Gaming

Arms Review: The Sweet Switch Science

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I love fighting games. But I’m terrible at them. For all my desire to play a real-time game of chess, in which I predict and counter my opponent’s every move, I still launch into a Shoryuken when I meant to let loose a Hadoken. I am mechanically bad at the genre, so I have enjoyed fighting games only at the margins. Arms changes all of that.

Springing into action

Arms is exhilarating from the get go. The sick vocal samba track (which we recommend listening to as you read our review) amps you up for the bouts to come, punctuated (punch-tuated?) by the title screen that strikes with its graphic design. This is from a Nintendo infused with bold new blood.

The game pits people who woke up one day with extendable arms and decided to fight with them, to the adoration of fans worldwide. Just go with it. You control your colorful fighter — in my case, a Chinese woman named Min Min who has literal noodles for arms and a ramen bowl beanie — in over-the-shoulder one-on-one battles where you use your extendable arms as projectile fists. It’s boxing with Voltes V’s ultraelectromagnetic tops.

Mask on, mascots

The art direction in Arms speaks for itself. The characters are instantly recognizable. Hero games are all the rage (think Overwatch), and Nintendo enters the ring with this fighter that fuses the dev team behind Mario Kart with the freshness of Splatoon, proving again that they are the masters of creating video game icons.

Each of the game’s ten characters are instantly readable — you’ll never confuse Ribbon Girl with Mechanica. All thirty of the game’s titular arms (the weapons at the end of Min Min’s noodles) are also easily identifiable, and tell you if this particular fist is electric or fiery, heavy or light. The springiness of the characters’ arms communicates immediately whether your opponent’s attack will reach you, or whether you have enough time to slip in a counter. This readability is aided by the flawless 60 frames per second and 1080p/720p in docked/handheld mode, with antialiasing to boot. These visual elements combine to help you keep abreast of everything at any point during a match.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee

Fighting in Arms feels great. I started off using traditional controls in handheld mode, and fell in love immediately. Nearly all inputs are one button, from dashing, jumping, blocking, and activating your super (here called the Rush). Left or right punches are thrown with the respective triggers. You grab by punching with both arms at once. The left analog controls your movement as well as allows you to curve the punch. That’s it. Its simplicity makes Arms not about complicated button combinations, but about spacing, movement, and timing: the fundamental fighter essentials distilled.

There is one egregious issue in the traditional controls — no button remapping. Block is mapped to clicking in the left stick (my least favorite input), which has led to the double-edged sword of me never blocking. This leads to Muhammad Ali-like weaves through punches, but also renders me vulnerable to Rush attacks that I’m unable to dodge fully.

His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see

Nintendo polishes a central mechanic to the point that it’s blinding. Grand Prix, the game’s single-player component, does a great job of putting it all together and serving as a tutorial for the brutality of online.

The mode has seven difficulty levels, which represents the most gentle learning curve I’ve ever seen. Ranked is locked behind beating Grand Prix at difficulty level 4, so upon beating the cakewalk level 1, I jumped right into 4… and immediately got annihilated by the CPU. But by taking it one increment at a time, I was trained in the game’s basics. By the time I made it back to level 4, I could stand toe to toe with the AI, and even managed to score a Perfect against the secret final boss.

The mechanics are such that every time you lose, it’s your fault, and the game shows you why. You can review a CPU match immediately afterward with the replay functionality. It lets you see things in slow motion from the opponent’s point of view, from an overhead perspective, and from a variety of cinematic angles. Even if you lose, it still feels good, because hopefully you’ll learn from it.

Rumble, young man, rumble

This positive reinforcement is good training for the saltiness of online. The Party Mode is good clean fun, with a volleyball variant (the ball is a bomb that explodes when it hits the ground) and a basketball minigame (your opponent is the ball, and if your grab succeeds, you dunk your opponent or get three points if you’re behind the line).

There’s a more serious 1v1 fight mode, but it’s peppered in between the sports modes and the absolutely insane 1v1v1, 2v2, and 3vCPU modes. It’s a great way to practice against real people, and the lobby is refreshingly presented — there will be times when you aren’t matched up, but you can peek into the progress of ongoing fights via the bubbles in the lobby. As of the most recent patch, a proper Spectator Mode has been added, but that’s currently limited to four in a lobby — two fighting, two spectating (normal lobbies have a max of 10 players).

The real meat of Arms is in Ranked. It’s gated behind beating the Grand Prix at level 4, so everyone there should theoretically know how to play. I say “theoretically” because I rocketed from ranks 1 to 7 without losing a single best-of-three game (Ranked peaks at 15 for now). I’ve never been competitive at a fighter before, and there’s nothing like the mind game of prediction, counter-prediction, and reading your opponent.

It’s early days yet for Arms, and figuring out the intricacies and depth brought by the different characters and arms (each of the ten characters can use all of the thirty available arms) is exciting. By getting in on the ground floor, we’re building the metagame in real time. It’s a good start for Nintendo’s branching out into games as a service.

Fast casual

“Let’s play,” I tell Belle, my cousin. We’re waiting for our food at Pancake House, and I figure this is the perfect time to live out a Nintendo Switch commercial. For medical reasons, I’d never tried the motion controls before. Belle boxes in real life, so I know she’ll like this. I pop off the neon blue and red joy-cons and hand them to her, and take out another pair. They’re Arms yellow, vibrant as a highlighter.

She looks through the character screen with great interest. “Is she black?” says the palest, most privileged woman in our family who’s learning about social justice at the Ateneo de Manila University. She’s talking about Twintelle. “She uses her hair to punch? I want her.”

By this point, I’ve had Arms for a week and am deep into Ranked with Min Min. I use a different character for the first time — Kid Cobra, who’s tearing through the tier lists because of his innate advantages in the current metagame that is focused on charged attacks and dashes.

We play three best-of-three matches, and Belle wins every time. Maybe Arms makes savants out of us all.

SEE ALSO: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review: The quintessential Switch game

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Gaming

Kobe is the cover of NBA 2K21 Mamba Forever Edition

For both current and next gen

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Give us a quick second as we wipe the tears off our faces. The third and final cover athlete for NBA 2K21 is Kobe Bryant. Instead of being called the Legend Edition, it will be aptly named Mamba Forever Edition.

The Mamba Forever Edition will be available in both current gen and next gen consoles. On the current gen cover, Kobe is shown wearing the No. 8 jersey displaying the peak of his athleticism. On the next gen cover, he’s seen wearing the No. 24 jersey in a scene during his final game where he scored 60 points.

2K says the covers are a celebration of the late athlete’s lifetime achievement and basketball excellence. He passed away in a tragic accident earlier in 2020 with his daughter Gigi Bryant and seven others.

Kobe was the cover athlete for NBA 2K10, the Legend Edition of NBA 2K17.

Damian Lillard and Zion Williamson were revealed as the covers for the current gen and next-gen standard editions respectively.

NBA 2K21 will feature MyTEAM Cross-Progression and a Shared VC Wallet within the same console family (PS4 to PS5, Xbox One to Xbox Series X).

MyTEAM Cross-Progression enables all MyTEAM Points, Tokens, cards and progress to be shared on both current and next-generation versions of NBA 2K21 in the same console family. Similarly, the Shared VC Wallet means any earned or purchased VC is accessible across both current and next-generation versions of NBA 2K21 in the same console family.

Pricing and availability

NBA 2K21 will be available on current-generation platforms on September 4, 2020 and is available for pre-order today. NBA 2K21 will be available for PhP 3,190 on current-generation platforms.

It will also be available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X as a launch title this holiday. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X version of NBA 2K21 will be available for PhP 3,690.

The NBA 2K21 Mamba Forever Edition will be available for PhP 5,390 for both current and next-generation platforms.

It includes dual-access where purchasing Mamba Forever Edition on either current or next-generation platforms provides a copy of the standard edition game on the other generation at no additional cost, within the same console family.

A full breakdown of pre-order details is available at NBA 2K’s website.

NBA 2K will release additional announcements and news about NBA 2K21 including the soundtrack reveal, first looks at gameplay and features for both current and next-generation versions of NBA 2K21, 2K Day celebration and much more.

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Dating

Pokémon launched Pikachu-themed wedding rings, but there’s something nasty about them

How big is your love?

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As of late, The Pokémon Company has increased its reach to a lot of other industries outside of gaming, including lifestyle apps and wireless earbuds. Now, the ubiquitous brand has expanded to the most precious catch of them all: wedding rings.

Partnered with Japanese jewelry company Ginza Tanaka, The Pokémon Company has officially launched Pikachu-themed engagement rings and wedding bands. The list of products includes simple platinum and gold wedding bands that come in a PokéBall-style box. Couples can also get their rings engraved with their own personal customizations. (However, the company rightly suggests a variation of “I choose you, [insert name here].”)

Meanwhile, the engagement rings are a bit more ostentatious. One design is a simple silhouette of Pikachu’s face, but the face’s center holds a diamond. Another design has two Pikachu tails holding the diamond in place. Like the wedding bands, they can come in either gold or platinum.

Cute as they are, there’s something awfully weird about them, as The Verge points out. In particular, the ears of the Pikachu rings look particularly nasty. Call us skeptical, but we don’t think Pikachu had *those* for ears. And yes, while they are part of the marriage process, we don’t know if you’d want them wrapped around your finger forever.

However, if you’re not bothered by them and think they’re perfectly innocent and fluffy Pikachu ears, they retail for JPY 346,500 (approximately US$ 3,225). Meanwhile, the wedding bands range between JPY 115,550 (approximately US$ 1,076) to JPY 121,000 (approximately US$ 1,126). The collection also has a keepsake photo frame selling for JPY 13,200 (approximately US$ 123).

SEE ALSO: Pokémon Unite is the very first Pokémon MOBA game

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Gaming

Best TVs for the PS5 and Xbox Series X

Be ready for the Next Gen consoles

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With Sony PlayStation finally unveiling what the PS5 looks like, the conversation around the Next Gen consoles has once again gained momentum. For sure, you’re going to buy either the PS5 or the Xbox Series X, but what TV should you get along with it?

One of the key specifications of the next gen consoles is improved graphics quality with support for up to 8K graphics, and 4K graphics at 120Hz refresh rate. It stands to reason that you’ll need a TV that can take advantage of these features.

One key specification to look for in your next-gen console TV companion is HDMI 2.1. HDMI 2.1 enables a host of features that are beneficial for gamers. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • 4K at 120Hz (vs to [email protected] with HDMI 2.0)
  • Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) — enables FreeSync and G-SYNC like the ones on gaming monitors for reduced screen tearing.
  • Up to 10K Resolution
  • 48 Gbps Bandwidth (vs to 18 Gbps with HDMI 2.0)
  • Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) or ‘Game Mode’

Naturally, every TV that’s listed here has that particular specification. These TVs also have a ‘Game Mode’ that’s supposed to optimize your entire gaming experience.

We haven’t used any of these TVs ourselves, but based on collected opinions from other websites as well friends and colleagues who have tried some of these TVs, these are what we ended up with.

Best Overall — LG B9 OLED Ultra HD 4K TV

While researching this topic, the LG B9 is the specific TV that kept coming up. You have two size options — 55” and 65” and a host of AI features thanks to its A7 processor (Picture, Brightness, Sound, Sound Tuning).

Based on experience (we have an 65” LG TV in the GadgetMatch HQ), WebOS is pretty fluid to use, and LG has taken extra care to make sure cable management is properly handled.

At US$ 1599/ PhP 79,999 it’s actually a pretty sweet deal considering all the high-end features you’re getting.

Best 8K — QLED 8K Q950TS (2020)

If you’re looking towards the future, have some serious cash to burn, and a considerably wide enough space, consider getting this future-ready 8K QLED TV by Samsung.

We’ve talked lengthily about Samsung’s 2019 8K QLED TV. So this is essentially that but with a few improvements, chief of which is the Infinity Screen. This is a bezel-less beauty and one that looks absolutely premium.

This 85” massive TV that should look good as your primary home entertainment hub retails for US$ 12,999.99. Samsung does have other 8K QLED TV options for much less than that which we’ll list later on.

Everything else 

LG

Name Size/s Price
LG GX 65 inch 4K Smart OLED TV 65” TBA
LG CX 4K Smart OLED TV 77”, 65”, 55” TBA
LG NanoCell 8K 75NANO98PNA 75” TBA
LG C9 OLED55C9PPA 55”, 65” US$ 2,499 (Special deal US$ 1,499 at time of writing)

PhP 142,990 (Special deal PhP 99,990 at time of writing)

LG OLED 4K OLED65E9PPA 65” US$ 2,199
LG NanoCell 65SM9000PPA 65” TBA

SAMSUNG

Name Size/s Price
Samsung QLED 8K Q800T 65” N/A
Samsung QLED 8K Q900R 82”, 98” Starts at PhP 4,990,000
Samsung QLED 8K Q900TS 65”, 75”, 85” Starts at US$ 5,499.99

SONY

Name Size/s Price
Sony Z9G 8K 85”, 98” Starts at US$ 7,999.99
Sony Z8H 4K 75”, 85” Starts at US$ 5,999.99
Sony X900H 4K 55”, 65”, 75”, 85” Starts at US$ 999.99

VIZIO also recently had their 2020 Summer Showcase which listed a bunch of TVs with support for HDMI 2.1. In the Philippines, we were told that XTREME’s S-Series of TVs are all equipped with that feature.

It’s worthwhile to note that whatever UHD TV with HDMI input you have should work fine with the next generation consoles. The ones listed here are just the TVs especially equipped to take advantage of all that next gen goodness.

We’ve reached out to other brands to confirm which of their TVs have HDMI 2.1 so look for this list to be updated once we get their confirmation.

H/T: Premium Builds/ Tom’s Guide/ IGN/ Rtings

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