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The Guardian


From Street Fighter to Sonic the Hedgehog: 10 of the best retro games

The Guardian

In difficult times, nostalgia can be a balm, and sometimes you want your games to be totally uncomplicated. Currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, the original iteration of Pac-Man still rules. It is a simple game – gobble the dots, avoid the ghosts – but the genius is in the details: did you know that each ghost behaves slightly differently according to their personality? A landmark game for storytelling with big swords and bigger hair, Final Fantasy VII might look a bit rough these days but the tale it tells is still rich and absorbing. There is a fancy, beautiful-looking remake available now, but the original version is much cheaper, still pretty great, and hits that 90s nostalgia spot.


In video game stories, it's often side quests that are most meaningful

The Guardian

It is a narrative standard in role-playing adventure games: the hero is pitted against a Big Evil, who has a strategic or chaotic hunger to destroy the world we know. From Shinra's greedy harvesting of the planet's resources in Final Fantasy VII Remake to Ganondorf's quest for power and destruction across more than 30 years of Legend of Zelda games, the stakes are always astronomically high. But what really makes these fictional realms worth saving? Role-playing games need to offer more than a sequence of linked events toward a monumental finale. A world is made of people, not just objectives.


Computer chess: how the ancient game revolutionised AI

The Guardian

Tue 19 May 2020 06.14 EDT Last modified on Tue 19 May 2020 06.16 EDT When legendary chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov found himself beaten by IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer, it was seen as a seminal moment in the evolution of artificial intelligence. A road trodden by war heroes and student researchers alike, whose singular desire to create a program that could beat the very best in the world would shape an entire science. Early origins Chess lends itself well to computer programming. Where other games can depend more on gut instinct or physical skill, chess is a game of strict binary rules – a move is either correct or it isn't. It's a game where multiple permutations, strategies and responses to moves and gambits could all be pre-programmed.


Minecraft Dungeons review – hours of fun for locked-down families

The Guardian

When the idea to make a Minecraft spinoff was first batted around at Mojang Studios, a dungeon crawler game must have been one of the first suggestions. From Gauntlet to Diablo, this genre has always featured dank subterranean lairs, treasure chests and warrior skeletons – all beloved Minecraft components. The signature blocky visuals also work well, ensuring that Minecraft Dungeons will look familiar to fans as they hurtle through dioramas of hack-and-slash fun that rearrange themselves each time you play. The plot is paper thin: a vengeful loner discovers a treasure that turns him into a powerful mage and duly begins a reign of terror over the Minecraft kingdom. The game can be played alone, but it is most enjoyable to play its co-op mode, which can be enjoyed on a console or online.


Elon Musk and Grimes change baby's name: 'Roman numerals look better'

The Guardian

Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and his partner Grimes have changed the unusual and largely unpronounceable name of their firstborn child. But anyone hoping that X Æ A-12 might be replaced by something a little more conventional, is going to be disappointed. In an Instagram post on Sunday, singer Grimes confirmed that the baby formerly known as X Æ A-12, would now be known as "X Æ A-Xii." Grimes gave no explanation for the change to using Roman Numerals, but later responded to a post asking if the alteration was made to comply with a California law that holds only the 26 letters of the alphabet can be used for child names. Looks better tbh," Grimes wrote. The couple appeared to have been at odds over how to interpret X Æ A-12 from the outset. The musician, whose real name is Claire Elise Boucher – previously explained that Æ is the Elven spelling of AI (for artificial intelligence) and explained "X" stands for "the unknown variable". Like how you said the letter A then I," wrote Grimes on Thursday in response to a query on Instagram.


The game that ate the world: 40 facts on Pac-Man's 40th birthday

The Guardian

It was on this day in 1980 that one of gaming's most iconic characters made his debut. The idea for the character came to him when he removed a slice from a pizza. "When you think about things women like, you think about fashion, or fortune-telling, or food or dating boyfriends. So I decided to theme the game around'eating'." Blinky constantly chases Pac-Man, Pinky attempts to ambush him, Inky is randomised depending on Pac-Man's position and Clyde will get close to the player then attempt to flee to the bottom left corner, potentially cutting off escape routes.


How a robotic dog is herding sheep in New Zealand – video

The Guardian

The New Zealand software company Rocos is training a Boston Dynamics-designed robot called Spot to work on farms to help'relieve the strain of worker shortages, and create precision in farming'.


Love bytes: how a video game is preparing my boyfriend and me for living together

The Guardian

"I'm going to the mines!" says a voice through my laptop. I see him move swiftly out of the screen as I go back to my task of chopping down an oak tree, searching for wood and sap. It's an ordinary mid-pandemic night and Joel and I are both tucked into bed at our respective Sydney share-houses. In truth, neither of us is anywhere near a rare minerals mine and I doubt I have the strength to hack down a tree – even if I wanted to. But we're not talking about real life; we're talking about virtual reality in Stardew Valley – a multi-player farming simulation game that's sold over 10 million copies, and become our guilty pleasure since physical distancing and lockdowns began.


Assassin's Creed Valhalla among 13 games announced for Xbox Series X

The Guardian

Microsoft has revealed 13 games coming to its Xbox Series X console when the machine launches this winter. In an hour-long presentation, streamed live on Thursday, the company announced that well-known titles such as the recently announced Assassin's Creed Valhalla, as well as Madden NFL 21 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon, will all be on Xbox Series X. Also featured was Paradox Interactive's vampire adventure, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. Codemasters presented its racer DiRT 5 complete with impressive lighting and mud splatter effects, and an option to run it in 4K at 60 frames-per-second or in a lower resolution at 120fps. Namco Bandai showed a new anime-style sci-fi thriller named Scarlet Nexus, about a group of psychic law enforcers. The rest of the games were from independent studios: futuristic first-person action shooter called Bright Memory Infinite, which is already coming to PC; supernatural horror game The Medium from Blair Witch creator Bloober Team (with music by Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka); a 1930s puzzle adventure named Call of the Sea from Swedish indie publisher Raw Fury; space combat shooter Chorus from Deep Silver; cyberpunk action-RPG The Ascent from Curve Digital; Second Extinction, a three-player co-op dinosaur shooter from Systemic Reaction; and finally, Scorn, a first-person horror adventure set in a sinister Giger-esque dream world developed by Serbian team, Ebb.


Sonos launches new Arc soundbar with Dolby Atmos

The Guardian

The wireless home-audio specialist Sonos is launching the first of its next-generation speakers with a new Dolby Atmos voice-controlled soundbar called Arc. Arc replaces the firm's popular Playbar and Playbase as its top-end TV sound system, re-engineered to provide a wider, more powerful sound and built on the new S2 software platform, which is due to roll out to existing speakers soon. The elliptical soundbar contains 11 separate speakers and is designed to sit below, above or in front of a TV. Four woofer speakers face forwards to provide the centre, left and right channels, two point to the side to provide the wide and rear channels, while two more point upwards to provide the height channel that is part of Dolby's Atmos home-cinema sound. Three tweeters provide high notes, while the bar can be wall or table-top mounted, adjusting automatically for the best sound.