Yesterday my coworker laid the DropMix board out on a table and started dropping cards. Immediately catchy music played from her phone's speaker and three passing coworkers stopped dead in their tracks. As she removed a card and added another the music changed to accomodate the new beat and one person said "is that, like, a mixing game?" Then another spied the colourful box the DropMix resides in when you want to shove it in the closet or under a bed. "Harmonix? The Rock Band guys?" The final never took their eyes off the board as she replaced another card and the music changed again. "I want to buy this."
For all of the hullabaloo its generated with its tiny consoles, Nintendo didn't invent retro gaming consoles. Not by a mile. When it released the NES Classic late last year, Nintendo wasn't creating a new field of consoles fuelled by nostalgia and the fat wallets of ageing Gen Xers. Rather, Nintendo was reinventing the retro console, which has long existed as a series of crummy knock-offs. AT Games was one of the purveyors of those crummy consoles — churning out Sega Genesis and Atari 2600 clones that cost next to nothing and often times felt like they played even less.
The Nintendo Switch exists, and is a fantastic gaming system that you can, in a pinch, play in a bar, a car, or on the train. Phones exist too, and the games on them are better than ever. So why the hell should you own anything else? Because games. The Switch's library is still small, and smartphones still lack those games you can get lost in for days. So if you want a mobile system that can go anywhere and play some of the best games ever designed, you need something from the Nintendo 3DS family, which despite being seven years old, shows no signs of being at the end of its life any time soon.
Nintendo put a great deal of thought into the design of the Switch with the exception of the alternative Pro Controller, which feels like an afterthought. It might be official, and a perfect way to play Nintendo Switch games on a TV, but it comes with a steep price tag, and a bulky design that flies in the face of the Switch's best feature: portability. So I've been on the quest to find an alternative controller more in line with the Switch. And I've found it. If you need a controller that can be easily thrown in a bag but doesn't feel as horribly cramped as a detached Joy-Con, 8Bitdo's NES30 Pro strikes a perfect balance.
I played a lot of make-believe as a child. I'd take my dad's spare gun holster and draw guns made of air from it, or steal my sister's cape, emblazoned with an S for her first name, and fly around like Superman. But you reach a point where making pew pew noises becomes gauche. So as an adult, if you want to play make believe without getting committed, you'll need something like Playstation VR's Aim Controller.
That's You is the first game released for Sony's new PlayLink platform for the PlayStation 4. Out now, it's a party game for two to six players, using your phone and a dedicated app for a "social quiz" that asks you to guess which of your friends or family everyone else thinks would be the answer to any of over 1000 questions.
I can't remember a time when I wasn't obsessed with retro video games. That's one of the reasons I was so excited about the NES Classic Edition; it's also why I spent my Thanksgiving documenting how to put together a Raspberry Pi-based mini SNES instead of brining turkeys.
But building an emulation console from scratch takes time, and I was curious if there was a more streamlined, turnkey solution. That's when I happened across a Kickstarter for the Allcade 64-bit, a Raspberry Pi 3-based system in a housing that looked just like a classic Nintendo 64 cartridge. It promises all the cool hackery Pi-vibe with none of the command line or soldering.
So we've had the Nintendo Switch around the office this week. We've had the chance to run around Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And we've had time to plug it in and out of the dock, play with the Joycons and mess around with the menu.
But has that changed anyone's opinions on the Switch? I took it around the office to give everyone a test drive, and here's what we thought.
Razer's eSports suite comprises three products — the $119.95 DeathAdder Elite mouse, the $50.95 Gigantus mousemat, and the $169.95 Kraken 7.1 V2 headset. That $340.85 investment — count those pennies — promises to make you git gud at eSports. It didn't do that for me, but that doesn't change the fact that Razer has made some really nice peripherals.
Infinite Warfare might be the best Call of Duty in years, and it will doubtless outsell all other 2016 shooters by virtue of the series' heritage alone, but playing it immediately after Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 shows Activision's cash-cow is not the bleeding edge of cinematic thrills it once was.
There's a moment playing Infamous First Light, as the heroine made of light climbs up a wall in pitch black darkness, that I fully appreciate the hype around the PS4 Pro. The woman is a multicolored bundle of light particles and thanks to HDR, I can make out each particle and note the way they each cast their own vibrant glow on on the red brick wall. Normally, she'd be a big blob of light, but high dynamic range gives you details in moments of extreme brightness and extreme darkness. I'm watching the next big step in video games, and it is extraordinary.
Nothing shaped my childhood more than Nintendo. Like millions of other little kids, I got a Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas in 1988. It changed my life. At the age of six, the Nintendo was my first real "gadget," and it was love at first sight. I don't know if I would do what I do today without it.
Gaming headsets have spent the last few years in a vicious race to the bottom. It seems like each new product is bigger, pricier, and flashier than the last. The companies that make these headsets have seemed more obsessed with bright lights and bizarre eye-catching shapes than they have with making genuinely good headsets that you can wear all day without looking and feeling like a toolbag. Steelseries' new line of Arctis headphones fights that trend with great sound, a top notch microphone, and looks that won't leave you feeling like a 2008 cliche of a gamer.
I was slotting my grappling gun back into place on my belt when it became clear to me that Playstation VR isn't just really good VR. Playstation VR is the first virtual reality any regular person should bother with. More than the fantastic gaming experience you get with Sony's new system, I was floored by how easy it was for me to go from watching a TV show to popping on the headset and turning on Batman Arkham: VR. Playstation VR is VR for people who don't care about having the best system in the world — they just want to have a good damn experience. It's actually fun, which despite the lofty ideas spouted by technologists is what playing games is all about.
From huge, recognisable set-pieces like Apostles Beach to small touches like the red- and yellow-topped bins out the front of stilted houses, Forza Horizon 3 nails its Australian setting. The driving game's huge map acts as a kind of mix tape of our country's nicest landscapes, building large, evocative regions out of Byron Bay, the Yarra Valley, the rainforest, the outback and more, and linking them with wide freeways and country trails. Filled with fine details — the little reflectors by the highway, the colours of the unmistakably Australian sky — the terrain is also littered with opportunities to race, test your skills or hunt for hidden goodies.
If you've still got your childhood Super Nintendo hooked up and on active duty you've probably discovered that while the console is going strong, its original controllers have long since died. But since it's 2016 and we've made so much progress on cutting cords, isn't it about time for your SNES to go wireless too?
One Christmas morning in 1989, I opened a big present, bigger than me. It was the Nintendo Entertainment System, complete with PowerPad and Zapper. Nearly three decades later, I unboxed a futuristic block of aluminium: an NES clone called the Analogue Nt. And I felt that childhood glee all over again.