Tag Archives: polygon

Lego Star Wars anniversary sets celebrate 20 years of tiny space battles

Lego and Lucasfilm quietly released five new special edition Lego Star Wars sets earlier this month, in anticipation of the collection’s 20th anniversary and this weekend’s Star Wars Celebration.

The Lego Star Wars line was announced at the 1999 International Toy Fair and released on April 9 of that year. Those first sets mainly featured scenes and characters from Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace, which hit theaters that summer, but five of the 13 new kits were based on George Lucas’ original trilogy.

Since the spring of 1999, the Lego Star Wars brand has expanded exponentially. Lego has released over 700 Star Wars sets, including the biggest Lego kit ever, a whopping 7,541- piece Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon. Lego Star Wars characters later migrated to video games and TV mini-series; Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon even made a cameo in The Lego Movie.

Lego Star Wars milestone timeline
Celebrating 20 years of very silly milestones.
The Lego Group

In a blog post announcing the new collection, Lego revealed a bunch of fun facts about its 20-year-old collaboration with Lucasfilm. Some gems: The Jar Jar Binks minifigure was the first to get a unique Lego head sculpt; the 10188 Death Star set had enough minifigures to reenact almost every scene set on the moon-sized space station; and the 10179 Millennium Falcon prototype had to spend a day in a sauna since it was too large to fit in Lego’s heat-resistance testing oven.

For the anniversary collection, Lego is bringing back classic sets from throughout its 20-year history, including special edition minifigures based on their original iterations. Two of the five sets are recreations of original 1999 models: the Empire Strikes Back Snowspeeder and Anakin’s Podracer from The Phantom Menace.

The Lego 20th Anniversary Collection is available now at Amazon, Walmart, Target, and the Lego Store. They range in price from $19.99 for a 125-piece Imperial Dropship to $119.97 for Boba Fett’s Slave 1. Each set includes a bonus limited-edition minifigure with a 20th Anniversary stand. Check ‘em all out below!

Source: Polygon.com

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order’s teaser poster leaks

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order’s teaser poster was mistakenly teased ahead of time in an Amazon listing for a commemorative t-shirt.

The product listing (since taken down) repeated some details already known about the story behind the game — namely that this concerns another Padawan who survived Palpatine’s finger-tenting Order 66 in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

The poster depicts a Jedi of undetermined gender from behind, carrying a lit blue lightsaber, with yet another crashed, Republic-era Star Destroyer in the distance. There’s also a droid in front of the Jedi, who appears to be scanning for something — runes, possibly. They figured into Tuesday’s tease of this weekend’s panel discussion at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago.

Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts via Amazon.

Here it is on the shirt, if that’s important to you:

Amazon

The game’s main character will be at least the second Padawan to slip from Palpatine and Darth Vader’s crushing grip. Ahsoka Tano of Star Wars Rebels (which is canonical) is another.

We will, one hopes, hear much more about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on Saturday, during a panel discussion of the game at Star Wars Celebration. That will be at 2:30 p.m. EDT and will be livestreamed from EA’s Star Wars Twitch channel. We’ll be at the event, and you can watch along with us.

Source: Polygon.com

PSN’s long-anticipated, long-overdue ID changes: How it works and what to expect

Hallelujah and glory be. The PlayStation Network ID you chose in 2006 or 2007, as anachronistic as a Facebook poke or a Motorola Razr, may now be changed. Announced on Wednesday morning, the capability went live later that night, so at last you can change your TaYZonDaYFan_420 PSN handle.

Of course, switching your ID comes with a lot of caveats and terms to accept. Some games might even have critical screw-ups because of the change — i.e. the loss of progress or user-generated content, trophies, in-game currency, and other entitlements.

I have one of the games from the critical issues category, and I still changed my PSN ID this morning. It was vitally important that I unify the name dudemanbestbro1 across all my game platforms, and herald the coming of Gozer the Gozerian.

Hopefully, this can serve as a guide for you, if you’re gonna take the plunge when you get home from work/class tonight.

Step One: Where the hell is it?

Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

On your PlayStation 4, go to Settings, then to Account Information, then Profile, and lastly this new category, Online ID.

Alternatively, you can do it over the web (but you can’t do it on a PlayStation 3 or Vita). It looks like this. That part that says dudemanbestbro1? That used to say “columbia10025.” I used that handle because it was the one I picked when I signed up for AOL Instant Messenger. In 2000.

Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Step Two: What is the deal with this dudemanbestbro1 stuff?

He’s the mythological nemesis of my favorite reader, Chewblaha (dating back to my Kotaku days). dudemanbestbro1 takes the most overrated team and runs the most glitched plays to beat you in multiplayer Madden NFL. It’s been my handle since 2010. When video games PR asks for my Xbox Live Gamertag to give me preview access to something, and I give it to them, I always have to follow that up with, “Yes, really.”

Step Three: Fine, OK. What next?

Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Just click “I accept.” It’s not like you read this stuff anyway.

Step Four: Back up game saves, just in case

Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

OK, being serious for a sec, it might be a good idea to make sure all of your game saves are backed up to PlayStation Network’s very roomy cloud storage. That PlayStation Plus perk went up from 10 GB to 100 GB back in February, so you might as well use as much as you can.

Step Five: Choose the form of The Destructor

Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

After accepting those two screens, you’re taken to this one where you actually and finally change your PSN ID. The screen also reminds you of the longevity of your lame old name, so you can rue the fact you went more than a decade being identified by it.

The first name change is free. I recommend not wasting it on any of those rando suggestions at right. If you do, it’ll cost $9.99 to change it to something that doesn’t suck (PlayStation Plus subscribers get a discount on additional changes, which cost them $4.99).

Step Five: Confirm the ID

Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

This isn’t official until you push the confirm button on this screen. Helpfully, PSN will show your old ID in parentheses for the next 30 days, so your friends don’t go “New ID who dis?” when you party up in Apex Legends.

As to that … Samit last night had some temporary trouble with Apex Legends — which is not one of the games listed with known critical (or any) issues. He says it was resolved within an hour, though. Your mileage may vary!

Step Five: Play some games and hope for the best

I have Everybody’s Golf, which is one of the PS4 titles known to have critical issues. (Though what, exactly, those issues are, Sony does not say.) I also have all of the premium DLC courses for the game. So I booted that up to see if everything was still there. It is. I have all my progress, trophies, and DLC. I made par on No. 3 at Nam Rong Bay. I’ve seen some stuff related to Electronic Arts accounts having difficulty connecting, so I checked NBA Live 19, and that is all good, too.

Clap Hanz/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Conclusion

God only knows why it took this long — almost 13 years since the creation of PlayStation Network, and six months since Sony announced ID changes were in the works. But it’s here, it’s relatively painless, and it makes me a happier player. Mission success.

Source: Polygon.com

The 5 best Android and iOS games from March 2019

Looking for something new and exciting to tap into on your smartphone or tablet? You’re in luck: March brought the most compelling slate of iOS and Android releases so far in 2019, and we’ve picked five of the top games from the pack.

The rhythmic roguelike action of Crypt of the NecroDancer: Amplified leads March’s list, while games such as Sprout: Idle Garden and Rest in Pieces offer other kinds of entertaining on-the-go experiences. Give these games a shot and loop back on February’s picks for other recent options.

Crypt of the NecroDancer: Amplified

Crypt of the NecroDancer is an incredibly charming, one-of-a-kind hybrid of roguelike dungeon crawlers and rhythm games. Every movement and action must be done to the beat of the music — and that pace changes with each new area — giving the play experience a unique feel.

And it’s a great fit for touch devices, as the previous mobile release made clear, but Crypt of the NecroDancer: Amplified is something of an ultimate edition for the game. It features the prequel, which was paid DLC on other platforms, along with the entire (previously-released) core game in one new, standalone release. That’s kind of an odd approach, but it’s an extra-great deal for newcomers.

Available on iOS, $4.99

Sprout: Idle Garden

Every other game on this month’s list is heavy or intense, but Sprout: Idle Garden is thankfully not. It’s a respite — a low-key, play-at-your-own-pace gardening game that doesn’t push or prod you. Heck, you can just let the game play itself if you please.

As the title suggests, Sprout: Idle Garden shares some commonalities with simple idle clicker games, as you can harvest grown flowers yourself or just let the little gardeners do it at their own, slower pace. But the real joy here is in gradually expanding your garden, building new kinds of layouts and arrangements while incorporating unlocked flower types. Frazzled after a hellish day? Take a breath, grab your iPhone, and tend your digital garden for a bit.

Available on iOS, free

Frag Pro Shooter

Frag Pro Shooter looks like a combination of Overwatch and Midway’s final arcade game, The Grid. It’s a shooter with various character types and classes, but it takes place on what appears to be an obstacle course of a TV show. That’s an interesting combo, and it’s not the end of developer Oh BiBi’s genre twists.

Frag is a team-based objective shooter, but you’re the only human player on your team. Your teammates are controlled by the AI and, when your hero is fragged, you can swap over and take control of anyone else on your squad. That squad is constructed with collected cards, with a very Clash Royale-esque progression system attached. It’s perhaps not as satisfying as a true team-based shooter with a full roster of real-life allies, but Frag definitely entertains.

Available on iOS and Android, free

Rest in Pieces

I can’t decide which part of Rest in Pieces is more disturbing: the fact that you’re swinging a human porcelain doll like a pendulum across an endless path of jagged rocks, or that there’s a haunting clown with glowing eyes (or other ominous creature) staring you down the entire time.

Rest in Pieces is essentially an endless runner, although it’s quite unlike most games in that genre. Beyond the eerie atmospherics, success here is all about momentum as the doll swings back and forth, and you try to nudge it more in one direction or the other to avoid shattering the glossy figure against the next hazard. It’ll smash to bits eventually, of course, but prolonging the inevitable is pretty amusing.

Available on iOS and Android, free

Monsters with Attitude

Monsters with Attitude isn’t the most enticing mae for what’s actually a very entertaining multiplayer game. Developer Keen Flare’s latest builds off of a simple competitive premise, challenging your monster to grow larger and larger by smashing everything in sight … including rival players.

The meatiest monster at the end of each match prevails, but Monsters with Attitude adds a sense of progression. You’ll unlock new upgrades along the way, as well as additional monsters that have unique special abilities. The actual battles keep things simple throughout, with just a couple of minutes of rapid mashing, but there’s a satisfying flow to the chaos.

Available on iOS and Android, free

Source: Polygon.com

World of Warcraft players are excited to get corrupted by an Old God

World of Warcraft’s latest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, has been all about the faction war between the Alliance and the Horde. That conflict isn’t coming to an end any time soon, but there’s a rude third participant knocking on the door: the Old Gods, specifically N’zoth.

The Old Gods have been a villain to various degrees since Classic, where players stormed Ahn’Qiraj to kill C’thun, but this expansion gives players a whole new Old God opportunity — the ability to accept their “gift” and wear their corruption around like a neat little hat.

A new quest chain has been put into the game in which players find a Naga medallion, a dagger, and a very polite whisper who just needs the player to perform some blood rituals. The quest can be started at a Naga Invasion World Quest, and begins when a Naga drops the Azsharan Medallion.

Savvy players will recognize Xal’atath, Blade of the Black Empire, a previous artifact weapon who shared dangerous secrets with shadow priests. Xal’atath was one of the most popular new characters of Legion, and now she’s back in a whole new body, thanks to us gullible players who fall for her extremely suspicious story and empower her via Naga souls and murder.

The quest chain culminates with the players being confronted by N’zoth himself. N’zoth, an Old God, has been teased for some time. He appeared in the animated short “Warbringers: Azshara,” and is the Old God who created the Naga after the fall of Azshara’s empire. He’s been biding his time for over 10,000 years, and instead of threatening the player or killing them, he seems pretty interested in working with us, and he gives us a gift. The Gift of N’Zoth gives players a purple crown with an eye, and when it’s active, the player can see everyone else who is wearing the Gift of N’Zoth.

This also allows for another major choice for players: They can either cleanse the Gift, returning to their normal, uncorrupted form, or they can keep it, and continue to adventure in Azeroth, keeping an eye on all of their friends who are also corrupted. Players who cleanse the Gift will receive a toy that gives them the cosmetic effect again temporarily.

The Old Gods are all about corrupting through their insidious influence. The Emerald Nightmare, the fallen World Tree in Northrend, Cho’gall, and Deathwing are all examples of the damage they’ve done to Azeroth.

In a recent interview with Polygon, game director Ion Hazzikostas said that the team was working to only implement player choices with some kind of payoff or interesting result. This means that players who maintain their third eye may end up seeing major consequences, especially because we’re heading to Queen Azshara’s domain in the upcoming Rise of Azshara patch.

No matter how this turns out, I’m sure it will be fine. I don’t see how any of this could go wrong. The players have, once again, made a stellar set of decisions and everything seems perfectly normal.

Source: Polygon.com

Fortnite’s most useful vehicle needs to die

Fortnite has had a sordid history with vehicles over the last couple of seasons. During season 7 the problem was the X-4 Stormwing, a flying battering ram that wreaked havoc in every game. Now, in season 8, the Baller has taken its place as the vehicular source of frustration in Fortnite.

The Baller was added to Fortnite in patch 8.10, the first update after season 8 began. The vehicle is a glass sphere with a chair inside and a suction cup gun mounted to the front. Players can’t fire from inside the Baller but can shoot the suction cup gun to grapple their way to anything they hit. The Baller also has boosters which, combined with the suction cup grapple, can be used to propel it across the map at high speeds. When inside the Baller, players are completely protected from damage until it’s destroyed.

To help relieve players’ frustrations, Epic released a hotfix on Thursday morning that takes the Baller’s health from 300 down to 200. It’s a substantial change that should help ease Baller-related complaints, but it isn’t enough to stop it from being overpowered.

The Baller is the most useful vehicle Epic has ever added to Fortnite, and that’s exactly the problem. The Baller may only be a glass ball with a suction cup attached to the front, but it has the ability to put players in a lot of places they couldn’t normally reach, and it keeps them safe while doing it.

[embedded video of people doing crazy shit with baller?]

With the Baller, a player can suction cup their way up a mountain or to the top of another player’s tower, making mobility a non issue. On top of that, the Baller’s health acts as an extra shield for players. Whether it’s 300 or 200, that’s still health a player without a Baller wouldn’t have.

All of this is useful in normal game modes, but the Baller’s biggest strengths come out in Fortnite’s more competitive matches. In the top ranked matches of Arena mode, or the finals of any Pop-Up Cup over the last few weeks, the endgame is a frenzy of Ballers grappling for position. Meanwhile a few unlucky players remain on-foot trying to stay out of the way of the bombastic vehicles. Because the main goal of these competitive matches is to stay alive as long as possible, any extra health the Ballers give to players is a huge boost to their survival.

It isn’t hard to destroy Ballers in these late game situations. But to focus fire one down, you’d also have to expose yourself to enemy fire. It’s a risky proposition that few players ever deem worthwhile. So, most of the Ballers go unchallenged, leaving as many as 10 rolling around in the last few circles.

Epic’s original idea, detailed in the notes for patch 8.20, was to add the ability to shoot through the glass of the Baller. This would let opposing players damage the driver directly, rather than making the Baller an all encompassing shield. However, according to Epic’s notes in the hotfix announcement, “we’ve played with shooting through glass and it didn’t feel like the right solution.” Instead, the developer landed on decreasing the health of the vehicle instead.

With Fortnite World Cup qualifiers starting this weekend, players are likely to play safer than ever. That means the Baller is going to be around in every match. With the reduced health, the vehicle’s late game strength should be diminished, but the mobility benefits will still remain. Does this mean it’s destined to be vaulted? We’ll have to see what Epic has in store.

Source: Polygon.com

Bloodroots is a stylish top-down brawler where everything is a weapon

Playing Bloodroots, the upcoming brawler from Paper Cult Games, immediately reminds me of Hotline Miami. Instead of seizing assault rifles or knives, however, I’m given a wackier arsenal for my murder spree. Sometimes, these tools are obviously deadly and I sprint for them — like a Mario-esque Chain Chomp weapon that can rip enemies in half.

Other times, the weapon repertoire is completely unexpected. Early on, I learn that I can grab a fish from a camp site, pull it over a man’s head, and watch him run in circles in a blind panic.

Bloodroots, which is coming to Steam and consoles in 2019, puts me in the comfortable hiking boots of Mr. Wolf, a lumberjack with a need to kill. Bloodroots’ mechanics focus asks players to chain melee attacks together by grabbing everything within reach and using it to devastating, dramatic effect.

It’s less about getting the job done as fast as possible — although that’s certainly a goal — and more about enjoying the chaos of, say, blinding a man with a jug while I set a hay bale on fire and use it to chase down another poor sucker.

Everything around me is a weapon, but each tool can only take a limited number of hits. A carrot can dispatch an enemy well enough, but it only lasts for one hit. If I find an axe buried in a stump, that’s a sturdier weapon that can last for three hits. Other tools, like barrels or hay bales, have special properties. If I grab a barrel, I toss it on its side, climb aboard, and roll it forward with my momentum to crush everyone in my path.

“We made Bloodroots a bit like Quentin Tarantino makes his movies,” says Raph Toulouse, co-founder of Paper Cult Games. “It’s a patchwork or a collage of influences. The main one is Jackie Chan for the idea that everything is a weapon. Obviously Hotline Miami played a big part of the game, the loop of a fast paced action game. The setting is inspired by The Revenant with DiCaprio and the bear, and the art style is inspired by the background artists on Samurai Jack.”

There are projectile weapons in the game, but Paper Cult Games focused on melee weapons to encourage a certain gameplay loop. “We decided that we didn’t want the player to run away from enemies and hide in the corner. We wanted to force players to move towards enemies, always be hopping from one entity to the next.”

The limited durability of weapons, combined with the need to move forward, forces me to improvise. So I grab a sword, slash through enemies, seize a fence post, crack it over a goon’s head, run forward to grab an axe, jump up on a platform and start hewing through enemies on the high ground, then hop down to a cabin, grab a ladder, run it through an open flame, and whirl through a mob of lumberjacks with a spinning helicopter of fire.

Bloodroots is relentlessly stylish, bloody, and fun. Most impressively, losing a run can be as fun and satisfying as a victory. Paper Cult have captured the breathless exhilaration of pulling off a perfect combo in Hotline Miami so well, that even losing can be fun.

What’s fun about the failures is that they feel fair, and more importantly, they introduce enough chaos to keep things entertaining. It’s hard to be irritated when a barn gets overrun by blazing hay bales engulfing everything, including the corpses — and you watch as a swarm of lumberjacks rains down on you. It’s a legitimately funny situation, and the dynamic environments mean that these outcomes change slightly every time.

Bloodroots is due out in 2019; the exact release date has yet to be announced.

Source: Polygon.com

Niantic opens name reservations for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

After the success of Pokémon Go, Niantic Labs is forging into a new franchise with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. The developer won’t release the J.K. Rowling-inspired game until this summer, but Niantic is now letting existing Pokémon Go and Ingress players reserve their usernames to carry over to Wizards Unite.

Players looking to maintain their current user names can head over to this website. After entering their login credentials for either Pokémon Go or Ingress, users can select to carry that same info over to the new game. This will work for both Android and iOS players.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will utilize similar GPS tracking and augmented reality systems that Pokémon Go features, but with different gameplay mechanics and, ya know, wizards. We haven’t had a chance to play ourselves but several gameplay videos and screenshots have been released, giving a sense of what to expect:

Niantic is planning a summer release date for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. We’ll have more info about the game as that date nears.

Source: Polygon.com

The Nintendo Labo VR kit brings playful fun to VR on the cheap

Virtual reality is a hard sell. The upfront costs are prohibitively high. The need for a sizable space excludes most apartment dwellers or folks with smaller homes. And the lack of experiences out there hardly justifies the investment.

Nintendo is attempting to overcome those barriers with its Labo VR Kit, which replaces expensive peripherals with craftable cardboard. The company’s novel approach to virtual reality impressed me every step of the way — from construction to play.

Nintendo Labo VR Kit - Jeff looking at the inside of the headset

Nintendo created a set of experiences sold in four configurations that are collectively known as the Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 04: VR Kit. The $39.99 Starter Kit includes the pieces to build the required Goggles and the bazooka-like Toy-Con Blaster. The $19.99 Expansion Set 1 comes with the Toy-Con Camera and the bizarre-looking Toy-Con Elephant. Lastly, the equally priced Expansion Set 2 comes with the Toy-Con Bird and the Toy-Con Wind Pedal. The entire set can be purchased for $79.99.

As with the Labo kits before it, the cartridge inside the VR Kit’s case is broken up into three sections: make, play, and discover. Make runs players through dead-simple and upbeat animated instructions to help build each cardboard toy. Play is broken up into a catalog of dedicated experiences for each kit and a “VR Plaza” filled with various minigames that stretch the limits of what each VR kit is capable of. The Discover section is the educational side of the package, which helps demystify the science of how VR works and further explains how each VR kit operates.

I cannot understate how impressive Labo VR is. Traditional VR hardware like the Oculus Rift or the PlayStation 4-powered PlayStation VR may dwarf the horsepower of this virtual reality experience on the Switch, but Labo VR delivers unmatched creativity and ingenuity at a tiny portion of the cost. Yes, this is cardboard, but that doesn’t cheapen any of the wonderful VR experiences Labo is capable of producing.

It all starts with the process of putting together the various kits.

Nintendo Labo VR Kit - assembling the Goggles

Nintendo Labo VR Kit - close-up of assembling the Goggles

Each Labo VR Kit starts off as several sheets of cardboard shoved into a rectangular box. Within 20-30 minutes — or as long as two hours — I transform the sheets into hefty toy guns that have actual kickback when I pull the trigger, or a camera that satisfyingly clicks as I zoom in and out. Each of the kits hides small yet complex construction tricks that I consistently marveled at while building them.

The building process for the VR Kit is wonderfully foolproof, just like those of its predecessors. I’m tragically bad at putting together even the simplest pieces of furniture, yet I constructed just about everything Labo VR had to offer without any mistakes. That’s not to say there aren’t some fiddly bits: Placing stickers is always a little stressful, and snapping together grommets and washers to make permanent holds can be screwed up if put on backward. However, the software is quick to explain how to fix it in case I mess that part up. There are some more complicated sections, like snapping together multiple pieces, but even then, mistakes are easily rectifiable.

Once I’m done building my various Toy-Cons, getting in and out of each VR experience is just as painless.

Depending on the Toy-Con, I first need to place my left and right Joy-Cons in various places on the kit, each of which are clearly labeled on my cardboard constructions. Then, I slide my Switch into the Labo VR Goggles, which I then insert into the Toy-Con. I can choose my experience from the main menu and select it by double-tapping the top of the goggles.

When I’m in VR, the left Joy-Con and the Switch handle various gyroscope-related functions, while the right Joy-Con and its infrared sensor deal with more complex tasks. Few games on Nintendo Switch use that IR sensor, but Labo VR shows its potential.

Nintendo Labo VR Kit - Jeff using the Elephant Toy-Con

One of the most impressive examples is the Toy-Con Elephant. Despite its bizarre appearance, it’s one of the most cleverly designed aspects of the VR kit.

The Toy-Con looks like a gray elephant mask that I hold up to my face with one hand, while the other holds a Joy-Con at the end of a “trunk,” which is attached to the mask with two long cardboard pieces bound by rubber bands. At first glance, it looks low-tech and janky, but this weird-looking design allows the Elephant to deliver VR experiences with impressive and accurate hand tracking in 3D space.

Its main experience requires me to grab, rotate, and place several floating tracks in full 3D space to help a falling ball reach a goal. At first, the puzzles are simple, but eventually I have to place tracks all throughout the virtual space, and at different angles above me, close to me, and at arm’s length. Another experience allows me to make free-flowing drawings in all three dimensions. Think of it like drawing with tubes in 3D space, instead of with lines on a flat surface. The precise hand tracking to pull that off is impressive, considering that all of this is done while I’m holding a silly elephant mask against my face.

Nintendo Labo VR Kit - profile view of Jeff holding Blaster Toy-Con

That’s not the only clever, tactile solution found in Labo VR’s cardboard box of tricks. The Toy-Con Blaster hides two hefty blocks of cardboard in its barrel and a trigger mechanism created with rubber bands.

As with a shotgun, I have to pull back a lever to “cock” the Blaster. Then, when I press the thumb trigger, the chamber flies forward, slamming against the other cardboard block in the blaster with a satisfying thud. Paired with the Blaster’s main game, which has me firing a grenade launcher at aliens, the effect really sells the experience. Even the Toy-Con Camera’s simple design hides a charming feature. Inside is a cardboard gear and two tabs that rub against it. As I twist the lens on the cardboard camera, the gear gives off a ratchet-like noise, similar to how a real camera sounds when I zoom in and out. It’s childlike but brilliant in its simplicity.

It’s worth noting that these Toy-Cons require me to hold the Switch and the cardboard creations up to my face with my non-dominant hand the whole time. The combination of the Switch and VR kits isn’t too heavy, but after playing with all of them for an entire day, my left shoulder definitely felt the stress. Thankfully, the software reminds me to take a break every few minutes.

These tactile experiences are what set Labo VR apart: I can interact with all these moving parts, and they mimic reality in a way that no other, more expensive headset can.

Nintendo’s success in replicating physical experiences with its simple cardboard add-ons shines a light on where mainstream VR fails: The controllers that accompany traditional VR headsets can’t replicate the breadth of experiences that the platforms can provide. Sure, the traditional headsets all have much better tracking and more versatile standard controllers than Labo VR. But at best, all they do is provide a facsimile of the hand gestures related to my virtual activities. In the end, I’m still flicking, twisting, and pressing buttons on the same pair of high-end controllers, no matter what I’m actually doing in VR.

Nintendo Labo VR Kit - Jeff playing with the Toy-Con Bird

The Labo VR kit and its whimsical specialty controllers push VR’s boundaries by using simple, folded-up cardboard cutouts to create tactile, engrossing experiences. Each is a distinct, physical activity that further extends the suspension of disbelief VR provides. The tools to deliver this sensation are cheap, but they work in tandem to create small and engaging virtual reality experiences that rival those of its competitors.

To be clear, what’s on offer right now is still limited to each kit’s associated games. VR support for Switch classics like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is coming in the future as “bite-sized” exercises, so it remains to be seen if Nintendo will further support the platform with fuller experiences down the line.

If you’ve never experienced VR, or have and weren’t fully convinced by the other hardware on the market, I think you’ll find Nintendo’s Labo VR kit worth checking out. At worst, you’ll spend a few hours having fun putting together some charming cardboard toys and seeing what parlor tricks your Nintendo Switch can do with them. At best, you’ll dive into one of the most inexpensive, yet engrossing, VR experiences out there.

Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 04: VR Kit will be released April 12 on Nintendo Switch. The package was reviewed using a final retail unit provided by Nintendo. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

Source: Polygon.com

American Horror Story season 9 will pay tribute to 1980s slasher films

The next season of American Horror Story will pay homage to slasher films of the 1980s, such as Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween. AHS creator Ryan Murphy dropped a little teaser on social media, featuring a lumbering figure stalking a scared teenage girl through woods.

Entitled American Horror Story: 1984, this new season will star Emma Roberts, with Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy joining as her boyfriend. There is no further casting news, but it has been confirmed that AHS veteran Evan Peters — who played primary roles in all eight seasons of the show — will be sitting this one out. Sarah Paulson, the only other actor to be present in all eight seasons, has not confirmed her involvement as of yet.

The last season of American Horror Story indulged in fan-favorite crossovers, revivals of characters, and eight seasons worth of supernatural elements. This season, however, looks like it shifts to more reality-tinged horror, much like AHS: Cult did in season 7.

American Horror Story: 1984 will premiere sometime this fall on FX.

Source: Polygon.com