Features

Top 10 Video Games of 2017

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2017 will go down in history as one of the best years in gaming. Here are 10 excellent reasons, with number one being GadgetMatch’s game of the year.

10. Persona 5 

Persona 5 isn’t the best game of the year, but it makes a good case for being the most game of the year. It takes around 100+ hours to beat; it has deep dungeon crawling with puzzle-solving; it’s got robust turn-based combat; and it’s also a light high-school simulator with a suite of social activities! The story tackles all sorts of societal ills, from child abuse to corruption in politics.

It stumbles on some aspects, most notably the hit-or-miss English localization, the sluggish pacing in the final stretch, and the portrayal of some of the women and queer characters. It soars, however, in its supreme sense of style, acid jazz symphonic string-funk soundtrack, and infectious rebellious spirit.

9. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus 

Video games can be a great escape from the maddening realities of life, especially with 2017’s barrage of bad news. They let us indulge in power fantasies when we feel weak and helpless. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus couldn’t have come at a better time with its vicious takedown of fascism via ultraviolence, toilet humor teetering towards the absurd, and intense introspection.

And while slaughtering virtual Nazis with hatchets and guns akimbo is cathartic as hell, Wolfenstein II hits the hardest when it highlights its diverse characters. Militant black activists, an alien conspiracy nut, Southern socialists, and a boyband-loving ex-Nazi codebreaker join the party of oddities from the previous game, and it results in the most dynamic cast that serves as inspiration for collective resistance in real life.

8. Super Mario Odyssey

If there’s one word that encapsulates Super Mario Odyssey, it’s joy. Unabashed, honest-to-goodness joy. From its many candy-colored kingdoms to the cute creatures that inhabit them to the head-bobbing rhythms that play in each level, just being in Super Mario Odyssey is a treat.

What makes the game great though is that the joy of “being” extends to what you are doing. In Mario’s cliched quest to save Princess Peach from Bowser one more time, the joy is in discovering novel ways to interact with the world through the help of your hat buddy Cappy (and the bodies of enemies and friendlies you basically possess!). Super Mario Odyssey rewards that natural curiosity with in-game progression, sure, but it never forgets that the mere act of playing should be fun on its own.

7. Cuphead

Getting a glimpse of Cuphead and thinking it’s an old-timey cartoon is an incredibly easy mistake to make. Studio MDHR, the brand new creative force behind Cuphead, showed impeccable dedication to recreating the wild and mesmerizing aesthetic pioneered in the 1930s by cartoonist Max Fleischer. While there is debate to be had about the game ignoring that art style’s racist history, there is no argument over Cuphead elevating the good parts of that distinct look to hypnotic heights.

Cuphead’s beauty isn’t just skin deep, either. Its retro visuals and big band/ragtime soundtrack pair perfectly with its brutally hard throwback run ‘n’ gun shoot ’em up gameplay reminiscent of Contra. Thanks to the super-tight controls, varied weapons and upgrades, and the astonishing multi-phase boss fights, beating Cuphead is even more rewarding than seeing it in action for the first time.

6. What Remains of Edith Finch 

Much has been said about video games’ ability to tell stories. When so many rely on cinematics or pages of text to deliver their narratives, it feels like what makes the medium special is wasted. What Remains of Edith Finch harnesses that singular strength of interactivity to tell not just one story but a whole clan’s history in ways only video games can.

The player takes an active role in each tale, reliving the last moments of every Finch family member through surreal sequences that never stop surprising. These imaginative vignettes blur reality with flights of fancy and call upon the player to navigate the spaces between. Most importantly, What Remains of Edith Finch makes the case as to why humans need to tell stories: to cope with grief, to make sense of chaos, to learn from mistakes, and to keep precious memories alive.

5. Horizon Zero Dawn

A lot of elements in Horizon Zero Dawn feel familiar, especially if you’ve been playing a lot of big budget games in the past decade. It has a massive open world filled with so much stuff. It has a light RPG upgrade system with unlockable skills. It has collecting and crafting. Even its setting sounds predictable: It’s in a post-apocalyptic future, sentient machines roam the world, the hero has a special connection to the mysterious forces that brought about the end of the previous world, and it’s up to her to discover the truth.

And yet Horizon Zero Dawn manages to defy expectations. It’s the most picturesque AAA game on consoles. Clans with different cultures populate the land, and the characters you meet from each one tell personal tales that weave into the larger political landscape. Completing side quests factor into the main plot’s climax. The narrative deftly deviates from where you think it’s heading while still making complete sense. You play as a clever, badass woman with relatable vulnerabilities and motivations! Oh and yes, fighting giant robot dinosaurs is a tactical, terrifying, and ultimately satisfying experience like nothing else in the genre.

4. Pyre 

It’s a strange combination, framing sports gameplay within a visual novel. Pyre is a triumphant slam dunk for succeeding at both ends. The 3v3 basketball-but-with-powers game is layered in its systems, kinetic in action, and exhilarating in execution. The writing is rich with both characterization and world-building. It also helps that the art is absolutely gorgeous and expressive. Staring at mostly static character portraits while reading text has never been so absorbing.

The true magic happens when these two parts come together. Depending on who you choose to have on your team and the opponents you face, the characters react accordingly to each other before, during, and after a match. Win or lose, the story continues, and people will come and go based on the outcome. Dire, unfair circumstances brought on by an oppressive regime make for game-changing, heartbreaking choices that will resonate with players uniquely.

3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

There aren’t many prestigious and influential series that continue to have long-standing success over three decades. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild throws out almost everything those 30+ years have proven to be profitable, replacing the rigid linearity of the past for an “open air” adventure. It was a bold move by Nintendo, but like the company’s innovation with the Switch, it resulted in a revitalizing way to play.

It’s in the way the sight lines always have something that’s singularly grand off in the distance that make you want to travel the vast distances. It’s in the way the physical laws of the world apply to everyone and everything, inviting experimentation just to see what happens. It’s in the way the game just gives you one ultimate goal and lets you tackle it however you want. It’s liberating.

2. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Who saw this coming? A rather bland-looking military-style multiplayer shooter inspired by a cult Japanese film taking the gaming world by storm? With a horrible title like that? None of these negatives really matters when PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is that good.

The sheer scale of having 100 players fight is exciting. Trying to account for the behavior of 99 other humans while considering the randomness in where equipment can be found and which zones in a sprawling island are safe sounds impossible! Yet 25 million people and counting keep trying. Because the thrill in the nervous anticipation, the bullets that break the silence, the explosive gun battles, the wacky car chases, the first taste of that delicious chicken dinner, and countless other short stories is revelatory.

1. Nier: Automata

Nier: Automata isn’t perfect. Its open world looks like a slightly souped-up PS3-era level. The default difficulty setting doesn’t encourage mixing up your play style, leading to many tedious combat sections. A chunk of the middle could have been edited to remove unnecessary repetition. It could’ve done without allowing players to perv on one of the main characters.

But it’s the flaws that Nier: Automata is interested in examining. It blurs the arbitrary lines we humans set to define gender, humanity, and divinity, much like how it seamlessly switches gameplay modes and perspectives. It zeroes in on the irrational motivations humans have to determine self-worth even when it hurts through its cast of sad, funny robots and ass-kicking, angst-ridden androids.

It also reminds us that we’re all we’ve really got in this crazy world, and that we have the choice to lend our hands and voices to help one another and rise above our differences.

SEE ALSO: 10 offline free-to-play mobile games on iOS and Android

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Features

4 simple ways to improve battery life on your smartphone

You don’t need a power bank for this one

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Owning a smartphone has been a need for a lot of people over the past few years — not just for calling and texting your family and friends, but also helping you book a ride or take pictures. It’s essential that your phone is up and running at all times.

But, let’s say the night is still young and your phone’s battery is close to empty, say, around 25 percent left. You or your friends don’t have an available power bank, and there are no charging outlets in sight. You still need your phone to book an Uber or call your parents to tell them how you’re holding up. Say no more, because here are some tips on how you can make your phone last longer.

Force-close your apps

Let’s say you opened a ton of apps over the course of the day, and you kept them idle while using other apps in the process. Having a ton of idle apps open drains your battery despite just being in the background. Your phone is still using power from the battery to refresh your apps in the background, apart from delivering notifications from these apps.

While smartphones have been getting better at managing battery drain from these apps, what you can do is to simply force-close your unused apps. Android smartphones have a built-in feature wherein you can see all the recently accessed apps and regulate their usage. For iPhone users, simply access the Multitasking feature and close your unused apps and turn off the “Background App Refresh” setting.

Turn down your phone’s brightness and screen timeout

Another feature that eats up your phone’s battery is your screen’s brightness. By default, your phone would have the brightness set to automatic, but if you want to see all the colors in full bloom, you would turn the brightness up.

But, for cases wherein your battery is already low, it is advisable to turn it down to conserve energy. Also, you can turn down the screen timeout settings on your phone to the quickest time. The shorter time your phone’s screen is on, paired with low brightness settings, the more your battery conserves energy.

Turn off some phone features when not in use

Apart from idle apps open in the background, your phone also has main processes and features running. Functions such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, cellular data, location services, and auto-sync are normally on by default. You would want to keep these running at all times to stay connected, and obviously in case of emergencies.

However, it’s best to turn some of these features off, especially if you’re not actively using them. Of course, the easiest way of turning off your Wi-Fi and cellular services is by turning on Airplane Mode. For the rest, you have to turn them off manually through your phone’s action center. Doing so stops the background processes for the time being, saving your battery life for a while longer.

Use ultra power saving mode

Let’s say your phone is now bordering on the 10 to 15 percent mark, and you are desperate to keep your phone alive. You’ve tried all the things above but your phone’s battery is still depleting by the minute. Luckily, your phone also comes with different battery saving options accessible through its settings.

When you go to your Settings menu, enter Battery options and you’ll likely notice that your phone has both a power saving mode and an ultra power saving mode. If you want to keep your phone on for as long as possible, turn ultra power saving mode on for good measure. While on ultra power saving mode, you only have access to your calls, texts, and other necessary apps you prefer.

There are other ways to improve battery life, but these are the easiest, most accessible ways to do so. Let’s hope your phone had enough power left to scroll through this article!

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Mate 20 series offers a solid lineup: Weekend Rewind

There’s a Mate 20 for everyone!

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Here are this week’s top stories on GadgetMatch.

1. Huawei offers plenty of things with their Mate 20 Series

Huawei could very well fill up this week’s entire rewind with the whole Mate 20 series. In total, they released four new smartphones along with two wearables during their event in London. Here’s all of them.

Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro

These were the devices most of us expected to see. The Mate 20 Pro is probably the most feature-packed phone of 2018. They brought in everything that was good with the P20 Pro and added a few wait-hold-up-did-it-really-do-that features like reverse wireless charging.

Watch the Mate 20 Pro Hands-on…

And our Mate 20 Unboxing while you’re here.

Porsche Design Mate 20 RS

If you have an excessive amount of money to spend (please give us some), you can opt for the more luxurious Mate 20 RS. It has all the bells and whistles of the Mate 20 Pro but with the leatherback Porsche Design. It’ll come in two colors: Black in select markets and in a limited edition Red in China.

Mate 20 X

This was announced as Huawei’s one more big thing. Big, it truly is. Coming with a massive 7.2-inch display, the Mate 20 X is being marketed as a gaming smartphone. It even pairs with a gamepad for that ultimate gaming experience.

Huawei Watch GT and Band Pro 3

These two wearables mostly flew under the radar but they are still worth taking note of. The Huawei Watch GT, while waterproof and equipped with fitness features, is the more lifestyle model thanks to its design. The Huawei Band Pro 3 is the more straightforward health tracker and something you probably shouldn’t wear at formal gatherings.

2. Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 getting hype ahead of launch

In case you haven’t been keeping up, there’s already a handful of smartphones released in October and there’s a handful more coming. One of them is Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 3 which is slated for an October 25 launch and is rumored to have a whopping 10GB of RAM and 5G connectivity.

Xiaomi also released a teaser showcasing the device’s sliding camera feature.

3. Palm breaking trend of bigger phones

Tired of phones getting bigger and bigger? Palm came back this week and offered a different approach with the Palm phone. It’s not exactly a standalone smartphone and is really meant to be more of a Robin to the Batman which is your daily driver. At this point, we’re not sure how useful it’ll be but if you’re curious, it’s priced at US$ 349.

4. OnePlus 6T moves launch date

Speaking of more phones coming, the OnePlus 6T, which was reported to come with a smaller notch, an in-display fingerprint scanner along with the usual performance we’ve come to expect from the company, was forced to move its launch to October 29 with OnePlus CEO and founder Pete Lau saying they want “to make sure it gets the time and attention it deserves.”

Why wouldn’t it get the attention during its initial launch date? Well, it’s because of this next news item.

5. Apple wants to end October with a bang

Whether intentional or not, looks like Apple isn’t done announcing things and they want to be the one to cap off October with their own launch event. After announcing the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, the company is expected to unveil a new iPad Pro with Face ID, and possibly a low-cost MacBook or MacBook Air as reported by Bloomberg.


Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.

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Smartphones

Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro Unboxing

What’s inside the box?

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You already know how impressed we were during the hands-on, so now it’s time to see what comes in the package of Huawei’s newest flagships. This is our Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro unboxing.

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