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You can vote for your favourite games in the Game Awards, play some other favourites on your iPhone and iPad, and I chase down where amusement park sims have gone.

Apple’s App Store Award winners announced

Every year, Apple’s curators who keep an eye on software in the App Store decide on the best apps of the year.

This year, the list of applications being recognized include the BeReal social app and GoodNotes 5, which is all about using a stylus with an iPad to take notes by hand.

Games making the cut include Apex Legends Mobile, from Electronic Arts, and Inscryption, which is recognized for its Mac computer version. There’s also the intriguing Moncage, which is a puzzle game serving up optical illusions for you to interpret and make sense of.

There’s also Inua: A Story in Ice and Time, a narrative adventure set in Canada’s north which celebrates Inuit culture and features music by Tanya Tagaq.

Game Awards voting is open now

Fan voting for this year’s Game Awards is now open.

And fans get to have a say in the decisions, too, without breaking the system.

Winners of the awards are “deteremined by a blended vote between the voting jury and public fan voting”, with 90% of a score coming from the jury and the remaining 10% coming from fan votes.

Big category nominees include:

Game of the year

  • A Plague Tale: Requiem
  • Elden Ring
  • God of War Ragnarok
  • Horizon Forbidden West
  • Stray
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Best ongoing game

  • Apex Legends
  • Destiny 2
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Fortnite
  • Genshin Impact

Best indie game

  • Cult of the Lamb
  • Neon White
  • Sifu
  • Stray
  • Tunic

Other categories cover the various genres and there are five awards for esports.

The Game Awards broadcasts live starting at 4:30 p.m. PT, 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, December 8. It’s being presented on all platforms including Discord, Twitch, YouTube, and social media channels.

Valve giving away a Steam Deck every minute of the Game Awards live broadcast

This just in: Valve will be giving away dozens of Steam Deck handheld consoles (512 GB edition) during the live broadcast of the Game Awards.

You need to preregister to be eligible and you need to be watching the broadcast on Steam to be a winner.

Rollercoaster sims let you build your own amusement park

A question came in on the Shift last week asking whether there’s been any updates to RollerCoaster Tycoon, which a listener remembers playing on a computer running the Windows XP operating system (circa 2001).

This series of games put players in the role of an amusement park designer and operator. The objective is to design the rides, construct the park, and operate it. Think the Sims go to Disneyland.

The original RollerCoaster Tycoon came from the brain of game designer Chris Sawyer and was released in 1999.

Games in the franchise have appeared regularly, some being received better than others.

The first two original games that Sawyer designed have been ported to Android, iOS, and Windows 10 as Rollercoaster Tycoon Classic.

If you’re interested in a modern console experience, look to Planet Coaster, which is available on PS4, PS5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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This week on The Shift, Shane Hewitt and I talked about Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet for the Nintendo Switch, the annual Autumn Sale on Steam computer games, the beautiful new Apple Store in Vancouver’s Pacific Centre, live TV on Air Canada flights, and some Black Friday deals.

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Pokemon Scarlet and Violet suffer from serious performance issues, but it may not matter, Steam’s annual Autumn Sale has good games for computer players.

Visual defects can’t keep a good Pokemon game down

Nintendo’s newest entries in the popular Pokemon franchise, Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet, are groundbreaking in so many ways. Not all of them great.

Let’s start with the good stuff. Scarlet and Violet, developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo and the Pokemon Company, provide a full, open-world adventure game experience, allowing players to truly explore the region of Paldea. This shift alone brings the franchise into the modern gaming world.

That innovation is matched by a change in how the game’s activities are presented to you. There are three main quests to work through and each of them has an independent storyline. You can move between these anytime you want, mixing up the gameplay and getting some real variety.

There are new Pokemon to meet, too, including the starter choices Fuecoco, Sprigatito, and Quaxly, and the legendary Koraidon and Miraidon (which you get depends on whether you’ve picked up Scarlet (Koraidon) or Violet (Miraidon)). The creature designs are more inventive than they’ve been before, too, like the Cetitan – an evolved form of Cetoddle – which looks like a massive whale with legs. It might sound weird, but it looks amazing.

The music in Scarlet and Violet is also a level above what we’ve had before, with melodic themes that vary as much as the environments in the world, and hooks that stay with you.

But.

All of this comes with what can only be thought of as a cost. Because technically and graphically, Scarlet and Violet have issues. Animations clip and cut out. Sometimes they disappear altogether. When it’s raining in the world the graphics slow to a crawl. Creatures and objects fall into each other in strange ways. The game outright crashes on occasion.

The resident Pokemon expert in my house laughed through every one of the glitches and performance issues we encountered. And it’s likely that the biggest Pokemon fans will be just as willing to ignore the many visual defects in these games.

Game Freak and Nintendo do not get a pass for releasing a game with so many issues, and I’d hope that they find a way to continue improving this franchise while getting a handle on the performance issues.

It would be a shame for people to start laughing at their beloved Pokemon games for the wrong reasons.

Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet are available now exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. Rated everyone.

Steam’s annual Autumn Sale has deals for everyone

For those gamers in your life who play on computers more than consoles, the annual Steam Autumn Sale is where you should look for gift ideas.

The sale runs until November 29, and there’s great curation at Steam, so you can get some advice from other gamers in making your gift-buying decisions.

Consider Cyberpunk 2077, which is half price at $40, or the just-released Spider-Man Remastered, on sale for only $52.

You can get eight games in the Far Cry franchise for only $58, or individual games for between $3 and $16. Or all the games in the Doom franchise for only $23.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is only $8, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is $15, and Left 4 Dead 2 is only $1.30.

Steam makes it easy for you to gift a game to someone, too.

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Categories Consumer technology |

The new Apple Store in Pacific Centre is glorious, watching World Cup on Air Canada flights, and some tech deals this Black Friday.

Apple Store in Vancouver’s Pacific Centre reopens just in time for holiday buying

The new Apple Store in downtown Vancouver is truly a flagship location for the consumer tech company.

The expansive space at the corner of Georgia and Howe in the heart of the city looks out onto the Vancouver Art Gallery. Another iconic building, the Hotel Vancouver is just over to the right.

It’s easy to see these landmarks from the Pacific Centre Apple Store thanks to the two-storey glass frontage, slightly curved at the edges in the same proportion as the curves on an iPhone.

This attention to detail is what we expect of Apple, and it’s what makes Apple Stores so inviting.

On the lower floor are the usual wooden tables arranged with Apple devices: iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, all of them are enticing and inviting. Accessories for those devices, as well as other products like Apple Watch, Apple TV, and HomePod are displayed on wall shelving.

The second floor can be reached by climbing a long, dramatic stairwell that slashes up the back of the store, an equally dramatic skylight overhead. It’s even more open up there. A screen takes up most of the back wall, and towards the front of the store is a loft that looks down on the entrance, and out onto the streetscape.

This second floor is the gathering space, the place for sharing and learning. The tables here are free of products but with power and networking ports and stools to support the programs that Apple hosts in its spaces – everything from coding to media production– and the support provided by its resident geniuses.

Where the first Apple Store location in Pacific Centre, which opened in 2010, was in the middle of the mall, sandwiched between retailers selling jeans and others hawking personal health products, this new space befits the brand. It is unabashedly a Vancouver Apple Store, glass and all, and I’ve no doubt it will be filled from now through the holiday season.

Air Canada offering live television on flights within Canada

Just in time for the World Cup, Air Canada has added live, satellite TV to its inflight entertainment options. For now, the service is only available on select Boeing 777, Boeing 787, Airbus A330 and Airbus A220 aircraft.

Networks available on the flights include TSN and RDS for sports, CTV News Channel, BNN Bloomberg, and LCN for French-language news.

Best Black Friday consumer tech deals

Black Friday officially begins in a couple of days on November 25, but some of the following deals are available now.

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