selfie videos of yourself lip syncing. You have a short attention span but that doesn’t matter because your mind is moving a million miles a minute at all possible times.

Chicken Little’s vast, blank eyes look up into utter darkness Disney

2005 – 2006: Chicken Little

The world is ending. Everything is unknown. Good luck, kid.

Source: Polygon.com

Monos is an action movie with an unsettling take on civilization

The city of Bonn, resting along the Rhine river in western Germany, is the birthplace of two very different cultural icons: Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the great composers of his era, and Haribo gummy bears, idiosyncratically headquartered amidst high-end clothing and jewelry stores in the Am Neutor shopping strip. Beau monde, meet sugar rush.

This month’s Monos, a ferocious action drama from Colombian-Ecuadorian filmmaker Alejandro Landes, unexpectedly plops this incongruous bit of trivia in the heat of its climax. The dark fantasy finds eight child soldiers stationed among unnamed Latin-American mountaintops where they spend their days training for combat in an obscure conflict with similarly obscure intentions. It’s never clear who the kids are fighting, or why. The clearest detail the film gives is the bizarre connection between the composer of “Symphony No. 9” and the candymaker responsible for Gold Bears, Cruise Mix, and Drama Llamas. It’s Landes’ parting jape at civilization in an altogether uncivilized narrative.

Think of Monos as the tripped-out intersection where Lord of the Flies, Embrace of the Serpent, Apocalypse Now, and Aguirre, the Wrath of God collide with mushrooms and milk cows, two of the film’s other sharply drawn details. The squad, called the “monos” (monkeys) for their mischievous, rowdy, and unpredictable behavior, are given new purpose after supportive locals lend them a cow named Shakira.

“Guarding Shakira is as important to the Organization as the security of our prisoner of war,” barks the Messenger (Wilson Salazar), the soldiers’ diminutive commander. The prisoner is Sara Watson (Julianne Nicholson), referred to as Doctora, an American woman who teeters back and forth between Stockholm syndrome and feral desperation; at times she’s just part of the crew, at others possessed by a powerful need to escape her teenage captors.

a short man walks the line of teenage troops, dressed in military garb Neon

She has that in common with Rambo (Sofia Buenaventura), Landes’ protagonist. Over the course of Monos, he grows disillusioned with the Organization, the shady outfit on whose behalf he and his companions — Lady (Karen Quintero), Smurf (Deiby Rueda), Wolf (Julián Giraldo), Boom-Boom (Sneider Castro), Bigfoot (Moises Arías, yes, of Hannah Montana fame), Swede (Laura Castrillón), and Dog (Paul Cubides) — are prepared to do battle. Maybe it’s the waiting. Rambo and the gang do a whole lot of nothing throughout the movie’s first 20 minutes: They play blindfolded fútbol (which, in retrospect, is entirely awesome), do drills and inspections at Messenger’s behest, record pseudo-propaganda videos starring Doctora, and recklessly discharge rifles into the mountain mist out of carnal desire. They’re restless.

Then Dog accidentally shoots the cow Bad as things are for them to start, they get even worse, as Bigfoot reveals himself as a bloodthirsty firecracker who’s hungry for power, and Wolf and Messenger morph into violent men with goals. If the isolation and banality of the company’s life isn’t enough reason for Rambo to flee, the change in leadership suffices. Under Messenger, the monos function as a surrogate family, a hogwash characterization for a more disciplined unit. Bigfoot’s reign is marked by brute authoritarianism, and so Rambo, like Doctora, bides his time and searches for opportunities to make a break for it.

The era of the Bigfoot administration is documented through sheens of sweat and streaks of dirt by cinematographer Jasper Wolf; his camerawork is experiential, putting viewers in the fray as the gang slowly mold themselves after Bigfoot’s example, find themselves caught in a firefight, eat unauthorized fungi that sets them flying higher than kites, and increasingly take after their nom de guerre. The company Landes keeps his audience in qualifies as dangerous, certainly, but even more so is the environment. Sticky daytime heat gives way to dusks utterly blanketed by mosquitoes; conditions shuffle from clear skies to torrential downpours, filmed as an overwhelming threat to Doctora’s survival rivaling the monos themselves. Wolf shoots crashing waves like an ambush party sneaking up on her in dead of night. When night lifts, sweltering haze hanging in front of the lens adds another layer of natural oppression to the movie’s sustained sense of peril.

When Rambo rejects his old family for a new one, Monos’ atmosphere shifts. Landes treats the mercy of the real world as a rare commodity. When a family in a nearby village lend Rambo their charity, they offer him a peaceful life alternative that’s divorced from civilization but nonetheless civilized: They have electricity, and with electricity comes television.

a teenager with dreadlocks holds his breath underwater as he floats through bubbles to the surface Neon

What could cast a starker contrast to Bigfoot’s and the Organization’s barbarism than the traditionally domestic sight of mom, dad, and the kids huddled together on the sofa, congregating around the TV, the campfire’s modern day replacement? The freedom affords sophistication in the form of a documentary about Beethoven. For a brief moment, we see a glimmer of what cultured normalcy looks like, but very brief; no sooner is Beethoven mentioned than the topic changes to gummy bears, described by the documentary narrator as the more popular of the two.

It’s an absurd, out-of-left-field needle drop. True, neither Rambo nor the family bats an eye at the bizarre leap from classical music to candy, but in taking that leap, Landes makes a mockery of so-called civilized life; television is a gateway to knowledge, but as hypnotic as Bigfoot’s ruthless leadership is, so too is junk TV. Rambo and his newfound surrogate family stare blankly at the screen, unresponsive to fun facts about the ins and outs of gummy bear production. (They must be hard enough to keep their shape, but also soft enough to chew!) Dad eventually shuts the tube off and takes the kids to bed, but it’s too late: Their viewing choice’s fluffy uselessness has single-handedly shattered civilization’s mirage.

Monos then goes several steps further, killing characters and emparking the monos on a warpath, grunting into the camera as they hunt for Rambo. There’s no civilization to be found here — not in the family’s happy home, not in the jungle, and not in the mountains, where Wolf captures shot after ominous shot of clouds looming above, an overcast reminder of man’s insignificance against the backdrop of nature. Whether socio-political struggles or confectionary dominance, it makes no odds to the vast, untamed landscapes of Monos: Civilization’s a joke, and only Landes gets it.

Monos is out now in limited release.

Source: Polygon.com

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta players worry they’ve found hints of loot boxes

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta players are concerned loot boxes may be back in the latest entry in the series.

Just hours after the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta started on PlayStation 4, players noticed the phrase Supply Drop mentioned as a possible unlock in a bugged After Action Report. In past Call of Duty games, Supply Drops have been the series’ version of loot boxes, which players could buy to get in-game items. While these have been in Call of Duty games in one form or another since 2014’s Advanced Warfighter, fans have had issues with the way the series has implemented them in the last several games.

In Call of Duty: World War 2, which came out in 2017 the loot boxes that players could buy — either with cash or in-game currency — were all handled in the social space, which happened to be the beaches of Normandy, something that rubbed some players the wrong way. Meanwhile, in both Call of Duty: World War 2 and last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 loot boxes have contained certain in-game items that are more than cosmetics, like guns or characters. This fact often frustrates the players who feel they’ve already bought the full price game, and the season pass, and they shouldn’t be in a position to either pay for something else or feel like they’re at a competitive disadvantage.

For now, it’s worth noting that we have no idea how loot boxes might be implemented into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, or if they’ll even make it into the final game — this is only a beta after all. It seems that the Supply Drop appearing in the After Action Report may simply be a bug. But in a series with such a troubled recent history with loot boxes, it’s no surprise that players immediately noticed mentions of them in the beta for the latest game in the series.

Polygon has reached out to Activision for comment.

Source: Polygon.com

The Sword and Shield site is teasing a glitched Pokémon and fans have theories

There’s a new Pokémon being teased on the Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield website, and fans are rushing to figure out what it could be.

Early this morning, the official Pokémon Twitter account made an announcement: A new Pokémon has been discovered. The link attached to the tweet brought fans to the game’s official website, where a glitch now appears on the right side of the screen. After chasing the glitched out Pokémon across the website with the cursor, the image becomes clickable. The page opens up to a Pokédex listing that’s pretty obscured after playing a Rotom’s call — the Pokédex in Pokémon Sword and Shield is a Rotom.

Here’s what we know: the mystery Pokémon weighs 257.9 pounds and is a fighting type with an ability called Steadfast. “Only [redacted] that have survived many battles can attain this [redacted],” the listing reads. “When this Pokémon’s [redacted] [redacted]ers, it will retire from combat.”

Glitched out Pokémon
Game Freak/The Pokémon Company

One of the more popular theories is that the glitched out Pokémon is an evolution of Farfetch’d — everyone’s calling it Sirfetch’d, a name that was mentioned in an earlier rumor posted on 4chan. If you rotate the glitched image, it does indeed look like a bird holding, well, a sword and shield. Colors on the sword are green and white, which many people are assuming is some kind of leek weapon; Farfetch’d is known for always carrying around a leek. And if you insert this information into the redacted text on the Pokémon’s listing, it does work.

“Only Farfetch’d that have survived many battles can attain this evolution,” a Twitter user guessed. “When this Pokémon’s stick/leek shatters, it will retire from combat.”

Others have begun mocking up images based off the glitches, and yep, the bird theory looks to check out. But some fans are convinced it’s a Cubone or a reference to MissingNo., an infamous error that first appeared in Pokémon Red and Blue.

Pokémon Sword and Shield will be released Nov. 15 on the Nintendo Switch. The game brings players to a U.K.-inspired region called Galar.

Source: Polygon.com

Frank Miller returns to the Dark Knight yet again, in The Golden Child

Frank Miller will pen the next installment in what is now a full Dark Knight series, Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child, DC Comics announced Friday. This will be Miller’s fourth book set in the dark future of the DC Universe first seen in his seminal 1986 miniseries, The Dark Knight Returns.

Written by Miller and drawn by Rafael Grampá, the 48-page one-shot issue will pick up three years after the Miller’s last Dark Knight book, The Dark Knight 3: The Master Race.

“Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Carrie Kelley, and Lara Kent overcame the renegade priest Quar and his cult of Kandorian fanatics in their bid to convert humanity into worshipping them as gods,” DC said in a news release.

“During this interim, Lara has spent time learning about what it means to be human, while Carrie has grown into her role as Gotham City’s new protector, Batwoman. When a terrifying evil returns to Gotham City, Lara and Carrie team up to take on this new threat, but this time with a secret weapon — Jonathan Kent. Known as the ‘Golden Child,’ Jonathan possesses power unlike anything the world has ever seen and could be all that stands in the way of the destruction of Gotham City, as well as the whole planet.”

Grampá’s style is characterized by intricate linework, and he rarely works in interiors — indeed, Golden Child will be his first comics work in six years — so expect the book to look fantastic.

Dark Knight Returns: Golden Child will hit shelves on Dec. 11 as part of DC’s Black Label imprint, which suggests that it contains some mature content. Check out the full cover and two un-colored pages from Golden Child below.

Carrie Kelly/Batwoman, in a black costume with yellow highlights, stands over some unconscious clown-faced men in the middle of a brawl, on the cover of Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child, DC COmics (2019). Rafael Grampá/DC Comics
Jonathan Kent, Lara, and Clark Kent in an unlettered, uncolored page from Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child, DC Comics (2019). Frank Miller, Rafael Grampá/DC Comics
Jonathan Kent and Lara/Supergirl in an unlettered, uncolored page of Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child, DC Comics (2019). Frank Miller, Rafael Grampá/DC Comics

Source: Polygon.com

Nearly 30 years ago, Mortal Kombat’s blood forever changed the video game industry

[Ed. note: Out today, Arcade Perfect: How Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, and Other Coin-Op Classics Invaded the Living Room is author David L. Craddock’s latest book looking back at the history of the video game industry. Below, we have an excerpt covering the release of the original Mortal Kombat.]

Two engineers from Midway pulled their truck up to an arcade, threw open the shutter door, and rolled out a plain black cabinet. They wheeled it into the cool, dimly lit den of flashing screens and plugged it in near two of Capcom’s Street Fighter 2 machines. Then they waited.

“It was like stepping into a ring against Mike Tyson at his prime. But, we flipped the switch and sat back and watched,” said John Tobias, co-creator of Mortal Kombat.

At first, the cabinet just sat there. Then the attract mode ran. Grainy clips of digitized actors running through sequences of martial arts moves played out. The screen faded, and two characters squared off atop a narrow stone bridge set against a cloudy night sky. They moved toward one another, throwing kicks and punches — and then one crouched down and swung a right hook that connected under his opponent’s chin, launching him into the air and splattering blood all over the walkway.

One of the players at the back of the line to play Street Fighter 2 stepped out of place, walked over to the black cabinet, and dropped in a quarter. A few seconds later, someone else wandered over. Two more joined them. Three more. By the end of that weekend, the Street Fighter 2 cabinets had been abandoned. “That’s when we knew MK had the potential to become a phenomenon of its own,” Tobias said.

On the surface, Mortal Kombat was one in a growing line of Street Fighter 2 clones. All were gunning for Capcom, the king of the one-on-one fighter. Thus far, no one had even come close.

“I was a Street Fighter 2 fanatic. I was competitive,” said Sculptured Software’s Jeff Peters. “I would go to tournaments at local arcades, and it was, all right, how long can you hold the machine and take on all comers? It started the whole fighting-game frenzy: Everybody was knocking off Street Fighter 2.”

None of the knockoffs seemed able to capture SF2’s perfect storm of vibrant graphics, unique characters, and fast gameplay. Until Mortal Kombat. “From the game’s inception we knew that it would not be a clone,” Tobias said. “If we looked at Street Fighter, it was to study how not to do something in Mortal Kombat. I remember we just sort of conceded to the raw look of digitized footage. I think that was the right choice because it went a long way in making sure that our game would stand-out visually from Street Fighter 2.”

MK’s most notable difference was its aesthetic. Where SF2 looked like a cartoon, MK looked like an R-rated film. Its environments were grungy and dark. Its characters were lifelike thanks to a process that involved recording real actors performing all the moves. “I also think that the time we spent developing the characters and story, which was an odd thing to do in an arcade product, helped build a larger world in the minds of our players,” said Tobias. “That impact lives with MK even in its most recent iterations. Of course, our brand of violence is in large part what gave us a seat at pop culture’s table.”

And Mortal Kombat had blood. The red stuff sprayed and splattered when players punched, kicked, and knocked each other into the air. But it was most abundant at the end of each match, when victorious fighters were given a short window of opportunity to perform a Fatality on their dizzied opponent. If the move was entered correctly, the screen darkened, and the blood flowed: the blue-clad ninja Sub-Zero tore off his opponent’s head with the spinal cord attached; movie star Johnny Cage, a nod to Jean-Claude Van Damme from when MK’s original design starred the popular martial-artist-turned-actor, punched his victim’s head clean off; and Kano, a master criminal with a metal plate covering half his face, ripped his opponent’s still-beating heart from their chest.

Mortal Kombat’s fatalities were so graphic that they had to literally be seen to be believed. One kid would hold court on a playground and strive to convince a jury of peers that he’d seen one character rip off his face and breathe fire, reducing the other guy to ashes and bones. Another kid swore up and down that a fighter in a white jumpsuit and straw hat could zap characters’ heads off with a bolt of lightning. “That breeds interest and foot traffic,” later GamePro editor Dan Amrich said of the rumors surrounding MK’s gory finishing moves, “and before you know it, you have people looking closer because that controversial thrill was so unexpected. And that’s going to be very powerful with kids whose media is largely — and rightfully! — gatekept by their parents. Here’s a game you’re know you’re ‘not supposed to play,’ even if you haven’t been strictly forbidden to play it. It tapped into the lure of the forbidden.”

At first, Jeff Peters didn’t know what to make of Acclaim’s offer to contract Sculptured Software for a Super NES version of Mortal Kombat. Midway’s bloody brawler seemed like just another SF2 imitator. Yet below the surface, he saw something special. “Finishing Moves were different and funny, so that was another attraction point. And as a fighting game, it worked.”

Putting his pro skills to work, Peters played the game for hours and wrote up a detailed analysis of what MK had going for it, and what he saw as the biggest hurdles standing in the way of a successful port.

Pros: It wasn’t a shameless Street Fighter 2 copycat; it had a unique art style that would resonate with older players put off by Capcom’s cartoonish visuals; and the violence was so over-the-top, so absurd, it was humorous and charming. There was no harm in fatalities and uppercuts, Peters concluded, because no one could possibly take them seriously.

Cons: The game’s art style, hundreds of frames of animation, detailed backgrounds, and flashy special attacks, would be a bear to port. Nintendo’s 16-bit hardware had its advantages, but paled in comparison to Midway’s coin-op innards.

“My first analysis was that it would not reach the same level of Street Fighter 2 because of how different it was, the audience Street Fighter 2 had already built, the number of units it sold, all that stuff,” Peters said.

Still, it was settled. Acclaim hired Sculptured to do the SNES port, while Probe, a studio based across the pond, would handle a Sega Genesis conversion. Farming out the same port to more than one studio was an unorthodox move, but one that Peters understood.

“By separating the two SKUs, Acclaim was hedging their bets,” he said. “They were compartmentalizing the work that each developer would do. So, although it cost Acclaim slightly more money to have two different developers making two versions of the same game independently, it at least allowed for more focus. I think that helped get the project done within their timeframe, because there definitely wasn’t much time.”

Peters enjoyed his quiet life. The peace and quiet of the suburb where he lived provided a pleasant contrast to the long hours and crazy demands of his work at Sculptured Software. His neighbors were friendly, and tightly knit by the bonds of Mormonism, the dominant religion for large swathes of Utah, including Peters’ neighborhood. Every morning on his way to the office, he’d make small talk with friends out watering lawns, fetching the paper, or getting ready for their own commute.

One morning, Peters said hello to a neighbor and got a chilly stare in return. Peters went cold. They know, he thought.

“I was ostracized in the neighborhood I lived in because they found out I worked on Mortal Kombat,” he said.

Peters didn’t realize he’d been cut out of the inner circle right away. Every now and then, his doorbell would ring, and he’d find one of the neighborhood kids peering in. “Do you guys do drugs?” one blurted. Startled, Peters said no. The kid scampered home.

“Do you worship Satan?” another tyke asked.

“Are you really gay?”

“My mom says you’re going to hell. How come she says that?”

His all-time favorite question never failed to brighten his mood. “My mom says we can’t play Mortal Kombat, but can we come in and play it at your house?”

Mortal Kombat’s violence bled into every aspect of the lives of developers assigned to its conversions. “One of the key things that Sculptured and Probe had to solve completely differently was the whole violence thing,” Peters recalled. “This gets into the backdrop of things going on with the gaming industry.”

Things were touchy at the office. One of the programmers went to Peters and insisted he could only work on Mortal Kombat if his name was not attached to the project. “If his family came to visit the studio, we’d tell them he was working on something else,” Peters said. “Half the studio had grown up here in Utah and refused to have anything to do with Mortal Kombat. This stigma, depending on your worldview, made Mortal Kombat something either really cool, or Satan incarnate.”

Scorpion throws a spear at Sub-Zero in the original Mortal Kombat, causing blood to spray
Mortal Kombat’s blood, as seen in the arcade version of the game
Warner Bros.

Mortal Kombat’s gore was a sensitive subject for American society at large. The moment word of fatalities spread beyond arcades and into schools, homes, and churches, parents and politicians went on the warpath. Editors at magazines like Time wrote special features that questioned whether video games, formerly the domain of happy-go-lucky cartoon characters like Nintendo’s Mario, had finally gone too far by depicting graphic death with character models that resembled real people instead of mushrooms and turtles. Senator Joseph Liebermann of Connecticut joined forces with other politicians to crack down on Mortal Kombat and other adult games, opining that their gruesome content was no different than an R-rated movie and shouldn’t be marketed toward children.

Nintendo was firmly on the side of politicians like Liebermann. The Japanese game maker had built a reputation as a purveyor of fun for the whole family. True to form, Sega opposed its rival, but only to a point. A number of court hearings that devolved into reps from Sega and Nintendo hurling insults at each other eventually led to the formation of the Electronic Ratings Software Board (ESRB) in the summer of 1994. Moving forward, games were assigned ratings intended to gives parents a heads-up about their content.

But late in the summer of 1993, with Mortal Monday fast approaching, the ESRB was still nearly a year away. Sega and Nintendo gave their consent to hosting Mortal Kombat on their platforms as long as Probe, Sculptured Software, Midway, and Acclaim held to certain rules. Sega’s compromise was sticking an “MA-13” rating on the Sega Genesis version, the rough equivalent of a PG-13 rating on a movie.

Nintendo went further than trusting parents to decide if their kids were mature enough to handle MK’s bloodshed. An internal division called The Mario Club exercised nearly total control over the publishing process. “You’d actually get game and feature criticism as well,” said Peters. “You’d get it from their gaming analysts. First, you’d get approval to make the game. Then you’d submit the game for approval. Then they would give you bug reports, and then they’d give you qualitative reports of, ‘Here’s the stuff that’s good, here’s the stuff that’s bad.’”

While content creators such as Midway owned their IP, the Mario Club, on behalf of Nintendo exercised control over what form that IP could take on Nintendo platforms. Content the analysts deemed unfit, for any reason, had to be changed. “Nintendo’s goal of their new publishing agreements was to avoid what happened with the [the market crash of ‘83],” Peters said, “by controlling and regulating the content so that shelves weren’t filled with unsold crap again.”

Nintendo’s Mario Club team sent word to Acclaim and Sculptured Software that Mortal Kombat had to be sanitized on Super Nintendo. Blood was changed to gray “sweat” that didn’t splatter on the ground, unlike blood from the arcade version. The change benefitted hardware concerns as well as satisfied Nintendo’s strict guidelines. “It was more like real sweat because it disappeared, and that made Nintendo happy,” Peters explained, “but [dissipating instead of splattering] also got sprites off the screen. There were only so many sprites we could render per frame. Having sweat linger on the ground meant more sprites, meant flashing or other issues with the characters.”

Sega operated under looser guidelines. Higher-ups knew that catering to older players would make Sega’s version more appealing to that demographic. A Sega engineer, Paul Carruthers, helped make it happen. Carruthers was on-site to help with bug testing near the end of production when permission to sneak blood and gore into the game came down from on high. “I moved down there for a period of maybe a month, three months at the worst,” he said. “They would put me up in a bed-and-breakfast in Croydon, and I became an honorary employee. It was close to the end that we found out things like Nintendo wouldn’t allow blood in the SNES version, and they wouldn’t allow blood in Germany. There was this backlash against what was, at the time, a very violent game.”

Three screenshots show different levels of blood in three different versions of the game
Mortal Kombat’s blood in the arcade version, the Super Nintendo version and the Sega Genesis version
Warner Bros.

By default, Mortal Kombat on Genesis was clean, without even a drop of the sweat found in the SNES version. Sega had voluntarily scrubbed out blood and replaced fatalities with replacements even tamer than those designed by Sculptured Software: Johnny Cage kicks his opponent across the screen, and Sub-Zero simply uppercuts them, sending them flying higher than usual before they crash to the ground. That would satisfy the politicians and parents up in arms over the game’s violence, and it was the responsible thing to do. But at the main menu, players could press down, up, left, left, A, right, and down, spelling out DULLARD, to reveal a cheat menu. In the secret screen, they could do things like enable blood, which also reinstated the original arcade fatalities, and choose which arena to fight in. “I came up with DULLARD, because it just amused me to arrange everything that was at your fingertips: A, B, C, and D, U, L, R for the movement. There’s not much more you can do with that,” said Carruthers.

Later, someone at Acclaim worried that DULLARD would be too hard for players to remember. “The ABACABB code was forced upon me: I was instructed to put in a code word that only used A, B, and C,” said Carruthers.

He wanted a mnemonic, but the limited number of buttons on the Genesis controller — three by default, though players could pay extra for a six-button controller — left him without much wiggle room. He settled on ABACABB, a nod to the album “Abacab” by rock band Genesis. At a screen just before the main menu, players could press A-B-A-C-A-B-B to enable all the blood and gory fatalities from the arcade hidden behind the thin veil of censorship. (All other cheats remained hidden in the DULLARD menu.) Carruthers’ last-minute addition became known as “the blood code” among fans and journalists, and remains one of gaming’s most infamous cheats.

Sega and Probe knew the existence of ABACABB and DULLARD would incur the wrath of Liebermann and parental groups. They kept both codes secret, trusting that some enterprising player would discover them. From there, word-of-mouth would imbue the Genesis version with a mystique that — fingers crossed — would give Sega an advantage over Nintendo in the 16-bit “console war.”

Dan Amrich and a friend were among the first to use the DULLARD code. Amrich had just graduated college and had pre-ordered Mortal Kombat for the Genesis, his console of choice. It was due to release on September 13, but his local store broke the street date and sold Amrich’s friend Carl a copy of the game early. Carl called up Amrich and mentioned that someone on Usenet, a bulletin board system where users could post messages about virtually any topic, claimed there was a blood code for the Genesis that made it nearly identical to the arcade. Carl wasn’t able to test the code, so he asked Amrich to do it.

“DULLARD opened a developer debug menu that let you not only toggle the blood on and off, but several other dev-test things, like making Reptile appear,” said Amrich, referring to Mortal Kombat’s secret character.

Amrich entered the menu and found switches that could be toggled on or off. Some, like “Blood,” were obvious. Others were head-scratchers; Flag 0, Flag 1, Flag 2, and several others were set to on or off, but contained no context as to what they enabled or disabled. “The only way to determine what they did was to go through, methodically, and test them. So I did that basically all weekend and came up with the definitive guide for what seven of the eight flags did.”

A page of GamePro magazine shows off a secret code from the Sega Genesis version of Mortal Kombat
As seen in GamePro, the DULLARD code opened all sorts of options for players of Mortal Kombat on Genesis.
IDG/Warner Bros.

Amrich wrote up an exhaustive document that detailed the functionality of each flag. He asked his dad to fax it to GamePro, his favorite magazine, which gave a free t-shirt to anyone who sent in a cheat that could be verified. “A few days later I got a phone call from one of their editors, asking me how I got the code and if I was using this on a retail copy of the game. They had the EPROM for review, but they hadn’t gotten final retail versions yet. I assured them that it was legit and told them how I’d figured out all the flags.”

The editor who called was Lawrence “Scary Larry” Neves. (It was GamePro policy for each editor to write under multiple pseudonyms to make the magazine’s scrappy editorial team appear larger than it really was.) Neves thanked Amrich for his submission, and complimented him on his writing. Neves informed him that the cheat would run as a two-page spread due to all the hype surrounding Mortal Kombat. As a bonus, he paid Amrich the ultimate compliment. “We don’t usually get cheat submissions that are this clear and complete,” he said.

Amrich mentioned that he just happened to be looking for freelance work. Neves said the magazine didn’t have the budget for it at the moment, but he was welcome to try again in the future.

Several weeks later, Amrich’s t-shirt arrived in the mail. It was too small. A few years later, Amrich landed a job at the magazine. His first official act as a GamePro editor was to claim what was rightfully his. “I remember finding a GamePro shirt in a storage area and loudly proclaiming, ‘This is mine! You owe me this!’”

Source: Polygon.com

Resident Evil Project Resistance makes being evil so much fun

The next Resident Evil game, a spinoff called Project Resistance, may not be what survival horror fans were expecting. But the four-against-one online multiplayer game is already disarmingly fun, especially when you get to play as the cruel, murderous Mastermind who unleashes zombie hell on a team of four other players.

As revealed earlier this week, Project Resistance drops a team of four survivors, each with their own skills and special abilities, into a deadly escape room. Those four players must cooperate to solve puzzles and survive through a series of rooms while a fifth player tortures and terrorizes them.

There are at least four survivors: Tyrone, a tank with a powerful kick and the ability to boost his teammates’ fortitude; January, a hacker who can shut down security cameras and other gadgets used by the Mastermind; Valerie, a healer who can “ping” her surroundings to find items and deploy a healing area of effect ability; and Samuel, who can deal heavy melee damage, which can be critical in confined spaces.

Playing as the survivors — I tried January and Tyrone — is a fun, if sometimes clumsy experience. I tried to stay with my team, seeking out items like ammo and green herbs, while we performed simple objectives like finding security keys that would let us progress through each level. Occasionally, we’d come across automated shopping stations, where I could spend a currency called Umbrella Credits found throughout each level on ammo, healing items, new guns, melee weapons, and grenades. Once we completed our objectives, fighting against a ticking clock, we could move on to the next area.

A Mastermind-controlled zombie lunges after Samuel

Having recently played the Resident Evil 2 remake, Project Resistance felt immediately familiar. Most of the controls carry over directly from that game, and so do some of its quirks. Resident Evil games can feel awkward or clunky when the action gets up close and personal; trying to fight a Licker in a dark hallway means also fighting with the camera and controls. The same feels true in Project Resistance.

But the game is meant to be a new type of survival horror, less about ammo and item conservation than it is about sticking together as a team, trying to outsmart the player behind the Mastermind.

While playing the survivors offer some cooperative Resident Evil-style thrills with a bit of a twist, assuming the role of the Mastermind is where Project Resistance shines. In the build playable at Tokyo Game Show this week, there was one playable Mastermind character named Daniel Fabron. His abilities include being able to directly control certain zombies, to deploy certain types of zombies (like an armored SWAT officer), and to spawn the Tyrant, the massive bioweapon also known as Mr. X.

Playing as the Mastermind is done from a computer terminal. I could cycle through a series of security cameras to monitor the survivors’ progress or pull up a map of the area to directly select a camera. From these camera views, I could spawn things in the play area from a deck of cards. I deployed traps that would slow survivors down, spawn a variety of zombies and other virus-infected mutants, or attach a gun to a security camera and shoot bullets at my enemies. I had other godlike controls too: I could lock doors to slow players down or turn lights off to disorient them.

The Mastermind’s view of the game map

After a long cool down, I could spawn a Tyrant into the world and directly control him. That’s when things get thrilling: when you isolate a player from the group, stalk him as the Tyrant, and either punch him to death or grab one by the head and squeeze her noggin into mush. (Survivors will respawn if killed, but it will slow the whole team down and eat valuable time from the game clock.)

The sadistic fun of playing as the Mastermind comes when you layout a deadly combination of traps and zombies, sowing chaos among the survivors. In one game-winning moment, I spawned an armored zombie right by an objective that a sole survivor when after, then dropped a crawling zombie and a Licker by another group, then chased the last one down as the Tyrant. They were so close to finishing the level’s third and final objective, and it was immensely satisfying to shut them down.

The Mastermind has a breadth of powers, including the ability directly to directly control zombies that he spawns. When he does, this is visualized to survivors by making the zombie’s eyes glow read, so they recognize that it’s an extraordinary threat. But survivors have their share of counters to the Mastermind’s abilities. For example, Jan’s hacking will blind the Mastermind by shutting down his security cameras, and Tyrone’s kick can stun the Tyrant, freeing another survivor from his deadly grasp.


The push and pull of survivor abilities and the Mastermind’s suite of deadly tools is where Project Resistance will succeed or fail, and why developers Capcom and NeoBards will need to test and balance the game carefully.

Some players will be able to get their hands on Project Resistance (not the game’s final name, by the way) with a closed beta in October. Xbox Insider Program members and Resident Evil Ambassador members will have a chance to play the game on Xbox One or PlayStation 4 from Oct. 4-7, and registration for the beta is open through Sept. 18.

Source: Polygon.com