Tag Archives | Gaming

Playstation Vita Review: A Killer Gaming Handheld From a Bygone Era

Next to the phones and tablets on my desk, Sony’s Playstation Vita looks like it doesn’t belong. It’s twice as thick as the latest smartphones, and twice as heavy. Its exterior is a hodgepodge of materials, gray and black, matte and glossy. Protrusions and intrusions abound, from buttons and triggers to jacks and slots. If there was a memo decreeing that all portable electronics be reduced to slabs, Sony’s ignoring it.

The Vita’s design turns out to be a good metaphor for the gaming handheld itself. It’s a device that makes some small concessions to the rise of phones and tablets as portable entertainment–things like the touch screen and motion controls, the bare-bones web browser and the obligatory Twitter, Flickr and Netflix apps–but then it ignores them in favor of playing kick-ass, modern video games. Not Angry Birds, Doodle Jump, or Sudoku, but Uncharted, Rayman, and Marvel vs. Capcom. Almost everything else seems like an afterthought.

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The Offbeat World of Atari

For a forty-year-old company that remains synonymous with video games, Atari has experimented with an awful lot of other businesses. In its early years, it made pinball machines, jukeboxes, video phones, digital photo booths, music-visualization boxes for your hi-fi, and more. Benj Edwards, who knows more about this stuff than anyone, has compiled a look at Atari Oddities–including the aforementioned and others, and some strange games, too. (If you remember Puppy Pong, I’m impressed.)

 

Visit Atari Oddities slideshow.

 


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Atari Oddities

Atari OdditiesForty years ago this June, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney founded Atari, Inc. in California. And with it, they founded the video game industry as we know it today. Since then, the name Atari has become synonymous with the golden age of video games and a sense of Generation X nostalgia that will never fade.

If you’re reading this, I suspect you know the Atari 2600, 5200, and 7800 consoles. You’ve played the hit arcade video games, and you may have even used an Atari 8-bit or ST computer. But the story of Atari is filled with many unseen and little known oddities. Here are 13 examples of weird Atari products and strange Atari marketing you can use as trivia at your next 1970s or 80s theme party. When they ask, “How’d you know that?”, just tell them Benj Edwards sent you.


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Everything You Need to Know About Sony’s PlayStation Vita Launch

PS Vita

We’re just a few weeks out from Sony’s U.S. PlayStation Vita launch, so now’s a great time to review what it is, how it works, what it’ll cost, what’s under the hood and what you’ll probably need to buy a la carte. Ready, set…

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It’s Come to This: Used Game Buyers Denied Questline in Kingdoms of Amalur

Back when Electronic Arts started charging used game buyers $10 extra to play its sports games online, I figured that was just the beginning. Sure enough, over time the “Online Pass” concept has spread to multiplayer gaming in general, and to several other publishers.

Now, EA is taking the idea one step further with the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, an upcoming RPG that’s getting a lot of hype. People who buy the game new will get a voucher to download seven additional single-player quests for free. Folks who buy a used copy will have to pay extra for those quests.

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DONKEY.BAS is Back!

I didn’t own an IBM PC or clone in the early days, so I missed out on the wonder of DONKEY.BAS, which came bundled with early versions of MS-DOS and was the first PC game. In fact, I don’t think I knew about it until I read Benj Edwards’ slideshow on operating-system games, which pointed out that it was cowritten by Bill Gates himself.

But now I can relive the magic for the first time, thanks to a new version of DONKEY.BAS for iOS. It’s 99 cents, is compatible with Game Center, and includes both iPhone and iPad versions. It seems to be a faithful rendition of the original, complete with blocky graphics and bloopy sound effects, and the same objective: Drive down road, avoid hitting donkeys. And it’s um, just as fun as it must have been back in 1981.

The new version is by Johnny Ixe; I’d love to think that’s a pseudonym for William H. Gates III. Probably not, though, so let’s hope that Microsoft doesn’t issue a takedown notice….


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Nintendo Will Finally Embrace Online Play With Nintendo Network

Nine years after Microsoft launched Xbox Live, and five years after Sony launched the Playstation Network, Nintendo announced that it’s building its own online service, called the Nintendo Network.

As Mashable reports, the Nintendo Network will offer the requisite connected console fare, including user accounts, online multiplayer, downloadable add-ons and eventually full game downloads.

Although Nintendo’s Wii and 3DS can already connect to the Internet for downloadable games, online play and a couple of streaming video apps, the company’s online services are limited compared to what Microsoft and Sony offer. Nintendo doesn’t currently sell add-ons for existing games, offer system-wide voice support or even allow players to choose an online nickname that other players can easily look up.

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Netflix: Without Qwikster, No Game Rentals

When Netflix backtracked on its plans to spin off DVD rentals into a separate company called Qwikster, the company didn’t say whether it would still add video game rentals to its mail-order service, as announced along with the spin-off.

Now, it’s official: Netflix will not rent video games, or at least it has “no plans” to do so, CEO Reed Hastings said in an earnings call. He did not elaborate.

Netflix had planned to rent video games as an optional upgrade for movie renters. The news excited me because both GameFly and Blockbuster have trouble sending out the newest games in a timely manner. I was hoping that Netflix, with its huge DVD operation, would be able to do a better job with new releases, or at least pressure its competitors to do so.

But without a spin-off, it’s no surprise that Netflix doesn’t want to make the investment. That money is better spent on acquiring more streaming content–the inevitable future of media consumption–instead of trying to rent more discs.


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Microsoft May Ditch Xbox Live Points, For Real This Time

Inside Mobile Apps is reporting as rumor what Xbox 360 users have wanted for years: the death of Microsoft Points.

Kathleen De Vere’s “source with knowledge of the company’s decision” says Microsoft will phase out its points system by the end of the year, and that the change will affect the Xbox 360, Windows Phones and the Zune Marketplace. Mobile developers are reportedly being warned to plan their downloadable content and in-app purchases around the change in policy. Microsoft, not surprisingly, would not comment.

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Alienware’s Mini-Gaming Machine with Rotating Logo

I’m not in the market for a desktop PC. In fact, I don’t expect to buy another desktop PC, ever. But if I were, this new Alienware box would be tempting.


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