Lumines Remastered This May

The year is 2018 AD, new games are illegal, only old games can be endlessly remastered until nobody is interested in games anymore. Except for one game designer who would dare defy the law, Tetsuya Mizuguchi is… Tetsuya Mizuguchi!

He’s probably working on something new, as well, but I don’t really mind playing more Rez, or maybe the same Lumines in HD but without the stuff I didn’t like in the sequels.

The original Lumines is re-releasing in HD this May on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam for Windows. The version on Steam today is apparently not so hot, so look out for this remaster.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Out on iOS and Android

I've never been more excited to get pants on.

You can call it PUBG, you can call it plunkbat, but the mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is out on iOS and Android. Now we know what you’re paying for when you buy the $30 Windows version on Steam, pants, and a shirt and shoes. This free-to-play-as-heck mobile PUBG doesn’t include any of those to start, you’re going to have to find them in the game or in the exploitative loot boxes you get for playing it. At least if you don’t want to be an exhibitionist non-conformer, which if you do, go right ahead.

I’ve played one match and it was perfectly cromulent PUBGeeing, players are still getting used to the controls so I managed to get four small victories before losing in 16th place.

It’s out for free now on Android and iOS, it doesn’t cross-play with the Windows version at all.

YouTube Suggested Conspiracy Videos to Children

Let me check one thing, I’ve forgotten since the last time, should we let algorithms written by an advertising publisher decide what is OK or not for kids to watch? James Cook:

Search for “UFO” on YouTube Kids and you’ll mostly find videos of toys that are clearly fine for children to watch. But one of the top videos claimed to show a UFO shooting at a chemtrail, and we found several videos by prominent conspiracy theorist David Icke in the suggested videos. YouTube removed the videos from YouTube Kids after we contacted it about the issue.

One suggested video was an hours-long lecture by Icke in which he claims that aliens built the pyramids, that the planet is run by reptile-human hybrids, that Freemasons engage in human sacrifice, that the assassination of President Kennedy was planned by the US government, and that humans would evolve in 2012.

Ah, that would be a “no” on the algorithms by an advertising publisher then. I’ve never had more love for the PBS Kids apps and video programming.

60,000 People Probably Losing Their Jobs as Toys ‘R’ Us Shuts Down

Paul Ziobro and Lillian Rizzo:

Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. told employees Wednesday the struggling big-box retailer will sell or close all its U.S. stores, a collapse that threatens up to 33,000 American jobs in the coming months.


Outside the U.S., the chain has another roughly 800 stores. Altogether, court papers show Toys “R” Us has roughly 1,600 stores globally, with approximately 60,000 employees. That number reaches more than 100,000 during peak holiday season.

This place that I think almost everyone has good memories of was driven to waste by vultures who burdened it with debt. They bought Toys ‘r’ Us with loaned cash and put that debt onto the company after the purchase. I didn’t even know you could do that until I read about it last year, but this story from Marielle Segarra explains it best:

And to really get what happened with Toys R Us, you need to understand how these private equity purchases work. They rely on something called a leveraged buyout.

“Leverage just means you’re using lots of debt,” said Eileen Appelbaum, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

If a private equity firm wants to buy a company, it’ll put up a small portion of the money. Then it’ll go to the bank and borrow the rest.

The key? “They put the debt on the company they buy,” Appelbaum said.

That’s what they did to Toys “R” Us in 2004. Three businesses bought the company, loaded it up with debt, the workers there have been paying it off ever since. Jeff Spross:

Whatever magic Bain, KKR, and Vornado were supposed to work never materialized. From the purchase in 2004 through 2016, the company’s sales never rose much above $11 billion. They actually fell from $13.5 billion in 2013 back to $11.5 billion in 2017.

On its own, that shouldn’t have been catastrophic. The problem was the massive financial albatross the leveraged buyout left around Toys ‘R’ Us’ neck. Just before the buyout, the company had $2.2 billion in cash and cash-equivalents. By 2017, its stockpile had shriveled to $301 million, even as its debt burden ballooned from $2.3 billion to $5.2 billion. Meanwhile, Toys ‘R’ Us was paying $425 million to $517 million in interest every year.

The employees will probably lose their jobs, the toy makers might not have a good place to get toys in front of people anymore and could go out of business and that could end up being a lot more people losing their jobs for no good reason, just because the vultures swooped in to get a turnaround that wasn’t achievable while paying off the debt.

The CEO, David Brandon, makes bank anyway. JC Reindl:

Brandon enjoyed a total $11.25 million CEO compensation package in 2017, a year in which Toys R Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid more than $5 billion in debt. That pay package included Brandon’s $2.8 million retention bonus, paid five days before the retailer’s Sept. 19 bankruptcy filing, to help with continuity through the process.

I’ve got a toy suggestion, it’s not my idea, but I think that Brandon and the executive teams at Bain and the others might want to try it out. Could save any future company they want to work with.

There’s a Slightly Better Raspberry Pi 3 Available

The Raspberry Pi single-board computer has a slight update in the form of the Raspberry Pi Model 3 B+. It has the same processor, but this new + model is clocked 200 Mhz faster at 1.4 Ghz, unless it gets too warm in which case it’ll throttle back down to regular Model 3 speeds of 1.2 Ghz. The wireless networking is improved, as well as the wired ethernet which is supposed to be 2-3 times as fast as the old 3. This model also has a new add-on board in the pipeline for power-over-ethernet. It’s still $35, just like the old Model 3, which is being sold at the same price, so if you’re buying one, make sure to get the B+.

The official Raspberry Pi blog has some charts and graphs with more details on the 3 B+.

Deep Sixed Sounds Like Linux on the Desktop in Space: The Game, But Fun

A few times a year I spend anywhere from 5 to 15 hours digging through some Linux garbage. Deep Sixed is a spaceship management roguelike game in space about managing a spaceship the way we see in movies.

Tom Chick:

Deep Sixed also loves that moment in Dark Star. Maybe not specifically that moment, but that kind of moment. Actors pretending to interact with complex avionics. It loves the idea of having to toggle switches before getting to some unwieldy dual arm-twisting dials or levers. Sometimes you have to remember to bring the screwdriver because the retro-booster valve is underneath a panel. Sometimes you have to whack a recalcitrant door with a wrench to get it to shut. Sometimes you have to put duct tape over a leaking coolant pipe. Sometimes transistor boards burn out for no discernable reason. Oh, the inanity of inanimate objects! Sometimes in Deep Sixed, you even have to reinstall drivers, which often requires uninstalling other drivers first.

Maybe Deep Sixed could replace about 5-15 hours of free time for me. It’s $13 on Steam for Windows, macOS, and Linux if you’ve got about 5-15 hours to get your shit together.

You Can Ignore Curators on Steam Now

Ignore curator

One thing I find particularly frustrating in Steam is being inundated with curator recommendations from Gamer Gate supporters like Total Biscuit, well the good news is that you can ignore them now. Of course, Valve has made this incredibly frustratingly only accessible from one page, and only when some algorithm decides to recommend that you follow that curator. That’s also the only place to undo ignoring that curator, despite each one having individual curation pages.

Andy Chalk:

Ignoring a curator will ensure that Steam will no longer recommend that curator on your home page. You can take that one step further by ignoring all the top curators recommended by Steam, which will cause Steam to stop recommending any curators at all. It’s a fairly small change, but potentially handy for dedicated Steam users who don’t especially care what other people think. A Valve rep described it as “part of our ongoing efforts to refine the services and features of Steam.” 

3D Realms’ Ion Maiden is Surprisingly Good?

The husk of 3D Realms has published a new BUILD-engine game, Ion Maiden, developed by Voidpoint. In Steam’s Early Access program, It has the atrocious Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison character from 3D Realms’ twin-stick shooter, Bombshell. I completely forgot about that game before it was even released.

Rock Paper Shotgun’s John Walker has impressions of what you get with the early access version of Ion Maiden:

It’s a game about screaming around at outrageous speeds, hammering the Use button on any object or wall that looks out of place just in case, and of course spreading enemy gibs about the walls and floor. It feels so fluid, so natural, and such a blessed respite from the bum-following misery-trudge that is so much of modern first-person shooting. It’s ludicrous in every way, enemies aiming with ridiculous skill, and you tasked to work out how to deal with that.

Ion Maiden’s Early Access preview campaign is $20 on Steam for Windows and Linux. As good as it is, I’d be unlikely to get it without seeing the finished game, which is scheduled for late this year.

Never Stop Sneakin’ on Steam

Dean Dodrill’s Never Stop Sneakin’ has finally hit Steam after being released on the Nintendo Switch late last year. It still looks like a brilliant, but perhaps too repetitive, satirical reduction of Metal Gear Solid minus all the complex controls. I’m so glad that this is a thing in the world.

Never Stop Sneakin’ is typically $15, but it is on sale for $10 on Steam for Windows and macOS until March 5th.

Into the Breach Breached

Subset Games’ FTL was a huge hit for anyone looking to get into the realm of managing spaceships in difficult times. Their follow-up, Into the Breach, looks a bit closer to Final Fantasy Tactics or Advance Wars, which are all the good kinds of wars.

Alex Wiltshire liked it a lot:

If you’ve played FTL, you’ll remember the very particular kind of clammy-palmed panic it’d conjure as you’d face another seemingly no-win situation. Into the Breach will bring that feeling right back, and it’s wonderful.

As a bonus until the 6th of March, Subset is offering a copy of FTL if you buy Into the Breach through gog or Humble instead of directly on Steam. It’s $15. Subset has also planned that the game will hit other platforms, but right now it’s only on Windows.