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Finally: Japan welcomes Pokémon Go

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Pikachu is home, and by that we mean you can now catch Pokémon’s iconic yellow mouse where it all started.

Pokémon Go is “finally broadcasting” in its native Japan, Niantic Labs, the company responsible for the now-wildly popular mobile game, announced. It was only a matter of time; in fact, the game was supposed to launch in Japan on July 20, but its release was postponed after a leaked email that gave the public a heads up became viral.

Japan is Pokémon Go‘s first stop in Asia, but other countries in the region are likely to follow soon. The game is now available in 36 countries and regions, including the U.S. and most of Europe. Niantic Labs chief executive John Hanke said in an interview he wants to make the title available to 200 more countries.

Japan is also the first location where the hit Pokémon title has a sponsorship deal that will see more than 3,000 McDonald’s Japan restaurants become Pokémon Go gyms, where players can train and battle their pokémon. Fast-food restaurants across the country will also sell Happy Meals with limited-edition Pokémon toys in them.

The partnership will no doubt drive unprecedented foot traffic to McDonald’s locations, though a company representative said stores would “call on players not to become a bother to customers who are eating.” Because the last thing you want to worry about while eating your matcha McFlurry is a kid breaking into your private space and obsessing over a Charizard (read: rare pokémon) on your table.

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The warning issued by Japan’s National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity on Twitter and Line

Fearing the worst, Japanese authorities have taken measures to promote public safety, unsurprisingly, in cartoon form. Players have been asked to use “cool names that are different from real names” and try not to stay under the sun too long.

Pokémon phenomena has its roots in The Land of the Rising Sun, where the original Pokémon video games for the Nintendo Game Boy were released in the late 90s. The franchise has since spawned other video-game titles, trading card games, an animated TV series, animated movies, countless merchandise, and a real-life pokémon training facility in Osaka.

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Razer Phone Review: Best smartphone for gaming?

First and only phone with 120Hz display!

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Razer is stepping up to the plate of mobile phones. Was I surprised? Not quite as much as everyone else. With mobile gaming going up a notch despite a critical crowd internally rubbing elbows as to what makes someone a “gamer,” I was partly expecting brands to take on the challenge of catering to their audience.

With Razer appropriately initiating marketing to gamers, is the phone a step forward to a no-compromises mobile experience, or is it just a flashy-looking phone?

A mobile handheld?

At first glance the Razer Phone is undeniably reminiscent of holding any handheld console. It’s a strange association, I know, but stay with me. As much as the bezels and speakers shrink the eye-catching 5.7-inch 1440p IGZO LCD 120Hz UltraMotion display, it leaves your touchplay mobile gaming undisturbed.

With an awesomely smooth matte and slick all black anodized aluminum casing, the phone’s grip is comfortable and perfect while you’re playing games. I usually have trouble holding my phone while playing Arena of Valor because the touchplay mechanics are so close to the edges of the phone. On the Razer Phone, the speakers and square edges give ample space for you to hold it up comfortably.

Mobile gamer’s pipe dream

The hardware of the phone joins the top-notch phones with a Snapdragon 835 processor with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. If you’re worried about the phone lasting a day out, the 4000mAh battery can take more than just a beating.

When Razer bragged about providing absolute freedom to watch, listen, and play as much as you want without ever being caught with a red battery bar, they meant it. The Razer Phone breezed through more than 24 hours of on-and-off intensive gameplay on a single charge.

Cue in “but wait, there’s more” infomercial

The phone lets you modify and customize frame rate, resolution, CPU clock frequencies, and anti-aliasing with its built-in Razer Game Booster. Each game can be optimized individually under this system. The 120Hz UltraMotion screen is so smooth, it deserves more than just a sentence in this subsection.

The phone features Dolby Atmos- and THX-certified audio that’ll blow your socks off. While shooting, I had them on full blast while logging into Vainglory. Needless to say, I thought someone pulled a prank through the speakers, and I was impressed to find it was the Razer Phone.

Display as smooth as butter is almost an understatement

Although the display’s brightness is relatively dimmer than what I’m used to, the 120Hz refresh rate is just amazing. Dropping the refresh rate from 120Hz to 90Hz does make a difference in-game and out. It may not make a huge difference to the untrained eye, but it’s a noticeable one to PC gamers.

The phone makes Android look so buttery smooth that I can never look at other phones the same way again. Regular phones settle for a 60Hz panel meaning they’re only half as smooth as the Razer Phone’s display. If that doesn’t put it up to scale for you, 120Hz is about as high as a refresh rate from most high-end laptops and PC monitors.

Bundled with pre-installed games

It comes as no surprise: A gaming phone is no gaming phone without games. Razer brought out their guns, already setting the phone up with four titles perfect on 120Hz. They have Titanfall: Assault, Gear.Club, World of Tanks: Blitz, and Arena of Valor pre-installed on the phone so you won’t need to look far to test out the display right off the bat.

If you want to immerse in a sharp and bold display while you play, this is the way to go. Other games that support this frame rate are:

  • Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition
  • Real Racing 3
  • The Simpsons: Tapped Out
  • Vainglory
  • Vendetta Online
  • Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade

Netflix and play

The Razer Phone boasts perfect features for gamers, but it delivers on more than just that. The phone’s HDR-ready screen is perfect for watching movies, shorts, and TV shows. With the phone’s extensive battery life, it had no problem tearing through hours of binge watching on Netflix.

A catch that may not matter to you

The 12-megapixel dual cameras are decent but feel like an afterthought, which ultimately makes a lot of sense. With the target use to be mainly for playing games and lodging around without being tied to an outlet or power bank, it’s clear that Razer took this more as an accessory than a main feature. Which isn’t to say it’s completely horrifying; you can check the test shots for yourself below:

Its highs and lows

The Razer Phone doesn’t have a headphone jack. A bummer? A little, but the phone comes with a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle. Luckily, Razer sent us Razer Hammerhead USB-C earphones with the phone so I had a chance to try them out and they delivered on quality.

Connecting a variety of headphones and earphones both over- and in-ear through the dongle thankfully didn’t degrade the experience that much. Although you’re better off with the direct USB-C earphones, the dongle is not so bad an alternative when you don’t have US$ 80 more to cash out for the Hammerhead or similarly expensive headphones.  

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for the perfect phone to play and watch with while still being able to go about your day, this is the phone for you. The Razer Phone’s 120Hz refresh rate can change a life. It’s eye-gasmic and the phone doesn’t make me feel any remorse for saying it.

If a great camera is one of the striking features you value in a phone, this isn’t the phone for you. The device can manage with ample lighting, but there’s no denying that the camera is this handset’s pitfall. Considering that this is a gaming phone though, it does deliver. Whether a gaming phone is worth cashing out US$ 699 for, is up to you.

What lies ahead?

I touched on this subject in the introduction, but it’s safe to say brands are listening to their audience more and more. Gaming on your mobile has been looked down upon by many and it has struggled to gain equal respect from other hardware. Although it continues to be belittled, it grows. Mobile games are not just convenient, portable, and efficient, it’s also mostly for free — and that’s why despite harsh shade, it’s popularity has grown incrementally. Games are no longer a sensible debate between hardware, and it shouldn’t have been to begin with.

Judging software through hardware isn’t a valid way of going about the subject. Games like Mobile Legends, Arena of Valor, Army Attack, and Battlefield has proven that games that go multi-platform and dive into iOS and Android grow a huge number of players. So, next time you feel like judging a game by what people play it on, consider the context of usage, availability, and accessibility of the game for people.

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Nike, Paul George unveil PlayStation-themed shoes

Features extra goodies for PS4 owners

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Basketball shoes are a way for fans to show their love for the game. However, Nike’s new shoes show appreciation for a different kind of game — the video game.

Sporting a PlayStation logo and a load of other gamer goodies, the PG2 is Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George’s latest collaboration with Nike. His second signature shoe with the sneaker company boasts both his twin loves — basketball and video games.

George, who previously played for the Indiana Pacers, is no stranger to collaborations with the gaming world. Last year, the star was featured on the cover of NBA 2K17, when he was still donning the blue and gold. In the same year, he also launched his first shoe, the PG1, which sported a cameo of his 2K17 render.

The PG2 shares a similar design with the PG1, particularly its traditional look compared to the standard bootie design today.

The shoe exudes a dark blue with black accents look. It shows off the PG brand and PlayStation logos on the right and left tongues, respectively. Mimicking the PS4’s DualShock controllers, both logos light up and pulse when activated by buttons. The lighting mechanism contains a 150-hour non-removable battery.

The shoe’s lace locks are painted red, green, blue, and pink to look like the iconic PlayStation symbols. The actual symbols themselves highlight the patented leather on the shoes’ sides.

Also, Sony lent its PlayStation Galaxy theme to the shoes’ sock liner and midsole. Splotches of red, purple, and blue accompany the Nike swoosh on the midsole. Meanwhile, the sock liner dons the stellar theme.

PlayStation gamers will also enjoy a digital goodie bag after purchasing the shoe. A PlayStation Network barcode on the right shoe unlocks access to a dynamic Paul George theme on the PS4. It will also unlock a surprise that George and designer Tony Hardman are keeping under wraps until its launch.

The PG2 PlayStation shoes will hit stores on February 10 at a modest US$ 110. Paul George himself debuted the shoes at the Thunder’s 24-point blowout win against the Cleveland Cavaliers last January 20.

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Nintendo Labo transforms Switch using cardboard and creativity

Fun for kids and adults alike!

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You really have to hand it to Nintendo for truly maximizing the capabilities of their consoles. The latest creation comes in the form of Labo, which can make your Switch even more fun to play with using just cardboard.

Set to become available by April 20, Nintendo Labo is a DIY set that lets you build everyday tools that are fully compatible with the Switch’s main body and Joy-Con controllers. There are two sets to choose from: a Variety Kit that’ll retail for US$ 70 and a Robot Kit that’ll cost US$ 80.

Those may seem a little pricey and too close to the cost of an actual Switch when combined, but wait till you see Nintendo’s first trailer for Labo:

It’s a dream come true for fans of the Switch and DIY enthusiasts! The video shows off some of the creations you can make, including a functional 13-key piano, fishing rod, and motorbike. Those and more are part of the Variety Kit.

For those who want to unleash their inner mecha, the Robot Kit looks even more appealing. If the trailer turns out to be accurate, you can place yourself right into the action with a backpack mount, visor, and straps for your hands and feet. Again, these are mostly made of cardboard, making it all the more appealing and fun to play with.

Of course, paper alone isn’t enough to get these new games to run. Software will be bundled to complete the experience, as well as step-by-step instructions that are child-friendly and allow kids to learn how to build on their own.

Those lucky enough to reside in New York City or San Francisco can attend a three-hour Nintendo Labo Studio hands-on event on February 2 to 3 or March 2 to 4, respectively. You’re gonna have to bring a kid aged six to 12 to participate, however, according to the website’s rules.

For an additional US$ 20, you can also purchase a customization set loaded with sticker sheets, stencil sheets, and cutesy tape to modify your designs. All these seem like only the start of what Nintendo has planned for the future of the Switch, and we can’t wait to see more!

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