Sailor Moon’s Long-Lost Americanized Bizarro-World Counterpart

Cecilia D’Anastasio has the fascinating story behind the version of Sailor Moon created for a western audience that never aired. I don’t give a shit about Sailor Moon, except that it was valuable in broadening the audience for different kinds of animation outside of the typical Ninja Scroll-tier of garbage that was popular at the time, but this was still worth reading:

Decades later, the pilot for the American Sailor Moon show has achieved mythological status. That pilot—the only episode ever made—vanished into thin air, its remains scattered across the internet like animated ashes. Fans have labored to piece together the show’s history on Geocities-style websites with infinite-scroll Sailor Moon fan art and labyrinthine lost-media wikis. For over two decades, they’ve searched for its only episode with no success. I was unable to play bystander to a piece of lost anime ephemera. Immediately upon hearing about the legendary American Sailor Moon pilot, I knew I had to try to find it. I would not rest until I’d exhausted every lead.

Zachtronics’ EXAPUNKS Announced For August

The Zachtronics behind the other programmatical puzzlers like TIS-100 and Shenzhen I/O have announced a new one of those, EXAPUNKS.

I can’t explain how much I love these games, both for their niche and the wonderful aesthetic each game embodies so well. In this adventure you’re an ex-hacker with a bad case of the phage who made a deal to hack for the cure. In this game you’ll be programming your EXAs, which are the viruses that you’ll use to attack different institutions.

EXAPUNKS will be out in Early Access on Steam for $20 on the 21st of August for Windows, macOS, and Linux. There’s a limited edition pre-order for $35 on the Zachtronics website for the game that includes the feelies you’d normally need to print-out to get your instructions for the game. This time it’s a few issues of Trash World News, 3D glasses, and an envelope with secret contents. I’m normally against any kind of pre-ordering for games, but I can’t think of a time when a Zachtronics game was disappointing.

iFixit Says The 2018 MacBook Pro Keyboard Might be Fixed

The ongoing saga of the unreliable MacBook Pro keyboard continues. According to Sam Lionheart for iFixIt the new 2018 MacBook Pro 13″ and 15″ keyboard has a new silicone barrier that:

…is quite obviously an ingress-proofing measure to cover up the mechanism from the daily onslaught of microscopic dust. Not—to our eyes—a silencing measure. In fact, Apple has a patent for this exact tech designed to “prevent and/or alleviate contaminant ingress.”

Danger Zone 2 is Out Almost Everywhere

It feels like just yesterday that I was reviewing the first Danger Zone game from Three Fields Entertainment. That was the Burnout-like car-crash-em-up made by ex-Burnout developers, but it didn’t quite hit the mark. The virtual space that housed Danger Zone 1’s intersections was a little boring, but that and the car-eating grid that took away your score looks like it might be gone for good in the sequel, Danger Zone 2.

It looks like Three Fields took the feedback to heart and have set this follow-up on 26 real-world streets that’ll be more entertaining for the whole family to crash on.

Hopefully Three Fields found a way to preserve some of the end-game ridiculousness that made Danger Zone 1 good, I’ve got a request for a Windows review copy out to the developer.

Danger Zone 2 is out now for $20 on the PS4 (and upgraded for the Pro), Xbox One (and upgraded for the X), and on Steam for Windows.

Apple Updated the Unreliable MacBook Pro

The Terrible Keyboard Got a Slight Update

Apple invited some journalists to see new MacBook Pro laptops, they have newer and faster chipsets and processors with more RAM as an option, but didn’t talk about reliability. Dieter Bohn:

…it’s just hard to trust a keyboard after so many reports that it can be rendered inoperable by a grain of sand and that is incredibly difficult and expensive to repair or replace. This new third-generation keyboard wasn’t designed to solve those issues, Apple says. In fact, company representatives strenuously insisted that the keyboard issues have only affected a tiny, tiny fraction of its user base. (There’s now a four-year repair program for the keyboard in case it fails.)

Casey Johnston wasn’t invited to the event.

Apple also stopped selling the only reliable laptop you could buy from them, the 2015 MacBook Pro that had the old keyboard.

Microsoft’s Surface Go is Almost An iPad Cheap

Dan Seifert for The Verge:

Microsoft is getting back into the cheaper tablet game today with the new Surface Go, a smaller, less powerful take on the popular Surface Pro device. The Go features a 10-inch screen, integrated kickstand, Windows 10, and a similar design to the Surface Pro, and starts at $399. It is available for preorder starting July 10th and will ship in August.

The Surface Go doesn’t change Microsoft’s Surface design philosophy one bit — it really just looks like a smaller version of the Surface Pro design that’s been around since 2014’s Surface Pro 3. It has a 3:2 aspect ratio display (1800 x 1200 pixel resolution), the signature built-in kickstand with unlimited positions, a front-facing camera with facial recognition login, and Microsoft’s proprietary Surface Connector port for charging and connecting to a desktop dock. Microsoft has added a USB-C 3.1 port, capable of charging the tablet or outputting video and data to external devices. It has also rounded the corners a bit compared to the latest Surface Pro, but overall, it’s the same familiar magnesium design Surface users have come to expect.

The thing that kind of sucks about the Surface Go, besides the lack of capable and competitive apps in Microsoft’s app store, is that even Paul Thurott points out how shitty the base model is and you really have to get a more expensive Surface to have an acceptable level of performance:

Sure, the $400 price tag looks compelling. But the PC you’re getting at that price is not compelling, and it’s absolutely not future-proof. The biggest issue here is the same thing that doomed Surface 3 to poor performance: This entry-level Surface Go utilizes slow eMMC storage rather than speedy SSD storage. Combined that with just 4 GB of RAM and a low-end Pentium processor, and you have the makings of a disaster.

The good news? For just $150 more, you get some nice upgrades: 8 GB of RAM and more and faster storage: Not only does the higher-end Surface Go configuration double the storage from 64 GB to 128 GB, that storage is dramatically faster, since it is based on NVMe SSD technology. That’s a device that might actually make it through four years of high school or college.

I’m not sure if the eMMC storage performance, as well as the other cheap parts, are as bad as Apple carrying around 16GB base models of their iOS devices for too long, but it’s pretty bad that you have to go to $550 before you get something that might be functional. I’d probably rather have the 2018 iPad Cheap.

Casey Johnston: Apple admits its computers are broken

The “winner?” of the ongoing Apple portable keyboard saga, Casey Johnston, writes about the new repair program for Macbook keyboards:

While the repair and replacement program covers costs and notes that Apple will repair both single keys as well as whole keyboards when necessary, it doesn’t note whether the replacements will be a different, improved design that will prevent the problem from happening again (and again, and again). Having become a one-woman clearinghouse for people complaining about these keyboards since I broke this story, I feel justified in saying that keyboard failures – dead keys, sticking keys, double-spacing spacebars – appear to happen early and often, and repairs do not permanently fix the issue. I also feel justified in saying that the design on offer as recently as February still presented the exact same issues as the design I purchased in the fall of 2016.

Of course, that means nobody should be buying Apple’s modern* laptops until there’s some kind of hardware revision to stop the problems with minuscule grains of nothing destroying these delicate keyboard keys. It’ll be better when I have a reason to stop pining for an iPad with XCode, gcc, an official Terminal.app, and a clamshell keyboard case from Apple.

*Apple will still sell you the 2015 MacBook Pro in various configurations online if you want more standard ports and a keyboard that won’t quit on you if a butterfly flaps its wings within the surrounding 200 miles.

Preying on Compulsion in Rocket League

Speaking of exploitative event and battle passes, here’s Steven T. Wright quoting Psyonix’s Scott Rudi about their Rocket League Rocket Pass in Variety:

From Rudi’s perspective, the Rocket Pass is just another way for Psyonix to shower items onto the dyed-in-the-wool rocket-freaks who’ve already put thousands of hours into mastering the subtleties of their hit game. “We didn’t even really think about it from a financial perspective,” he says. “We have enough new players each month to sustain the game, frankly. It’s more about having a short-term experience that engages with players all across the spectrum. I’m a big believer in the one-more-turn compulsion – this idea that, well, I’m only one game away from getting my next tier, so let’s go again.”

Perhaps the time to stop implementing part of a video game is when you realize you’re exploiting people’s vulnerabilities. Rocket League is fun, it shouldn’t need this.

PUBG’s Sanhok Map is Out With New Exploitative F2P-Style Mechanics

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If you didn’t feel like the random crate drops with various cosmetic skins that could usually only be unlocked with purchasable keys were already exploitative enough, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was just updated on Windows with the Sanhok map and this free-to-play style event pass.

The game also has missions and login bonuses, but some of those are only available if you buy the event pass, which you shouldn’t. I’d been trying Sanhok before it was released, and it’s good, small, fun. For those times when you can’t devote 40 minutes to getting to the top ten before being owned by the silenced shotgun sniper xXxLuBu69xXx.

They’ve also added a towed banner advertisement to the back of the plane that drops you off in paradise, lovely:

Banner tow

Of course there’s also an ad on the top of your parachute. PUBG Corp should at least go the Team Fortress 2 route and drop the cost to free if they’re going to switch to a free-to-play business model. Paying $30 and then getting this crap is a really bad look.