Falcon Age

Falcon Age looks very different, it’s a first-person falconeering and falcon-friendshipper where you and your falcon pal (palcon?) fight off the robo-nvaders seeking to exploit your planet. You can also dress up your falcon buddy,

Outerloop Games’ website says they’ve developed Falcon Age for virtual reality first, but it is playable on regular televisions as well. They’ve even gone to the trouble of adding a non-combat option to just spend time with your falcon friend.

Reviewers for IGN and Gamespot enjoyed Falcon Age. Vice’s (Waypoint, before Vice decided to destroy the good will that Waypoint had created) reviewer enjoyed Falcon Age less from the perspective of someone who wasn’t playing in VR.

Falcon Age is $20 and only available on the PS4 (and PSVR, optionally) for now.

Capcom’s Bizarre Home Arcade Stick Machine Thing

I don’t even know where to start with this thing. It’s a two-player arcade stick with an HDMI port, wifi for leaderboards,16 games built-in. For
£199.99, which is roughly $260 USD. That’s expensive, but Capcom UK claims to have Sanwa parts for the Joystick lever and buttons. That’s kind of worth it. But then you look at the actual design of the case and it’s the fucking Capcom logo! What in the hell were they smoking?

I can’t find any press release from Capcom US, but the UK edition is promised with an October 25th release date. Unfortunately this is coming from Koch media, purveyors of such shit goods as The C64 Mini. Also, there are hints that this might be using an illegally re-licensed version of the Final Burn Alpha arcade emulator. It’s Yikes-O-Clock, do you know where your executives are?

The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is a Real Disaster

Exactly as rumored, the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition has been announced without a disc drive for May 7th.

At $250, the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is a $50 discount on the $300 price of the regular Xbox One S.

The only slight bonus to this version is that you get Minecraft, Forza Horizon 3, and Sea of Thieves bundled with the digital-only Xbox One

When this revision was rumored, I wondered what the pitch would be. It’s not an Xbox One X, so the All-Digital Edition is lacking in performance. The discount is practically speaking, nothing, today.

That $50-off-the-$300 MSRP of a regular S is not enough of a discount, especially when the Xbox One S is regularly on sale for $250. At the time of writing, you can get an Xbox One S 1TB console with a game and a disc drive for $250 from Best Buy, Wal-Mart, or Gamestop.

My only guess to explain this odd strategy is that at E3 Microsoft could announce a price drop for the Xbox One X. Maybe $350, and cease producing the Xbox One S with the Blu-Ray drive. That distinction, a cheaper Xbox One X, and a Xbox One S All-Digital Edition that could be regularly discounted to $200 would be a good wrap-up price on this generation for Microsoft before their next console is released.

Hats off to Sony for upstaging Microsoft with their PlayStation 5 announcement. With new consoles coming in the next year or two I don’t think I’d buy or recommend a PlayStation 4 Pro at this point, or an Xbox One X, to anyone who owns a base PS4 or Xbox One. I’d expect much more from Microsoft about their commitment to a next generation console at their E3 presentation.

Also, this video Microsoft’s crack marketing team put together to announce this all-digital edition is supposed to be funny. Yikes.

Next PlayStation Detailed in Wired

Peter Rubin has the scoop on what might be the PlayStation 5 at Wired with a Mark Cerny interview. It’s mostly about the tech details. The SSD, backwards compatibility, ray tracing, PSVR compatible, not in 2019, not at E3.

My fear with anything like this as I sit here in April 2019 is that a PlayStation 5 would be noted to the press at length, and then the punchline when final details are announced is that it could be just the server that sits at a data center to host your game stream, but that isn’t the vibe I get from Rubin’s article.

Rubin also talks about the supported resolution of the new hardware in this parenthetical:

(While the next-gen console will support 8K graphics, TVs that deliver it are few and far between, so we’re using a 4K TV.)

I don’t for a second buy that this machine can do anything like real 8K rendering. Especially in combination with any kind of ray tracing.

I am not super interested in the ray-tracing GPU situation today. My read on it has been that enabling ray tracing features destroys performance on today’s modern, expensive, desktop gaming hardware from Nvidia.  A 2020 (or 2021) release date isn’t going to magically make today’s performance issues and cost go down to the point where true 8K rendering and ray tracing can coexist. Sony isn’t even using Nvidia parts. Cerny doesn’t seem like the type to bullshit, and that quote above isn’t quoting Cerny.

Astroneer Out of Early Access

Space explor-o-build-emup, Astroneer, exited Steam’s Early Access program and it’s still as cool as ever if you’re interested in mostly calmly exploring unknown worlds, building new things on them, and then occasionally running low on oxygen.

Mike Williams enjoyed Astroneer for it’s chill nature:

In terms of the survival genre, Astroneer is definitely on the soft side of things. The leisurely pace of Astroneer puts it closer to a game like Stardew Valley-it feels like the little brother of the current version of No Man’s Sky at times-giving you a series of tasks that push you toward an end goal. The primary focus is exploration, as you push out further from wherever your shelter is located. The planets you find yourself on are randomly-generated; a series of bright, colorful alien landscapes. Mountains, plains of swaying grass, and odd-looking trees stretch out in every direction in neon greens, oranges, and blues. Astroneer looks inviting and fun, and your lone explorer bounding across the landscape never diminishes that.

I’ve had fun with Astroneer as well, but I found that the text could be a little tiny when displayed on a TV, that’s with the Windows version on Steam (or via a key on Humble). Astroneer is also available on the Xbox One. Both versions are $30.

Operencia: The Stolen Sun

The people behind the Zen Pinball games, Zen Studios, have put out a first-person, turn-based, dungeon crawling, RPG called Operencia: The Stolen Sun that looks a lot like a modern take on the old Wizardry games. Unfortunately there are very few reviews of the game available, the one I found from IGN Spain is worth reading (machine translated version to English) for Javier Artero’s comments on the game as well as its translation.

Seeing a turn-based first-person role-playing game makes me wish for a modern remake of the Doom RPG and Wolfenstein RPG games from id that have been lost to the sands of time.

Operencia: The Stolen Sun is out now on the Epic Game Store and the Xbox One for $30. It’ll be on Steam in 2020.

CorsixTH

Taking a look at Two Point Hospital reminded me to look back at the original Theme Hospital, which is currently on sale at gog for $1.49 or at its regular price on EA’s Origin for $5. What with EA being the company that bought Bullfrog and drove it straight into the ground you might want to buy it from gog who *checks notes* routinely hires shitlords to manage their twitter account. Ah, well, at least it’s cheap.

Either way, you can play Theme Hospital through the Dosbox variations gog and Origin provide, or via an open-source engine called CorsixTH. That engine is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. Just be prepared for ancient video intros and lots of midi music blaring through your brain.

Baba is Fun

Hempuli Oy’s Baba is You came out last month and has received nothing but praise, since. Baba is a puzzle game that is about re-writing the language of the game itself when you (Baba,Baba is You, remember?) move blocks of words. The developer, Arvi Teikari, is behind a ton of other games.

PC Gamer’s Philippa Warr enjoyed Baba is You as did RPS’ John Walker, who said:

I think one of my absolute favourite things about this, beyond being a completely original and utterly brilliant puzzler, is how meticulously balanced it is in terms of offering progress. The difficulty curves up in each set of levels, getting pretty steep toward each groups’ end, but it unlocks the next set before you’ve completed them all. The difficulty of the next group dips back down again as it also introduces new rules, meaning that even if you’ve become completely stuck in one place, there’s likely somewhere else you can continue playing. Offering both super-difficulty and progress is all too rare, and something to celebrate.

Baba is You is $15 on the Nintendo Switch, and the same price on Humble, itch, and Steam, for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Two-Point Hospital is Good

Somehow I never got around to writing about the launch of Two-Point Hospital last year. It’s the silly hospital administration game from some ex-developers of the beloved classic from Bullfrog, Theme Hospital. Both have similarities in their management of the hospital you build and in the silly ailments that patients are seeking remedies for.

Two-Point Studios have already added a bunch of free updates including workshop support and two paid DLC packs. One on a tropical island and the other in a colder climate.

I finally got a chance to try Two-Point Hospital during a free weekend on Steam and had quite a bit of fun with it. It is a lot like Theme Hospital, except not running in DosBox and that really helps when you’re trying to play a game without watching your monitor throw a fit attempting to reach the old resolutions.

PC Gamer’s Fraser Brown liked Two-Point Hospital quite a bit in his review. As did James Swinbanks for Gamespot and TJ Hafer at IGN. The only real complaint I’ve seen is that the Hospital game is perhaps a little too easy until the later stages.

I really liked James Swinbanks’ description of that goofy attitude:

Part of Two Point Hospital’s overwhelming charm is its sense of humor, which permeates every corner of the game, from the fantastically funny radio station–complete with fake ads and feature segments–to the pun-laden disease names like Jest Infection or 8-bitten. Someone suffering Mock Star shuffles about with the look and swagger of Freddie Mercury, requiring a session with the psychiatrist to pull them out of it. Equally funny are the contraptions used to cure some of the rarer conditions. The Extract-a-Pan treats Pandemic and is a giant magnet on the end of a tube that pulls the pan off the top of the patient’s head. The writing throughout is sharp and witty, with the descriptions of various ailments being a particular high point.

But just discovering those diseases and their often darkly funny symptoms, as well as watching your staff and patients go about their day, feels rewarding enough. Everything moves with the look and flow of a cartoon pantomime; patients will die only to come back as ghosts and haunt your hallways until a janitor can come along and suck them up with a vacuum cleaner. At one point my receptionist got up from his desk, vomited in front of patients because he was disgusted by something, then left to pour a coffee in the break room before demanding a pay raise. It nails the Theme Hospital nostalgia and is so good that even the 20th time you hear the announcer ask patients “not to die in the hallways” is hilarious.


Two-Point Hospital is kind of unique these days, the Theme Hospital type of sillyness is rare. Heck, any kind of genuinely funny games are so rare.

Unfortunately the free weekend and sale are over on Steam, and the game is back up to $35. It does support macOS and Linux as well as Windows.

Xbox One S All-Digital Edition Rumored for May

If this actually ships with this name it probably won’t be the worst-named product Microsoft has ever shipped, but it will be close. The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition has been rumored to come out in May without a disc drive. Jez Corden of Windows Central has the sources and more details.

As I’ve remarked before, the Xbox One is such an odd console. Every exclusive game I want for it is now either available on Windows 10 or will be. Sunset Overdrive is even finally available on Steam for Windows. Still, I keep the Xbox One because of the backwards compatibility features for some 360 and original Xbox discs. However, the 360 games I’d like to play with my family are Kinect games that won’t work on the One.

I don’t know what a disc-less machine really offers anyone picking out a console besides, possibly, being slightly cheaper and more reliable. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft makes the pitch for this revision, if it happens.