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The Legend of Zelda, 'Dinky,' and a Bridge to My Daughter

WIRED

When winter made its second pandemic appearance here in Montana, I found myself pining to relive my first experience with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. To my dismay, the sequel, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, the bash-fest Nintendo released in November, didn't scratch my itch for sweeping, soothing landscapes and low-stakes puzzle solving during a year of high-stakes reality. I've been home with toddlers for 11 months straight, my every lockdown minute a battle against darkness and chaos, replete with my own two tiny red Bokoblins perpetually swinging their Boko Clubs at my weakened defenses. I wondered daily: Are there even enough stamella shrooms in the entire gaming universe to get us through this year? When we first hunkered down last spring, my kids were 18 months and 4 years old.


Assassin's Creed fans have decoded its fictional Isu language

Engadget

From the wall of cryptic messages that greets you at the end of the first game to more recent mysteries, ciphers and hidden codes have been a part of the Assassin's Creed franchise since the very start. But as Eurogamer points out, its dedicated fans may have just solved one of its most complex riddles yet. Access the Animus, I never doubted you. In a video that's almost 30-minutes long, Access the Animus, a community dedicated to the lore of Assassin's Creed, detail how they went about deciphering Isu. If you haven't followed the series in recent years or tuned out of its modern-day storyline sometime around Assassin's Creed III, Isu is the language of the franchise's infamous precursor race.


How Old-School Text Adventures Inspired Our Virtual Spaces

WIRED

Lilybet Skatilar is a level 9 human bard wearing a shimmering rainbow cloak, fur-lined snow boots, a stylish purple scarf, sunstone earrings, baggy blue polka dot pants, a blue ruby ring, a jeweled engagement ring, and various other accessories accumulated in the town of Wehnimer's Landing in 1997. If you checked her out by typing "LOOK LILYBET," you would get a large descriptive paragraph of text--no images, just words that made the world come to life. I played this character in GemStone III, an early online role-playing game, for a precious six-month period when I was a 13-year-old learning how to relate to friends and strangers in my newfound teenage skin. What I didn't know at the time was that GemStone and similar titles from Simutronics Corporation represented a pivotal moment in the history of gaming. Simutronics' GemStone and its sister game DragonRealms helped build a bridge between the primordial single-player text adventure and what we now call MMORPGs, massively multiplayer online role-playing games.


Bugsnax Is Keeping Me Going (and It Might Just Help You Too)

WIRED

Right now, nothing is easy. It's hard to imagine things getting better, given where we're at right now--a raging, global pandemic, a violent attempt to overthrow a democratically elected government, and no real end in sight for the hardships we continue to endure. Scattered among the difficulties, though, are bright spots that make it easier to cope. Whether you are a single person craving connection or the parent of a toddler desperate for some alone time (hello, it's me), video games can help--help you find solitude, or just help turn your brain off, keep your hands busy, and stop you from doomscrolling for awhile. The year 2020 brought about many plot twists, but one of the welcome ones was buoyed by the Covid-19 lockdowns: "Casual gamers" entered the mainstream.


In Minecraft, All the Server's a Stage

WIRED

On the morning of the Doomsday War, president Tubbo surveyed the grassy hills of his domain, L'Manberg. His second-in-command, TommyInnit, rested beside him on a bench, nodding stoically. "Listen," TommyInnit began, pausing dramatically. "I know you had to exile me." Gesturing with their Lego-like avatars, TommyInnit and Tubbo were winding up tension in a Macchiavellian political drama that has unfolded over the last year in Minecraft.


The best deals from Microsoft's Xbox game sale

Mashable

TL;DR: The Microsoft Store is hosting a sale on hit Xbox titles -- get popular games like Gears 5, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Sunset Overdrive, and more at steep discounts. PlayStation owners aren't the only ones who deserve a sale after surviving 2020. Xbox players can have little a sale too, as a treat. That's right, the Microsoft store is also hosting a small holiday sale for the next few days, featuring hit titles from 2020 (and before 2020) that you'll definitely want to catch up on before this year's releases start taking up space on your to-play list. While you're at it, we recommend picking up a subscription to Xbox Game Pass -- a lot of the games included in this sale are on Game Pass, so that's even more savings for you.


Save up to 70% on popular games during PlayStation's Holiday Sale

Mashable

TL;DR: PlayStation's Holiday Sale is still going strong, with tons of hit titles discounted heavily as the new year begins -- check it out here (ends Jan. 19). It was a decent year for video games, though. A lot of fantastic titles came out over the past year -- so many that it was way too easy to miss out on a large portion of them. But here's your chance to catch up and get that 2021 backlog ready to go -- PlayStation's annual Holiday Sale is still going strong (it was also updated recently), and features hit titles from 2020 and beyond for up to 70% off original prices. The sale ends on Jan. 19, so start filling up your shopping cart before time runs out.


The Morning After: Microsoft is pulling the plug on 'Minecraft Earth'

Engadget

If existing styles of wireless earbuds have never quite worked for you, Bose is ready to try a new design. Instead they sit above it, allowing you to get the audio and still hear sounds of everything going on around you. The design looks a little awkward compared to other buds, but Bose claims they'll stay securely positioned in any weather conditions, with loud, clear audio you can hear without blasting it to everyone else. I'll need to see reviews from one of our audio experts before I believe fully in what it's selling, but the possibility of a headset with a better fit is worth a shot. Minecraft Earth players have until June 30th to play the augmented reality title before Microsoft shuts down its servers and it's no longer available to download from app marketplaces.


Microsoft will shut down Minecraft Earth in June

PCWorld

Microsoft will be shutting down its augmented-reality version of Minecraft, known as Minecraft Earth, beginning in June, 2021, the company said Tuesday. Microsoft blamed the pandemic as a cause, as well as the lack of freedom of movement that the game required. At its core, Minecraft Earth was a game based upon exploration and discovery. During the early days of lockdown, my kids and I would wander around the neighborhood, looking for animals, ores, and dungeons to explore. But Microsoft said that the "current global situation" prevented the free movement and collaborative play that allowed Minecraft Earth to survive.


'Minecraft Earth' will shut down on June 30th

Engadget

A little over a year after bringing Minecraft Earth in the US, Microsoft announced this week it will shut down the game later this year. Minecraft Earth players have until June 30th, 2021, to play the augmented reality title before Microsoft shuts down its servers and it's no longer available to download from app marketplaces. Developer Mojang Studios blamed the coronavirus pandemic and all the changes to day-to-day life that have come with it for the shutdown. "Minecraft Earth was designed around free movement and collaborative play – two things that have become near impossible in the current global situation," the studio said. Like Niantic with Pokémon Go, Mojang had tweaked the game to make it easier to play at home.