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Nintendo Direct announcements about lots of new games, including Kirby, Splatoon 3, and Bayonetta 3. Ni no Kuni II gets released on the Switch with a complete edition of Revenant Kingdom.

Nintendo Direct event showcases dozens of games and a new subscription offering

Nintendo rolled out last week with some big news about big games coming to the Switch in the new year.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land has the pink puffball exploring a cityscape that has been abandoned and which nature is beginning to reclaim.

And Bayonetta 3 is a stylish, titillating brawler that brings back the bespectacled witch to defend humanity against a host of demons.

Splatoon 3, meanwhile, is the next game in the hilarious and frantic shooter which has the squid-like Inklings splattering paint all over the place in competitive Turf Wars.

The new game also has a story mode which has you guiding Agent 3 through an adventure that takes place in different environment where they are threatened Fuzzy Ink that causes fur to grow on them.

Nintendo also detailed a new level of its Nintendo Switch Online subscription service. The Expansion Pack membership will provide subscribers with access to a library of Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games.

Some of the first games to be available include Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Star Fox 64, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Golden Axe, Shining Force, and Castlevania: Bloodlines.

New wireless controllers styled after the Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis controllers are also being released.

Other games coming to your Nintendo Switch in the coming weeks include Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Castlevania Advance Collection, and Actraiser Renaissance.

Ni no Kuni II debuts on Nintendo’s Switch

Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is a family-friendly role-playing adventure (developed by Level-5 and published by Bandai Namco) first released for the PS4 in 2018. The new Prince’s Edition, which collects all the post-release content, is a console exclusive to the Nintendo Switch (it’s also available for Windows).

The story, about a young prince named Evan who has been pushed out of power, provides a framework for an adventure that is equal parts exploring and adventure and equal parts world building.

The combat is real time, not turn-based, so you’ll need to learn to vary your quick and slower, more powerful attacks, you’ll have to figure out how to block attacks, dodge enemies, and wield magic.

But the thing that sets Revenant Kingdom apart is that you need to help Evan build a new kingdom, Evermore. To do so, you need to decide how to grow the community. Not just by deciding what to build and where to spend resources, but also by recruiting characters and creating a place where people want to settle.

Your success in the game relies on you building the safe place that Evan dreamt of. Build it and the people will come.

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Deathloop is one of the best games of the year and three new games on Apple Arcade to keep you tapping.

Dazzling Deathloop a snappy shooter with panache

Combining witty writing and an intriguing mystery with snappy shooter and stealth mechanics and a hip, sixties aesthetic, Deathloop is endless enjoyment.

There’s nothing like Deathloop in the realm of video games. You may recognize many of the components, though. It comes from Bethesda’s Arkane Studios, so you’ll see some of the style and mechanics from the Dishonored and Prey games. And it’s one of the new genres of game that is inspired by the roguelike concept of “you die, you start over from the beginning”.

But Deathloop is it’s own damn thing. And I can’t get enough of this PS5 console exclusive (the game is also available for Windows).

It’s a high-concept premise. You are Colt, and you are stuck in repeating day on the island of Blackrock which is populated by villains and reprobates. You want to break this loop, but to do so you need to figure out what’s going on, why, your place in it, and why others are trying to “protect the loop”.

Your goal, ultimately, is to assassinate the “visionaries” on the island and to finally end the loop you need to get them all in one day, before time resets and they’re all alive again.

One of these visionaries is Juliette, who you regularly converse with through the game. She’s trying to prevent you from breaking this cycle and will actively hunt you down at various points in the game. If she takes you out, the day resets. If you can kill her, you get to loot her valuable gear.

To make this even more compelling, you can set up your game so that real people can come into your game and become Juliette. You can leave this open to any other player, restrict it to friends, or let the game play Juliette instead.

It’s how Arkane has deviated from the typical roguelike mechanics that makes Deathloop so much more enjoyable for me than other similar repeating games. Your playthrough doesn’t end when you die, for one. You get three “lives” before your day starts over again, and you can recharge these lives if you get through a section of the game without having the day reset.

And you can also keep progressively more of the weapons and items you collect thanks to a currency called “Residuum”, which you can spend to infuse those valuable guns and powerups.

The island of Blackreef is divided into four different regions (Updaam, the Complex, Fristad Rock, Karl’s Bay) and the day is divided into four time periods (morning, midday, afternoon, evening). Each region has a different flavour to it at each different time of day, so if you visit Updaam at night you’ll be confronted by many more enemies scattered in different parts of the map.

You’ll become intimately familiar with these maps because you’ll be exploring the areas over and over, farming for Residuum and the other weapons and items that make Colt unstoppable. Along the way you’ll learn more about why Blackreef is stuck in a loop and why Colt and Juliette are such glorious antagonists.

How you do anything is entirely up to you. There’s no prescription for succeeding in Deathloop. If you want to go guns blazing, you can do that. If you want to sneak around, you can do that. You can use either and both approaches depending on where and when you are and what you’re trying to do.

You’ll die, frequently. You’ll start the day over again repeatedly. But you’ll never get bored because Arkane has been able to design Deathloop so that you’re always progressing the story. And because you’re becoming more powerful the more you play, it’s all worth it in the end.

Three new games to play on Apple Arcade

Temple Run: Puzzle Adventure was one of the first endless runners on mobile phones. Now, the franchise has been converted into a match-three game. You can play Temple Run on any iOS, macOS, or tvOS device.

Zen Pinball Party is also playable on virtually any Apple device. Zen has been around for a while, and the digitally-recreated pinball tables are amazingly realistic.

Layton’s Mystery Journey is only playable on iOS devices, so your iPad and iPhone, and features a new female protagonist in Katrielle Layton, who is searching for her father, the clever puzzle solver the series is named after.

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Samsung keeps improving its wireless earbuds and now lets you customize your own refrigerator. Plus, how to show proof of vaccination on an older smartphone.

Galaxy Buds2 are Samsung’s best wireless earbuds yet

Samsung’s latest wireless earbuds are the Galaxy Buds2 ($190) and they fit my ears better than any other earbud before now.

Now earbud fit is a very personal thing, so I don’t expect everyone to be as happy with the fit in their own ears, but because the Galaxy Buds2 are so small and light, I expect that most of you will find they fit.

The Buds2 feel like they disappear in my ear canal and because they sit flush against the side of my head, they don’t catch the wind like other earbuds do.

And wind, let me tell you, wreaks havoc with earbuds, especially if you’re trying to make a phone call.

The sound with the Buds2 is also better than before, on par with the Galaxy Buds Pro.

The active noise cancelling (ANC) with the Buds2 isn’t as powerful or feature-filled as the Buds Pro – there’s no intelligence here – but the microphones and whatever Samsung has done to cut down on background noise, means better quality phone calls using the Buds2.

Designed to work best with Samsung handsets, the Galaxy Buds2 work fine with any Android or iOS smartphone, and are available in white, graphite, olive, and a lovely lavender.

Customize your own fridge with Samsung’s new Bespoke line

Samsung’s new Bespoke refrigerators can fit into any space or decor because you can mix and match components for your unique context.

The combinations are many. You can go with tall single units and line them up, or opt for four-door units, then select from different colours of glass or steel for the outer panels.

And you can customize the features, too. Water dispenser or autofill water pitcher? Cube ice or ice nuggets?

The new custom fridges from Samsung can be preordered now, and will start shipping next week.

QR codes on older cellphones

Last week on the Shift, a listener asked about displaying QR codes with limited access to Wi-Fi or cellular data. While you need to have a connection to use the websites managed by the various health agencies, you don’t need to generate that QR code on the fly every time you need it.

The QR code is unique to you, so once you’ve got it, take a picture of it with your phone. Then you can show that picture anytime you need it, whether you’ve got a Wi-fi or data connection or not.

If you can take a picture with your phone, you can have the QR code on your phone.

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