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Author: Keza MacDonald

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Google Stadia: company makes a play for gamers with new streaming service

Stadia, which will allow users to play games on any device, will launch later in 2019

Google announced its entry into the video game market with Google Stadia, a service that will allow players to stream video games to any screen – phone, tablet, TV or computer.

Google announced Stadia at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. The cloud-powered service will allow users to log in from any screen using the Chrome browser, a Chromecast device or a Google Pixel phone or tablet and play the same games across all of them, with all the computational heavy-lifting done by Google’s servers instead of a games console. It means that players won’t have to purchase a box that sits under the TV in order to play, theoretically liberating video games from hardware altogether.

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Bafta games awards 2019: God of War leads nominations

Epic mythological fighting game picks up 10 nominations, chased by Red Dead Redemption 2, Return of the Obra Dinn and Florence with six nominations each. See the full list below

Sony Santa Monica’s God of War has received 10 nominations for this year’s Bafta game awards, leading a diverse pack of nominees.

Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 also picked up six nominations, as did Florence – a game about a relationship played from the perspective of a young woman – and Return of the Obra Dinn, a lo-fi monochrome mystery set on an abandoned ship.

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Hypnospace Outlaw review: a surreal tribute to the 90s internet

PC; Tendershoot/No More Robots
Journey back in time as an online detective policing a compelling parody of the nascent net, with dodgy graphics, tinny music and a host of weird websites to explore

The very nature of the internet means that things are constantly vanishing from it, as websites, social networks and communities emerge, evolve and dissipate over the years. This constant change means that “the internet” of previous decades becomes something like a dream, existing only in the vague memories of the people who experienced it. Hypnospace Outlaw constructs an entire fictional internet from the Y2K era, replete with low-resolution videos, dancing gifs, virtual desktop pets and forum drama. It’s like browsing a half-remembered amalgamation of GeoCities, Angelfire and random Myspace pages.

In this alternate-history version of 1999, the internet really is somewhere you visit when you’re asleep, browsing idly while your body rests. You play an enforcer for the growing corporation that runs the web, stamping out copyright infringement, harassment and illegal activity to keep people safe. Assignments drop into your inbox and you flit around the net looking for things to smack with your ban-hammer, following links and typing in searches to find unlisted pages with dodgy material, downloading mysterious software and accumulating a collection of downloaded tracks for your RealPlayer-alike music program.

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Nintendo at 130: ‘It’s on us to create that wow moment for players’

As the video game giant turns 130, veteran developers Shinya Takahashi and Hisashi Nogami reflect on Nintendo’s creative process and legacy

In the century and a bit since its founding in 1889, Nintendo has made playing cards, designed toys, hired out taxis and briefly run love hotels, but it is the last 40 years or so that have made it a cultural icon. Having dabbled in the video games business throughout the 1970s, in the 1980s Nintendo released the Game & Watch and the Nintendo Entertainment System, and since then it has introduced hundreds of millions of people to the joy of video games – from 90s kids squinting at monochrome Game Boys to grandmothers bowling on the Wii.

Nintendo’s hallmarks are innovation and an unwavering focus on fun. Where other big players in the games industry have chased the latest technology and positioned their consoles as entertainment hubs, Nintendo has mostly come out with affordable, family-friendly machines that combine technical innovations such as the Wii’s motion control or the DS’s touchscreen with fun, accessible games in the vein of Mario, Zelda, Pokémon and Wii Sports. Nintendo hasn’t always been at the top of the sales charts, but no other video game creator has proven so enduringly popular across generations. A lot has changed since 1985, but kids still know who Mario is.

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Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will be a real-world smartphone game

The augmented reality game from the makers of Pokémon Go will take budding wizards on a magical quest through their own neighbourhood

Over a year since it was announced in November 2017, Warner Bros has lifted the lid on Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, a hotly anticipated new augmented reality game for smartphones due out later this year.

Developed by Pokémon Go creator Niantic in collaboration with Warner’s Portkey Games label, Wizards Unite overlays the wizarding world on the real world, asking players to walk around their neighbourhoods with their phones to uncover traces of magic. It draws both from the Harry Potter films and books, and the Fantastic Beasts additions.

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Trials Rising review – a global adrenaline rush

PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch; RedLynx/Ubisoft Kiev
Pure two-wheeled thrills drive this motorbike racing game, as you hurtle over spectacularly wild tracks around the world. Just avoid the acorns

After playing Trials Rising’s first few tracks, which send you careening wildly down huge ramps, backflipping through the air and revving enthusiastically on an agile motorbike, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a high-thrills racing game. In fact, it’s as much a puzzle game as a racer, requiring careful, precise control of the throttle, your rider’s weight and your own temper to bunny-hop through tricksy obstacle courses without flipping the bike over or touching an explosive barrel.

It is an adrenaline-heavy experience either way, whether you’re zipping through an easy course or wrestling the bike around a tougher one with your heart in your mouth. It can be intensely frustrating, but even if you never develop total mastery of motocross physics, it’s still great fun.

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Pokémon Sword and Shield: Nintendo’s new games set in land inspired by UK

Set in a new region, Galar, the new Pokémon games for Switch will be released later this year

Nintendo has unveiled two new Pokémon games for its Switch console: Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. Introduced in a short online broadcast by Junichi Masuda and Shigeru Ohmori at Pokémon’s developer, Game Freak, they feature a painterly, impressionistic world that juxtaposes urban and natural environments, continuing the series’ long-running theme of human interaction with nature.

The region of Gallar is clearly Britain-inspired; it’s all little ivy-coloured cottages in the villages and austere London-style buildings in the cities. The setting has already prompted a slew of creative nicknames from fans on Twitter, among them Pokémon Greggs/Pokémon Nandos.

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Bowser takes over at Nintendo in US after Fils-Aime’s 13-year reign

Head of sales and marketing Doug Bowser to become COO after popular leader retires

Nintendo of America’s president and COO, Reggie Fils-Aime, who has led the company for the past 13 years and become a well-known and liked figure among Nintendo’s fans in the US, is to retire in April, the company has announced. He will be replaced by Doug Bowser, who is currently senior vice-president of sales and marketing.

Unlike most video game company executives, who remain at a distance from the actual business of game creation and marketing, Fils-Aime has regularly appeared at events and in Nintendo’s own broadcasts to talk directly to fans. His endearing personality, willingness to engage in goofy stunts and odd turns of phrase have made him a cult figure with Nintendo’s fans: at 2004’s E3 video game conference, he introduced himself on stage with the now-infamous words “My name is Reggie, I’m about kickin’ ass, I’m about takin’ names, and we’re about makin’ games.”

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Block party: Nintendo’s 99-player Tetris is savaging my self-esteem

The new battle royale version of Tetris is absurdly compelling – but prepare to take a hit to your game-playing ego

I’m sorry to have to tell you this – not everybody takes it well – but you’re probably not as good as you think you are at Tetris.

It’s tough to take. Until this morning I thought I was a Tetris prodigy. Beginning with a year-long asynchronous rivalry with my brother on the Game Boy, where each of us would play obsessively until we’d topped all the high-score tables before smugly handing the console over to the other, I’ve played Tetris most of my life. I finished last year’s Tetris Effect, a version of the Russian block-rotating puzzle game that somehow turns it into a psychedelic meditation on the birth of the universe, in one three-hour session.

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Crackdown 3 review – flimsy futuristic fun as moreish as popcorn

PC, Xbox One; Sumo Digital/Microsoft
This simple action caper where players liberate a neon-clad city from a sinister megacorp makes 15 hours disappear easily

A capsule comic-book power fantasy, Crackdown 3 is a colourful, uncomplicated action caper through a vaguely Tron-like futuristic city that you, a special agent with superpowers, must liberate from a sinister megacorp. At the beginning, you’re mostly waving pistols and machine-guns in the faces of the city’s militia and getting instantly wiped out whenever you stray into more heavily armed districts. Hours later, you’re chucking cars at groups of soldiers, leaping over tall buildings like a buff flea, and blowing up factories with ease. The whole thing can be played co-operatively with a friend, flattening the odds even further by throwing two superpowered agents into the fray.

TerraNova is an unoriginal but pretty neon-clad city of skyscrapers and slums, airborne highways that wind confusingly between its districts, and holographic propaganda projections that issue platitudes from the rooftops. It’s an interesting and varied place to run around, home to clustered shanty towns lining the perimeter of an industrial quarry, well-to-do areas with gated residences and ostentatious nightclubs, and an unexpectedly huge raceway. Hundreds of tantalisingly glowing, ability-enhancing orbs are dotted liberally around the place, encouraging you to investigate its nooks and crannies and climb its towering buildings.

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