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Categories Corus Radio Network | Consumer technology

This week on The Shift, Shane Hewitt and I talked about Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl, the 3D edition of Catan, Bauer’s Halo-themed goalie pads, the Xbox Series X mini fridge, Canadian VFX studios, and using balloons to deploy mobile networks in Africa.

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Categories Video games |

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl have arrived for a new generation of player, Catan’s new edition is a sight to behold, Halo-themed hockey equipment, It Takes Two and Deathloop get multiple Game Awards, the Xbox replica mini fridge is available for preorder.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl debut on Nintendo’s Switch

The latest Pokémon games from Nintendo released recently, and everyone complaining about them is missing the point.

Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are remakes of games which were released for the Nintendo DS handhelds back in 2007. They were just regular diamonds and pearls back then.

Which is more than a decade, folks. These remakes don’t care where they land on your list of “best/worst Pokémon games”.

These remakes are for a new generation of Pokémon fans who don’t care these games are more than ten years old because they just can’t get enough.

Like other main series Pokémon adventures, the games are effectively the same. You get to choose Chimcar, Piplup, or Turtwig as your starting creature, and then you run around the Sinnoh region trying to catch them all.

That’s where things differ, because there are 37 pocket monsters unique to each version, if you include the evolutions.

The unique legendary Pokémon are, for Brilliant Diamond:

  • Entei
  • Ho-oh
  • Raikou
  • Suicune

And for Shining Pearl:

  • Articuno
  • Lugia
  • Moltres
  • Zapdos

One thing that Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl have that other Pokémon games don’t is the Grand Underground, a subterranean layer under the surface of Sinnoh where you can play in minigames and discover hideaways where rare Pokemon are living. It’s a dungeon-like maze that’s fun to explore.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl are exclusive to the Nintendo Switch and are available now. Rated everyone.

One of the best board games ever gets reinvigorated as Catan: 3D Edition

The best gamers play all the games, even analogue ones, and one of the best board games ever made is Catan.

And if you’re a devoted Catan player, there’s a new edition of the classic strategy game that you’re going to salivate over.

Catan: 3D Edition (C$420) dispenses with the coloured cardboard in favour of pieces and components that are sculpted.

Everything is hand painted. The player pieces and the robber have an antique look to them. The number tokens are translucent discs that nestle into the terrain hex pieces, which rise out from the table, the mountain regions that provide iron ore towering above the thick forest groves and sheep-covered grasslands.

The roads are elevated, the town and cities veritable mini models.

This edition of Catan has some heft to it, a substance befitting the status of the game. And it’ll never wear out the way your paper version will.

These Halo-themed goalie pads are amazing

A partnership between sports equipment company, Bauer, and Xbox will have one lucky hockey player winning an Xbox Series X console and full goaltending kit in colours that will make you look like Master Chief has put on some skates.

You’ve got until December 17 to enter to win.

It Takes Two, Deathloop, and Kena pick up multiple Game Awards

Late last week was the annual Game Awards show. There was a live audience at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, but most of the viewers of the lengthy program watched on various streaming channels.

Of the thirty awards handed out, It Takes Two, developed by Sweden’s Hazelight and published by EA, was the most recognized, winning Game of the Year, Best Family, and Best Multiplayer.

Deathloop (Arkane, Bethesda) was the only other multi-award winner, netting Best Game Direction and Best Art Direction.

Other notable winners included:

Check out the full list of winners, and watch the entire show below.

Xbox mini fridge pre-orders began today

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Canadian visual effects studios are doing great business these days, as evidenced by new investment in Toronto’s MARZ, World Mobile is using balloons to deliver internet to Africa.

Canadian visual effects studio seeing success

The film and television industry is strong in Canada, and all those productions have sparked a surge in support companies, like those creating digital effects.

Some of the industry’s most recognizable companies – like Industrial Light and Magic, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Method, DNEG, and Digital Domain – have set up shop in Vancouver.

And there’s more than a handful of homegrown visual effects (VFX) studios here, too. Filmmaker Neill Blomkamp got his start in effects and worked at the Embassy and called on Image Engine to help with District 9, Elysium, and Chappie (and has recently worked on The Mandalorian and the latest Venom film).

In Toronto there’s Spin VFX, which was started by Nigel McGrath, one of the people who created Maya, the software that enabled so much VFX.

There’s also Switch and Mavericks VFX, and MARZ, which is short for Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies.

MARZ, which has worked on shows like Wandavision, Shadow and Bone, Watchmen, and has work in Spider-Man: No Way Home, recently raised more than $6 million through a series A venture capital venture to fund research and development into using artificial intelligence in VFX work.

The company is also looking to hire another 100 people, which will push its roster to more than 300.

Using balloons to deploy mobile networks in Africa

Here’s an interesting solution to a problem. In order to deliver mobile service to Zanzibar, World Mobile is going to put cellular base stations on platforms and float them with balloons.

The company plans to provide cellular service to over one million people by the end of 2023.

The aerostat balloons are powered by solar panels, and the reliable online connections will allow for mobile gadget usage as well as the connection of internet of things devices. This also means support for communications and health care.

World Mobile will be providing free, unlimited internet to schools, although it’s not clear if connections at schools will be on balloons.

The United Nations estimates that 3.7 billion people, half the world’s population, mostly females and mostly in developing countries, do not have online access.

World Mobile is also looking at using balloons to deliver mobile to Kenya and Tanzania.

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Categories Video games |

Halo Infinite has been released and we’re all cheering, Destiny 2 gets a new dungeon and old weapons, Lego Star Wars Castaways lets you create your own minifig.

Halo Infinite’s campaign released today

It’s launch day for the most anticipated game of the year, Halo Infinite.

While the multiplayer mode of the first-person shooter was released a couple of weeks ago, December 8 was when the story campaign became available to play.

And by any measure, 343 Industries has delivered an experience that calls back to what made the first game so compelling, while introducing some new things to the franchise that have become commonplace in the gaming space.

The most obvious of these is an open world setting, and while the Zeta Halo array on which Infinite is set is set up so that players can decide when to trigger story missions, there are areas that are restricted to make sure that players reveal the story as intended.

It’s worth noting that if you’ve got a subscription to Xbox Game Pass you get access to Halo Infinite, as well as dozens of other games. One month of Xbox Game Pass is just $12.

Also, there’s a website where you can literally put yourself – well, your head – into the Master Chief’s armour.

Check me out.

Bungie celebrates 30 years of making games with special Destiny 2 anniversary excitement

One day earlier, on December 7, Bungie, the developer that created Halo, celebrated 30 years in the industry by releasing new activities and rewards for its latest game, Destiny 2, which you can play on PS4, PS5, Stadia, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

The 30th Anniversary Event includes some free elements in Dares of Eternity, a new six-player activity, and access to some weapons from earlier versions of the game.

You can also pay for the anniversary pack to get access to Grasp of Avarice, a new dungeon in the Cosmodrome inspired by the Loot Cave, a respawn zone in the original Destiny, and Gjallarhorn, a rocket launcher from the original game that is generally accepted as being one of the best weapons available.

$125 gets you the Destiny 2: The Witch Queen deluxe edition which includes the 30th anniversary bundle and will unlock the Witch Queen expansion when it releases on February 22, 2022.

Or, if you’ve already got Destiny 2 or have prepurchased the Witch Queen expansion, you can get the 30th anniversary pack as a stand alone for $32.

New Lego Star Wars game only available on Apple Arcade

One of the funnest new releases now available exclusively on Apple Arcade is Lego Star Wars: Castaways.

From GameLoft, Castaways is an action adventure with some multiplayer and social options built in.

It’s best feature: you create your own Star Wars minifig for the game.

Castaways is a standalone world and it’s set up so that players can take their own character into some of the Star Wars universe’s most memorable environments, like Tatooine, Endor, and the Death Star.

And the game is kid-friendly, which means it’s been designed so that while you can choose to interact with other players, there are no personal details in the game and interactions are only through emotes and emojis.

Apple Arcade titles are all playable offline on Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, and Mac. A monthly subscription is $5.

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