Gaming

Playdate is a handheld gaming system with a crank

Yes, an actual crank

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If you’re bored of the current gaming console landscape or are simply waiting for the next-gen PlayStation to come out, there’s this new handheld system that might keep you a little busy.

From a company named Panic, which is known for developing the popular game Firewatch, comes the Playdate. It may seem like a simple gaming system at first, but look to its right and you’ll see its defining feature: a crank.

The developer says that some titles will use this analog controller exclusively, while some won’t at all (which, to me, sorta defeats the purpose of placing that game on this console). Everything will be played on its monochrome screen with no backlighting.

You can see it in action here:

The spin here is that the Playdate will come with a subscription of 12 games — delivered to you once a week for 12 weeks. It’s part of the initial cost of US$ 149, but there’s no word yet if there’ll be subscriptions after that and how much they’ll cost.

Each game will be a surprise, which may or not be a good thing. Spending this much on an unproven console — and possibly more for succeeding subscriptions — could end up becoming a costly risk.

Orders will be accepted later this year, while actual shipping will happen in early 2020. For now, you can sign up through the official website to receive updates on its progress.

Editors' Choice

Best of 2019: Our choices for the best games

Remasters, remakes, realism, and returns

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It’s safe to say that the year 2019 was the year of comebacks and realism in video games. The age of technology truly dawned upon many of our longtime favorites, even those from our childhood.

As we wrap up the year, let us recognize the games that truly made their mark. These are our picks for the best games of 2019!

Apex Legends

As Fortnite: Battle Royale made its claim as the best free-to-play battle royale game, EA and Respawn Entertainment dropped the bomb. In one bold sweep, Apex Legends stood out from the rest of the competition. Incorporating battle royale gameplay with hero classes, no fall damage, and vast terrains. What made this game even more unique was its relatively strict adherence to team-based matchmaking.

Other features players lauded over for this game included customization options for heroes and weapons. Also, every new in-game season brought with it new heroes, new maps, and its version of limited-time modes (LTMs). Overall, Apex Legends stacked up as a formidable player for competitive battle royale games this year.

Devil May Cry 5

There’s always a way to make action games real fun, then there’s Devil May Cry 5 fun. This game gives you full freedom over your approach towards combat with a full range of attacks. This, on top of simple level design across the story, superb character design, and an interesting storyline makes it a great game.

Where Devil May Cry 5 mostly shines through involves the storyline and its combat mechanic. While going through a half-day story behind the motives of the characters, you learn more about their movesets. In understanding how their combat styles work, creativity and freedom kick in — enriching the story in your own way.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

The studio that brought you Dark Souls gave you another controller-smashing addition to the franchise. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice features the painstaking, heart-stopping action you need, with the difficulty to show for it. Apart from exploring the wonderful scenery of ancient Japan, it details the fable of the Shinobi.

Despite the obvious and infuriating difficulty spike, gameplay is rich filled with fighting. Not only that, but several features such as faster means of traversal, stealth, blocking during combat shine bright. It’s a must-have for anyone looking to challenge themselves in the most extreme way possible.

Mortal Kombat 11

The Mortal Kombat series has come a long way from its 2D arcade days of the 90s. The classic gore-style fighting game introduced refreshed gameplay and fighting tactics fit for combo-savvy gamers. All while staying true to its basic combat form of punching, kicking, and blocking — and finishing your opponent in the most horrifying way possible.

The gore around the latest iteration of the franchise has not changed. Brutality is put under the spotlight with several added features to compensate. In essence, Mortal Kombat 11 serves the public once more with all the brutal fatalities and crushing blows. And who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned “fatality” to cap off a stress-filled day?

Days Gone

Surviving a zombie-infested wasteland in the United States with very few humans is one scary sight. Days Gone completely furthers that, and adds a little bit of factions and territories in between. This game is one true reflection of how one simple plague can turn one entire region of a country into an abandoned wasteland.

Combat and stealth become your best friend, along with Deacon’s trusty motorcycle. Zombie encounters vary depending on size and scale, all of which pose their own challenges. With a wide selection of weapons and vehicle upgrades, surviving the world of Days Gone seems all too easy.

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

On its 20th anniversary, Crash Team Racing made a glorious comeback. Apart from enhanced graphics and designs from the polygonal original, Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled ushered in several new and repackaged features. Also, the once-believed PlayStation exclusive branched out to two more platforms, increasing the player pool in the process.

Since its release, major characters across Activision’s biggest remasters within the last three years have been included in this game. New features, including new maps and customization options served as a great way to reintroduce a beloved racing game to the new generation. This, on top of numerous nominations puts this remake among the top racing games for 2019.

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

All while technically an expansion of Monster Hunter: World, Iceborne drops such big a hammer that it borders the line of being a full-fledged successor. The game brings a new story, more monsters in the overworld, improved gameplay — that makes it the ideal suggestion for first-timers. 

Other major improvements for longtime fans include new gear, fast-paced upgradability, and new fight mechanics. It’s as if Capcom went haywire putting so many improvements, but it all paid off. All these improvements contribute to a richer storyline and wider world to explore even for new players. 

Borderlands 3

On the basis of pure hype, Borderlands 3 did its due diligence with all of its fans. For months in 2019, tease after tease rolled out, garnering the attention of the franchise’s rabid fanbase. When the game finally came out, it certainly made the long wait truly worth it.

The fast pace shooter game delivered its brand of insane action while improving key aspects of its gameplay. Not only that, you even get the classic art design and the insane amount of weapons at your disposal. It’s a joy to play through the game in its full glory, that you will be willing to start from scratch over and over again.

Untitled Goose Game

Face it, when this game first came out, it seemed like mere child’s play. The Untitled Goose Game had one very simple mechanic: you’re a goose hellbent on annoying the human race for your enjoyment. However, it’s the comedy behind the madness that allowed this game to truly flourish — most especially, its meme quality.

The game takes you through mere mundane tasks, but actually presents a difficulty curve to them. When you feel frustrated towards the game, the goose can release those feelings for you through honking. It presents a cathartic escape from everyday life, even if the premise seems so childish. So much so, that people all over the world made memes from the game.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

For years, the Call of Duty franchise produced significantly better versions of their games. With this latest iteration of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward decided to revisit the drawing board. The end result was some excellent weapon action and customization, questionable map design, and steady gameplay across all game modes.

Online multiplayer still became the star of the show for 2019’s Modern Warfare. Weapon customization, alongside hefty gameplay with your friends keeps things real interesting. Despite map design that hampers team strategies most of the time, a fun mix of combat and teamwork can go a long way.

Death Stranding

Although a recent release, Death Stranding had proven to cross the boundaries of apocalyptic reality and socio-political discourse. Kojima Productions’ latest masterpiece tackles the concept of nationhood for a country divided and wiped out instantly. Apart from the deep storyline, the gameplay is just as realistic as you imagine it to be.

You go through an eternity of trials in an attempt to unite the country once more. For the most part, you are traversing through dangerous lands whichever way to look or turn. And yet, it finds a way to calm you down when a baby in a capsule stresses you out. For a relatively late 2019 release, it’s certainly a title worth putting up there with the best.

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Gaming

Xbox Series X is Microsoft’s new console

Formerly known as Project Scarlett

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With millions of eyes glued to the Game Awards, Microsoft took the opportunity to unveil their latest console. Formerly known as Project Scarlett, the gaming console now has an official name — Xbox Series X.

The Xbox Series X has a custom-designed CPU that’s based on AMD’s Zen 2 and Radeon RDNA Architecture. Speaking of CPU, that’s exactly what the console looks like. Despite it looking like most CPU Towers, the console can be positioned both vertically and horizontally.

Microsoft Xbox chief Phil Spencer claims the new console it will “deliver four times the processing power of Xbox One X in the most quiet and efficient way.” It’s also using an SSD which should boost load times. It’s also capable of 8K gaming with frame rates of up to 120 FPS as well as ray tracing.

Spencer confirmed with GameSpot that it the Xbox Series X is backwards compatible. It will support games you can play on the Xbox One and will also have support for accessories sold for earlier versions of the console.

There’s no word yet on exact pricing and availabilty but they did say it will come just ahead of the holiday shopping season in 2020. This puts it squarely around the time of the PlayStation 5’s release date. Exciting times ahead for console gamers!

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Gaming

Black Shark 2 Pro: Price and availability in the Philippines

It’s finally here!

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It’s finally here! The much anticipated Black Shark 2 and Black Shark 2 Pro are finally in the Philippines.

First announced back in July, the Black Shark 2 is a much anticipated gaming smartphone. Powering the phone is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus.

The device also comes with an AMOLED display with a 240Hz touch report rate. However, is that the display still retains a 60Hz refresh rate that lags behind its major competitor — the ASUS ROG Phone 2 — which has a display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The display’s response speed was reduced to 34.7 ms, promising faster response times during high pressure gameplay.

Price and availability

The Black Shark 2 comes in three variants: 6GB/128GB (PhP 22,990), 8GB/128GB (23,990), and 12GB/256GB (PhP 28,990).

Meanwhile, the Black Shark 2 Pro comes in two variants: 8GB/128GB (PhP 27,990), and 12GB/256GB (PhP 33,490).

The phones will be available in select Mi Stores: SM Megamall, SM North EDSA, and SM Mall of Asia starting December 13.

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