Monthly Archives: September 2015

Capcom Mobile rips off 'Splosion Man for MaXplosion

Capcom Mobile rips off 'Splosion Man for MaXplosion

“Holy crap, Splosion Man got released for iPhone? How did I miss that?”

We can forgive your confusion as you check out the above screen and the video below the jump, but no, it’s not ‘Splosion Man, no matter how much every single one of your senses may attest to that fact. No, this is MaXplosion, an iPhone game dumped on iTunes late last week.

Ready for the craziest bit? This isn’t some fly-by-night Korean developer operating out of some dude’s basement as you might have assumed. No, this is all Capcom Mobile, which is … disappointing, to say the least.

Speaking on his personal Twitter account, Twisted Pixel programmer Mike Henry said “MaXplosion gameplay video makes me sad. If you’re going to outright steal a game, you should at least understand what makes it fun.”

Listen Capcom, we know copycatting is rampant on the App Store, but … you’re Capcom for crying out loud! Shouldn’t you be better than that?

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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Apple pulls iFixit's app after it tears down the new Apple TV

Apple pulls iFixit's app after it tears down the new Apple TV

The team at iFixit is learning a hard, hard lesson about the importance of honoring developer agreements. Apple has banned an iFixit developer account (and consequently, the iFixit app) after the repair-it-yourself outfit tore down a pre-release Apple TV sent out to developers, violating Apple’s terms and conditions. The crew just couldn’t resist deconstructing new gear, apparently. Before you ask, though, iFixit isn’t trying to stir up internet drama. It knew the risks going in, and isn’t about to fight a decision that most anyone could see coming a mile away. This will have ramifications if you relied on iFixit’s (admittedly old) native app for tips: if you’re on iOS, you’ll have to use the company’s mobile website for help from now on. The tradeoff won’t be all that damaging, but it’s safe to say that other devs will think twice about prying open gear that isn’t strictly off-the-shelf.

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Google and Microsoft end their years-long patent war

Google and Microsoft end their years-long patent war

And just like that, another one of the tech industry’s epic patent battles is coming to a close. Google and Microsoft have dropped all 20 (!) of the lawsuits they’ve filed against each other, ending their five-year dispute over everything ranging from phones (Microsoft’s main gripe) to Xbox video playback (Google’s gripe, and formerly Motorola’s). The two will now partner both on technology as a whole and on “certain patent matters,” such as building a royalty-free video format that prevents these kinds of legal fights in the first place. The truce is no doubt a relief if you’re tired of seeing endless stores about the lawsuits (guilty!), although it’s not a complete shock if you’ve been following changes in corporate culture.

You see, Microsoft is in a very different place than it was when it first sued Motorola in 2010. Back then, the company under Steve Ballmer was bent on containing Android’s growth wherever possible and giving Windows Phone a shot at recreating Windows’ desktop monopoly. Flash forward to current CEO Satya Nadella and it’s a different story. He’s less interested in operating system dominance (in part because that’s no longer realistic) and more in putting Microsoft’s apps and services in front of as many people as possible, even if that means supporting Android ahead of Windows. We’d add that Google isn’t facing nearly as many threats as it has in the past — there’s less incentive to countersue and push for settlements. In either case, the hot-blooded competition that fueled the lawsuits has long since cooled down.

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Tidal's music-streaming service reaches 1 million subscribers

Tidal's music-streaming service reaches 1 million subscribers

Remember when Jay Z said Tidal, the streaming music service he acquired earlier this year, was doing just fine? Well, as it turns out, things are still on a respectable course. The musician/entrepreneur took to Twitter to reveal a significant milestone for Tidal: 1 million subscribers. “‘Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists,’” Jay Z tweeted. “Tidal is platinum.” To celebrate, Tidal announced it will be hosting a charity concert in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on October 20th, featuring high-caliber artists such as Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Prince and, of course, Jay Z himself. And don’t worry if you can’t attend, the service says it plans to stream it to everyone (including non-subscribers) on its website.

While reaching 1 million subscribers is an important feat for Tidal, that figure is still very far behind competitors including Spotify and Rhapsody — which have 15 million and 3 million, respectively. Granted, Tidal hasn’t been around for long since being under Jay Z’s umbrella, so there’s room to grow and try to catch up to its rivals. The last time Tidal shared similar details was back in April, when Jay Z decided to tell the world his service had over 700,000 subscribers to date. “Tidal is doing just fine,” he said. “We have over 770,000 subs. We have been in business less than one month.”


“Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists” Tidal is platinum. 1,000,000 people and counting. Let’s celebrate 10/20 Brooklyn.

— Mr. Carter (@S_C_) September 29, 2015

[Image credits: Getty Images for Tidal]

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LocoCycle review: Ay, caramba

We’ll be rolling out Xbox One review coverage all the way through launch on November 22. Read all of our coverage right here!

LocoCycle review: Ay, caramba

LocoCycle begins with a 10-minute live-action movie featuring hyperbolic world leaders in cheap costumes, surrounded by bad lighting and women in cocktail dresses, all attending a showcase from Big Arms, a fictional military manufacturer. The host of the event, a man drawing style inspiration from ‘N Sync’s Joey Fatone circa 1997, introduces IRIS and SPIKE, the game’s two AI super-bikes, in a drawn-out, poorly acted melodrama that incites a mantra to repeat in my mind: “Oh my God, stop. Please, stop.”

As I watch the B-movie introduction to Lococyle, I wish the game would just start already. And then the game starts, and I take that last part back.

Since its announcement, LocoCycle‘s ridiculous premise was destined for one of two possible outcomes: It could have been hilarious or it could have been painfully tragic. LocoCycle stars a malfunctioning IRIS, one of Big Arms’ smart motorcycles, as she drags Pablo the mechanic across miles of highway, desert and snowy mountaintops, on a quest to join the Freedom Rally in a small town in Indiana. IRIS is obsessed with the Freedom Rally, a motorcycle rider meet-up in the middle of a field, because it’s the first thing she sees in Pablo’s bike magazine after she wakes up from a coma induced by a lightning strike to her motherboard.

Yes, IRIS the motorcycle can see, but mostly she talks. So much. Too much throughout the whole game.

It turns out that LocoCycle is tragic, but not only because of its absurd premise. The mechanics (not referring to Pablo) are simplistic and repetitive (actually, that also applies to Pablo). The game throws the same enemies, attacks and counters at IRIS multiple times over in each of the five chapters, with the most significant change being the scenery.

As IRIS, players have a set number of moves: a turbo boost, a machine gun, a light melee and a powerful melee that swings Pablo – somehow attached by his ankle to IRIS’ back tire – into enemies. IRIS can also unleash a counter attack when enemies are encircled by an obvious, lingering reticle.

LocoCycle review: Ay, caramba

LocoCycle isn’t a racing game, though the main character is a motorcycle and gameplay involves driving at high speeds on various roadways across the country. IRIS drives herself at a constant rate down each path, and though she doesn’t automatically turn with the twisting highways, there’s no repercussion for steering her directly into another vehicle or into the sides of the road, potentially off the edge of a cliff or into a rushing body of water. IRIS simply hits an invisible wall lining the edges of any road, where she can bounce like a toddler’s bowling ball down a padded, gutter-free alley.

The goal of LocoCycle involves more than merely driving – Big Arms wants IRIS back under its control, and agents from the company constantly, predictably attempt to thwart her and Pablo’s road trip. Some enemies drive in front of IRIS, shooting backward at her from black cars, while others fly above her in robot suits, and still others throw little people with afros at her from the back of a white van.

There is a finite number of enemies and a finite number of ways to combat them, and the gameplay, even when it does get frantic, offers no strategy or challenge. A repeated scenario in LocoCycle has IRIS jump into the air to attack a group of flying enemies, and while these battles are busy, I play most of them without looking at the screen at all. I’m mashing X and Y, and sometimes throwing in B to counter – but honestly, hitting Y to throw Pablo at enemies nullifies incoming attacks anyway. During these fights, I can hold conversations, read a text or pet one of my dogs. There’s no need to watch or even to play with two hands. One finger would suffice.

When LocoCycle does introduce new gameplay mechanics, it’s strangely barren of any direction, leaving me to waste time pressing every button on the controller until I figure out what the game wants me to do.

LocoCycle review: Ay, caramba

Xbox One reviews

One of these moments occurs twice, when IRIS breaks down and Pablo must fix her before a large vehicle crashes into them both. The screen switches to a vertical split: On the right, Pablo’s back, sitting next to IRIS, and on the left, a readout of the incoming vehicle’s distance and a scan of IRIS with injured areas highlighted and four red squares beneath that. I press A and nothing happens. I press all of the other buttons I’ve been using and nothing happens. I move the left analog stick and Pablo shifts from side to side, but nothing happens. When the incoming truck is more than half way to my position, I finally hold Pablo in the right position for long enough that the game reacts, prompting me to press A.

I do, and LocoCycle initiates a mini-game, requiring Pablo to repair parts of the bike by tracing specific, easy patterns with a welding gun. There are four fixing mini-games total, and I get to do three of them twice because during my first, confused attempt, the big truck hits Pablo before he can finish fixing the bike.

The insane premise of LocoCycle could have been redeemed, at least in theory, with quality writing. Unfortunately, Twisted Pixel’s humor falls flat. Pablo, for example, speaks only in Spanish the whole time, meaning IRIS and he can’t understand each other, and also meaning there’s a constant stream of subtitles running along the bottom of the screen. The forced miscommunication is supposed to be funny, but even the awful full-motion-video story pieces strewn between chapters don’t make Pablo a fully formed, relatable character. His interaction with IRIS is awkward at best. Why is Pablo there? How is he stuck to IRIS, even after she flings him off for special moves? By the end of the game, Pablo gives up talking completely, dehumanizing him to the point of a dog tilting its head.

LocoCycle review: Ay, caramba

Twisted Pixel also tries to give shout-outs to franchises it clearly enjoys, but its efforts to reach out come off as cheap. IRIS is a talkative, dumb rip-off of Portal’s GLaDOS; she says lines from Crocodile Dundee and Taken (I bet you can guess which ones), and one of the game’s major fights pulls sounds and moves straight from Street Fighter and a Fatality mechanic from Mortal Kombat. These moments don’t make me feel included or special for recognizing their roots. They make me cringe. I feel bad for the franchises being referenced, for their bastardizations.

LocoCycle falls into a trap common in crappy films: Every in-your-face section drags on for too long. In the famously awful horror movie, Troll 2, a character holds his “Oh my Goooooooood” for a second too long, turning a cry for help into a hilariously fake moment. LocoCycle‘s live-acted scenes do the same, but so do its game mechanics, offering one too many swarms of enemies we’ve seen multiple times before, over and over again.

Maybe one day hordes of fans will gather in local arcades to play LocoCycle ironically and quote some of its notoriously terrible lines – Mi espalda! – but until that day, it’s just a bad game, and there’s nothing funny about that.

LocoCycle review: Ay, caramba

This review is based on a download of the Xbox One version of LocoCycle, provided by Microsoft. An Xbox 360 version is also planned.

Joystiq’s review scores are based on a scale of whether the game in question is worth your time — a five-star being a definitive “yes,” and a one-star being a definitive “no.” Read here for more information on our ratings guidelines.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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Microsoft files ITC complaint against Motorola over alleged Android-related patent infringement

Microsoft files ITC complaint against Motorola over alleged Android-related patent infringement

Wireless companies love suing one another — well, maybe they don’t “love” it, but in an age when it’s virtually impossible to assemble a cellular device without extensive licensing agreements in place, it’s basically an inevitability. Microsoft has hit up the ITC over a total of nine alleged patent infringements by Motorola in its Android devices, specifically relating to “synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power.” This should be interesting — will it result in a quick cross-licensing agreement, or a protracted court battle spanning multiple years? Hard to say, but in the meantime, follow the break for Microsoft’s brief press release.

Show full PR text
Microsoft Files Patent Infringement Action Against Motorola

REDMOND, Wash. – Oct. 1, 2010 – Microsoft Corp. today filed a patent infringement action against Motorola, Inc. and issued the following statement from Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing:

“Microsoft filed an action today in the International Trade Commission and in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against Motorola, Inc. for infringement of nine Microsoft patents by Motorola’s Android-based smartphones. The patents at issue relate to a range of functionality embodied in Motorola’s Android smartphone devices that are essential to the smartphone user experience, including synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power.

We have a responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to safeguard the billions of dollars we invest each year in bringing innovative software products and services to market. Motorola needs to stop its infringement of our patented inventions in its Android smartphones.”

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Microsoft store slip reveals the Lumia 950 a week early

Microsoft store slip reveals the Lumia 950 a week early

Microsoft has already done a not-so-stellar job of keeping its upcoming Lumia 950 and 950 XL smartphones a secret, and it just erased whatever doubt was left. The company’s UK online store briefly listed both of the unannounced Windows 10 flagships, confirming some of the devices’ juiciest specs. As suspected, both of the Lumias will have Quad HD displays, 20-megapixel cameras and 32GB of expandable storage. The biggest difference is, as you might have gathered, the display sizes: the standard 950 will have a mid-sized 5.2-inch screen, while the XL bumps that up to 5.7 inches. The pricing was conspicuously absent (not surprising given the accidental listings), but there’s a real chance that you’ll get the full scoop on both handsets at Microsoft’s event next week.

Microsoft has already listed the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL on its own UK store http://t.co/CiVOZaCcpj)() pic.twitter.com/5ot989wSCH

— David Gilbert (@daithaigilbert) September 30, 2015

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Microsoft's flagship store in NYC opens October 26th

Microsoft's flagship store in NYC opens October 26th

The Big Apple’s very own flagship Microsoft store is opening soon. Today, the Windows maker announced that its massive five-story, 22,269 square foot retail space in the heart of New York City will open October 26th. This new shopping outlet, which has been in development for nearly a year, is located at 677 Fifth Avenue — a few blocks away from Apple’s iconic “Cube” store. In addition to NYC, Microsoft says it’ll also be inaugurating another flagship store in Sydney, Australia, but that won’t be until November 12th. Of course, if you happen to pay a visit to either, you can expect a grand showcase of all-things-Microsoft, including Windows 10 devices, the Xbox One and whole lot more.

Microsoft's flagship store in NYC opens October 26th

Renders of Microsoft’s Fifth Avenue flagship store in NYC (top) and Sydney (bottom).

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Create 'Gran Turismo 6' race tracks on your tablet

Create 'Gran Turismo 6' race tracks on your tablet

For ages, Polyphony Digital has been promising a Gran Turismo 6 track editor that lets you build the race course of your dreams. Well, it’s finally here… if not quite in the form you might have expected. Download the Track Path Editor app for Android and iOS and you can design circuits for the PlayStation 3 sim on your tablet. It’s not so detailed that you’ll recreate every nuance of your local raceway, but you can trace paths with your finger, choose themes and add scenery. Think of it as a way to extend the life of GT6 beyond the occasional new concept car — you don’t have to settle for driving on Autumn Ring or Brands Hatch for the hundredth time.

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Sony PlayStation 3 (late 2012)

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XKCD webcomic turns 10 years old today

XKCD webcomic turns 10 years old today

Combine math, science, romance and crudely-drawn stick figures and you’ll get something approximating XKCD, a webcomic that’s celebrating its 10th anniversary today. Created by Randall Munroe (a former NASA roboticist and programmer) in 2005, the strip doesn’t seem like much — after all, it’s just stick figures — but its combination of smarts, humor and a touch of whimsy that make XKCD one of the most beloved comics on the web. It’s even helped Munroe develop a successful publishing career, with his What If book (which offers “serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions”) rocketing to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list in just 24 hours. Widely shared and celebrated not just among us nerds but also anyone who appreciates a good joke, XKCD has certainly gained cult status on the internet and beyond. To celebrate that, we’ve compiled a gallery of our favorite XKCD strips, which you can peruse below. If you’ve got your favorites, let us know in the comments too.

[Image credit: XKCD]

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