Holiday Gaming Gift Guide

The holidays are just around the corner, and most folks are just getting going with their gift shopping. But for those not in the know, what’s the best way to find gifts for the favorite gamer in your life? Don’t worry, we’ve got a handy guide that should put a smile on any gamer’s face. Let’s start with the obvious: most people already have a console or portable, but the hottest model at the moment is the Nintendo Switch. And the “House of Mario” is really stepping up this holiday season, releasing a “Mario Kart 8” bundle that includes a new Switch – sure to get gamer hearts racing. For a more advanced Switch-related present, try the new custom Super Mario Maker 3-D-S. It allows the user to create their own playable levels of some of the most popular classic Mario games – including “Super Mario Brothers.” And the special “Player One” in your life already has those, consider picking them up a high-quality carrying case to help avoid accidents and mother nature. Controllers make another great gamer gift, and generally speaking, they come at a lower price point than games and consoles – but not always. X-Box and PS4 controllers already come in many variations, but customizing could make it yours, and there are a number of companies out there offering that service. “Controller Chaos” is one of the most popular, and has become known for creating controllers with an artistic vibe. Another company – “AIM Controllers” – makes a line of popular face plates for PlayStation, turning ordinary controllers into colorful creations. And if you’re on a budget, try the Strike Pack FPS Dominator. It’s an adaptor that fits easily onto most controllers, allowing enhanced gameplay and quicker response times. And last but not least, for the boy or girl who has pixels in their heart but all the games and accessories they need, try some new apparel featuring their favorite game or eSports team. All the major studios now have these products available, but be careful – some are more high-end than others, like the all-leather re-creation of Mario’s cap from Big Swan clothing, one of the season’s most popular items.

What would it be like to play ‘Pokémon Go’ in space?

As people wandered our office halls, hunting tiny monsters with the newly released augmented-reality game “Pokémon Go,” had only one question: Can astronauts play it in space? We know that NASA astronauts have internet access on the International Space Station (ISS), and that they have smartphones to use as part of experiments, such as the station-traversing SPHERES robots (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites). And they have an “Angry Birds” plush doll. But it was unclear whether those devices could access the station’s on-board internet or make use of apps. We had a few guesses but decided to take the question straight to the source. “Short answer is no, it is not possible for the astronauts to play,” NASA spokesman Dan Huot told in an email. The smartphones and tablets on the space station don’t have internet connectivity, and apps can’t be added to them. Although that answer did not surprise us, we kept wondering: If astronauts could access the internet through those devices, what would the “Pokémon Go” experience be like? “Pokémon Go,” based on the popular Nintendo franchise, lets players capture a variety of cartoon critters as they move around the “real world.” During their travels, players are prompted to peer through their smartphones to catch Pokémon superimposed on their surroundings as captured by the phone’s camera. The game relies on Google Maps to identify users’ locations and their proximity to PokeStops and gyms — which are tied to real-world landmarks — where they can get items and fight. And so there’s a hint about what the experience would be like for astronauts, if smartphones on the space station were able to connect. The space station accesses the internet through computers down at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. So rather than streaking across the Earth at more than 5 miles per second — thus circling Earth every 90 minutes, which is definitely too fast to hatch Pokémon eggs — astronauts’ “Pokémon Go” avatars would be stuck in one spot in Houston: wherever that particular Internet Protocol (IP) address shows up on Google Maps. Hopefully, there’d be a PokeStop near that spot, or the astronauts would soon run out of Poke Balls to catch visitors to their starry surroundings. (Maybe NASA would splurge and let them buy a few from the in-game store.) In reality, “astronauts use ISS internal GPS data and custom applications to determine their location and position,” Huot said. “Location-based services we use here on Earth are not utilized.” While “Pokémon Go” is probably not in the cards for the station’s six spacefarers, they have plenty to do in between exercise, experiments and spacewalks to stay in contact with the outside world. Astronauts can peruse the internet relayed through Houston, communicate by email and post on social media, and they can call down to phone numbers on Earth with a satellite IP phone. They also get the chance to video chat with their family back home once a week, NASA astronaut R. Shane Kimbrough said at a news conference last week. “Our internet connection is actually a relatively new thing,” NASA astronaut Tim Kopra said during a Facebook Live chat with Mark Zuckerberg from the space station in June. (Internet access was added for astronauts seven years ago.) “It’s not quite the same speed, bandwidth that folks have down on the ground, but it’s good enough, and it allows us to keep in touch with friends and family.” Space fliers who want to “catch them all” might be better off bringing a handheld system with one of the original Pokémon games instead — like the Russian cosmonaut who played a Nintendo Game Boy with Tetris to stay entertained during a 196-day stay on the space station Mir in 1993.

Fun!   🙂

Sales of unearthed Atari games total more than $100,000

A cache of Atari game cartridges dug up in a New Mexico landfill last year has generated more than $100,000 in sales over the last several months. The April 2014 dig ended speculation surrounding an urban legend that Atari had discarded hundreds of games, including “E.T. The Extraterrestrial,” more than 30 years ago, reported The Alamogordo Daily News. A film crew documented Joe Lewandowski as he dug up the Atari cartridges. In addition to the “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” cartridges, Lewandowski found more than 60 other titles. Those included Asteroids, Missile Command, Warlords, Defender, Star Raiders, Swordquest, Phoenix, Centipede and Super Breakout. Atari’s E.T. game, based on the Steven Spielberg film, was released in 1982 after only 34 days of development. It earned a reputation as the worst video game ever created. It didn’t live up to its financial expectations and is considered by many to have contributed to Atari’s demise, as shown in Zak Penn’s documentary “Atari: Game Over.” The 881 games sold on eBay brought in close to $108,000, Lewandowski told the Alamogordo City Commission earlier this week. Buyers came from 45 states and 14 countries. Twenty-three games also made their way to museums around the world, including the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and the Deutsches Film Museum in Frankfurt, Germany. But Lewandowski said there are hundreds more cartridges that aren’t for sale at this time. “There’s 297 we’re still holding in an archive that we’ll sell at a later date when we decide what to do with them,” he said. “But for now we’re just holding them.” The city will receive about $65,000 from the sale of the games, and $16,000 will go to the Tularosa Basin Historical Society. About $26,000 will go toward expenses such as shipping fees.

Fun!   🙂

Halo 5: Guardians brings manhunts and giant multiplayer matches this October

Halo 5: Guardians kicked off Microsoft’s Xbox press conference this year, and while the gameplay shown was curiously brief, it builds on the Spartan Locke vs. Master Chief showdown that Microsoft and 343 Industries have been pushing so much over the past several months. The Covenant — or the “Storm” Covenant from Halo 4 — appear to be weakened, helplessly slaughtered as Locke and his team of four Spartans move into an enemy base: a base that Master Chief has clearly already been through, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. The Prometheans, however, are stronger than ever, complete with new flying vehicles capable of annihilating Locke and his team with a barrage of machine gun-like light energy. On the ground, the Promethean Knights also appear to have undergone a redesign, streamlined and more reminiscent of Covenant Hunters. But Master Chief and Locke have access to new gear, as well. The “Plasma Caster,” which in its main mode fires a bouncing blast not unlike the Brute Shot, can be charged up to deliver a devastating explosion similar to a plasma grenade. A seemingly improved jetpack also allows Locke to move quickly between levels of the Covenant base, just seconds before it collapses from an enormous shockwave of energy. Through all the chaos, you can drop in and drop out of cooperative mode, although this will only be available via Xbox Live. Of course, a Halo showcase wouldn’t be complete without a look at multiplayer, and 343’s Josh Holmes was onstage to give us a first look at a brand new mode: Warzone. Labeled as both player vs. player and player vs. “everything,” the mode tasks 12 players with not only defeating the other team of 12 but, also defending against an onslaught of AI-controlled Covenant and Promethean enemies. Holmes notes that the environments for Warzone are four times larger than any previous Halo map. Halo 5: Guardians launches exclusively for Xbox One on October 27.

And yes, fellow HALO nerds, Steve Downes returns as the voice of Master Chief.

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega sues over depiction in ‘Call of Duty’ game

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega sues over depiction in ‘Call of Duty’ game

This is so silly..  Hopefully, the judge in LA presiding over this lawsuit will just dismiss it.  I mean, c’mon..  “Old Pineapple Face” is 80 years old and serving a 20 year prison sentence in Panama.  He will die in a Panamanian prison.

‘Halo 5: The Guardians’ for Xbox One, Halo TV series announced by Microsoft

‘Halo 5: The Guardians’ for Xbox One, Halo TV series announced by Microsoft

Excellent!!  I played Halo 4 for the first time a couple weeks ago.  The graphics keep getting better and better.  And, from what I’m hearing, Steve Downes WILL return as the voice of Master Chief.  As to whether or not Cortana will return is anyone’s guess..